What is this?

spoon-thumbOur exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it? To find out more,

civil-war-spoonYes, it’s a spoon. But it’s not just any normal utensil. It’s a superhero spoon!

David Stevens was born in April 1837 in Scotland, the son of James and Margaret Stevens, and immigrated to the Enfield, Connecticut in 1838. He joined the Union Army when he was 24 years old and became a private in Company B in the 8th Connecticut Infantry in the Civil War.

The 8th Connecticut Infantry was first organized in 1861 and drew most of it’s enlistments from the central north and northwestern part of the state. The regiment’s first engagement was the Battle of New Bern in 1862. However, it’s most harrowing encounter was at the Battle of Antietam.

The Battle of Antietam took place on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Almost 23,000 casualties were tallied for both the Union Army and the Confederate Army. The battle began with Union Army Major General George B. McClellan attacking Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s troops. Union Major General Ambrose Burnside and his corps, including infantries from Connecticut, advanced against the Confederate’s right flank. However, Confederate Major General A.P. Hill came as reinforcements and drove back Burnside’s force, eventually ending the battle.

It was during this General A.P. Hill’s drive that David Stevens received a shot through his haversack (a bag used to hold rations). Shockingly, instead of the bullet entering his body, it hit a spoon that he was carrying in his bag. He came out of the battle unharmed. How many times have we seen this happen in the movies?

The spoon was curved and warped by the impact. He survived the battle and served until 1864.

He married Elizabeth S. Stevens in 1867. They had at least four children. He died on 9 December 1903 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Mike Messina is the Interpretive Projects Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society

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