The Maryland Campaign
September 10th - 17th 1862
- Campaign Narrative: New Recruits; Sept. 10, 1862
- Pursuit of Lee's Army: Battle at South Mountain; Sept. 14 - 15, 1862
- Short Summary of the Battle of Antietam
- George W. Smalley's Report of the Battle
- The Memoirs of John Sawyer Fay
- Colonel Coulter's Battle Report (Hartsuff's Brigade)
- Sergeant Austin Stearns Memoirs, Company K
- Letter of Major Gould to Colonel Leonard
- Diary of Samuel Derrick Webster, Company D
- Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B
- Levi L. Dorr Reminiscences, Company B
- Letter of Warren H. Freeman, Company A
- Letter of Prince Dunton, Company H
- Letter of Charles B. Fox; Tending to the Wounded
- Westborough Transcript; Casualty List for Co.'s F, I, & K
- Letter of James Lowell, Co. A; (battlefield experiences)
- Letter of John B. Noyes, Co. B; (summary of the campaign)
- Letter of Warren H. Freeman, Co. A; (battlefield experiences)
- Lt. Charles B. Fox's Casualty List
- Adna P. Hall, Company H
- Short Service
Political Implications of the Campaign
General Robert E. Lee's exhausted, but re-enforced Confederate Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland directly after defeating Major-General John Pope's army at the battle of 2nd Bull Run. The Army Lee's objective was to carry the fight north of the Potomac, out of Virginia, and if feasible enter Pennsylvania. If successful the Confederate government could propose a cessation of hostilities in exchange for Southern Independence. If the proposal for peace were rejected by Lincoln's government it could still impact northern voters in the fast approaching elections. Voters could choose between those who wish to prolong the war or those who wish to pursue peace. In any case, Lee was in Maryland to inflict injury on "our adversaries" and to "annoy and harass the enemy." He planned to attack the Union Army, thinking it was too demoralized to win a fight. The plan was audacious, but so was General Lee While he depended upon his army alone for victory, the Confederate government was hoping to gain recognition from Europe.
The Union Naval blockade kept southern cotton from textile mills in England and France where it was desperately needed. Their mill workers were put out. Those two countries were leaning toward Confederate recognition, but prudent England decided to take a wait and see attitude. President Lincoln's Secretary of State, William H. Seward proclaimed European attempts at mediation in the Civil War would be an act of war. When news of the Union defeat at 2nd Bull Run reached London, 2 weeks after the battle, the British government thought it was finally time to consider intervention on behalf of The South. Meanwhile, President Lincoln waited uneasily for a northern army victory so he could announce his "Emancipation Proclamation," which freed the slaves in openly rebellious states. He knew England could not morally support a nation that condoned slavery, at war with another which did not.
After a few days rest at Frederick, MD, General Lee made some plans. The intended supply route for his Northern invasion was the Shenandoah Valley, and he needed to clear out the Federal garrisons there at Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry. General McClellan wanted these outflanked posts evacuated, but Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck insisted they be defended. To capture these forces, General Lee divided his army in half. General Stonewall Jackson's wing would divide into 3 sections and attack Harper's Ferry on September 12th, from the North, East and West. The Union troops at Martinsburg were expected to retreat to the larger garrison at Harper's Ferry. Lee's supply train and the rest of his army would wait in Boonsboro, across South Mountain, shielded from Federal view. The army moved out September 10th.
General McClellan had the love and confidence of his army but not of the administration. His presence as commander tremendously boosted morale. He followed Lee into Maryland, seeking information on the motives and size of the Confederate Army. McClellan’s force cautiously spread out over 25 miles, to be ready to cover Baltimore or Washington1 or enter Penn. depending on the motives of the enemy. Faulty reconnaissance by his own men, suggested his army was greatly outnumbered by the rebels; a chronic complaint of 'The Young Napoleon.' By chance, on the morning of September 13th, when going into camp at Frederick, MD, Corporal Barton Mitchell of the 27th Indiana discovered a map of Lee's plans wrapped in a package of 3 cigars. They were quickly brought to Gen. McClellan's headquarters and authenticated. Crucial was the discovery that Lee had divided his force. McClellan knew he had the means to destroy Lee's army and telegraphed the President as much.
On September 13th, the Union Army moved west through the town of Frederick toward the South Mountain passes.2 The morning of September 14th General Franklin's corps advanced to Crampton's Gap, his objective the relief of Harper's Ferry. McClellan approached Turner's Gap 7 miles north of Crampton's Gap. The Union advance surprised General Lee, who had divided his wing of the army further still, and he had to scramble to get troops from far away Hagerstown up to Turner’s Gap on South Mountain to head the Yankees off at the pass. The Confederates were slow in coming, but the Yankees were even slower. Confederate General D.H. Hill was lucky and successful in giving the Federals a good fight for control of the mountain passes and he managed to slow the Union advance with an all day fight that lasted until dark. (General James Longstreet’s troops arrived in time to give support.) At night Lee and his subordinates, Generals Longstreet and D.H. Hill,decided to retreat from the mountain before dawn. The Union victory gave McClellan's long suffering troops something to celebrate.
Seven miles south at Crampton's Gap, General Franklin’s aggressive Division Commander Major-General Henry Slocum charged the hill in the afternoon and took the mountain pass from the Confederate defenders. But Franklin’s glacial pace was no help to the Federals trapped at Harper's Ferry. Jackson's 3 pronged attack forced the surrender of the Garrison the morning of September 15th.
With the Yankees on his tail, Lee's spread out army was in peril. He sent orders to Jackson at Harper's Ferry to make haste and re-unite the army at Sharpsburg. Lee then formed his half of the Army of Northern Virginia into a line of battle on the high ground near the town, facing the Federals across Antietam Creek. Lee's show of defiance led the super cautious McClellan to pause and ponder what to do next as his army marched down the mountain, through Boonsboro to Keedysville. The Army of the Potomac bivouacked on the roads around the village, just east of Antietam Creek. Bad intelligence still led McClellan to believe the Confederates greatly outnumbered his own troops. The opposite was true. On September 15th and 16th McClellan outnumbered Lee's available force by 4 to 1. McClellan's fighting strength was about 71,500 troops. About 18,000 were fresh troops, totally green without any training.3 Lee at this moment had about 26,500 men at hand, yet the Union high command estimated Rebel strength to be between 100,000 and 135,000 men.
The two day pause of the Union Army bought desperately needed time for the Rebel army to concentrate.
General McClellan’s battle strategy was sound. He attacked Lee’s line on both flanks, forcing the Confederates to use up their reserve troops. The final strike was to be a decisive knock-out blow delivered by a huge attack force massed in the center of the Union line. It was to strike in either direction at an opportune moment during the battle. One flaw however, was that the entire Union Cavalry was part of this force, which prevented the Union command from gaining any intelligence about enemy movements on the flanks, especially in the direction of the river crossings towards Harper’s Ferry and Shepherdstown.
Major-General Joseph Hooker's First Corps opened the battle on the Confederate left flank, assisted by the 2nd Corps, Major-General Edwin V. Sumner and the 12th Corps, (formerly Major-General N.P. Banks Corps) now commanded by Major-General Joseph K. Mansfield. Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside's 9th Corps delivered the 2nd attack on Lee's right flank, across the Rhorsback bridge.
On September 16th around 4 p.m., Hooker’s First Corps began crossing Antietam Creek to get into battle positions. The Confederate line shifted to meet the to meet the forthcoming attack.
NOTES: 1. Editor Tom Clemens cites an communication from General Halleck reprimanding McClellan for moving too quickly and leaving Washington uncovered during the advance; to be found in the Official Records 19 pt 2, pp 211, 216; ibid, pt 1, pp 25-7, 39-41; from “The Maryland Campaign” Vol. I, Ezra A. Carman, edited and annotated by Thomas G. Clemens, pp 172 -3, note 24.
2. McClellan is criticized by historians for not advancing further toward South Mountain on the night of Sept.13th after Special Order 191 was discovered. Thos Clemens makes a good point in Vol. I of “The Maryland Campaign” (Ezra A. Carman) Most of the army was already in motion that day when Special Order 191 was found. The second and ninth corps caused a traffic jam as they moved through the town of Frederick forcing the 12th Corps to halt east of town. And Confederate rear guard forces were a problem until early afternoon. Two divisions of the 9th corps did move into the Middleton Valley the night of the 13th. “It is also worth noting that on Sept 14, Halleck was still notifying McClellan about large numbers of troops in Virginia, and warning him about exposing his flank and rear” [p. 290; note 17.]
3. Thomas Clemens’s wrote, “This editor’s research arrives at a figure close to 18,000.” From The Maryland Campaign, vol. I, Ezra A. Carman, edited and annotated by Thomas G. Clemens [p.149, note 68].
The Battle; September 17, 1862.
The following is lifted directly from the Antietam National Battlefield Park description of the fight.
"The twelve hour battle began at dawn on the 17th. For the next seven hours there were three major Union attacks on the Confederate left, moving from north to south. Gen. Joseph Hooker's command led the first Union assault. Then Gen. Joseph Mansfield's soldiers attacked, followed by Gen. Edwin Sumner's men as McClellan's plan broke down into a series of uncoordinated Union advances. Savage, incomparable combat raged across the Cornfield, East Woods, West Woods and the Sunken Road as Lee shifted his men to withstand each of the Union thrusts. After clashing for over eight hours, the Confederates were pushed back but not broken, however over 15,000 soldiers were killed or wounded.
While the Union assaults were being made on the Sunken Road, a mile-and-a-half farther south, Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside opened the attack on the Confederate right. His first task would be to capture the bridge that would later bear his name. A small Confederate force, positioned on higher ground, was able to delay Burnside for three hours. After taking the bridge at about 1:00 p.m., Burnside reorganized for two hours before moving forward across the arduous terrain - a critical delay. Finally the advance started only to be turned back by Confederate General A.P. Hill's reinforcements that arrived in the late afternoon from Harper's Ferry.
Neither flank of the Confederate army collapsed far enough for McClellan to advance his center attack, leaving a sizable Union force that never entered the battle. Despite over 23,000 casualties of the nearly 100,000 engaged, both armies stubbornly held their ground as the sun set on the devastated landscape."
The '13th Mass.' at the Battle (Ricketts Division, Hartsuff's Brigade)
The following borrows heavily from the book, “Landscape Turned Red” by Stephen W. Sears; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983.
General Hooker's attack goal was a "raised open plateau just to the east of the Hagerstown Turnpike in front of the Dunker Church." He planned to attack "due south toward the Dunker Church along the axis of the Hagerstown turnpike." Brigadier-General Abner Doubleday's Division, "would advance on the right, along the pike and through the Miller farm toward the West Woods, with James Ricketts' Division on the left, through the Cornfield and the East Woods. George Meade's Division would back them up in the center."
No provision was made for a joint attack with Mansfield's Twelfth Corp. Hooker's First Corps strength was about 8,600 men. His opponent, Stonewall Jackson had about 7,700 men to meet the attack.
Very early in the morning, Brigadier-General Truman Seymour's Pennsylvania Buck-tails skirmished in the East Woods while General Hooker got his attack force ready. When General James Ricketts moved the 3 Brigades of his Division out of the North Woods on Joseph Poffenberger's Farm, enemy artillery spotted them and opened fire. "Scores were knocked out of the ranks before they were on the field 5 minutes." Brigadier-General Abram Duryea's Brigade led the advance to the Cornfield with two artillery batteries in support. The guns of Captain Ezra Matthews, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery F, and Captain James Thompson's Pennsylvania Light Battery C, advanced with Duryea to the cornfield and dueled with the Confederate Artillery posted near the Dunker Church. At 6 A.M. Duryea's 1,100 men from New York & Pennsylvania entered Miller's Cornfield. Duryea's Brigade fought alone for about 30 minutes without support.
This map shows the portion of the field where the 13th Mass fought. Map boundaries extend from Dunker Church at the intersection of Smoketown Road and Hagerstown Pike, (bottom center) north to the farm of Joseph Poffenberger where the 1st Corps formed battle lines. Gen. Hooker's objective was the plateau where Col. Stephen D. Lee's Confederate artillery was posted. The map shows Duryea's attack; 6:00 to 6:20 a.m.
General Ricketts other two brigades ( Brigadier-General George Lucas Hartsuff and Colonel William A. Christian) suffered a break-down in command which delayed the advance. Hartsuff was supposed to lead the attack with Duryea and Christian in close support. The first delay happened when General Hartsuff went forward to reconnoiter and was badly wounded by a shell fragment from enemy artillery. Between the confusion of the command change and a mix-up of orders, his entire brigade remained standing under arms back in Poffenberger's meadow while Duryea's lines were broken and driven back in the cornfield. Finally everything was straightened out. Colonel Richard Coulter assumed command and hurried the brigade forward.
As the columns of Christian's Brigade approached the East Woods they came under a deadly cross fire of Rebel artillery. Col. Christian had a sudden break-down, dismounted and ran to the rear. "While Christian's Brigade was trying to sort itself out, Hartsuff's troops under Colonel Coulter emerged from the Cornfield and the East Woods to meet a blizzard of fire." The Confederate artillery had their exact range.
Confederate General Lawton was facing the Yankees on this part of the line and his thinning force began to waiver. He called for reinforcements and up charged the infamous Louisiana Tigers, who with some of Lawton's Georgians, came head on at Col. Coulter. A Southern war correspondent for the Charleston Daily Courier, described the scene this way, "The fire now became fearful and incessant,…merged into a tumultuous chorus that made the earth tremble. The discharge of musketry sounded upon the ear like the rolling of a thousand distant drums…" Thompson's Battery moved into the cornfield to support the Union line and blasted the Tigers and the Georgians until they fell back. The fight in the cornfield was about an hour old at 7 A.M. when Christian's Brigade led by Colonel Peter Lyle of the 90th PA finally advanced through the East Woods. "Col. Coulter hurried back from the front line, found Lyle and called out, "For God's sake, come help us out!" Coulter's wrecked formations were pulled back and Lyle's men took their places." In his report of the battle Colonel Coulter wrote, "The Thirteenth Massachusetts had disabled three officers out of twelve taken into action. I would here make especial mention of Major Gould, commanding this regiment. He brought his men well into action, by his gallantry maintained and encouraged them while there, and was among the last to leave the field."
Battle Map No. 2 shows the attack of Hartsuff's Brigade, commanded by Col. Richard Coulter.
The battle-line of the Thirteenth Massachusetts extended partially into the East Woods, which provided some shelter from enemy fire for those men. The accounts of the soldiers suggest some of them fought longer than the rest of the brigade, due to this protection. Their sister regiment, the Twelfth Massachusetts, was totally exposed on high open ground. This organization suffered the highest casualty rate of any regiment in the fight this day. The usual statistic given states the '12th Mass.' lost 224 men out of 334 taken into battle, (67 % loss). But like the '13th Mass.,' the 12th had a post-war Regiment Association, and in the annual circular of 1897, historian George Kimball states that only nine of the 12th Regiment's ten companies were in the action, and that losses were 222 of 262, or 85%. Lieutenant Charles B. Fox compiled a careful list of the 13th Regiment's losses. A transcription of the list is included on this page. Charles E. Davis, Jr. stated in the Thirteenth Massachusetts regimental history, "We took into this fight three hundred and one men, and brought out one hundred and sixty-five, a loss of forty-five percent."
Picture Credits: All pictures & maps come from the Library of Congress digital collections except where indicated. The graphic "Into the Cornfield" by artist Walton Tabor is from Century's publication, "Battles & Leaders of the Civil War." South Mountain Inn images come from the Maryland Historical Register; and images of Boonsboro, from the Western Maryland Room of the Hagerstown Library. Soldiers of Co. B (Worcester, Dorr, Richards, Armstrong, Whidden, Samuel S. Gould, & Adna Hall's breastplate) were shared with me by private collector Scott Hann. Captain Eben Fiske, John B. Noyes from Massachusetts Historical Society; John S. Fay, Charles N. Richards, James Lascelle Forbes, Adna P. Hall from descendants of these men, Gen. Hartsuff from Robert Moore's blog,; Confederates marching through Frederick from Harry Smeltzer's blog; Col. D. H. Strother, Captain Charles Hovey, Lt. Charles B. Fox, J.H. Cutting, from Mass. MOLLUS Collection, Carlisle, Army Heritage Education Center; battlefield snapshots by webmaster Brad Forbush, taken March, 2005; Abel H. Pope from Hudson, Mass. Historical Society; Dead at Antietam from, "Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes", Francis Trevelian Miller, 1911; Austin Stearns' sketch of the cornfield from "Three Years with Company K" ed. by Arthur Kent, 1975.; Enoch C. Pierce, Maj. J.P.Gould, Alfred W. Brigham, Eugene Allen Fiske, Will Soule, Walter Pollard, J. P. Shelton, Edward Archibald, from various online auction houses. Charles R. Dale shared with me by Steve Heintzleman of Stoneham, Mass. ALL PHOTOS HAVE BEEN CROPPED AND RETOUCHED IN PHOTOSHOP.
From "Three Years in the Army" by Charles E. Davis, jr. Estes & Lauriat, Boston, 1894.
Wednesday, September 10.
Yesterday at 4:15 P.M. we marched to Mechanicsville, about eight miles, where we now were.
We received another lot of recruits to-day, and a fine looking set of men they were. It is a notable fact that this batch of recruits was the last in which we had any feeling of pride. Up to and including this time we had been fortunate in our recruits. They were a credit to the State and reflected honor upon the regiment; they were in such marked contrast to those who followed that the fact is worth mentioning.
mortification was the lot of one of this
number, who came to us full of confidence and hope. Having
completed his school education he was seized with the patriotic desire
to enlist, and leaving the tender care of mother and father he joined
the Thirteenth. His first shock was at our appearance.
Instead of bright uniforms, with gilt buttons and shoulder
knots, he found us with ragged trousers, ill-fitting blouses, and torn
and faded caps - the result of long marches over dusty roads and
bivouacking in ploughed fields, that made us look more like
a regiment of tramps than soldiers.
On the morning following his arrival, our new recruit made inquiry of his comrades as to where he was to get milk for his coffee, and was told that the captain kept the milk in his tent. Having perfect confidence in his comrades, he made application at once. The captain was surprised at the request, and explained to him that milk was not in the list of articles of diet provided by the Government. Of course the recruit felt mortified at his mistake, but made the best of it, though it destroyed his confidence for a while in his associates' statements. He learned that "Ask and ye shall receive" had no coinage in the army. Notwithstanding his verdancy he became an excellent soldier.
Most of us cared little about the deprivation of milk, though the temptation was strong among some of the boys, when sighting a cow, to ascertain if they had lost the trick of milking. Although a cow, under ordinary circumstances, is a peaceable animal, she draws the line when her lactar reservoir is being too energetically pumped. To hold a dipper with one hand and milk with the other, particularly when three other hands were endeavoring to do the same thing on the same cow, and she unwilling to stand still, required a degree of skill that few of us possessed. In spite of being well-aimed, the stream of milk would generally go in any direction but that of the dipper; hence the necessity of struggling with this problem when no other soldiers were about, unless you were fond of unrewarded labor. Therefore most of us preferred buying it at farm-houses, though the demand was so much greater than the supply, we were often disappointed in our efforts to obtain it. When the sutler was with us we could buy "condensed milk," which we found an excellent substitute.
Thursday, Sept. 11.
At 9 A.M. we started on the march and kept it up all day, in a slow, tedious manner, until we paced off twelve miles on the road to Frederick.
Friday, Sept. 12.
After inspection in the morning we marched to Ridgeville, seven miles, and camped.
Saturday, Sept. 13.
We started at 1 P.M. and marched twelve more miles toward Frederick.
An Astonshing Discovery (From "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, Jr.)
Sunday, September 14.
