|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 2 of 2
V. Eighth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
The 8th regiment, 995 strong, was mustered into Federal service on 5 October
1861 and spent two weeks in a camp of instruction on Long Island, New York,
with Colonel Edward Harland in command. It was fortunate having him as
commander since the well-to-do lawyer and close friend of the governor made
sure that it was well-equipped before it left the state. On 1 November it
boarded a boat for Annapolis, Maryland, where they joined the 11th Connecticut
as part of Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's secret Expeditionary Corps on the way
to the coast of North Carolina. As already noted for the 11th Connecticut, a
stormy passage ensued but the 8th, unlike the 11th, was not shipwrecked as it
weathered the storms on the bark J.P. Brookman and the steamship New
Brunswick.  After the fleet reunited at Fort Monroe, it set sail
again and the survivors of the storms reunited off the coast near Hatteras
Inlet and proceeded to attack Roanoke Island.
At Roanoke Island, the 8th was in reserve suffering no casualties. However,
about a month later on 14 March, the 8th found itself at sea heading for the
city of New Berne. About sixteen miles below the city, the boats became stuck
in the mud so the men disembarked, and after joining with the 11th Connecticut
which had arrived after its shipwreck adventure, marched to New Berne. The
Union force totaling 12,000 men and eight pieces of field artillery faced 8,000
well-entrenched and fortified Confederates with forty-one heavy guns and
nineteen field pieces. The 8th was in Reno's brigade on the extreme right and
flanked the Confederate line which began to collapse finally fleeing through
New Berne leaving behind 578 casualties and 66 pieces of artillery. The 8th
suffered only six casualties.
Burnside, obviously happy with his successes, now quickly moved on to capture
with little resistance Carolina City, Morehead City, and Beaufort but the fort
at Macon resisted surrender demands. With its 67 guns and 500 men, it resisted
for a month until Burnside's siege guns combined with the news of the loss of
the large Confederate fort near Charleston, South Carolina, forced its
surrender on 25 April. Burnside now rested for two months allowing the 8th and
11th to have a small vacation on the North Carolina coast camping near New
Berne. In early July, it moved by train and ship to Newport News, Virginia,
resting another month before joining with the 11th Connecticut on the way to
Fredericksburg, Virginia. There they camped across the Rappahannock River from
the city spending August doing picket duty with the 11th. Ordered to
Washington, D.C., they arrived on 3 September and camped on Capitol Hill until
8 September when they began their march west to join the Army of the Potomac in
its chase after Lee. Along with the 11th and 16th Connecticut and the 4th
Rhode Island, they became part of Burnside's 9th Corps, Rodman's 3d Division,
in Harland's 2d Brigade. Because Harland had taken command of the 2d Brigade,
Lt. Col. Hiram Appelman took command of the 8th Connecticut.
As already seen, the 8th and 11th followed Lee's army from Frederick, Maryland,
through the Catoctin Mountains, to the foot of South Mountain near Turner's
Pass where the regiments supported the cavalry. Then both regiments marched to
Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg arriving on 16 September. It was the next
morning when the fortunes of the 8th diverged from those of the 11th: the
latter was chosen by Burnside to help take the Lower Bridge at about 10 A.M.
while the 8th remained with the 2d Brigade closer to Snavely's Ford under the
Confederate-occupied western bluffs across the Antietam.
Rodman's division crossed Antietam Creek at Snavely's Ford at about 1 P.M., the
same time Burnside's other units finally fought their way across the Lower
Bridge to the north. Rodman's division was to link up with those units and join
them in angling to their right joining in on the attack on Sharpsburg.
Fig. 6. Rodman's Division crosses at Snavely's Ford: 1:00 P.M.
Map from website: "Antietam on the Web;"
http://aotw.org/maps.php?map_number=10; Internet, accessed 10 January 2007,
used with permission.
Rodman did not know the terrain over which his division had to pass nor was he
at all aware of the approach of A.P. Hill's division crossing the Potomac ford
after its forced march from Harper's Ferry. After all of Burnside's brigades
rested and resupplied following the three-hour fight to cross the Antietam,
Harland's brigade continued its sweep around the Confederate right threatening
to cut it off from its Potomac ford.
Fig. 7. Burnside climbs toward Sharpsburg: 3:30 P.M.
Map from website: "Antietam on the Web;"
http://aotw.org/maps.php?map_number=11; Internet, accessed 10 January 2007,
used with permission.
Rodman was delayed in linking up with Willcox's Division to the north by the
stubborn defense of some Confederate units under Toombs which were the
residuals of the regiments forced back from the bluffs overlooking the Lower
Bridge. After the Union units to the north had received more ammunition the
advance continued. At about 4 P.M. Harland ordered his three regiments to
advance but apparently only the 8th heard the order and moved forward. Harland
sent his aide to hurry up the other two regiments. Then, Rodman riding up
ordered Harland to stay with the 8th trying to catch up and support General
Willcox's 89th New York; Harland accompanied the 8th as it continued on its
advance forward and to its right. Rodman then left to go after the 16th and the
4th Rhode Island but just as he turned to leave, he was fatally wounded.
Harland, still nearby, took command.
The 8th was alone about a half mile from its starting point with the brigade;
it was only 120 yards from the Harper's Ferry Road near a battery of abandoned
Confederate cannon, the South Carolina Pee Dee battery, which they and the 9th
New York had taken. But then, they saw Confederate troops advancing on the road
from the west. Confederate General Toombs saw the 8th "standing composedly in
line of battle" apparently waiting for support. The 8th in its forward position
was under heavy artillery and musket and took about fifty percent casualties, a
severe loss demonstrating the fury it faced: 34 killed, 139 wounded, and 21
missing. A company commander described the fight:
"bullets came in terrible showers and from all sides of us…but we were trapped
on our left flank…full of rebels. Where was our support [?]. Where was the
first brigade none of them to be seen on the right where they had gone. Where
was the 16th and 4th regit. who were on left? It was death to remain in this
advanced position longer. The Lt. Colonel was wounded and taken to the rear 6
out of my little company of 39 men lay dead at my feet and some 15 had been
wounded…My Lt. also wounded. I had but seven men left of my company [after
detaching 4]. [A]fter forming we marched down to creek… [a] sad exhausted
The major reason for this heavy loss was that it faced the Confederates by
itself on a plateau because its two sister regiments, the 16th Connecticut and
4th Rhode Island, never made it out of the 40-acre cornfield located in a
hollow to the southeast. While some of the 8th retreated without firing a shot,
most of the veterans, according to an unidentified officer of the 37th North
Carolina, it "'held ground quite stubbornly, fought splendidly, and went off
very deliberately, firing back at [us] and waving its flag.'"
Fig. 8. Confederate General Hill hits Burnside's flank: 4:20 P.M.
Map from website: "Antietam on the Web;"
http://aotw.org/maps.php?map_number=12; Internet, accessed 10 January 2007,
used with permission.
Harland's aide had found the 16th Connecticut with its 900 raw recruits and
ordered it up to rejoin the 8th, but a Confederate regiment opened fire from a
few yards away on its left flank; the 16th's colonel ordered it to change front
but the men had little idea how to accomplish this complicated maneuver. A few
minutes later, after leaving over three hundred casualties in the cornfield now
turned red, the survivors ran toward the Antietam. The 16th Connecticut and
4th Rhode Island had been hit in the left flank by the full fury of Gregg's
brigade of Hill's division in a downhill attack sustaining 285 casualties in
the two regiments within minutes. Just to the northwest at about the same time,
the 8th was hit on its left flank by Confederate Brig. Gen. O'Brien Branch's
brigade; Branch was killed in that attack while 346 in his brigade joined him
The two-hour respite given the Confederates had allowed them to fall back and
regroup; and this also permitted the unexpected arrival of Hill's division
which extended the Confederate right beyond the Union line. McClellan's total
failure to make any use of the 4,000 cavalry he had available for scouting and
reconnaissance allowed Hill to approach undetected. Burnside's assault was in
jeopardy even though Hill was able to bring only about 2,000 men against
Burnside's several thousand; Hill's depleted brigades were able to take
Rodman's division in its left flank and combined with the element of surprise
against the green troops, resulted in a rout.
The remnants of the 14th Connecticut and 4th Rhode Island retreated as fast as
they could to the east with only a few pausing to fire at the pursuing
Confederates. Men continued to be hit as the Confederates continued their
pursuit soon threatening to push the men into the Antietam. However, closer to
the creek, Ohio regiments which had formed a line behind the shattered remains
of Harland's brigade were able to stem the Rebel tide just before dark. The
8th, from its isolated position ahead of and to the north of its brigade,
retreated more towards the northeast ending up on the Rohrbach Bridge Road
moving south on the road to rejoin the rest of the brigade. Fortunately for the
Union regiments on the west bank, Confederate officers had decided not to
continue the attack. The shaken survivors of Harland's brigade could now try to
rest amid the moans of the wounded and dying. The 8th had sustained its highest
loss it would experience during the entire war: 194 men killed wounded and
Fig. 9. Connecticut regiments at Burnside Bridge: 5:30 P.M.
