Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Antietam panoramas: 14th Connecticut/Bloody Lane

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.


                           The 14th Connecticut monument appears amid the corn near Bloody Lane.



                                           Monuments peek through the fog near Bloody Lane.


In September 1891, veterans of the 14th Connecticut could barely contain their excitement when they visited Antietam, where 29 years earlier they had fought in their first battle of the Civil War. The old soldiers toured William Roulette's farmhouse as well as the farmer's springhouse and barn, where hundreds of wounded were treated; searched for battlefield relics, sang songs and ventured to nearby Bloody Lane to contemplate what they did and to remember those who didn't survive Sept. 17, 1862. 


"The magic word Antietam," a veteran wrote, "more magical than any other name to most of our original men, has been holding sway over the minds of the boys and they are astir early and up at the Roulette house, scanning eagerly every point and place of interest they can recognize." 


Antietam remains a special place today, especially when the fog hangs low over the fields on a late September morning as it did when I shot these images near Bloody Lane. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Antietam photos/panoramas: Joseph Poffenberger farm

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

The Union First Corps bivouacked on Joseph Poffenberger's farm the night before the Battle of Antietam.
The Poffenberger farmhouse in late September. The addition on the rear of the house is post-war.

Thousands of Union soldiers slept uneasily in the fields on Joseph Poffenberger's farm on Sept. 16, 1862, the night before the Battle of Antietam. At dawn the next day, as fog lingered over what soon would be the most contested place in North America, the First Corps marched from Poffenberger's property and the nearby North Woods and into battle in the 32-acre cornfield of David R. Miller. As they emerged from the strip of woods, they were blasted by Rebel batteries across the Hagerstown Pike, on Nicodemus Heights.


Wrote Captain J. Albert Monroe of  Battery D of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery:


It was the early gray light that appeared just before the sun rises above the horizon, and we could little more than distinguish each other. We had not half finished our meal, but it had grown considerably lighter, and we could see the first rays of the sun lighting up the distant hilltops, when there was a sudden flash, and the air around us appeared to be alive with shot and shell from the enemy's artillery. The opposite hill seemed suddenly to have become an active volcano, belching forth flame, smoke and scoriae.

The first shot apparently passed directly through our little breakfast party, not more than a foot or two above the blanket, and it struck the ground only a few feet from us. Every one dropped whatever he had in his hands, and looked around the group to see whose head was missing.


Some of the wounded in Miller's field, soon to be known as The Bloody Cornfield, made their way back to Poffenberger's farm, where a makeshift hospital was set up in the barn. (First Corps commander Joseph Hooker had used it as headquarters.) After the battle, the farmer's property was a disaster. Soldiers used fences for firewood, took hay to feed horses and cattle and plundered the farm for food.


"I returned to my house," Poffenberger said. "It was completely empty. I had nothing left. I lived on army crackers that I found on the battlefield for five days."


In late September, I had the farm to myself to shoot these images, set against a deep-blue sky. (Click here for all my interactive Antietam panoramas.)


SOURCE:

Walker. Keven M., A Guide To The Battlefield Landscape: Antietam Farmsteads, Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010

 Seven buildings from Poffenberger's farm in 1862 remain, including the washhouse near the fence.   
                         (CLICK ON IMAGES FOR FULL-SCREEN INTERACTIVE PANORAMA.)


        On the night before the battle, First Corps commander Joseph Hooker slept in the barn in the              right background, behind the corn crib/granary. The general was wounded in the right foot
                                                   the next day and knocked out of battle. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Antietam: General Joseph Mansfield death documents

Image of Major General Joseph Mansfield shot in Mathew Brady's studio in Washington.
(Middlesex County Historical Society collection)

After the Civil War, the death of Joseph King Fenno Mansfield at Antietam was hotly debated among veterans who fought in the battle. While who shot JKFM never rose to the level of controversy as, say, who shot JFK, it did provide lively fodder for old soldiers who pondered exactly where and by whom the 58-year-old general from Middletown, Conn., was mortally wounded.


Initially at least, Mansfield believed he was shot by his own troops. The general was astride his horse near the East Woods, barking out commands to raw troops in the XII Corps about 7 in the morning on Sept. 17, 1862 as "bullets and missiles were flying like hail." Moments after his horse was shot in the right leg, Mansfield himself was struck in the right breast by a bullet.


Replanted East Woods, near where Mansfield was shot, about 7 in the morning  in  late  September.

"Passing still in front of our line and nearer to the enemy, he attempted to ride over the rail fence which separated a lane from the ploughed land where most of our regiment were posted," wrote Lieutenant John Gould, an adjutant in the 10th Maine, on Dec. 2, 1862. "The horse would not jump it, and the General dismounting led him over. He passed to the rear of the Regimental line, when a gust of wind blew aside his coat, and I discovered that his whole front was covered with blood."



10th  Maine Lieutenant John Gould
(Photo courtesy Nicholas Picerno)

"I ran to him and asked if he was hurt badly," Gould continued. "He said  'Yes' -- 'I shall not live' -- 'I am shot' 'by one of our own men' "


Mansfield was carried about a quarter-mile to the rear by soldiers who used their muskets to form a stretcher and then taken by ambulance another quarter-mile or so to the George Line farm, where he died the next day. (Here's a copy on my blog of the original letter from the doctor who treated Mansfield to the officer's wife, Louisa. And here's Gould's detailed post-war account of the general's wounding near the East Woods, which may be viewed here in interactive panoramas on my blog. Also, here's my download Excel spreadsheet of Connecticut Antietam deaths)


We'll leave the debate of the circumstances of the death of Mansfield to the experts. In the meantime, I wanted to share documents that I found Wednesday morning at the Middlesex County Historical Society -- it's in Mansfield's former home on Main Street in Middletown -- regarding the general's death. It was a little eerie perusing the rich amount of material on his demise in the very house where he lived more than 152 years ago.




Samuel Mansfield, the general's son, sent this telegram from Washington at 8:35 the night after the battle to Benjamin Douglas, a family friend in Middletown. "Gen'l Mansfield is dead," it read. "He fell mortally wounded in the charge of yesterday. His body will be sent to Baltimore to be embalmed." A recent West Point graduate, Samuel was a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army Engineers ...




... a day later, Captain Clarence Dyer, Mansfield's aide, sent this telegram from Frederick, Md., to the general's wife. Dyer was en route to Baltimore, where Mansfield's remains were to be embalmed. ...



...  after Mansfield's remains arrived by train in Baltimore about 8 p.m. on Sept. 19, the body was escorted by hearse about a mile or so from the depot to the embalmer. Mansfield's body, however, was too decomposed to be embalmed so his son purchased a metallic coffin for $70 from John Weaver's establishment at No. 22 West Fayette Street. (Here's the address today, changed greatly since 1862.) At least one man from Connecticut who had experience transporting bodies of soldiers back from battlefields was not a fan of metallic coffins, which were much more expensive than wooden ones. ...



