Great-Great-Grandsons Honor Ancestors At Gettysburg

William H. Hincks, right, will follow in the footsteps of his great-great grandfather, Sgt. Major William Bliss Hincks, left, re-enacting the Battle of Gettysburg. (Courtesy Tad Sattler; John Woike)

Five Connecticut infantry regiments and a light artillery unit, 1,300 men in all, had been in the fight, losing 68 dead and 291 wounded.

Six of the 59 Union generals were from Connecticut. The heroic performance of the 14th regiment, in particular, was reflected in its capture of five Confederate regimental flags. In addition to Hincks, two other enlisted men from the regiment — Cpl. Christopher Flynn of Company K and Pvt. Elijah W. Bacon of Company F — were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Reduced to 100 men after Gettysburg, the regiment continued to serve through the remainder of the war and was present when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.

Hincks, a native of Maine who grew up in Bridgeport, ended the war as a major. He returned to Bridgeport afterwards and became one of the city's leading citizens, a successful businessman, published author, and bank officer. He was appointed co-executor of the estate of his good friend, P.T. Barnum, and helped found the Barnum Museum and Bridgeport Hospital. He died in 1903.

Broatch was only 20 at the time of Gettysburg. Seven months later, he was leading his men at the Battle of Morton's Ford when a Confederate bullet struck his right hand, severing a finger and 6 inches of his sword, which was hurled 20 feet skyward. Undaunted, he picked up the sword with his other hand and continued fighting.

Ending the war as a major, he returned to his hometown of Middletown where he worked as superintendent of the city's waterworks, spent one term in the General Assembly and was active in the Grand Army of the Republic veterans organization. He died in 1904. His sword is on exhibit at the Middlesex Historical Society.

Kierran Broatch said his ancestor's service is remembered in two cherished family heirlooms.

"One is a hand-stitched regimental history that has his name on it — his wife must have stitched that — hanging up in the house I was raised in.

"I also have a [Grand Army of the Republic] ribbon he wore many years after the battle with a nutmeg hanging from it."

To learn more about the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, go to 14thconnecticut.org.