«MAJ. GEN. CHARLES S. HAMILTON HISTORY of THE THIRD REGIMENT of WISCONSIN VETERAN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY 1861 — 1865. BY EDWIN E. BRYANT Late Adjutant. ...»
About this time Sumner’s corps came in from the east. The Second Massachusetts laid down for it to pass. The little fragments of Ruger’s and Colgrove’s regiments were pushing on through the cornfields nearly to the west woods. Just as the little band was pluckily getting into shape to charge into the deeper woods, and [sic] officer of Sumner’s staff galloped up and told them to get out of the way, so as to let Sumner put in a division at that point.111 These two fragments of regiments moved back through the cornfield gathering up several rebel regimental flags as trophies, and Sedgwick’s fresh How long the regiment stood in this exposed placed under fire, cannot be accurately stated. Colonel Colgrove thinks it must have been two hours. From Col. Van Valkenburgh’s report it would appear to be about an hour. The regiment fired away all its ammunition, that from the boxes of the killed and wounded bring used; and this the men must have fired 50 or 60 rounds per man.
Sumner, “the old bull of the woods,” as his boys called him, was in front of his line, bareheaded his gray locks streaming, eyes flashing, and as brave an old soldier as ever felt the ardor of battle.
-106division went in. The Second Massachusetts and Thirteenth New Jersey were thrown forward on the left to support and strengthen Sumner’s assault. They reached the little dirt road fenced on both sides that run northwest from the turnpike at the Dunker church. The corps of Sumner which had gone in met a hot reception. The enemy had been re-enforced and securely posted behind a natural breastwork of ledges. He received Sedgwick’s division with such murderous fire that it soon retired, minus half its men.
From the position the regiment occupied in the stubble field, where it stood after it had withdrawn to make room for Sedgwick, it witnessed the repulse of that division. It saw other assaults farther to the left, which were partly successful.112 When Sedgwick’s division fell back, the enemy rashly resolved to advance. To meet this counter-attack, the Third regiment was placed in support of Battery M, First New York Artillery (Capt. Cothran). This attack was repulsed by the batteries. The hard fighting on this part of the field was practically over for the day. Soon after noon the ground was occupied by fresh troops and the brigade of Gordon was withdrawn a little to the rear. a [sic] rail fence gave fuel, and soon the men were making coffee and preparing a breakfast.
And then came the sad duty of taking an account of the losses of the regiment. Col. Ruger reports the total number taken into action at 340, and the losses in killed were 35; in wounded, as reported, 163. In the official record it is 166. The list reported to the adjutant General of Wisconsin is given below.
LIST OF LOSSES IN THIRD REGIMENT AT THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAMSEPT. 17, 1862.
KILLED OR DIED OF WOUNDS. Company A: First Sergeant Fred Glasor, Corporal D.
A. Tuttle, Private N. B. Nettleton; Company B: Sergeant Colburn Blake, Privates W. T.
Mason, F. Maglowsy; Company C: Corporal George Gay, Privates S. J. Sheffield, I.
Thurlow; Company D: Privates F. Last, J. L. Temple, J. W. Gee, E. R. Sayder; Company E: Privates G. G. Brocket, E. Bergman, Geo. Weber; Company F: Privates T. F. Duncan,
J. Olson; Company G: Lieut. J. P. Shepard, Privates R. Allen, H. C. Tait; Company H:
Privates J. P. Johns, J. F. McKnight, W. Wilcox; Company I: Lieut. Alex. N. Reed, Privates
D. W. Deming, W. Thomas, E. Ware, A. Wiley, T. A. White, Chas. Wescott; Company K:
Corporals J. E. Condert, E. T. Johnson, Privates J. T. Glimsdahl, M. J. Waterhouse — 35.
WOUNDED. — Company A: Privates A. Mann, J. Bradley, E. Stablefeldt, H. Wood, O. Kittleson, C. Hagerman, P. Gorman, W. H. Burnes, G. W. W. Tanner, H. Davids, J.
Soon after Sedgwick’s bold assault, which came near deciding the battle, the divisions of French and Richardson, of Sumner’s corps, came on to the field further to the left, and they charged the rebel line nearer its center, to the east and south of the Dunker Church, between the Roulette farm and the house of Dr. Piper, south of the filed in which Hooker, Williams and Sedgwick had fought. The battle here was very sanguinary. One of the events of it was Col. Barlow’s brigade enfilading them, almost filling the road with their dead bodies.
-107Donovan, D. Strahne, H. Montaney, C. Rollhagen, H. Woodruff, H. Becker, J. Godfrey, W.