Calling card from Mrs. George McClellan, who attended Mansfield's funeral in Middletown, Conn.
(Middlesex County Historical Society collection)


... Mansfield's funeral was held to great fanfare in Middletown six days after Antietam. A choir sang "Unveil Thy Bosom Faithful Tomb" before the pastor at North Church on Main Street delivered a sermon in which he paid "a justly merited tribute to the christian virtues of the departed." The Mansfield Guard, a local militia group, fired three volleys over the general's grave after he was lowered into it at a cemetery nearby.


"Yesterday was a day of sorrow, not only Middletown [where the funeral took place], but for the whole State,''  the Hartford Courant reported on Sept. 24, 1862."One of Connecticut's bravest heroes was consigned to the grave.'' Among the mourners were the governor and Mary Ellen McClellan, the wife of the commander of the Army of the Potomac.



... perhaps to satisfy army bureaucracy (now there's a shock), Dyer certified "on honor" in late spring 1863 that the general's horse also was killed at Antietam. The animal, whose name apparently is lost to history, was purchased for Mansfield in Perryville, Pa., in the winter of 1862. "The horse was a strawberry roan," Dyer wrote from a camp near Vicksburg, Miss., "between 15-16 hands high, six years old, dark main and tail." Dyer left the figure blank for the purchase price of the animal, but noted in another letter that it was either $105 or $115. 


SOURCES:

Hartford Courant, Sept. 24, 1862.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Antietam panorama: North Woods, where the battle began

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.


North Woods: The National Park Service has re-planted trees here to restore it to its 1862 appearance.


Through the mist early on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862, Joseph Hooker spied his objective from the edge of this strip of woods: the high ground about 3/4 of a mile away and small white-washed building, the Dunker Church. And as it grew lighter and the sun burned off the fog, the commander of the Union I Corps could see in the distance the glint of the bayonets of Rebel troops massed in the 30-acre cornfield of farmer David R. Miller.


I Corps commander General Joseph Hooker was
wounded in the right foot at Antietam.
"The whole morning had been one of unusual animation to me and fraught with the grandest events," Hooker wrote in his official report of the Battle of Antietam. "The conduct of my troops was sublime, and the occasion almost lifted me to the skies, and its memories will ever remain near me."


As the I Corps marched out of the North Woods at the start of the battle, the soldiers were shelled by Rebel artillery from Nicodemus Heights, causing casualties and confusion. Hooker, too, became a casualty later that morning. Astride his white horse, he was wounded on the inner side of his right foot by a minie ball  -- "without his knowledge," he wrote in his report -- and taken to the Philip Pry farm for treatment. For him, the Battle of Antietam was over.


"Gen. Hooker is open in the expression of his amazement that the rebel army failed to be captured or destroyed, a result which he did not deem possible to fail, when he was borne from the field," the New York Times reported on Oct. 7, 1862. "
Gen. Hooker is chafing like a caged lion to be again in the field. He will soon be in his saddle, and the country will be greatly disappointed if he is not then promptly raised to a great command."


Of course, Hooker got his "great command" when he was promoted to commander of the Army of Potomac on Jan. 26, 1863. He put himself in harm's way again later that year. On May 3, 1863, as the general observed the Battle of Chancellorsville from the second-floor porch of the Chancellor House, he was knocked senseless when an artillery shell crashed into a pillar he was leaning against. 



Thursday, October 09, 2014

Antietam panoramas: September morning at Burnside Bridge

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

     
     A Union soldier's-eye view from Burnside Bridge of the Rebel positions on the bluff (pan left).

The morning was perfect: Deep-blue sky, a few clouds, little breeze and the fog that nearly blanketed Antietam Creek two hours earlier had finally lifted. I was the only one on Burnside Bridge -- the only soul, for that matter, apparently anywhere near the iconic stone-arch bridge during the morning in late September. 



After trudging along a gravel path along the creek, I made my way through a field coated with dew up to the 11th Connecticut monument, hidden among the trees on Kingsbury knoll 150 yards or so from the bridge. An old War Department marker gives away the monument's position, and just as I have dozens of times before, I read the 37 names carved into the back of the hunk of Massachusetts granite.

 

William Lane, Christian Steinmetz, Asa Rouse, Edward Demming -- they all were either killed or mortally wounded near the monument and bridge.


Condolence letter from 11th Connecticut Captain John Kies to the mother
of Private Fennimore Weeks, who was killed near Burnside Bridge at Antietam.
(Fold3,com via National Archives)

And then I thought of what these men and boys left behind.


The wife of the 11th Connecticut's much-admired colonel, Henry Kingsbury, was pregnant with a boy, who was born almost three months after his father died. Wounded four times during the attack at Burnside Bridge on the morning of Sept. 17. 1862, Kingsbury expired at Henry Rohrbach's farmhouse a short distance away. Frederick Culver, a 23-year-old private from Preston, left behind a wife named Emily and an infant daughter, Emily. 


John Murray, a 23-year-old weaver from Putnam, and his wife, Cornelia, had a daughter named Ida. Sarah Rising, the mother of Private Henry Rising, was a widow. What was her reaction when she received the tragic news from Sharpsburg, Md.?


In a letter home to his wife during the war, 40-year-old John Holwell mentioned his young boys. "Kiss Edward and Henry for me and I hope they will be good boys," he wrote to Sarah Holwell. "...I will bring them a handsome present when I come home." The private has no marker with his name on it in his hometown of Norwich or in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg. His final resting place is unknown.


Twenty-four-year old Hiram Roberts, a sergeant from Winchester, was born in England. When did his parents, Edward and Mary, receive word of his death? Private George Heplin, the son of Daniel and Lydia Heplin of Plainfield, was only 18. Private Alvin Flint, whose father and teen-aged brother both died in service to the Union army later in the war, also was just 18. His mother and 15-year-old sister had died of disease shortly after he enlisted, an enormous tragedy for the family from East Hartford. Private Fennimore Weeks was shot through the head and, according to condolence letter from his commanding officer to his mother back in Norwalk, "did not live but a few moments after he was struck."


"His effects I will send to you as soon as I have an opportunity and will write you more of the particulars," Captain John Kies wrote to Rachel Fennimore.


For all of them, the end came here, on a field dotted today with yellow wild flowers.


    The 11th Connecticut attacked from right to left across this field on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Antietam panorama: 7th Maine's futile attack at Piper farm

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.



          The 7th Maine charged through this orchard on Henry Piper's farm to attack the Rebels.
                                     (Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama.)

After the Union army punched through the center of the enemy line at Bloody Lane during the Battle of Antietam, a company of the 7th Maine was called up to attack Rebels who were harassing a battery from their positions at Henry Piper's farm. Perplexed by the order from Third Brigade commander William Irwin, 7th Maine Major Thomas Hyde asked him to repeat it. To send a company of men against what probably was many times its number was insane, the 21-year-old officer thought.


