Austin Fuller was just 23 when he died in 1865. He served with the 16th Connecticut after enlisting in August 1862. Less than a month later, on Sept. 17, 1862, the 16th saw heavy action at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, suffering 43 killed and 161 wounded. Austin was among the green Connecticut troops who ran into a buzzsaw: veteran Confederate troops under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill (left below), who arrived on the field after a 12-mile march from Harpers Ferry, Va., and saved the day for Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Here's a map of the engagement from Brian Downey's excellent Antietam site and below is an account of what they faced there from the regiment history. A photo of the 16th Connecticut monument at Antietam is below.
"As the regiment entered the fated cornfield it was met
by a most terrific volley of musketry, and the slaughter was
appalling. Men fell by the score. That the regiment did
nobly, is the verdict of all who witnessed its heroism on the
battle-field. Its aggregate loss in killed, wounded, captured,
and missing, equaled that of any other Connecticut regiment
Austin didn't meet his maker at Antietam, however. He became a prisoner of war in April 1864 at the Battle of Plymouth (N.C.), where Union forces, outnumbered about 5 to 1, were attacked by land and sea. Here's an account of the battle from the regiment history:
"Five times the enemy stormed the lines, and as many times were they handsomely repulsed, with great slaughter. The rebels raised the "black flag" against the negroes found in uniform, and mercilessly shot them down. Fort Pillow was re-enacted. The losses in the Sixteenth, including the captured, were four hundred and
After the Battle of Plymouth, captured enlisted men such as Austin were shipped farther south, to Andersonville, the notorious Georgia POW camp. Prison camp conditions on both sides during the Civil War were terrible, and many died of disease. Austin probably was among them. He died on Jan. 8, 1865, and was buried in Avon, Conn. One can imagine the scene -- a cold, winter day, a blanket of snow on the ground and a grieving family weeping over his grave.