At 5 A.M. we broke camp and marched all day with frequent and uncertain halts, passing through Frederick and Middletown, untl about six o'clock, when our division (Hooker's) was placed in second line of battle on South Mountain. As we climbed up the steep sides of the mountain we were fired at by the enemy, who made the very common mistake of soldiers when firing from an elevated position, - that of firing too high, - by which means we escaped any casualties. We laid on our arms until morning.
The unexpected often happens in the army. When we retreated from Manassas, the afternoon of August 30, we gave up all hope of seeing our knapsacks again, as the grove where they were deposited had been taken possession of by the enemy. During our advance up the mountain to-day, the dead body of a rebel belonging to a Georgia regiment was seen lying on the ground near the road, where he was killed. One of our boys, regretting the loss of his knapsack, and noticing the Reb had one, concluded to make good his loss by transferring it to his own back. Now the most astonishing thing about this was the discovery, upon removing the knapsack, that it was his own property, which had been toted from Manassas to South Mountain by a rebel soldier. He was still more amazed on opening it to find the contents had been undisturbed.
Austin Stearns Describes the advance from Frederick (From "Three Years With Company K" by Sergeant Austin C. Stearns, (deceased) Edited by Arthur Kent, Associated University Presses, Cranbury, NJ, 1976; (p.119-123) Used with permission.
How beautiful it looked on this pleasant sabbath morning, the 14th day of September 1862, to see the army winding up on the ridge, the Sun shining brightly, flags waving, and bayonets glistning. If that was a glorious sight, how much more so was the sight when we had reached the summit of the ridge and could look down and across the valley, to see the fields and farm-houses in all their quiet stillness extending up and down in this "garden of Maryland." Looking straight across the troops could be seen, winding their slow length along, the advance of the union army contending with the rear of the rebels, the rugged slopes of South Mountain in the not very far distance.
Down the west side of the ridge and across the valley we pushed. All thoughts of our recent defeats was for the moment forgotten, for in our front were the enemies of our country, and the old thoughts and feelings, and love of country, flag, and home came back, and how eager we all were to again measure our strength with the enemy, and wipe the stain of defeat away. Most of us privates knew that if there was concert of action amongst the leaders, that we could whip the enemy upon any field. So we marched on down the ridge, across the valley and through the village of Middleton on that sabbath day.
We were halted by the side of the road with our guns stacked, waiting for the division of Gen'l Reno to pass, when an officer approached surrounded by a brilliant staff. The Col. ordered us to fall in and "give three cheers for George B. McClellan, Commander in Chief of the Potomac Army." Of course we cheered, for a good soldier always obeys.
McClellan in acknowledgement of the compliment raised his cap and rode on. Soon we followed, and on coming to the foot of the moutain we turned to the right and went a half mile or so, when we halted and orders were given to "pile knapsacks," and leaving them under a guard we formed a line of battle and commenced the ascent. The battle in the meantime was going on, Cox's divison being engaged at the pike road and at the left of it, while Reno's division was engaged at the right of Cox's. We formed on the right of Reno's, when about two thirds of the way up the left of our brigade became engaged; we being on the extreme right were not actively engaged, although the left of the reg't was where there was some firing and the bullets sang merrily over our heads. Darkness coming on, the troops halted then and there with orders to sleep on our arms, without any blankets, and not allowed a fire, not even to strike a match to light a pipe. We shivered through the night.
How my teeth chattered with the cold. We huddled together and tried to keep warm. The officers were as cold as we were; a group of them was standing but a few feet from where we lay when a stragler coming up in the dark addressed them:
"Can you tell me where the 11th P.V.'s are?"
"Do you belong to that regiment?" said Col Coulter.
"Yes sir," meekly replied the soldier, and recognizing his Col. and not daring to say anything but the truth.
"How did you lose your regiment then?" said the Col.
"I fell out," he replied.
"Well, do you see that black line," said the Col., pointing towards a black line that could be seen through the darkness. "Well, that is the 11th P.V.'s and do you double quick to it in no time, or I'll put you in a place where you can't stragle."
The soldier, knowing the metal of his commander, left his presence in quick time for his regiment, well satisfied to escape so easy.
Morning at length dawned and our lines were reformed and preperations were made for an advance. Hooker was there directing the movements. Gen'l Meagher, of Richardson divison, with his brigade was forming on the right of us, and not taking room enough overlapped almost our entire regiment.
"Move those troops farther to the right," said Hooker.
"By whose orders?" said Meagher, turning towards him.
"Major Gen'l Hookers, sir"; no more was said, Meagher moving the troops. Companies D. and K. were deployed as skirmishers and sent forward into the woods, taking our places on the line of skirmishers; the order "forward" was givein and we advanced to find no enemy in our front, for they were discovered to be in full retreat. Immediately we were filed off to the left through the woods, and coming out on the west side of the ridge near the "Mountain House," we halted for breakfast. Our rations were runing low, for we had marched so fast that the commssary had not been able to keep up; two hard bread to a man was issued, a scant meal to march and fight on.
Dan Warren, in looking over the premises, found two eggs and a half dozen potatoes, I found a few onions, and we put them together and had quite a meal out of the whole. After halting a few hours we descenced the ridge, pushing on after the retreating rebs, their rear and our advance fighting all the way. We went down through Boonsboro, a place we had visited in our earlier life as a soldier, and on towards Sharpsburg.
Pictured is the Commercial Hotel, Boonsboro, 1887. The hotel has a long history; probably built in the 1790's. At the time of the Civil War it may have been called the Eagle Hotel, but it has had several different names through the centuries. One can picture the soldiers marching down this street with colors flying, the buildings decorated with bunting and flags. Doug Bast allowed the Hagerstown Library to post this image.
Division Commander, General James B. Ricketts' Report:
On the morning of the 14th instant the division was under arms to march at daylight from its encampment near the Monocacy, and arrived at the east side of South Mountain, about a mile north of the turnpike, at 5 P.M., forming line of battle, First Brigade, Brigadier-General Duryea, on the extreme right; Third Bridgade, Brigadier-General Hartsuff, in the centre, and Second Brigade, Colonel Christian, on the left. The route of the First and Third Brigades extended over a very rough ground to the crest of the mountain, which was gallantly won. On the left the Second Brigade was sent to the relief of General Doubleday's, which was hard pressed and nearly out of ammunition. It engaged the enemy with terrible effect, and drove him down the west side of the mountain.
It being now too dark to advance, and the men much exhausted, operations ceased for the night. The next morning, the enemy having fled during the night, the division moved forward and encamped near Keedysville. The artillery was not engaged.
In his report on the battle of South Mountain, General Hooker makes the following statement:
It being very dark, our troops were directed to remain in position, and Hartsuff's brigade was brought up and formed a line across the valley, connecting with Meade's left and Hatch's right, and all were directed to sleep on their arms.
At dawn, Hartsuff's skirmishers were thrown forward, supported by his brigade, to the Mountain House, a mounted picket of the enemy retreating as they advanced. The enemy had been re-enforced by twenty regiments of Longstreet's corps during the early part of the night, but between 12 and 1 o'clock commenced a hurried and confused retreat, leaving his dead on our hands and his wounded uncared for.
The Mountain Tavern, as Sam Webster called it, or the Summit House, as John S. Fay calls it, still exists. The structure was built in the 1700's. Today, it's a restaurant called the Old South Mountain Inn. Webster and Fay wrote that the regiment halted for breakfast here, in front of the old tavern. At the door of the tavern General Hooker received the party of rebels under a flag of truce, who came to retrieve the body of Brigadier-General Samuel Garland, a promising young general killed at Fox's Gap the moring of September 14th. Garland was at the front with his North Carolina brigade fighting back the advance of two Ohio Brigades of the 9th Corps, lead by Colonel Eliakim Scammon and Colonel George Crook.
Thursday September 11th,
Were to move yesterday but re-encamped. Rained. Marched to Cooksville today, and to a short distance west on the pike. Took possession of a hatchet found sticking in a post. Rain again today. 16th Maine furnish several pieces of music from their large drum corps.
Friday, September 12th.
Marched to Ridgeville. 68 rebel cavalry were here yesterday. Got bread from one of cousin Emma Webster’s acquaintances – says she knows me – maybe she does. Only about 20 miles from Westminster.
Saturday, September 13th.
Moved up near Frederick, crossed the Monocacy at dark. Water scarce and I feeling very feverish. Many stragglers. Rebels were driven from here today by our advance.
Sunday, September 14th,
Advance to Mountain beyond Middletown. At foot of Mountain turned to the right, and along the stream until we came to a little brick church. Turned up the mountain. Left knapsacks at a brick farm house. Johnny Towne too sick to go further. Capt. Ordered me to stay with him, and I, being nearly played out, do so. Get a little butter and milk from the house and stew some apples making a nice, refreshing supper.
Monday September 15th
Capt. Fiske, [pictured, Company G] came to the rear about midnight, with “rheumatism in the knees.” The 9th fellows hooted at him. He wouldn’t let a man fall out during the day, and was himself first out of sight of danger. Left Johnny and joined the Co. on the Mtn. in front of the Mtn Tavern. They had an awful march getting up last night, being nearly worn out, and quite a severe fight to face, too. They came up on the extreme right and had not so much fighting to do as the Penna. Reserves. A great many rebels are dead just back on the crest, and along the stone fence. Flag of truce just come in this a.m. for body of Gen. Garland. Gen. Hooker received them at the door of the tavern. Joe Kelly captured a couple of woeful looking Johnnies, up in the rocks, who are afraid of being shot. Marched, later in the day, through Boonsborough, radiant with flags, to Keedysville, where we lay until after dark, when we crossed a bridge and lay on a high ridge near a mill. Co. D. got into somebody’s pantry and spring house, as proved by the quantity of milk, butter, and preserves on hand.
The March to Keedysville; from "Three Years in the Army"
Marched at daylight, two companies being thrown out in front as skirmishers, until the top of the moutain was reached, when we saw the enemy retreating toward Boonsboro', whereupon we started in chase, passing through that town to Keedysville, about ten miles, without overtaking them. It is not without some truth they were called the "Fleetfooted Virginians."
The towns of Boonsboro' and Keedysville were decorated with Union flags, and it was inspiring to march through towns with Uncle Sam's bunting displayed, and listen to encouraging words from friends. This was our stamping ground of '61, and it seemed like home to us.
From "Three Years in the Army." Regiment Historian, Charles E. Davis, jr., gives a remarkably simple summary of the regiment's participation in the battle. Only the statistic at the end suggests the ferocity of the fight.
Tuesday, Sept. 16.
At 3:30 P.M. we moved across a bridge toward the village of Bakersville, on the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg turnpike, turning to the left after crossing a country road, also leading to Sharpsburg, moving parallel to it nearly half a mile under a heavy artillery fire from the enemy. In order that their guns might have as little effect as possible we were formed "double column half distance" and march to the front, then to the right, then front, then to the left, then front, then right again, then front, always preserving our formation, and gaining to the front all the time. This movement made under a heavy fire was performed with as much precision and coolness as though the regiment was on a battalion drill. It is worth mentioning to show what good use may be made of the skill and confidence acquired by constant drilling.
Wednesday, Sept. 17.
It was a gray, misty morning, and like the girl who was to be Queen of May, we were called early. All night long the firing of guns on the picket line in front of us disturbed our sleep, sounding very much like a "night before the Fourth" at home. While we were endeavoring to see whether the men moving in front of us were our own men or the rebels, an aid from General Hooker's staff dashed up to where we stood, and, after satisfying himself, ordered us to move. We went obliquely to the right, across a fence, then across a lane and on to the corner of the woods, from which we moved to the cornfield in front of the Dunker Church. As we entered the corn-field we were received by a sudden volley from the enemy, who, until that moment, were lying concealed from view. Here we stayed until our ammuniton was exhausted, when we were relieved and marched to the rear, where our cartridge-boxes were replenished, and where we remained the rest of the day. We took into this fight three hundred and one men and brought out one hundred and sixty-five, a loss of forty-five per cent.
The following summary is from "Massachusetts in the War, 1861 - 1865" by James Lorenzo Bowen, Springfield, MA; 1889.
The regiment was with its division in support and not actively engaged at the battle of South Mountain, September 14, but in the fierce battle of the Antietam, three days later, it had its full share. Near night of the 16th, Hooker's Corps crossed the creek and took position well up to the left of the Confederate line of battle, after some fighting in which the Thirteenth did not take part. Ricketts's Division had the left of the corps, and when the advance was made next morning Hartsuff's Brigade had the center of the division, with the other two brigades in echelon, the Thirteenth being the left center regiment.
The line advanced for some distance till it came under a heavy fire and was within a few hundred feet of the enemy when it opened fire and the action became deadly. The two right regiments of the brigade were after a stubborn contest obliged to fall back, having suffered severe loss; another regiment took their places and that in turn gave way. The regiment at the left, the Eighty-third New York, was also obliged to fall back, so that before the order came to the Thirteenth to retire it was left alone of the brigade line. The few hundred men that remained of the division were reformed and placed in line, ready to respond to any call which might be made upon them, but they were not again sent into the fight. The loss of the Thirteenth Regiment during the two hours or less that it had been engaged reached 139, of whom 15 were killed, 120 wounded and four missing.*
*Note: The full casualty report is listed below. The revised number of killed is 26.
Intrepid New York Tribune War Correspondent George W. Smalley was acting aide to General Hooker during the fight. He wrote a vivid account of the early morning battle, and gave prominent mention to Hartsuff's Brigade in his report. But he attributed the brigade to Doubleday's Division which throws doubt on the story. John S. Fay and Warren Freeman quote the story in their memoirs. In the case of Freeman, it was in a letter home soon after the battle. Thirteenth Mass. Historian Charles E. Davis, Jr. was aware of the discrepency and addressed it at some length in his book, "Three Years with the Army," published in 1894. Davis sites a letter in the National Tribune, March 24, 1892 from General Abner Doubleday regarding Smalley's report.
Editor National Tribune, - A very interesting article appeared in your paper a few weeks ago in reference to the battle of Antietam. It is in the main accurate, but contains one error which I desire to correct, and which would seem to have originated in the correspondent of the New York "Times." After three hours' fighting, at a crisis in the battle when it became doubtful if we could hold the bloody cornfield between the lines, Hooker, it is alleged, sent word to Doubleday, "send me your best brigade." It stated that this "best brigade" went forward and held the field, which, however, was lost later in the day.
Now, as my division began the battle in the morning, and was the first to charge the enemy, I had no brigade to spare, for three of mine under Gibbon, Patrick, and Phelps, were already closely engaged at the front. They had lost heavily, and captured six battle-flags, were out of ammunition, and in obedience of an order from General Hooker were holding the position with the bayonet. I had another brigade, it is true, under the gallant Hoffman, but it was kept in rear by a special order from General Hooker, in consequence of a slight demostration made by Stuart's cavalry on that flank. It was Hartsuff's brigade, of Ricketts' division, that held the cornfield so handsomely, and not one of mine. Ricketts was entitled, I thought, to a good deal of credit for the way in which he handled his men; but through some misrepresentation or misunderstanding he was relieved from command at the close of the day by General McClellan, and his division was turned over to General Gibbon.
Brevet Major-General, U.S.A.
Still, Author, Stephen W. Sears assigns credit to the brigade mentioned by Smalley to Brig.-General George H. Gordon of Mansfield's 12th Corps, which arrived on the field after Hartsuff's Brigade left.
Here is Smalley's Report as quoted in "Three Years in the Army." [George Washburn Smalley, pictured].
The battle began with the dawn. Morning found both armies just as they had slept, almost close enough to look into each other's eyes. The left of Meade's reserves and the right of Ricketts' line became engaged at nearly the same moment, one with artillery, the other with infantry. A battery was almost immediately pushed forward beyond the central woods, over a ploughed field, near the top of the slope where the cornfield began. On this open field, in the corn beyond, and in the woods which stretched forward into the broad fields, like a promontory into the ocean, were the hardest and deadliest struggles of the day.
For half an hour after the battle had grown to its full strength, the line of fire extended neither way. Hooker's men were fully up to their work. They saw their general everywhere in front, never away from the fire; and all the troops believed in their commander, and fought with a will. Two-thirds of them were the same men who, under McDowell, had broken at Manassas.The half-hour passed; the rebels began to give way a little, - only a little; but at the first indication of a receding fire, "Forward!" was the word, and on went the line with a rush. Back across the wood, and then back again into the dark woods, which closed around them, went the retreating rebels.
But out of those gloomy woods came suddnly and heavily terrible volleys - volleys which smote, and bent, and broke, in a moment, that eager front, and hurled them swiftly back for half the distance they had won. Not swiftly nor in panic, any further. Closing up their shattered lines, they came slowly away; a regiment where a brigade had been; hardly a brigade where a whole division had been victorious. They had met at the woods the first volleys of musketry from fresh troops - had met them and returned them till their line had yielded and gone down before this weight of fire, and till their ammuniton was exhausted.
In ten minutes the fortunes of the day seemed to have changed; it was the rebels who were now advancing, pouring out of the woods in endless lines, sweeping through the conrfield from which their comrades had just fled. Hooker sent in his nearest brigade to meet them, but it could not do the work. He called for another. There was nothing close enough, unless he took it from his right. His right might be in danger if it was weakened; but his centre was already threatened with annihilation. Not hesitating one moment, he sent to Doubleday, "Give me your best brigade instantly."
The best brigade came down the hill to the right on the run, went through the timber in front, through a storm of shot and bursting shell, and crashing limbs, over the open field beyond, and straight into the cornfield, passing, as they went, the fragment of those brigades shatterd by the rebel fire, and streaming to the rear. They passed by Hooker, whose eyes lighted as he saw these veteran troops led by a soldier whom he knew he could trust. "I think they will hold it," he said.General Hartsuff took his troops very steadily, but, now that they were under fire, not hurriedly, up the hill from which the cornfield begins to descend, and formed them on the crest. Not a man who was not in full view - not one who bent before the storm. Firing at first in volleys, they fired then at will with wonderful rapidity and effect. The whole line crowned the hill, and stood out darkly against the sky, but lighted and shrouded ever in flame in smoke.
They were the Twelfth and Thirteenth Massachusetts, the Ninth New York, and the Eleveth Pennsylvania - old troops, all of them.Then for half an hour they held the ridge, unyielding in purpose, exhaustless in courage. There were gaps in the line, but it nowhere bent. Their general was severely wounded early in the fight, but they fought on. Their supports did not come - they determined without them. They began to go down the hill and into the corn; they did not stop to think that their ammuniton was nearly gone; they were there to win that field, and they won it. The rebel line for the second time fled through the corn and into the woods. I cannot tell how few of Hartsuff's brigade were left when the work was done. There was no more gallant, determined, heroic fighting in all this desperatae day. General Hartsuff is servely wounded; but I do not believe he counts his success dearly purchased.
Davis states that Alfred C. Monroe, of the Twelfth Masachusetts, at the time of the battle, attached to General Hooker's headquarters, says he heard the order given as Smalley relates it. According to battlefield maps from the Antietam Library, Hartsuff's 3rd Brigade advanced to the cornfield at 6:20 a.m. after Duryea's 1st Brigade had been battling the rebels alone for about 1/2 an hour. They made a heroic stand between 6:20 and 7 a.m. Between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Hartsuff's Brigade fell back to the north. Gordon's Brigade advanced to the same spot between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. It is disappointing to cast doubt on such a glowing report of Hartsuff's Brigade at Antietam, but I felt it necessary to inform readers that the question exists.
In a letter to Col. John M. Gould*, written April 20, 1894, Sgt. Robert B. Henderson of the 13th Mass., wrote: "As for Smalley’s account, I have of course always known it to be not correct as to its details. I can only account for his story in some such way as this. (For I don’t desire to charge him with deliberately manufacturing a lie). But we were very heavily engaged, and the enemy were with a heavy force of infantry and Artillery with grape and canister falling back very slowly and with firm resistance. I can imagine that when some officer may have expressed some doubt as to the outcome, Gen. Hooker may have said “one of my best brigades is there”.
