|Nutmeggers on Antietam Creek:
Major Generals Joseph K. F. Mansfield, John Sedgwick, and Connecticut Regiments
in the Maryland Campaign. 2 September through 20 September 1862
by Laurence Freiheit
Page 1 of 2
This paper will present the activities of four Connecticut regiments during the
Antietam Campaign as well as participation of two prominent Connecticut
generals, Maj. Gen. Joseph King Fenno Mansfield and Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick.
Mansfield was mortally wounded during the Battle of Antietam while Sedgwick was
seriously wounded. To help understand these two regular Union army veterans,
their non-military lives and their military careers before the Civil War will
be summarized. To help set the stage, an overview of the Antietam Campaign
including events leading up to it will be presented first, followed by details
about the regiments, and finally, the two generals. While the Connecticut
regiments played only a small part, two of them, the 14th and 16th Connecticut,
were like many of their sister regiments in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's
Army of the Potomac: untried, "green" troops, but they fought with valor and
suffered heavily. The other two regiments, the 8th and 11th Connecticut, had
seen service on the North Carolina coast thus were steadier under fire than
their untested brethren and represent the more veteran regiments which fought
with McClellan. Mansfield and Sedgwick represent the Northern regular army
general officer: West Point trained, conservative, but fiercely loyal and
dedicated to the Union. They do not represent the political generals who were
appointed with little or no military experience to recommend them. With this
caveat in mind, studying these two officers and the regiments will give a good
idea of Union participants at Antietam at both the level of corps/division
command and the regiment.
In the section presenting the Connecticut regiments, the 14th Regiment,
Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, which was in the 2d Corps will be discussed
first since its actions on 17 September began before the other three regiments
became heavily engaged. The other three, the 8th, 11th and 16th, were brigaded
together in the 9th Corps so their actions will be reviewed together. The
regiments will be presented in the following order: 14th, 11th, 8th, and 16th.
The 8th and 11th were truly "sister" regiments as they were raised about the
same time and joined in the expeditionary force which was landed on the coast
of North Carolina thus many of their exploits from there to Antietam will be
similar. The 11th will be discussed before the 8th since its actions in the
attack on 17 September ended early while the other two Connecticut regiments in
its brigade continued on to the final attack near Sharpsburg. The 8th will
follow the 11th's discussion since its main action took place a few hours after
the 11th finished its attack. The 16th will be the final regiment to be
discussed since its actions followed slightly after the 8th's main battle. It
should be noted that the 14th and 16th, while in different corps at Antietam,
were very similar in that they were new, untested regiments, recently sent to
the front, therefore, these two had more in common with each other than with
the two "veteran" regiments.
II. The Antietam Campaign
The Antietam Campaign from 2 September through 20 September 1862 was noteworthy
for many reasons, but arguably the two most important were that its outcome was
a Union victory, the first major victory in the Eastern Theater, and a victory
which allowed President Abraham Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation.
The Union victory, in addition to driving the best army that the South
possessed back to Virginia, also meant that European powers, mainly England,
would at least postpone any type of recognition of the Confederacy as a nation.
The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation changed the meaning of the war
for the North and South. Lincoln at once sensed that it was time, both
politically and militarily, to take the first major step to free the slaves.
Admittedly, it only did so in a limited number of areas in the South, but it
was a needed first small step giving an official imprimatur to the
administration's growing anti-slavery stance. This step also made it easier to
enlist African Americans in the U.S. Army and to legitimize their employment in
the armed forces. While no one battle in the Civil War determined its outcome,
some argue that the Battle at Antietam was at the least a key battle of the
The South's best army and its best commander were finally halted after an
unbroken string of victories in the East which drove Union forces from the
Confederate capitol's front door at Richmond, Virginia, back to the Potomac
River. Lee and his army had been victorious in the Peninsular Campaign against
superior numbers but an inferior Union commander, George B. McClellan.
McClellan had victory in his grasp but in an overly cautious and poorly
conducted campaign found himself just outside of Richmond but unable to take
the city believing that he was heavily outnumbered. His opponent, Joseph E.
Johnston, also an unaggressive general, was finally forced to attack and, at
the Battle of Seven Pines, was severely wounded opening the door for
Confederate President Jefferson Davis to appoint Robert E. Lee as the Southern
army's new commander. Almost at once, Lee began fighting ferociously to push
McClellan away from Richmond, and succeeded but at a higher cost to himself
than to Union forces. McClellan, surprised and dismayed, retreated, ostensibly
merely "changing his base" to ensure his continuing ability to maintain his
supply line and to consolidate his lines; in reality he lost any shred of
fighting spirit he might have once had.
Once Lee realized that McClellan was no longer a threat to Richmond, he quickly
moved to confront the other major Union army in Virginia, John Pope's Army of
Virginia, to his northwest near Culpeper, Virginia. Lee knew that he could not
allow any Union armies to unite against him so he moved to attack Pope soundly
thrashing him at the Battle of Second Manassas on 30 August 1862. After failing
to destroy major portions of the Federal army there or two days later just east
of that battlefield at Chantilly, Lee decided that his best strategic move
would be to enter Maryland. Just as Lee undoubtedly knew when he took over from
Johnston, neither he nor the South could be passive; the overwhelming
industrial and manpower advantages the North possessed would, if given time,
overwhelm the Confederacy. But the recent campaigns in which his army had
fought hard resulted in major deficiencies in material, munitions, and food
needed for further campaigning. Lee had to remain aggressive but take time to
resupply, recruit, and rest his men.
Invading Maryland was the best of many options available to Lee. It would be a
strategic turning movement which would bring the Union forces out of their
strong defenses around Washington to defend it since the Lincoln administration
would not know if Lee planned on encircling it, or pushing towards Baltimore or
into Pennsylvania. Lee believed that confronting the Union army on ground of
his choosing could result in its destruction demoralizing the North and
possibly bringing European intervention greatly aiding the Confederacy. Too,
the untouched fields and farms of Maryland and possibly Pennsylvania would
provide much needed food and fodder for his army. Based on his experience with
the usually dilatory Union armies, he believed that he would have sufficient
time to rest and resupply his troops north of the Potomac while the shattered
remnants of Pope's Army of Virginia and McClellan's demoralized Army of the
Potomac refitted in Washington. Also, spending several months campaigning in
Maryland would remove the war from the ravaged farms of Northern Virginia
allowing them to recover. Finally, entering Maryland, a slave state, might
result in bringing in numbers of new recruits and help return the state to the
The Union army high command and the Lincoln government were alarmed and
confused by Lee's movement north. It was feared that Lee might surround and
attack the capitol and then move on Baltimore. Alternatively, he could continue
north from his crossing point near Leesburg, Virginia, some thirty miles up the
Potomac River and move into Pennsylvania attacking railroad links to the west
and its capitol, Harrisburg, possibly then moving on New York City. Pope's army
was in disarray after its defeat at Second Manassas while McClellan's
relatively intact army was still recovering from its trials during the
Peninsular Campaign. Lincoln was forced to put McClellan in charge of the
defense of Washington since he had little other choice and by default,
McClellan became the commander of the Union pursuit of Lee. McClellan, an
excellent administrator and organizer, quickly put units together and
resupplied them even sending them out in the middle of doing so. Confused by
the conflicting and contradicting information being received about the
Confederate movements, McClellan was forced to cover a broad front as his units
moved west and northwest to cover both Washington and Baltimore.
