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Antonio Dardelle

Whose picture is this?

(Webmaster's notes: Credit of the information and picture goes to Jeffrey P. Magut, Trumbull, CT.)

A group photograph of Civil War veterans in civilian clothing.
(Some of them wore their Corps badges.)


A picture of an Asian man from the group.
(This is a blown up cut photo of the second row, left first person.)
We could compare the known Antonio Dardelle photo taken at his old age. 

A close up photo of the group to show the Corps badges they wore, indicating that they were Connecticut Civil War veterans.
Company A. 27th Connecticut Regiment, 39th Anniversary Re-union picture, 1906

{10/9/2006} The contributor, Jeffrey P. Magut, wrote that he recently obtained a group photograph of Civil War veterans which includes an Asian man. Several of the men wear 2nd Corps badges on their clothes. A separate image of a man in a derby has been cut and pasted into the photo. He strongly resembles Gen. Joseph R. Hawley. The photo had the following info on the back "Corbin & Konold, 811 Chapel St, New Haven, CT." He estimated the photo to date to 1885-1895 based on the dress of the men. He had attached the group photo, a close up of the man in question, and a shot of the men with corps badges. He asked me what I thought about it.

The webmaster did a little bit research on Joseph R. Hawley, and found the name was in the 1st CT vol. regiment (Captain) and the 7th CT vol. regiment (Colonel). As far as we know, there were only two Chinese serving in the Connecticut regiments: Joseph Pierce served in the 14Th CT regiment and Antonio Dardelle served on the 27th CT regiment. But of course, there could be more than two Chinese serving in the Connecticut Army that we hadn't heard of. We knew that Dardelle belonged to the New Haven Gray, and Pierce enlisted with the guys around the Meriden, CT area and not associated with New Haven. Examining the photo carefully, I could see the person's slanting shoulder, slim body built-up, and looking at the eyes and mustache, all the indication shows that the picture resembles the old age photo of Antonio Dardelle.

Jeffrey P. Magut further informed me that he obtained the photo from a dealer of antique photographs at the Elephant's Trunk flea market in New Milford, CT. The dealer had no other information about the photo and he was not marketing it as anything other than a picture of "old men with long beards." The dealer had no other similar photos. It was only upon seeing the corps badges that Jeffrey made any military connection. Jeffrey saw the newspaper obituary photo of Antonio Dardelle I mentioned and was amazed by the similarity. From the shirt and tie, to the style of mustache, to the angle of the shoulders in the pose, the images are nearly identical. He thought the picture is much more likely to be Dardelle, given the New Haven reference.

The webmaster asked his fellow researcher and friend Irving Moy who reenacted Joseph Pierce in CT, for a second opinion. Irving looked at the picture of Antonio Dardelle, which was used for his obituary that was on my website under Ruthanne's work, he believed it is a picture of Antonio Dardelle. There is a very close resemblance. Corbin & Konold was a photo studio in New Haven. Antonio was a member of the 27th CVI out of New Haven. THere is no record of Joseph Pierce being a member of the GAR in Meriden. He doubts that he would have been in New Haven for a possible gathering of veterans. There is one man, who is wearing what appears to be a trefoil, the badge of the 2nd Corps, but there may not be much of a mystery about this since 127 recruits for the 14th CVI came from New Haven. He will forward this to Ruthanne and Bob Ellis, who is on the museum board of the 102nd Infantry, an outgrowth of the original New Haven Grays, where Antonio's knapsack resides.

(Caveat: There is no proof of unbroken chain of custody of the possession of the picture from the Dardelle's desendant. So it is only our opinion that this picture resembles Antonio Dardelle. And so far, we had not yet proved it or confirmed it.)

Webmaster's note: Andy De Cusati sent me this comment. Thanks. Dated 10/26/2007.