But Irwin, a 44-year-old officer who was known to enjoy a strong drink or two, was adamant. In fact, he upped the ante.


"That is not enough, sir; go yourself; take your regiment and drive them from those trees and buildings," Irwin emphatically said, according to Hyde. For emphasis, he repeated the order several times and pointed to the farmhouse and barn on the Piper farm.


Major Thomas Hyde of the 7th Maine earned the Medal of Honor
for his heroics at the Battle of Antietam.
(Photo: Maine State Archives)

And so the depleted 7th Maine, numbering 166 soldiers, marched over and around the bodies of Rebels in Bloody Lane, through Piper's apple orchard and toward the farmer's house and outbuildings. It was about 5 p.m. on Sept. 17, 1862.


"Every private in the ranks knew that a fearful blunder had been made," a post-war history noted, "but as obedience is the first duty of a soldier they advanced promptly."


As Hyde suspected, the attack proved to be a disaster.


After the 7th Maine chased Rebels from the orchard and pushed down a hill toward the Piper farm buildings, Hyde saw four enemy battle flags and quickly realized that his little regiment was indeed vastly outnumbered. A regiment of Rebels fired from behind a stone wall and an enemy battery fired grape shot into the Maine soldiers, who were mauled from three sides.


Unsupported by the rest of the Union army, Hyde skillfully directed a retreat back through the orchard.  The regiment's losses were terrible: 12 killed and 60 wounded. Only one officer survived unscathed. A captain and a lieutenant each had three bullets holes through their uniforms. Hyde and another officer had their horses shot out from under them.


"I drove the enemy from the trees and buildings Col. Irwin ordered me to clear," Hyde wrote in his official report, "but for want of support was unable either to push on after his line was  pierced or to hold the position that was gained.  I cannot make exception for special mention. Where all behaved so nobly, and obeyed orders so readily, distinction would be invidious."


In his official report on Sept. 22, 1862, an officer noted that Hyde "led his regiment into action with spirit and courage, handled it under severe fire with judgment, and retired in compact order and with a steady front.


"Conduct like this requires soldierly qualities of the highest order."


The soldier who wrote the report, William Irwin, the man who ordered the attack, had been removed of his brigade command four days earlier. He returned to the 49th Pennsylvania but resigned his commission in October 1863. A month after the war was over, he ironically was named brevet brigadier general for his actions at Antietam. Mentally deranged, Irwin died in a Kentucky insane asylum in 1886.


On April 8, 1891, Hyde received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics in helping lead what was left of his regiment to safety at Antietam. 

         James Hope of the 2nd Vermont painted this image of the 7th Maine going into action on
                  the Piper farm.  Henry Piper's farmhouse can be seen in the middle distance.
                                                             (National Park Service)

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Antietam panoramas: The Bloody Cornfield on Miller farm

When I visit David R. Miller's farm at Antietam, I am reminded of the words of author Bruce Cattton, who eloquently wrote of the savage fighting that took place in The Bloody Cornfield there on Sept. 17, 1862.  "The glint of bayonets could be seen here and there amid the leafage," he wrote, "and long, tearing volleys came out of the corn, while wreaths of yellowish-white smoke drifted up above it as if the whole field were steaming." Alone in the field,  I shot these images last Saturday afternoon, a picture-perfect fall day.  



                    Federal I Corps marched toward the camera the morning of Sept. 17, 1862.

"The number of regimental standards floating in the morning air indicated the immense numbers of the advancing enemy. It was a wonderful sight."-- Private Isaac G. Bradwell, 31st Georgia

Source


                                Some of the most savage fighting of the Civil War took place in this field. 

"A man but a few paces from me is struck squarely in the face by a solid shot. Fragments of the poor fellow's head come crashing into my face and fill me with disgust." 
-- Private George Kimball, 12th Massachusetts

Source


                                             A late September view of The Bloody Cornfield.

"Men are falling in their places or running back into the corn. The soldier who is shooting is furious in his energy. The soldier who is shot looks around for help with an imploring agony of death on his face." 
-- Major Rufus Dawes, 6th Wisconsin

Source


                            The Miller farmhouse suffered surprisingly little damage during the battle.

"The corn and the trees, so fresh and green in the morning, were reddened with blood and torn by bullet and shell, and the very earth was furrowed by the incessant impact of lead and iron.”
-- Lieutenant colonel Francis Palfrey, 20th Massachusetts

Source


                                                                            XXX

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Antietam panoramas: Miller farm and The Bloody Cornfield

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church and Spotsylvania Courthouse.


                                         REBEL PERSPECTIVE: Miller cornfield about dawn.
                                      (Click on all images for full-screen interactive panorama.)

No Civil War battlefield is as haunting, or as mesmerizing, as Antietam when fog lingers over the farmland about dawn on a cool September morning. Usually, I am the only person on the field that early; selfishly, I like that. I imagine this is what it looked like on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862, before the Rebels saw the glint of the bayonets of Union soldiers who marched out of the North Woods and into the rolling cornfield of a farmer named David R. Miller. 


"We had not half finished our meal, but it had grown considerably lighter, and we could see the first rays of the sun lighting up the distant hilltops, when there was a sudden flash, and the air around us appeared to be alive with shot and shell from the enemy’s artillery," wrote J. Albert Monroe of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery of the opening of the battle. "The opposite hill seemed suddenly to have become an active volcano, belching forth flame, smoke and scoriae.”



                   REBEL PERSPECTIVE: Miller cornfield; pan to right to see restoration of East Woods.


DAVID R. MILLER FARMHOUSE: The battle raged across his property on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862.
                     The National Park Service recently restored the outside of the farmhouse.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

For sale: Hanging site of John Brown in Charles Town, W.Va.

John Brown was hanged in what now is the yard of this Victorian mansion in Charles Town, W.Va.


                        Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama of Brown hanging site.

The sky was overcast and a "gentle haze" hung in the air as an impressive trio of characters gathered in a large vacant field at high noon on a late fall day in Charles Town, Va.

Professor Thomas J. Jackson, who two years later would be better known as Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson, was among the crowd of 1,500, mostly military men and cadets. So, too, was a famous actor, John Wilkes Booth, who would become infamous six years later for shooting the President of the United States in the back of the head with a Deringer pistol. John Brown, the fiery 59-year-old abolitionist leader, also was in attendance on Dec. 2, 1859, but not of his own volition.

John Brown, about 1856.
One month after he was convicted for treason for an ill-fated raid on the Federal arsensal at Harpers Ferry, Va., Brown was there for only one reason: his execution by hanging.