While this was going on, Lee spent several days in bivouac near Frederick,
Maryland, some forty miles northwest of Washington, resting and resupplying his
troops utilizing everything untouched farms, fields and even shops had to
offer. Lee knew that the Union forces were coming but he did not anticipate
their speed, nor did he know that McClellan would soon be in possession of an
order (S.O. 191—the famous "Lost Order") Lee sent to his chief commanders
detailing his campaign plans. The dispositions of Lee's army were made
necessary because the Union garrisons at Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg,
Virginia, did not, as good military sense dictated, escape as word reached them
that the Confederate army was in their rear. Lee was forced to dispose of them
since they were in his proposed supply line down the Shenandoah Valley. Lee's
original plan, to move through Hagerstown, Maryland, and then through
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, further drawing the Union army from its supply
bases was put on hold while he dealt with the two Union garrisons.
As detailed in the Lost Order, Lee split his army into four major parts, one to
deal with Martinsburg (Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson), two with Harper's Ferry
(Lafayette McLaws and James Walker), and the fourth (James Longstreet), with
the trains of the army (and with Lee), to proceed west to Hagerstown to await
the return of the other parts. Again, Lee made the mistake of thinking that
once the two Union garrisons learned that overwhelming forces were moving
directly at them they would flee; only one did—the Martinsburg force of 3,000
fled southeast to join the Harper's Ferry garrison bringing the total number
there to about 13,000 mostly green troops. Lee's timetable changed from
slightly behind to seriously late now threatening to allow McClellan to destroy
his divided army in detail. Soon, Lee realized that McClellan was now in hot
pursuit and Lee must do something quickly to ensure that his forces at Harper's
Ferry were not attacked in the rear by McClellan.
Before McClellan began this more determined pursuit after finding the Lost
Order, Lee had headed west from his bivouac in Frederick, and his cavalry
commander, Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart, provided delaying actions
slowing the Federal advance. Two mountain ranges west of Frederick running
roughly north-south aided Stuart and his troopers; the first, smaller range,
the Catoctin Mountains, just a few miles west of Frederick, gave Stuart the
opportunity to slow the now large and aggressive Union juggernaut. Stuart did
well using delaying tactics at the passes through the Catoctin's along the
National Road from Frederick, through the Catoctin Mountains to the foot of
South Mountain before Turner's Gap where it crosses South Mountain. Here at
South Mountain, both Stuart's rearguard action and his scouting failed Lee.
Stuart reasonably believed that Union forces would concentrate on relieving
Harper's Ferry by marching down Middletown Valley between the two mountain
ranges, the more direct route. However, Stuart's scouting was poor since he and
therefore Lee did not know that only one Union Corps was using that valley as a
relief route. That corps was ordered to cross South Mountain at Crampton's Gap
(about seven miles south of Turner's Gap) before heading south to relieve
Harper's Ferry. McClellan's plan was to use this corps to immediately relieve
Harper's Ferry then use most of the rest of his force to cross Turner's Gap and
attack the part of Lee's army at Hagerstown then turn south to confront the
other parts near Harper's Ferry. Fortunately, Lee recognized that holding
Turner's Gap through South Mountain was critical so he left infantry there and
on the west side of the mountain near the gap thus dividing his army into five
parts as he continued on to Hagerstown with Longstreet.
Lee learned that his units around Harper's Ferry were far behind schedule and
had to besiege the garrison there. He also believed, incorrectly, that a
substantial part of Stuart's division was holding Turner's Pass in South
Mountain with infantry support, but fortunately for his army, learned that "the
enemy was advancing more rapidly than was convenient from Fredericktown, "[so
he]…determined to return with Longstreet's command to South Mountain, to
strengthen the infantry and Stuart's divisions, engaged in holding the passes
of the mountains, lest the enemy should fall upon McLaw's rear, drive him from
the Maryland Heights, and thus relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry." The
Battle of South Mountain was about to begin.
McClellan threw the bulk of his forces at Turner's Gap and at Fox's Gap, a
smaller gap about a mile south of Turner's Gap at which the heavily outnumbered
Confederates fought desperately to delay the Union advance. Lee and Longstreet
quickly returned with what men they had to throw against the Union advance;
after a hard day's fighting during which over 6,000 men became casualties, the
Confederates retreated during the night from both gaps. Similarly, seven miles
south at Crampton's Gap, Union forces had broken through but their commanders
decided that they would await further instructions before attacking what they
perceived as overwhelming Confederate numbers in a defensive line across
Pleasant Valley, lying between South Mountain and the range to the west, Elk
Ridge. This relatively short delay in attacking arguably caused the surrender
of Harper's Ferry since the commander there surrendered that morning. Had he
heard the sound of battle to his north, it is likely that he would have waited
to learn if it came from a Union force which he expected to be sent to his
relief. Lee now was desperate to reunite his army as quickly as possible as
his broken army retreated west to Boonsboro, Maryland, five miles to the west
then another ten miles to the southwest to Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg,
Maryland. He sent orders to the other three parts of his army at Harper's Ferry
to hurry to Sharpsburg where he was organizing a defensive line. Lee was not
yet ready to end his Maryland adventure despite the mauling he had witnessed at
South Mountain especially after hearing of the victory at Harper's Ferry. The
stage was now set for the bloodiest day ever in American history, 17 September
To this point the contributions of Connecticut regiments in Maryland were
minor. Only five Connecticut regiments were in the vicinity and one of those,
the 5th Connecticut, part of Mansfield's 12th Corps, was not directly involved
in the Antietam Campaign: it was detached 9 September to be part of the provost
guard in Frederick, Maryland, just prior the Battle of South Mountain. They
watched as the 14th Connecticut marched through Frederick on its way to
Antietam and later considered themselves fortunate not to have joined its
sister regiments in the slaughterhouse there. The 5th was severely handled at
the Battle of Cedar Mountain a month earlier as part of Bank's corps losing 40
percent of their effective strength. The other four were the 8th, 11th,
14th, and 16th. On 14 September, the 8th and 11th Connecticut were involved in
the Battle of South Mountain late in the afternoon but not heavily engaged
being in reserve having only one man wounded. These four units, like many
other Union regiments in Maryland, would, by the end of the day on 17
September, record some of their highest numbers of losses in any one-day battle
in the war.
Lee, with his engineering eye, chose his ground well at Sharpsburg. He formed
his line, anchored at both ends on the Potomac River, just west of Antietam
Creek. This creek, like the Potomac a few miles further west, ran generally
north-south (both flowing to the south), but with fewer perturbations than the
meandering Potomac. He established his units conforming with the mostly gentle
hills and ridges which also ran in north to south directions. The rolling
hills, mostly farmland with a few woodlots, did provide cover and concealment
in many areas which became of great importance during parts of the upcoming
struggle. While the Antietam Creek was not deep, it had few fords due to its
steep banks, fords which were poorly scouted by McClellan's cavalry leading to
major flaws in the execution of Union attacks. Of the four bridges crossing the
creek, Lee decided to only defend one, the Lower Bridge on the Union left
flank, which proved to be of critical interest to three of the four Connecticut
regiments since they were part of Burnsides 9th Corps assigned to that flank.
