Stedman, Griffin Alexander (Gen)
    GEN. GRIFFIN ALEXANDER STEDMAN, that gallant and distinguished citizen, soldier and noble man, of whom Hartford is so justly proud and not less the nation, and whose conspicuous services during the years of the Civil war are perpetuated in an imposing statue in the capital city, descended from patriotic New England stock of English origin, whose ancestors came early to the New World.
     Gen. Stedman was born Jan. 6, 1838, in Hartford, Conn., son of Griffin A. and Mary ApOwen (Shields) Stedman, he a native of Hartford, and she of Philadelphia, descending from old substantial families there, one of which, on her mother's side, was the Jackson family. The paternal grandfather of Gen. Stedman, who also bore the name of Griffin, was a native of Hampton, Conn., and was there engaged, and afterward in Hartford, in the lumber business, the old family homestead in Hartford being located on Morgan street. He was one of the prominent men of Hartford of his day; was very active in religious work, identified with Christ Episcopal Church, and assisted in building the present church edifice that stands on the corner of Main and Church streets. He died at the age of seventy years. Gen. Stedman's father was also active and prominent in the councils of Christ Episcopal Church. He was major in the old Governor's Foot Guard, a military organization of historic origin and of considerable local note, and also had a brother, Edmund Stedman, who served in that organization in the same rank. This Edmund Steelman was the father of the New York gentleman of the same name known widely as a poet and critic. From the inscriptions on the tombstones marking the graves of the parents of Gen. Stedman it is learned that his father was born in 1810 and died in 1883, and that his mother was born in 1815 and died in 1877. The children born to this couple were Mary Ada, now Mrs. Charles W. Johnson, of Hartford; Griffin Alexander, our subject; Elizabeth Shields; Robert Shields, now a practicing physician in New York; Ernest Gordon, now a lawyer of New York; and Edmund ApOwen.
     Gen. Griffin A. Stedman, the subject proper of this sketch, passed his youth and early manhood in his native city. His education was received in the schools of which Hartford is so justly proud, he graduating from Trinity College June, 1859. He began reading law in Philadelphia, entering the office of S. H. Perkins, a leading lawyer of that city. When the attack on Sumter was made he at once joined the Washington Greys of that city, but on learning that Col. Colt, of Hartford, was raising a regiment for the Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, he exchanged to that command in May, 1861, just as it was taking up its quarters on the very grounds which are now marked by this young hero's statue.
     Realizing amid all the excitement and enthusiasm of the time how poorly we were prepared for the struggle, that war was a science, that numbers and bravery could not win battles unless directed by intelligence and skill, young Stedman devoted himself with untiring energy to acquire a knowledge of his new calling. He early showed such aptitude and ability as to attract the attention of Major Baker of the regular army, in charge of the instruction of the battalion, who recommended him for a commission.
     The enterprise of Col. Colt was not successful, the battalion was disbanded and the Fifth regiment of Connecticut Volunteers was called for by the governor, who in recognition of Stedman's qualifications commissioned him as captain of Company I.  He left Hartford July 29, 1861, with the regiment which was assigned to duty under Gen. Banks in the department of the Shenandoah. The regiment was at once called upon to make a series of long and rapid marches up and down the Potomac to cover threatened points, earning for itself the designation of "foot cavalry," and becoming thoroughly acquainted with guard and out-post duty in face of the enemy; Stedman availed himself with alacrity of these opportunities for improvement, and so impressed Col. Ferry with his ability that he was selected to command a detachment sent across the Potomac to cover the retreat of our forces after  the disaster at Ball's Bluff. He received great credit for the effective manner in which he performed this service. It is a difficult and delicate mission, and seldom accomplished without sacrificing a portion of the picket line on withdrawal. Stedman withdrew the picket line himself, and brought back every man.
     In November, 1861, Capt. Stedman was promoted to be major of the Eleventh, and served with the regiment under Burnside in the expedition to North Carolina, taking part in the capture of New Haven and the different affairs of the campaign. 
     On June 11, 1862, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and returned with the regiment to the Army of the Potomac, in time for the Antietam campaign. The regiment formed the advance guard in entering Frederick City, and was engaged at South Mountain. In the battle of Antietam Stedman had command of the right wing of the regiment in the attack on the Stone Bridge, and, after the death of the gallant Kingsbury, led in the charge by which it was captured. Here he was severely wounded, but refused to leave the field until the regiment was relieved.
