Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Antietam panoramas: John Otto's 40-acre cornfield

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The John Otto cornfield at Antietam, where the 16th Connecticut was routed on Sept. 17, 1862.
                              CLICK ON IMAGES FOR FULL-SCREEN PANORAMA

JOHN OTTO'S CORNFIELD (REBELS' PERSPECTIVE): In a 40-acre field of head-high corn on Sept. 17, 1862, the 16th Connecticut was battered, many men skedaddling for the rear. (Two deserters fled all the way to England. One deserter's ancestor saw his great-grandfather's photo for the first time on this blog.) Above and below are interactive panoramic images of what that field looks like today. Some of the 16th Connecticut wounded lay in this field for 40 hours, only rescued when Union burial parties found them late in the morning on Friday, Sept. 19. Many of the wounded were taken to about a half-mile away to Otto's barn, where a makeshift field hospital had been set up. Some of the most serious cases were later taken to the German Reformed Church on Sharpsburg's main street.

OTTO'S CORNFIELD (REBELS' PERSPECTIVE II):  A.P. Hill's veterans, who quickly marched 17 miles from Harpers Ferry earlier in the day, arrived on the battlefield just in time to save Robert E. Lee's army at Antietam.  They struck the extreme left flank of the Union line that included the 4th Rhode Island and the green 16th Connecticut, sending both regiments retreating in chaos. “My company of one hundred men number but twenty eight at roll call this morning,” Pvt. William Relyea of the 16th Connecticut wrote his wife on Sept. 19, 1862, two days after the battle. “Many poor fellows bit the dust. I stood alone about fifty feet from the rebel line and fired and I supposed they fired at me, but I happened to notice I was alone and I left to help some of our wounded off. Capt. (Samuel) Brown was wounded and we found him dead today stripped of hat, coat, shoes, and all valuables." (1) The 16th Connecticut monument, dedicated in 1894, can be seen in the far distance.

(1) Relyea, William  Henry. Letter book containing copies of letters, 1862-1865, Ms. 72782,  Connecticut History Society, Hartford, Conn.

OTTO'S CORNFIELD (UNION PERSPECTIVE): The 16th Connecticut lay in this hollow until advancing into Otto's cornfield ... and disaster at the Battle of Antietam. "About 4 o'clock we were marched over a hill, and down into a hollow, and lay down," a private in the 16th wrote. "We were in this situation about an hour, the shells from both batteries were playing over us. One man in our company lying just behind me was struck by a piece of shell. Cap't Manross was killed while we lay there. We marched from here up to a cornfield."

OTTO'S CORNFIELD (WHERE NEWTON MANROSS FELL): In the center of  this panorama, in front of the large group of trees in the hollow,  is the approximate location where 16th Connecticut Capt. Newton Manross was mortally wounded by cannon fire. This is a hollow in which the 16th Connecticut lay just before it moved into the 40-acre field of head-high corn. "I often think of that day, Sept. 17, 1862, and helping Captain Manross into the fence corner," Lester Taylor, a private in Company H of the 16th Connecticut, wrote 39 years after the battle. "I could look down inside of him and see his heart beat, his left shoulder all shot off." Manross, a brilliant man and a world traveler, was from Bristol, Conn. He was an assistant professor at Amherst (Mass.) College when he enlisted.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled onto this blog while reading the Hartford Courant. Shall have to spend more time here. Have always been a Civil War buff. I grew up in Massachusetts but spent many summers during the 60's in Tennessee at my Grandparents farm. I remember hearing of a Great maybe Great Grand Father taken by the Night Riders during the War and was never heard from again. Went to Tenn Tech and drove back and forth while stopping at many battlefields. Gettysburg has always been my favorite.