The remaining regiment, the 14th, had another natural obstacle to overcome,
however, a sunken farm lane which proved to be formidable when it became a
Confederate strongpoint. Enclosed within one of the Potomac's meanderings,
Lee's army had one major geographical problem: there was only one good ford
available across the Potomac which was some three miles below the burned bridge
which had connected Sharpsburg with Shepardstown, Virginia, just across the
Potomac. This ford, heavily used by the Confederates, was not taken by Union
forces until after the battle at Antietam when Lee's army had already retreated
McClellan finally decided to attack Lee at Sharpsburg and his plan on the
evening of 16 September was not a bad one considering that he firmly believed
he still faced a numerically superior enemy firmly entrenched behind the hills
surrounding the town. If McClellan knew that he greatly outnumbered Lee and
that in fact virtually none of Lee's troops were entrenched, he very likely
would have had a more aggressive battle plan. As it was, he initially desired
to probe the enemy's left flank to see if Lee would stand and fight. McClellan
planned a follow-up attack on the other flank which he believed Lee would
probably have weakened to support the opposite flank. Finally, McClellan would
throw his best reserves at the now very weakened center of Lee's line. The
Federal commander knew he could not surprise Lee nor did he plan on using more
than one corps for each flank attack. The attack would begin on the left early
on the morning of 17 September. McClellan expected that even though neither
attack would be able to get in Lee's rear since both Lee's flanks were anchored
on the Potomac, the first attack on the left early in the morning could advance
far enough to enfilade Lee's entire line to the south towards Sharpsburg making
Fig. 1. Major assaults on 17 September 1862
Map from website: "Antietam on the Web;"
http://aotw.org/maps.php?map_number=main; Internet, accessed 10 January 2007,
used with permission.
McClellan chose Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker for the early morning attack knowing
the aggressive spirit he possessed would be necessary. Believing that Hooker's
1st Corps might need support, he ordered Mansfield's smaller 12th Corps to
march north to be available should Hooker need help. "Fighting Joe" Hooker
did—the next morning in less than two hours after commencing his attack,
Hooker's corps was wrecked and Hooker was wounded. Mansfield's corps, coming to
Hooker's aid, met the same fate except Mansfield was mortally wounded. Based on
erroneous early reports that Hooker's attack was meeting some success,
McClellan sent Sumner's 2d corps to add weight to the attack of the 1st and
12th Corps to gain a victory without attacking the opposite flank or even the
center. Sedgwick's division in Sumner's corps was soon torn to pieces while the
second of Sumner's other two divisions took a wrong turn and ran head on into
massed Confederate troops in the Sunken Road. This division was soon heading
for the rear, also shattered. Sumner's third division under Maj. Gen. Israel
Richardson had more success at the Sunken Road despite heavy casualties
including his own death later that morning. His men took the road.
Now that McClellan saw that most of the three corps he sent to his right flank
were decimated, he ordered Maj. Gen. Burnside to immediately open his attack on
his left flank. Burnside's inept attacks took three hours to cross the Lower
Bridge over the Antietam but by early afternoon, he had a foothold on the
opposite bank. Burnside then paused to resupply and rest his troops. McClellan
now had his last chance to win the battle with Burnside poised to attack Lee's
right flank and Lee's center broken and his left hurt. Franklin's fresh 6th
Corps had arrived from its successful attack at Crampton's Gap three days
earlier and was ready to attack but General Sumner forbade it obviously shaken
by the carnage he had seen (and caused) earlier in the day. McClellan arrived
on the scene and finally sided with Sumner much to Franklin's dismay and
disgust. Franklin believed that he could have smashed the remaining Confederate
troops and rolled up the rest of Lee's shattered line. McClellan still
believed that Lee outnumbered him and therefore had sufficient men left to give
these, his last fresh troops on the field, a hard fight. The end finally came
to the day's fighting when Burnside's restarted attack on the Union left which
was driving the Confederates into the outskirts of Sharpsburg, ran head on into
Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's men who had just arrived after a forced march from
Harper's Ferry. Burnside's men were quickly pushed back to the vicinity of the
lower bridge finally drawing the curtain on a day of horror: "For both sides,
Sharpsburg was a compact field of concentrated fury. In twelve hours, 82,000
men fought over less than 1,000 acres. Nearly 23,000 (27.1 percent) fell
casualty" by sunset, a day none of the participants would ever forget.
Neither opponent desired to resume the battle the next day although Lee
expected McClellan to attack; the Union commander did make plans to attack on
the 18th but suspended them after realizing that the "fresh" troops he was
gathering would not be sufficient in quality or quantity to drive Lee into the
Potomac. Too, his army was short of ammunition; then McClellan fell ill with
severe dysentery. Lee, on the other hand, was not ready to give up his Maryland
adventure. On the morning of the 18th, Lee conferred with Stonewall Jackson and
Jeb Stuart to examine the possibility of attacking the Union right flank and
moving his army towards Hagerstown. After looking at the Federal units there,
even Lee now realized that he must return to Virginia. Again, not wishing to
give up on his fall campaign, he wanted to try to return to Maryland crossing
the Potomac at Williamsport, about ten miles to the northwest, by way of
Martinsburg, a total trip of about twenty-five miles. Lee sent Stuart's cavalry
and along with infantry and artillery chased away Federal troops holding the
crossing for the remainder of Lee's army.
But Lee soon learned that his army had less fight left in it than he hoped: a
small Federal attack over the Potomac at Shepherdstown on 20 September showed
him that he had run the wheels off his army after he had difficulty finding
units to push the Federals back over the river. This, combined with the news
that Stuart had been pushed out of Williamsport, must have been the final straw
Lee needed to end his Maryland Campaign.
III. Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
The 14th Connecticut began its life on 22 May 1862 formed to fulfill
Connecticut's quota of 50,000 men. It did not, however, fill its ranks until
after the disastrous Peninsular Campaign and President Abraham Lincoln's call
for 300,000 volunteers. It is likely that the offer of hundred dollar Federal
and ninety dollar state bounties helped stir patriotic fervor more than
Governor Buckingham's exhortatory appeal on 3 July 1862. In it he urged men to
"Close your manufactories and workshops, turn aside from your farms and your
business, leave for a while your families and your homes, meet face to face the
enemies of your liberties!" If all this was not enough, many towns decided to
also offer bounties in some cases as much as $250; needless to say, in less
than forty-five days, over 8,000 men volunteered and were organized into eight
regiments including the 14th. It was mustered into Federal service on 23
August and left Connecticut 25 August with 1,015 men enlisted from most towns
in the state; it left the capitol, Hartford, aboard steamships transferring to
trains in New York City. The trip was difficult for many with the dirty,
crowded conditions, and lack of palatable food and even water. It arrived
in Washington, D.C., on 28 August and crossed the Potomac to Alexandria, then
to a fort helping to man the Washington defenses. "Its men knew nothing
about drill; yet they received marching orders to follow the enemy before they
had received their muskets; like the 16th Connecticut, "It was little more than
a crowd of earnest Connecticut boys; it was not until 29 August that
firearms were distributed to the regiment. Two companies, the "flank
companies," had received Sharps breech-loading rifles the night before. A
highlight on its arrival in Washington was its march in review past President
Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott during
which the regiment broke into song—"We are Coming, Father Abraham"—at which the
president doffed his hat and bowed.
