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Woodbridge Library Continues Civil War Fest with Gettysburg Chronicler

Matthew Bartlett, author of a planned 18-volume series on Gettysburg, speaks Tuesday night.

 

The famous battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War, is one of the most depicted battles in history -- an epic multiday struggle between thousands of Union and Confederate troops.

And one dog.

"When I do talks, even people who'd been to Gettysburg and study the battle were surprised there's a dog who had a role in the fight," says Matthew Bartlett.

Bartlett is a Cheshire-based author and a guest speaker for the latest installment of the 's Civil War series. A church music director by trade, he found a calling as the author of a series of intricately detailed "non-fiction novels" on Gettysburg (after being introduced to the subject by his wife, a Civil War buff.) They focus on the forgotten or lesser-known characters and events -- like the first day of battle, or the aforementioned dog.

"The dog would act like the regimental mom, barking away at confederates she saw," says Bartlett. "She could also identify Democrats ... At Gettysburg, when they charged into the fight, she got shot. Even then, throughout the nights she'd be on the battlefield, she was licking clean the wounds of soldiers until she was eventually found, completely exhausted."

(Don't worry -- he's not sure how a dog could identify confederates or Democrats on sight either.)

Bartlett is the latest speaker in a series that will continue through fall at Woodbridge Town Library. (The library welcomed Thomas J. Craughwell, author of Stealing Lincoln's Body, at a similar event Wednesday night.) While they're not directly involved with the Civil War parade on the Green, September 23, that event will serve as a culmination of what is shaping up to be a very Civil War-heavy fall in Woodbridge.

"We've had crafts for the kids, authors come in, and we're having films," says library director Todd Fabian. "We really want to show that the Civil War can be a teaching tool, and it's a part of American history that everyone should understand and grasp."

Although Connecticut fortunately didn't see any action in the Civil War, Woodbridge did play a role in the history of the war. The Woodbridge Room at the library showcases lithographs and artwork from the period, including listings of residents who were involved in the conflict.

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