Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antietam: Sergeant George Marsh 'returns' 152 years later

Image of  George Marsh photographed near where he was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.

In late September 1862, a funeral that "was very largely attended" was held for 29-year-old George Marsh at the home of his parents at 77 Main Street in Hartford. Afterward, the remains of the 8th Connecticut sergeant, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam about dawn on Sept. 17, 1862, were buried in Hartford's Old North Cemetery -- one of many such services held in Connecticut after the battle that claimed more than 200 of the state's sons. (Download my Antietam Connecticut death list here.)

Early Saturday morning, Marsh returned to the battlefield -- figuratively speaking, of course -- for the first time in more than 152 years.

Thanks to the current land owner, who drove me in her truck on rugged trails on her property, I finally found the spot on the ridge by the Henry Rohrbach farm where Marsh and two other 8th Connecticut soldiers were killed and several others were wounded when Rebels lobbed shells from across nearby Antietam Creek. I carried with me two images of Marsh -- a daguerreotype and tintype -- that I bought from a Michigan antiques dealer who earlier this summer contacted me after she saw another photo of Marsh on my blog. After the land owner and I traipsed through thick undergrowth near an old Civil War-era lane, I shot the image above at the edge of a cornfield, near where the regiment was shelled.

According to one account, a 12-pound solid shot struck directly in front of the prone Marsh -- he had been ill that morning -- passed under him and re-emerged from the ground a few feet away.  The chunk of iron never touched Guy and Lamira Marsh's son, who died from the concussion of the shell -- probably the first soldier from the state to die at Antietam. Soldiers in the 8th Connecticut panicked and scattered after the shelling, but they were calmed by their 19-year-old lieutenant, Marvin Wait, who had been covered by earth as well as blood of the wounded and killed.

"The brave fellow sprung to his feet ... and ordered every man back to his post in the most gallant manner," an account noted.

Hours later,  Wait also was dead, riddled with bullets as the 8th Connecticut's final push toward Sharpsburg was stopped on another ridge near the small western Maryland town.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, John... a great account.