At the upper left and center, the 8th retreats to the Burnside Bridge
(Rohrbach) Road while the 16th joins the 11th to help form a line at the right
lower section of the map. Detail from the Library of Congress Cope Antietam
maps; Internet; http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl; accessed 10 January
The monument for the 8th Connecticut was dedicated on 11 October 1895; it is
located near its most advanced position east of the Harper's Ferry Road. The
imposing monument is fittingly located next to the mortuary cannon for General
Rodman, its division commander.
Fig. D. 8th Connecticut Infantry monument
Front view, Antietam Creek in rear towards hills. Image from U.S. National Park
Service; http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/mnt-ct-8.htm; Internet;
accessed 10 January 2007.
VI. Sixteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
The 16th Connecticut was mustered into Federal service on 24 August 1862 one
day after the 14th was mustered in. At an inspection on 28 August during which
several men fainted due to the heat, many realized that the equipment they
proposed to carry was not realistic and so commenced the reduction in the size
of accoutrements which all new recruits undergo, including steel vests. The
regiment, 1,010 strong, boarded steamers and left for New York City where they
boarded another boat bound for Elizabeth, New Jersey. They finally arrived in
Washington, D.C., by train on 29 August and went into camp on Arlington
Heights. After being moved to Fort Ward spending the first night in the rain
without tents, they spent a few days in camp still without their tents but
fortunately without precipitation. Like the 14th Connecticut before them, the
men marveled at the new sights they saw in the capitol—the swarms of
African-Americans, the squalor of much of the city, and the thousands of
soldiers and civilians that the war effort had brought there. Like all new
regiments most of the men were visiting the city for the first time, and they
also were undertaking martial affairs as a new vocation, so their wonderment is
They then packed up for their march west beginning on 7 September to catch up
with the rest of their 2nd Brigade which had preceded them by a few days. In
light marching order, they proceeded during the next few days to travel through
Maryland camping near Leesboro, Brookville, Mount Lebanon, New Market, and then
Frederick where, arriving on 14 September, they camped outside of town. The
nights in camp after long marches were made more enjoyable since, even as new
troops, they quickly learned that foraging would be needed to supplement meager
or missing rations. They, like other Union troops who marched through
Frederick, also enjoyed the warm greetings they received from its citizens.
Again, like the other green regiment, the 14th, they gazed in shock at the
destruction that the fighting the days before their arrival had caused:
Confederate dead were still unburied as were dead animals; destroyed civilian
and military property lined the roads.
On 15 September, the 16th marched west on the National Road still trying to
catch up with the rest of their brigade; it camped at the foot of South
Mountain near Turner's Gap where Union soldiers fought the Battle of South
Mountain the day before successfully pushing Lee's troops off to the west. On
16 September, they marched through the battlefield and continued over the
mountain through Boonsboro to the west of Turner's Gap then south to
Keedysville where it rested before continuing on to end a very long day of
marching by joining its brigade near Antietam Creek. As they passed their
fellow "fresh fish" in the 14th Connecticut who had left Hartford a few days
before the 16th, they gave the newcomers a hearty greeting as their regimental
commander, Col. Francis Beach, reported in to the brigade commander, Colonel
Harland. They had averaged about fifteen miles a day of hot, dusty
marching, a grueling introduction to army life, leaving many stragglers in its
wake. After seeing the devastation on its march west from Frederick and over
South Mountain, the men had to know that their turn would soon come. And those
who contemplated their baptism of fire very likely reflected on their entire
lack of training and little knowledge of martial ways, and found little sleep
that rainy night. Tomorrow would be their twenty-fifth day since being sworn
into Federal service, and by the end of that first day of battle, 223 of those
restless sleepers men would fall.
The 16th's introduction to battle the next morning came early as Confederate
batteries fired on the brigade causing it to be moved to a more sheltered
location closer to Antietam Creek; this movement resulted in several men being
wounded as it had to maneuver in sight of the enemy. The brigade was able
to take cover closer to the creek behind some low hills out of direct sight of
the hill on which the Confederates were dug in on the west side of the creek.
The regiment, following the 8th, then continued to move to the left endeavoring
to flank the Confederates at the Lower Bridge; they forded at Snavely's Ford,
about shoulder high for some at 1 P.M., then moved to the north climbing an
incline. They then halted awaiting the report from a company which was sent
ahead to scout the area. As that company returned, the Confederates, some of
whom were those who had retreated from the Union assault at the bridge, noticed
the regiment and it came under artillery fire. A Union battery was brought up
and the regiment supported it as it silenced the Confederate guns. The ominous
message from the Federal signal station on Elk Mountain signaled the doom of
Harland's brigade and all of the other units heading for the town of
Sharpsburg: "To General Burnside: Look out well on your left; the enemy are
moving a strong force in that direction." Colonel Beach had sent his noisy,
unruly 16th ahead of the battery forming a line northwest with the 4th Rhode
Island on its right in the middle of a cornfield. The 8th Connecticut was
already ahead of the two regiments on their right. Colonel Harland had ordered
the whole brigade to move up to maintain contact with Colonel Fairchild's to
the right but the 16th and 4th Rhode Island did not hear the order. Just then,
Confederate infantry appeared on the 16th's front and left flank. They were
confronting veteran South Carolina regiments in Maxcy Gregg's brigade to their
front and left flank. The large size of the Connecticut unit, some 700 to 900
strong, probably impressed the South Carolinians especially compared to their
decimated units: many had been left along the route of their difficult forced
march up from Harper's Ferry. Some of the South Carolina units were behind a
stone wall to the Nutmegger's front.
Colonel Beach tried to refuse the left companies to meet this threat planning
to have the 4th Rhode Island, still to his left rear, conform to this alignment
and extend the left flank which was in the air. Unfortunately, the green
officers and men did not understand the orders even if they could hear the
Colonel's commands. The regiment was ordered to fix bayonets but most
participants did not believe that this was given preparatory to making a
charge, but rather perhaps to repel one. In addition, the 4th Rhode Island
was firing into the 8th and if that was not confusing enough, many of the South
Carolinians to their front and left flank were wearing Union blue. Apparently
many of the Confederate units which had just come up from Harper's Ferry had
taken advantage of the new uniforms worn by surrendered Union forces there.
Thus, it appeared to the shaken 16th than they were being attacked from three
sides at once and by Union soldiers. Even veteran troops likely would have
panicked in this situation so it is not surprising that these green troops
broke for the rear. Depending on who told the story of the ensuing scene, the
troops were "[b]roken and shattered[;] the regiment… [left] the field by routes
of our own choosing." The 4th Rhode Island accused the Connecticut troops
of breaking leading to the 4th's retreat while the 16th said that "the 4th
Rhode Island broke to the rear and plunged through [our]... moving
The 223 men lost in the 16th were the highest of the Connecticut units at
Antietam reflecting the ferocity of the fire in the cornfield and the
inexperience of the unit. The large number also was obviously due to the
large size of the new regiment even though it was not up to full strength since
stragglers from its forced marches continued to arrive the next day.
Needless to say, having untested regiments at a crucial point on the Union line
was a critical failure of the Union high command. Had not the Southern
commanders on the scene halted attacks late that day, it is possible that the
9th Corps could have been pushed back across the Antietam with even heavier
losses. The 16th's inexperience under fire is clearly shown in comparing
the casualties of the two South Carolina regiments who fought the Nutmeggers:
the South Carolina regiments "had very likely inflicted casualties of eight or
nine to one in their engagement with the 16th." The regiment stayed the
next day on the field and then camped near Antietam Furnace on the Harper's
The monument to the 16th is located about one-half mile to the east of Harper's
Ferry Road and 700 yards southeast of the 8th Connecticut's monument. This
tall, obelisk-shaped monument, is unlike the other three regiments' as it is
made up of many pieces of variegated colored stone vice monochromatic large
blocks. The monument states that it was erected at the position of the regiment
at 5 P.M. and that the regiment sustained 204 killed and wounded out of 779
engaged, a 26 percent loss. The regiment's luck continued to be bad as it never
had a chance to exact revenge for Antietam. It saw sporadic fighting until
April 1864 when most of it was captured at Plymouth, North Carolina;
transported to the infamous Andersonville, Georgia, prison camp, two hundred
died. While soon after the battle, some participants recorded the panic and
poor performance of the unit, Connecticut newspapers and other veterans then
and later glossed over their failures and emphasized the positive aspects of
which there were few. The 16th was the "bad luck" regiment at Antietam and for
the duration of the war.
*Data from OR, pt. 1, 193, 197.