Just saw your site comparing the face of Antonio Dardelle with the photo of the Asian man in the group shot. It is very exciting and may very well be Antonio.
I saw Antonio's knapsack at the 102nd Infantry Museum while helping to do an inventory of their holdings. At the time I was co-founder of a new re-enactment group and we had decided to portray the 27th Conn. I had read about how Co. A was given their knapsacks by the New Haven Grays as a gift since many Grays were in Co A's ranks and the then Captain of the company, Henry Merwin, had a long association with the Grays. I knew also that all of Co A's knapsacks had been burned the night of their capture at Chancellorsville so I was excited to see this one.
I decided to research Mr. Dardelle and found that his knapsack survived because after the battle of Fredericksburg Mr. Dardelle got ill and spent the rest of his time in a hospital. First as a patient then as a hospital steward. So, not being present at the battle of Chancellorsville saved his knapsack for postierty.
Anyway, I was told by Frank Carono, who was custodian at the 102nd Infantry Museum at the time, that Antonio Dardelle was Asian. I was doubtful because of the name. I went to the New Haven Colony Historical Society and found the obituary and picture of Antonio that is on your website. Of course after that I knew Frank's information was right. I later shared the info with a lady who was writting a book about Asians in the Civil War. I cannot remember her name. (Webmaster's note: Andy is referring Ruthanne Lum McCunn.) I am glad to see that she used my research (for which she gave me credit in her book) and that it is getting some circulation and attention.
By the way, Frank also told me of a WW1 veteran he knew who talked about Antonio Dardelle and how he would give Mr. Dardelle a ride to all of the Grays meetings. So we know that Mr. Dardelle was definately involved in the 27th Conn and the Gray's re-unions.
You mention the 2nd Corps badge being worn in the photo by some of the veterans. It should be remembered that the 27th was also in the 2nd Corps so the veterans in the photo could be from a 27th Reunion as well. I am going to try and match up some of the faces in the photo with a photo I have of a 27th reunion.
This is exciting and I ask you to please keep me posted if anything else should turn up.
Best wishes,
Andy De Cusati
Gettysburg, Pa (Born and raised in New Haven, Conn.)

Antonio Dardelle

(Researched by Ruthanne Lum McCunn)

There was another Chinese serving in the Connecticut Volunteer Regiment. We would not have known his story, if he had not disclosed that this unsung hero was from China. His name is Antonio Dardelle.

The detail of Dardelle's early life in China couldn't be determined at this point, but it could be said his situation was very similar to Joseph Pierce's. Scanning his known documents, the section on date of birth and place of birth indicated that he was born in China.

Dardelle was born on January 1844, in Kwangtung Province, China.

We are curious to find out under what circumstances did the Whites gave the Chinese boy a non-Anglo-Saxon name, Antonio Dardelle, but we are not quite successful at this point in time in our findings.

Captain David White brought the seven-year-old Antonio Dardelle from China to his marine port, Guildford, Connecticut. "Captain and Mrs. White found him in a Chinese port, an orphan, and Mrs. White took such a liking to him that she prevailed upon her husband to permit her to bring him back to this country. His residence was in Clinton, CT. He received his early education at the Clinton Academy and lived as a member of Captain White's household."

He enlisted at eighteen years old. His height measured 178 centimeters. His muster roll described him as having black hair and black eyes, and undoubtedly a Chinese. Some of the sources cited misspelled Dardelle's last name as "Dordelle" or "Dardell." Yale University is located in the nearby New Haven, and therefore, the education level of this regiment is relatively higher. Dardelle enlisted as a private in Company A, twenty-seventh Connecticut Voluntary Infantry, in New Haven, at Camp Terry, on October 3, 1862. The 27th regiment was a nine-month regiment. He was mustered out on July 27, 1863.

The organization of 27th was almost complete in September 1862. On October 22 [1862], the regiment received order to leave New Haven and proceed to Washington, D.C. The 27th had about 829 soldiers and officers.

On October 25 [1862], the 27th arrived in Washington, D.C., and mustered in part of the Army of Potomac. Later on, they engaged in three big battles. Their rifles came from Austria, of inferior quality. One of their commanders commented, "Soldiers, if the bullets could not be fired from your rifles, use your bayonet." The 27th was assigned to the second Corps, first Brigade. The Army of the Potomac [of 1862] was well known to be bungling. The Army was led by a General [Ambrose Burnside] who might be personally courageous, but knew not too much about good strategy and tactics.

The first battle of 27th regiment, under the command of [General Winfield Scott] Hancock, fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virgina, in December 1862. That morning, the Union army [crossing the Rappahannock] and arrived in Fredericksburg, marched towards Marye's Heights. Between the city and the [stonewall of] Marye's Heights, laid an unprotected ground. The Confederate fire power, [well protected behind the stonewall] covered the whole panoramic view. The North repeatedly charged [Marye's Heights]. The South opened up their fire. ["When we opened up, not a chicken down there would survive." said Confederate General Edward Porter Alexander and General James Longstreet.] The North suffered severely. When some the Union army moved closer to the stonewall, rain of bullets washed over them. Under a net of cannon balls and bullets, the Union's charge subsided. The North gave up the attack in the evening and retreated.

About 375 soldiers of the 27th Infantry participated in this battle. One officer and 15 soldiers laid dead; 5 officers and 84 soldiers were wounded; and 3 missing; total 108 casualties, losing about one third of its strength. Just before the battle, some soldiers of the 27th were transferred to perform some other duties, otherwise, the casualty list would have been more severe. [Dardelle later told people he had suffered a severe wound in his right shoulder during heavy fighting in Marye's Heights, which was part of the Battle of Federicksburg. Dardelle's military records confirm that he was indeed "in hospital" in December 1862, but the notation is "sick" rather than wounded. On January 27, 1863, he was transferred from the General Hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island, to the one in New Haven, and he remained "sick in hospital at New Haven" from January through June. When speaking of his wound, however, he claimed that "after a brief period of treatment, he returned to his company and served until the end [of the duration] of [his] the war."

