Monday, November 18, 2013

Antietam: He aimed to 'save this land from misery and woe'

Corporal William Secor of the 2nd Vermont was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam.
Buried in Clifton Park Village Cemetery in Halfmoon, N.Y., he died on Sept. 18, 1862.
 The death date on the marker is incorrect. Photo: David Whitaker

William Secor and his identification disc.
(Photos courtesy Richard Clem)
Twenty-two years ago, longtime relic hunter Richard Clem of Hagerstown, Md., unearthed a small, brass identification disc about the thickness of a quarter in the shadow of a huge tree just north of Antietam battlefield. The rare Civil War relic turned into an obsession for Clem, who spent years researching the story of its original owner, Corporal William Secor of the 2nd Vermont. Mortally wounded near Bloody Lane, Secor died a day after the battle, on Sept. 18, 1862. He was the only member of his regiment to die at Antietam. Ten days after 21-year-old William's death, Lieutenant E.O. Cole of the 2nd Vermont broke the awful news to William's stepfather back in New York:
Dear Sir
It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the death of Corporal William Secor, Co. A. Vt. Vols. He was wounded in the battle of Antietam on the 17th and died on the 18th day of September. He was buried on the Smith farm near Sharpsburg. At the time he was wounded he was carrying the Colors of his Regt. Which position he had occupied for some time. He had many friends in his Regt. I saw the Chaplain that was with him in his last hours, and he said that it might be of consolation to his friends to know that he lived with a hope in Christ and was resigned to his fate. As a soldier, there was none better. He was always ready and willing. He had some personal property by him at the time of his death, a Testament, money and a diary, besides the things he had in his knapsack. They are at your disposal.
Secor's remains were returned to New York, where today he lies buried in Clifton Park Village Cemetery in rural Halfmoon, N.Y., about 40 miles west of Bennington, Vt. William, an apprentice to a carriage maker according to the 1860 U.S. census, had enlisted there on May 7, 1861. "I left my home and friends to battle with the foe," the words on his gravestone read, "to save this land from misery and woe." My thanks to friend of the blog Dave Whitaker, who helped complete this story for me by sharing the image above of Secor's final resting place.

INTERACTIVE ANTIETAM PANORAMAS: From Otto's cornfield to Bloody Lane.
16TH CONNECTICUT SOLDIERS: Tales of the men in the hard-luck regiment.
MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle and the men who fought in it

1 comment:

bb9c8c2a-436a-11e2-a2e8-000f20980440 said...

Is Mr. Clem planning on returning the relic to the family? Joe McArdle