March; Company B: Captain G. W. Stevenson, Corporal J. G. Savage, Privates J. Hollister, J. Wright, W. J. Robinson, S. M. Ransom, T. C. Richmond, F. Meyer, D. Dibble, D. Hinman, A. Purath, E. Purath, J. Lewis, H. Deschamps, J. McMullen, T. Durfee, G. Tesch, G.
Cowling, L. H. Robbins, G. Evans, A. Mericle; Company C: Lieut. Warham Parks, Corporals W. H. Foster, C. F. Diffenderfer, Privates W. Brisbin, Wm. Booth, J. L. Boyer, A. A. Betts, Z. A. Cook, T. Conroy, H. Fuller, J. B. Frasher, J. M. Green, M. Hopkins, W. A. Kimberly, J. Lovelace, B. Leonard, F. Lovelace, G. H. Richardson, R. Webb, E. Witter, D. Pierce;
Company D: Sergeant R. L. Oliver, Corporal C. W. Page, Privates G. H. Lindsley, S.
Bechtel, H. Collins, W. H. Cook, D. C. Clark, W. Elmore, C. H. Gee, W. H. Preston, J.
Spies, L. D. Wood, J. Wilkes, S. Smith, S. Ullum, A. Zeigler; Company E: Lieut. W. B. Dick, Sergeants E. L. Blanchard, J. L. Lueschen, Corporals A. Jones, C. C. Chubb, Privates W.
B. Kenyon, J. Kallhammer, M. Goensch, F. Frey, P. Hinton, E. Bergaman, Chr. Borgaman, H. Krause, F. Resche, G. Weber, J. Laurish, F. Krueger, C. Hopf, H. Klass, J. Arms;
Company F: Sergeants S. Bartholomew, W. H. Beebe, Corporals F. W. Bashford, A.
Spooner, F. M. Costley, Privates T. G. Harshberger, J. Kolb, J. A. Murphy, R. Notton, G.
Hall, A. George, R. Fulton, L. Beauprey, W. Holmes; Company G: Sergeant F. Lee, Corporal C. Beebe, Privates H. Briggs, W. W. Blake, J. Griffin, A. McNery, A. McCoy, W.
Mason, W. T. Leonard, L. E. Phetteplace, I. Prouty, E. Robins, L. Ranson, V. R. Willard, W. Freeman; Company H: Captain G. W. Whitman, Lieut. C. Field, Corporals W. Cherry, J. Agnew, E. G. Beers, Privates J. P. Agnew, D. Agnew, A. Anderson, J. Arnold, T. Benson, R. R. Cook, J. Early, J. A. George, W. F. Haughawout, G. Krohn, H. Moyer, T. B. Persons, W. H. Watts, S. Fessenden, C. A. Pierce; Company I: G. A. Rickman, F. M. Bryant, G. N.
Fawcett, J. Hill, R. M. Johnson, J. Madison, M. Sullivan, H. Southwick, A. Thompson, C.
Kempthorn; Cmpany [sic] K: Corporal R. W. Jones, Privates G. F. Daley, B. Blaizier, B. F.
Flom, H. Peters, M. A. Paulson — 163. Lieutenant Wm. M. Snow was also wounded.
The brave and soldierly Lieut. Joseph P. Shepard of Co. G was mortally wounded. Lieut. Alexander N. Reed, of Co. I was mortally wounded and died the next day. Captain Geo. W. Whitman, Lieut. W. B. Dick, of Co. B and Lieut.
Chauncey Field, Co. H (then acting adjutant), were so severely wounded that they were honorably discharged for wounds in the following April. Captain George W. Stevenson and Lieut. Warham Parks each received so severe a wound that they were for some weeks disabled for service. Colonel Ruger received a wound in the head; but he regarded it so slight that he would not report it.
The loss in non-commissioned officers and men had been severe. First Sergeant Fred Glaser, of Co. A, and Sergeant Colburn Blake, of Co. B, were valuable officers, sure of early promotion. The men who were killed, whose names are below [ED. NOTE: In this edition, above] were of the best class of soldiers, and good citizens as well, and each deserves a more extended eulogium than space will here permit.113 There were eight officers killed and ED. NOTE: More information about these individuals may be found at the back of this volume in the “Roster of the Third Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.”
-108wounded out of the twelve who went into action. Several were absent sick, wounded, broken-down, or on detached service. When the batttle [sic] was over Lieuts. J. T. Marvin and Julian W. Hinkley were in command of the little handful that remained. Each of these officers was very efficient, and remarkably brave and cool in action.
