Monday, July 30, 2012

Faces of the Civil War: Lost arm at Antietam

8th Connecticut captain Eleazur Ripley of Windham was wounded 
at Antietam. His name is often misspelled Eleazer. This image, in
 the Connecticut State Library collection, was probably taken before the battle.
While researching the story of  a 16th Connecticut soldier at the Connecticut State Library on Saturday, I found an old, tattered album of soldier carte de visites. Among the Connecticut officers was the CDV above of Eleazur Ripley, a captain in Company C of the 8th Connecticut. From Windham, about 35 miles east of  Hartford, Ripley suffered the amputation of his left arm at Antietam.

Image of Ripley after Antietam, where he 
suffered a wound in his left arm, which was 
amputated. (Conn. Historical Society)
Ripley was wounded in the latter stages of the battle, his regiment at the vanguard of the Ninth Corps' attack before it was routed.

"Twenty men are falling every minute," a history of Connecticut's service in the war noted about that part of the battle. "Col. (Hiram) Appelman is borne to the rear. John McCall falls bleeding. (Jacob) Eaton totters, wounded, down the hill. (Marvin) Wait, bullet-riddled, staggers a few rods, and sinks. (Eleazur) Ripley stands with a shattered arm. (James) Russell lies white and still. (Henry) Morgan and (Edwin) Maine have fallen. Whitney Wilcox is dead.

"Men grow frantic. The wounded prop themselves behind the rude stone fence, and hurl leaden vengeance at the foe. Even the chaplain snatches the rifle and cartridge-box of a dead man, and fights for life." (1)

A Willimantic (Conn.) Journal correspondent made note of Ripley's condition in early October 1862 as the captain lay in a field hospital near Sharpsburg, Md.:

"I saw Capt. Ripley, of Windham, of whom you speak in your last number, in his temporary hospital, on the field of Antietam. He was lying on the straw-littered floor of a barn, by the side of Lieut. Mayne, of Brooklyn, your county, and among as many more of our wounded soldiers, mostly of the rank and file, as the floor could hold. On the outside, again, wherever in the barn-yard, stacks of straw, sheds, trees, or fences, could afford shade and obstacles to the unadvised footsteps of man and beast, there our wounded lay. Our two officers lay quietly abiding their fate, taking their soldier's fortune with soldierly fortitude. I was obliged to leave them hastily, as I left more than a thousand others of our brave patriot soldiers."

Disabled, Ripley was transferred out of the 8th Connecticut on Oct. 8, 1863, and joined the Veterans Reserve Corps. A friend of the blog owns Ripley's inscribed sword.

(1) The Military and Civil History of Connecticut During the War of 1861-65, William Augustus Croffut, John Moses Morris, 1869, Page 272-73

MORE FACES OF CIVIL WAR: Stories and photos of common soldiers who served during the war.
MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle and the men who fought in it.

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