United States Volunteers
3d Battalion
Antietam 140th Anniversary Reenactment
The Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Eighth Conn Vols Monument
facing towards Harpers Ferry Road
Eighth Conn Vols Monument
facing back towards Antietam Creek

"The Civil and Military History of Connecticut During the War of 1861-1865",
W.A.Croffut, J.M.Morris, Ledyard Hill, NY 1868

September 15, 1862 found the Eighth starting out late from Turner's Gap and over the mountain by the county road. They marched slowly with the 9th Corps and the evening found them in the rear of the main columns as they reached the Hagerstown Pike. They marched past many camps on either side of the road, the army cooking coffee over thousands of fires, and shelter tents covering the ground. After passing through to the front of the army, the Eighth and Eleventh and the rest of the brigade turned into a stubble field past midnight and fell asleep. (C&M p.264)

The morning of September 16, 1862 found Col. Harland's brigade near Antietam Creek on the left of the army, and in reach of the rebel guns on the high ground beyond the creek. During the morning, the guns dropped shells among the men. During the day, the Sixteenth came up and joined the brigade. Food was rare, and the men got corn in prime from the fields and ate roasted ears and green fruit. The foraging for firewood took all the fences for miles, and the army soon made the area bare from all its needs. (C&M p.265)

The brigade moved up in the evening and lay in line of battle all night behind a low ridge near the Rohrbach house about fifty rods from the creek. Sunrise of September 17, 1862 brought enemy fire from the guns that opened on green troops looking for a glimpse of the rebels. This fire, with good range, landed the second shot, a 12-pound ball on the Eighth, killing three and wounding four of Company D. Lt. Marvin Wait rallied his men to hold their position. Soon the entire brigade was moved to the left and rear to a safer location. The Connecticut Brigade was the extreme left of the line, and soon moved forward to support a battery nearer the creek, again coming under heavy fire. (C&M p.265)

General Burnside was ordered early in the morning by General McClellan to take the bridge over the Antietam and move up the Shepardstown Road to cut off the rebel retreat. Burnside only tested with a regiment here and there. As the day wore on, Longstreet's men in Burnside's front were moved to the rebel left, and leaving only the division of General Jones and about twenty-five hundred men pinning the 9th Corps to the creek. General Burnside ordered the Eleventh and Col. Kingsbury to march forward and hold the bridge so that General Rodman's division could cross. The Eleventh marched to the bridge, and with heavy casualties reached the side of the bridge. After a time, the 46th N.Y. came up in the afternoon and was able to storm over the bridge driving the rebels back, and establishing a hold on the other side. Finally, General Burnside gave peremptory orders to move forward, but by then it was too late. A.P. Hill's rebel division came up from the Harper's Ferry to join the main rebel army, and save the escape route. (C&M p.267)

Around 2 o'clock, General Rodman's division of the 9th Corps, including our Eighth, moved farther to left down stream to a place about a mile below the bridge where the crossing cloud be waded. Two companies of the Eighth were sent ahead as skirmishers and found a ford. The rest of the Eighth regiment supported a battery covering the ford while the division crossed. The Eighth soon joined Harland's brigade at the bottom of a hill west of the bridge and two hundred yards from the creek. The rebel cannons pored shot and shell on them. The Eighth and the Sixteenth were there behind the hill, while the Eleventh was led astray by a coward of an aide. It was now about 4 o'clock. McClellan sent orders to Burnside to move forward and take the rebel batteries at all costs. Major Lyon, Harland's aide felt that it was not right. He believed that the rebels were crossing the Potomac and moving on the Union left along the creek. Burnside had provided for this by facing Cox's Division to the left. (C&M p.270)

The Eighth was on the right of the brigade line when they moved forward after 4 o'clock by command from Col. Harland. The Eighth stepped off promptly, but the Sixteenth and the 4th Rhode Island on the left apparently did not hear the order. Col. Harland sent and aide to order them forward, but the inaction left the Eighth in advance of the reset of the brigade. Col. Harland asked Gen. Rodman if the Eighth should be halted, he ordered the Eighth to advance and he would hurry the Sixteenth and the 4th. (C&M p.271)