Jackson wrote that Brown, who wore carpet slippers, white socks, blacks pants, a black frock coat and vest and a black slouch hat, "behaved with unflinching firmness." His hands tied behind him, Brown ascended the gallows with "apparent cheerfulness," according to the professor, who was "much impressed with the thought that before me stood a man, in the full vigor of health, who must in a few minutes be in eternity." Another witness, John L. Preston, a founder of Virginia Military Institute, eloquently described the somber scene as well as the final moments of the Connecticut-born Brown's life after his body dropped from the gallows:

"There was profound stillness during the time his struggles continued, growing feebler and feebler at each abortive attempt to breathe. He knees were scarcely bent, his arms were drawn up to a right angle at the elbow, with the hands clenched; but there was no writhing of the body, no violent heaving of the chest. At each feebler effort at respiration his arms sank lower, and his legs hung more relaxed, until at last, straight and lank he dangled, swayed to and fro by the wind.
"It was a moment of deep solemnity, and suggestive of thoughts that make the bosom swell. The field of execution was a rising ground, and commanded the outstretching valley from mountain to mountain, and their still grandeur gave sublimity to the outline, while it so chanced that white clouds resting upon them, gave them the appearance that reminded more than one of us of the snow peaks of the Alps."
Today, the vacant field where Brown was hanged has changed greatly. Large, old impressive houses dominate the tree-lined street, just blocks from the still-active Jefferson County Courthouse where Brown was convicted. The site of the gallows where Booth and Jackson watched Brown stand "upright as a soldier in position" before his execution is in the yard of a 7,000-square foot Victorian mansion that's now on the market. Asking price: $749,000.

The five-bedroom, 6 1/2-bath home at 515 South Samuel was built in 1891 by John Gibson, who 32 years earlier had commanded troops who battled Brown and his band of escaped slaves and renegades at Harpers Ferry. On the National Register of Historic Places, the red-brick house features Tiffany windows, Waterford chandeliers, French-laid fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen, a roof deck, a 9-foot claw foot tub and rooms with 19-foot ceilings, according to a real estate flyer. The one-acre property also includes an ornamental wrought-iron fence, a barn, in-ground pool and a gazebo.

There's no mention if the ghost of John Brown, whose body the wind blew to and fro after his hanging, lingers on the property.

A section of  the ornamental fence that surrounds the area where Brown was hanged.
Abolitionist leader John Brown was convicted of treason at Jefferson County Courthouse in
Charles Town, Va.  (now West Virginia) on Nov. 2, 1859. The courthouse is still in use.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Early morning at Antietam: A fog of war gallery

6:45 a.m.: Restored East Woods 

as sun appears over horizon



6:55 a.m.: 128th, 137th Pennsylvania monuments 

on Cornfield Avenue


7:05 a.m.: 132nd Pennsylvania monument

 at Bloody Lane

7:15 a.m.: 130th Pennsylvania monument

 at the Sunken Road


7:25 a.m.: 14th Connecticut monument near the Sunken Road peeks above the corn


7:55 a.m.: Burnside Bridge in the mist


8:10 a.m.: Cannon wet with dew 

on Branch Avenue

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antietam: Sergeant George Marsh 'returns' 152 years later

Image of  George Marsh photographed near where he was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.

In late September 1862, a funeral that "was very largely attended" was held for 29-year-old George Marsh at the home of his parents at 77 Main Street in Hartford. Afterward, the remains of the 8th Connecticut sergeant, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam about dawn on Sept. 17, 1862, were buried in Hartford's Old North Cemetery -- one of many such services held in Connecticut after the battle that claimed more than 200 of the state's sons. (Download my Antietam Connecticut death list here.)

Early Saturday morning, Marsh returned to the battlefield -- figuratively speaking, of course -- for the first time in more than 152 years.

Thanks to the current land owner, who drove me in her truck on rugged trails on her property, I finally found the spot on the ridge by the Henry Rohrbach farm where Marsh and two other 8th Connecticut soldiers were killed and several others were wounded when Rebels lobbed shells from across nearby Antietam Creek. I carried with me two images of Marsh -- a daguerreotype and tintype -- that I bought from a Michigan antiques dealer who earlier this summer contacted me after she saw another photo of Marsh on my blog. After the land owner and I traipsed through thick undergrowth near an old Civil War-era lane, I shot the image above at the edge of a cornfield, near where the regiment was shelled.

According to one account, a 12-pound solid shot struck directly in front of the prone Marsh -- he had been ill that morning -- passed under him and re-emerged from the ground a few feet away.  The chunk of iron never touched Guy and Lamira Marsh's son, who died from the concussion of the shell -- probably the first soldier from the state to die at Antietam. Soldiers in the 8th Connecticut panicked and scattered after the shelling, but they were calmed by their 19-year-old lieutenant, Marvin Wait, who had been covered by earth as well as blood of the wounded and killed.

"The brave fellow sprung to his feet ... and ordered every man back to his post in the most gallant manner," an account noted.

Hours later,  Wait also was dead, riddled with bullets as the 8th Connecticut's final push toward Sharpsburg was stopped on another ridge near the small western Maryland town.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Antietam: 11th Connecticut monument's original position

11th Connecticut monument near Burnside Bridge.
Close-up of monument plaque, which depicts the attack at Burnside Bridge.

Tucked away on a knoll near Antietam Creek, 150 yards south of Burnside Bridge, the 11th Connecticut monument is often overlooked. Interestingly, it wasn't always located there.


11th Connecticut Colonel Henry Kingsbury was mortally
wounded near Burnside Bridge.

It first was placed in an even more remote location on the Antietam battlefield.


On Oct. 11, 1894, Connecticut veterans and their families gathered at the battlefield to dedicate monuments to the four regiments from the state that fought at Antietam. The 14th Connecticut monument near Bloody Lane was dedicated at around 10 a.m., followed by the 8th Connecticut monument ceremony near Harpers Ferry Road, a short distance from the village of Sharpsburg, Md.  In late afternoon, dedication ceremonies were held for the 16th and 11th Connecticut monuments on what in 1862 was the farm of  John Otto. The 10-acre plot for the monuments -- once part of Otto's 40-acre cornfield, where the 16th Connecticut suffered 204 casualties -- was called Connecticut Park. (Hat tip: Stephen Recker, author of "Rare Images of Antietam."


The 11th Connecticut veterans originally intended to have the monument placed near Burnside Bridge, where it fought on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862, and where its beloved colonel, Henry Kingsbury, was mortally wounded. But a lack of funds apparently necessitated an adjustment of plans. 


 "Let there be no strife or warlike contention among our people," 11th Connecticut veteran Samuel Horne said at the dedication of the 11th Connecticut monument, just yards from the 16th Connecticut monument. "Let us dwell in peace, harmony and happiness in this grand and glorious country, made free by your courage, devotion and patriotism. We honor our state for this beautiful gift. It is a lesson of love. Its mute bearing will tell the present and future generations why and for whom it was placed here."


But not for long.


In late fall 1895, veterans purchased a 100-square foot plot on the knoll near Burnside Bridge from Mrs. Victor Newcomer, and the massive block of Massachusetts granite was moved there the week of Dec. 19, 1895. The images below of the monument at its original location were shot in the late 19th century by John Wagoner, a prolific photographer of the battlefield. 


