One of the best-kept secrets in Vernon also happens to be one of its most significant contributions to history.
But just finding it is half the battle.
Mt. Hope Cemetery sits in the Talcottville section of town, an area off Route 83 just over the Manchester line whose roots run deep in the town's history of manufacturing.
The Talcott family owned one of those mills and in 1867 set up a cemetery tucked into a corner of the village near what is now 100 Main Street. Trouble is, the tucking was done so well it can take several swoops in a car to figure out where it is, even though a historical marker designates the spot.
The driveway to Mt. Hope runs between two houses, but then opens up to green pastures, rolling hills and monuments — a lot of monuments.
And one monument stands out — the Civil War memorial, erected in 1869. It is the second-oldest in the nation.
The four soldiers whose names appear on the stone structure represent a Civil War textbook from the bloodiest day in American history to the most infamous prison camp of the conflict.
Here is a look at who is on the monument:
• Capt. Frank Stoughton, Company D, 14th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. He's the ranking soldier on it and he died on Jan. 1, 1866. As an officer, it is smashing he lived for nine months after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
The regiment was involved in 34 major battles and skirmishes, and there is a display noting its record of service on a wall at the New England Civil War Museum at the Vernon Town Hall.
The battles the 14th fought include Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.
• Horace Hunn, Company B, 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Hunn died in a hospital in Maryland on Oct. 12, 1862, two days shy of a month after the Battle of Antietam. According to a feature on the monument on stonesentinels.com, the regiment engaged 779 soldiers and suffered 43 killed and 161 wounded at Antietam.
• Philip Foster, Company B, 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Foster died at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, considered the bloodiest day in American military history. The Civil War Trust places the casualty total at 22,717 as 87,000 Union troops slugged it out with 45,000 Confederates.
• Henry Loomis, Company B, 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Loomis drowned in the Potomac on April 24, 1865. It was a day when troops were dispatched up and down the river in search of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Booth was located and killed by Federal troops two days later.
• Alonzo Hills, Company B, 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Hills died in a Charleston, SC, prison camp on Oct. 6, 1864. In April 1864, the 16th was defending the garrison at Plymouth, NC, and, vastly outnumbered, was forced to surrender.
• James Bushnell, Company B, 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Bushnell died on Nov. 15, 1862, nearly two months after Antietam. The troops had loaded their muskets for the first time the day before the battle.
• Orrin Brown, Company A, 106th Regiment, New York Volunteers. Brown died of typhoid fever on April 22, 1863, according to a history of the regiment on dam.ny.gov. Disease ravaged the troops during the war.
• Francis Brantley, Company H, 6th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Brantley died at the notorious prison camp in Andersonville, GA. He was one of about 45,000 who perished there because of disease, starvation and abuse.
Other wars are represented at the cemetery, but the Civil War monument is the largest.
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