Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Antietam NPS Torch Light Tour 1997 Event Report
Antietam National Battlefield
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September 20-21, 1997
September 20th, 1862
It has been some days since the great and terrible battle of Antietam has
been fought, and by this time, I believe that you must have heard all
the news of the battle that you might learn from the papers. It has
been a difficult time for your boys here since the battle, and I
thought it right to let you know how we now fare. We are still near the
Antietam Creek, with not much signs of moving soon, but there is much
to do here, looking after the needs of our wounded, and the proper
burial of our honored dead.
The rumors are many, but it is just as well to make one's own
observations. McClellan's command and staff are still holed up at the
Pry house some distance from the field, and it is said that the staff
are wrestling with the difficulties of supply. It is also said that the
generals have set the priorities of ammunition first, rations second,
and medicine last. That is not popular for those here suffering, but it
is right. Also, the reb prisoners must be treated just the same as our
men here. It is said that McClellan will not follow Lee, and that he
will suffer for it.
The newspapers have many correspondents here now, and they are
gathering stories, and accounts of the regiments to send home. It is
their aim to get the news back to you worried home folks. Their work is
cut out for them.
Over around the grounds of the Dunker church, the US Christian
Commission is working hard to treat the wounded. They are there
bandaging and caring for the as yet unattended to. They also are
working to identify the dead, and notify their families as best they
can. They are providing some soft bread and a few necessities like
The army surgeons are set up in almost every house, and the Dunker
church is no exception. They are short of chloroform, and so the
amputations required are conducted with no mercy. The howls and the
shock kills many. The arms and legs are here in piles.
I am currently at the Smoketown hospital with a small band of our
wounded. My temple wound is not healing as fast as I would find
acceptable, so here I am under the care of the US Sanitary Commission.
They do a right fine job of keeping the stable wounded comfortable
until they can be transported to general hospitals, or furloughed home
to recover. I expect to rejoin the regiment as soon as the wound
clears, as it does not seem serious, though I suffer from headaches
that will not pass. The others here suffer from leg wounds, arm wounds,
foot wounds, and the like. And suffer it is, since medicines are not
available here yet. One Pennsylvania farm boy here with a foot wound
crys and whines in pain, pleads not to let them take his leg, as he
will be useless on his farm without it.
Along the way over here, is the provost office, where the local citizens
petition the Federal government for their losses. They must present
detailed and verifiable numbers for their losses. The provost is quite
bureaucratic, and they give the people fits. It seems that they expect a
farmer to know exactly how many chickens they own on any one day, and
even intimate tha rebels were responsible for the losses, since the
property was at some point in the battle behind enemy lines. It looks
like even though the Federal government wants you to think they
compensate the townspeople, they have no intention of doing so justly,
or in a timely fashion. Mr. Miller, Mr. Mumma, Mr. Piper, and other
farmers caught in the center of the tumult are not gaining any
Then there is the burial of the dead. There are so many, and the field
has a terrible, sickening odor to it. Many companies are detailed to the
burials, and they bring in the dead, rob their pockets, dig a hole, wrap
the boddies in a blanket, and put them in, and cover them up. They do
record the name and regiment on a wood head board, and in a log, but so
many of the boddies are not properly identified, it makes the situation
worse. There are many folks from up North here now, searching for their
loved ones, that they are wandering the fields everywhere. They are
asking names, and not getting much satisfaction. The other night, a
woman and a friend in mourning came across a detail at their work,
asking for a Mr. Scott. The detail was rude, and told them to get out,
it was no place for a lady, and there were sights that should not be
seen there. But the women insisted, and forced the Sgt. to check his
log, and there was the name. They found the grave, and the poor lady
brushed the dirt aside, and found the cold face of her poor husband.
Such a wail should never be heard. She did find what she was looking
for, and will probably have the boddy sent home soon.
So, there is an account of the hardships this battle has caused to the
soldiers, to the local citizens, and to the folks at home. I can be
sure that all this sacrifice is worth it, since it is the blood of
patriots that made this Nation, and the blood of patriots that will
preserve the Nation. It is a very stiff price for Freedom, but it is a
stiffer one if we turn away. All the boys here are stong of will, and
will continue the work that we have done until we are victorious. As
for now, we are building our strength so that we might fight again.
Pray for us, for our generals, and for our Country.
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.