Saturday, May 18, 2024
Bridgeport at War, Veterans and Wars

Last of the Civil War Veterans

Well into the 20th century, members of the Elias Howe Jr. local veterans chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic would meet to share their memories of the Civil War and make sure that the sacrifices of the soldiers killed in the war were not forgotten.

The local Grand Army of the Republic post was formed by greater Bridgeport area veterans on April 15, 1867. It was named after Elias Howe, Jr., the first Bridgeport resident who signed up for duty in the U.S. Army in Bridgeport.

Howe, best known as the sewing machine industrialist, was in his late 40s when he enlisted as a private. He never served in combat. Instead Elias Howe contributed money to the Union war effort.

The GAR post had 1,360 members soon after it was formed. By 1937, there were only seven Civil War veterans left in the area, and the seven men rode in an automobile down the parade route. The oldest in the post then was 95, the youngest 88.

Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.