Monday, November 12, 2018

Antietam souvenir hunt: What two veterans snatched in 1889

At a reunion of 16th Connecticut veterans at Antietam in 1889, Alonzo Case took this piece from the
"stone wall where the 16th Conn. received their terrible fire." (Simsbury Historical Society collection)
Alonzo Case also took this piece of stone from the Dunker Church on the Antietam battlefield
at the 1889 reunion of 16th Connecticut veterans. (Simsbury, Conn., Historical Society collection)
A Page 1 story in the Hartford Courant on Sept. 27, 1889, detailed Julian Pomeroy's souvenir hunt. 
Like this blog on Facebook | Save Historic Antietam Foundation

Years after the Civil War, veterans returned to battlefields for reunions or monument dedications, events that allowed them to relive memories and to renew acquaintances with old comrades. Many also returned to the battlegrounds for another reason: to snatch a war souvenir.

Here's how to contribute to the
Save Historic Antietam Foundation:
Donate | Mission | More
At a veterans' gathering at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1889, Alonzo Case took a small piece from a stone wall in the 40-Acre Cornfield where, according to a period tag on the relic, "the 16th Conn received their terrible fire." On the northern end of the battlefield, "within a few rods where Gen. [Joseph] Mansfield fell," Case snatched a stone from the famous Dunker Church. (Perhaps Dunker Church souvenir-seekers' efforts led to the structure's collapse in a wind storm in 1921.) Case was a officer in 16th Connecticut. His brother, Oliver, a private in the 8th Connecticut, was killed at Antietam.

Not to be outdone, 16th Connecticut veteran Julian Pomeroy also found time to collect a souvenir at the same veterans' gathering. Twenty-seven years earlier, the 16th Connecticut was routed in the 40-Acre Cornfield. To shield himself from Confederate fire that afternoon, Captain Pomeroy briefly rested behind a large tree, "about half the size of his body."

It may have saved his life.

During his 1889 battlefield visit, Pomeroy claimed he found the same tree he hid behind on Sept. 17, 1862. He removed "the bullet that tried to kill him" from it, and, according to a newspaper account, returned to New England with it.

Believe it or not.

-- Have something to add (or correct) in this post? E-mail me here.

1 comment: