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Historical Society, VFW Honors Avon's Civil War Soldiers

The Hartford Courant

Harrison Woodford was one of seven members of the Woodford family of Avon to fight in the American Civil War, from 1862 through December 1864.

At his grave in West Avon Cemetery, Woodford's great-grandson, Gordon Woodford of Granby, joined a memorial ceremony Friday evening as part of this year's 150th anniversary of the war. The Avon Historical Society and Avon's VFW Post 3272 plans to place American flags and Grand Army of the Republic medallions on the graves of the 85 men from Avon who served.

The ceremony included three shots from an authentic 1863 Civil War weapon fired by Sal Carmosino, a war reenactor from Tolland.

"I'm honored that they're recognizing the service he did. A lot of people didn't come back," Gordon Woodford said. "There's a lot of history in this graveyard."

His parents and grandfather are buried there, too, as well as several other relatives.

The Avon Free Public Library's Marion Hunter History Room has transcribed copies of 31 letters that Harrison Woodford, a member of the 16th Connecticut Regiment Volunteer Infantry, wrote to his family during his time in the war.

"A soldier's life is a hard old life to lead but I think I can ride it through," Woodford wrote to his sister, Mattie, from Leesboro, Md., on Sept. 10, 1862. "No one knows any thing of the hardships of a soldier's life until they know it by experience."

As time passed, Woodford's letters reflect some waning interest among the troops.

"There is a great lack of patriotism in the army and I must say for myself that I cannot see from the present aspect of things what all this loss of life is for," he wrote on Christmas 1862.

Woodford sent a letter home on April 16, 1864. The battle of Plymouth, N.C., held by the Union, started the next day, and the last fort surrendered on April 20. Woodford was captured there and sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia, where he was kept until Nov. 28.

He was weak and sick when he was released, but survived. Woodford returned to Avon and died in 1903.

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