*Historian John Gould, was researching the fight in the East Woods and the death of Genral Mansfield at the battle of Antietam.
Sergeant John Sawyer Fay of Company F, was severely wounded during the Chancellorseville Campaign of 1863. Fay was struck by a shell that killed two others. Sergeant Enoch C. Pierce tied a tourniquet around Fay's shattered leg and rushed him to the field hospital. Thirteenth Mass. Surgeon, Allston W. Whitney, operated and saved Fay's life, but it cost John his right arm and leg. Soon after, the field hospital was captured by the advancing Rebel Army and both men were sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. Fay survived the ghastly journey and several weeks imprisonment at Libby. He was parolled and brought to Annapolis, MD to begin his long recovery. This story will be told at another time on this website. I recieved this unpublished remembrance of the Battle of Antietam from one of Fay's many descendants.
Fay's account quotes liberally from War Correspondent George Smalley's report for the NY Tribune.A writer in The Worlds Work for March 1904 says, “Every man in the Northern and Western States who is old enough to remember the civil war must often be surprised at the ignorance of the two generations, younger than he, about even the principal facts of the conflict".
The writer goes on to say, "There is much less popular knowledge of the civil war than of the war of the Revolution. This fact is not an accident, it is a striking proof, that the war was the end of an epoch rather than the beginning of one; that it closed a series of events and ended a long controversy and that subsequent generations have thanked Heaven that it was passed before their period of activity began. Even the great actors in it, except the few greatest, have practically been forgotten.
‘It is passing out of the minds of most people, less than forty-five years of age - or would pass out - if the old survivors would keep quiet and permit them to forget it".
From your association with the veterans of the Civil War, you may think that about all they had to do in the army was to sit around a campfire and smoke.
I shall briefly try to show you that all the smoke made in the army by the old soldier was not caused by burning tobacco.
It is true the best soldiers were those who would cheerfully accept any situation in which their duty placed them so that they could get all the comfort possible as they went along.
A soldier in the ranks during a battle can see but little that is going on about him except on rare occasions. He is but a cog in one of the many wheels composing that vast machine, an army. He must fill the position in which he is placed without questioning. Yet the more intelligent the soldier in the ranks, the better the army. Like all other positions in which man is placed, the more intelligent he is the better he will perform his duties; the more valuable he will be to the cause in which he is engaged.
The Regiment in which I served has the meritorious record of having the smallest number of deaths from disease of any regiment in the Union Army. This was due mainly to their habits of cleanliness. The men were intelligent enough to appreciate and understand the necessity of faithfully obeying orders of our officers, particularly of our Surgeon, in regard to keeping ourselves and our camp as clean as possible, which was not an easy duty, for our camps were often pitched in swampy places where it was difficult to find a dry spot on which to spread our blankets.
In most wars more men die or are disabled from disease contracted in the army than are killed or disabled in battle. It was so in our Civil War.
The battle of Antietam was the greatest slaughter of human life in the world's history in same length of time considering the numbers engaged. The battle only lasted about 10 hours. There was actually engaged only-about 60,000 Union troops and 50,000 Rebel.
McClellan had about 27,000 men; Fitzjohn Porter’s Corps held in reserve; they did not fire a gun that day. The Union killed and wounded were 11,657. The Rebel loss must have been more for he left according to Gen. McClellan's report 2,700 dead, unburied on the field.
The Rebel Gen. Lee reports that he had 7,816 wounded, making his loss at least 10516 and good judges estimate that his killed and wounded were at least 1,000 more, so there is no doubt that the total of killed and wounded on both sides was at least 23,173.
In other battles of the Rebellion like Gettysburg, the loss was greater, but there were more troops engaged and the battle extended over three days.
I propose to describe what I saw and the part our Brigade took in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. My regiment was the 13th Mass. We were in the third Brigade, second division, first Corp. Our Brigade was composed of the 12th and 13th Mass 11th Penn. and 9th New York Regiments. We had served together for many months. The Regiments were all acquainted with each other. We had been through several battles together and we knew by experience that each would stand by the other.
Our Brigade was commanded by Gen Hartsuff. A more skillful or a braver man I never saw. He was a West Point graduate, a strict disciplinarian, but kind to his men and we had the utmost confidence in him. Our Division was commanded by Gen Ricketts and our Corp by Gen Hooker. The latter took command of our Corp immediately after the Second Bull Run battle where we were badly defeated on Aug 29 and 30.
The battle of South Mountain commenced on Sept 14,1862 when our army met the rebel forces at Turners Gap west of Frederick City, Md.
On the night of Sept l3 our Brigade bivouacked in the outskirts of the city which on that day had been evacuated by the rebels. This was the day that was preceded by that “Cool September morn” described by the poet Whittier in his poem on Barbara Freitchie. It was on the 13th day of Sept. that the loyal old lady waved from her window the Stars and Stripes in the face of the retreating rebel hordes as they marched through the city.
On the morning of the 14th we were marched into the city. Our Regiment was some acquainted in the town for we had camped within their borders the year before, but we were not allowed to stop to renew old acquaintances but were hurried through the city to the West, out through the town of Middleton on to the national turn-pike that passed over South Mountain through Turners Gap. About noon we were halted beside the road at the foot of the mountain. While we were resting there, Gen McClellan rode by; this was my first view of the then famous General. He was received with much enthusiasm as he rode by our Corp.
The rebels had fortified the pass and had a strong force entrenched on the slopes commanding the road through Turners Gap. They also had troops posted on the summit both sides of the Gap. The battle commenced soon after noon by the advance of our left under Gen Reno who moved his troops up the slope on the south side of the road. It was here that the brave General was killed. Soon after the battle commenced on the left, our Brigade was filled out on north side of the road and commenced to climb up the rocky sides of the mountain. The ascent was so steep in places we had to push and pull each other up. We soon encountered the rebel picket line who kept up a plunging fire at us, but we were so far below that most of their shots passed over our heads.
We kept steadily but slowly advancing, their picket line retreating. The ground was rocky and steep; we could not advance as rapidly as our General wanted. We understood that Gen Hooker was making one of his famous flank movements. All this time while we were crawling up the steep mountain side heavy firing could be heard way down on our left indicating that a severe engagement was taking place.
Gen Hartsuff told us if we could reach the summit before dark he hoped to swing around and take the rebel force that was opposing Gen Reno in flank and rear. But it was a hard road to travel. It was nearly dark when we reached the summit very much exhausted. We were immediately reformed and changed direction to the left and commenced to move in direction to strike the enemy on their left flank and rear, but they hastily retreated before we could get into position to do them much injury. Their retreat opened the road through the pass for our army to advance. We lay on our arms in line of battle all night. We were not allowed to build a fire to cook coffee or to keep warm.
At daylight on Sept. 15 we were advanced down the western slope of the mountain. Soon we emerged from the woods where we could obtain a view of the valley below where we saw the rebel army, in full retreat on the road through Boonsboro some four or five miles distant.
As we marched down the slope, we had to halt several times to remove the dead bodies of the rebels from the road, as in places they were so thick we could not get along without stepping on them.
We were halted near the Summit House for a rest and to cook our breakfast, while fresh troops followed up the retreating rebels.
While we were resting here Comrade C. E. Haynes and myself went down back of the Summit House into a field that looked as tho we might find some new potatoes. When we got into the field we saw in a piece of woods on the edge of it, a squad of five rebel soldiers guarding a pile of knapsacks. We inquired to know what they were doing. They replied that they were ordered to guard those knapsacks until they were relieved. We asked them if they knew their army had retreated. They replied that they did; they stayed so as to be captured; they had rather be prisoners in our hands than fighting in the ranks of the rebel army.
We marched them up into our camp and turned them over to the provost marshal. Among the knapsacks that they were guarding was some that belonged to our regiment which had been captured from us three weeks before at Bull Run but I did not find mine among them.
"Hooker"s column was seen crawling up the rocky and difficult ascent on the right, slowly trailing across the open ground, now entering a piece of wood and again emerging on the upper side, winding over spurs and ravines; the march resembled the course of a huge black serpent with glittering scales, stealing upon its prey.
“At length we had a glimpse of Hooker’s Command in some open ground on the summit, moving in column of Companies, and heading towards the Gap. They presently disappeared in the wood and then came the distinct muttering of musketry which continued with little intermission until after dark and always approaching the Gap.
“As Hooker moved from his position on the right we could discern a dense and continuous column of the enemy moving to meet him not far from the national turnpike at the Summit House”.
The next morning Sept. l5, the
same staff officer rode over the field
and described the scene as follows.
“On the summit and slope beyond, the earth was thickly strewn with the rebel dead who lay as they fell, in all their squalor and hideous distortions; numbers of them lay in the laurel thicket half hidden among the blood stained leaves. Near a cabin riddled with musket balls, we saw the lane formed by parallel stonewalls which had served the enemy as a rampart. It had been cleared of the dead to admit the passage of our troops, and the bodies lay on either side as high as the walls. In the bushes near by were many still living but too far gone to bear moving."
After we had our breakfast and a rest near the Summit House, we were started out on the road over which the rebels had retreated, on through Boonsboro to Keedysville. Along the road was evidence of their hasty retreat in broken-down wagons, dead mules, crippled caissons, houses filled with wounded, and the road strewed with muskets, knapsacks and butternut jackets.
We reached Keedysville, ten miles distant from the Summit House, about three o’clock in the afternoon without overtaking the rebel army, they having retreated across the Antietam creek and were forming their lines of battle with that stream in their front.
We camped here until the afternoon of Sept.16. During all of Sept.15 and until afternoon of the 16th there was no indication that Gen. McClellan had attempted to attack them. The rebels during this time were getting into a splendid position for them on ground between the Potomac river and Antietam creek which is described by Col. Palfry as follows.
“Between Mercerville on the north and the confluence of the Antietam on the south, a distance of about six miles in a straight line, the Potomac follows a series of remarkable curves, but its general course is such that a line of battle something less than six miles long may be drawn-from a point a little below Mercerville to a point a little above the mouth of the Antietam so as to rest both of its flanks upon the Potomac to cover the Shepherdstown Ford and the town of Sharpsburg and to have its front covered by Antietam Creek."
The Antietam creek is crossed by three bridges over that portion of the stream in front of Lee's lines. The bridge nearest to its confluence with the Potomac was not used during the battle except by the rebel Gen. A. P. Hill's troops coming from Harpers Ferry to re-enforce Lee. The next bridge is known as the Burnside Bridge. It is that by which the road from Sharpsburg to Rohrersville crosses the stream. The next is the bridge of the Sharpsburg, Keedysville and Boonsboro turnpike. This is the one over which the rebels retreated from South Mountain and over which the right wing of our army crossed on the afternoon of Sept.16. The stream is sluggish and winding and tho it has several fords they are difficult. (pictured is the Upper Bridge, view from the northwest).
In the rear of Sharpsburg is a good road to the Shepherdstown Ford across the Potomac into Virginia. Besides the roads already mentioned, an important turnpike leads northward from Sharpsburg to Hagerstown on the western side of the Antietam (that is the side occupied by Lee's army.)
The ground occupied by Lee rises in a slope of woods and fields to somewhat of a bold crest and then falls away to the Potomac. In this strong position Lee proceeded to form his lines and Gen. McClellan was accommodating enough to give him all of Sept.15 and until the afternoon of the 16th in which to do it unmolested.
About three o'clock in the afternoon of Sept.16 we were marched across the bridge on the turnpike from Sharpsburg to Keedysville towards the Hagerstown pike, turning to the left after crossing a country road also leading to Sharpsburg and moving parallel with it for nearly a mile, under a heavy fire from the enemy.
Hooker was forming the first Corps on our extreme right so as to strike the rebels left where it was not protected by the stream. In order that their shelling might have as little effect as possible we were formed in double column half distance and marched to the front then to the right, then front, then to the left, then front, then right again, then front, always preserving our formation and gaining to the front all of the time.
The ground over which we advanced was much broken by small hills and ravines. Gen. Hartsuff, who was an artillery officer in the regular army before the war, showed his skill as a trained officer in that branch of the service in the masterly way he advanced us in the face of that heavy artillery fire with so little loss.
Our Brigade had so much confidence in him, they moved with as much precision and coolness as tho the regiments were on battalion drill. We were halted after dark for the night in the edge of a grove of scattering trees. In front of us was an open field from whence issued heavy musketry fire. We lay in line of battle all night with our picket line only a few yards in front of us. As night came on, the firing from both armies nearly ceased, only a scattering fire was kept up on the picket line. Gen. Hartsuff lay down behind a large tree just in the rear of our company. We were the Color Company of our Regiment. About midnight we were aroused by a volley of musketry fired in our front which was immediately answered by a second volley. Then stillness reigned.
I heard Gen. Hartsuff ask "What's that Joe." and to our surprise Gen. Joseph Hooker replied, "Rebels shooting each other. We have no troops in there." That was the first we knew that Gen. Hooker was bivouacking with our Brigade. It appeared as tho two brigades of rebels while moving in the darkness mistook each other for Union troops. (Major-General Joseph Hooker, pictured).
Towards morning I obtained a little sleep. I remember I was awakened by a branch of a tree falling upon me, it having been cut from near the top of a tree under which I was sleeping, by a rebel shell.
They commenced the battle by opening on us with their artillery before it was fairly daylight on Sept. l7. It was a cool gray foggy morning. While we were endeavoring to see whether the men in our front were our men or the rebels, an officer from Gen. Hooker's staff dashed up to where we stood and after satisfying himself, ordered us to advance.
We moved obliquely to the right, across a fence, then across a lane and cut to the corner of a piece of woods near the house of Joseph Poffenberger. Here we held our position for about half an hour. We were having comparatively an easy time. From our partially sheltered position evidently we were doing good execution with small loss to ourselves. We could see that out on our left our forces were having much harder fighting than we were. We saw our line charge but they seemed to have but little effect, for the rebels would return with a charge and drive our forces back. I thought we were very fortunate in being placed in such a sheltered position. I never saw our regiment so cool when under fire.
They fired as deliberately as tho they were on target practice, but our self congratulations were of short duration, for suddenly we were ordered to move by the left flank for a short distance towards the part of the line where we had seen those desperate charges. Then by front, then left oblique, through a small piece of woods in which the shells from the rebel artillery were rattling like hail in a thunder storm, up a small hill into a field of standing corn in front of Dunker church. While making this advance, the shattered regiments of three brigades passed through our line on their way to the rear. When we arrived at the crest of the hill from which the cornfield begins to descend, we were met by a sudden volley from a division or a brigade that far out-numbered us, who until this moment were lying concealed from view.
They fired too high. We replied with a volley that I am satisfied was far more effective. We held this position, firing at will as rapidly as we could for about half an hour, when seemingly from a common impulse, for none of us remember hearing an order, we advanced down the hill through the cornfield and obtained a position in the edge of a grove of large scattering trees; in our front was an open field.
The enemy were formed in a sunken road in our front about an eighth of a mile from us. We used the large trees for shelter as much as we could and kept up a steady fire that I know was very effective. At times the smoke and dust was so thick, we could not see the enemy when we would cease firing until it cleared so that we could see something to fire at. Three times they charged under cover of the smoke, across the open field. Every time we repulsed them, tho they outnumbered us two to one. We were losing heavily but the trees afforded us some protection. Our ammunition was getting low. We used all we could find in the boxes of our dead and wounded comrades.
I remember James L. Stone throwing his belt and cartridge box at my feet as he crawled to the rear after receiving a severe wound in the thigh.
We kept ourselves covered as much as possible behind the trees and stumps. Sergt. James H. Belser and myself were behind a tree. Belser was a better marksman than I was. I suggested that I would load for him to fire which he did with good effect.
During a lull in our firing, because the smoke was so thick, we were startled by a shot coming from a point well on our left. In a few minutes some one, I think it was Sergt. Pierce, exclaimed, "There he is behind that mound”, which was evidently made by a tree having been blown over. We fired several shots at him but could not hit him. Belser suggested if some one could get behind a large stump some distance out in our front he might be dislodged. Corp. Bridgewater started to go; Pierce stopped him as he was not a good shot. Pierce said he would go himself.
(Sergeant Enoch C. Pierce, Company F, pictured, below right). Belser says, No if several of you would fire at the reb, one at a time so as to keep him behind his cover, he Belser, would make for the stump. We did so and Belser got a position safely behind the stump. The reb soon discovered Belser. After trying for several minutes to get a bead on each other, Belser held up his cap on a stick. The reb shot the cap and Belser shot the reb and got safely back to our line.
The next day Belser found the rebel dead behind the mound. He belonged to a Georgia regiment and was armed with an Enfield rifle like those we carried. Belser took the rifle and carried it until he was promoted to a Lieut.
Our Corp. Commander Gen. Hooker and our brigade Commander, Gen. Hartsuff were both wounded. We had been fiercely engaged for nearly three hours and had been constantly in line of battle and under fire for eighteen hours with no opportunity for rest or to cook our food. Nearly one half of our regiment were killed or wounded. The other regiments in our brigade had lost as heavily.
The enemy had been re-enforced and were preparing to make another charge. Our ammunition was exhausted. We could do no more so were ordered to the rear. As we turned to retreat, we found fresh troops in line of battle just in our rear ready to receive the charge the rebels were about to make. As we went to the rear we helped off what wounded we could.
While helping a comrade to the rear we passed four men who were carrying a wounded man on a stretcher. I thought it was Sergt. Pierce of my company. After getting the men that I was helping to a safe place I hastened back to help those who were carrying the stretcher. Some of them had been disabled so they were obliged to lay their burden down in a very exposed position where the rebel bullets were flying thickly around, when I reached them.
I found that the man on the stretcher was not Sergt. Peirce but Lieut. Abel H. Pope (pictured, left) who entered the service as first Lieut. of my company but who on that day was in command of Co. D. I helped to carry him back to a field hospital. He was badly wounded and so weak from the loss of blood I thought he was dying. He partially recovered and in due time reached his home in Hudson but died soon after the war closed.
In our battles, earlier in the war, when a man was wounded, one or two well men would leave the ranks to help him to the rear but we had learned, better than that. In this battle not a well man left the ranks to help a wounded comrade. A squad from each regiment was organized as stretcher bearers consisting of the musicians and a few detailed men whose duty it was to carry off the wounded, but in this battle there was so many wounded they could not carry half of them off.
I have told you in a feeble way what I saw in this battle. I will now read to you a short description of what our brigade did in this battle as seen and described by Geo. W. Smalley who was a correspondent for the New York Tribune and who was acting aid on Gen. Hooker's staff.
“The battle began with the dawn. Morning found both armies just as they had slept, almost close enough to look into each other's eyes. The left of Meade's reserves and the right of Rickett's line became engaged at nearly the same moment, one with artillery, the other with infantry. A battery was almost immediately pushed forward beyond the central woods, over a ploughed field near the top of the slope where the cornfield began. On this open field in the corn beyond and in the woods which stretched forward into the broad fields, like a promontory into the ocean, were the hardest and deadliest struggles of the day.
“For half an hour after the battle had grown to its full length, the line of fire extended neither way. Hooker's men were fully up to their work. They saw their general everywhere in front, never away from the fire; and all the troops believed in their commander, and fought with a will. Two-thirds of them were the same men who under McDowell, had broken at Manassas.
“The half-hour passed; the rebels began to give way a little, -only a little - but at the first indication of a receding fire, ‘Forward’ was the word, and the line went on with a rush. Back across the cornfield, leaving dead and wounded behind them, over the fence, and across the wood, and then back again into the dark woods, which closed around them, went the retreating rebels.
