Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
135th Anniversary Antietam 1997 Event Report
Artz Farm, Rench Road
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September 13-14, 1997
September 17th, 1862
near Sharpsburg, Md.
I am taking this brief opportunity to write a few lines that may
describe what we have been experiencing of late. I hope that you might
find this acceptable in form, as our conditions here are strained, and
this missive not of the best calibre.
We proceeded on campaign before dawn Friday, and traveled a great
distance to this place, arriving amoung the massed Army of the Potomac.
The camps of the various Corps and Divisions, and Brigades spread as
far as the eye could see, and more. Our gallant Connecticut Brigade,
made up of the 8th and 27th CV, found our way to our camp by obtaining
the services of two hay wagons, which conducted us to the camps. Our
grateful thanks to the fine farmers who helped us along our way. Our
camp was more of a bivouack in the far corner of a cut corn field,
along a tree line which gave some shade. A small island of woods some 5
rods out from the tree line also made a fine enclave for the boys who
hacked out a few spots in the brush. Our camp was quite fine, and we
enjoyed the halt on the line of march. Friday night was passed quietly.
Saturday morning, we awoke, made our breakfasts, and had a roll call.
Major Durkota assembled to battalion, and conducted us to the USV 2d
Brigade dress parade. This acccomplished, we then conducted our
battalion drill, then company drill, then battalion drill again. At that
point, one of our men came forward with a small bundle of three cigars
and a paper that seemed to be the general orders of the Confederate
army. They went mostly unnoticed except for the distribution of the
cigars. That consumed the forenoon, and we went to reset and eat some
Next thing we know, and the battalions were ordered under arms again,
and this time it seemed serious. Brigade after brigade marched out of
camp tords the west in a grand pagent of double blue columns stretching
from horizon to horizon. General Heim, and then Gen. Mac himself trooped
the lines, raising a ruckus of hurrahs for all. In this situation, the
sound of battle reached our ears, starting with continuous artillery,
then the addition of the small arms. The roar indicated that this was a
major engagement. The troops were fed into the ball from the columns,
and were deployed, then advanced up the hills on the town of Sharpsburg.
The rebel lines were firm on the road and behind the walls there, and
many counter charges were absorbed with great loss. Our brave band, with
our flags flying, were some of the last boys to step off and advance on
the rebel center. The field instantly became a whirlwind of fire and
death. We attempted to keep our order, pore lead into their lines, and
advance. Suddenly, from our left flank, it seemed like and entire rebel
corps slammed into us. And it was, as it turned out to be A.P. Hill's
division just arriving on the flank from their march from Harper's
Ferry. They did damage, and indeed captured most of our left two
companies. There was some close combat, with the rebels hands on the
stafff of our national, but they were discouraged quickly. Our color
guard was shot down to the man, and other brave Connecticut men reached
in and raised the colors again. Scott took up the national and advanced
in front of the formation, planted the staff, shook out the banner, and
exhorted the men to follow. About that time, the orders to retire, since
we were in the advance position without any support, came. The remaining
survivors retired in order, with the colors. We fired in retreat as to
prevent being overrun, and saving many more lives in that manner. I only
then began to notice that my right temple had been grazed by a bullet,
and was quite messy with blood, but not painful. We returned to our
camps, with only about half the men we had in the morning. It was
quickly apparent that the killed and wounded were left on the field, and
it distressed us all. Such is the despotism of war.
The evening was spent eating the same salt pork, hardtack, and coffee
our rations hav ebeen for about two weeks now. There was a quiet time
on camp, as the living rested fitfully, and thought of our casualties,
and when we might be able to find and help them. Most were asleep
early, or did not sleep at all.
At somewhere around 4 o'clock in the morning, the cannon roared, and the
buglars signaled assembly. We rolled out of our blankets, got under
arms, and were quickly marched off tords the sounds of battle again.
There was a thick ground fog, and some moon light, but the vision was
poor. We came the the edge of a large field of corn standing head high,
and deployed into line of battle. Into the corn we plunged, hardly able
to see our filemates, or the enemy in the corn. Firing was constant and
from every direction. One moment, you might see a reb line in your
front, the next, a reb battalion passing your flank without attacking.
The confusion and the noise was not of this earth. We went in once,
retired, went in again. As the sun rose some, we could start to see
more, and what there was to see was singularly shocking. The wounded
were everywhere, all mixed together, and the lead was still thick in the
air. Our advance then moved forward, and when we came to a trampled
area in the corn, we were face to face with two rebel cannons, the
rammers on the hubs. We all went prone without orders, expecting the
worst. It turned out to be a cruel reuss on their part, since they were
out of ammunition, and were stalling us til they could limber up and
get out before we overran them. The trick worked, and we once again
were forced to retire, as we were flanked again on the left. Our
battalion reformed on the east side of the corn for the last time, as
the fight neared its end. The sun was full up now, and the view over
the corn field showed not a stalk standing, wounded scattered, and no
one in possession of the ground. So it ended for then.
We once again were rested, and tried to drink and eat some to keep our
strength. We were ordered to break our camp, get all our equipments packed
for the march, and ready to move on a moment's notice. This we did in a
hurry, and once again commandeered a local farmer's hay wagon to
conduct our gear to the depot. This was quite acceptible, for most
soldiers prefer to carry no burdens into battle. That accomplished, we
once again sat, took water, and waited.
This rest was brief, for about the meridian, we assembled and
marched off to form brigade. In this strwngth, we once again could hear
the sound of battle hard by, and knew we were going to join the fight.
We were marched in column of companies, then were held under the brow of
a ridge of some protection for a time. When the orders came to advance,
we came over the brow, and saw a bettlefield unfold in our front. There
were several union brigades in line advancing in force across the fields
and meadows tords a single line of fence along a sunken farm road. This
position was defended by hoards of rebels that would not give ground,
and dispensed death among our advancing lines. We were again one of the
last waves advanced, and our brigade marched forward in fine dress,
flags flying. When we reached an outlying fence line, we simply walked
over the few rebel skirmishers there. We continued to within about 10
rods of the snake fences, and unleashed our fire, most men emptied their
boxes in a matter of minutes. It was a ghastly sight to see the masses
of squirming flesh in the lane, piled one on another, some blue, most
gray, some alive, many dead. It was a sight never to be forgotton, that
bloody lane. Our pressure caused or compelled the remaining rebel
regiments to retreat, which they did in some order. Gen. Daniels at that
point ordered some battalions to forward, across the lane, and push the
rebels out, across the fields, and into the woods beyond. This was
accomplished, and seemed to end the threat here on the center of the
union line. We withdrew, our ammunition exhausted, and rallied back to
the depot area, got the Connecticut Brigade assembled, and were marched
along our way.
We were told later that the Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from
Maryland over night, leaving us in possession of the field, so that the
danger has past for now. We here with the regiment are mostly well,
though jaded, and concerned for those we have felt behind. I know not if
we shall pursue the enemy, rest here, or both. These details are only
known to the generals and God. I feel that after such a trial, that this
was must be near an end. May God grant the right.
Your obedient servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.