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Remembering Theodore Winthrop and all who died for their country

Thousands of names are incscirbed in the walls of Memorial Hall to commemorate Yale students and graduates who died while fighting for the United States in time of war (plus those who died fighting against the US in the Civil War). Today, we remember the story of Theodore Winthrop, Class of 1848, who was the first officer to die in battle in the Civil War some 153 years ago.

As our “Old Yale” columnist Judith Ann Schiff wrote in 2011, Winthrop enlisted in the Union Army just after the war began “for the purpose of lending my aid to the great work of attempting to get rid of slavery in this country.” He was commissioned a major and assigned to be an aide to General Benjamin Butler. He died in the Battle of Big Bethel, considered the first land battle of the war, on June 10. A native of New Haven, he was buried in the Grove Street Cemetery. His accounts of his brief time in the war—along with other writings—were published in the Atlantic Monthly after his death.

Winthrop’s grave—and those of 29 other Yale Civil War veterans buried at Grove Street—were decorated with flags this weekend by a local Civil War reading group. Myles Alderman ’58 and Michael Schaffer ’72 were among those who took part, according to the New Haven Register.

For more about Yale’s Civil War Memorial, read this 2011 article.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Civil War, Theodore Winthrop, Grove Street Cemetery
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