It was one of many newly-raised regiments receiving assignment orders to
various army corps; on 6 September it was placed in Sumner's 2d Corps which was
located at Rockville, Maryland. Along with the 108th New York and the 130th
Pennsylvania, it became part of the 2d brigade commanded by Col. Dwight Morris
in the 3d division commanded by Brig. Gen. William H. French. Lt. Col. Sanford
H. Perkins led the 14th. With light marching order leaving their knapsacks
behind, by a series of marches they tramped from Rockville through Clarksburg,
Hyattstown, and Frederick, Maryland, to South Mountain, then finally to
Antietam Creek after passing through Boonsboro and Keedysville. Their march,
though fatiguing for new troops, was one of wonder for many, first in seeing
the destruction of war, burned buildings and dead bodies near Frederick, then
joy in the cheerful reception from Frederick's citizens as they marched through
town. Chickens and sweet potatoes apparently garnered by foraging helped quell
hunger pangs and supplemented their issued coffee and hardtack. They
marched into camp at Keedysville about two miles east of Sharpsburg then on the
morning of 17 September they marched to the Antietam east bank to the rear of
the Pry House on the 16th.
The morning of 17 September, they were awakened at 3 A.M., issued extra
ammunition, and by 7 were moving out marching in column by division, the 14th
near the center as part of Morris's Brigade. Close to 9 A.M. they were formed
into lines, the 14th being in the center brigade on the far right of its line
of comrade regiments. They headed down a slope along Antietam Creek heading
southwest with an occasional artillery shell whining overhead. The din coming
from their right, the destruction of Hooker's 1st Corps and Mansfield's 12th on
the Union right flank, must have had these new soldiers nervous. After wading
the creek, the green troops became more unnerved attempting to maintain their
battle lines, stumbling about confused; General French rode up yelling "For
God's sake, men, close up and go forward." Soon the order to "double-quick"
was given and the 14th ran on through shrubs and over ditches into the Roulette
Farm where forty to fifty Confederates were routed out of outbuildings,
captured and sent to the rear. The excitement, however, did not prevent several
men from picking apples to provide some quick snacks to several men
supplementing their scant breakfasts.
Fig. 2. French's Division at the Sunken Road: 9 A.M.
Map from website: "Antietam on the Web;" http://aotw.org/maps.php?map_number=6;
Internet, accessed 10 January 2007, used with permission.
Continuing its advance, it entered an open cornfield with the 130th
Pennsylvania on its left; they were being fired upon by Confederates in their
front but did not return fire because another one of its sister units, the 1st
Delaware, was in front of it as part of their brigade's first line. The
Delaware unit was one of the first to face Confederate units massed in a sunken
farm lane, soon to become known as the "Bloody Lane" or the "Sunken Road." The
1st Delaware received the fire of a half dozen Alabama regiments and soon lost
about one third of its men including three captains killed while its commanding
officer was pinned for a time under his dead mount; the brigade commander,
Brig. Gen. Max Weber, fell seriously wounded. Most of the 1st Delaware broke
and ran through the 14th's lines disorganizing them and some were shot
accidentally by the shaken Nutmeggers. The 14th's officers pushed their men
back into formation and again advanced. The remnants of Weber's Brigade joined
Morris's Brigade including the 14th Connecticut and again attacked the sunken
road but were sent back reeling towards the Roulette Farm leaving their dead
and wounded dotting the field and the 1st Delaware's colors abandoned.
Many of the men had their nerves steadied by actually loading and firing their
rifles as many had not done this before so they were too busy to be scared.
For the next two hours, they remained in line seeking whatever shelter they
could just to the rear of the remnants of the 1st Delaware while the wounded
continued to be carried back to the Roulette Farm.
Fig. 3. 14th Connecticut's position at the Roulette Farm: Noon to 12:15 P.M.
Detail from the Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam / Surveyed by Lieut. Col.
E. B. Cope, engineer, H. W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg
National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Positions of troops by Gen. E.
A. Carman. Published by the authority of the Secretary of War, under the
direction of the Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army, 1904; from the Library of
Congress Map Collections: Civil War Maps;
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl; Internet; accessed 10 January 2007.
All of this type of map below is from the same collection; note the different
pages in the URL.
Then after being pulled back to the Roulette Farm, the regiment was ordered to
its left to Maj. Gen. Israel Richardson's division to support a battery. Later
that day, the mortally wounded Richardson was borne off the field by men from
the 14th and carried to the Pry House, McClellan's headquarters, which was now
also being used as a field hospital. Late in the afternoon, they were
ordered by Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock to the left to plug a gap in the Union
line facing Bloody Lane; there they remained in a farm field overlooking the
battlefield but under enemy artillery fire. There they stayed that night, and
the next day and night until being relieved. They lost 156 men during the
Antietam Campaign, the regiment's heaviest loss during the war.
Fig. 4. The 14th Connecticut's position: mid afternoon to nightfall.
Detail from the Library of Congress Cope Antietam maps;
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl; Internet; accessed 10 January 2007.
For a green regiment, the 14th did well especially considering this was its
first battle and had never fired its rifles before even for practice. Certainly
there were skulkers and cowards but they were not seen in great numbers: "i
[sic] am not going to charge any one with cowardice, but there were always too
many wanting to go to the hospital with any one that was wounded and they never
by any means came back again until yesterday." From another viewpoint, a
participant of the 14th stated that "in the main, for green troops, I think we
behaved well, the men firing with precision and deliberation, though some shut
their eyes and fired up into the air." The days after the battle seeing and
smelling the hundreds of dead bodies and parts of bodies of soldiers and
animals were unpleasant and would have been disheartening except for the
realization that they won a victory. They then made a difficult march to
Bolivar Heights near Harper's Ferry on 22 September for a well-deserved rest.
The regiment was complemented for its bravery by the brigade commander, Colonel
Morris, who also stated that "In front of the last position held by the
Fourteenth Connecticut more than 1,000 of the enemy lie slain;" Morris's
brigade lost 529. The 14th had two officers killed, Capt. Samuel Willard
and Capt. Jarvis E. Blinn. Overall, for a regiment new to combat with
virtually no training, the 14th Connecticut and its sister regiments in front
of Bloody Lane gave a very good account of itself and while dismayed at the
carnage, felt proud of its maiden performance: "Our men, hastily raised and
without drill, behaved like veterans, and fully maintained the honor of the
Union and our native State." Their monument dedicated on 11 October 1895
stands at the extreme forward point of the regiment's advance at 9:30 A.M. on
17 September. This dedication was part of the ceremonies surrounding the
dedications of monuments for the other three Connecticut regiments at
Fig. A. 14th Connecticut Infantry monument
Front view facing Bloody Lane;
http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/mnt-ct-14.htm; Internet, accessed 10
IV. Eleventh Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
The 11th Regiment was a veteran regiment, like its sister regiment, the 8th,
mustering into Federal service on 27 November 1861. It left Hartford on 16
December with 927 men enrolled on its journey through New York City to
Annapolis, Maryland. There, they joined the 8th Connecticut as part of Brig.
