The regiment's dead and wounded lay in this field after the battle.
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The sun shined brightly in the faces of 8th Connecticut soldiers, Leonidas A. Barber recalled, obscuring Rebels who fired from behind stone walls and fences during a furious struggle late in the afternoon at the Battle of Antietam. Far in advance of the rest of the IX Corps, the 8th Connecticut was largely on its own as it aimed to cut off the Confederates' nearby escape route to Virginia. Suddenly, Barber, a 22-year-old corporal in Company G from Stonington, Conn., was knocked senseless and crashed to the ground with a head wound, perhaps caused by a shell burst. "...all at once everything became dark, and I seemed to be whirling through the air with lightning speed," he wrote to his brother nearly two months after the battle. "Being somewhat uncertain as my latitude, I felt about, and was much gratified to find myself still on terra firma, and not making a flying trip through the regions of space."
|Leonidas Barber ("head, dangerously") was|
listed among the many 8th Connecticut Antietam
casualties published in the Hartford Courant
on Sept. 26, 1862.
Stuck behind enemy lines and unable to speak because of his wound, Barber was treated kindly by some Rebels. "....one spread my blanket over me, and fixed a rude pillow for my head," he wrote. But others -- "rascals," Barber called them -- searched the helpless soldier's pockets for money and other valuables. "As to the one who wanted to take my shoes," the corporal wrote, "I can forgive him, as I suppose the poor devil needed them bad enough for I saw a number of them the next day without any." (According to 8th Connecticut Lieutenant Roger Ford, many of the regiment's dead were found stripped of their clothes by the Rebels when the Yankees took control of the field two days later.)
|Roger Ford: |
lieutenant saw bodies of
comrades stripped of
their clothes by the
Rebels after the battle.
(Courtesy: Matt Reardon)
"This was what you may call hard living," he wrote his brother, "especially when one’s jaws and throat are so he can neither chew nor swallow anything hard. Had it not been for the kindness of one of my company, who was a nurse of the hospital, I think the doctors would have done what the secesh could not -- that is, deprive the country of a soldier, and yourself a brother."
Ten months later, Barber was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps, comprised of infirm or partially disabled soldiers who performed light duty. Nearly two years after Antietam, on Sept. 20, 1864, he was discharged from the Union army. Barber died in 1867 in Leavenworth, Ill.