After resting for the Winter camping, the 27th participated in another great battle in May 1863, in the Battle of Chancellorville, Virginia. Owing to brilliant strategic move by the Confederate, the high command [General Joeseph Hooker] of the Union Army miscalculated their advantage, and the Union army suffered another defeat. [Dardelle was not there.]

At 11 a.m. in the morning of June 6, 1863, 27th marched to an important sentry position of the front line as ordered, with other regiments, composed of about 400 plus soldiers. Along the way, they were ambushed by the enemy and had some casualties. When they arrived the destination, they found out the two wings of the enemy started to envelope them, intending to surround them and cut off their escape route. At this crucial juncture, they could find their commander, and they couldn't decide what to do.

The Confederate then completed the encirclement, and sent officer under the flag of truce to persuade the 27th to surrender, telling them they had no chance and would be soon annihilated. The 27th had no choice but to give up their arms and surrendered.

In this skirmish, 27th lost 2 soldiers, and 1 officer and 6 soldiers wounded, and 18 officers and 265 soldiers got captured, making a total of about 292 soldiers. [Source indicated Antonio Dardelle was not there.] The 2 left over regiment of 27th were re-organized with others to form a brigade.

The re-organized 27th marched to Pennsylvania and participated in the famous Battle of Gettysburg in July 2, 1863. The 27th regiment had only 75 soldiers left. July 2, Union 3rd Army engaged with and attacked the Confederate force on the left wing. Owing to the long line and their thin composition, their attack collapsed upon the Confederate's counter-attack. [Again Antonio Dardelle was not there, but recuperating in a New Haven hospital.]

The next day, July 3, the 27th was assigned to guard [the center], beside the 14th Connecticut Infantry. At that time the 27th had only 37 soldiers left in their regiment. Well, the 14th was the focal point of the Confederate attack. [To make a long story short], the Confederate Pickett's charge were crushed by the Federal, and the South lost 5,000, killed, and 1,000 captured. The Confederates were forced to withdraw. The Union won this battle, which was commanded by General George Meade.

In Gettysburg, the 27th lost 2 officers and 8 soldiers, 4 officers and 20 soldiers injured; 5 missing; total casualty was 39.

After 9 months of fighting, 27th regiment had only 37 effective soldiers could be counted on for active combat duty.

Gettysburg was the last battle of the 27th. Afterward, the name 27th regiment was taken away from the organizational chart, and disbanded the surviving soldiers. Connecticut had provided 5 regiments and 4 of them were disbanded. Only the 14th CVI was left to continue to carry on.

On July 18, 1863, the survivors of the 27th departed the Army of the Potomac and went home. The captured soldiers of the 27th, after paroled and exchanged, also were released and joined their comrades in Baltimore. On July 22, 1863, the 27th returned to New Haven, and received warm-hearted welcome by their families and friends. Only about half of their original enlisted number were left. On July 27, 1863, the 27th Connecticut Voluntary Infantry was mustered out in New Haven.

According to the Government's record, Antonio Dardelle, with his comrades, were "honorably discharged." Most soldiers on record were "honorably discharged," and only a small portion of soldiers got "discharged." Only a soldier with "honorably discharged" could received various benefits, [such as a pension.]

Dardelle served in the military for eleven months and five days, as a private. He had no injury record. Owing to his non-Chinese sounding name, nobody could imagine he was a Chinese (by just looking at his names.) Thanks for a reporter from New York Times, who wrote an article in March 17, 1882, revealing his Chinese background, otherwise, we might never find out his existence and his Chinese root.

After honorably discharged, Antonio Dardelle returned to his hometown, Clinton. On April 9, 1868, As a veteran, Dardelle joined the New Haven Grays.

The New York Times printed an article about Antonio Dardelle on March 17, 1882.

In New Haven, Connecticut, there is a Chinese named Antonio Dardelle. He was Naturalized as an U.S. citizen in the Superior Court of New Haven on October 22, 1880. He did not go through the process of Declaration of Intention to become a citizen three years prior, and instead, directly applied for Naturalization. We found out he held the "honorably discharged" Certificate of the 27th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, enlisted in October 22, 1862 and mustered out in July 25 (should be 27), 1863. According to the U.S. law, that could substitute "the first document." The law we are referring, is the Bill passed by the U.S. Congress on July 17, 1862, that "Any foreigner over age 21, and if he has been, or will be, honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, and if he permanently lives in the United States, he could apply to become U.S. citizen immediately, without the procedure of declaring intention to become U.S. citizen three years prior. He must demonstrate to the Court that he was honorably discharged, and lived and observed all moral turpitude."

