Friday, May 03, 2013

Antietam photo journal: Fear, dread and pain

A close-up of a wounded soldier on Irish Brigade monument at Antietam.
Detail of a flag-bearer, who marches into battle near Bloody Lane.
The Irish Brigade monument at Antietam is located
near Bloody Lane and the stone Observation Tower.
The monument was dedicated in 1997.
One soldier attempts to help a wounded comrade, whose dazed expression clearly indicates a rebel bullet had found its mark. Looking skyward, another man screams out in agony, one of many victims of the  madness.  Two of their comrades share a sense of dread while a flag-bearer stares straight ahead, a mix of determination and fear on his face, as he gallops toward Bloody Lane. Amazingly lifelike, the bronze bas-relief figures are the work of sculptor Ron Tunison, who created them for the beautiful Irish Brigade monument at Antietam. The monument was dedicated in 1997, but until earlier this week, I had never examined it closely. Big mistake. It's easily one of the more impressive monuments on the battlefield, rivaling the much older 15th Massachusetts monument in the West Woods. Largely made up of Irishmen from New York, Massachusetts and  Pennsylvania, the brigade was commanded by Irish-born Gen. Thomas Meagher, a wildly interesting character who survived the Civil War but drowned in the Missouri River in 1867. According to Meagher, he was knocked out of the fight at Antietam because his horse was shot out from under him. Others claim the fall was caused because the general hit the bottle quite heavily that day. Meagher's image in bronze, also created by Tunison, appears on the reverse of the monument. Before the Irish Brigade went into action at Antietam, it received absolution near William Roulette's cornfield from Father William Corby, who twice served as president of Notre Dame after the war. For the 113 soldiers in the brigade who were killed that day, Corby's effort may have been worthwhile.
These soldiers appear to dread going into battle.
The bas-relief figures on the Irish Brigade monument were created by Ron Tunison.
An anguished soldier cries out after being wounded.

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FACES OF THE CIVIL WAR: Stories and photos of common soldiers who served during the war.
16TH CONNECTICUT SOLDIERS: Tales of the men in the hard-luck regiment.
MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle and the men who fought in it

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