Table of Connecticut Regimental Losses during the Maryland Campaign*
||Captured of Missing
The data clearly show the plight of the veteran 8th which was almost surrounded
so lost most heavily. That its officers desperately tried to hold the unit
together is demonstrated as 10 were wounded in the attempt. The 11th's smaller
losses reflect that after their suicidal attempt at Burnside Bridge, they were
little involved. The 14th which fortunately found cover and did not closely
assault Bloody Lane suffered fewer killed and wounded than their green
counterpart, the 16th. The 16th which was heavily involved lost the most in
killed and wounded during their precipitous retreat having none captured. This
green regiment also lost the most officers killed as they were caught as
surprised and unprepared as their men.
Because the number of men actually brought to the firing line cannot be
accurately determined the percent of loss for each regiment of men involved is
not presented here. Such numbers as can be estimated are noted in the
discussions for each regiment.
Fig. E. 16th Connecticut Infantry monument
Antietam Creek in rear of picture. Image from U.S. National Park Service;
http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/mnt-ct-16.htm; Internet; accessed 10
VII. Maj. Gen. Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Union Maj. Gen. Joseph King Fenno Mansfield's role during the Maryland Campaign
in September 1862 was regrettably brief given his long and distinguished
forty-year military career in the U.S. Army. His participation in the Battle of
Antietam was cut short only two days after he took command of the 12th Corps to
which he was assigned by order of Maj. Gen. McClellan on 15 September 1862.
Coincidentally, another Connecticut native who declined the honor of the
command of the 12th, Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, was McClellan's first choice to
command the 12th Corps.
Fig. F. Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Source: Library of Congress
Mansfield was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on 22 December 1803 as the
youngest child of six children to Henry and Mary (Fenno) Mansfield both of old
and distinguished American colonist stock. He moved to Middletown, Connecticut,
in 1804 after his mother divorced. His brother, John, who became his guardian,
died from an illness contracted after leading an infantry unit in Lower Canada
in the War of 1812. Joseph was educated in public schools and was
remembered as one who was made to feel that he should depend upon himself,
perhaps not unexpected in a family without a father. His military career
began at the age of thirteen upon his entrance into the U.S. Military
Academy in October 1817 the youngest in his class. The Mansfield family
history likely helped young Joseph's aspirations to military service. He had an
uncle in the military service, Jared Mansfield, who not only fueled his
desires for martial endeavors, but helped obtain Joseph's admission to West
After graduating second in his class of forty to his cousin, George Dutton, in
1822, he was brevetted a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers where the
best and most promising were appointed. Just a few weeks later he was appointed
a regular second lieutenant but, as was not unusual in the peace-time army, had
to wait ten years to become a first lieutenant being appointed in March 1832.
The same year he was promoted to captain, 1838, he married Louisa Mary Mather,
who was from a wealthy New England family. He spent his career in the Corps
of Engineers until after the Mexican War when in 1853 he was unexpectedly
appointed a regular army colonel and inspector general of the army by Secretary
of War Jefferson Davis. Davis, a Mexican War veteran and hero, who had heard of
Mansfield's experience during that war was obviously impressed by his bravery
and dedication. As Davis remembered, Mansfield's service during the Mexican
War, a training ground for many future Civil War generals, was excellent.
Prior to the Mexican War, Mansfield had spent twenty years mainly in
supervising the building of forts, such as Fort Hamilton in New York Harbor,
Fort Monroe on the Virginia peninsula, and Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia,
where he oversaw construction from 1831 until 1845. While he was a
superior, dedicated engineer, he was not known for his felicitous prose nor
elocutionary prowess, but rather for his direct, sound and thorough writing and
In Mexico, Captain Mansfield was the chief engineer of Brig. Gen. Zachary
Taylor's army responsible for doing field surveys and building field
fortifications such as Fort Texas near Matamoras, Mexico; he was brevetted
major for gallantry and distinctive service while helping defend that fort.
But his efforts there were not confined to mundane matters: he directly
participated in assaults on Mexican positions most notably during the Battle of
Monterrey where he was far out in front designating points for attacking units.
Both he and his companion topographical engineer officer were wounded,
Mansfield sustaining a severe leg wound which kept him out of action for six
weeks while his compatriot was mortally wounded. He remained on the
battleground pointing out other avenues of approach for the attacking infantry
units until his wounds forced him to leave the field. He was this time
brevetted to lieutenant colonel for gallantry and meritorious service. Finally,
he recovered to participate in the Battle of Buena Vista for which he was
brevetted colonel, one of only a few to receive three such brevets during the
Appointed by Davis as inspector general in 1853 after a tour as a member of the
Army Board of Engineers, he spent the years up to 1861visiting, inspecting, and
reporting on virtually every post west of the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean
and from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. He performed his duties
well and managed to stay out of the internecine quarrels between the commanding
general, Winfield Scott and the Secretary of War, Davis. Mansfield was
described "as an 'exceedingly energetic and productive inspector general'…was
his own man, and managed to avoid the bitter political struggle by remaining
constantly in the field." He was also noted for his diligence and sobriety
helped by his religious convictions.
As an experienced regular army officer, and a highly capable engineer,
Mansfield was able to quickly assume the oversight of the construction of
defenses for Washington, D.C. at the start of the Civil War. He was ordered by
President Lincoln to take over its defenses in April 1861 where he commanded
until March 1862; he was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army in
May 1861. While some friends urged him to retire, he said that "'I owe my
country every hour that remains of my life; and, in such a struggle as is now
endangering her existence, I can not and shall not refuse to answer her
call.'" Mansfield, with an engineer's eye, saw that the heights in
Arlington, Virginia, made low-lying Washington vulnerable to artillery fire so
they must be secured. Additionally, he recommended fortifying southern
approaches to the bridges linking Washington with Virginia and seizing the port
of Alexandria, Virginia. All his recommendations were followed once Virginia
seceded from the Union.
He was next sent to Fort Monroe and served somewhat unhappily under Brig. Gen.
John Wool doing little of import commanding a division at Suffolk and
participating in the capture of Norfolk. He was noted for ordering shore
batteries at Hampton Roads to continue firing at the Confederate ironclad
Virginia after the Union ship it was battling, the Congress, surrendered.
"When one of his own officers protested that the enemy had the right to take
possession unmolested once the Congress struck her flag, [Mansfield]
replied "'I know the damned ship has surrendered, but we haven't! (emphasis in
The old army regular was anxious to command a major unit in the field and was
disappointed that younger men and even some, like Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck and
Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont, who were once his subordinates, were placed over him
in higher commands. He likely was not high on the government's lists for
appointment to important field command since he had spent much of his career as
a staff officer and had spent no time commanding troops until the Civil
War. Certainly his age, fifty seven at the war's beginning, was not in his
favor although he was not the oldest regular army corps commander on active
service; that honor belonged to Maj. Gen. Edwin Sumner, Mansfield's wing
commander at Antietam, who was sixty five. It also may be that he did not
have or use sufficient political influence in his endeavors to secure field
command and thought to rely on his long and distinguished service:
"It might have been supposed that an officer of so much experience, skill and
courage, would, when military capacity was so much needed, have been placed in
important commands, now filled by his inferiors. It is sufficient to say, that
he was not one of those who are constantly demanding place and reward at the
hands of the Government. He pleaded no political influence, and left place to
follow his work, not to be sought after. These are not times when silent merit
takes precedence, or fit men are always put in fit places."
He returned to Washington doing little of consequence awaiting another
assignment. He did, however, meet with friends in Washington including an
audience with Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, on 8 September
perhaps helped by his Connecticut friend, Secretary of the Navy Gideon
Welles. Finally, his efforts succeeded and he was given a field command
with McClellan's forces which were heading to western Maryland in pursuit of
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Once he was assigned, he wrote to his son,
Samuel, a recent West Point graduate, to [f]ill your pockets with sandwiches
and follow me, appointing the lieutenant his aide and chief engineer and headed
west. Six days later Samuel's father was dead before he could join him.
While one cannot say that he had any premonition of death upon being granted
this, his first major command, he wrote to a former West Point professor saying
"if I never see you again …I have not forgotten your inestimable favors to
He left Washington on 13 September with another aide, Captain Clarence Dyer,
and a black body servant, and arrived at McClellan's headquarters in
Middletown, Maryland on the 15th. There, he was quickly assigned to command of
the 12th Corps after Sedgwick declined and on the 16th was informed by General
McClellan that he was to move his corps to the Union right flank and support
Hooker's 1st Corps in an early morning attack on the next day, if needed. The
general who had been temporarily in command of the 12th Corps, Brig. Gen.
Alpheus S. Williams, described Mansfield as "very fussy" having been "an
engineer officer and never before had commanded large bodies of troops."
