Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oct. 17, 1862: A deadly day for Connecticut's Antietam soldiers

Rare circa-1920s image of a farm in Keedysville, Md., that was used as hospital after Antietam.
Right half of image above shows outbuilding (far right) that may have been used as a morgue
 after Antietam. (Go here to see what the farm looks like today.)
          Click on image for full-screen interactive panorama. (Courtesy Harry Kendrick)

On Oct. 17, 1862, one month after Antietam, seven Connecticut soldiers died from effects of wounds suffered in that battle. It was the deadliest post-battle day for soldiers from the state who fought in Sharpsburg, Md. In all, more than 200 soldiers from Connecticut were killed or mortally wounded at Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war.

Thomas J. Mills, a sergeant in the 14th Connecticut, died
 from effects of his Antietam wound on Oct. 17, 1862.
(Image courtesy Tad Sattler)
Among the unfortunate seven was John Bentley, a 42-year-old private in the 8th Connecticut, who died at a makeshift hospital in Keedysville, Md., from effects of an ankle wound. Before the battle, Bentley had vowed to avenge the death of his son, a corporal/musician in the 2nd Rhode Island, who had been mortally wounded in Virginia on June 25, 1862. Bentley was from the small eastern Connecticut town of Sterling, near the Rhode Island border.

"Since the death of his son a settled gloom has ever rested upon his once pleasant countenance," an 8th Connecticut comrade wrote to the Hartford Daily Courant after Bentley's death, "and the great object of his life seemed to be to revenge his death, fearing that he might die of disease or be killed early battle, before he should know that with his own arm he had caused at least the death of one of the murderers of his noble boy."

14th Connecticut Private George Corbit died in a Washington 
hospital. He's buried in Center Cemetery in Coventry, Conn
The date of death is incorrect on his tombstone.
Three other 8th Connecticut soldiers died from their Antietam wounds on Oct. 17: Morton Castle, a 17-year-old private from Litchfield; Private Jerome Nichols, also from Litchfield; and Sergeant Henry Strickland, who died at Crystal Springs Hospital in Keedysville, where Bentley perished. From New Hartford, he was among 10 color-bearers in the regiment who were killed or mortally wounded during its attack near Harpers Ferry Road. (Another color-bearer in the 8th Connecticut, George Marsh of Hartford, was killed near the Henry Rohrbach farm by the concussion of a solid shot about dawn at Antietam.)

Thomas J. Mills, a sergeant and color-bearer in the 14th Connecticut, also died on Oct. 17, at Smoketown Hospital near the battlefield. From New London, Conn., he had been mortally wounded near Bloody Lane. (Here’s more on Mills, whose image appears in a tiny gem tintype album recently purchased by a Connecticut collector.)

Private George W. Corbit, also in the 14th Connecticut, died at Emory General Hospital in Washington from effects of a wound to his shoulder. He was one of three soldiers from tiny Coventry, Conn., to die from wounds suffered at Antietam.

A private in the 16th Connecticut, Emerson Wardwell of Suffield, Conn., had been wounded in the regiment’s attack in the 40-acre cornfield on John Otto’s farm. He died in a hospital in Frederick, Md., the seventh Antietam-related Connecticut death 153 years ago today.

8th Connecticut monument at Antietam. Four soldiers in the regiment who were wounded near 
here during the battle died on Oct. 17, 1862.

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