“But out of those gloomy woods came suddenly and heavily, terrible volleys - volleys which smote, and bent, and broke, in a moment, that eager front, and hurled them swiftly back for half the distance they had won. Not swiftly nor in panic, any further. Closing up their shattered lines, they came slowly away; a regiment where a brigade had been - hardly a brigade where a whole division had been victorious. They had met at the woods the first volleys of musketry from fresh troops - had met them and returned them till their line had yielded and gone down before this weight of fire, and till their ammunition was exhausted. In ten minutes the fortunes of the day seemed to have changed; it was the rebels who were now advancing, pouring out of the woods in endless lines, sweeping through the cornfield from which their comrades had just fled.
“Hooker sent in his nearest brigade to meet them, but it could not do the work. He called for another. There was nothing close enough, unless he took it from his right. His right might be in danger if it was weakened; but his center was already threatened with annihilation. Not hesitating one moment, he sent to Ricketts, ‘Give me your best brigade instantly’.
The best brigade came down the hill to the right on the run, went through the timber in front, through a storm of shot and bursting shell and crashing limbs, over the open field beyond, and straight into the cornfield, passing as they went, the fragments of three brigades shattered by the rebel fire, and streaming to the rear. They passed by Hooker, whose eyes lighted as he saw these veteran troops led by a soldier whom he knew he could trust. ‘I think they will hold it’ he said.
General Hartsuff took his troops very steadily, but, now that they were under fire, not hurriedly, up the hill from which the cornfield begins to descend, and formed them on the crest. Not a man who was not in full view - not one who bent before the storm. Firing at first in volleys, they fired then at will with wonderful rapidity and effect. The whole line crowned the hill, and stood out darkly against the sky, but lighted and shrouded ever in flame and smoke.
They were the Twelfth and Thirteenth Massachusetts, the Ninth New York, and the Eleventh Pennsylvania - old troops, all of them.
Then for half an hour they held the ridge, unyielding in purpose, exhaustless in courage. There were gaps in the line, but it nowhere bent. Their General was severely wounded early in the fight, but they fought on. Their supports did not come - they determined without them. They began to go down the hill and into the corn; they did not stop to think that their ammunition was nearly gone; they were there to win that field, and they won it. The rebel line for the second time fled through the corn and into the woods. I cannot tell how few of Hartsuff's brigade were left when the work was done. There was no more gallant, determined, heroic fighting in all this desperate day. General Hartsuff is severely wounded; but I do not believe he counts his success dearly purchased.”
When we reached our supply train in the rear, the brigade was reformed the four regiments could not muster five hundred men. Ammunition was issued to us and we were marched out to a point on the Hagerstown pike and placed in position to support our batteries that had been placed on a bluff in position to command the pike. Later in the day the rebels attempted to cut their way through, but were repulsed by our artillery. We lay in this position all night.
No words of mine can adequately depict the uproar and confusion of that battle-field. The tremendous thunder of the guns, the roar of bursting shell, the incessant roll of musketry, the dense clouds of dust, the yells of the combatants, the shrieks and groans of the wounded, the ghostly human fragments strewing the earth, the smell of sweat and powder made such an appalling scene, that we could not banish it from our thoughts during that long night. The next morning we counted up our losses.
Our regiment took into this battle 301 men. We brought out 165, making a loss of killed and wounded, 136 or 45 per cent.
The rebel army retreated during the night of Sept.17. On the morning of Sept.18, I saw in front of where our brigade made their fight, the sights described by a staff officer, Col. Stother, as follows.
“The hollow road leading from the turnpike to the right, which had been occupied by the enemy the greater part of the day and from which they were driven late in the afternoon was so encumbered with dead bodies as to be impassible, and it seemed in some places as if they had heaped them up with fence rails and other material to form a defense against our musketry. They were elsewhere corded up in heaps of 20 to 30, while the standing corn in the field to the right, seemed full of them”.
I know of no other record of such slaughter, taking into consideration the space occupied and the numbers engaged.
It was deeds like this that the soldiers and sailors of the Union were called upon to perform on land and sea to maintain the Union and make our beautiful flag truly the “Emblem of the free” and prompts the beautiful services which on 30 of May brings to the graves of the soldier dead, the offerings of an affectionate people and the undying gratitude of a Nation.
Head Quarters 3rd Brig. 2nd Div 12th Army Corps.
Camp near Sharpsburg Wed. Sept.21, 1862
Capt. John W. Williams,
A.A. Genl. of Div.
Sir: In pursuance of orders I report the following as the part borne by this (Genl. Hartsuff’s) Brigade in the action with the enemy of the 16th & 17th inst.
On the evening of 16th Brigade was (under heavy fire of Artillery and with loss of some wounded) placed in position in line connecting with Genl. Duryea’s 1st Brigade on right and left resting in rear of right of Genl. Seymour’s Brigade. Here remained on arms during night.
At daylight, 17th, Genl. Hartsuff moved Brig. forward skirmishers being advanced who soon engaged the enemy. On reaching wood in which Genl. Seymour was already engaged, learned that Genl. Hartsuff (who was in advance examining position) had been severely wounded and removed from the field.
I here assumed command of Brig. which was at the time in like as follows: commencing on the right- 12th Mass. Maj, Burbank. - 11th Penn. Col. Coulter,- 13th Mass. Maj. Gould and 83rd N.Y. Lt. Col. Atterbury. The left (83rd N.Y. Vols. & 13th Mass) occupying rear of wood occupied by Genl. Seymour and right (11th Penn. & 12th Mass.) the open ground to right of woods.
In this position I advanced Brigade to front, and, at suggestion of Genl. Seymour to right so as to clear right of his line. This obliquing to the right had the effect of bringing one half of 13th Mass. into the open ground leaving the other half of the Regt. and the 83rd N.Y. Vols. in the wood and somewhat protected by the trees and nature of the ground.
The advance was maintained under a most severe fire of Artillery and Infantry, which however was as briskly replied to, as the forward movement would admit of. This continued until the left had reached within about 40 yards of the front of woods mentioned, and in front of which the enemy had well established their line. The loss was becoming very heavy, especially on the right, and repeated demands were being made throughout the line, for additional ammunition – the supply being by this time nearly exhausted. The left was reinforced by a part of the Second, (Genl.Towers) Brigade in consequence of which and the protected nature of the ground, a very heavy fire was maintained from this quarter, while on the right the fire lessened every moment.
At this time Col. Lyle (90th Penn. Vols.) advanced through the woods to the right and engaged the enemy. - Their ammunition being now entirely exhausted, the 11th Penn and 12th Mass. were withdrawn about 200 yards to the rear, where being afterwards joined by the 83rd N.Y. & 13th Mass the Brigade was reformed. Here remained until the front line was occupied by another Division when, by order of Genl. Ricketts again moved forward to join other Brigades of Division where a supply of ammunition was received and a rest allowed.
In the afternoon again moved with Division to the right, to the support of Batteries engaged at that point and there remained during the evening and night.
The Brigade went into action about 5 o’clock a.m. and retired about 9 o’clock a.m. - for two hours of that time it was exposed to a most galling fire as is shown by the casualties reported, while a view of the ground occupied by the enemy in this attack, exhibits at least a four fold mortality.
The 83rd N.Y. went into the action with 15 officers, of whom 3 were disabled – I would desire to make favorable mention of Capt. Moesch and Capt. Hendrickson of this Regt.
The 13th Mass. had disabled three officers, out of 12 taken into action. I would here make special mention of Major Gould, commanding this Regt. He brought his men well into action, by his gallantry maintained and encouraged them while there and was among the last to leave the field.
The 11th Penn. Had 5 officers disabled (2 temporarily) out of 9 taken into action. Upon my assuming command of the Brigade, the command of this Regt. devolved upon Capt. D. M. Cook who commanded throughout the action, and brought it off the field.
Adjutant Uncapher [Israel] had his horse killed and was himself injured by the fall, but remained upon the field. The services of this officer were invaluable to me, he being the only mounted assistant I had upon the field.
x x x x x x x x
The 12th Mass. had killed and disabled 11 officers of 15 taken into the field. The loss of this Regt. owing to its position was by far the most severe in the Brigade. Maj. Burbank commanded at the commencement of the action and was disabled early. He performed his while duty while in the field. - Capt. Allen who next assumed command, was also severely wounded (near the close of the action). I cannot express to high an opinion of this officer; he has proved himself one of the most gallant officers in the Brigade. The command of this Regt. next devolved upon Capt. B. F. Cook, who commanded during the remainder of the action and brought the Regt. off the field.
Lieut. Clark and Lieut. Dehon (Actg Adjt.) who with Capt. Cook were the only officers left, are mentioned for their coolness and the efficient assistance rendered.
The loss of officers cannot be replaced – many have been lost permanently to the service, while others will be disabled for a long time. This, however, is of minor importance to the loss of Genl. Hartsuff at the time and under the circumstances when it occurred. To appreciate this, it is necessary to know both the officer and the high estimation in which he is held by his entire Brigade.
All had been schooled to look to him as their leader, in whom all trust could be placed, and no faltering was to be apprehended. It was with elasticity and buoyancy of spirit unprecedented that our line first moved to the fight – the change was most perceptible when we had learned that Genl. Hartsuff could not further lead his Regiments, on that day.
A detailed report of casualties has been heretofore furnished. This was incomplete however, owing to the circumstances. An additional report of casualties will be made when the necessary information can be obtained.
I have the honor to remain
Your Obedt. Servt
Col. Comdg. Brigade
A View of the Front
I took the following picture August, 2012, from the same viewpoint or orientation the soldier's of the '13th Mass'. would have seen as they stood in line on the edge of the East Woods. I was trying to get a panoramic view, and found that annoying group of trees in the way. But then I found something interesting. Notice the monument behind the rock outcropping.
It is a kettle hanging from 3 stacked rifles, a monument recently re-dedicated to the 90th PA (Lyle's Brigade) who fought in this same spot, with the 13th Mass. It is the rock out-croppings we are interested in.
Here is the same rock outcropping in a photo taken by Alexander Gardner a few days after the battle. William Frassanito discovered the location of this photograph in his 1978 book, "Antietam, The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day." The Park was still purchasing land at this time.
Mr. Frassanito dated the photograph to September 19, 1862, two days after the battle and wrote, "Gardner recorded this scene from a point some fifty yards south of the original boundary of the famous Cornfield, looking southwestward toward the West Woods."
Few areas on the Antietam battlefield saw as much concentrated and continuous fighting during th ebattle as did that protrayed in Gardner's photograph of the mound. It was here, early in the morning of September 17, that the first lines of Union infantyr to emerge from the southern edge of the Cornfield came under the direct fire of Confederate Infantry located in the open fields beyond."
Initially, the 105th New York Volunteers of Gen. Abram Duryea's brigade, Gen. James B. Rickett's divisions of the Union First Corps, passed over the areia in the immediate forground of this view. Within a half hour, th e105th New York was forced back by ...along with the remainder of Duryea's brigade."Next to arrive at this point was the Thirteenth Massachusetts..."
From "ThreeYears With Company K" by Sergeant Austin C. Stearns, (deceased) Edited by Arthur Kent, Associated University Presses, Cranbury, NJ, 1976; (p.124-131) Used with permission.
Again moving on we halted at Rohrersville, where we bivouaced for the night in an open field by the side of the road, and here we remained the greater portion of the 16th. Having drawn another scant ration of hard bread and pork, and finding some more potatoes, we again had a good square meal. Troops were moving in all directions, and there seemed to be no end to their coming, and rumor said that on the ridge but a short distance away, even now in sight, stood the "Veterans" of Lee's army waiting for us to attack.
Towards night Hooker appeared mounted on his white horse. We were ordered to "fall in" and commenced to move through the fields up towards the right. Antietam creek was crossed and still farther to the right we went. Hooker easily discerned by his horse as usual, was every-where directing the movements.
At length we were within range of the enemy's guns, and when we showed a good mark they quickly let us know it. Nearer and nearer we crawled like a great snake, winding in and out between the little hills and through woods to keep out of sight, wishing to get as near as possible without losing many men. Darkness settled down before we were in position. How well I now remember of going through a piece of corn whose stalks towered far above our heads, and how the enemy, hearing and wishing to let us know with what a reception they were prepared to receive us, would fire a gun, and a shell or solid shot would come schreeching over to warn us of their presence. I remember of how one struck the ground but a few feet away and threw the earth up on to the Major. "Get up, get up," said he, speaking to his horse, "that was ment for us, get up, get up." At last we were in position, and were ordered to remain every man in his place. I was tired, and sitting down soon lay down, falling asleep immediately; the last thing I remember was some horses of a neighboring battery stamping and their shoes striking fire on the rocks. The skirmishers were busy all night, so twas said, but I did not hear them, and as there was no alarm given I slept soundly till morning with the many that slept for the last time their earthly slumber.
A foggy morning was the 17th of September 1862, and each army was astir early and was preparing for the deadly struggle that the lowest private knew was to take place, without building any fire to cook our coffee or anything else, but simply eating our dry hard bread. We were prepared for what was to come. Hartsuff in the early morning was out in front of his brigade reconnoiting, when he was wounded by a sharpshooter. Styles of the 9th was absent, and so was Leonard of the 13th, and the command devolved upon Coulter of the 11th.
The sun coming up soon drove the fog away and we were quickly in line and advanced out of the friendly shelter of the woods into an open field; the stubble had but just been turned in. Directly in our front and but a short half mile away was the rebel line of battle awaiting to receive us. The ridge behind their line was crowned by their batteries and I remember one planted near a stone church that opened fire on us as soon as we showed ourselves. The first shots went over our heads, the second came nearer, but on we went, and were soon up to the fence that separated the fields. I remember of looking back when a shell came screeching past and seeing it strike in the midst of the brigade following us; we were quickly over the fence and advancing through a mow field. The skirmishers of both armies were here having a regular give and take fight, the rebs falling back as we advanced.
The next field was a large cornfield and we were soon going through the corn. Our batteries, as well as the rebs, kept up a continuous shelling, making music for our advance. While going through the corn I was struck by a piece of shell on my right side that tore my blouse and shirt, and scratched my side a little, just drawing blood; it completely knocked the wind out of me, and I doubled up like a jack-knife and sat down on a corn-hill.
Sergeant Fay [Charles M. Fay] seeing me drop asked I ”if I was hit?” and Cap’t. Hovey coming repeating the question, as soon as I could regain my wind I told them “I was not hurt much only lost my wind.” The Cap’t. told me “to sit there till I would be able to follow on,” and went on with the line. I had not sat there half a moment when just behind me, where the ledge cropped out of the ground, a shell struck not a rod away and went into a thousand pieces, causing me to evacuate that place rather suddenly.
I went on and soon joined the company and we left the cornfield for another grass field and at the farther side were the rebels in line of battle; the skirmishers had all disappeared. Still on we went and we boys thought we were to go for them with the bayonet, and we fixed the same. Neither side with the exception of the skirmishers and batteries had fired, but now it was time for the infantry to take their turn, and we were getting uncomfortably near. The rebs fired first but we being so near, many of the balls went over our heads, but still many took effect. We halted and commenced fireing immediately. Men now commenced to drop on all sides; I remember now, as I stood loading my gun, of looking up the line and seeing a man of Co. D. who I was quite intimate with throw up his hands and fall to the ground; one little struggle more and then all was still.*
Being intensely engaged in loading and firing, I had not noticed in particular all that was going on around me; I knew that many were hit and had left the ranks, but how many I did not know, when Cap't. Hovey gave the order to "close up to the right." Looking to the right, and left as well, I saw that there was quite a space between me and my right hand man; at my left stood Henry Gassett, and repeating to him the Cap't. order, [I] stepped to execute the same. Just then Henry said "Jim, I'm hit," and throwing his gun down, ran to the rear perhaps a rod and fell.** I went to him as quick as I could and, kneeling down, enquired where he was wounded. Before he had time to answer me Cap't. Hovey (pictured below) came up and said I had better try and get him to the rear, for he thought the whole line would go back soon. I asked Henry if he could walk and he said he would try. So I helped him up and, putting my right arm around his waist and having him put his left arm around my neck, we started for a piece of woods that was but a few rods away at our right. Before we reached the woods Henry was hit again in the left leg, a flesh wound; the other was a shot clean through the right shoulder. On reaching the woods and going in a short distance, we stopped behind a large Maryland Oak to rest. I gave him water to drink and tried to cheer him up; his wound pained him some and he was faint from the loss of blood. I asked him if we had not better make another attempt to get farther to the rear but he said he could go no further, all he wanted was to rest. All this time the battle was raging fearfully; the solid shots and shells came tearing through the woods and, some of them striking, those large oaks would drop down cords of wood at a time.Wounded men were continually going to the rear, and some that were not. I asked several if they would give me a lift and help Henry to the hospital, but they all declined, saying they had as much as they could do to get back themselves. None were of the 13th though. They told me if I wanted to save my life I had better be getting away from there as the rebels were advancing, and I could see them almost up to the edge of the woods. I again urged Henry to make one more effort for life, but he, holding up his hand for me to shake, bade me good by and told me to save myself. I told him I would not go unless he went with me. He then said he would try, and putting his well arm around my neck and I grasping him around the waist, we again started. Fear gave us wings, and strength as well, for we placed a good distance between the rebs and ourselves before I would consent to stop, although Henry wanted to several times. As we advanced into the woods, the ground declined to the east, and as our rear was to the north we must cross up and over a slight elevation, where the bullets were flying too thick for comfort. After taking a good rest and cheering Henry up as best I could, we again started and went over the hill in safety. We rested several times before we reached the hospital. The hospital was only a field one at a farmhouse, where the Surgeons were to bind up the wounds before sending them farther away.
I laid Henry in the front yard with a great many others and went to find a Surgeon or some of the boys, for I knew there must be several somewhere. I went up to the house and round to the back door but it was full of terribly wounded men, and finding none of our regiment there, I went back and out toward the barn and beyond to an immense straw stack; there I found about a dozen of K men, besides others from [the] regiment.
Some had desperate wounds, and others were ministering to their wants as best they could. Going back to Henry, I soon had him on a nice bed of straw near the other boys. I made coffee and gave him some, although he had not much of an appetite for anything. I kept his wound wet with water all the time, as that was all that could be done now, the Surgeon said, when there was no danger of bleeding to death.
At the stack were Sergeants Greenwood shot through the shoulder, Fay through arm, Cordwell*** hit on head with piece of shell, Corp’l Davenport through the foot, and Private Trask with a mortal wound in side and back by a piece of shell. I learned that Tom Gassset and Hollis Holden were killed, Duke Wellington mortally wounded and left on field, Cap’t. Hovey wounded and gone on with many others.
Surely we had had a good shaking up. The battle all this time was rageing with terrific power only a short distance away and many shells passed over and beyond.
I stayed with Henry two days and nights, taking the best care I could, and then I left for the regiment.
Incidents: When I was helping Henry off the fields we saw Gen’l. Mansfield with Banks old division going into the fight; when we reached the Hospital they were bringing him back dead.
After I left, the line fell back and the rebs advanced till our line was reinforced, when they in turn drove the rebs back, and so it went till the ground was fought over two or three times. The field beyond the cornfield was filled with dead men, both Yank and reb. Dan Warren counted thirty three dead rebs in the length of four fence rails. We were two hours and ten minutes fighting by the Chaplain watch before we fell back.
The results of this severe fighting was a victory baren of results, if I am allowed that expression, for the day after the battle, instead of following up what had been gained a “Flag of truce” was granted on the plea to bury dead men, while under its peaceful folds the living were quietly withdrawn to the other side of the Potomac.
Notes: *Probably Thurbur or Lawrence
**Jim is Austin Stearns younger brother, also serving in Co. K.
***Cordwell was struck and killed by the same shell that hit John S. Fay later on in the war.
The Battle of Antietam is the second large scale deadly engagement in which Major Jacob Parker Gould led the troops of the '13th Mass'. into battle. Major Gould was praised by acting brigade commander, Colonel Richard Coulter, who wrote in his report : "I would here make special mention of Major Gould, commanding this Regt. He brought his men well into action, by his gallantry maintained and encouraged them while there and was among the last to leave the field." (see above).
