Thursday, April 19, 2012

Antietam: 15th Massachusetts soldier returns

Shortly after I arrived at Antietam this afternoon, I traipsed through tall, wet grass to the 15th Massachusetts monument on a rise overlooking State Highway 65. Because of its out-of-the-way location, few battlefield visitors check out the "Wounded Lion" monument, a pity because it's easily one of the most beautiful on the field.  Today's visit was special because I brought with me from Connecticut a ninth-plate ambrotype of Justus Wellington, a private in the 15th Massachusetts, who was among the 70-plus soldiers in the regiment who were killed within 20 minutes during fighting in the West Woods at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.

 A 24-year-old shoemaker from West Brookfield, Mass., Wellington probably was buried with other soldiers from his regiment across the highway (which didn't exist in 1862), near the Mary Locher Cabin. His remains were not returned to West Brookfield, so it's a good bet he was disinterred after the battle and eventually buried under a gravestone marked "Unknown" in Antietam National Cemetery. Wellington's name is listed among those killed in the regiment on the bottom left corner on a plaque on the back of the 15th Massachusetts monument. To honor the young man who died here nearly 150 years ago, I placed Wellington's ambrotype near his name on the monument and shot the video above and photo below. I did this once before several years ago, but it will never get old.

Next time you are in Sharpsburg,Md., be sure to check out this hidden gem just off State Highway 65, near the Antietam National Battlefield Visitors' Center.
Ambrotype of Justus Wellington from my collection next to his name on the 15th Massachusetts
monument at Antietam. Private Wellington was killed in the West Woods here on Sept. 17, 1862.
Close-up of front of the 15th Massachusetts monument at Antietam.
Nature put on a spectacular display today in the West Woods at Antietam.


  1. John, that is really great. Thanks. BTW, I am selling a copy of the extremely rare book from the dedication of the 16th Connecticut monument. I expect to put this piece in my case on the counter in Antietam's book store.

  2. Wonderful way to honor this soldier. Great job as always.

  3. Nicely done, John. I was unaware of this monument. Next trip east, I will try to see it.