Gen. Ambrose Burnside's secret Expeditionary Corps on the way to the coast of
McClellan had Burnside assigned to organize and command a Coast Division of
three brigades to support the Army of the Potomac. It was Burnside's idea in
the first place to which McClellan quickly agreed; Burnside was to recruit men
from New York and New England believing that they would have, by default, some
nautical familiarity and self-reliance. He also set about, with less success,
securing boats for transportation and for landing his forces. Burnside and his
15,000 men and a fleet of more than eighty ships and boats left Annapolis in
early January to rendezvous at Fort Monroe, Virginia, then on to Hatteras
Inlet, North Carolina. The journey was not without adventure for himself and
his troops including the 11th. The 11th, embarked on the USS Sentinel and
the SS Voltigeur, went through two major storms, during one of which
the Voltigeur was thrown up on a beach on Cape Hatteras, where five
companies were stranded for twenty-three days but suffered no casualties.
Burnside's force did well in North Carolina destroying some Confederate ships
in Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, capturing Roanoke Island with 2,600 prisoners
and 32 cannon, then attacking and taking New Berne, Beaufort and Fort Macon.
The 11th did not participate at Roanoke Island since it was shipwrecked off
Hatteras (kept in "reserve" according to Burnside). It did see combat, however,
as it suffered six killed and twenty one wounded at New Berne on 14 March where
it performed well. The regiment benefited from its sojourn in various camp
locations despite some bouts of fever: it received a new commanding officer,
Henry W. Kingsbury, a regular army officer and a friend of Burnside, who
instituted examinations for line officers and drill and inspections for the
men. This salutary regimen transformed the previously undisciplined regiment
into one to be admired. It camped near the Trent River until late July when
it was ordered to join the Army of the Potomac near Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Early August found it patrolling the streets of Fredericksburg and drilling
until it heard the sound of guns to the west heralding the end of its pleasant
duty. The Union Army of Virginia had lost the Battle of Second Manassas on
29-30 August and was in retreat to Washington. It was there that the 11th was
sent to help bolster the frightened citizens. Along with its sister Connecticut
regiments, the 8th and 16th and the 4th Rhode Island, it was assigned to Brig.
Gen. Edward Harland's 2d Brigade, 3d Division of the 9th Corps. Its division
commander, Brig. Gen. Isaac Peace Rodman, and its acting corps commander, Maj.
Gen. Jesse Lee Reno, would both become casualties during the Maryland Campaign:
Reno was killed at South Mountain on 14 September and Rodman mortally wounded
at Antietam on 17 September.
The 11th left Washington on 8 September along with the 8th Connecticut arriving
at Frederick on the heels of the Confederates on 12 September bivouacking in
the city among the welcoming residents happy to be rid of the odiferous
Southern host. On 13 September the 11th continued its journey west along
with the another unit of Harland's brigade, the 4th Rhode Island, following
John Farnsworth's cavalry brigade. They ended the day at the foot of South
Mountain near Turner's Gap on the National Road. While not in direct combat,
Confederate artillery fire did inflict damage on the 11th with men being
wounded. On 14 September, the 8th and 11th were in support of other 9th
Corps units attacking Confederates on South Mountain. Next morning, the 8th and
11th began a long march over the mountain to Keedysville on a county road some
four miles southwest of Boonsboro; they struck the Boonsboro Pike about dark
marching south until late in the evening when the two regiments bedded down for
the night. Later the next day, 16 September, they were marched closer to
the west bank of Antietam Creek along with the rest of Rodman's Division on the
left flank of the line McClellan was forming. That evening the 16th Connecticut
finally joined the brigade after a hard march thus filling out Colonel
Harland's 2d Brigade to its four-regiment strength: the 8th, 11th, and 16th
Connecticut, and the 4th Rhode Island; they would be ready for the next day's
trial as part of Brig. Gen. Isaac P. Rodman's 3d Division at the Lower Bridge
over Antietam Creek. The men, forbidden to build fires, bedded down as best
they could as a light rain soaked them.
Burnside did not relish his assignment on the Union left flank—he felt that his
close friend, McClellan, had demeaned him by taking away the other corps which
had composed his right wing command, Hooker's 1st Corps, leaving him only the
9th Corps. Burnside, perhaps in a pique, served mainly as a conduit for orders
from McClellan to Maj. Gen. Jacob Cox who Burnside had placed in command of the
9th Corps to retain the appearance that he, Burnside, still was a wing
commander only temporarily missing his other corps. Cox, commanding the corps
with Burnside at his side felt constrained and inhibited even suggesting that
Burnside resume command. Still, Burnside's apparent apathy and lethargy during
most of the 17th materially contributed to the poorly coordinated attacks at
the Lower Bridge (ironically known to history thereafter as the "Burnside
Bridge"). Thus the erstwhile and current corps commanders both were less
enthusiastic about the coming day exemplified by the failure to scout any other
fords across the Antietam; had this been done, Snavely's Ford just one and
one-quarter miles downstream in a straight line (less than three along the
creek) from the Lower Bridge from which Lee had withdrawn troops on the morning
of the 17th, would have been discovered earlier and used to flank the
Confederates holding the bridge.
This Lower Bridge, also known as the Rohrbach Bridge due to the proximity of
the Rohrbach Farm, was one of four over Antietam Creek, the second bridge
upstream from the Potomac, and the only one contested during the Battle at
Antietam. The appropriately-named Rohrbach Bridge Road passed over it on its
way to Sharpsburg on its twisting way from Rohrersville just to the north of
Crampton's Gap about three miles away to the east-southeast. While the Antietam
Creek was not a formidable barrier to cross, its lack of good fords made the
bridge valuable. Two other two bridges, at the mouth of Antietam Creek at the
Antietam Iron Works, and the Upper Bridge, north of Pry's Mill, on which a road
from Keedysville crossed were not contested. The Middle Bridge over which the
main road from Boonsboro passed was in Union hands. However, a key crossing
point for this battle was Boteler's or Blackford's Ford about a mile below the
destroyed bridge across the Potomac which had linked Sharpsburg with
Shepherdstown, Virginia. Lee had to save this ford as it was the best, if not
the only, way out of the pocket he was in at Sharpsburg. That was why Lee
fought so tenaciously to keep the 9th Corps from cutting off his line of
retreat southwest to that ford during the afternoon of the 17th.
