|Lonnie Schorer cleans the marker of her ancestor, 11th Connecticut Private William Hall, |
in Chaplin, Conn. Hall, 17, was killed at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.
(Photos courtesy of Lonnie Schorer)
The heaviest burden of war is usually placed on our young, often soldiers not even out of their teens. At the Battle of Antietam, scores of teenagers on both sides were listed on the extensive casualty lists.
Shot through the side, George Crosby died of his wounds at his parents' house in Middle Haddam, Conn. The 14th Connecticut lieutenant, a student at Wesleyan University, was only 19. Marvin Wait, a 19-year-old lieutenant in the 8th Connecticut, was riddled with bullets and killed during brutal fighting near Harpers Ferry Road. "His death brings a peculiar and poignant sorrow," noted his hometown newspaper, The Norwich (Conn.) Daily Bulletin.
Somehow Dwight Carey of Canterbury, Conn., persuaded his parents to allow him to join the Union Army, which overlooked that he was three years too young to legally serve his country. After his death at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, the Willimantic (Conn.) Journal, under the headline "The Youthful Hero," eulogized the teen-aged soldier:
"In September, 1861, while yet but fifteen years of age he entered the service of the United States, as a private, in the Eighth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. This act originated in no rash, impulsive enthusiasm, impatient of restraint and headstrong for excitement and novelty, but was the result of calm discussion with his parents and friends, who unwillingly gave their assent on account of his extreme youth."
|The 11th Connecticut suffered 139 casualties during|
its attack at Burnsde Bridge on the
morning of Sept. 17, 1862.
(Library of Congress collection)
William H. Hall, young Daniel's comrade in the 11th Connecticut, was also killed at Antietam, almost certainly in the attack at Burnside Bridge. It's unclear if his body, like the remains of Tarbox, was returned to his state's soil for burial or if the 17-year-old soldier rests in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg, Md., or elsewhere. Four years ago, I found a marker for Hall in Bedlam Road Cemetery in rural Chaplin, Conn. Under tree branches and among a patch of weeds and briars, his slate-gray, state-issued stone was covered with moss and grime. No other markers were in the immediate area. The short visit stuck with me.
Late last month, Antietam guide William Sagle told me about a battlefield tour with a descendant of a soldier from Connecticut. He wondered if I knew the soldier's name. "Ever hear of William Hall?" he asked. "He was killed at Antietam. His descendant really wants to find his grave." I quickly called up on my iPhone this post and showed the Hall marker image to Sagle. "There," I said, "is your William Hall."
And so I started corresponding via e-mail and over the phone with Hall's descendant, former Connecticut resident Lonnie Schorer, who now lives in Virginia. She said it was a moving experience at Antietam to stand by the 11th Connecticut monument, near Burnside Bridge. Hall's name was etched on the granite marker among the names of 36 other soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded there. I explained to her that William may not actually be buried in Chaplin, told what little I knew of her ancestor and suggested how to find out more about him. No image of the private or war-time correspondence from him are known to exist.
On a trip to Connecticut late last week, Schorer and her husband Dave stopped by Bedlam Road Cemetery to pay their respects to the young soldier. Using toothbrushes, water and determination, they cleaned off years' worth of dirt from Hall's out-of-the-way marker. Swarms of mosquitoes couldn't spoil the moment or the view of the old cemetery grounds dotted with beautiful wildflowers. This was special.
"We had our own Memorial Day service when we finished," Schorer told me, "thanking William for his courage and his life -- and letting him know that his family remembers."
|A close-up of William Hall's marker in Bedlam Road Cemetery in Chaplin, Conn.|