Saturday, October 25, 2014

Antietam: Sergeant George Marsh 'returns' to burial site

Cased tintype of George Marsh in front of a family memorial at Old North Cemetery in Hartford.
The word "Antietam" is barely legible on the weathered brownstone monument.
Daguerreotypes of George Marsh and his
 mother, Lamira. (Blogger's collection)
In a letter from New Bern, N.C., on June 29, 1862, Sergeant George Marsh of the 8th Connecticut assured his parents that he was well and told them not to worry if they didn't receive another message from him soon. "... we are having three days rations cooked for a march somewhere," he wrote, "and I don't know when we shall get to a place where we can write from."

The 29-year-old officer also passed along his regrets that he was unable to send his parents a gift. "I meant to have had my daguerreotype taken before I left here but guess I shall not get a chance now," he wrote to Guy and Lamira Marsh. "The saloon is full of customers and it is not every day I get a chance to go to the city and as you have got one picture of me, that would do for I have not grown handsome, I can assure you!"

Less than three months later, Marsh was dead, one of 11 members of the regiment's color guard to die at the Battle of Antietam. Camped on the farm of Henry Rohrbach, he was killed by the concussion of a solid shot fired by the Rebels from across Antietam Creek about dawn on Sept. 17, 1862. In late September, Marsh's brother-in-law, Oliver D. Seymour, traveled to Sharpsburg, Md., and recovered George's remains. En route back to Connecticut, Seymour sent a telegram from Baltimore that George's body would reach Hartford from New York by steamer on Monday morning, Sept. 27. Later that day, a service was held for him at the home of his parents at No. 77 Main Street before the casket containing his remains was taken to nearby Old North Cemetery for burial.

This afternoon, I took a tintype of Marsh from my collection to the cemetery to shoot the photos at the top and bottom of this post. Perhaps Lamira Marsh held the same tintype -- maybe the same photograph that George mentioned to his parents in his letter home -- when her son was laid to rest. For me, it completed the circle on the Marsh story. In late September, I took the tintype of him to Antietam to shoot an image near the site where he was killed more than 152 years ago.

State-issued gravestone for George Marsh in Old North Cemetery in Hartford.

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