The Sixteenth was on the left, and the rebels had got on the unprotected flank sooner than Major Lyon thought. They were ordered to attention and took a severe volley at a distance of about five rods. They were badly cut up, ordered to fix bayonets and advance. Most of them ran. (C&M p. 271)

General Rodman ordered Col. Harland to advance his division, and Col. Appelman in command of the Eighth led the men up the hill. Nearly the whole 9th Corps were now charging, and the line reached far to the right of the position of the Eighth. At the crest of the hill, the rebels only a few rods away. The Union line fired severe volleys and pushed forward. The rebels broke, and withdrew firing. The rebel shot, shell, and musketry was raking through the ranks of the Eighth, now the Union left. A rebel battery on the left was firing canister. Capt. Charles L. Upham and his Company K from Meriden got over, captured the battery, then fell back in with the regiment. (C&M p. 272)

The Eighth pressed farther forward into a cornfield until they could see the Shepardstown Road, the rebel escape route. They cheered, and pushed for the position. But the rebels were massing on the left flank of the Eighth. Harland goes to the rear to see the condition of the brigade. The Sixteenth and the 4th are already in disarray. The Eighth is alone on the crest of the hill. Three batteries are on them, and the rebel infantry is concentrating. Col. Appelman tells the color guard not to leave the colors. Then the men fall, one by one, till the flag goes down. Pvt. Charles H. Walker raises the colors, plants them, shakes them out in the face of the enemy. (C&M p.271)

No reinforcements come up. The Eighth has men falling fast. Many officers are hit. Appelman is borne to the rear, John McCall, Eaton, Wait, Ripley, Russell, Morgan, Maine are down. The chaplain even takes a musket and cartridge box of a dead man and fires to save his life. (C&M p.272)

Major John E. Ward orders the regiment to fall back. The men protest, but the hundred men still unhurt are formed and withdraw in order from the field in column. (C&M p.273)

General Rodman was killed, and Col. Harland took command of the division. He reformed the division, and put it in a defensive position. A line of battle was reformed, and due to his courage, many of the separated were saved from capture. The Eleventh had returned from their search for the ford, marched four miles back to the bridge, crossed, and advanced to the cornfield where the brigade was fighting. There, Col. Stedman and the Eleventh charged a battery on the crest of the hill. The Sixteenth and the 4th Rhode Island finally broke and ran for the rear. Fearing the worst, Col. Stedman turned the Eleventh and marched them off the field. Capt. William J. Roberts of the Eighth having been violently ill throughout the battle resolutely kept with his company and shared in the fight while vomiting and in great pain. (C&M p.274)

More men were brought up, and the third division re-crossed the creek once more, assuming a position there. The rebel pickets pressed forward through the day's field of battle and took position on the crest of the hill. Many of the wounded lay between the lines, and many were in the rear of the rebel line. Throughout the night, the men worked the fields, bringing in the wounded to a barn. The Eighth's Chaplain Morris worked tirelessly and so did the surgeons. Many of the bandages were poor, many wounds were bound with corn leaves. Dr. Storrs, Whitcomb, Mayer, and others worked all night with little rest. (C&M p.274)

On the morning of September 18, 1862, the rebel pickets retired, and the Eighth advanced on the field to find the dead and wounded. Some of them had suffered where they fell for over forty hours without water. The graves were dug all day, and the dead buried. Some of the dead had been plundered for valuables and clothing by the rebels. (C&M p. 275)

The Eighth lost thirty-four men killed, and one hundred thirty-nine wounded. Eleven were commissioned officers, being almost half of those present for duty. No other battle took such a toll on the Eighth or the regiments of Connecticut as did this battle. Among he dead were Lt. Marvin Wait. He was wounded in the arm dressing his men, and finally fell pierced by bullet after bullet. His last words to Pvt. Lewis D. King were "Are we whipping them?" Lt. Edwin G. Maine of Brooklyn was killed. Sgt. George M. Marsh of Hartford was killed. Sgt. Whiting Wilcox was killed. Sgt. Cyprian H. Rust of New Hartford was killed. Pvt. John H. Simonds of Hartford was killed. Pvt. John A. Dixon of Enfield was killed. He disabled a plundered Sharpes Rifle before he died. Other killed were Harvey E. Elmore, Elijah White, George F. Booth, Charles E. Lewis, among many others. (C&M p.275)

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