Sunday, August 04, 2013

Civil War tragedy: A girl named Antietam

Antietam Burnside Mann (back center) was the daughter of Peter Mann, a private in the 
8th Connecticut who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam.
 (Photo courtesy Mann descendants)
In the course of reporting for my book, Connecticut Yankees at Antietam (The History Press), I uncovered several compelling tales, but none was as sad as the story of a 54-year-old soldier from Enfield, Conn., named Peter Mann. Born in Scotland, Mann emigrated to the United States in the 1850s. He fathered 10 children with his first wife, who died in 1855, and three more with his second wife, Ann. Shaving 10 years off his real age, Peter, a weaver in a carpet mill, enlisted in the 8th Connecticut on Sept. 21, 1861. At the Battle of Antietam, the old soldier was shot in the groin and died 10 days later in a field hospital near Sharpsburg, Md. (Download my Connecticut Antietam death list Excel spreadsheet here.)

Death knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors during the Civil War, but the demise of this soldier was especially tragic because Ann was pregnant at the time. With the aid of two midwives, she gave birth to a girl a little more than four months after her husband died. Born blind in her left eye, Ann’s daughter had serious health issues for the rest of her life -- issues so serious that decades later she was compelled to write a letter to the president to plead her case for a pension. In honor of her father’s sacrifice on a ridge outside Sharpsburg on Sept. 17, 1862, the girl with fragile health was given an unforgettable name: Antietam Burnside Mann.

Descendants of Peter Mann shared information about the soldier and his family, including letters he wrote while he served in the 8th Connecticut and the photo above of Antietam late in her life. That image doesn’t appear in the book, which I hope you will check out. Available to pre-order on, "Connecticut Yankees at Antietam" will be officially released Tuesday.

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