Saturday, April 14, 2012

Faces of the Civil War: Private Daniel Tarbox

Wearing a uniform with corporal's stripes, Private Daniel Tarbox of the
 11th Connecticut posed for this photo at a Hartford studio. The 18-year-old
 from Brooklyn, Conn., was  mortally wounded at Antietam. 
(Photo courtesy Scott Hann.)

In his final letter home, Daniel Tarbox had a sense of impending doom.

"I expect we are going into it now for good," the private in the 11th Connecticut wrote his father, Daniel Sr., from Washington on Sept. 6, 1862. "Right where grape & shrapnel and chain shot fly thick. And whole company’s and Reg’ts are mowed down at one volley.

"If we go in, we can’t think of coming out," he continued. "If I do fall, you take what money I have sent home and get my bounty and appropriate it to yourself as a present. But I hope for the best."

Wrapping up the letter by noting that dead horses lay in the middle of the road from Alexandria and members of Congress "rode by in hacks," the teenager signed off:

From your Affect. Son
Daniel Tarbox

Eleven days after he wrote that letter home, the 18-year-old soldier from Brooklyn, Conn., was mortally wounded near Burnside Bridge at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. He expired a day later, one of more than 2,000 Union soldiers to die at Antietam.

According to Tarbox descendant, this is the approximate location and time of the
 private's mortal wounding at Antietam. This photo was taken by famed Civil War
 photographer Alexander Gardner  after the battle. (Library of Congress collection)

Thanks to Antietam collector Scott Hann, who provided the carte de visite of Daniel above, and a Tarbox descendant, who e-mailed me a copy of his ancestor's final letter, I have a more complete picture of the teen-aged soldier.

Word of Daniel's death apparently traveled slowly back to Brooklyn, a small farming community about 45 miles east of Hartford. On Sept. 25, eight days after the battle, a worried Louis Tarbox, obviously eager for news on his brother's fate, wrote his father from New York about the Antietam casualty list that had appeared in the New York Tribune:

Dear Father:

I noticed in this morning's Tribune a list of the killed & wounded in the 11th Regt. Conn. Vols, among which is Daniel's name as killed. I will send you a copy of the Tribune & you can see for yourself. I have every reason to believe the list in here.

On Sept. 26, 1862, the Hartford Courant published a list 
of Antietam  casualties. Daniel Tarbox of Company F
 was listed as killed.
Hopefully you have heard from another source as it is the Captain's (Kies) duty to inform you. Please write to me whether you have heard or not.

Yours affectionately, Louis.

Perhaps the family first found out the terrible news of Daniel's fate when the Hartford Courant published a list of Antietam casualties on Sept. 26. Daniel's name was one of 37 soldiers listed as killed in the 11th Connecticut.

Or perhaps the Tarbox family first got word when they received this letter, dated Sept. 21, 1862:

Mr. Tarbox

Dear sir, it becomes my pain full duty to inform you of the death of your son Daniel Tarbox. Your son was wounded in the battle of Sharpsburg on the 17th and died the next day of his wound. His effects were taken pocession of by G. Preston. I did not see Daniel after he was taken from the field but as soon as I see Preston I will write you all the particulars.

Yours Respectfully,
John Kies Capt. Co F

Because the Union army was ill-equpped to deal with death on such a massive scale, many families had to arrange to retreive their dead loved ones from the battlefield. That duty fell to Louis, who paid a man named Augustus Martin to disinter his brother's body and provide a zinc coffin for his return to Connecticut.

Sometime in early October, Louis returned to Brooklyn with Daniel's body. A funeral was held and Daniel Tarbox Jr., the son of a prosperous farmer, was buried in South Cemetery, about a quarter-mile from the center of town.
Receipt provided Louis Tarbox for payment to disinter his brother's body and 
purchase of a zinc coffin  to transport him back to Connecticut. Daniel Tarbox 
was buried in Brooklyn, Conn. (Receipt courtesy of Daniel Tarbox Jr. descendant)
Daniel Tarbox's memorial marker in South Cemetery in Brooklyn, Conn.
 At the bottom are these words: "Father and brothers, all a long farewell!"


  1. Anonymous11:22 PM

    John...I declare I saw his gravestone today at Antietam Cemetery near Oliver's stone. Maybe I was dreaming...we'll have to check it out next weekend. Great post!

  2. john....his body definitely returned to Conn. Descendant has supplied me with some tremendous informatin on this kid. Looking forward to next weekend,

  3. There is a George Tarbox there ... death in 1864

  4. Hi John,

    Thanks to you (and Scott) for this most excellent post. There was another Tarbox killed at Antietam: David B., a Lieutenant in the 108th New York Infantry. Any chance they,re related? It doesn't seem a terribly common name.


  5. Hi, Brian: Actually, I believe the name is more common than you think. I have been in touch with a descendant who has a wealth of info on the family. I will ask him. A sidenote: Daniel's name is misspelled David on the 11th Connecticut monument at Antietam. I will check that out in person Saturday at Connecticut Day.

  6. Anonymous5:10 PM

    Linda Brown
    Thanks for the information about Daniel Tarbox, Jr. I am another Tarbox descendent. Effie Louise Tarbox, Daniel's sister, was my great grandmother. Over the years we were told various stories which were not accurate, so when visiting Antietam a few years ago, we were looking for his grave marker incorrectly.

  7. Hi, Linda: My pleasure. Thanks for the kind words. I would love to chat with you sometime about Daniel. You may contact me at this email address:

  8. Wow! Thomas Tarbox born Hartford Conn., son of Nelson born Buffalo NY 1937, who was son of Clifford.