Our brigade and division had suffered heavy losses. The new regiments of our brigade, the Thirteenth New Jersey and One Hundred and Seventh New York,114 had their baptism in battle this day, and they behaved with the gallantry and steadiness of veterans. It took soldierly conduct to wring words of praise from the stern and exacting Gordon. Exposed to fire during the day, suffering considerable losses, they vied with those who had seen more service. Gordon says of them: “The One Hundred and Seventh New York, Col. Van Valkenburg, [sic] and the Thirteenth New Jersey, Col. Carman, being new troops. [sic] might well stand appalled at such exposure, but they did not flinch in the discharge of their duties. I have no words but those of praise for their conduct. They fought like veteran soldiers, and stood shoulder to shoulder with those who had borne the brunt of war on the Peninsula, in the Shenandoah Valley, and from Front Royal to the Rapidan. They were led by those who inspired them with courage, and they followed with a determination to conquer or die.”115 The One Hundred and Seventh New York maintained the position to which Gordon assigned them, and when the enemy gave way they charged across the field in splendid style under a perfect hailstorm of bullets and shell.
The Thirteenth new Jersey was, as has been stated, sent in with Sumner’s corps into the west woods, where it fought bravely. After retiring from this position with the Second Massachusetts it was again ordered into the woods near the school-house to support Greene’s brigade, and here it fought under fire for one hour. The losses in our command, and all losses in the battle, are given [below].
It need not be told here how bravely the Twenty-seventh Indiana stood to its work. Its fearful list of casualties shows the severe exposure under which it had stood.116 When such a regiment was on the flank the men of the Gordon specially commends the Thirteenth New Jersey. At one time he sent it to the relief of Gen. Greene, who was holding the woods on the left. The bravery with which they stood to the work elicited high commendations from Gen. Greene.
Col. Van Valkenburgh and Lieut.-Col. Diven of the One Hundred and Seventh New York, were at the time members of Congress. They raised this splendid regiment and led it into the field.
EDITOR’S BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: For more about the 27th Indiana see — Brown, Edmund Randolph. The Twenty-Seventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865: First Division, 12th and 20th corps / by a member of Company C.
Monticello, Indiana: 1899.
Jones, Wilbur D. Giants in the cornfield: the 27th Indiana Infantry. Shippensburg, Pennsylvania:
White Mane Pub., 1997.
EDITOR’S BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: For more about the 2nd Massachusetts see — Gordon, George Henry. Brook Farm to Cedar Mountain. Boston, J. R. Osgood & Co: 1883 Quint, Alonzo Hall. The record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65. Boston, J. P.
EDITOR’S BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: For more about Wilder Dwight (1833-1862) see — Dwight, Wilder. Life and letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols. Boston, Little, Brown & Co: 1891.
-110would probably have crushed Lee.
The troops rested on the field. The results of the day were a Union victory. The Confederate line had been driven at all points on the right, their left. Every assault they had made had been repulsed in open field. Their losses has been fearful.
The troops slept in bivouac in the field. The fatigues and severe strain of the day made rest grateful; and they forgot the dead and wounded lying thickly about them.
Early in the morning McClellan was astir. He was for again attacking.
Sever of his generals were in favor of it; others, especially Sumner, counseled otherwise. They urged that the troops to be used were mostly raw and liable to panics; that now Washington was safe, Pennsylvania protected, the invasion repulsed, and that while the chances of success were great, the results of failure would be disastrous in the extreme to the country. Alas! they did not know the desperate straits of the enemy.
“The sun of September 18th rose upon one of those scenes of suffering and anguish which humble the pride of man by the exhibition of his weakness and cruelty.” Some 4,000 dead men lay upon the field, and on or near it some 20,000 more lay suffering of wounds. Shrunken battalions, but little larger than companies, stood here and there about their colors. Batteries, environed by dead or dying horses, were planted to begin the work of death. The troops expected to begin the battle. Refreshed with coffee and their rest their morale was excellent. Early the troops of Gordon’s brigade were put further to the right a little distance, and were ready and willing to fight, and eager to make the day decisive. During the day the arrangement was made to allow burial parties to go between the lines and bury the dead. This gave opportunity to see the fearful havoc that has been wrought. Numerous as our casualties had been the Confederate dead were everywhere more abundant than ours. The bloody cornfield was a tragic sight. It has been fought over several times. The dead all lay as they fell. More than three fourths of them were Confederates, and so thickly strewn that for rods one could have walked on dead bodies.119 The men of the Third improved the opportunity to exchange arms, throwing away their old rifle muskets, and picked up on the field new Springfield rifles of a later, better pattern. Every preparation was made for an attack in the morning. The divisions of Couch and Humphreys were coming up; and hopes were high that the people accompanying Gen. Lee would be finished up on the morrow.
General McClellan issued orders on the night of the 18th for a general attack in the morning. The troops were glad to begin the fray; and on the 19th ED. NOTE: The Battle of Antietam, fought 17 Sep 1862, was the bloodiest single day of the entire Civil War.
-111promptly advanced. The picket line of the enemy at once surrendered; and Gen. Lee and his army had forded the river during the night and were now on Virginia soil.