Craig R Johnson – The Flint Family
Can a sadder story be found in Center Cemetery than that of the Flint family? During the period of the Civil War their comfortable middle class life was totally upended to the extant that even before the war was over they ceased to be.
Alvin Flint, born in Vermont in 1810, and Lucy Clark, born in New Hampshire in 1811, met in East Hartford and were married in 1834 by Rev. Samuel Spring. Rev. Spring was the town’s Civil War minister and has his own podcast site.
At the time, East Hartford was primarily a manufacturing and farming town with a population of about 3000, with a small and attractive town center noted for its impressive rows of huge and stately elms. Alvin worked in the local paper making mill, alongside the Hockanum River.
Their first child, Alvin Jr., was born in 1845; Evaline two years later, and George in 1849 – all three children were enrolled in school when reaching age 6.
Their peaceful life began to unravel with the advent of the Civil War, the seriousness of which was made evident with the Northern disaster of Bull Run in the summer of 1861.
Alvin, Jr., no doubt with a youthful sense of immortality and a romanticized view of military life, enlisted soon after in October, at only the age of 17, as a private in Company D of the 11th Connecticut Volunteers.
With fellow raw recruits, Alvin spent 2-1/2 months training in Hartford during which his photographed portrait illustrating the Podcast sign was taken.
The departure from Hartford of the 11th Connecticut for deployment was, despite the cheers of thousands of bystanders, especially painful for Alvin, because his mother had contracted tuberculosis (then called consumption) and died only days before on December 1st, and his 15 year old sister, Evaline, was now also suffering from the same malady.
In late January of 1862, the 11th Conn. being at the front in North Carolina, the grieving and homesick Alvin received word from his father that Evaline had died on the 16th.
Alvin, Sr, was now a widower living in a gloomy house with only his son George. Seeing only reminders of his lost wife and daughter and his soldier son, he saw little to keep him at home. Spurred on by numerous mass meetings and patriotic appeals in support of the Union, he decided to join Alvin, Jr. in the war effort.
Thus, in a fatal mistake, Alvin Sr. nearly 53, along with his son, George, only 13 years old, enlisted together as privates in Company B, 21st Connecticut Volunteers and shipped off to a training camp outside of Washington.
His father and brother in Washington, Alvin, Jr. was at the Antietam battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland when on the fateful morning of September 17, 1862, during a 15 minute charge of the Connecticut 11th, and being only 18 years old, he was hit by enemy rifle fire leaving his torn and dead body sprawled on the ground within sight of Burnside Bridge.
A month later, Alvin, Sr. was sent to Sharpsburg as part of the Ambulance Corps from where he tried unsuccessfully to find his son’s grave.
A heartbroken and embittered father wrote of Antietam in a letter from Pleasant Valley, Maryland to the Hartford Courant dated Oct. 23, 1862:
“…my boy was brutally murdered … I was leaning upon that dear boy, as a prop in my declining years… Oh, how dreadful was that place to me where my boy was buried like a beast in the field. Oh, could I have found that spot, I would have wet it with my tears.”
In late December of 1862 the 21st Connecticut was encamped at
Falmouth, Virginia across the river from Confederate held Fredericksburg.
Typhoid fever was rampant throughout the camp infecting both 53 year old Alvin, who died on Jan. 10, 1863 and 13 year old George, who died just 5 days later.
It is not known who arranged to have their bodies later shipped to Center Cemetery for reburial alongside Lucy and Evaline in a poignant row of stark, white marble markers.