David Allen Starr was the son of David H. and Harriet Rogers Starr of New London, Connecticut. In 1862 he and his brother Elisha enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. David was captured by the Confederate Army at the battle of Cedar Mountain and taken first to Libby Prison and then to Belle Isle. He was lucky enough to be paroled in five months but not before being starved and enduring the hot sun with no place to take cover. After his release, David was placed on guard duty at a hospital in Frederick, Maryland, before rejoining his regiment which was preparing for General Sherman’s “march to the sea”.We know more about David than we do about many other soldiers, because along with his letters we received photographs of him and his two brothers with their mother, several photographs of David himself, and a carte de visite of his wife Julia. Now we have faces to go with names.
Other items in the collection add detail and color to his story. At the battle of Winchester, David evidently lost everything in the retreat except his New Testament, as he reports to his mother in a letter dated May 30, 1862. That same testament came with the letters and are now part of Ms 101834. We also received carvings that David did either in while in prison or in camp. In one letter, he talks about sending his mother a “book” and there are two miniature books carved of wood that are also part of this donation.
David wrote an autobiographical poem that was published in 1871. That and a brief biography of him anonymously written, his daughter’s report card, and his memorial card flesh out David’s life after the war. It is one of the most complete narratives of a Civil War soldier we have to tell. We thank the family that treasured these belongings of David Starr and then realized the importance of making a gift to the Historical Society where we can preserve them, make them available for research, and tell David’s story.
Two miniature books carved of wood?? So cool.
Yes, they are cool. What is even cooler is that they survived. I could not get a good photograph of the miniatures, but if I could have, they would have been illustrated, too. David also carved a small wooden heart and made a peach pit into a miniature basket.