George and José Bill papers  1888-1947
full text File Size: 21 K bytes


Wade, Edward Hitchcock

Rank : Private; Corporal; 1st Sergeant

Regiment : 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment. Co. F (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 8-1865 May 31

Edward Hitchcock Wade lived at New Britain, Connecticut, at the time of the war, and presumably had little idea of what his experiences would be when he enlisted in 14th Connecticut Infantry in August, 1862. Assigned to service with the main body of the Army of the Potomac, the 14th Connecticut reported with 1,015 men in August, 1862. Four months later, after the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, Wade reported that only 130 men were legally fit for service. Most of the regimental officers were dead or missing, and a captain filled in pro tem as colonel. After Fredericksburg, as the regiment wintered at Falmouth, Va., morale hit bottom and then continued to sink. Suggestive of his mood was Wade's sarcastic comment on performing picket duty in the rain, " we stood and took it with the satisfaction of knowing that it was all for our Beloved Country! Oh what a blessed privilege we have! I am afraid we do not appreciate it so highly as we should!"

Edward Wade was a prototype of the mid-twentieth century peacenik. Though opposed to copperheadism, his political beliefs could not prevent him from becoming deeply disillusioned and weary of the war. McClellan's infamous caution and the heavy toll on his friends' lives caused Wade to observe cynically that competence was no longer a requirement for an officer's commission. He considered the Union generals to be either stupid or corrupt (or both) and saw the war as a generals' chess board where soldier/pawns were flung carelessly into the enemy's gambits. Nothing can be proved by killing, Wade insisted, and the only feasible settlement is a peaceful one.