Saturday, March 16, 2013

Antietam: Six wounds meant death for James W. Brooks

Close-up of the front of the gravestone of  James W. Brooks, an 18-year-old private
 in the 16th Connecticut, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam.
Brooks is buried in tiny Moose Meadow Cemetery in Willington, Conn.
Brooks' weathered gravestone is difficult to read, but it notes near the bottom that he received
a funeral with military honor on Oct. 26, 1862, more than a month after Antietam.

James W. Brooks died at the German Reformed Church
in Sharpsburg, Md.
A wonder that he was still alive, James Willard Brooks lay on the field for at least 40 hours before burial crews found him after the Battle of Antietam. An 18-year-old private in the 16th Connecticut, Brooks suffered from six wounds, including severe wounds to his left arm and both legs during the fight in John Otto's cornfield. By early October 1862, the son of Sarah and James Brooks of Stafford had been moved to the German Reformed Church, where a makeshift field hospital had been set up in the small brick building on Sharpsburg's main street. Initially, the surgeon who treated Brooks was optimistic.

"Doing pretty well considering multiplicity of his wounds," the doctor wrote in a casebook the evening of Oct. 7. Two days later, he wrote that the teenager was "holding his own remarkably."

But on Oct. 11, Brooks was "failing rapidly" and "might die soon," according to the surgeon. The end came at 3 p.m. that day, eight days after Brooks' 19th birthday.

Two weeks later, he was given a military funeral in a cemetery in Willington, Conn. I visited Brooks' final resting place early this afternoon, navigating the back-country roads until I ended up at the interestingly named Moose Meadow Cemetery. Tilted slightly to the right, Brooks' 5-foot, gray marker may be found near the back of the cemetery, near an old stone wall. The tombstone says he died of "six heavy wounds."

No moose were seen during today's visit to Moose Meadow Cemetery in Willington, Conn.
No moose were harmed in the creation of this post.


  1. Glad to see the stone is still bearing its marker! Cleaned it up last summer.

  2. I just saw this post, re-posted on Facebook by SHAF. I'm currently doing research on a documentary titled "Antiietam Illuminated" about the annual memorial event. I'd like to talk with you about James and your research/blog. I was a founding member of SHAF back in the days when the Grove Farm property was in jeopardy. My contact info is on my website.