SOURCES

Antietam Valley Record, Nov. 28, 1895
Antietam Valley Record, Dec. 19, 1895
Hartford Courant, Oct. 12, 1894



The 11th Connecticut monument at Antietam originally was placed near the 16th Connecticut monument,
about a half-mile from where the veteran regiment fought near Burnside Bridge. This image
was shot by John Wagoner, a photographer from Hagerstown, Md. (Connecticut State Library)
A Wagoner image of the reverse of the 11th Connecticut monument, looking toward Sharpsburg. The monument
includes the names of soldiers in the regiment who were killed or mortally wounded at Antietam. (Connecticut State Library)

Reverse of the first Wagoner image above. He shot images of many Antietam battlefield scenes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Connecticut Yankees at Antietam: Faces and the faceless

Connecticut soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam -- 152 years ago Wednesday.


One hundred and fifty-two years ago Wednesday, Corporal John Bentley of the 8th Connecticut went into battle at Antietam with a vow to get even with the "murderers of his noble boy." Earlier that summer, his son, William, a 21-year-old corporal and a musician in the 2nd Rhode Island, had been mortally wounded and "terribly mangled" by an artillery shell at the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia, near the Rebel capital of Richmond.

"Since the death of his son a settled gloom has ever rested upon his once pleasant countenance," a comrade wrote to the Hartford Courant, "and the great object of his life seemed to be to revenge his death ..."

Described as an excellent marksman, the 42-year-old soldier in Company K was so eager to get a shot at the enemy that he vowed to fight "in the front rank in battle and thus, perhaps, save the life of some one of my comrades who have but just started on life's journey."

Corporal John Bentley's grave in Antietam National Cemetery.
No photo is known to exist of the soldier from Sterling, Conn.
"If I can only live to kill one rebel," Bentley's comrade recalled him saying, "I shall be revenged on those who have brought our country to ruin, and made life a burden to me by causing the death of my ... son, and am then ready to die, for at the longest an old man can live but a few years."

As the 8th Connecticut pushed up a ridge near Sharpsburg late in the afternoon on Sept. 17, 1862, the spires of the town's three churches may have been within view. Nearly cut off from the rest of the regiment, Bentley's company was ordered to silence a battery, but a thin line of enemy skirmishers followed by a solid body of Rebels soon swept toward them like angry locusts.

Carefully aiming and firing, Bentley "displayed bravery second to none" throughout the battle, his comrade noted. "... after each discharge of his piece, he would watch eagerly the effect of his charge, and several times was heard to exclaim, 'I hit him! I hit him!' " Forced to retreat with the rest of  his regiment, Bentley slowly made his way back toward Antietam Creek, firing at the enemy along the way, when a bullet tore through his ankle bone.

Carried by comrades to a field hospital, perhaps on the farm of Henry Rohrbach or John Otto, Bentley was not considered to be dangerously wounded. "I visited him three weeks after he received his wound," his comrade wrote, "he appeared very cheerful." Although Bentley's leg wound was painful and his mouth was so sore that he couldn't even eat hard crackers, he was optimistic and was told by a doctor that his foot could be saved.

But Bentley's optimism proved unfounded. The wound became infected, and on Oct. 17, 1862, one month after he was shot, he died at Crystal Springs Hospital in Keedysville, Md., a mile or so from the battlefield. Bentley, a farmer before the war, left behind a wife named Zilpha and five children back in Sterling, Conn., near the Rhode Island border.

"But, poor man, he is gone, and we hope is now at rest with his son, where there are no wars," his comrade wrote. "Long will he be held dear in the hearts of every member of his company, as a faithful friend and brave soldier.

"He should not be forgotten by his country."

No image of John Bentley, "another victim of this wicked rebellion," is known to exist. He lies buried in Antietam National Cemetery under grave No. 1117.

SOURCES

1860 U.S. census

Hartford Courant, Oct. 31, 1862


Monday, September 15, 2014

Antietam: Remembering Private Frederick D. Culver

Broken marker for Private Frederick Culver in Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Conn.
State-issued marker for Culver, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam.

Like most Civil War dead, 11th Connecticut Private Frederick D. Culver never made it home. After he died of his Antietam wounds on Oct. 6, 1862 at Crystal Springs Hospital in Keedysville, Md., he probably was buried near the hospital and his remains were disinterred after the war and re-buried in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg, Md., under Grave No. 1110. Perhaps the marker in Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Conn., 100 yards from the grave of another soldier who met his end at Antietam, brought some comfort to Culver's wife, Emily, and infant daughter, Nellie, who never knew her father. Only 27, Culver was a private in Company K of the 11th Connecticut, which on the the morning of Sept. 17, 1862, was ordered to attack Rebels entrenched on the bluff above Antietam Creek. During that charge near Burnside Bridge, Culver received a wound that proved mortal. According to my downloadable Excel spreadsheet of Connecticut Antietam deaths, he was one of 217 soldiers from the state who were killed or mortally wounded during the bloodiest day in American history.




 See Culver's grave at Antietam National Cemetery by panning to the left of the interactive panorama.

Frederick Culver's name appears on this list of soldiers who died at Crystal Springs Hospital, a field hospital
near the Antietam battlefield.  It notes he died Oct. 5, 1862, not Oct. 6 as listed on his marker. This list

 was compiled by Dr. Truman Squire, the 89th New York surgeon who was in charge at the hospital. 
(Chemung, N.Y., County Historical Society)
In this document, dated March 12, 1864, 11th Connecticut surgeon James Whitcomb noted that 
Frederick Culver was "severely wounded" at Antietam and died Oct. 6, 1862.  (fold3.com via National Archives)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Antietam: Captain Jarvis Blinn's restored gravestone

Flowers placed by the grave of 14th Connecticut Captain Jarvis Blinn, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam.

Nearly 152 years after a bullet tore through Jarvis Blinn's heart and killed him, the 14th Connecticut captain's descendants, re-enactors and Civil War enthusiasts gathered under leaden skies Saturday afternoon to honor him at his restored tombstone in Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Conn. Sparked by this February 2013 post on my blog that included images of Blinn's broken tombstone, a 14th Connecticut re-enacting group sought donations from Civil War groups, Blinn descendants and others to repair it.  A low bid of  $1,050 was submitted by Nelson Architectural Restoration's Randall Nelson, who repaired the marker recently and may be seen below in the video that I shot at Blinn's gravestone.


A 26-year-old mechanic from New Britain, Conn., Blinn was killed at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862 -- 152 years ago Wednesday.  "I am a dead man!" the officer said moments after he was shot near Bloody Lane. (See my interactive panorama here of where the 14th Connecticut attacked.)  A Mason and the first officer in his regiment to die, Blinn left behind wife, Alice, and two young children. 


