Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

135th Antietam Images

135th Anniversary Antietam 1997 Event Report

Artz Farm, Rench Road
Hagerstown, Maryland
September 13-14, 1997
September 17th, 1862
near Sharpsburg, Md.

Dear Folks,

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 vituals.

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,

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