"GLC03393.30 Major Gould to Colonel Leonard, 23 October 1861. (The Gilder Lehrman Collection. Not to be reproduced without written permission.)"
Near Keedysville, Md.
A.M. 8 oclk.
Sept. 18, 1862
I hope I shall get this letter to you. Our regiment was under fire at the battle at Gap near Boonsboro, but returned no fire and under Arms all night. Our brigade lost three men. In the morning we continued to skirmish through the mountain woods until we discovered that the Rebels had skedadled.
But yesterday came off the great battle.
Commencing at 6 A.M. and closing at 7 P.M. We laid on our arms all night and went into action at 6 a.m. and came out at 10 minutes past 8 oclk. The men fought bravely not retiring till all had left on our right and left. I went in with about 300 Rifles and this morning my report is 92 men 5 com off. and one Field. We lost severely, one half of my men have been wounded or killed. I cannot send you an accurate report this morning. Gen. Hartsuff was early badly wounded.
Capt. Hovey slightly wounded in the face. Lt. Pope badly in the arm Lt. Fox slightly in the hand. Soon after retiring and reforming we were ordered again into line of battle and have remaind so since. It was the severest battle I ever expected to witness. The Manassas was a skirmish compared with it. The loss of life is very great. We gained the battle!! We may fight some to-day. The report of our Brigade to day is Col. Coulter in command, 370 Enlisted men 3 Field Officers and 25 com. Off. This is our effective force for to day’s fight. I expect this is the decisive battle, or it will be within a day or two, right on the spot of our first labors. Hartsuff’s Brigade is complimented, how much praise must be awarded to the 13th who stood so long so bravely. I am proud of them. I like to go into battle with them.
In much trust -
J P Gould Maj.
Comdg. 13th Mass.
Excerpts of this diary (HM 48531) are used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
September 16th, 1862
Ration of green coffee, issued instead of the ground as usual. Took a lot of it across to a house and traded it for “short Cake.” Lt. Pope in command of Co. D. Moved across a bridge and toward the village of Bakersville on the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg turnpike. Turned to the left after crossing a country road leading to Sharpsburg, and moved parallel to it nearly half a mile, and about an hour after dark got settled in line of battle for the night, after enduring quite a heavy fire, the Penna Reserve in front of us. Laid in a woods; cornfield to right, and beyond it a lane, a woods and then the pike. Country road to Sharpsburg to the left a short distance through the wood.
September 17th, 1862
Antietam – All last night the Pa. Reserves and the rebels in our front kept up volleys – creeping in upon each other and firing. Just at daylight I was up. Had tried to sleep, but lay on the ground with only a piece of rubber blanket about 18 inches wide for Dana and I, and didn’t succeed very well. At daybreak was speaking with Capt. Miller of Gen. Hartsuff’s staff, and climbed on a rock to see if we could make out whether the men we could see moving away ahead were our men or rebels, when one of Hookers aids (Hooker is in command of our corps now) dashed up – Capt. Kidder of 14th N.Y. –asked for Ricketts, and Capt. Miller went with him to show him. In five minutes he was back and we on the move. Went obliquely to the right, across a fence running with our line; then across the lane, and on to the corner of a woods, from which we moved towards the Dunker Church ahead of us on the pike, about half the regt – the left – being covered by the woods; the 5th Maine battery to the right, near the pike, and facing the church.
Moved right ahead, the skirmishers in front falling back over the first line of the rebels, in a cornfield, who suddenly rose and poured in a volley. This line soon used up, and so was the brigade sent to relieve them. After about 2 ½ hours the division was relieved by another, tho’ by that time they were a mere skirmish line. Note. – I copy in here from an old letter. “The division of 12 regts is scarcely as large as a full regt. It’s supporting a battery. When ordered off Co. D. had but 4 men, under a sergt, and a corporal – the latter wounded. Co. K. had but 3 men under the Capt. who was wounded just as he told them to help off such wounded as they could.” – Thurber and Lawrence killed. Lt. Pope being wounded, Sergt Washburn is in command of Co. D. Capt. Hovey of K. had his lip and lower part of his nose split by a buckshot. Stragglers from the Division were collected, and put to support a battery. Gen. Hooker, who has command of the corps since the Chantilly affair, and Gen. Hartsuff, are both wounded; also Jim Reed, Ike Dana, Toby, Sanders and others. Sander’s life was probably saved by his wife’s picture – which was smashed – and a testament in his blouse pocket. One bone of his arm is broken, the bullet crushing through in the picture, etc., as above and falling into his pocket. I went back to Keedysville and established a Hospital for my boys in the upper part of the stable alongside the bridge. Get in at a hole on the end where a board was knocked off. Have Dana, Reed, Toby, Sanders, Dutchy Bartlett, and Champney of Co. D., and some 9th fellows. Sixty of the 13th lie around a straw stack in rear of the field, wounded, but they seem to bear it right easily. One cut the bullet out of his leg with a jack knife. All who are not too badly hurt laugh and joke over their wounds as though they were fun.
Thursday, Sept. 18th,
Managed to find the commissary and raised some rations for my charge. Also saw Capt. Hovey. Visited the Regiment. 139 of the regt. reported killed and wounded.
This illustration by Thur de Thulstrup is one of my favorites of Civil War art. It shows the Union assault on Confederate Artillery near the Dunker Church. Its a good representation of the early part of the battle in which the 13th Mass. fought.
Ms Am 2332 (80) "By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University."
Thursday, Sept. 18, 1862, Near Keedysville, Md.
Day before yesterday I wrote you at our late camp, if camp that place can be called where tents are not, a mile or two back from this place. I then said that the army was in fine condition, that confidence in our officers and the animating presence of McClellan had restored the morale of what was left of the army. Our Brig. Genl Hartsuff, and Div. Gen’l Hooker were with us, the latter fresh from the field of his glorious victory of Sunday night, where he drove the rebels from their almost impregnable position in the mountains through Turner’s Gap towards Sharpsburgh. We were confident of success, and though with few men, not 300 in the Reg’t, we thought ourselves able to make a good fight. My company was small in numbers. It was under the charge of our second sergeant, our Captain acting as Major. We had 23 “abel sojers” and 3 recruits, in all 26 guns in the company. One man in addition was on the color guard.
On the afternoon of the 16th we left camp and marched a mile or so towards the river, where we began to see signs of the enemy. About dark the enemy’s shell flew round us with perfect looseness some falling very near us indeed. We formed a line in the woods finally, and laid on our arms till the morning of the 17th, yesterday. The leaves were very thick and I rested better than I had done for some time before. Before day light the sharp crack of musketry roused us from our leafy beds, and the brigade was soon advancing in regimental columns of division at half distance, the usual way of advancing in the presence of the enemy, under a heavy fire of artillery. We advanced to some distance, very near the enemy, the shells bursting every where over our heads behind and in front of us. The 11th Penn. Reserves (not our 11th) skirmished ahead. Soon we formed in Brigade line, the N.Y. 9th on the extreme left, the 13th next, then the 11th and on the right the 12th Mass. We were soon up with the skirmishers who were firing at the enemy’s line. They fell back to allow us to come fairly into action. A battery of the enemy was on a slight rocky elevation, on a line of the infantry, and front of the 11th Pennsylvania, I should judge. This battery poured death and destruction into our ranks, but was soon silenced by our batteries. The battle now raged hotly. It was perhaps six o’clock A.M. A rebel regiment appeared to be sending a cross fire into the N.Y. 9th’s ranks, and their fire was mostly directed to a fence at right angles with the line with which we were engaged. A very bright fire burned on the other side of the fence to the left of the N.Y. 9th, and must have given them much trouble.* The 13th Mass, & I doubt not the other regiments of our brigade behaved splendidly. We held our line, the one we first established, till our ammunition was about exhausted, and kept the enemy from advancing far, until our reinforcements should arrive. In this fight, as at Bull Run, the enemy fought with determined obstinacy, but they found an opponent just as obstinate. Their position was the best, behind the fence most of the time, but we were partially protected by trees. I fought for most of the time from behind a large tree, and most of our company occupied others just around. Directly to the right of us was a fallen trunk about 20 feet long & two feet in diameter, behind which one or two of our companies lay, and from that trunk a continuous blaze poured forth during the whole struggle. My chum Buffum & Corp. Emerson, and Sergt. Worcester fought by my side, most of the time, each one doing his utmost. Buffum was a recruit and fought splendidly, firing every round in his cartridge box. Worcester was shot while talking to me about the range of my firing; but not severely. He was borne back to a tree behind. Emerson was soon after wounded in the hand. Twice the rebels advanced in line from the fence down the hill to within 150 yards of us, and twice they were repulsed skedaddling. I had now fired 35 rounds and had but 5 left. I had not observed that our Regt had fallen back, the men destitute of ammunition. Buffum said to me “the rebels are advancing, look at them, our men have fallen back.” Firing my gun for the last time I surveyed the field, and seeing the NY 9th still unruffled fell back up on it. I was standing at its right, just where it would have joined on to our Reg’t, if it had not left a few moments before, when a round ball struck me, about 6 inches above the knee, in the fleshy part of the leg passing through it without touching the bone, giving me only a flesh wound. The bullet leaving my leg, entered my haversack and almost spent its force on my iron spoon, bending the bowl, and then passed out tearing the haversack considerably showing that the ball was completely spent. The holes in my leg were clean and smooth. I shall probably be laid up for a month or so, and shall make every effort to get home. If you can do anything for me to secure that end I should like to have you. The doctor appears to think we may be allowed to go home, the hospitals are so full.
From morning to night the battle raged with continuous fury. At about 5 P.M. the enemy made a last effort to gain the day, but were repulsed by our batteries. The cannonading at that time was tremendous, and the enemy were driven back with fearful slaughter. We hold the battle field with its tens of thousands of arms, as I think. The battle is probably the greatest contest of the war. McClellan against Lee. Genl’s Hooker & Hartsuff are both wounded, and Gen’l Mansfield commanding Bank’s Corps is killed. I saw him before he died. Of our 26 men, including recruits, the following are wounded:
Worcester, foot –
Corpl Hicks, slight. Private Richards, face, Jaw & nose
do Brigham, ankle do Rooney, leg, slight.
do Armstrong, leg do Whidden, leg, very badly.
do Emerson, fingers,
Private Cody, leg Private Blanchard, missing
do Dorr, leg do Wakefield d.(killed)
do Dexter, leg do Lynde d.
do Noyes, leg do Bates d.
Gould, Co. A, graduate of Harvard, a recruit, is killed.** J.D. Thurber, class 58, H.U. is slightly wounded. Pollard has a bad wound in the jaw & face.
Your Aff. Son
John B. Noyes
** See the article "Short Service" on this page to read about recruit S. S. Gould.
The batteries that rained shot and shell on the advancing Union lines, as described by Noyes in the letter above, belonged to Colonel Stephen D. Lee in front of the Dunker Church, and Stonewall Jackson's artillery positioned on Nicodemus Hill a little to the north, a half mile west of the Hagerstown Pike. Jackson's artillery fired first with Stephen Lee's battery quickly following it up.
Hooker's batteries blasted back at them from the ridge of Joseph Poffenberger's farm. The Federal's big guns two miles east of Antietam Creek joined in.
The high plateau of ground in front of the Dunker Church was General Hooker's military objective. Field artillery advanced with the two flanks of Union Infantry. From the left, (east) of the Union attack, Captain James Thompson and Ezra Matthews Pennsylvania batteries aggressively drove into the cornfield in support of Generals Duryea & Hartsuff's opening attack. They blazed away at Lee's guns in front of the church. The rebel cannon roared back. So many horses were shot, Thompson had to pull back and abandon his cannon when Hood's Confederate Infantry counter-attacked. It was Lee's battery that dropped cords of wood on the Union soldiers in the East Woods.
This photograph by Alexander Gardner shows Confederate dead around an abandoned limber, in front of the Dunker Church, west woods in the background. (this view is looking west). Colonel Stephen D. Lee's artillery battalion lost 86 men, killled. Lee called the fight at Antietam "Artillery Hell."
Noyes' letter is also the only account I have that mentions the great fire created by the burning of the Mumma House and Barn by Confederates. (See battle map No. 2 at the top of this page) The property is located just south of the Smoketown Road which guided the left of Hartsuff's Brigade to the Battle. Brigadier General Roswell Ripley ordered the buildings burned to prevent Federal sharpshooters from using them as cover. Artist Alfred R. Waud recorded the scene in this sketch.
Private Levi L. Dorr became a prominent San Francisco physician after the war. He signed his name L. L. Dorr. He kept in touch with comrades through the 13th Regiment Association Circulars. The following are letter excerpts from correspondence printed in Circulars #29, Sept., 1915; #33, Sept. 1919; & #34, Sept. 1920. At the battle of Antietam he mentions comrades Charles N. Richards (wounded in the face) & Commisary Sergeant Melvin Smith.
Circular #29, L. L. Dorr wrote...
San Francisco, Cal., Nov. 25th 1914.
Mr. Chas. H. Bingham, Secy., Boston, Mass.
...I see you meet on Antietam Day. You report Charley Richards as being at the last dinner. He was one of us thirteen of Company B who were wounded at Antietam, nearly all but him hit in the legs. Charlie caught it plumb in the nose and spit the bullet out very soon; I think he has it now. We were very fortunate in having only buck and ball come our way. Well, Charlie was a sight the next morning, his face looking like the full moon with ears. His other features were less recognizable than that glorious orb. He struck the train for Washington that day, where the Chief of Police was his cousin. Receiving his discharge he was a post-office clerk, and did more hard work for a time than he ever did before or since. I know, for I took his place with my wounded leg, and "shucked" cavalry mail for him while he went home....
Yours very truly,
L. L. Dorr.
San Francisco, Cal., Sept. 10th 1919.
Walter E. Swan,
Thirteenth Mass. Reg. Assn.
My Dear Comrade:
Circular No. 32 came to hand today and was gladly welcomed. I hasten to reply that you may recieve the enclosures in time for the meeting of the 17th inst. Was sorry to see so few of Co. B present at the last meeting - four only - and yet you give in the Roster the addresses of several others in or about Boston. How could they miss it? You note the death of Charlie Richards. How well I remember him. His brother married my sister. We were wounded at the same time at Antietam. His wound disabled him from biting a cartridge; it was plum through the nose, knocking out his upper front teeth. How he looked like the full moon, I think I have told you before. I wonder if Mel Smith remembers packing me off the Antietam field on his horse after I had laid bleeding the east side of a haystack for four hours unconscious or sleeping and the regiment had fallen back followed by the rebels and the stack was hit by hot bullets many times before I knew it, and was aware of the situation. It aroused me however, to the exertion of using a broken rail that probably saved me from being a prisoner; and then Mel Smith took me to the old barn where so many of us were...
Yours very truly,
L.L. Dorr, Co. B.
San Francisco, Cal., Sept. 6th 1920.
Walter E. Swan, Secretary.
Dear Comrade: Circular No. 33 and postal card reached me today. Again I have to thank you and express my regets in not being able to join you all on the 17th, the fifty-eighth anniversary of the battle of Antietam, one of the greatest and most decisive battles of the Civil War, probably next to Gettysburg in its immediate importance, they both being "stoppers" of General Lee's progress North and his ultimate intentions. I am glad I was in it, if it did disable me for further duty at the front. The Hospital surgeons said they would give thousands of dollars if they had my wound obtained under the same circumstances. They could probably have had one or more by being at the front a while. It is said to be a fact that there were more surgeons killed and wounded in proportion to the number serving than any other corps of the army. The surgeon of the 12th Mass. Inf. was said to have been killed at the Battle of Antietam while treating my cousin, who was wounded there and died on the field with him....
Yours very truly,
L.L. Dorr, Co. B.
Charles N. Richards was born in Quincy, Mass., the son of a Massachusetts State Senator. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in Company B, 13th Mass. Regiment. Charlie Richards would survive his horrendous wound at Antietam. Unable to serve in the infantry he was honorably discharged from the army and appointed to the Senate staff. To hide the wound of his upper lip he grew a beard and mustache. During his long term of service, nearly 55 years, he came to know very well, may prominent men in American hsitory. He met all the presidents from Lincoln to Wilson. He was present at the first meeting of President Lincoln and General Grant, when the latter received his commission as commander-in-chief of the armies of the U.S. in the field. At the time of his death he was Chief of the Stationery Room of the U.S. Senate. His decendants shared this post war photograph with me.
Near Sharpsburg, Md., September 21, 1862.
Dear Father, - I improve the present opportunity to let you know that I came safe out of the great battle of Antietam, near this village, on Wednesday the 17th inst.
On Sunday the 14th it was determined to drive the rebels from South Mountain, between Middleton and Boonsboro', the same range of mountains as the Blue Ridge. The forces in front were directed by McClellan ; and although the rebels were strongly posted and fought obstinately for two hours, they were driven, at all points, up the mountain and over it, and finally down the slope toward Boonsboro'. We were not in this part of the battle, as we were stationed about a mile beyond Frederick. In the forenoon our division commenced the march over one ridge of the Blue Mountains, through Middletown. The scenery in the valley is the most splendid I ever beheld. From several points on the march we had good views of the battle then raging between our army and the rebels. Soon after our division got through Middletown, we filed off to the right of the road and went round three miles to flank the enemy. We left our knapsacks at the foot of the mountain, and about sunset commenced an upward movement ; it was very fatiguing, indeed, as we had to climb over rocks, fallen trees, fences, etc. Bullets from the contending armies not very far distant fell in our ranks, killing one or two in the Twelfth Regiment. We now halted for the night, as it had become very dark, and lay on our arms; we had no shelter from the weather, having left our blankets with our knapsacks. I did not sleep any ; it was necessary to be awake to keep from freezing. When morning came we found the rebels had fled, leaving knapsacks, etc., scattered all around ; it was a mystery to us why they did not make more resistance, but "Little Mac" was in command of our forces and he can drive the rebels if anyone can. We now moved forward and followed up the rebels till they made a stand at Antietam Creek. We halted near the creek and lay there most all day ; toward night we moved on to the right and took a position in a wood, under a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries ; we advanced through a cornfield, the shot and shell taking the corn down all around us. We lay on our arms all night. At six o'clock in the morning we advanced and went into battle. After our brigade had been fighting two and one quarter hours our ammunition gave out, and, the enemy having been reinforced, we were compelled to fall back a short distance ; at this moment we were reinforced, and then we drove the rebels, recovering our ground again. We were in General Ricketts's Division, - and I will borrow the words of another to describe what took place at this time, for a private in the ranks oftentimes has a rather limited view of what is going on around him.
"General Ricketts also went forward through the woods in his front, and Doubleday, with his guns, held front against a heavy cannonade. Meade advancing, finally met a heavy body of fresh troops thrown suddenly and vigorously against him, and was driven back over part of the ground he had just won. Ricketts's line was at the same time hard pressed, and fell back. Mansfield, who had come over the creek the night before, was ordered into the woods to Ricketts's support, and Hartsuff's Brigade, part of Doubleday's command, was sent to sustain Meade. Mansfield took the great part of his troops to Ricketts's help, but they were unable to extend their line, and in the effort to push forward his men General Mansfield was mortally wounded. General Hartsuff advanced to the relief of Meade with the Twelfth and Thirteenth Massachusetts and another regiment. The Pennsylvania troops were retiring in haste and some confusion. General Harsuff seized a bridge,1 in front of the field over which the rebels were pressing and held it in splendid style for more than half an hour against a greatly superior attack. His men behaved most gallantly, standing on this exposed ground firing steadily and never wavering once.