McClellan's plans for Burnside's Corps were not clear on the 16th or 17th, and
even those unclear plans were changed some months later when McClellan had time
to reflect on the results probably looking for a scapegoat. McClellan's final
plan, as he saw it with the benefit of hindsight, was to threaten both the
Confederate right and left so Lee would not be able to shift troops around to
reinforce either flank. Then, depending on the results of these attacks, he
would either reinforce one of the flank attacks or attack the center when Lee
thinned it to bolster his flanks. This interpretation allowed McClellan to
fault Burnside for a late start on the 17th which allowed Lee to shift troops
to stop Hooker's and Mansfield's attacks on his left. Many historians have
followed McClellan's later interpretation of his actions. Fair interpretation
shows that this planning in hindsight did not fit the orders that Burnside
received from McClellan: he first received an order about 7 A.M. to prepare to
attack but did not receive the actual attack order until 10 A.M., an hour after
Lee had pulled troops away to reinforce his crumbling left where the initial
Union attack began. Burnside received these orders too late since by that time
both Hooker's and Mansfield's corps were wrecked as was Sedgwick's Division of
Sumner's corps; troops moved from the Union left saved Lee's left flank from
At daylight on the 17th, Confederate artillery began to shell the three
divisions of the 9th Corps especially Rodman's division as it became more
visible when the fog dissipated. McClellan finally ordered the division closer
to eastern side of Antietam Creek to help screen the men from the artillery but
the bluff on the eastern bank opposite the division was infested with
Confederate sharpshooters, not giving the surcease for which the men surely
hoped. Rodman's division was on the far left flank of the 9th Corps close to
the creek less than a half-mile from Snavely's Ford, about two miles from the
Lower Bridge. Sturgis's Division was on its right closer to the bridge with
Scammon's division while Willcox's division was behind them in reserve.
Rodman's troops remained there for about two hours not participating in the
initial attacks on the bridge. Shortly after receiving the 10 A.M. order, Cox
launched his first attack on the Lower Bridge, which failed, as did all his
several attacks for the next three hours. These failures were due primarily to
the strong defensive positions of the few hundred Confederates that comprised
the two under-strength Georgia regiments on the bluff overlooking the bridge.
The jumble of rocks and trees around an abandoned quarry provided excellent
cover for them while the Union assault forces had to approach the bridge
completely exposed to their fire from only one hundred yards distance. Trying
to cross the narrow bridge once reached added to the Federal frustration as it
was only about five-men wide. Men who tried to cross the creek near the bridge
found it to be about four feet deep in the middle with steep, slippery banks,
thus Union commanders had to concentrate their efforts on crossing the bridge.
The high ground, heavily wooded, extended southward along the creek then turned
ninety degrees to the west following the creek; about one-half mile from the
turn lies Snavely's Ford at a gap in the high ground which contained a
Burnside personally ordered the 11th Connecticut out from Harland's brigade to
form a line of skirmishers on the left of some Ohio troops in the first attack
on the bridge; he apparently did not inform their division commander, Rodman,
or their brigade commander, Harland, who spent the rest of the battle wondering
what happened to the 11th. Likely Burnside chose the 11th because he knew
them from his North Carolina adventure and trusted the colonel, Kingsbury, who
was a good friend. The rest of Harland's brigade, reinforced by another
brigade, spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon searching for
good fords downstream well after their orphan 11th was chewed to pieces
upstream near the bridge.
Colonel Kingsbury's mission for the 11th was to pin down the Confederate
riflemen on the bluff while the Ohioans charged the bridge. He divided his
440-man regiment into two battalions, one under Lt. Col. Griffin Stedman was to
guard the right side of the bridge; Colonel Kingsbury was to attack to the left
of the bridge between the Rohrbach Road and the creek. But the Ohioans did not
arrive on time leaving the 11th on its own hook: within fifteen minutes after
emerging from the tree line on the east, it had lost 139 men killed or wounded.
Stedman accomplished his mission although some men of the two companies he had
sent closer to the creek upstream of the bridge either misinterpreted his
orders or were overly excited being in the open under heavy fire: Capt. John
Griswold, a company commander, led some of his men into the fifty-foot wide
creek over the stone wall on the north side of the bridge, a fatal error, as he
was shot in the chest and fell mortally wounded on the west bank; several of
his men also were killed in the attempt while the rest retreated to the east
bank. Kingsbury, on the other end of his line, inspired his men as they
approached the creek firing at the Confederates on the hill directly to their
front. After crossing a split rail fence, they formed a skirmish line along the
creek firing at the wooded heights. Colonel Kingsbury, likely a special target,
was quickly wounded, first in a foot, then a leg, a shoulder, finally, mortally
in the abdomen. He was carried back to the Rohrbach Farmhouse where he soon
died. It was a hard day for the 11th with all of its field grade officers
wounded or killed. Lt. Colonel Stedman's leg wound would not be fatal and he
would be promoted to colonel on 25 September to replace Colonel Kingsbury as
the 11th's new commander. Later that day about 4 P.M., the division commander,
Rodman, was mortally wounded while helping to reform Colonel Harland's brigade
to attack the Confederate line southeast of Sharpsburg; Harland then took over
for Rodman in forming the line in the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to hold
the reinforced Confederates at bay.
Fig. 5. The 11th is repulsed at Burnside Bridge: 10:30 P.M.
Detail from the Library of Congress Cope Antietam maps;
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl; Internet; accessed 10 January 2007.
The survivors of the 11th withdrew to cover but kept a fire on the Confederates
on the hill supporting the ongoing efforts of other 9th Corps units attacking
the bridge. However, it never rejoined its brigade and did not participate in
the attacks later in the afternoon; it crossed to the heights above the
Antietam southeast of the Lower Bridge after it was taken by other units
remaining under the wounded Colonel Stedman's command. It rested there for the
rest of the day and helped secure the line after the remainder of the 9th Corps
when it was thrown back from Sharpsburg late in the afternoon. That was where
its brigade commander finally found it about sunset as he was reassembling the
remnants of his brigade along the bluff. After remaining on the battlefield
searching for wounded and burying the dead, the regiment stayed for a few days
on the eastern side of the creek; then, the regiment joined the rest of the
brigade at Belinda Springs about two miles march away. Then in early October,
after a review by President Lincoln on the 3d, it marched east to Pleasant
Valley for a welcomed rest.
The 11th Connecticut had its bloodiest day of the Civil War: 148 men killed or
wounded including its colonel mortally wounded and lieutenant colonel wounded,
and two captains, company commanders, killed. Colonel Kingsbury's loss was
especially lamented; he was a West Point graduate and universally esteemed
among his men and commanders. His brother-in-law, Confederate Gen. David R.
Jones, who commanded the division of the men who shot Kingsbury, was depressed
by the horror of the day combined with this loss, and never resumed command of
his division. He died in January 1863 of heart disease. Burnside was
especially saddened since the Kingsbury family was well known to him and his
wife and he once had acted as conservator for Kingsbury. The men mourned as
they buried their dead near the edge of the open woods on the bluff above the
bridge. The 11th's monument dedicated on 11 October 1895 stands on the east
side of Antietam Creek in the woods south of the bridge with the names of
thirty seven who died that day. The sturdy granite monument appears as solid as
the men it honors.
Fig. B. 11th Connecticut Infantry monument (front view), Rohrbach Road in
Image from Stephen Recker, Virtual Antietam;
http://www.virtualantietam.com/monuments/detail.cfm?curMon=022sr.; used with
Fig. C. 11th Connecticut Infantry monument
(rear view), Antietam Creek in background. Image from U.S. National Park
Show Footnotes and
. D. Scott Hartwig, "Who Would Not Be a Soldier: The Volunteers of '62 in
the Maryland Campaign," in The Antietam Campaign, ed. Gary W.