"His wife is heart-broken," a woman who attended Blinn's funeral service noted. "Their attachment to each other was unbounded -- he was all to her. Such a sad, hopeless, despairing countenance I never saw. There are two children -- dear little creatures the eldest five years of age -- for them only his memory lives."


Hal Gilbert, Blinn's great-great nephew, and his daughter, Mary, pose at their ancestor's grave at 
Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Conn. Hal, whose father was named after Jarvis,  holds an original albumen
 image of Blinn, a well-liked soldier who was unanimously selected captain of Company F on Aug. 15, 1862.
A close-up of the albumen of 14th Connecticut Captain Jarvis Blinn, who was only 26 when he was killed.
During the ceremony at Blinn's grave, a re-enactor sang The Vacant Chair,  a Civil War song.
14th Connecticut re-enactors fire a salute near Jarvis Blinn's grave.
Jarvis Blinn's descendants and re-enactors gather near Blinn's grave.
A close-up of Blinn's repaired gravestone.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Antietam veterans' recollections 53 years after battle

The Hartford Daily Times on Sept. 17, 1915 -- the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)

On Sept. 17, 1915, the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, The Hartford Daily Times published an ambitious project: short profiles and recollections of more than two dozen veterans who fought on the bloodiest day in American history. Images of many of the old soldiers, their mustaches or beards bathed in gray, accompanied a full-page story that spilled onto another page. A headline over the lengthy article read:
Men Who Served in the Connecticut Regiments or With Troops of Other States Tell of Their Personal Experiences in the Cornfield of Slaughter When the Men of the North Faced the Splendid Veterans of South
Present-day view of John Otto's cornfield.
Most of the veterans, all Hartford residents in their 70s, had served with the 16th Connecticut, whose first major battle of the Civil War at Antietam was a bloody disaster that resulted in 43 killed, 161 wounded and 204 captured or missing on Sept. 17, 1862. Three veterans recalled crawling off the battlefield as the Rebels poured fire into the 16th Connecticut in farmer John Otto's 40-acre cornfield. “We did not know what to do," two of them remembered, while another recalled being "thrown into confusion" as his comrades were routed. Another veteran lamented, "We were but a lot of green boys."

So frenzied was the fighting that one 16th Connecticut veteran had his little finger shot off but didn't realize it until another soldier told him. Moments after a comrade was shot and killed and fell into his lap, a veteran recalled being struck under the lip by a bullet that sent blood spurting and loosened his teeth but did no other physical damage. When the battle was over, another soldier discovered his clothing riddled by Rebel fire.

"...it certainly was best for us to break and run," a 16th Connecticut veteran remembered, "than to stay and be killed by the hundreds.”

Another veteran, a private in the 14th Connecticut at Antietam, suffered a disfiguring buckshot wound under his left eye. Six decades after the battle, he apparently couldn't put into words what he witnessed.

"Captain Murdock," The Harford Times reported, "is uncommunicative concerning his activities on the battlefield."

Here are accounts of Antietam veterans as they were published in The Times in 1915:                                              


                                                 JOHN OTTO'S CORNFIELD: UNION PERSPECTIVE
                                                     Click on image for full-screen panorama.

George Q .Whitney, 16th Connecticut


George Q. Whitney of No. 70 Lorraine Street is a veteran of Antietam who was in active service only one month of the great war, but into that month crowded more real excitement than was the lot of many another veteran. Although he enlisted July 14, 1862, with Company A of the Sixteenth, it was not until August 29 that the regiment was ordered into active service. They arrived at South Mountain after the battle for that position, and at once were sent on ahead to Holland’s brigade. They came up with the Confederate army the night of September 16, and the next day after being held in reserve for the forenoon, they were ordered to join the left wing under Burnside in the afternoon. In the attacks and counter attacks, Private Whitney was in the midst of the thickest fighting, so much so that when the little finger of his left hand was shot away, he thought the blood on his gun stock was only grease, and did not know his finger was gone until a companion called his attention to it. After the battle, when Mr. Whitney took inventory, he found that a bullet went through his cap without touching his hair, two bullets went through his knapsack, piercing a number of sheets of writing paper on which afterwards Mr. Whitney wrote an account of the battle home, one bullet went through his trousers between his knee and hip, and another hit the stock of his rifle, chipping off a piece of the wood. In short, the 17th of September, 1862, was Mr. Whitney’s busy day, and he is still wondering how he became a target of so many southern rifles without losing more than a finger.

                                        
                                                 OTTO'S CORNFIELD: UNION PERSPECTIVE
                                                     Click on image for full-screen panorama.

William H. Lockwood, 16th Connecticut


Captain William H. Lockwood of No. 63 Farmington avenue was first lieutenant of Company A of the Sixteenth. He enlisted August 1, 1862.

“When we entered the cornfield,” said Captain Lockwood, “we saw ahead on a hill a Confederate battery, which we thought was supported by infantry, lying back of the battery. We advanced, little thinking of what would soon befall us. The cornfield had a stone wall between us and the open land beyond and there was a stone wall on each side. We were well into the field on the charge when suddenly the Confederates, who were lying behind the wall ahead and on each flank, poured a volley into our ranks. We were thrown into confusion. The Confederates kept on firing and our men continued to fall.

“Finally Major George A. Washburn said ‘lie down boys.’ So we lay down. The bullets kept on coming and it seemed foolish to remain there. I crawled over to Captain Henry L. Pasco of my company and said: ‘Major Washburn has disappeared and you as captain of the senior company are now in command, What shall we do?’ Captain Pasco said we had better quit. So we started. Lieutenant Charles A. Tennant and I decided we would keep together. We two began to retreat. Men were falling on all sides.

“Finally we reached the rail fence which bordered the corn field. Tennant and I saw men being hit as they climbed the fence, but we decided to get over. We threw ourselves over quickly, breaking off part of the rail. We crawled across the 12-foot road and under the fence on the other side. Then we went up a short incline and dropped over the ridge on the other side, where we were safe. We went to Burnside’s bridge where we found others of our company and regiment.”


      OTTO'S CORNFIELD: REBELS' PERSPECTIVE
                                                    Click on image for full-screen panorama.

Norman L. Hope, 16th Connecticut


Norman L. Hope of No. 166 Wethersfield avenue enlisted as a member of Company A, Sixteenth Connecticut volunteers on August 7, 1862. While his experiences in Andersonville prison have made more of an impression because he is so often called upon to relive them as a speaker at various gatherings, Mr. Hope has by no means forgotten that day in the forty-acre corn field when 150 of the brave fellows in his regiment were killed or wounded. The battle ground is familiar to Mr. Hope, as he was the man selected to buy the ten-acre place of the corn field for Colonel [Frank] Cheney of South Manchester when the monument was erected and presented to the regiment by that gallant officer, who was badly wounded in the engagement. It was in the corn field that the “Rebs” came in shouting “don’t fire on your own men,” and the Sixteenth retired to the position behind the old stone wall.