He was also seen as nervous and anxious but also vigorous. That night,
Mansfield moved his 10,000-man corps across the Antietam Creek and bedded them
down after 2 A.M. for a few hours rest. Mansfield had reason to not sleep
well that night since he was virtually brand new to command of this corps and
therefore knew little about its commanders or its quality. What he did know
very probably seriously worried him: most of his men were new recruits untested
in battle while a few veteran regiments were shells of their former strength
having been severely mauled at the Battle of Second Bull Run. Since his
men were almost all volunteers, he had the regular army suspicion which, formed
during the Mexican War, held that volunteers were best used behind
fortifications and were unreliable in the attack.
The next morning at first light, Mansfield's corps awoke to the sound of cannon
fire on a misty, humid day. Mansfield received orders from Hooker about 5:30
A.M. to advance the 12th Corps to the front. Some two hours later after his
corps had formed up and began marching to the sound of the battle Hooker's
corps had begun, Mansfield rode off to get further orders from Hooker. Williams
had his 4,700 green troops in the lead and first confronted Confederate
troops. As Mansfield returned he saw that this division's regiments had
begun to deploy into line from their column marching formation and ordered them
to stay in column. Mansfield was adamant about marching his troops to
Hooker's aid in formation of columns to maintain better control of his
inexperienced troops, however, Williams did not agree:
"I had five new regiments without drill or discipline. Gen. Mansfield was
greatly excited. Though an officer of acknowledged gallantry, he had a very
nervous temperament and a very impatient manner. Feeling that our heavy masses
of raw troops were sadly exposed, I begged him to let me deploy them in line of
battle, in which the men present but two ranks or rows instead of twenty, as we
were marching, but I could not move him. He was positive that all the new
regiments would run away" (emphasis in original).
Hooker's order to Mansfield was to form an arc behind the disintegrating 1st
Corps; both Mansfield and Williams began deploying their regiments to do so.
Since the regiments were unused to changing formation under battle conditions,
this took much personal attention from the two generals. Williams said that he
got the 124th Pennsylvania into line by having a fence to align on while
Mansfield guided the 10th Maine to a point then rode off. After bringing
up the 128th Pennsylvania, another new nine-month regiment, Mansfield noticed
that the 10th Maine was firing into woods some 100 yards away in which he was
told earlier by one of Hooker's staff contained some 1st Corps men. Mansfield
came galloping up near a fence shouting "'Cease firing, you are firing into our
own men!'" An officer from one of the 10th Maine's left-side companies
pointed out Confederates 50 yards away aiming rifles and firing at them which
convinced the general that they were in fact the enemy; this is probably when
Mansfield was wounded. He attempted to go through a fence that was knocked down
but his horse appeared to be wounded and refused. Mansfield dismounted to help
it through the tangled fence and then attempted to remount but his coat blew
aside and blood was seen streaming from the right side of his vest where he was
shot in the right lung.
Adjutant of the 10th Maine, John Mead Gould, who described this scene, then
went to the aid of the wounded general. Mansfield, the old war horse, finally
agreed to be taken to a surgeon; Gould rounded up a squad of enlisted men from
various 10th Maine companies, put Mansfield on a blanket, carried him to an
ambulance where two medical officers tended him. He then was taken about a mile
to one of the temporary Union hospitals set up at the old George Line
farmhouse. It was quickly seen that his wound was mortal and when informed
of this, Capt. Dyer recorded that he apparently accepted his fate and said "'It
is God's will, it is all right.'" Remaining conscious and talking for
several hours, he showed more and more the effect of the opiates he was given
to dull the pain and during the night his speech became slurred and incoherent.
Shortly after 8 A.M. on Thursday, September 18th, the veteran general died at
age 58. His body was taken to Monocacy Junction where it was put into a casket
and carried by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Baltimore where his son, Sam,
joined Dyer for the trip to Middletown, Connecticut.
There he laid in state in the town hall for two days as Middletown was in
mourning for its proudest son. All of the town's prominent citizens as well as
thousands of others attended his funeral on 23 September. His funeral was very
impressive, unlike the other more than 200 Connecticut burials of Antietam
dead, very likely due to its being a relatively early battle death of a general
officer from the small state. The governor, William A. Buckingham, was
among the funeral orators, one of whom gave this encomium: "In social life,
modest and unpretending; in all its relations, just and truthful; a brave,
accomplished soldier; an earnest patriot, and an humble Christian; his memory
will ever be dear to this community, and his name enrolled among those who have
most honored their native land."
He was posthumously promoted to major general on 12 March 1863 retroactive to
his date of death, 18 September 1862. In 1900, the State of Connecticut and the
Grand Army of the Republic, a Federal Civil War veterans organization, erected
a monument to Mansfield near the East Woods at Antietam on Mansfield Monument
Road near the intersection of the Smoketown Road where he fell, while his home
on Main Street in Middletown, the General Mansfield House, now appropriately
hosts the Middlesex County Historical Society which possesses many of his
VIII. Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick
Like Mansfield, Union Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick was a Connecticut native and was
also a dedicated, patriotic, and hard-working professional soldier, well-liked
by his men who gave him his sobriquet: "Uncle John." Sedgwick advanced
quickly to significant field commands, unlike Mansfield, because of the nature
and quality of his pre-Civil War service in the regular army. But like
Mansfield, he was killed in combat in the line of duty some 20 months after
Mansfield's loss at Antietam; at Antietam, Sedgwick was shot three times and
very seriously wounded. The main difference between the two generals' Civil War
service was that Sedgwick survived to command various army corps for those
twenty months establishing a distinguished service record: Lt. Gen. Ulysses S.
Grant, upon hearing of Sedgwick's death could not believe it asking twice "Is
he really dead?" then, "His loss to this army is greater than the loss of a
whole division of troops."
Fig. G. John Sedgwick
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:John_Sedgwick.png; Internet; accessed 10
Sedgwick was born in Cornwall Hollow, Connecticut, on 13 September 1813 son of
Benjamin Sedgwick and Olive Collins of old New England stock. He was named
after his grandfather who was an American Revolutionary War major who fought
with Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga and was with George Washington at Valley
Forge. Another ancestor, Robert Sedgwick, was a military officer in the
American Colonies and when he died in 1656 in Jamaica, West Indies, as its
governor, he was a major general. His boyhood traits were described as
manly and aggressive but also considerate and fair. John attended the
Sharon Academy briefly and taught school for two years in addition to working
on the family farm. Perhaps not enjoying occupation, or possibly thinking about
martial adventures akin to his grandfather's, he entered West Point in 1833 and
graduated in 1837, twenty fourth in a class of fifty, entering the artillery
branch. He would later see some of his fellow graduates again, either in
the Mexican War or the Civil War; they included Braxton Bragg, Jubal A. Early,
John C. Pemberton, and Joseph Hooker.
Sedgwick was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2d U.S. Artillery after
graduation and spent most of his pre-Civil War career in the artillery becoming
a first lieutenant in April 1839. He saw combat in the Second Seminole War in
Florida, helped Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott remove the Cherokees from their native
Georgia, and participated in the Aroostook War, a border dispute between Maine
and Canada. He spent the next seven years in duty on the east coast from Rhode
Island to Virginia, serving a somewhat boring tour but meeting and befriending
officers with whom he would know for the rest of his life. One, Robert E. Lee,
whom he first met at Fort Hamilton in New York, would remain one of his closest
friends despite Lee's allegiance to the Confederacy.
The Mexican War provided a welcome break in this tedious service for Sedgwick.
Like most other officer participants, especially West Point graduates, this war
provided a training and proving ground for what he had learned only from books.
Sedgwick renewed his friendship with Lee as they traveled with General Scott on
the U.S.S. Massachusetts to the Mexican coast. Sedgwick did well
during the war and like Mansfield, was brevetted but only twice: "Wounded
twice, breveted Captain and then Major for gallantry on the field, Sedgwick
served his country well. Extremely cool under fire, he also won the reputation
of being where he was ordered to be – a trait somewhat rarer than the textbooks
indicated. Whether he was standing on the road under fire, engaged in
reconnaissance, or rallying disorganized troops, he showed exemplary
effectiveness." Similar to Mansfield's views, he was impressed by the lack
of abilities of volunteer troops and their limited aptitudes. Not unlike all
regular officers who served there, he would not trust untrained volunteer
troops and would become a strict disciplinarian in the Civil War and require as
much training as could be given.
After the war, he again spent several uneventful years on the east coast before
being promoted to major in the 1st Cavalry and sent to Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, in 1855. He spent the next six years in arduous frontier duty fighting
the Cheyenne, Apache, Kiowa and Comanche Indians on the Great Plains. Not all
his efforts were against these foes since he also participated in the Mormon
War and joined in actions against Missouri border ruffians and in "Bleeding
Kansas." He did well in these difficult duties and despite his strict
discipline, he won the admiration of younger officers and taught them, and
himself, self reliance. Still, he never forgot his men and when cholera swept
Jefferson Barracks he spent much time in the wards "chatting with officers and
men, cheering them through their difficulties…he was patient, warm, devoted.
