Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 61, page(s) 602-604


JACOB BRODHEAD HARDENBERGH, of North Canaan in this state, died April 4th, 1892, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. He was born at Wawarsing, Ulster County, in the state of New York, August 4th, 1833, of sturdy Dutch ancestry, his great-grandfather, Johannes Hardenbergh, having been the owner of the Hardenbergh patent or grant in what is now known as Ulster County. He received a common school education, and at the early age of fifteen years entered the office of Judge Linderman of Kingston, New York, as a law student, remaining with him until twenty-one years of age, when he was admitted to the bar in that state. He practiced his profession at Kingston, associated with Judge Hardenbergh, his cousin, and Augustus Schoonmaker, until the war of the rebellion. He early responded to the call for troops, and served with the 20th regiment of New York state militia for its first term of three months. After the expiration of its three months of service, the regiment was re-organized as the 80th New York volunteers, with Mr. Hardenbergh as its major, and re-entered active service in October, 1861, remaining until the close of the war. The commanding officer of the regiment, Colonel Pratt, was killed in the second battle of Bull Run, and Major Hardenbergh succeeded Lieutenant-Colonel Gates, who then took command. On the muster out of Colonel Gates in December, 1864, he was promoted to the colonelcy; and for gallant and meritorious services at the battle of Petersburgh he was brevetted brigadier general. It was by the title of "Colonel" he was generally and familiarly known. His regiment was attached to the army of the Potomac and participated in many of its severest and fiercest battles, including those of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburgh, Petersburgh, and the wilderness. Colonel Hardenbergh was mustered out on January 27th, 1866, thus completing an active service of nearly five years.

After his muster-out he resumed the practice of law at Kingston, New York, where he remained until September, 1867, and then removed to North Canaan in Litchfield County, Connecticut, taking the law office and business of Hon. Miles T. Granger, who had gone upon the bench. He was married in 1869 to Miss Delia Watson of North Canaan, who, with two sons, of sixteen and eleven years respectively, survives him. He represented his town in the lower house of the General Assembly in 1870, and was elected senator of the old seventeenth senatorial district in 1876. In 1872 he was chosen judge of probate for the district of Canaan, consisting of the towns of North Canaan and Canaan, and held that office continuously until the time of his death. He was appointed coroner of Litchfield County at the time of the creation of that office in 1883, and held the position up to his decease. He also held for many years the offices of town clerk and town treasurer. Politically he was affiliated with the Democratic party, but received the support of many of his political opponents, commanding the entire confidence of the community in his unswerving justice and fairness in administering these offices. He was a member of Christ's Protestant Episcopal Church, uniting with it in 1878.

In personal appearance Col. Hardenbergh was tall, dignified and stately, a distinguished figure among his fellow-men, apparently, but not in reality, somewhat stern and severe. He was unassuming , modest and retiring in his disposition, but instinctively inspired the respect and consideration of all with whom he came in contact, and the offices with which his townsmen delighted to honor him came to him entirely unsought. His war record is a most enviable one, and a heritage of which his children may well be proud. Dauntless in his own courage he inspired his men with his own fearlessness, and thus was earned by the regiment its high and honorable record for gallant conduct and service. On the rare occasions when, with intimate friends, he has been induced to describe some of the battles in which he participated, notably that of Gettysburgh, where his regiment, with others, withstood the shock of Pickett's famous charge, his hearers have been thrilled by the fervid eloquence of the man, and have known instinctively that the narrator, who with his characteristic concealment of self, so vividly portrayed the scene, must have been in the very thick and front of battle, and deserved the reputation of unshaken courage his comrades so freely accord him. He was possessed of a fine intellect, and was a profound and logical reasoner, but owing to health shattered by his long and arduous military service, he was unable and disinclined to give that assiduous attention to the details of his profession and the preparation of causes for trial which are so indispensable to the success of attorneys. He was a ready and logical speaker, but it needed the stimulus of strong opposition to bring forth his best efforts. On occasions when thus urged he has displayed masterly ability and towered to the heights of real eloquence in advocating his client's cause.

As a citizen, the universal grief manifested at his death by the community in which he dwelt testifies in the strongest manner how deeply, without any conscious effort of his own, this quiet, unpretentious man, gallant soldier, and upright judge, had entrenched himself in the respect and esteem of his fellow-men.