Eugene D. Ames, 4th Rhode Island


When the parents of Eugene D. Ames of 191 Prospect avenue objected to his taking the field, he straight away left for Providence and enlisted in the Fourth Rhode Island battery at age 19. This was August 25, 1861. He was mustered out three years later. He took part in thirty-two battles and had seven horses shot under him. In speaking about Antietam, he says: “We were under fire all day and fought hard. That’s all.”


                                           OTTO'S CORNFIELD: 16th CONNECTICUT MONUMENT
                                            (Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama.)

William Huntington, 8th Connecticut


William Huntington of No. 60 Evergreen avenue was a member of Company D, Eighth Connecticut volunteers, and was in one of the severe charges of the day, during the course of which he was shot on the left side of the head.  He was carried off the field and from that day to this he has been deaf in his left ear, the shot having injured his ear drum. At the battle of Wathall Junction in an attempt to cut the railroad from Petersburg to Richmond, Mr. Huntington was shot in the leg.

16th Connecticut veteran John W. Loomis's grave
in Old North Cemetery in Hartford.

John W. Loomis, 16th Connecticut


John W. Loomis, of No. 7 Highland street, was not in the thick of the battle, but he saw to it that nobody ran away with the fighting boys’ knapsacks during the day’s struggle, and never knew at what time the detachment of which he had command would be called upon to fight. Enlisting in Company D, of the Sixteenth, August 5, 1862, Mr. Loomis was raised to the rank of quartermaster sergeant. At Leesburg, the command left knapsacks, and Sergeant Loomis was detailed to guard the paraphernalia as the rest of the troops went into the conflict. All day long he listened to the firing of guns at Antietam, fearful that at any moment the Confederates might break through.


George S. Merritt, 16th Connecticut


George S. Merritt of No. 63 Fern Street, a clerk in the office of the Aetna Life Insurance company, was a member of Company D, Sixteenth Connecticut volunteers, and on the 17th of September was with a brigade that went into action during the afternoon. Private Merritt and his companions had enlisted only a few months before. During the morning of the 17th they were held in reserve, but in such a position that most of the field was visible to Private Merritt and none of the fighting was missed by him. Toward 3 o’clock in the afternoon his brigade charged.

The Confederates, fighting under the Union flag, had surrounded the brigade on three sides, while the northern commander, deceived by the flag, failed to give any commands to fire. So when the Confederates opened the attack, many of the raw northerners broke and ran, and with them Mr. Merritt’s company. But they reformed later and joined with the famous New York contingents to regain four pieces of a field battery that the Confederates took in the first onslaught.


                                         
                                             8TH CONNECTICUT MONUMENT AT ANTIETAM:
                               The regiment's dead and wounded lay in this field after the battle.
                                         (Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama.)

Timothy E. Hawley, 8th Connecticut


Deputy United States Marshal Timothy Hawley, who resides at No. 48 Crown street, enlisted in Company K, Eighth Connecticut regiment, at Meriden, October 6, 1861, and came through the war without a wound, but he says the nearest he came to being hit by a rebel bullet was at Antietam.

“Our regiment, reduced to 464 men, had just come up from the Peninsula campaign, and we lost 196 more – killed, wounded and missing – in the Antietam fight,” he says. “Early in the activities we were sent into support a battery on that twelve-mile battle line around Sharpsburg, and later we were taken down to the creek to ford it, but our guide carried us further than the ford, and we started across in water waist deep. I scooped up my canteen full of water as we passed through the stream and up the bank to get a crack at the Johnnies.

“God, how those fellows could fight. We pushed them a ways and our regiment got nearer to Sharpsburg than any other, but the enemy pushed us back, and in climbing over a board fence, we lost a lot of our boys. It was a pretty warm place, and after it was over I thought I would take a drink. I pulled up my canteen, but there wasn’t a drop of water in it. One of the Confederate bullets had gone straight through it. I threw it as far as I could and picked a canteen off one of the dead Hawkins zouaves from New York. Those fellows wore a red fez and had been shining marks for the Johnnies. Today I would give $25 to have that canteen I threw away."

“God, how those fellows could fight."

-- 8th Connecticut veteran Timothy Hawley on the Rebels

Walter E. Smith, 16th Connecticut


Walter E. Smith of No. 57 Plainfield street was one of the boys of the Sixteenth, enlisting July 26, 1862, in Hartford in Company G. He was in the Antietam fight from morning until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and saw his regiment cut to pieces in the slaughter in the cornfield. Smith with his comrades had been lying in the corn most of the day and when the order for the bayonet charge came he had risen to one knee.  At this moment a bullet struck his companion who fell dead across Smith’s lap. Then Smith, too, was wounded. He found the blood spurting from his lips and seeing Colonel [Francis] Beach leaving the field on his old white horse Smith made up his mind he would get out of there. How Mr. Smith managed to get out of that field and back across the stone bridge again without being further wounded he does not know. His wound he found was not very serious and resulted from a lead slug passing under his lip and into his teeth. These were knocked loose, but after Mr. Smith had picked the pieces of lead out he pushed his teeth back and they grew back in again.

John Gemmill, 16th Connecticut


“We were greatly surprised when the confederates opened fire on us in the cornfield,” says Sergeant John Gemmill of No. 53 Concord street. Mr. Gemmill enlisted July 15, 1862 in Company A of the Sixteenth.

“We were but a lot of green boys,” he says, “many under 19 years old when we went into the Antietam fight. Only a few knew anything about guns. We had received our guns at Arlington Heights but had not had any drills in shooting of the manual of arms. As we forded the creek on the morning of the battle, we could see the Confederates. After we crossed the creek, we marched in line of battle for some time. Shells were coming our way and some men of the Eighth regiment we could see falling. A shell burst and a part of it flew up striking me on the side, and making a sore place which lasted several days. Finally we were ordered to go by the left flank and enter the corn field. We could not see any Confederates and went out in that field. The Rebels opened on us with several volleys.

“We did not know what to do. After a while, Captain Pasco said, 'Boys, I don’t know what orders to give but you had better disband and get out of this field.'

“Then it was every man for himself. So I started to get out of danger. I laid down and began to crawl. I had on my haversack and a woolen blanket and a rubber blanket strapped to my back. These I gradually removed as I crawled along, and kept only my gun and cartridge belt. After awhile I crawled into a large open field and crossed that to a ditch where I found several other soldiers. This was the first notice I had taken of anyone else, as I was so occupied in looking after myself as I had no thoughts for any other men. I got down by Antietam creek, where I stayed all night. The next morning I found my regiment and for the next two days we were busy burying the dead.”


"...it was every man for himself."