His men knew they would never suffer through his neglect."
In the late 1850s, Sedgwick helped establish a new fort in what would become
Colorado Territory named Fort Wise after the Virginia governor. In late 1860,
Major Sedgwick commanded the 1st Cavalry at the fort which was finished earlier
that year by members of the regiment. His commander, Edwin Sumner, later
Sedgwick's and Mansfield's wing commander at Antietam, went on leave in January
1861 leaving Sedgwick in command of the post. There, he continued to be admired
by his men, being described as "quiet and unassuming…making [his men's'] lot as
easy as possible…A bachelor of impeccable character he was an amiable companion
and universally well regarded. While he had contemplated retirement, the
sectional crises drove those thoughts from his mind. "Being a man of honor, the
major 'felt that, educated at his country's expense, he could not desert her in
her hour of need.'"
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 2d Cavalry in March 1861, then two
months later to colonel of the 1st Cavalry, left vacant by Robert E. Lee's
resignation. Sedgwick became seriously ill in July and was unable to
participate with his unit at the Battle of First Bull Run. Ordered to report to
Washington, D.C., he briefly served on court martial duty and as acting
inspector general for the Washington, D.C., command. Maj. Gen. George McClellan
appointed him to command of a division in February 1862 and Sedgwick was then
promoted to brigadier general of volunteers retroactively to August 1861. After
some minor actions in northern Virginia in March 1862, Sedgwick and his men
were off to the Peninsula to fight with McClellan's army as it moved on
Richmond, the Confederate capital.
During the Peninsular Campaign, Sedgwick did well, again serving under his old
commander, Edwin "Bull" Sumner as commander of the second division of
Sumner's 2d Corps. One of his most notable battles occurred when he had his
division make a difficult river crossing to reinforce an isolated Union corps
on the opposite bank. Holding the attacking forces of Confederate commander
Joseph E. Johnston at bay, Union forces won the Battle of Seven Pines after
losing over 4,000 men to their opponent's 5,700. Later, the Union army learned
that the wounded Johnston was ultimately replaced by Sedgwick's old friend,
Robert E. Lee, but at that time, neither Sedgwick nor his men knew the
consequences of that important change. McClellan then began his ill-considered
retreat to Harrison's Landing during which Sedgwick very successfully handled
his division during rear guard actions; he was wounded at Frayser's Farm on 30
June 1862 and his horse killed; he then remounted another horse and refused to
leave the field even after his second horse was killed. His personal valor
helped his men hold the line.
After returning from the Peninsula, Sedgwick and his men helped stabilize the
Northern Virginia front after the Union rout at Second Bull Run. Not
surprisingly, he was in despair over the retreat from the Peninsula and the
second loss at Bull Run. He felt that both Union leadership and the quality of
many of the troops were poor, whereas the Confederate troops had their hearts
in their cause. He had experienced first hand the abilities of the Southern
troops and their commanders versus those of the Union and at this stage of the
war knew that a great change was needed. He would soon be in a position to
again witness a great contest, one in which he would nearly lose his life: the
Battle of Antietam, but one which was a Union victory.
Sedgwick lead the 2d Division still under the command of "Bull" Sumner who
headed the 2d Corps (and McClellan's center wing consisting of the 2d and 12th
Corps), however, he was now a major general of volunteers as of 4 July 1862
promoted in recognition of his accomplishments during the Peninsular Campaign.
As noted above, he was offered the command of the 12th Corps but refused giving
as the reason that he knew his division well but knew little of the new 12th
Corps. Sedgwick prepared his division as best he could before being
ordered to set out to the west on September 5 with the rest of the Army of the
Potomac into which the Army of Virginia was subsumed. Skirmishing as they went,
Sedgwick's division and the rest of Sumner's corps moved through Frederick,
Maryland, on September 13. Here, he, unlike Mansfield, did not feel exhilarated
at the prospect of battle, likely because he had already seen much; he wrote a
gloomy and pessimistic letter to his cousin. The next morning, Sedgwick
marched his men west some 22 miles to anchor the northern end of Sumner's corps
on the National Road at Turner's Gap. They had missed out on the Battle of
South Mountain fought earlier in the day which forced Lee west of the mountain
range. On 15 September, Sedgwick pushed his division hard after the retreating
Confederates marching 13 miles over some rough terrain before camping for the
night. The next day, the 2d Corps massed around the Pry House, a large home
with a good view of the hills towards the west where the Lee's army had
retreated. Just off the Boonsboro Pike, the main road between Sharpsburg and
Boonsboro, McClellan, on the 16th made the Pry House his headquarters for the
upcoming battle. That evening, just before 6 P.M., McClellan sent word to
Sumner, as wing commander, to have the 12th Corps cross the Antietam and report
to Hooker; in addition, he was to have the 2d Corps ready to move before
daylight. Sumner visited Sedgwick and told him of his plans for the next day as
he had been ordered by McClellan to be ready to cross Antietam Creek in the
morning. The next morning at 7:20 A.M., Sumner received orders to march to the
right flank of the Union line. He was called to help both Hooker's and
Mansfield's corps which had been decimated in early morning attacks against
Stonewall Jackson's men; Hooker was wounded and carried off the field while
Mansfield was mortally wounded. Sumner began the difficult march to the north
to join in the bloodiest day in American history.
Hooker began his attack about 5:30 that morning and had simultaneously
instructed Mansfield to move up, but in the two hours it took Mansfield to
arrive, Hooker's corps was wrecked. At about 7:30 as Mansfield and the
division commander of his lead division, Williams, were posting troops,
Mansfield was mortally wounded and the two-thirds of the 12th Corps which were
green troops were in trouble. William's division became fragmented and useless
but Mansfield's second division under Brig. Gen. George Greene remained
effective and held the gains the 1st and 12th Corps won while the Confederates
regrouped. With Sumner now approaching this area with two of three divisions of
his 2d Corps, some 11,000 men, McClellan had victory in his grasp. Sumner rode
with Sedgwick's veteran division in the van of his corps and was deploying
Sedgwick's division just before 9 A.M. Sumner's second division under Brig.
Gen. William French was less experienced and was deploying more slowly behind
Sedgwick but ominously out of sight of it while Sumner's third division under
Maj. Gen. Israel Richardson still had not come up from the rear.
Sumner now saw that the Confederates were in retreat and he did not hesitate to
pursue with Sedgwick's division without adequate intelligence or reconnaissance
or even waiting for French's division to come up on his left flank. Attacking
to the west, he drove a few Southerners from just north of the Dunker Church
through the West Woods immediately west of the Hagerstown Pike. Sumner
compounded his errors by ordering the lines closer together, some 30 feet
apart. Here was disaster: a Confederate division was fortuitously (for the
South) approaching from the south along the Hagerstown Pike since earlier that
morning the battle axis had been north to south. Without French's division
covering Sedgwick's left flank, it was in the air and at 9:20 A.M., Sedgwick's
division ceased to exist as it was swept from the field losing almost 40
percent of its strength, 2,200 men. In twenty minutes, two Confederate
divisions firing into Sedgwick's troops from three directions led to a rout;
even facing the division's third line to the rear to repel attacks did not
help. French had his division veer off further south because he saw Greene's
division from the 12th Corps in that direction and thought it was Sedgwick, so
French attempted to form on it instead. This maneuver not only helped seal the
fate of Sedgwick's division, but also the fate of French's division as it wound
up attacking entrenched Confederates at the Sunken Road. Had French continued
to the west, he would have likely hit the Confederate division attacking
Sedgwick's left flank on its flank but that, unfortunately for Sedgwick, did
As Sedgwick's division was being torn apart, Sumner finally realized that
things were irretrievably bad as he waved his hat and yelled: "My God! We must
get out of this" as Sedgwick kept his head and seemed to be everywhere rallying
his men. He was then wounded in the leg and then a wrist but ignored these
wounds as he tried to get his men out of the slaughter pen. Next his horse was
shot and disabled; a surgeon examined the general's two wounds and advised him
to go to the rear. Sedgwick refused to do so and attempted to mount the
surgeon's horse but had difficulty riding with the broken wrist. Finally, a
third shoulder wound caused him to leave the field semiconscious an hour after
receiving his first wound.
