Sunday, August 18, 2013

Antietam: Two rural graves, two tragedies

Solomon Allen is buried near a huge pine tree in rural Melrose Cemetery in East Windsor, Conn. 
While photographing the gravestone of  Solomon Allen this morning, I was again reminded of the terrible cost of war and the awful ripple effects of the Battle of Antietam in Connecticut in late summer and early fall 1862. Allen was a 24-year-old corporal in the 16th Connecticut from East Windsor, a rich agricultural area about 15 miles north of Hartford. More than 150 years ago, it was known for tobacco farming and even today the crop is grown near Allen's grave site in rural Melrose Cemetery, which is bordered on two sides by cornfields. On Aug. 10, 1862, Allen married Abalena Beebe. Thirty-nine days later, she became a widow when her husband was killed in John Otto's cornfield at Antietam. After the war, Abalena married Civil War veteran Henry Adams, a private in Allen's Company G who barely survived Antietam. Shot in the right leg, Adams lay in Otto's cornfield for 40 hours before he was discovered by a burial crew and taken to a field hospital on  Joseph Sherrick's farm. Years afterward, he wrote in amazement: "Why did I not die?" (Adams' story is told in more detail in my book, "Connecticut Yankees at Antietam.")

In a note dated Oct. 2, 1863, the Connecticut doctor who treated Warriner wrote of  the cause of the
soldier's death.  (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
Thirty yards from Allen's final resting place is the grave of another Antietam casualty, 11th Connecticut Corporal William D. Warriner of Windsorville. Wounded in the left forearm in the attack at Burnside Bridge, Warriner lingered for nearly a month after the battle before he died back home in Connecticut on Oct. 14, 1862. The attending physician noted that Warriner died of complications resulting from his wound and typhoid fever contracted in Sharpsburg, Md. William's death was a terrible blow for his wife, Elizabeth, whom he married in a Methodist church on Christmas Day 1848 in Springfield, Mass. And one can only imagine the effects of his death on his four sons, Charles, Gilbert, Alberto and Daniel, none of whom was older than 11 when their father died.
11th Connecticut Private William Warriner's weathered gravestone notes that he died "while 
absent on a furlough." (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
William Warriner's grave in Melrose Cemetery in East Windsor, Conn.

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