Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, gave many Americans a vivid picture of slavery and in some ways may have helped set North against South (Abraham Lincoln once supposedly said to her, “So you’re the little woman whose book started this great war.”) Her life and works are chronicled in Hartford’s Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, located in the house where she lived during the last 23 years of her life.
Civil War Commemoration
Connecticut supplied its share of troops and more than its share of weaponry and supplies to America’s bloodiest conflict, now more than 150 years past. Here’s a tour that will give some flavor of that far-off time and the terrible toll it exacted.
Among Connecticut’s most notable Civil War memorials is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, located in Hartford’s Bushnell Park. It’s the first permanent triumphal arch built in America (1886) and is highlighted by a classical frieze that wraps around the top of the arch – the north side tells the story of war and the south, the story of peace.
Next, drive down to the shore for a visit to Fort Trumbull in New London, where thousands of Union soldiers were recruited and trained. The fort, built between 1839 and 1852 on the site of two previous forts, has a rich history spanning almost all of American history. You’ll find a visitor center, two floors of interactive exhibits and interpretive signage on the 16-acre property – as well as beautiful waterfront views.
While you’re in New London, make a stop at Hempsted Houses, the only Underground Railway stop open to the public along Connecticut’s African-American Freedom Trail. In the years leading up to the Civil War, many slaves escaping from the South found protection and a new life in Connecticut, especially after slavery was completely abolished in 1848.
Mountain Grove Cemetery
In the years following the Civil War, many memorials were erected in the memory of those who had fallen. You can find a list of well over 100 in Connecticut here. Many are to be seen in public places, such as the dramatic Soldiers and Sailors Monument, located high on East Rock in New Haven, or George W. Bissell’s magnificent Soldiers’ Monument, just off the west side of the green in Waterbury. But of course many are located in cemeteries as well. Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery (where P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb are buried) is home to a monument, Pro Patria, that combines mournful bas-relief figures with lists of the deceased. The graves of 83 Civil War veterans are arrayed in the plot behind the monument.