Sunday, March 16, 1862, the long-expected orders came. Colonel Birge called the officers together: “You will hold your commands in readiness to move to-morrow. Our destination is undoubtedly Ship Island.”
A hundred and fifty years ago today, my great great great grandfather, Julius Tobias, and about 1000 other members of the 13th Connecticut Volunteers, arrived in New York City aboard the steam ship Granite State. They left New Haven the previous day, the 17th of March. The entire town likely came out to wish the soldiers off; Julius’ wife, Julia, and their 6 children among them.
According to Homer B. Sprague, the Captain of Company H of which Julius was the 2nd Lieutenant, the soldiers were told before embarking that many of them would not return. Still, high hopes and the pride of defending their great country spurred the 13th on as they marched down Chapel St. to the landing near Tomlinson Bridge.
That same day the 13th left New Haven, a story was published in the Hartford Daily Courant about the arrest of the contractor who furnished the City of New York (the ship the 13th were to take to Ship Island, Mississippi) with its water casks. Mr. Almy, an agent for the state of CT, discovered that the water casks were actually used oil casks and would have poisoned the entire Regiment if they had been used. The contractor was arrested and sent to Fort Lafayette, presumably to await trial. As the writer of the article put, “hanging is too good for such a villain.”