     On Sept. 25, of that year, Stedman was made colonel, and was in command at the battle of Fredericksburg. Shortly afterward he was ordered to Newport News, then in March, 1863, to Suffolk, where he took an active part in the defense during its investment by Longstreet. In June he participated in the demonstration on Richmond, and during the rest of the summer and fall was in garrison at Gloucester Point and Yorktown. In January, 1864, the regiment re-enlisted, and on its return to the front was assigned to the Eighteenth corps; was engaged in the affair at Swift's Creek, May 9, and in the battle of Drury's Bluff, on the 16th, where he lost nearly two hundred men. In the latter part of May, Stedman succeeded to the command of the brigade, and went with Gen. Smith's corps to the Army of the Potomac in time to join in the bloody assault upon the enemy's line at Cold Harbor. On June 15 he was present at the capture of a portion of the defenses of Petersburg, and subsequently was engaged in the investment of that place. On August 5, just at the end of the at-tack which had been repulsed, and while talking with Gen. Ames he received his death wound. Repeat edly recommended for promotion by his division and corps commanders for personal gallantry and effective service while leading his brigade, his commission as general reached him as his life was ebbing away.
     Such in brief outline was the career of one of Connecticut's best and bravest sons. His country called, he gave her all he had, his life. The details that would round out the study of his service are woven in the records of the Fifth and Eleventh Connecticut regiments, and of his later commands. These records tell of many a well-fought field, of patient endurance, of weary march, of defeat and victory, and all illumined with the spirit of patriotic devotion and self-sacrifice.
     Gen. Stedman was possessed in a high degree of the qualities which mark the successful commander. Cool and collected he was always master of himself and of the situation, and inspired a confidence in those under him that was unbounded. Ever ready for any service, never complaining, always setting an example of cheerful obedience to orders, and always exacting strict compliance with his own without in any degree being a martinet. By force of his personality he exerted an influence that was irresistible. He governed not so much by fear of punishment as by creating an ideal of duty which made every man feel the honor of the regiment was in his keeping, and that failure on his part would bring discredit on the command. Those who knew Stedman best loved him best. There was an indescribable something in his bearing and manner by which you realized that you had met a man. He was strong of heart and true of purpose, and withal tender as a woman, self-reliant, but always considerate of others. "Whom the Gods love die young." Lives are not like leaseholds measured by a term of years, achievement laughs to scorn the reaper death. If Stedman's years were few they sufficed to bring him honor and renown. He left a memory without a stain. He died for others. [The foregoing personal sketch of Gen. Stedman is in main taken from the oration of Col. W. S. Cogswell, delivered at the unveiling of the Stedman monument at Hartford Oct. 4, 1900.]
     The Shot that gave Gen. Stedman his mortal wound passed through his stomach. He lived until the following morning, dying Aug. 6, 1864. Gen. Ames, in announcing to Gen. Ord the fact of the receiving of the mortal wound, stated that he had lost one of the finest soldiers in the army. Gen. Stedman's remains were sent under escort to New London, Conn., the summer home of the family, and Aug. 13, 1864, his body was temporarily interred, with military honors, in Cedar Grove cemetery in that city. On Aug. 20, 1875, his remains were removed from New London to Hartford, and reburied in the family lot in Cedar Hill cemetery, where they now repose, a handsome and elaborately carved sarcophagus of military design marking his last resting place. On the base of the tomb appears the highly appropriate inscription: "Brave, just, generous and pure, without fear and without reproach."
     On what is known as Campfield, in the southern part of the city of Hartford, there has just been erected by the Campfield Monument Association what is designated as The Campfield Monument. Campfield was made historic during the Civil war by its being the camping place and mustering-in point of many Connecticut regiments. To mark this field and commemorate the memories that cluster about it this monument was erected by the association, who likewise determined upon having it surmounted by a portrait statue of some typical Connecticut volunteer, one whose military history was linked with the field, and it was unanimously decided upon that of Gen. Griffin A. Stedman. "The Committee in charge has crowned the pedestal on which are inscribed the names of the regiments that were here mustered into service with a statue in bronze of one who was, in fullest measure, a type of the citizen soldier of the Republic. Of one who represented in marked degree the patriotism, courage, determination, intelligence, and self-sacrifice that animated the great army by which the nation was preserved." The monument was unveiled Oct. 4, 1900.

(Photo attached.)

Biographical Record
Hartford County,



J. H. Beers & Co.


pgs 64 - 66

pages / text are copyrighted by
Elaine Kidd O'Leary
May 2002

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