Thursday, September 19, 2013

Antietam panoramas: Where 14th Connecticut attacked

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church,  Spotsylvania Courthouse and more.
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In the field at left during the Battle of Antietam, the 14th Connecticut traded shots with Rebels, who fought from an old country lane and beyond. The field was a planted with corn on Sept. 17, 1862.  The Confederates were only occasionally visible through the battle smoke as they blasted away at the Yankees from that old road, later known famously as Bloody Lane.

The 14th Connecticut monument at Antietam marks the
 regiment's farthest advance during the battle.
"Nothing daunted the Fourteenth men settled down to work expecting to stay, firing in the direction of the puffs of smoke or at anything indicating the presence of a reb." according to an 1891 account of the Connecticut regiment's attack. "And some of them really seemed to enjoy it. We recall one sergeant as repeatedly gravely engaged in loading his gun and then, rising and taking aim, firing; and each time there would come upon his face such a rapt expression of utter satisfaction as seemed almost seraphic. Of course many were entirely unused to handling firearms and there were more 'shots at a venture' that day in the regiment than it ever knew again, but each man did his best and bravest." Captain Elijah Gibbons of Company B warned his men to be careful handling their weapons, but that didn't prevent Private Robert Hubbard from being killed by friendly fire. (Another 14th Connecticut private, Thaddeus Lewis of Company A, was also killed by friendly fire at Antietam.)

On Oct. 11, 1894, more than 32 years after they fought in this field, veterans of the 14th Connecticut returned to the battlefield to dedicate a monument to their sacrifice. The regiment suffered 38 killed and mortally wounded and 88 wounded at Antietam. Speaker Julius Knowlton, a commissary sergeant in the 14th during the battle, addressed the crowd that included families of the old soldiers. "With reverent hearts we gather here to manifest our gratitude to the living actors of that day, and to mingle our tears with our praises of the dead, who by the sacrifices of their lives did all men could to bring the heritage of peace and unity," he said.

And later Knowlton eloquently added:

"These tons of granite, wrought in graceful lines, with marvelous skill, will stand through varying vicissitudes of storm and sunshine, telling the grim story of men of every clime, and, methinks, that the warm light of every September noon will awaken in this New England stone a soul that will go out and testify to the unmarked dead o'er all these fields that a grateful people has not forgot, and never will forget, the suffering or the valor of those who stood by the Union in those days."

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