Saturday, January 07, 2012

Antietam death: Private Oliver Cromwell Case

Private Oliver Case's marker at Simsbury (Conn.) Cemetery.

Thanks to fellow Civil War blogger John Rogers, I was able to track down the memorial marker for Private Oliver Cromwell Case of the 8th Connecticut during a early morning visit today to Simsbury (Conn.) Cemetery. Case was killed at Antietam, but as Rogers notes on his terrific blog about the soldier, there's a small chance he also could be buried at Antietam National Cemetery, where he also has a marker.

In an account uncovered by Rogers at the Simsbury Historical Society, Case's brother wrote of discovering Oliver's body after the battle.

Oliver Case's marker is high up on the hill to the left.
"He was no doubt killed instantly the bullet having passed through his head just about the top of his ears," wrote Alonzo Grove Case, a first sergeant in the 16th Connecticut. "We wrapped him in my blanket and carried him to the spot where the 16th dead were to be buried having first got permission from the Colonel of the Eighth and the 16th to do so.

"The 16th men were buried side by side in a trench and they dug a grave about 6 [feet] from them and we deposited the remains of my brother and that having first pinned a paper with his name and age on the inside of the blanket. Then they put up boards to teach with name and Regiment on them. His body lay there until December when father went there and brought the body to Simsbury where it now lies to mingle with the sole of his native town."

Rogers' chase of Case's story started 18 years ago when he purchased the Simsbury soldier's bible for $3 in Germantown, Md. Inside the front cover of the bible Case carried into battle at Antietam are these words:

"If you die, die like a man.”

It's an awesome find.

Since 1993, Rogers has tapped into sources at the Connecticut History Society, Simsbury Historical Society and elsewhere to paint an amazingly detailed picture of the soldier's life. Case enlisted in the Union army on Sept. 16, 1861, and he was dead almost exactly one year later. He was only 22 years old.

I like traipsing through old cemeteries, especially when the morning light makes photographing old gravestones pretty special. The light and blue sky were just right this morning for these Blackberry Bold shots of Case's marker, which is among his family's gravestones high up on the slope at the beautiful, historic cemetery.

Oliver Case, a private in the 8th Connecticut,  was 22 years old when he was killed at Antietam.

  • MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle.

    1. Wonderful photos! Thanks for mentioning Oliver's blog. I think we can conclude that someone is buried in the Simsbury grave since Oliver's father went to Sharpsburg in December 1862 to bring his body home. I would like to think that it's Oliver because his brothers retrieved him from the battlefield, placed identification on him and buried him near the 16th CVI graves. If he is in Simsbury, then who is in the Antietam grave? Thanks for your informative blog.

    2. Very Interesting. I have been photographing headstones at Antietam National Cemetery and have posted them on Flickr under 2 groups Antietam National Cemetery and Graves of Veterans of the Civil War. I contend there could be a number of instances where it is unknown whom might be buried in a particular grave. I also have found a number of misspellings on gravestones. There are lots of good resources on the web with, many state regimental rosters and the NPS site Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System to do research regarding individual soldiers. There is at least one other instance at Antietam where the headstone indicates someone is buried in a particular grave and it is not the case as per Bivouacs of the Dead.