In order to recruit more people to join in the Union Army during the Civil War, U.S. Congress passed this law to encourage foreign-born immigrants to enlist. Joseph Pierce applied to become citizen in 1882, just before the passing the Chinese Exclusion law, in order to protect his status to stay in the United States.

His service in the Civil War qualified Dardelle to secure a U.S. citizenship,
The Court of Common Pleas in New Haven accepting his enlistment as the equivalent to "the taking out of first papers." "With his American citizenship in hand, Dardelle embraced the Christian faith and became a member of the First Methodist Church." Moreover, he entered the Masonic Order in Guildford in 1865, changing his affiliation to the Wooster Lodge in 1882, and he was "an active worker with the Young Men's Republican Club, as well as the organization of the party in the ward where he made his home.

For several years after Dardelle mustered out, "home" continued to be Clinton. But on April 9, 1868, he married an American girl named Mary C. Payne from Madison, and in a church in Madison. Mary's father was also a sea captain. Clinton and Madison are about 4 miles apart, at the coast of the Atlantic. On the following year, in 1869, they moved to New Haven, and lived there ever since; their address was at 292 George Street, New Haven, Connecticut. Dardelle's occupation was a tinner (tinsmith) and plumber.

Antonio and Mary Dardelle had three daughters. The oldest daughter, Minnie, was born in November 7, 1873; second daughter Carrie, was born in July 7, 1875, and later married to a Mr. Cowan; third daughter Alice, was born in November 18, 1880. All three of his daughters were born in New Haven.

Dardelle worked well into old age, perhaps in part because for many years he could not secure the veteran's pension due him. Whether he had served was never in doubt. His exact age, however, was. When he first applied for a pension on February 20, 1907, under the Act of February 6, 1907, Dardelle claimed he was sixty-two and therefore entitled to twelve dollars a month. But he left the year of birth blank. Pressed by the Bureau of Pensions to give a date, he responded with an affidavit from a Charles Spreyer, who had served with him, explaining, "I left my Native country when but a chile (child). Brought up by a sea Capt. Who is now dead for this many years and his wife is in dotage therefor (therefore) I make this [affidavit] under oath of a man who has known me this fifty years." But the Bureau of Pensions must have denied Dardelle because eight years later he was still submitting these same explanations regarding his lack of acceptable birth records.

Under the various pension acts, the amount a veteran received increased in direct proportion to the veteran's age, and Dardelle, when finally granted a pension, was apparently given the money due a man younger than his seventy-two years. For on March 6, 1916, he submitted a request for an increase in pension, this time giving a specific year of birth: 1844. Whether this application was successful or he gave up on trying to convince the government, cannot be determined from existing records, but he did not stop working until he was eighty-one.

Dardelle received his pension at $12 per month. From May 25, 1912, his pension increased to $15.5 per month. In August 23, 1914, the sum increased to $19. From August 23, 1919, his pension jumped to $22.5 per month.

In addition to his work and the activities already noted, Dardelle was an omnivorous reader, with a special interest in books on philosophy and travel. Because of his daily walks through New Haven, he was well known in the town. He even "enjoyed the friendships of Governors Ingersoll and Woodruff." After he was widowed in 1930, his one unmarried daughter, Alice, kept house for him until his death from pneumonia on January 18, 1933, at age 89. At his funeral, members of his Masonic Lodge acted as pallbearers, and the New Haven Grays sent a delegation, including a bugler and honor guard. His hard backpack is on display in the New Haven Gray's Museum Room at the 102nd Regiment Armory, New Havens, Connecticut. His death certificate said he was buried in Madison, Connecticut, in January 21, 1933.

(Note 1: The quotation came from an article called, Lone Chinese Civil War Vet. Dies In City, from the Newspaper, New Haven Register, January 19, 1933.
Note 2: Antonio Dardelle's military records are available from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Credit goes to Andrew De Cusati for researching Dardelle's military records. Mr. De Cusati used to be a reenactor of the the 27th Connecticut Voluntary Regiment in Connecticut before he moved to Gettysburg.
Note 3: Author Ruthanne Lum McCunn also had researched and contributed to this article.)
Webmaster's note:
In 2008, My friend, Irving Moy (who reenacted and researched Joseph Pierce) who lived near Hartford, had seen and held and touched Antonio Dardelle's knapsack, when it was packed away for storage and preservation, when
the building of the New Haven Colony Historical Society were under renovation.


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January 1, 2007
Revised on April 10, 2008
Revised and uploaded on January 31, 2009