Saturday, April 21, 2012

Antietam: Gifts on Connecticut Day

A Federal eagle breast plate given to me as a gift today.
Re-enactors take positions outside the Pry Farm barn
during Connecticut Day at Antietam on Saturday.
A notebook from Connecticut Day at Antietam:
  • I received an unexpected gift this morning at the Visitors' Center: a beautiful Federal eagle breast plate with a rich green patina found near Lappan, Md., along the route of Lee's retreat from Gettysburg. The longtime relic hunter who gave it to me held an audience of  re-enactors and other Civil War enthusiasts spellbound with tales of his digging exploits at Antietam and elsewhere in Washington County in Maryland. I'll post the who, what, when and where on this remarkable man in this space next week.
  • The best gift today was the terrific response of folks from the state who came to support Connecticut Day at Antietam, the first such event here since veterans returned to the battlefield in 1894. Led by Central Connecticut State University professor Matt Warshauer, two busloads of people toured the battlefield, many for the first time. In addition, many others from the state came on their own, prompting one longtime battlefield volunteer to tell me he has never seen so many Connecticut license plates at Antietam.
  • It was eerie sitting in the Pry Farm barn for the ceremony honoring Connecticut soldiers who fought here. Rain forced the event to be moved from the national cemetery. Like almost every barn in the area, the Pry Farm barn was used as a field hospital during and after the battle. I examined the old barn floor for blood stains. None found.
  • Horace Lay, a private in the 16th Connecticut from
    Hartford, is buried in the national cemetery
     in Sharpsburg, Md.
  •  John Schildt, a longtime Sharpsburg-area resident and prolific writer on the battle, delivered a wonderful address honoring the men of Connecticut who died at Antietam. It included mention of 16th Connecticut captain Newton Manross of Bristol, who was killed by cannon fire in farmer John Otto's 40-acre cornfield. A brilliant man who was professor at Amherst (Mass.) College just before he went to war, Manross was "one of a lost generation," Schildt noted. He is buried in Forestville Cemetery in Bristol.
  • To honor Private Horace Lay of the 16th Connecticut, I left a penny on his gravestone in the national cemetery. Shot in the left leg on the Otto Farm, the Hartford soldier died on Oct. 5, 1862, nearly three weeks after the battle, at the German Reform Church, a short distance down Main Street from the national cemetery. 
  • I got a kick out of introducing John Rogers, a Georgia native, to folks from Connecticut. In 1994, Rogers bought a bible at a community yard sale in Germantown, Md. He later discovered it belonged to Oliver Case, a private from Simsbury in the 8th Connecticut, who was killed at Antietam. If you are interested in Connecticut's service during the Civil War, do yourself a favor and read John's excellent blog on Case
Per the John Banks' Civil War blog tradition, I put a penny on the grave of Horace Lay
to honor the 16th Connecticut soldier from Hartford who was killed at Antietam.

  • MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle.

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