Thursday, September 21, 2017

In newspapers after Antietam, a 'last sad tribute of respect'

Gravestone in Simsbury, Conn., for 8th Connecticut Private Oliver Case, killed at Antietam.
His father recovered his body near Sharpsburg, Md. His burial on the battlefield was reported
in the Hartford Daily Courant on Sept. 30, 1862. (CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
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In the weeks after the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, obituaries and funeral notices peppered newspapers in the North and South – stark evidence of brutal fighting that probably claimed well over 6,000 lives.

“The bodies of our deceased fellow townsmen, who fell in battle, continue to arrive,” the Philadelphia Inquirer bluntly noted on Oct. 8, 1862, “and their internments take place daily.” Under the headline “Military Funerals,” that short story in the newspaper included information about services for five soldiers who had been killed at Antietam.

A teen-aged lieutenant in the 48th Virginia, Connally T. Lyon
was "instantly killed by a shot through the body," according to
this account in the Abingdon (Va.) Virginian on Dec. 5, 1862.
He was buried in Shepherdstown, Va. (now W. Va.)

In late September, the father of 125th Pennsylvania Private John A. Kelly returned to Altoona, Pa., with his son’s remains. He was wounded early in the fighting in the West Woods. “It is said by companions,” the local newspaper reported, “that he was bayoneted, before he died, by a rebel who came up with him on the field.” His funeral on Sept. 28, 1862, was attended by four companies of militia, a local fire company and “a very large concourse of citizens.”

In a “tribute of respect” published in the Altoona Tribune on Oct. 23, 1862, and signed by 125th Pennsylvania officers, the deaths of four soldiers were noted. “… we feel proud to record that they met their fate nobly and manfully,” a resolution in the newspaper read, “while confronting the enemies of our now unhappy country.”

Captain Hugh Jones Gaston of the 48th North Carolina -- described by a newspaper as a “young gentleman of fine education, modest, intelligent and brave” – was mortally wounded at Antietam, probably near the West Woods. “His death adds another to the long catalogue of our bravest and best young men,” the Semi-Weekly Standard of Raleigh, N.C. reported on Nov 28, 1862, “ who have been cut off by this war.”

More than 11 weeks after the battle, a Virginia newspaper reported the death of a local son, teenager Connolly R. Lyon, a lieutenant in the 48th Virginia. “He fell in a foreign land,” The Abingdon Virginian noted, “but his friends as a testimonial of the esteem in which they held him, removed his body within the limits of his native State, where it was decently buried.”

Concluded the story by “C,” perhaps another soldier in Lyon’s regiment: “He gave his young life to the cause of his country, in one of the fiercest battles of the war, and as he lived beloved, so he died lamented by his Regiment.”

Through obituaries and funeral notices in newspapers in the fall and winter of 1862, here’s a look at the awful human toll of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history:


3 FUNERALS  AND AN UNDERTAKER RETURNS WITH MORE BODIES


On Oct. 11, 1862, the Hartford Daily Courant published a report of the funerals of Williams Nichols 
and Thomas McCarty of the 16th Connecitcut and John Simons of the 8th Connecticut. Undertaker
William Roberts returned to Connecticut with the bodies of more Antietam dead. 


'THE LAST SAD TRIBUTE OF RESPECT'


Captains James Rickards and Evan S. Watson of the 1st Delaware were killed in action. Business
was suspended for their funerals in Wilmington, Del., according to this account in the 
Philadelphia Inquirer on Oct. 2, 1862.


'A YOUNG MAN OF EXCEPTIONABLE CHARACTER'

Lieutenant Benjamin H. Davidson of the 7th North Carolina and Captain Houston B. Lowrie
were praised in death notices in the Charlotte (N.C.) Democrat on Sept. 30, 1862.
"He never flinched from duty," the newspaper wrote about Davidson.


RELATIVES, FRIENDS,  SOLDIERS 'RESPECTFULLY INVITED'

John H. Henninger, a private in the 88th Pennsylvania, was only 19. Mortally wounded at Antietam, 
he  died in a hospital in Frederick, Md., according to the obituary in the Reading (Pa.) Times
on Oct. 11, 1862. He was buried in Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading.



'DEATH WOUND IN HIS FIRST ENGAGEMENT'

Captain Hugh Jones Gaston, adjutant for the 48th North Carolina, died in a farmhouse near
 Sharpsburg, Md., according to his obituary in the Semi-Weekly Standard of Raleigh, N.C.,
on Nov. 28, 1862. His brother had been killed by Indians years earlier.


'DEATH DID NOT FIND HIM UNPREPARED'

This obituary of Sergeant William Eben of the 128th Pennsylvania appeared in the
Reading (Pa.) Times on Sept. 30, 1862. "His disposition was truly amiable," the account noted.
 Only 23, he was buried in Saint John's Cemetery in Reading.


'A FINE BAND OF MUSIC HEADED THE FUNERAL CORTEGE'

 William G. Barger was a private in Baxter's Fire Zouaves, the 72nd Pennsylvania. His funeral
 was "very largely attended"  by his regiment,  members of his fire company and others, 
according to  the Philadelphia Inquirer on Nov. 17, 1862. He was buried in Rockledge, Pa.


'DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI'

Evans Watson was a 23-year-old private in the 1st Delaware.  The Latin phrase in his death notice
 means, "It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland." Lieutenant John Rudhall White of the 
118th Pennsylvania was killed at Shepherdstown, the final battle of the Maryland Campaign.
Samuel Hill and Augustus Munch were privates in the 4th Pennsylvania Reserves, both killed
 at Antietam.  This obituary appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sept. 29, 1862.


REMAINS RECOVERED BY HIS FATHER

John A. Kelly, a corporal in the 125th Pennsylvania, was bayoneted by a Confederate, according
to this report in the Altoona (Pa.) Tribune on Sept. 28, 1862.

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