"General Hartsuff was soon severely wounded.2 His troops retained their position, and finally, by the precision and rapidity of their fire compelled the enemy to retreat."
It was at the taking and defending of the bridge spoken above that we had the hardest fight and suffered most. But in the detailed account of the great battle you will see that Hartsuff's Brigade had their full share of the work to do. We went into the fight with 301 men : of this number 136 were killed or wounded, leaving us, at the close of the day, but 166 men fit for duty. I fired between fifty and sixty rounds, and had a good mark to aim at every time. I did not waste any ammunition, I can assure you.
I suppose the battle of "An-tee-tam" must be set down as the greatest ever fought on this continent. Each army numbered about 100,000 men3, their lines extending between four and five miles. Our loss in killed and wounded will exceed 10,000 men. That of the rebels will never be known, but it exceeds ours by thousands. They spent the whole day after the battle in burying their dead and removing the wounded ; and after their retreat the ground for miles was strewn with their dead, and houses and barns filled with their wounded.
We have been in the advance and on picket duty since the battle began till yesterday, and have been in active service since we left Falls Church, and the men are thoroughly worn out. I have never felt quite so much exhausted before since I have been in the army. My prayer is that we may never cross the Potomac again, but I suppose we shall have to. We have now 190 men in camp, but many of these are sick, - our colonel has gone home sick, our adjutant was killed,4 - and this is all that remains of the gallant Thirteenth Regiment. I am told that our whole brigade can number but 1,200 men.
The rebels are in full view on the opposite bank of the Potomac.
Mr. Leeds, a gentleman from Boston, is in our camp, and will take this letter to the nearest post-office. We have not had our usual mail facilities lately. My latest news from home is to the 9th inst. Good-by.
NOTES: 1. bridge in this case is a figure of speech, not an actual bridge, (which figured prominently in this battle). 2. Gen. Hartsuff was wounded earlier in the fight. 3. The National Park Service states that nearly 100,00 men were engaged in the battle. Though McClellan believed Lee's army might be as large as 100,00 men it was no where near that large. McClellan's Army numbered @ 75,000 men. NPS estimates Lee's loss in battle at over 15,000 men. 4. 13th Mass. Adjt. David H. Bradlee was not killled. Perhaps Warren Freeman is addressing another soldier who was acting adjutant .
I found this letter of Private Prince A. Dunton, in the library collection of materials on the '13th Mass.' at Antietam National Battlefield. Dunton belonged to Company H, a resident of Natick, Mass., where that company was organized in 1861. He was writing to a civilian friend in Maine, N.B. Milliken, who by the time this letter reached him, had enlisted in 26th Maine, and was serving in Baton Rouge with that organization. Corporal Dunton was wounded in action with the '13th Mass.', at Gettysburg, July 1st 1863. He died of his wounds, July 8th, and is buried in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. This letter was presented to the National Park Library by Louis M. Hull, Boontown, NJ.
The photo in the body of the letter captures a Confederate column on a halt while marching through Frederick, Maryland taken from the second floor of J. Rosenstock's store.
Sent to Belfast, Maine, then forwarded to:
Sent to Sargt. N.B. Milliken
Co. F 26th Maine Regt.
New Orleans, Louisianna
Presented by Louis M. Hull
Camp near Sharpsburg, Md.
Sept. 24, 1862
As I have a little spare time I will improve it in dropping you a few lines to let you know I am well and in active service once more. I found my regiment at Hall’s Hill, Virginia which is about 6 miles from Washington accross the Potomac. They had just come there from Centerville. They was in the Bull Run fight and lost 125 men in killed, wounded and missing. They also lost all their knapsacks. They looked pretty rough to what they did when I left them. The company I belong to lost 10 men in the fight. The regiment had orders to march soon after
I joined them we crossed the river into Maryland and commenced our march up the river towards the Rebels which were then in strong force at Frederick City about 50 miles distant. When we got within 6 miles of the city we came in contact with the Rebel pickets. Had a small fight and they retreated through town. The people of the town was all glad to see us back there again. The Rebels had stripped the stores of all they had in the shape of clothing and shoe leather and paid them off in Southern money which is good for nothing here. We followed the Rebels from there to the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Rebels made a stand and undertook to stop us from crossing but they could not come it. Our force numberedsome where about 100,000 men, General McClellan at the head. We were formed in line of battle about 4 o’clock Sunday afternoon the 14th. The General rode by our line and was loudley cheered. He is a fine looking man and the soldiers think there is no one equal to General McClellan. The Rebels opened a very heavy fire from all sides as soon as we commenced to ascend the mountain but we pressed forward and gained the top of the mountain. The firing was kept up until 9 o’clock at night when it ceased. We lay in line of battle all night expecting to go into it the next morning. As soon as the day broke we moved forward but found no Rebels there. They had all left during the night leaving their dead and wounded. We took a great many prisoners that had got lost in the mountains. The Rebels
loss was very heavy. We had but a very few killed. We followed the Rebels right up early that morning. Our cavalry came up with them before they got far and had quite a fight with their rear guard. Our whole force was close up to their heals. They were reinforced that night with about 60,000 and made a stand about 2 miles from the river near Antietam Creek. Some of Burnside’s troops had a little fighting that night and the next day skirmishing was going on the whole length of the line to find out their position. About 5 o’clock Tuesday night our whole column moved forward in line of battle. We had some pretty hard artillery fighting that night but dark set in and firing ceased. We lay in line of battle in the woods that night. About half past 5 in morning
our skirmishers was sent forward and came in contact with the Rebels. Our division under General Ricketts (pictured) was the first to move forward. We opened fire on them about 6 o’clock. They froged (sic) into us hot and heavy but we gave them as good as they sent. Our Brigadier General Hartsuff was the first man hit. He was wounded in the side. We was under fire two hours. Our regiment lost in killed and wounded 150 men. My company had 4 killed and 9 wounded. I fired 28 rounds and came out of it without a scratch. One ball just grazed my shoe. The men that stood each side of me both got shot. I do not see how any of us got out alive. The shot and shell fell about us thick and fast, I can tell you, but I did not think much about getting shot after the first volley. We fell back and other divisions took our place. The fighting lasted all day. It was an awful sight to see the wounded brought from the field. Our division fell to the rear and formed in line ready to go into it again if needed but was not called on again that day. There was plenty fresh troops that was not called into the fight. We drove them a little and held the battlefield that night. It was a hard fight I can tell you. The Rebels retreated that night and the next day accross the river
but not before they had lost a great many men. I was on the battlefield the next day and such a sight I never saw before. The Rebels lay dead in windrows just as they stood in line of battle. One of the regiments that we fought against was the 26th Georgia. We took some of them prisoners and they say they never was under hard fire before. The whole regiment could not muster but 10 men when they came out of the fight. The Rebels loss was much more than ours, but ours was enough. We are encamped about half mile from the battlefield. They have got about all of the dead buried now. The way they bury them they dig big holes and put 50 and a 100 in to one hole. Things look now as though
we should stay here some time but it is no knowing how long we shall stay. If I had time I should like to write more but I have not so I will draw to a close. Tell the folks if you see them that I am well. I sent mother a letter the other day. Please write soon and with all the news. Excuse all mistakes and bad writing. I have to sit on the ground and write on my knee. Direct to Co. H, 13h Regt, Mass. Vol. Hartsuff’s Brigade, Washinton, D.C.
The 26th Georgia fought in the cornfield with Col. Marcellus Douglass (Lawton's Brigade). They withstood the attack of Duryea's Brigade, then Hartsuff's (Col. Coulter). The two sides faced off until both their ranks were decimated. When Col. Coulter arrived (Hartsuff's Brigade) the Louisianna Tigers were sent to re-enforce Douglass. Col. Douglass was killed in the crossfire received from the East Woods. (See Battle Map # 2 at top of page).
Alexander Gardner took this photograph of Confederate dead in a ditch on the right wing used as a rifle pit. In the Photographic History of the Civil War, the caption for this picture reads:
About nine O'clock the Confederates fighting in the vicinity of the little Dunker Church heard the shout, "They are flanking us!" "This cry spread like an electric shock along the ranks. In a moment they broke and fell to the rear," says General D. H. Hill. In the rear of the fleeing companies General Rodes immediately formed a line along an old sunken road. The soldiers rendered the position more secure by piling rails upon the ridge. Some of these rails are seen scatttered along the edge of the ditch. General Hill continues:
"It was now apparent that the grand attack would be made upon my position, which was the center of the line. Before re-enforcements arrived a heavy force advanced in three parallel lines, with all the precision of a parade day, upon my two brigades. They met with a galling fire, however, recoiled, and fell back; again advanced and again fell back, and finally lay down behind the crest of the hill and kept up an irregular fire."
Owing to an unfortunate blunder, Rodes's men retreated, whereupon the Federal troops charged and after a fierce struggle drove the Confeeerate force from its position. The "Bloody Lane" was full of the men who had defended their position to the bitter end.Lieutenant Charles B. Fox's detailed casualty report is included further down on this page.
Charles Barnard Fox to Rev. Thomas Bayley Fox, letterbook, 21 September 1862, Fox Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; used with permission.
Court House Hospital,
Sunday Sept. 21, 1862.
I came here yesterday morning in charge of the first of our wounded removed from the field hospital about ten miles distant, and have been at work ever since, as they have arrived and left, making them as comfortable as possible. Forty two of our regiment have been here, sixteen left for Harrisburg this morning, and more will leave and others come from the field to-morrow. Since the morning of the battle I have been continually among the dead, the dying and the wounded, the burial of the dead and collection of the wounded having been much of it left to me. Horrible sights and sounds have of course been familiar things to me, but my nerves have held out, and I trust will, as long as anything remains to be done. My left hand is entirely useless to me, and will be until the bone heals though the wound appears perfectly insignificant. The Medical Director tells me I can pass home at once, and report to the Surgeon General in Boston until fit for duty, but as long as I can make myself as useful to our wounded as at present, I cannot decide to do so. I thought it would be great comfort to be where I should not have to continually call on strangers to assist me. Under those circumstances I cannot tell whether I shall reach home or not. If a large number of our wounded go through to Philadelphia, as they may, I shall probably accompany them, and in that case of course shall try to reach home for a week or two. I don’t feel much like discussing now the points of my last letter, like canvassing the merits of Generals, or telling how we or others fought. I trust we did our duty. I know we tried to. We never desire to witness such scenes again but will move to them without hesitating if ordered, under any commander in whom we have confidence. If the leaders of the people have any human feeling left in them, and could have looked down upon the field on Wednesday and Thursday last, the scenes then and there witnessed would never be repeated. I cannot but pity the rebels, hundreds of whom, wounded and prisoners in our hands acknowledge to having no idea for what they are fighting. Our brigade is not now at the front, or was not yesterday. Effort is being made to have our regiment brought as Provost Guard to Hagarstown. I doubt its success, though we much need the rest. Major Gould did finely. He has won the respect of all the officers and men who have been in action under him for his coolness and bravery and his care of his men both in and after battle. But I am writing where the wounds of men just brought in are being dressed by gas light, beside being a little sleepy from the influences of a narcotic, and will close.
October 4, 1862
Headquarters 13th Reg’t Mass. Volunteers.
Near Sharpsburg, MD., Sept 24th, 1862.
Mr. Editor: - The Thirteenth has again met the enemy, and again performed its duty in a noble manner. In Cos. F, and I, in the battle of the 17th inst., the following casualties occurred:
Killed. – Private
Thomas J. Oddy.
Wounded, - Privates C. E. Haynes, leg;
J.S. Stone, thigh; C. A. Howe, arm; A. W. Prouty, leg; W. D. Baron, knee; S. H. Garfield, leg.
Killed 1, wounded 8. Total, 9.
Private Oddy was shot through the neck, the ball cutting off the carotid artery. Of course he died almost instantly. None of the wounded were dangerously hurt.
Company I.Wounded, - Lieut. C.B. Fox, in hand – not serious; privates B. Russell, thigh; B. Parker, arm; J. Collins, leg; Rufus Howe, right shoulder.
Killed none, wounded 5.
Co. I was fortunate in having a position which was protected from the fire of the enemy, hence the small number of casualties, and the absence of wounds of a dangerous character.
Lieut. A. H. Pope, Co. D, was severely wounded in the shoulder. Capt. C. H. Hovey, Co. K, was wounded in the face – not seriously.
The regiment lost in killed 15, and in wounded 121. The wounded men were all, or nearly all – taken to Hagerstown, under my own personal supervision; thence they have been sent to Harrisburg, Pa., where I am assured they are receiving the best of care and treatment.
The people residing in this vicinity were very kind to our wounded. One gentleman from Funkstown, whose name I do not know, with his wife, were untiring in their deeds of charity, and the wounded men of this regiment in particular will never forget them, I am sure. The citizens of Hagerstown, also, made every exertion for the benefit of the sufferers, furnishing liberally everything which their wants required.
Capt. Hovey, of Co. K, who was wounded in the lip at the battle of Antietam, writes that the company went into that terrible action with thirty-five men, but at the time of receiving his wound only three were standing in the ranks with him, the others having been killed, wounded or missing.
One of the three reported killed was H. Holden, of Shrewsbury; he was a new recruit, having just gone out with Messrs. Hartwell ( who was wounded), Chapman and Edmands of this town. He leaves a wife and two children.
Mr. Marshall* has again gone out to look after the wounded, a sum of money having been raised for that purpose by subscription, as before.
Last Sunday evening Mr. Marshall addressed a large audience at Rev. Mr. Sheldon’s church, giving an account of the state of things, and more particularly the condition of Co. K, on the occasion of the former visit of himself and Mr. Nourse to the seat of war. It was listened to with much interest.
Meetings were suspended at the other churches, and the services were participated in by Rev. Messrs. Sheldon, Cummings, Arnold, Sweetser and Sweetman.
*NOTE: W.W.C. may be William W. Claflin; mustered in as Asst. Surgeon, April 29, 1862. Mr. J. F. B. Marshall and Mr. B. B. Nourse were Selectman of the town of Westboro, Mass. elected to the town's military committee in 1861 as Secretary and Chairman, respectively.
James Lowell kept in touch with his comrades after the war via the Thirteenth Regiment Association. This letter was published in Association Circular #34, Sept. 1, 1921.
Holton, Kansas, Sept. 10, 1920.
My Dear Swan and Comrades All: I wish I could be with you the 17th. Have read and enjoyed the Circular and I find in it, in Comrade Walker's Article, a text for reminiscences of hospital life, and events that followed in its train.
Antietam has always been a theme of deep interest - a sort of starting point in my life. A few days ago I fished out a Government map of the battlefield given me by Charley Davis (of devoted memory) of good size and the location of hay stacks as they were, and gave it to the Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, who welcomed it with great enthusiasm.
I had two assistants from the firing line to the hay stacks on the farm of Samuel Luffenberger. [Poffenberger] One was a Penn. bucktail, who, when we got past the rear guard, bolted. There came along, under fire, a fellow about my age in civilian rig, who stuck to the job to the hay Stacks. He took down my name, regiment, etc., saying, "I am a correspondent of the New York Sun." How stupid of me not to take his name and address, that I might remember to commend his bravery, later ! The space at this stack hospital was crowded and we remained there till evening, during that time first aid only was given. And there was disclosed the machine like habit of the drilled soldier - more interested in the fortunes of the firing line he had just left than the injury he received there. "How are things going?" was the topic discussed, while the surgeon was making his rounds. The tragedy of the firing line was the tragedy of the wounded, and its fortunes, their fortunes. That night we were taken to Hagerstown, and our second hospital was "The little White Church," thence the next day through the Cumberland Valley to Harrisburg, where a hospital on Chestnut Street - the Sunday School room of the German Reformed Church was opened for some of us - a frame dining room in the rear. It was a new thing there and our treatment was lavish for quite a while, and always of the friendliest.
Eight boys of the 13th were there, possibly I may miss others - John B. Noyes, Robt. Armstrong, Eugene A. Fiske, James L. Forbes, L. L. Dorr, James Dammers, William S. Soule, Alfred Brigham. The service was good. A rule was early laid down that all emotions except those of cheerfulness should be stifled; and I recall no infraction of this law. My cot was next to Dammers. A quartette of singers often delighted us. Dammers' lung was pierced with a bullet, but no one was his superior in keeping out the blues, being a ventriloquist he startled the quartette on one occasion by an interruption from the opposite side of the ward of a cock crowing. This resulted in a riot of laughing. Dorr, Dammers and self survive. An intimacy-life long-with Forbes, Soule and Fiske, has been my good fortune. Forbes inherited a large landed estate in India through an uncle. Fiske lived in Santa Fe many years and served a term as Attorney General of New Mexico. You know of Soule. But I must not encroach on your time and patience. (Brief bit about a Waterloo hospital omitted.)
I intended to include in my hospital experience, and state that being detailed as clerk in the Medical Director's office, I caught a case of small pox from a convalescent who had business there, and in consequence put in a couple of months—alone, except a man nurse—in the pest house at Camp Curtin, just outside the city. Cordial greeting to all.
Lowell, Co. A.
Pictured is the farm house of Samuel Poffenberger used as a field hospital during the battle. Lowell and many others waited around the haystacks of this farm for medical care during the battle. (The satellite dish is a new addition since the battle).
Biographies of James H. Lowell & His Comrades
Information on Lowell was obtained from the Kansas Historical Society.
Restless after the war, James Lowell went west in the spring of '65 eventually making a name for himself as a judge in the state of Kansas. In his own words he wrote,
"I came west from Massachusetts in the early spring of 1865, on my own hook and without letters of a fixed destination, and without other schooling in roughing it than that acquired in active service in the Army during the Civil War. Glad to shuffle off the uniform, but unready for the humdrum grind of civil pursuits."A short biographical clip from the Kansas Historical Society reads as follows. "James H. Lowell was born in Boston, Mass., June 12, 1842. In that city he received his education, and when civil war broke over the United States he was studying the art of lithography. In June, 1861 he enlisted in the Thirteenth Massachusetts infantry, serving with that regiment until August, 1864. He was wounded at Antietam, and while in hospital at Harrisburg, Pa., met the lady who afterward became his wife, Miss Kate M. Roberts; they were married in January, 1873. Soon after his discharge from the army Mr. Lowell came west, and, crossing Kansas, went on into Montana, where he lived some five or six years - placer mining for three years, trading with the Crow and Gros Ventre Indians near Cow island on the upper Missourie, and later practicing law in Fort Benton. He was deputy district attorney and county assessor for Chouteau county, Montana, 1870 and 1871, and in June and July, 1871 under commission from Gov. B. F. Potts, he organized Dawson county, which had an area at that time equal to all of New England. In the fall of 1871 he returned to the states and settled in Holton, Kans., where he has since resided. He has served as mayor and police judge of Holton and twice as county attorney of Jackson county."
What is interesting about the small number of comrades Lowell mentions, besides the fact that two of them, (Lowell & Forbes) met their future wives at the hospital in Harrisburg, is the remarkable story of their future adventures. I know little of Dammers and Brigham, other than their record in the rosters. James Dammers was a mariner before the war. His wound at Antietam disabled him for further service. He was discharged in November, 1862 and settled in Chelsea, Mass. afterwards. Alfred W. Brigham (pictured) was also honorably discharged due to his wounds at Antietam. James Lowell recalled in a 1906 letter, "Brigham was restless during his confinement and convalescence, constantly clamoring for release to return to active service." In August 1863, Brigham was commissioned 1st Lieutenant in the 7th Unatached Company of Mass. Heavy Artillery. He was commissioned Captain, Co. C, 3rd Regt. Massachusetts Heavy Artillery in October 1864, serving until September, 1865. He settled in Boston after the war.Levi L. Dorr was transferred to Veteran Reserve Corps, March 28, 1864, by reason of his wounds received at Antietam. Dorr became a prominent physician in San Francisco where he settled after the war. He was active in local politics and veteran associations. He was in part responsible for the establishment of the National Cemetery for soldiers in San Francisco where he is buried. Dorr kept in touch with his comrades, as did Judge Lowell, through the circulars. He wrote his comrades about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906:
"Well, I am alive and doing; but had a hard rub on April 18th and 19th. The 'quake was more severe than it is discreet to confess. Most of the evidences of severity were burned the next three days. I lost my office and contents, my house and all contents but silver and some clothing. Small insurance and getting only seventy per cent of that from a company well able to pay.