French attacked the Confederates in the Sunken Road piecemeal and suffered 30
percent casualties finally withdrawing to allow Sumner's third division under
Richardson, who had finally arrived on the field, to take over. Also taking
heavy casualties, Richardson finally took the Sunken Road at 1 P.M. after being
reinforced with all the remaining fresh troops from Sumner's corps; he later
paid for his valiant effort with his life later in the afternoon when he was
mortally wounded. Sumner compounded his earlier errors by convincing McClellan
not to allow Franklin's fresh 6th Corps, which had just arrived on the field,
to attack Lee's fragmented center. This day, Sumner, arguably lost the Battle
at Antietam for the Union, first by his rash attack with Sedgwick, then by not
allowing a potentially victorious attack by the 6th Corps against a broken
Sedgwick was taken to a hut alongside a road where his wounds were judged not
to be fatal, but his aide and cousin, Maj. William Sedgwick, was not so
fortunate. He was wounded and left on the battlefield until late in the day
when he was found and carried to a field hospital living only ten days
longer. Sedgwick was transferred to a field hospital where he remained for
a few days before beginning his journey by ambulance to Hagerstown, Maryland,
and then by train to his home in Cornwall Hollow recuperating there for almost
three months. He returned to duty in the field shortly after Christmas luckily
missing the Union massacre at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13.
He became a corps commander leading successively the 2d, 9th, and 6th Corps.
During the Chancellorsville Campaign, he performed well his mission of holding
Confederate troops in place on the heights south of Fredericksburg while Hooker
took the bulk of his army around Lee's left flank. While Hooker and Lee battled
north of him, Sedgwick took the heights but then was ordered north to support
Hooker. Lee's masterful coordination of his much smaller army allowed him to
fix Hooker in place while the bulk of the Confederates were sent to annihilate
Sedgwick. After hard fighting, Sedgwick wisely led his men in retreat after
realizing that not to do so would have been fatal because Hooker was not going
to send support. As a member of the old army and a McClellan intimate, Hooker
and the radical-leaning Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War
managed to unfairly pin much of the blame for his loss at Chancellorsville on
Sedgwick. The majority of the public and the military, however, realized the
good Sedgwick had done and did not hold him to blame. Sedgwick was present
at the Battle of Gettysburg but his role was minor and did not directly
participate. But he was recognized for his excellent forced march of his 6th
Corps to get to the battlefield; in four days with full marching packs in
extreme heat they marched over 100 miles. His units were used piecemeal as a
manpower pool and turned in good accounts of themselves as the army commander,
George Meade, threw them in where needed. At the end of the campaign, Sedgwick
performed well in the chase of Lee's army back to Virginia.
Sedgwick and his corps remained with the Army of the Potomac while it faced Lee
on the Rappahannock Line in central Virginia leading the noted Union victory at
Rappahannock Station where the Union suffered 419 casualties to the
Confederate's 1,674. Sedgwick, temporarily put in charge of the Army of the
Potomac in Meade's absence, did not enjoy army command with its concomitant
administrative responsibilities. It was rumored that he had informally turned
down feelers that he be assigned command of the army. Sedgwick was not an
ambitious or political man but did admit that he was a Democrat who liked
McClellan, a fact which did not help any thoughts he might have had of higher
command. During the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's first campaign as
the new commander-in-chief of the armies, Sedgwick's 6th Corps was roughly
handled by the foe and Sedgwick almost captured but due to the timely use of
reserves and luck, Sedgwick reestablished his lines despite heavy casualties of
over 5,000 in his corps.
The next phase of Grant's Overland Campaign led the army to Spotsylvania Court
House where Lee won the footrace from Grant; Confederates began entrenching at
the crossroads to block Grant's move around their right flank. During the
fighting there, Sedgwick's men gained little ground and he was hit by a spent
ball but uninjured as he needlessly exposed himself to enemy fire. During the
morning of 9 May 1864 Sedgwick supervised the building of part of his line then
returned to his headquarters where Grant and Meade met him as they were
reconnoitering the line. Grant complimented Sedgwick on his corps and the
commanders rode away. Sedgwick again went to the front to help adjust his line
where it connected with the 5th Corps to a point where Confederate
sharpshooters were active. His troops were ducking at the sound of bullets
whizzing by and Sedgwick, as was his custom, joked and laughed with his men
uttering the now famous words: "Men, dodging this way for single bullets…what
will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They
couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!" A Confederate soldier firing a
Whitworth rifle with a telescope from a half-mile away disagreed with that
assessment as his bullet entered Sedgwick's left cheek under the eye just after
he again laughed and repeated "They couldn't hit an elephant at this
distance!" The most senior Union corps commander in the U.S. Army was dead
before he fell.
His loss was deeply felt by his men and even to his erstwhile comrades in the
Confederate army; "Lee sent a picture of Sedgwick to his wife, with kind
comments about the departed friend…all felt a deep, personal loss." On
Sunday, May 15, the general was buried in the family plot in the village
graveyard in Cornwall Hollow as 2,000 watched the simple, nonmilitary funeral.
Described as one of the most beloved generals in the Union army, he was
remembered by statues and monuments at West Point, where he fell at
Spotsylvania, near Little Round Top on Sedgwick Drive at Gettysburg, at the
Connecticut State Capitol, and at Cornwall Hollow, across the country road from
his gravesite. This last is perhaps the most impressive as it includes six
stacks each consisting of thirty-one large cannonballs and a cannon. He likely
would not have been impressed since he had simple tastes; he, like the old
veteran General Mansfield, merely wished to do his duty to the country he
These four Connecticut regiments, two "green" and two veteran, did as well as
their other Union regiment counterparts during this campaign. The green 14th
was less exposed to massive and unexpected flanking fire as was the equally
green 16th so the 14th arguably was not given the opportunity to flee. The 16th
broke and ran, understandably so given the circumstances of having the enemy
firing at them from two sides and their comrades in the 4th Rhode Island
shooting at them from the rear. That many of the Confederates wore blue
uniforms certainly contributed to the 16th's fright. The 8th was probably in
the worst position of the four regiments, nearly surrounded and isolated, but
managed to fight and retreat in some semblance of order undoubtedly due to its
experiences in North Carolina in combat. The 11th was sent on a suicide mission
and was lucky to not have more men killed as they were forced to charge across
open ground and maintain fire with little cover against enemy rifleman behind
cover and with the advantage of elevation. That they did so gives evidence not
only of their courage but also their training. Again, their combat experiences
in North Carolina and the quality of their leaders made the difference.
Generals Mansfield and Sedgwick represented Connecticut well as examples of
older, conservative, regular army officers who knew their duty and sacrificed
their all for their country. Nothing more could have been asked of such men.
Show Footnotes and
. Hines, 114; Croffut and Morris, 162.
. Niven, 153-157.
. Hines, 118.
. Ibid., 157-158.
. Ibid., 115.
. Ezra A. Carmen, "The Ezra A. Carmen Antietam Manuscript, The Burnside
Bridge," unpublished manuscript of Gen. Ezra Ayres Carmen, available from
http://8cv.home.comcast.net/ant140/8cv-antietam-carman.html; Internet; accessed
4 January 2007, original in the Carmen Papers in the Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C. This website maintained by a reenactor group for the 8th
Connecticut has extraordinary information about the Civil War regiment and is
necessary for researching the unit. A well-used, possibly incomplete photocopy
is found at the Antietam National Battlefield research library in Sharpsburg,
Maryland. Harsh discusses Carmen (3, 487) describing his papers as a valuable
albeit unedited and uneven source. Photocopies of handwritten pages I reviewed
were difficult to decipher. Organizing, editing, and publishing this valuable
resource is needed.
. OR, pt. 1, 455; the 8th lost eleven officers with one killed,
and 162 enlisted with thirty three killed, 195.
. Wolcott P. Marsh letter.
. Carmen. Obviously this unidentified Confederate officer was moved to
complement the 8th.
. Priest, 273.
. Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson, eds., Guide to the Battle of Antietam:
The Maryland Campaign of 1862, (Carlisle, PA: South Mountain Press,
1987; reprint, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1987), 234-236, 243
(page citations are to the reprint edition).
. OR, pt.1, 197; but seen Hines (118) showing 201.
. B.F. Blakeslee, History of the 16th Connecticut Volunteers, (n.p.,
1875); available from http://members.aol.com/SHolmes54/hist16ct.html; Internet;
accessed 4 January 2007, 2. Note that page numbers for this Internet document
pertain to the document as it appears on the website, not to the original 1875
publication. See also William H. Relyea, 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry,
ed. in chief John Michael Priest, (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 2002),
6. This book is an excellent account of the 16th's history in the Civil War as
seen from the ranks by a literate member even though it was written almost
fifty years after the war's end. Unfortunately, it ends unexpectedly in
. Relyea, 10.
. Hines, 182; John W. Schildt, The Ninth Corps at Antietam, (Gaithersburg,
MD: Olde Soldier Books, n.d.), 47; Blakeslee, 8.
. Blakeslee, 4.