Gallagher, (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
Hartwig estimates that about twenty percent of McClellan's strength was
composed of raw recruits with little or no training and therefore
"significantly affected its mobility and combat effectiveness….McClellan's new
regiments lacked discipline; most of their company and many of their field
officers were unfamiliar or uncomfortable with their duties and
responsibilities… [and] exhibited incredible ignorance of elementary commands
and duties" 147. These regiments would find themselves fighting against Lee's
veterans and would be severely tried despite their best efforts, 162.
. James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2002), 8-9. McPherson believes that the battle
"changed the course of the war…[because it] arrested Southern military
momentum, forestalled foreign recognition of the Confederacy, reversed a
disastrous decline in the morale of Northern soldiers and civilians, and
offered Lincoln the opportunity to issue a proclamation of emancipation, (xvi).
McPherson's book is the best single, short volume to date summarizing the
totality of the Antietam Campaign discussing the events, political and
military, leading up to the campaign as well as briefly talking about the
battles themselves, and their aftermath.
. One of the best accounts of the Peninsular Campaign is found in Stephen W.
Sears, To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, (New York:
Ticknor & Fields, 1992). Sears, like most other historians, found McClellan
the primary culprit in turning an arguably certain Union victory culminating in
the capture of Richmond, to a resounding failure. Clearly, the replacement of
Johnston by Lee materially aided in McClellan's defeat but it must be left to
conjecture the outcome of the campaign had Johnston remained in command of the
Confederate army. In another book, Stephen W. Sears, Landscape Turned Red: The
Battle of Antietam, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983), he gives
the best in depth study of the Maryland Campaign and must be read to fully
understand this campaign.
. The best sources for Lee's and Jefferson Davis's strategic thinking for
the Maryland Campaign is found in two books both by Joseph L Harsh, Confederate
Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861 – 1862,
(Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1998); and, Taken at the Flood:
Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862,
(Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999). Arguably the most thorough
books written on Lee's strategy and tactics from the Peninsular Campaign
through the Maryland Campaign, Professor Harsh dissects virtually every
document available to Lee to give a comprehensive description and analysis of
Lee's and his army's actions. These indispensable books are enhanced by his
third book, Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland
Campaign of 1862, (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2000),
which provides additional discussion for controversial points in the other two
books and also gives details of more mundane items such as weather information
available for the days of the campaign. He adds helpful information such as the
order of battle for the Army of Northern Virginia enhancing this by discussing
in depth its organization. Harsh is less critical than most about McClellan's
actions during the Maryland Campaign but arguably harsher on Lee and some of
his lieutenants than most historians. Regardless, these three books must form
the basis of any study of the Maryland Campaign. Unless otherwise stated, all
references below to "Harsh" pertain to Taken at the Flood.
. Harsh, 252. Harsh is in the minority asserting that McClellan, given all
the circumstances, did well in his pursuit of Lee even before the famous "Lost
Order" was found. This order, Special Order 191, showed McClellan the
disposition of Lee's forces and allowed the Union commander to hasten his
pursuit even though he still was concerned about the strength of Lee's army—the
order had no information about strength. Here, as on the Peninsula, McClellan
was convinced he was heavily outnumbered thus constraining, in his mind, his
options. Harsh argues that given the abilities of his army, McClellan could not
have done much more than he did after finding the order, 241. For details
surrounding the Lost Order see Wilbur D. Jones, "Who Lost the Lost Order?," Civil
War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War, vol. 5, no. 3,
(1997). In this thorough article, Jones argues convincingly that the most
likely culprit was Henry Kyd Douglas.
. Harsh, 201. Stonewall Jackson's lackluster march to Martinsburg and
failure to capture the Union troops fleeing to Harper's Ferry led to Lee's plan
falling further behind requiring the siege of Harper's Ferry.
. U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols.,
(Washington, DC: GPO, 1880-1901; reprint, Harrisburg: Broadfoot Publishing
Company, 1985), pt. 1, vol. 19, 140; hereafter cited as OR; all citations are
to vol. 19 unless otherwise stated (page citations are to the reprint edition).
. Mark A. Snell, From First to Last: The Life of Major General William B.
Franklin, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), 185-186. While
Snell finds less fault with the Union thrust and subsequent lethargy than do
most others, he admits that the several hours that the Union commander,
Franklin, wasted the day of the Battle of Crampton's Gap and the day after
sealed the fate of the Harper's Ferry garrison.
. W. A. Croffut and John M. Morris, The Military and Civil History of
Connecticut during the War of 1861-65, (New York: Ledyard Bill, 1868;
reprint, Newport, VT: Tony O'Connor Vt. Civil War Enterprises, n.d. ), 299
(page citations are to the reprint edition); Capt. Isaac W. Heysinger, Antietam
and the Maryland and Virginia Campaigns of 1862, (New York, The Neale
Publishing Company, 1912; reprint, Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books, Inc.,
1987), 70 (page citations are to the reprint edition).
. John Niven, Connecticut for the Union: The Role of the State in the Civil
War, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 100. The regiment lost
heavily in officers including its colonel and lieutenant colonel, Williams.
. Blaikie Hines, Civil War Volunteer Sons of Connecticut, (Thomaston,
ME: American Patriot Press, 2002), 142; Croffut and Morris, 261-262. But see
John Michael Priest, Before Antietam: The Battle for South Mountain, (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 111, where he quotes an observation by a
Union cavalryman who witnessed three infantryman wounded by a cannonball on 13
September possibly from the 11th Connecticut. No other sources confirm these
casualties from a Connecticut unit, however.
. Snell, 194-195.
. Harsh, 423.
. Harsh, 437-440, 453. Harsh finds less fault with McClellan's decision not
to attack than most other historians after reviewing what McClellan likely knew
about his army's status and what he reasonably could have known about Lee's.
. Harsh, 466-467.
. Croffut and Morris, 223-225. Note that the OR, ser. 3, vol.3, shows 968
on the muster-in rolls (203); it is likely that more than these 47 men were
missing from the firing line at Antietam.
. Samuel W. Fiske, Mr. Dunn Browne's Experiences in the Army: The Civil War
Letters of Samuel W. Fiske, ed. Stephen W. Sears, (New York: Fordham
University Press, 1998), 3.
. Hines, 165.
. Croffut and Morris, 260.
. Janet B. Hewett, et al., ed., Supplement to the Official Records of the
Union and Confederate Armies: Record of Events, pt. II, vol. 4;
(Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994) 243. Benjamin Hirst, The Boys
from Rockville: Civil War Narratives of Sgt. Benjamin Hirst, Company D, 14th
Connecticut Volunteers, ed. Robert L. Bee, (Knoxville, TN: The
University of Tennessee Press, 1998), 6.
. Hirst, 6.
. OR, pt. 1, 173.
. Hirst, 16-19. Compare Fiske lamenting the extensive foraging of the army
so that nothing "eatable within a circle of two or three miles" is left after
it passes (5).
. Priest, 138.
. Ibid., 140. Unfortunately, in their excitement and haste they did not
search all the buildings thoroughly leaving a few Confederates still hidden.
. Priest, 144-145.
. Niven, 218.
. Croffut and Morris, 268-269.
