Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Antietam NPS Torch Light Tour 1997 Event Report

Antietam National Battlefield
Sharpsburg, Maryland
September 20-21, 1997
September 20th, 1862
Sharpsburg, Md.

Dear Friends,

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 clean shirts.

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 satisfaction.

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.


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