-- 16th Connecticut veteran John Gemmill on the fighting in Otto's cornfield (above)


James B. Whalen, 16th Connecticut


“We saw a few men killed in the Eighth Connecticut as we stood waiting orders, after crossing the creek, “ says James B. Whalen, who makes his home at Long’s hotel. Corporal Whalen enlisted July  18, 1862, in Company A, Sixteenth Connecticut. “But we knew that we must expect that more would be killed and we braced up and nerved for what might come,” he adds. “The shells were followed by minie bullets, which sang over our heads. The Confederates fired at us just as we had been ordered to fix bayonets for a charge. We were thrown into great confusion. The order was given to get back out of the cornfield. So we started. I crawled and ran in turn and got out of the cornfield to Burnside’s bridge. I was staying there when a soldier came from the rear and asked me to go to the regiment headquarters and dress two head of beef. I went and had no further part of the battle, which was then about over."

James B. Clancy, 16th Connecticut


“We were all green boys at Antietam, and badly frightened,” agrees James B. Clancy of Company A, Sixteenth regiment, who registers at Long’s hotel. “I enlisted,” he continued, “July 17, 1862. We got our guns at Arlington September 5, and when we went into the battle we had not had drills with the guns and most our men knew nothing about loading and shouldering a rifle. We forded a creek and formed a line of battle. Then we entered the cornfield. The corn was as high as our heads. The Confederates began to shoot into the field and men began to drop by our sides. We did not know what to do and when the order was given to break ranks and get out of danger I with the others ran and  crawled to get out of the way. Inexperienced alike were our captains and the minor officers and privates and it certainly was best for us to break and run than to stay and be killed by the hundreds.”

       
            14TH CONNECTICUT MONUMENT AT ANTIETAM
                                            Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama.

William Murdock, 14th Connecticut


William Murdock: He was wounded at
Antietam and at the Wilderness.
(MOLLUS Collection)
As a lasting memorial of Antietam, Captain William Murdock of No. 86 Capitol avenue, carries a mark caused by a buckshot wound over his left eye. At the time he was hit he was not obliged to leave the field and never dreamed that the mark would show at this late day. Captain Murdock is uncommunicative concerning his activities on the battlefield. In 1864, he was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness and laid up for five weeks. Captain Murdock was born in Scotland, June 22, 1836. He went to Middletown in 1855 and joined the Fourteenth Connecticut, Company H, in August 1862, as a private. He rose from private to corporal, sergeant and sergeant major, then second and first lieutenant, until his appointment to captaincy of Company A. He was mustered out, May 31, 1865, in Alexandria, Va., and located in Hartford that spring.

Charles Jackson, 8th Connecticut


Charles Jackson, the one-armed letter carrier from the Hartford post office, had two arms before the battle of Antietam. He enlisted on September 8, 1861 in Willamantic in Company D of the Eighth Connecticut regiment – the Norwich Company. He was badly wounded in the right arm after the boys of the Eighth had crossed Antietam creek, worked their way up the hill under Confederate fire and had reached the farthest point of advance of the Union army on Sharpsburg.

Jackson was taken prisoner and taken toward Williamsport and when near that place his arm was amputated by a surgeon in the Twelfth Massachusetts who had been captured – assisted by two Confederate surgeons.

Strange as it may sound, the following day Jackson escaped. A band of Confederates told the Johnny guarding Jackson that he had better pick up his gun and come along as the Yankees were coming. Jackson induced the guard to go on the road with him and they started along toward the Union lines.

Meeting a troop of Feds, the sorry-looking pair were halted and asked where they were going. Jackson answered he was looking for his regiment and had brought this bare-footed Johnny along with his gun. Jackson was told where he could find the Eighth and he told his comrades to be sure to take good care of the Johnny.

A war-time and post-war photo of Henry Adams, who was severely wounded at Antietam.
(Left image: U.S. Army Military History Institute. Right: Connecticut State Library)

Henry M. Adams, 16th Connecticut


At the age of 21 years on August 7, 1862, H.M. Adams of No. 621 New Britain avenue, enlisted in Company G, Sixteenth Connecticut. He received his baptism of fire at Antietam where he received a wound of which he still bears the marks. He was struck between the knee and the thigh by a minie ball which passed entirely through the leg, taking a part of the bone with it. Mr. Adams lay on the battlefield for forty-two hours, fully conscious, before he was found and taken to a field hospital. Here he remained from September 19 until April 1 when he was discharged because of disability.

Jeffrey D. Miller, 16th Connecticut


Jeffrey D. Miller of No. 131 Wethersfield avenue enlisted in Company A, Sixteenth Connecticut in this city August 5, 1862 and served to the end of the war as a private. In speaking of Antietam, he said: “I remember they (the confederation) woke us up mighty early in the morning. We had to leave our position and marched away and around somewhere. I was nothing but a boy and didn’t know anything about war and fighting. Finally we got into the corn field and began to blaze away. First thing I knew I was all alone. The Eleventh Connecticut  [probably 8th Connecticut] was a few yards away and I joined. Two wounded men said, ‘Don’t leave us ‘ and so I stood by. Then the southerners came up and I took at shot at them thinking I was going to die anyway. The two wounded men plead for their lives and an officer replied ‘all right boys, we won’t hurt you.’ I surrendered and just then a nearby confederate took a shot at me. I dropped and pretended to be dead. Then our reinforcements came.” Mr. Miller’s clothing was hit five times.

Ethelbert French, 16th Connecticut


Ethelbert French enlisted in Company A, Sixteenth, August 6, 1862 at the age of 24 years. At the battle of Antietam, he received a severe wound in the left breast, which necessitated his remaining in the hospital from more than a month, and which finally led to his discharge nearly two years later. He returned to Hartford still in ill health and has since lived here. Mr. French is 77 years old and lives at No. 103 Ashley street.

16th Connecticut veteran Henry Tracy's grave in Hazardville Cemetery in Enfield, Conn.

Henry F. Tracy, 16th Connecticut


Henry F. Tracy of No. 115 Oakland terrace enlisted in Company C Sixteenth, July 25, 1862. In September, the regiment joined Burnside’s command. The day was hot and Tracy was overcome. He was left within a fly tent within cannon range. Recovering, Tracy reached a building near the Otto farm, used as a hospital, where Dr. [Abner] Warner, a surgeon in the Sixteenth, was in charge, who gave him work in the place. He pays a tribute to the work of the late Dr. [Nathan] Mayer, a surgeon in the regiment.

After the battle, the men were removed to Sharpsburg. There the Dutch Reformed church was made over into a hospital. Mr. Tracy tells about the death of John Loveland, whose leg was shattered by a cannon ball. The operating surgeon had the reputation of saving every man put under his knife.  Some time after the operation Tracy saw that Loveland’s face was becoming ashen. He threw back the covering and saw that the main artery had burst. Clasping his thumb, he stopped the flow until the surgeon came running up. The dying man requested that his trinkets be sent to his wife. Tracy stoutly refused to withdraw his thumb. Finally, his hand all a tremble, he let go from sheer exhaustion.