Every association I had was destroyed; clubs, societys, orders, church, and patients scattered to the many corners of the world. I was a little groggy for a while, and ate refugee bread for a few days, but am still in the ring. The city is building slowly on account of the defaulting insurance companies, but is bound to be a better appearing town in time. What time no one knows. Our half developed country, our magnificent harbor and the gorgeous Pacific are at last attracting railroad and eastern capitalists."
Dr. Levi Dorr lived a long life and passed away September 10, 1934. He is buried at San Francisco National Cemetery, Plot G. H., 398-D. He was a member of G.A.R. Post 2.
James Lascelle Forbes married Miss Ella Small, the daughter of the woman who lived on the same lot as the Harrisburg Hospital where these 8 friends recovered from their battle wounds. Around 1868 - 1869 James traveled to North-western India to help manage his maternal Uncle’s indigo plantation. By December, 1873, James had re-located to another region of India, and changed jobs. He was one of 3 managers of the Tarapore Tea Company in Cachar. That’s when Ella Small set sail from America for British Colonial India to marry James. They were wed in Calcutta, January 31, 1874. Soon they had two children, a son and daughter. Between extended trips to America, to visit Ella’s relatives, James Uncle died. He left 1/3 of his indigo plantation to James and Ella. James' siblings, who shared in the inheritance, agreed James should run the estate. In early 1881, the family, now with 4 children, settled on "Uncle’s" remote Indigo plantation in NW India. The plantation thrived and the family prospered.
It was a lonely existence with neighbors spread wide apart across the region. The social center was a club located at the nearest town 22 miles away. Celebrations, parties and dances were sometimes hosted there, giving the European population a chance to congregate. "We would go into Azamgarh, and we would have a whole week there of very good times. We had races: races for men, races for the women. For instance, you had to mount your horse and ride around the course so many times, holding a tennis ball on your tennis racket, and get right round without letting it fall off." So wrote Mary Forbes; James & Ella's eldest daughter.
James died in 1899 at age 60 and was buried in India next to his uncle. His wife Ella continued to travel extensively through Europe and America with her daughters. In 1905 Charlotte, the youngest, married a member of the British Indian Civil Service. The plantation estate was sold in 1920. Ella settled in Paris, France with her two un-wed daughters. Ella senior died in 1925 in Paris. The two girls later relocated to the US, settling finally in Boston, Mass.
Too severely wounded at the battle of Antietam to continue in the infantry, 27 year old Soule finished out the war clerking in Washington D.C. "For a time thereafter he worked in a photographic gallery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Photographic work for young Will Soule was iminently sensible as his elder brother, John P. Soule, had founded the Soule Photographic Company in Boston before the Civil War. John photographed many of the Massachusetts Volunter soldiers of the war. Will's employment in the Chambersburg gallery ended when the gallery burned to the ground, completely destroying the buisness. Early in 1867, Will Soule determined to "go west" to improve his shattered health. He took with him a complete photography outfit both for landscapes and portrait work. Arriving at Fort Dodge in Kansas, Soule secured employment as chief clerk in the post store run by Trader John E. Tappin. It is believed that Will Soule suppelemented his work with odd jobs as an amateur photographer.
Soule's first published work was an engraving, made from his photograph of the body of Ralph Morrison, a scalped hunter lying dead on the Kansas plains about a mile from Fort Dodge. This engraving was published in Harper's Weekly. Soule relocated 100 miles south to Fort Supply while General Philip Sheridan's Indian campaigns were well under way. In 1870 his photographs recorded the building of Fort Sill in Oklahoma Territory. At Fort Sill, he made a reputation for himself, taking portraits of Indian warriors and their camps. The volume of his work conveys the trust Soule established with the Plains Indians who were at war with the whites during this time period. Soule returned to Boston in 1874. He remained in the photography business with his brother until 1902. To this day his work on the Indian Frontier is highly prized and his prints command high prices.
Eugene A. Fiske was born in the state of New Hampshire; the son of Allen Fiske and Mercy Rogers Parmenter. He received his education in the common schools of his native state and in Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen he enlisted for the war of the rebellion. He was wounded at Antietam and subsequently promotd to second Lietenant Veteran Reserve Corps. He mustered out of service as a lieutenant in the 8th U. S. Veteran Volunteers. After leaving the army he graduated from the law department of Columbian University at Washington, D. C, [George Washington University] and thereafter served in various department offices in the capital. President Grant appointed him chief of the division of private land claims in the general land office, and subsequently assistant secretary to the President to sign patents for lands. Resigning his office in Washington in 1876, he located in that year to Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory, where he successfully practiced law. In 1886 he assisted in the organization of the New Mexico Bar Association, was its treasurer for the succeeding ten years and its president in 1901. He was one of the organizers of the Santa Fe Board of Trade, was attorney and vice-president of, and a director in, the Second. National Bank of New Mexico, assisted in the foundation of the University of New Mexico at Santa Fe, and was the organizer of the first gas company in New Mexico at Santa Fe, and subsequently of the gas company at Las Vegas. In 1889, he was appointed United States attorney and held the office for four years. He died at Santa Fe in 1910. A representation of his character as Attorney General can be found in the following clip from the book "The United States Marshals of New Mexico and Arizona Territories 1846-1912" by Larry D. Ball. (p. 90) regarding the "Lincoln County War."
By Late 1878, many letters of complaint about Deputy Widenmann and other participants in the “war” had reached the Dept. of Justice. These accusations, added to the recriminations dating from the Colfax County War, persuaded Attorney General Charles Devins to investigate both outbreaks. Devens dispatched Judge Frank Warner Angel of New York to examine the conduct of the federal and territorial officials. In a letter of April 16, 1878, the attorney general introduced Angel to Marshal John Sherman.
Judge Angel questioned many officials and recorded a confidential assessment of each person in his “journal.” About Marshal Sherman, Angel wrote: “means to tell all he knows [about the Lincoln County War] – reliable – but not much back bone unless “braced up.’ Use him through E. A. Fiske.” Eugene A. Fiske was an influential lawyer in Santa Fe. When John Sherman arrived in 1876, the two men shared an office in the Palace of the Governors. Sherman trusted Fiske with the affairs of the marshalcy when he took leaves. Judge Angel concluded that Fiske was “shrewd – honest – reliable.” He can be “of great service – He controls the U.S. Marshal – Has been of great service to me – well posted as to the people and the frauds in the territory.”
Corporal "Bob" Armstrong is described by comrade Charles Davis as a silver-tongued charmer. "The most thrifty have been allured into giving, and the meanest succumbed to his persuasive tongue." Bob was also a mooch. According to Davis, he was born into wealth, spoiled by his mother, and became accustomed to a life of ease. "He was acquainted with several languages, was a fine singer, could play the piano and had read and traveled much." When the family fortune disappeared Bob fell on hard times and used his persuasive powers to live off the generosity of his friends. Genial and free of malice he was an agreeable companion whose company was a delight. "Bob never earned a dollar in his life."
At Antietam Levi Dorr remembered, "when faint with bleeding from my wound, Bob made me give him my rifle as his was clogged." Davis relates the following incident as the regiment was falling back. "He was crawling over a rail fence, and just as he was balancing on the top, he was struck in the leg with a bullet which found its exit at the upper part of his thigh. His movements were so accelerated as to land him in a heap on the ground. As he gathered himself together he burst out in language as ornate and beaautiful as that of a pirate captain, to the very great surprise of his comrades who had never heard an expression of wrath from his lips. Once on his feet he took careful aim and shot the rebel skirmisher, who threw up both hands and dropped to the earth."
About 1876, Bob borrowed some money from his friends and joined a squad of G.A. R. men who were going to the Black Hills to establish a colony. His aversion to work eventually got him expelled from the group. He showed up in San Francisco, with a shabby appearance, and hunted up his old friend Levi Dorr. Dorr reported that the owner of the foundry where Bob was employed discovered his intelligence and breeding and promoted him to mail carrier. But one day Bob went missing to roam for parts unknown. (More about "Bob" will be posted on a future page.)
John B. Noyes
Harvard Graduate John B. Noyes has several mentions on this site already. His war-time letters are filled with detail and accute observation. The Battle of Antietam knocked Noyes out of service for several months. He returned to the 13th Regiment at winter camp in Belle Plain, Va, in Feb. 1863. Soon after, with a recommendation from Major Gould, Noyes obtained a Second Lieutenant's commission in the Irish "28th Mass. Vols." His first day as an officer with that unit was in the midst of the Battle of Chancellorseville. The veteran officers of the 28th, were reluctant to accept the outsider Noyes, but he soon gained the respect of the men for his leadership capabilities and reliability in battle. The respect of the officers eventually followed. Noyes led from the front, and miraculously survived several bloody engagements with the 28th.
Recalling his memories of Noyes, James Lowell wrote, "The last I saw of him was on the 17th of June, 1864 at night, near Petersburgh. He was near the road looking for us. He told us he was in command of the 28th Massachusetts as all the officers had been killed, wounded or captured." An excerpt from one of Noyes letters dated May 18th 1864, gives a good idea of his service with the 28th Mass. Vols.
"From the rebel breastorks we captured on the 12th Inst. Spottsylvania Va May 18th 1864"
We suffered heavily from the enemy's artillery which was hardly one hundred yards away. Major Lawler was mortally wounded by my side, struck by a shell which shattered his arm and & stove in his left side, - since dead. Capt Corcoran is mortally wounded. He fell by the side of Lawler, struck by a musket ball some say in the lungs. I saw a terrible wound in his throtat. I thought the paleness of death was upon him. I was bringing him an order to take command of the Regiment when I found him by Lawler's side. Capt. Flemming was wounded in the head. Capt Coveny severely in the left arm. Capt Bailey's little finger taken off. Capt Magner was mortally wounded in the side, late in the action. Lieut. Armand in the foot. I was struck by a slug on my left arm which I caught before it fell. 1st Serg't Linnehan, Privates R. Curley, and M. O'Sullivan wounded, - the last two seriously, also four men missing in my Co. [C] Lieut. West commands the Regiment. I am next senior officer."
More of Noyes's war-time letters willl be featured on this site.
Ms Am 2332 (81) "By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University."
Hagerstown, Md, Monday, Sept. 22d 1862
After remaining by a straw stack near the battlefield at a temporary hospital till yesterday morning, I was taken to this place to the hospital at the Courthouse with most of my wounded company boys, where I arrived about noon. It was my first ride in an ambulance, since coming to the seat of war. Is it not singular that I am now lying here, a victim of the late battle, who first trod Maryland ground on this very spot, more than a year ago, Aug. 1, 1861. There were no rebs here then, though we thought the land full of them. Well do I remember the first night in camp, when Bill Allen fired his gun at a pig, which he mistook for a rebel, and roused the whole camp, the long roll beating to arms. What hurry and bustle there was that night! We were green then, and every bush concealed a bush-whacker. But even then we had no expectation of being engaged at a future period in the greatest battle the world has seen since Waterloo. Such however was the will of the creator. His ways are not our ways and his thoughts not our thoughts. The battle of Bull Run was fought Aug 30th. I will give you a hurried sketch of the movements of our Regt since that period.
Sunday our regiment and brigade were reorganized at Centreville, and marched two or three miles back on the Fairfax road. The whole army was at that time most demoralized. It had no confidence in Pope & McDowell and was discouraged by the late reverse. All that class of gasconaders who had longed for a fight for twelve long, weary months had had all they wanted at Cedar Mountain, the Rappahannock, and Thoroughfare Gap. But few of them were at Bull Run. They had fallen out for various reasons, and lay within a mile of us for various reasons while we were fighting. On Monday Sept. 1st we were marched to near Fairfax, and were in line of battle, behind the forces commanded by the gallant Stevens and Kearney, who gave up their lives for their country on that field. We were not actually in the fight, though occasionally a ball whistled over our heads, and although, at every moment we expected to see our pressed comrades fall back into the open field in front of our covered position in the woods.
The tempest which caused a lull in that battle about 7 P.M. probably saved our brigade participation in the action. Perhaps the worst night I have ever known was that, as we lay under the trees, wet to the skin, a cold gale freezing our limbs. Sun, with its gladdening warmth, warmed our bodies in the morning, and big fires, and bigger breakfasts restored somewhat our spirits. Retreating still we marched that day to Hall’s Hill where we remained till Sept. 6th. Here the spirits of the men revived somewhat but many remained behind when we left, half sick, or half expecting more fighting, or at the least arduous marching. These men are now mostly crowding the hospitals; though fit for duty.
Sept. 6th, at night we marched through Georgetown & Washington to six miles outside of the latter city – the last ten miles without a halt of any kind, granny Styles commanding the brigade. [Col. John Stiles, 83rd NY Vols.] But ten men came in with the Major at the end of the march. The next day at Leesborough about 4 miles beyond, at 4 P.M. but two or three of my company had come in when I joined the regiment. Most of the regiment had come in by Tuesday afternoon, when we marched about 7 miles to near Mechanicsville. Sept 10th about 50 recruits reached the regiment, among them Gould, Thurber & Pollard. (recruit Walter Pollard pictured) On the 11th we marched to Cookesville. Hartsuff commanding the brigade. We had halts when we needed them, and there was no straggling.
The 12th we marched to Ridgeville. The next day to near Frederick Md., which place I had not seen since Oct. 11, 1861. From here to South Mountain we were treated most hospitably by the inhabitants, a pail of water and cup on every door step, apples &c freely distributed. Cannonading all the way ahead of us to South Mountain, we resting part of the time, part marching hard. At about 5 o’clock, having marched nearly 16 miles, we left our Knapsacks at the foot of the Mountain and proceeded to the front. The road was hard and hilly, and we could scarcely drag our legs after us. As usual about 70 of the regiment dropped out, just before we left our knapsacks, leaving the rest to do the fighting. Cautiously we advanced up the mountain, flanking the enemy’s right. The rebel bullets and cannon balls flew merrily over our heads, breaking the twigs of the trees, but causing us little damage. Our other forces beating the rebels back we were not in action, but laid on our arms during the night on ground too uneven to describe.
The next day we were in the front and advanced in line of battle to the gap, but the enemy had flown. Our skirmishers were drawn in and we marched down the mountain. We were in possession of the field of battle. Guns and equipments lay on every side. Now piles of rebel Knapsacks lay beside the road, as yet unransacked. The bodies of the dead were every where seen. But in a cornfield lay the greatest number of them where whole companies seem to have fallen in their tracks. Our recruits who had come to us unarmed supplied themselves with Enfields and Springfields, probably the booty of Bull Run. One of Co. E’s men recovered his own knapsack which he had lost at Bull Run. Temporce Mutantur. Times are changed. While halting near the battlefield, where I supplied myself with a nice towel, and picked up several letters, and some stamps for Martha, I saw Patten of my class & Whittier of the 20th, John Hudson of the 35th, and Wolcott of the 23d.
The 15th we marched to Keedysville, where I saw my old friends, Mr. Welch, and Dr Zeller who had fled from Williamsport, a few days before. The next day in the afternoon our brigade left camp, and succeeded in getting a good position in the woods in line of battle, in spite of the enemy’s artillery which was at one time rather annoying, a shell bursting under our adjutants horse, within a few yards of me.*
I rested well that night, and felt remarkably well the next morning when we were led into battle. About 5 A.M. Hartsuffs brigade advanced, a regiment, the 11th Penn. reserves I believe, skirmishing in front. Soon the skirmishers were driven in and the firing became general all along the line. Hartsuff was already off the field, wounded, unknown to us. We steadily maintained our position for over two hours, driving back the enemy two or three times, who vainly attempted to maintain a line in front of the fence, behind which they fought most of the time. The firing was terrific, cannonading mixed with the sharper sound of musketry. The carnage was awful. Before Eight o’clock our brigade was off the field. Half of my company, 13 out of 26 were killed or wounded and about half our Regt of less than 300 men were put hors du combat. The loss in the 12th Mass was probably no less. A sergeant and 4 corporals of my company were wounded. The only non commissioned officer left, our 2d Serg’t had 4 bullet holes in his clothes. Capt. Cary who was acting as Major was the only commissioned officer of our Company on the field. He was not wounded.
I was hit in the leg, about six inches above the knee, the bullet passing through and out at the other side. The wound is only a flesh one and gives me but little pain and trouble. It only takes away my power of easy locomotion. I remained in the straw, near a house, with the other wounded of my company till Sunday, the 21st, when we were carried to Hagerstown. Last night I rode to this place where I arrived this morning early. We are placed temporarily in a school house. I have been unable to ascertain much concerning Bennetts wound.** Sam Currier is now badly wounded. He told me that as he held him, he appeared to be struck in the head and went off immediately. Bennett was considered one of the best and most gentlemanly men in his company. He was quiet, yet gay and contented. I was very well acquainted with him, and used to give him the messages you sent through me. His loss is much lamented by his company. The best and bravest fall in battle. This results from the fact that the shirk, and the coward falls out of the ranks before the battle is fought and leaves only his braver comrades in the van. I lament the loss of Bennett personally because I have one less friend, whose morals had been uncorrupted by a soldier’s life. Gay and ever with a good word he seemed to be almost too good a man to fall. But, like God, the bullet is no respector of persons. It pursues the young as well as the old, reaping both the ripe and unripe.Young Gould who joined us on the 10th inst was killed. He had just graduated from Harvard. My classmate Thurber was slightly wounded, and Pollard, severely an awful wound in the jaw by a Minnie ball.*** His face is terribly swollen, and very painful. The recruits fought well, and suffered much. Tom Spurr of the 20th was wounded.**** Our Regiment is now very small. Not two hundred men can be led into the next fight. Our loss will probably be above 20 killed and 130 wounded.
I would not advise you to come to the war as Chaplain. The Chaplain is chiefly looked upon as Post master.
John B. Noyes.
*Austin Stearns claimed this shell struck under Maj. Gould's
**Bennet is Elias H. Bennett, age 20 of Brighton, Mass., probably a classmate of Noyes brother Charles. Bennett (Company C) was killed at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. Currier is Sam Currier, age 29, also of Company C.
***Young Gould is Samuel Shelton Gould. Read about him in the article "Short Service" on this page.
****Thomas Jefferson Spurr, Harvard Graduate, was in the 15th Mass. inf. I could not find a soldier named Spurr in the rosters of the 20th Mass.
Stoic Warren Freeman never told his father of his personal injuries and wounds suffered in the service until much after the fact. And, when he does he underplays the pain they caused. In this lettter mentions the Color Guard. Members of the 13th Mass. Color Guard, an important position in battle, are omitted from the regimental history. It is difficult to discovery their identities in most cases, with few exceptions. David Chenery of Company A, is specifically named here, (and another source) and from Warren's letter home, one can guess who else was present in the color guard by reviewing the regiment's casualty list.
Near Sharpsburg, Md., October 3, 1862.
Dear Father, - I have not heard from home since I last wrote, and have received no paper – seen only the “reporter” sent to Dorman, which is my latest news from Bridgton. I have not been well for the last two weeks; have been troubled with headache, pain in my limbs, and am very weak; am not confined to the camp hospital, though I have not been in the ranks lately.
We have changed our camp twice since I last wrote, so as to be nearer water; we now have to go to the river for water, which is a quarter of a mile distant. I hope we shall not have to cross the Potomac again. The boys are about discouraged, I can assure you. I wish I may never set foot on “sacred soil” again; we are now within eight miles of where we were last March.
