Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Antietam: Last days of two Connecticut soldiers

Mortally wounded at Antietam, Private Henry Talcott of the 14th Connecticut died Nov. 10, 1862.
His brother, Samuel, also was mortally wounded at Antietam and is buried next to his brother
at Center Cemetery in Coventry, Conn.
Hundreds of soldiers wounded at Antietam, including many from Connecticut, were treated at makeshift hospitals in barns, stables, churches and private homes throughout the Sharpsburg, Md., area. Often suffering from gruesome wounds, many of these men died agonizing deaths, sometimes weeks and months after the battle.

In early October, a surgeon treating James Brooks of the 16th Connecticut described the young soldier as "emaciated but has an appetite and there is hope." Wounded six times, the private in Company I died on Oct. 11, 1862 at the German Reform Church on Main Street in Sharpsburg. After his right leg was amputated at the hip in a Ninth Corps field hospital in a barn, Captain Frederick Barber of the 16th Connecticut died two days later, on Sept 20. Such amputations were later criticized by medical people as "invariably proving fatal, and being mostly abandoned by the English and French surgeons, as well as the best American.”  (1)

In reviewing affidavits in Civil War widows' pension records recently, I discovered accounts of the last days of two other Connecticut soldiers mortally wounded at Antietam.

Death must have been a release.
Private Henry Talcott's  disability discharge notes he was "wounded by the 
explosion of a shell in the battle of Antietam." 
A farmer before the war, Henry Talcott was a 26-year-old private in Company D of the 14th Connecticut from Coventry, a small town about 25 miles east of Hartford. Talcott was wounded in the left leg at Antietam when an artillery shell burst near a wall in the lane leading up to William Roulette's farmhouse, killing three men and wounding three others in his company. (2) After receiving treatment in Sharpsburg, he  was sent to an army hospital in nearby Frederick, Md., which was flooded with casualties after the battle.

On Oct. 17, Talcott -- who stood 5-7 and had blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, according to his disability discharge -- was sent home to Coventry to recuperate at his father's house. Just three days earlier, his brother, Samuel, had died from a wound suffered at Antietam. While in Coventry, Henry was treated by a local doctor named Henry Dean, who noted that after the battle his patient "was exposed night and day in the open air without greatly needed protection and proper surgical aid."


Dean attended to Henry until his death on Nov. 10. In an affidavit supporting 22-year-old Nellie Talcott's claim for a widow's pension, the doctor described Henry's awful condition.

"All the time he was my patient he suffered from a dangerous wound in the inner side of the lower extremity of the left thigh," the doctor noted. "A few small pieces of bone detached from the injured femur were found in the wound.

"In connection with the wound there were fever, much functional derangement, especially of the liver and kidneys, and steadily increasing physical debility," Dean continued. "The wound instead of healing discharged continually an increasing quantity of pus." (3)

Henry Talcott -- "a victim of that blood-red field, Antietam," -- was laid to rest on Nov. 12 in Coventry's Center Cemetery, next to his brother Samuel. (See video above.)

"He reached home only to breath his last, while near and dear friends tenderly watched beside him, and last Wednesday he was laid by the companions of his early days, beside his brother in the 'city of the dead,' " the Hartford Courant reported on Nov. 18, 1862.
In this affidavit, Dr. T.W. Camp of Bristol noted Gideon Barnes' wound: "a rifle ball 
through the thick portion of the thigh." 
Like Henry Talcott, Gideon S. Barnes, a private in the 16th Connecticut, returned to his home state after he was wounded at Antietam, probably in farmer John Otto's 40-acre cornfield. Timothy Robinson, a captain in Company K of the 16th Connecticut, recalled that Barnes, a laborer before the war, was shot "through the leg above the knee, which disabled him from service, and he went home on a furlough."(4)

By Oct. 9, Barnes had arrived in Connecticut, along with four other solders wounded at Antietam, to continue his recuperation at his father's house in Burlington, where he was treated by T.W. Camp, a Bristol physician. Exactly two months after the battle, however, the 32-year-old soldier died. In an affidavit supporting the widow's pension claim of Barnes' wife, 24-year-old Lydia Ann, Camp noted a grisly combination of factors that caused Gideon's demise.

"Wounds and injuries received in the battle of Antietam by rifle ball through the thick portion of the thigh causing explosive separation with sloughing," the doctor noted. "This in connection with an uncontrollable camp diarrhea accompanied with delirium and typhoid fever were more than sufficient to cause death." (5)

Today, Gideon Barnes lies buried under a plain gray marker in Bristol's Forestville Cemetery, several paces  from the gravestone of Captain Newton Manross, the beloved captain of Company K of the 16th Connecticut, who was killed at Antietam.

(1)  Indiana (Pa.) Messenger, Oct. 1, 1862, Page 2
(2) History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Charles Davis Page, Page 44, 1906
(3) Widows' pension affidavit, Dr. Henry Dean, June 25, 1863
(4) Widow's pension affidavit, Timothy Robinson, Aug. 14, 1863
(5) Widow's pension affidavit, Dr. T.W. Camp, Oct. 3, 1863

Gideon Barnes, a private in the 16th Connecticut, is buried in Forestville Cemetery
 in Bristol, Conn., near the grave for his captain in Company K.

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

  • 3 comments:

    Carolyn Stearns said...

    This is an incredible post thank you! I am prepping material for a storytelling presentation for the Coventry 300th 9/29/12 after the parade ( about 1 p.m.) Henry Talcott's story will be part of that era!

    TAZ said...

    Thank you for posting this information. Great to hear more descriptions on what happened that day. We just went to the battlefield yesterday to commemorate the 150th Anniversary (a week early). My great grandfather, Joseph Stafford was with the 14th CT, Company D on Roulette's lane that day and suffered a wound to the arm which was then amputated. His brother, Thomas Stafford went missing in Chancellorsville. Thanks!

    TAZ said...

    Thank you for posting this information. Great to hear more descriptions on what happened that day. We just went to the battlefield yesterday to commemorate the 150th Anniversary (a week early). My great grandfather, Joseph Stafford was with the 14th CT, Company D on Roulette's lane that day and suffered a wound to the arm which was then amputated. His brother, Thomas Stafford went missing in Chancellorsville. Thanks!