. OR, pt. 1, (193) showing 20 KIA, 88 WIA, and 48 captured or
missing. Compare with Charles D. Page, History of the Fourteenth Regiment,
Connecticut Vol. Infantry, (Meriden, CT: The Horton Printing Company,
1906; reprint, Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company, 1998), (49), (page citations
are to the reprint edition), where he shows total casualties of 137: 21 KIA, 88
WIA, and 28 missing. It is probable that his numbers based on a report of the
Adjutant-General of Connecticut is more accurate compiled some years after the
report in the OR; some of the missing likely returned. The 14th's
losses at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862 may be higher depending on
which totals are compared.
. Hirst, 20-21.
. Fiske, 9-11. Compare the 14th's relatively good performance this day with
another green Connecticut regiment, the 16th which "dissolved" when attacked on
the far left flank of the Union line. Hartwig (143) states that most green
regiments "proved to be a hindrance in combat, and despite enthusiastic courage
they proved largely detrimental to Union success."
. OR, pt. 1, 333. This total of 1,000 enemy dead almost certainly
included deaths inflicted by other regiments of Morris's Brigade as well as
other Union units in the fields facing the Sunken Road.
. Ibid., 200.
. Ibid., 334.
. Page, 359-361. The monument was placed near the left of the regiment on
the line of companies B and G. It is eighteen feet, nine inches tall, and
inscriptions on its four sides include the state seal, corps badge, and
descriptions of the regiment's Antietam effort and also a summary of its battle
losses during the entire war. These numbers show a total of 1,712 mustered and
enlisted during the war and a total loss of over 75 percent: 1,286 killed,
wounded, died of disease, or discharged for disability. This extraordinarily
high percentage could be reduced since it is likely that some men may have been
counted in two categories, e.g., wounded and died of disease, or wounded and
discharged for disability. A close study of the records of all 1,712 in the
regiment would be needed to confirm the exact percentage. Note that the
National Park Service Antietam National Battlefield shows a different
dedication date for all four Connecticut monuments: 8 October 1894;
http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/usmonuments.htm; Internet; accessed 4
January 2007. It may be that the veterans visit was, at least to them, the
"real" dedication date versus the Federal government's determination.
. Hines, 141. Compare mustering in number of 920 in OR, ser. III, vol. 3,
. Hines, 142; David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, "Joseph King Fenno
Mansfield," in Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and
Military History, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds., (New York:
W.W. Norton, 2000), 328; William Marvel, Burnside, Chapel Hill, NC: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 32-33; Niven, 149, 151. Ambrose E.
Burnside, "The Burnside Expedition, in "Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel,
eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Being for the Most Part
Contributions by Union and Confederate Officers Based upon "The Century War
Series," (New York: Castle Books, 1956), vol. 1, 661, 665.
. OR, ser. 1, vol. 9, 211, 234, 237. But see Hines showing sixteen
wounded (142) vice twenty-one in the OR. Hines (145) also adds six
more casualties after the battle at New Berne including one drowning one
wounded at Newport News, Virginia.
. Croffut and Morris, 256-257. The change was not met complacently as there
were threats of mutiny but the new commander held firm, much to the regiment's
. Croffut and Morris, 260-261. Contained here is a reference to the
apocryphal story of ninety-five year old Barbara Freitchie. She was
immortalized in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier for keeping the U.S. flag
flying in Stonewall Jackson's face despite Confederate occupation of Frederick
and their threats to her. See Minoa Uffelman, "Barbara Frietschie," Heidler,
. Priest (111) quotes a 1st Massachusetts cavalryman stating that three
infantrymen were wounded in the legs by a solid shot. Another purported
eyewitness, Capt. Wolcott P. Marsh of the 8th Connecticut says that after
marching about three miles west out of Frederick to the Catoctin Mountains, a
rebel shot took off a leg for three men in the 11th . Wolcott P. Marsh,
unpublished letters from the private collection of Jerry Mercer and descendant
accessed 1 January 2007. Closer examination of these two reports are needed
because official reports show only one man wounded in the 11th and that was at
South Mountain on 14 September, Hines (145). Hines also shows that none of the
three Connecticut regiments have any casualties on 13 September, but the 8th
shows two wounded on the 14th, one at South Mountain and the other at Bolivar
Heights which is just to the east of South Mountain (118). The exact locations
and dates of injuries are unclear.
. Croffut and Morris, 264-265.
. Marvel, 123-126, 129-130. It was obvious that Burnside and Hooker
despised each other so McClellan's decision may not have been a completely bad
one except of its demoralizing effect on Burnside. Given what McClellan did
with the 1st Corps and his personal affronts to Burnside, Burnside's reaction
should not be surprising except that his professionalism and patriotism should
have arguably overcome his personal feelings.
. U.S. War Department, The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War: Atlas
to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,
(Washington, DC: GPO, 1891-1895; reprint, New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1978),
plates XXVII-XXIX ) (plate citations are to the reprint edition).
. Marvel, 134; Murfin, 268-269.
. Ibid., 135.
. OR, pt. 1, 197, 452-453; William A. Frassanito, Antietam: The
Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day, New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1978), 224-230; Hines lists total casualties of 148 for 17
September (145); Nevins, 220; Priest, 218-220; Croffut and Morris, 266-267;
Connecticut Adjutants General, Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the Army
and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, (Hartford,
CT: Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1889; reprinted, Salem,
MA: Higginson Book Company, 1998), 433 (page citations are to the reprint
. Priest, 259; OR, pt. 1, 454. See an exciting but probably
apocryphal account of its actions in Croffut and Morris (273-274) where a Lt.
Converse in a letter to a newspaper describes how an aide to Rodman purposely
misled the 11th so it could not cross the bridge to join in the fight; it did,
however, save a battery once it crossed on its own but was forced to retreat
because of the precipitate retreat of the 16th and 4th Rhode Island.
. Priest, 308.
. Marvel, 37-38, 136; "[Kingsbury] was Adjutant of the Corps of Cadets [at
West Point],...was frequently mentioned in his letters, and was greatly beloved
by all who knew him." Robert G. Carter, Four Brothers in Blue or Sunshine and
Shadows of the War of the Rebellion, Austin, TX: University of Texas
Press, 1978, 112.
. Croffut and Morris, 275.
The author wishes to thank Brian Downey, creator of "Antietam on the Web" (http://aotw.org/), and Stephen Recker, creator of "Stephen Recker's Virtual Antietam (http://www.virtualantietam.com/) both for permission to use their photographs and maps and their encouragement to me during the writing of this paper.
Copyright © 2007 Laurence Freiheit.
Written by Larry Freiheit. If you have questions or comments on this
article, please contact Larry Freiheit at:
About the author:
Larry Freiheit, a Civil War historian and author, has published an article on Jeb Stuart during the Maryland Campaign on a website dedicated to the Antietam battle, an article in the "Washington Times" about Jeb Stuart, and a book review and articles on the Military History Online website.
Freiheit retired in 2000 from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. He is completing his master’s degree in military studies with a Civil War concentration at American Public University. Freiheit has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Connecticut State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is a member of the Society for Military History, The Society of Civil War Historians, and the Delta Epsilon Tau International Honor Society. He is a Vietnam veteran having served in the Marine Corps and also served in an Army Reserve Military Intelligence Battalion and an Army National Guard infantry battalion.
Published online: 12/09/2007.
* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent
those of MHO.