Our division has gone out to be reviewed by President Lincoln. They went out yesterday, but the President did not make his appearance, so they have had to try it again this morning.
We have about 250 men in the regiment; there are thirty-five in Company A. As to officers, we have but two captains and four lieutenants in the regiment; one company is commanded by a corporal; however, there is quite a number of officers and men that will return to the ranks when their health is recruited.
Monday, October 13. – Yesterday morning at one o’clock there was an alarm, and our division was routed out and marched off about a mile and a half, when we halted and lay in the road the rest of the night and till near the close of the day, when we marched back to camp again. I suppose they expected a rebel raid, or something of that kind. My health is better and I have gone into the ranks again.
I have recently received two letters from home, and I was right glad to get them. You ask if I could not send home some trophies of the Antietam battle-field. I could have picked up any number of guns, swords, knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, etc., but had no way to carry them. I found several rebel letters and brought them away, but have lost them. All I have got is some flag-root which I took from a rebel knapsack. I have not been on the battle-field since we left it several weeks since. I was sick and not able to go with the boys, who have been there frequently.
One of the boys, who was on the field a few days after the battle, told me that in the part he visited he saw eight or ten heaps of dead rebels that our men had gathered together to bury; and he counted the bodies in one heap, and there were 130. Our men were engaged between four and five days in burying the dead of both armies and carrying off the wounded. When the rebels retreated from the Antietam battle-field they took all their wounded that they could carry, or that could hobble along on foot, and then left more than 4,000 for our army to take care of.
You ask if any one was shot near me? Yes, my file-leader, the man who stood directly in front, was shot in the head and fell heavily upon me. I supposed at first that he was killed, but he is living now. Samuel S. Gould stood within five feet of me when he was mortally wounded; he had been in the company but four or five days. He was fresh from Harvard College, and I got quite well acquainted with him; he as a wide-awake, noble fellow, about as tall as I am. He has relatives in West Cambridge. The color guard and colors were between our company and Company F, and as I am very near the right of the company I was quite near the colors. There were seven out of the eight color guard and one of the color bearers killed or wounded, they dropped pretty fast at one time. One of the color bearers was shot in three places; he was a Belmont boy, named David Chenery. We had forty-one men in our company, twenty-one of whom were killed or wounded. My rifle was so hot that I could hardly touch the barrel with my hand, but it worked well; that was the reason I was able to fire so many rounds. Some of the boys only fired thirty times; their rifles got foul, and it took a long time to load. After I had fired forty rounds I went to Gould and got some of his cartridges; he was living, but not able to speak; he died before the battle was over. During most of the day we were between 300 and 400 yards of the rebel lines – a good easy range for our rifles. I came out of the battle very well. Of course I had many narrow escapes from death during the day : a ball grazed me just below the temple, taking off the skin, drawing blood, and stunning me for some moments; and I was struck on the shoulder by some hard substance, which whirled me round and lamed me for some days, but I never thought these casualties worth mentioning in my previous letter, and should not speak of them now, only as you wrote of Eastman’s having a ball lodge in his blanket.
I felt quite cool and collected, and had no personal fear during the battle. The scenes of blood and strife that I have been called to pass through during the months that are passed, and my “baptism in blood,” have nearly destroyed all the finer feelings of my nature.
We have a new brigadier named Taylor, in place of Hartsuff, who was badly wounded, as I have mentioned before. We are to have a brigade drill this afternoon, and as it is about time to be getting ready I must draw to a close.
October 25. – We have just received our new uniforms, blankets, etc; we needed them long since. I have not had a chance to write before for some days; our new general keeps us drilling so much of the time that we have hardly an opportunity to cook our food. There is to be a division review this afternnoon, but as I am on guard I get clear of it. I am pretty well, but this river water does not agree with the boys. We are to move into Virginia immediately, and then may fare better in this respect.
I must bid you all farewell. Warren.
Lieutenant Charles B. Fox (commanding Company I) carefully compiled this casualty list. I have found discrepancies with other lists. I put name corrections in brackets, and listed men who died from wounds in red. I have added an asterix to the names of the new recruits that joined the regiment on August 18 or Sept. 10. See article "Short Service " below for more information on the recruits.
"GLC 03393.37 Major Gould to Colonel Leonard, 21st September 1862. The Gilder Lehrman Collection. (Not to be reproduced without written permission.)"
Sept. 21st 1862
Col. Samual H. Leonard
I send you a copy of the Report of the casualties for the 13th Regt in the late action. It will be perceived that it is quite large but our men fought very bravely.
The Muster Rolls will be sent on to day. I have not seen the papers or any baggage for nearly ten days - this A. M. has been my first opportunity and I improve it. We recieve no Boston Papers.
Yours truly in Much haste
J.P. Gould Maj
Comdg 13th Mass.
Killed Private Wm.
" " " Chas. R. Nelson*
" " " S. S. Gould * Total 3
Wounded Sgt. R. B. Henderson
" Private E. A. Allen [Edward F. Allen]
" " " T. P. Bowker Jr.
" " " D. Chenery
" " " W. S. Fowler*
" " " M. A. Fitzgerald
" " " H. J.A. Hibbard (or Hebard)
" " " J. P. Shelton * [pictured]
" " " J. D. Thurber
" " " W. F. Pollard*
" " " J. H. Lowell
" " " C. W. Shelton*
" " " E. Nutsi [Nutze]
" " " A. F. Shelton
" " " A. Davis * [Ambrose Dawes]
" " " G. B. Sawyer* Total 16
Since official Report the following were found wounded
" " " W. A. Soule
" Corporal J. A. Nye [John E. Nye] Total 18
Killed Private G. Wakefield* Total 1Wounded Corpl. D. F. Hicks
" Private A. W. Brigham
" " R. M. Armstrong
" " G. N. Emerson
" " J. Cody
" " C. N. Richardson [Richards]
" " P. C. Whidden [pictured]
" " P. J. Rooney
" " J. B. Noyes
" " E. L. Dexter
" Sergeant G. S. Worcester Total 11
Corpl A. A. Sheafe
Private T. L. Appleton
" C. H. Allen
Private E. Archibald* [pictured]
" C. H. Brigham* [Charles H. Bingham]
" Saml Currier
" Wm. F. Ewell
" J. Foley
" E. A. Wood Total 10
D. S. Thurber
" J. T. Lawrence Total 2
Wounded Lt. A. H. Pope
" Sgt. J. K. P. Reed
" Private G. H. Tobey
" J. T. E. Kendall
" B. Litchfield
" A. H. Greenwood
" I. Bowman*
" J. L. Faden*
" D. Bartlett
" A.W. Saunders
" F. Ripley
" E. A. Pearson
" G. F. Leslie Total 12
" " J. E. Bean
" " J. Baker
" " E. S. Danforth
" " A. Krasinski [Anton Krasinskia]
" " C. C. Morse Total 6
Private T. J. Oddy
Wounded " W. D. Barron
" " C. E. Haynes
" " J. L. Stone
" " W. P. Howe
" " N. R. Wheeler
" " C. A. Howe
" " E. W. Prouty
" " J. H. Morse [probably John H. Moore]
" " S. H. Garfield
" " C. H. Roundy
" " A. B. Hastings
" " L. Roberts Total 12
" " J. E. Le Clare Total 2
Wounded Corpl H. A. Sanborn
" " T. Field
" " J. W. Spencer
" Private D. C. Aiken
" " G. P. Boyce [or G. B. Boyce]
" " S. A. Bryant
" " J. Callahan
" " C. F. Drew
" " C. R. Dale [pictured]
" " E. G. Eastman*
" " E. A. Fiske
" " H. M. Foss [Henry M. Foss]
Wounded Private C. H. Lang
" " H. H. Lufler
" " J. C. Perkins [John O. Perkins]
" " G. H. Parker
" " E. Smith
" " C. A. Whittier
" " C. H. Weston
" " E. T. Whittemore* [Total 20]
" " L. F. Favour
" " J. H. Smith [James H. Smith]
Wounded Corpl D. E. Reed Since died Total 4
" Private D. Gray
" " C. E. Barker
" " Winch Recruit** [possibly Lovell Winch]
" " G. W. Gale
" " William Morse*
" " H. P. Adams
" " N. Everetts** [N. Stanley Everetts]
" " N. Berry* [Nathaniel F. Berry] Total 8
**NOTE: there was a recruit, N. Stanley Everett who died of his wounds at Alexandria, Sept. 21, 1862. But he is listed as being in Company A, in both the roster and Mass. Adjt. Gen'l's report. Unfortunately Fox did not list the first name of this Everett. A soldier named Shepard S. Everett was in Co. H, but he is not listed as being wounded at Antietam in any of the reports. Perhaps, since the letter A in script can resemble H, Fox listed Everett in the wrong company ?
This short name is difficult to reconcile with the roster of Co. H. It might be 44 year old Lovell Winch who joined the regt. in late July, '62, and mustered out in November for disability.
Wounded Lt Fox
" Private Benj. Parker
" " Russell [Benjamin F. Russell]
" " J. M. Collins
" " D. J. Donovan
" " Rufus Howe Total 6
" H. Holden* Total 2
Wounded Capt Hovey C. H.
" Sergt A. R. Greenwood
" " W. W. Fay
" Corpl M. H. Davenport
" " W. H. Sidney [Willliam H. Sibley]
" Private A. E. Chamberlain
" " J. H. Cutting* [pictured]
" " H. A. Fairbanks
" " W. H. Gassett
" " G. H. Gates
" " C. A. Trask
" " C. H. Wellington
" " G. Hartwell*
" " A. O. Berry**
" " W. E. Bruce
" " G. W. Clifford Total 16
**NOTE: There is no soldier named Berry listed in Company K. Perhaps this is a double entry for G. O. Berry of Company G. ?
" : Wounded 121
The Above is a correct Report of the casualities of the 13th Reg in the fight of Sept. 17th.
*Note: Actual tally of those names in red, who were killed, is 26.
He fought with the 13th Mass. at Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap, 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly and South Mountain. At Antietam his luck ran out. Company H, had the highest casualty rate in the regiment with six men killed. This betrays the company's position in line of battle as one of the exposed companies that fought out in the open, away from the shelter of the East Woods. Perhaps they held the junction with the 12th Mass,. which suffered the highest casualty rate of any Federal Regiment that day, (67%). It is believed Adna was killed instantly. Perhaps he was one of the men referred to in Prince Dunton's letter, above, when he wrote:
"I fired 28 rounds and came out of it without a scratch. One ball just grazed my shoe. The men that stood each side of me both got shot. I do not see how any of us got out alive. The shot and shell fell about us thick and fast, I can tell you, but I did not think much about getting shot after the first volley."
Adna's daughter Nellie, age 4 1/2 years at the time of his death, was raised by her grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Nutt of Natick. Eugene was adopted by Israel Gurney, a prominent citizen of the town of Natick who had vowed to adopt the first orphaned male child of the war. True to his word, he took in Eugene, changed his name to William Gurney, and raised him as his own. Adna P. Hall is buried in the Massachusetts section of the National Cemetery at Antietam. Many of his descendants still reside in Natick today.
Years later, Adna's breastplate was dug up on the battlefield near the Smoketown Road. Stamped on the back in large bold letters is "A.Hall 13 MASS." The stamping is unique; Massachusetts was the only state to do this. The front of the breast plate is stamped MS for Massachusetts.
The item was manufactured for the soldiers by "Boyd & Sons Boston."
By Brad Forbush
New recruits joined the 13th Mass in the field several times during their 3 years of service. About 70 joined them in the field near Culpeper, Virginia on August 18th 1862 with another 60 or so joining the regiment September 10th outside Mechanicsville, Md just before the battle of Antietam.* The adjutant Generals report credits them all to August 1862. (None are listed for September.)
Regimental Historian Charles Davis wrote in the regimental history :
September 10th 1862 “We received another lot of recruits to-day, and a fine looking set of men they were. It is a notable fact that this batch of recruits was the last in which we had any feeling of pride. Up to and including this time we had been fortunate in our recruits. They were a credit to the State and reflected honor upon the regiment; they were in such marked contrast to those who followed that the fact is worth mentioning.”These new men came to the regiment just before several hard marches and deadly battles; Thoroughfare Gap, August 28th; Second Bull Run, August 30th; and Antietam, September 17th. Samuel Shelton Gould was one among the September group. Gould's Company A comrade, Warren H. Freeman writes:
"Samuel S. Gould stood within five feet of me when he was mortally wounded; he had been in the company but four or five days. He was fresh from Harvard College, and I got quite well acquainted with him; he was a wide-awake, noble fellow, about as tall as I am. He has relatives in West Cambridge. …We had forty-one men in our company, twenty-one of whom were killed or wounded. …After I had fired forty rounds I went to Gould and got some of his cartridges; he was living, but not able to speak; he died before the battle was over. During most of the day we were between 300 and 400 yards of the rebel lines – a good easy range for our rifles.”
Gould’s story is exceptional. The following information is followed closely from “Harvard Memorial Biographies,” edited by Thomas W. Higginson; 1866.
Gould's father was headmaster of the Winthrop School, Boston, when Samuel Shelton Gould was born January 1, 1843. Samuel attended Boston schools until his twelfth year, studying Latin for two of them. When his parents moved to Dorchester he completed his preparatory studies at the Roxbury Latin School. In 1858 at age 15 he entered Harvard College. After a year he decided to leave school to see the world. He went to sea as a common sailor on the ship ‘Peabody’ bound for Melbourne, Australia. He brought along several Latin and Greek text-books and remarkably kept up his studies during his spare time. His plan was to “re-enter College on his return with as little delay as possible.” Samuel kept up a daily journal where he recorded his surprise at the mean tasks, drudge-work and poor food aboard the Peabody. There was little opportunity to learn more of the “difficult parts of the work,” one of his personal goals. The grumbling of the veteran sailors reinforced his idea that these were unusual conditions for a sailing ship. When in port he chose not to return to America on the Peabody and instead sailed a few days later for the Peruvian port of Callao, on the American vessel ‘Commonwealth.’
The work was harder on the Commonwealth, and the food worse, but the experience was better, because as an ordinary seaman, young Samuel was now learning the more intricate parts of the job. There was less time for study on the Commonwealth but Gould kept at it.
At Callao the Captain revealed the true destination of the Commonwealth was up the coast to Chinca Island to harvest guano; seagull feces and urine, used as fertilizer. Naturally, this was repulsive work for sailors. Gould and another mate approached the Captain and requested a discharge from the vessel. The Captain refused. Words were exchanged and Gould demanded recourse with the American consul in Callao. The Captain struck him and the Second Mate beat him badly. Samuel jumped ship that night.
In a few days he joined the crew of a Boston ship, the ‘Rival,’ bound for Cork, Ireland. He got on well with the officers and had a pleasant experience, even with 20 days severe weather sailing ‘round Cape Horn. The rest of the voyage was pleasant and he continued his studies, and his journal.
"Tuesday, June 26th. — Forenoon below; finished the first volume of Macaulay's England. I am glad to say that, in spite of the contrary predictions of my friends before I left home, I have not as yet neglected my reading and study, though my time has been much more limited than I expected, and consequently I have not accomplished nearly all that I could wish. Greek and Latin I have kept at with a constancy of which, under all the circumstances, — hard work and scarcity of rest, — I think I may be justly proud. I find that I have lost none of my ability to read them easily, but from the want of grammars I feel that my knowledge of them is not nearly as exact as it once was. The Holy Bible, — the reading of which has been a daily duty and pleasure to me, — John Foster, De Quincy, Macaulay, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Dickens have formed my leisure reading, if that time which I have stolen from my sleep can be called leisure. I can fairly say that they have been my greatest pleasure ever since I left home. I hope that a year's time, and possibly less, will see me again so situated that the bulk of my time, and not the spare minutes only, may be given up to them. I have been like the mother in Tom Hood's ' Lost Child,' who did not know the love she felt for her child till she lost it. I only hope that I may not, like her, forget it as soon as I find it."
From Ireland Samuel sailed to New Orleans, and then made passage for home in a schooner. The ship nearly wrecked in a storm off Cape Hatteras in March, but Gould arrived safely home in April, 1861 after an absence of nearly 2 years. He followed up his desire to re-enter College and devoted the next three months catching up on the studies he had missed his sophomore year. He re-entered Harvard as a junior in July 1861!
Believing he had a part to play in the great struggle now underway he promised to enlist should the President again call for troops in the future. That opportunity came in the summer of 1862 and Samuel Gould joined the '13th Mass' as a recruit. “During that time he attended and addressed several of the war-meetings in Cambridge and Boston …and the fire of his words were inspiring.”
He joined the regiment in the field near Mechanicsburg, Md., September 10th. At Antietam, Samuel Gould was still unarmed but assisted the stretcher-bearers removing the wounded from the battlefield. In short order he found a rifle and “joined his company at the front, and very soon fell, shot through the heart.” He is buried, with Adna P. Hall and others at Antietam National Cemetery in the Massachusetts section.Samuel Gould’s story made me wonder how many others from this batch of new recruits were immediate casualties. Charles H. Bingham of Company C was one of the recruits. He joined the regiment in mid-August, was wounded at Antietam and received his discharge soon after. But he survived the ordeal and wrote several interesting articles about his short war time experiences. Several of the recruits died at Fredericksburg a few months later, but at least they had a little time to assimilate into army life.
What follows is a list of 12 recruits who died from wounds received at 2nd Bull Run & Antietam. I wonder what their stories were? I offer the names of these unfortunate recruits who sacrificed everything for the cause of the Union.Company A
William F. Barry; age 18; born Boston; clerk; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.
N. Stanley Everett; age 19, born Milton, Mass.; clerk; died Sept. 21, 1862 at Alexandria. (The Roster and Mass. Adjt. General's Report lists N. Stanley Everett in Co. A but he is not on Fox's report. Everetts of Co. H, is listed wounded. There was a Shepard Everett in Co. H but it does not list him as wounded at Antietam. Either Fox's casualty list is wrong and Everett was in Co. H, or the Mass. Adjt. Genl's Report incorrectly lists him in company A).
Samuel S. Gould; age 19; Boston; student; KIA Sept. 17 1862, Antietam.
Charles R. Nelson; age 29; born Brooklyn, NY; mariner; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.
John P. Shelton; age 18; Boston; student; died of wounds Sept 18, 1862.
Charles T. Linfied; age 21, born South Weymouth, Mass., conductor, died of wounds Aug. 30, 1862, 2nd Bull Run.
George F. Wakefield; age 19; born Boston; machinist; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.
Sam Webster of Co. D wrote in his journal Aug. 31, after the battle of 2nd Bull Run, : “Find Peck and others to be killed, among them some of the late recruits.” Here are three recruits assigned to Webster's company killed soon after joining the regiment:
Ira Bowman, age 32, born Littleton, NH; silversmith; died of wounds Oct. 6, 1862.
William D. Dorey, age 21, born Boston; stevedore; wounded at Manassas, Aug. 30, 1862, died of wounds October 2, 1862 at Philadelphia.
Albert A. Hazeltine (Hazleton); age 24; born Springfield, Mass.; painter; died of wounds Nov. 15, 1862.
William H. Baker; age 20, born Weymouth, Mass.; student; KIA Aug. 30, 1862, 2nd Bull Run. (I think Baker was the brother of Major Elliot C. Pierce's fiancee.)
Hollis Holden; age 44, born Newfane, VT; farmer; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam. See Westboro Transcript on this page; " One of the three reported killed was H. Holden, of Shrewsbury; he was a new recruit, having just gone out with Messrs. Hartwell ( who was wounded), Chapman and Edmands of this town. He leaves a wife and two children."
*NOTE: Names of men from the Adjt. General’s report were checked against the revised roster of the regiment in the 13th Mass. Association Circulars.
© Bradley M. Forbush, 2011.
Page Updated September 22, 2012.