. Ibid., 3-4. Croffut and Morris (265) who say that "the Sixteenth came up
after dark after a severe march, and joined Harland's brigade at dark." They
were placed in line between the 8th Connecticut and 4th Rhode Island, Relyea
. Niven, 215-216; Croffut and Morris, 271. See Relyea (13) on the pitiful
efforts of some officers to try to train their men on the march or in camp: in
Washington, they "had been taught to "'Shoulder arms,'" "'Right shoulder, shift
arms,'" and were now eligible food for the enemy"; and at camp on the morning
of 12 September they "had a lively drill in "'Load in nine times, load, ready,
aim, fire,'" to the detriment of the gun's nipples, many of which were spoiled"
(16). It should be noted that the Belgian muskets he reports they received a
few days before in Washington were notoriously poor weapons; they were
described by General Grant as "almost as dangerous to the person firing it as
the one aimed at," Ulysses S. Grant, "The Vicksburg Campaign," in Battles and
Leaders, 3:537, and by a Confederate soldier, A.P. Page, Life in the
Confederate Army, (New York: n.p., 1905), as "'probably the most
antiquated and worthless guns ever put into a modern soldier's hands'" in
William B. Edwards, Civil War Guns, (Gettysburg, PA: Thomas
Publications, 1997), 92. Hines, shows 223 casualties with only 1 missing, 170;
but compare OR, pt. 1, showing 185, 197.
. Relyea, 23.
. OR, pt. 1, 138. There is no evidence that this message which
reached Burnside's headquarters at about 3 P.M. ever got to the general who had
left for the front. In any event, it was already too late for him to have acted
on it given the time he had left and the troops he had available.
. Relyea, 24-25.
. The South Carolina brigade was probably about the same size as the 16th
Connecticut, around 700 men, Hartwig (162-163). But see Priest's statement
(273) that the 16th was about 900 strong.
. Relyea., 26. Compare Croffut and Morris (271) which states that the
regiment was ordered to advance after fixing bayonets.
. Relyea, 27; most reports show that virtually all of the 14th (and
probably the 4th Rhode Island, too) fled in panic: "The most helpless confusion
ensued", Croffut and Morris (271).
. OR, pt. 1, 457; Relyea, 26. Although there were some Federal
reports that the Confederates also were showing the U.S. National colors, they
were never substantiated. The 4th Rhode Island's commander states that two
officers and a color bearer were sent to investigate the unknown unit flying
the National colors but they were fired on and the color bearer killed, 456. Of
course Confederate reports show nothing about carrying the U.S. colors although
it is possible that the South Carolina state flag was mistaken for the U.S.
flag or possibly the flags were the Confederate First National flag which
closely resembled the U.S. flag especially if furled.
. Hines, 186; compare to 185 casualties, OR, pt. 1, 197. The OR shows 194
for the 8th Connecticut, 139 for the 11th, 185 for the 16th, 100 for the 4th
Rhode Island (197); and 156 for the 14th Connecticut (193). Hines shows 201 for
the 8th, 148 for the 11th, 223 for the 16th, and 123 for the 14th, pages 118,
145, 186, 170, respectively.
. Blakeslee (6) reports that while initially 432 were casualties, some of
the 180 missing men kept returning during the next few days; in addition, about
200 joined who were stragglers from the forced marches from Washington.
. Sears, 292.
. Hartwig, 163. He says that even the few casualties the Confederates
suffered were likely caused by the 4th Rhode Island.
. Note that the 8th Connecticut, according to its monument, sustained 194
killed and wounded of 400 engaged giving over a 48 percent casualty rate.
Calculating percentage of loss is difficult since numbers of men actually on
the firing line are only estimates, see Hartwig, 164. Some sources have the
monument's dedication on 11 October 1894, Lesley J. Gordon, "All Who Went into
That Battle Were Heroes: Remembering the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
at Antietam," in The Antietam Campaign, ed. Gary W. Gallagher, (Chapel
Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 169. Gordon shows here
the efforts surviving men made to reconstruct their participation in that
battle "into something courageous rather than cowardly, admirable rather than
embarrassing, meaningful rather then pointless" 170.
. Gordon, 184-185.
. OR, pt. 1, 157, pt. II, 297.
. Richard Elliot Winslow III, General John Sedgwick: The Story of a Union
Corps Commander, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1982), 43; OR, pt.
. Joseph K. F. Mansfield and Joseph E. Johnston, Texas and New Mexico on
the Eve of the Civil War: The Mansfield & Johnston Inspections, 1859-1861,
ed. Jerry Thompson, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001), 2.
While most of this book contains documents written by Mansfield and Johnston,
this well-researched book also has much material written by the editor and has
the most complete biographical information about Mansfield available. Joseph
was 11 when his brother died.
. [Rev. Jeremiah Taylor], Memorial of Gen. J. K. F. Mansfield, United
States Army, Who Fell in Battle at Sharpsburg, Md. Sept. 17, 1862, (Boston:
Press of T.R. Marvin & Son, 1862), 29. This 67-page book is apparently
composed of addresses mostly by Reverend Taylor at Mansfield's funeral. It also
contains two other shorter addresses as well as a newspaper obituary notice and
a newspaper article reporting the funeral proceedings.
. His age upon entry to West Point is 13; however, in Memorial of Gen.
Mansfield, it is stated as 14, 29. He actually entered only about two
months prior to his 14th birthday.
. Croffut and Morris, 283; compare the spurious dates of birth (22 December
1806) and admission to the academy (1820) found here; obviously Croffut and
Morris must be read closely.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 2. Jared was a lieutenant colonel and professor
of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point and later was
Surveyor-General of the United States. Here, too, Jared described Joseph as "of
'fine bodily form & of superior mental endowments' and possessed a good
understanding of 'Latin, French & German,' as well as a 'fine taste in
painting, drawing & other minor arts.'"
. Mansfield and Johnston , 4. Their first son born a year later, Samuel,
was destined to follow his father in the army; he graduated from West Point,
entered the Corps of Engineers, and joined his father's staff. He later
commanded the 24th Connecticut and led his regiment in the Port Hudson siege in
1863 where it was complemented by the commanding general, Nathaniel Banks;
Hines, 228-231). He remained in the army and examined rivers and harbors on
both coasts, retiring as a brigadier general in 1903, Mansfield and Johnston,
"Conclusion," footnote 94).
. Mansfield and Johnston, 5. Mansfield's assigned area was west of the
Mississippi (the Trans-Mississippi); Col. Sylvester Churchill, the other
inspector general, had the area east of the Mississippi. His jump from captain
to colonel was unusual but clearly shows the esteem Davis held for Mansfield.
. K. Jack Bauer, The Mexican War 1846-1848, (New York: Macmillan,
1974; reprint, Lincoln: Bison Books, Univ. of Nebraska Press), 395 (page
citations are to the reprint edition).
. Our Georgia History: The Capture of Fort Pulaski, (Woodstock,
GA: Golden Ink, Inc., copyright 2001),
accessed 21 December 2006. Ironically, the engineer officer who preceded him
was Robert E. Lee. Mansfield, obviously feeling an intense personal involvement
in this project, even spent his own funds on its construction when government
monies ran out.
. "General Mansfield, Phrenological Character and Biography," American
Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated 36, no. 5, (November 1862):
98; Mansfield and Johnston, 5. See also the almost 100 pages of his reports in
Mansfield and Johnston which show that his prose was clear if not inspiring,
typical of official reports, but more importantly, his reports show his
excellent observational skills and abilities to analyze what he sees and
. Adrian G. Trass, From the Golden Gate to Mexico City: The U.S.
Topographical Engineers in the Mexican War, 1846-1848, (Washington,
DC: GPO, 1993 )120, 134; Mansfield and Johnston, 4.
. Trass, 135; Bauer, 93-95; Mansfield and Johnston, 4, states that he was
in hospital for months vice weeks and was forever scarred physically and
psychologically by that severe wound; Taylor, 32, states that he was hors de
combat for five months.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 5.
. Ibid., 6.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 6; Taylor, 40, where he is described as making
"his public profession of religion" in July, 1841. See also George T. Ness,
Jr., The Regular Army on the Eve of the Civil War, (Baltimore: Toomey
Press, 1990), where he is described as "highly competent, [and] of strong
religious convictions" (49).
. Croffut and Morris, 285.
. Margaret Leech, Reveille in Washington 1860-1865, (New York:
Harper; reprint, Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, Inc., 1980), 99 (page
citations are to the reprint edition).
. Jeffrey D. Wert, "Mansfield, Joseph King Fenno," in Historical Times
Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War, Patricia L. Faust, ed.,
(New York: Harper & Row, 1986) 473; Heidler, "Mansfield, Joseph King
. Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Perryville,
New York: Random House, 1958), 257.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 197.
. Ethan S. Rafuse, McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the
Struggle for the Union, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005),
282. Few of the units in the 12th Corps had seen battle and Mansfield had never
commanded troops in battle probably giving McClellan some doubt about the
fighting ability of that corps even though it was relatively fresh. Hartwig
comments that McClellan had to be concerned about the 20,000 green recruits
making up his army (147). See also John C. Waugh, The Class of 1846 from West
Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers,
(New York: Ballantine Books, 1999), 342, where McClellan is found to realize
that general officers he commands probably resented his youth and fast
elevation to command the armies of the Union.
. But see Mansfield and Johnston, 84, which shows a photograph of
Mansfield taken in 1862 when he was 57; it clearly shows a man who has endured
much during his 40-year career. (Note that this is not the photograph in this
paper.) Perhaps the arduous inspections involving much travel to all frontier
army posts in the west for several years while he was in his 50's took its
toll. His hirsute appearance with an unkempt mane of white hair and large,
unruly beard certainly did not help portray an image of a vigorous man.
. Taylor, 67. This obituary notice which appeared in the Cincinnati
Gazette obviously was written, perhaps by a relative, Edward D. Mansfield, to
render honors to the fallen general but given the general's difficulty in
gaining field commands during the Civil War, there may be more than a grain of
. Leech, 248. Chase was apparently touched by the old general's fervor and
succeeded in persuading his colleagues to give him a field command.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 198; A. M. Gambone, "The Wounding and Death of
Gen. Mansfield—A reprint from 'The Civil War Brigadier'"; available from
http://web.bytenet.net:81/antietam/mansfield.html; Internet; accessed 19
December 2006. John Mead Gould, The Mortal Wounding of General Mansfield at
Antietam 17 September, 1862 ), (Portland, ME: Stephen Barry, Printer,
1895; reprint, Austin, TX: Proofmark Publishing, 2001), states that Mansfield's
son was not with him when he was wounded and the general's two aides, Capt.
Clarence H. Dyer and Capt. James W. Forsyth were apparently kept busy by
Mansfield so Gould never saw them, 21 (page citations are to the reprint
. Mansfield and Johnston, 198. Mansfield also said to Secretary of the
Navy Gideon Wells, an old Connecticut friend, "'We may never meet again.'"
Gideon Welles, Lincoln and Seward, (New York: n.p., 1874), 140, quoted
in James V. Murfin, The Gleam of Bayonets: The Battle of Antietam and Robert E.
Lee's Maryland Campaign, September 1862, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1991), 225.
. Alpheus S. Williams, The Civil War Letters of General Alpheus S.
Williams: From the Cannon's Mouth, (Detroit: Wayne State University
Press and Detroit Historical Society, 1959; reprint, Lincoln: Bison Books,
Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1995) 123 (page citations are to the reprint edition).
. Ibid; Sears (203) states that his officers thought him nervous and
somewhat fussy…[but] his men liked him well enough, however, as he bustled
about the camps displaying enthusiasm and fatherly assurance. His effort to
build confidence was deliberate [since he] had an old regular's mistrust of the
staying power of volunteers." See also Williams (125), in which he, one of
Mansfield's two division commanders, describes being awakened by his commander
with new orders several times after 2 A.M.
. The 12th Corps strength, like all numbers given for units on the firing
line, varies according to how one counts men available to carry a rifle: Sears
states only 7,200 men were on the line, half of whom never fired a rifle in
anger, 203; McClellan shows 10,126 fit for duty for the 12th Corps but not the
actual number on the firing line the morning of the 17th; however many were
there, 1,743 became casualties, OR., pt. 1, 67; for numbers of casualties see
OR., pt. 1, 36.
. Sears, 203; three Ohio regiments, when combined, could barely comprise
. Paddy Griffith, "Battle Tactics of the Civil War,", (New Haven,
Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001), where he argues that the Mexican War
showed many regular army officers that militia and volunteer troops were best
suited for a defensive role since they were insufficiently trained to undertake
more complicated maneuvers especially during the attack, 125. Similarly, Archer
Jones, Civil War Command and Strategy: The Process of Victory and Defeat,
(New York: The Free Press, 1992), argues that the Mexican War taught regular
officers that untrained militia and volunteers were best on the defense, 269.
. Sears describes the weather as the rain having stopped but a patchy
ground fog was evident (183-184); Thompson also describes the morning as "foggy
and misty" (198).
. Harsh, 374.
. Sears, 204.
. Williams, 125. Williams later describes Mansfield as "an excellent
gentleman, but a most fussy, obstinate officer" (133). However, Gould finds
Mansfield on that morning as "the personification of vigor, dash, and
enthusiasm." (22). See also Gould where he states that Mansfield ordered Col.
Beal of the 10th Maine to remain in double column of companies since they can
be more easily handled but as soon as Mansfield rode "out of sight, [Beal]
ordered the regiment to deploy in double-quick time" into line (8) obviously
not trusting Mansfield's judgment. Gould, who was the Adjutant of the 10th
Maine, took it upon himself to clarify the incidents surrounding Mansfield's
mortal wounding since several other accounts, inaccurate in his view, were
extant. He apparently had begun compiling this information shortly after the
incident as he stated in his journal: "I have prepared an article which I have
thought of sending to the widow or relatives of Gen'l. Mansfield. It is a
narrative of the circumstances of his death. I am, I suppose the only man who
witnessed much of the tragedy who is capable of writing an account of it." John
Mead Gould, The Civil War Journals of John Mead Gould 1861-1866, ed.
William B. Jordan, Jr., (Baltimore: Butternut & Blue, 1997), 214.
. Sears, 204.
. Gould, Mortal Wounding, 6.
. Ibid., 11.
. Ibid., 13.
. Mansfield and Johnston, 199.
. Niven, 322.
. Taylor, 16.
. Frank Rauscher, Music on the March, 1862-65, with the Army of the
Potomac: 114th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Collis' Zouaves, (Philadelphia:
n.p., 1892), 165, quoted in Edward J. Hagerty, Collis' Zouaves: The 114th
Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1997), 287. When his body was brought in "'There was an
indescribable silence and sadness that took possession of every one.'" Niven
adds that it was not just his avuncular nature that his men appreciated and the
attention he paid to usual needs such as food, supplies, and medical services,
but "the scrupulous care he took in making battle dispositions…that saved lives
and could be counted on in any emergency" (247).
. Horace Porter, Campaigning with Grant, (New York: The Century
Company, 1897; reprint, New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1992), 90 (page
citations are to the reprint edition).
. Robert J. Jurgen and Allan Keller, Major General John Sedgwick, U. S.
Volunteers (1813 – 64), n.p. Connecticut Civil War Centennial
Commission, n.d., 4. This hagiographic booklet while a valuable source of
information about Sedgwick, must be read carefully as it clearly slants towards
glossing over his shortcomings and glorifying his reputation.
. Dennis G. Sedgwick, webmaster, "Sedgwick Genealogy Worldwide, North
America: Sedgwick Immigrant Ancestors: Major General Robert Sedgwick (1613 -
Internet; accessed 27 December 2006,
. Jurgen and Keller, 4.
. Winslow, xi.
. Jurgen and Keller, 4. Others included future Union generals William H.
French, Andrew J. Smith, Alexander B. Dyer, E. D. Townsend, and Henry W.
Benham; other Confederate generals were William H.T. Walker and Arnold Elzey.
. Jurgen and Keller, 5; Alexander M. Bielakowski in Heidler, "John
. Jurgen and Keller, 6.
. Ibid., 7-8.
. Ness, 108.
. John Sedgwick, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major General, 2
vols. (New York: The De Vinne Press, 1902-1903), 2: 31, quoted in Winslow, 2.
. He earned his nom-de-guerre, "Bull" or "Bullhead," during the Mexican
War at the Battle of Cerro Gordo when a spent musket ball bounced off his head;
Edward R. Crowther, Heidler, "Edwin Vose Sumner," 1904.
. Winslow, 27.
. Ibid., 40.
. Ibid., 43.
. Sedgwick, 2: 81-82, quoted in Winslow, 42. Here he talks of his
difficult and arduous service for the last two years and then, perhaps
realizing that difficult fights lay just ahead and hoping that he survived
them, said, "'I hope some day to go home and die at the old place and be buried
beside my and your father.'"
. Ibid., 44.
. Harsh, 372. Hooker did not anticipate the ferocity of the fighting to
come; by 7 A.M., 32 percent, over 4,300 men on both sides were casualties.
. Ibid., 385-387; Wilson, 45-46.
. Wilson, 47.
. Ibid., 48.
. Ibid., 86.
. Ibid., 134, 141. Grant, while not seeing much of Sedgwick's actions
personally, said that "[h]e was brave and conscientious. His ambition was not
great, and he seemed to dread responsibility. He was willing to do any amount
of battling, but always wanted some one else to direct. He declined the command
of the Army of the Potomac;" Ulysses S. Grant Personal Memoirs, (New
York: C.L. Webster, 1885; reprint, New York: The Modern Library, 1999), 609
(page citations are to the reprint edition).
. Wilson, 172-173.
. Jurgen and Keller, 31.
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.