Hello, and happy Friday! I’m so glad you stopped by again to visit with me 😉 Today, I have another installment of my 10 Totally Random Facts Series! (Click here to read the last one)
Antietam, one of the most controversial battles of the Civil War. For some reason, people cannot agree on who won this battle. The Union troops were the ones who retreated at the end of the battle. But the Confederates withdrew from the state the next day. I believe this means the South won the battle, but the North won the campaign, but that’s just my opinion 😉
Anywho, let’s get on with today’s post!
1. Dunker Church. In Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the Battle of Antietam took place, there is a little country church known as Dunker Church. When we visited this site, one of the first things we noticed was that sweet whitewashed church! It’s funny name actually came from people teasing the church members because they believed in full immersion baptism! 😄 And by the way, I do too! It’s the only way that shows the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!⛪
2. The Road with a Rut. Known today as Bloody Lane, the locals called a rutted road outside of town Sunken Road. It was here that some of the bloodiest fighting (up to this point in the war) took place. The Confederate-held their ground for several hours, but ultimately were driven from the road by the men of Francis Barlow.
3. General Who? While researching for my novel, Our Heritage to Save, I watched a documentary about Antietam. On it, they told of an Irish Union General named Robert Marr…or so I thought. Right before I took my book to press, I watched a video by American Battlefield Trust about Civil War Mispronunciations. On the video, they spoke of a general named Meagher. It was the same man! I was completely confused! But the man went on to explain, that the man’s name was pronounced Marr, but spelled totally different 😑 Thank you American Battlefield Trust for saving me from that embarrassment!
4. The other John Brown. John Brown Gordon was a Confederate officer, commanding men in Bloody Lane. Gordon suffered not one, not two, but five wounds before he was forced the leave the field. The disabling wound was to his face, but it didn’t prove to stop him. Thanks to his wife nursing him back to health, Gordon survived and fought until Lee surrendered. Later, he went on to serve in multiple political offices representing the state of Georgia. (The more famous John Brown was a radical abolitionist who took things a little too far! He was executed for treason in 1859.
5. Modified bandages. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When you run out of bandages, spare material and everything else you can find, turn to a ready material: corn husks. That’s exactly what the doctors and nurses of the Confederate army did when their supply ran out. Apparently, it worked! 😐
6.) Don’t mess with a hungry Texan! Gen. John Bell Hood and his men arrived in Sharpsburg, exhausted and on a two-day empty stomach. Just as they were fixing their food, they were called into the fighting at the cornfield. They proceeded, with heavy casualties, to route the famed Iron Brigade of the Union army. I assume that following the charge and licking their wounds, they returned to their meal.🥓🥔🍞
7.) Clash of officers. Prior to the fighting at Antietam, Gen. Stonewall Jackson had taken Harper’s Ferry, Va. from federal troops. During this, he went to the men of Gen. A.P. Hill (who was under his command) and ordered them to pick up their pace. Hill was furious that Jackson had bypassed him to give the order and offered his sword to Jackson. (This was an act of giving up one’s command, a show of indignation.) To his surprise, Jackson accepted it and placed him under arrest until further notice. Jackson hoped this would teach Hill a lesson. While this rift was never mended, Hill did obey orders when he was told to march to Sharpsburg with his men on the double. He ended up winning the battle for the South!
8.) The Woman. As the federal Irish brigade marched into the field at Antietam, an Irish woman cheered them on with shouts of “Godspeed, me boys!” and “Erin go braugh!” (Irish for Ireland until the end.) I believe she was a nurse if my memory serves me right…anyway, she certainly was patriotic for her cause!😂
9.) Who said anything about empty guns? Towards the end of the day, C.S. Gen. James Longstreet’s men were out of ammo and had lost many men. In fact, the General was holding his aides’ horses so they could keep a cannon firing on the federal troops! The federals didn’t know that the men on the hill had no bullets and retreated. Why? They men bluffed, waving their flags and rifles in the air, taunting the Union troops to dare and fight them. When General Lee asked Longstreet where his men were, Longstreet replied, “There. And they haven’t a cartridge among them.”
10.) It’s me, Dad! At one point during the fighting, General Lee was giving orders, and a young soldier in the artillery approached him, covered in soot and grime. The young man had to introduce himself before Lee figured out who was talking to him. It was his youngest son, Robert “Rob” Lee Jr. 😃
So there you have it, 10 random facts about Antietam!
And now for an excerpt from Our Heritage to Save!
An Irishman hurried forward to help uncover the Irish colors. They were to lead a renewed attack on the sunken road. Caldwell’s men were to follow. The Irish brigade was ready to fight. They were going to show the world what they were willing to do for what they loved.
“Irish Brigade,” Gen. Meagher called, “Forward, March!” The soldiers talked in low voices as they neared a corn field.
“We’ll be a seein’ what the Rebs think after we get through with them, we will,” an older man said. “We’ll wallop them, aye lad?”
A youthful voice replied, “Aye, we will, soon as we get there.” They pushed itchy corn leaves out of their faces.
Next thing they knew, the Irish were being fired upon. They loaded their smoothbore muskets and fired into the North Carolinians. They weren’t even in sight of the sunken road, but already, they were taking casualties.
A fence was in the way, preventing their advance. Several men raced forward and tore the split rails down. Few returned to the ranks.
Gen. Meagher knew he had to rally his troops. He rode to the front. “Three cheers for the Army of the Potomac!”
“Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”
“Raise the colors an’ follow me!” Meagher’s men followed him and continued on to the sunken road. The Confederates were waiting for them.
Richard watched the hill intently. At first, all he saw was the tops of the flagpoles. Then slowly, the Irish green and the red, white and blue of Old Glory came into sight.
The Confederate flag bearer lifted the St. Andrew’s Cross resolutely into the air. They could now see the Irish Brigade advancing. The Confederates opened fire.
The Irish put up a fair fight, but the Confederates had the better position. The Irish couldn’t seem to keep up. They sustained heavy losses, nearly half of their force.
Where were Caldwell’s men? Why weren’t they coming to help? Gen. Meagher rode back to see what the holdup was. Coming across one of his officers, Francis Barlow, Meagher begged him to come to their aid.
Barlow refused, for Gen. Caudwell had not given them orders. Meagher dejectedly returned to his men.
Back at the sunken road, the Southern troops began to beg Col. Gordon to leave the field. He’d been wounded at least three times, but he refused to leave. Richard grimaced as he saw their own mounting casualties.
The tide of victory had shifted. The Irish were being reinforced. With no reinforcements of their own, things didn’t look good for the Southern boys.
Col. Gordon kept giving orders. He’d sustained four wounds, but refused to leave his men. But he hadn’t anticipated the fifth wound. This wound was to his cheek. He fell forward, dazed. He was carried from the field and Col. J.N. Lightfoot took his place.
Richard glanced up as an Alabama regiment took off running away from the sunken road. Then another one began to retreat. His unit began looking around. Had they missed an order to retreat?
Suddenly, all of Major Harmon’s men began to run. “We have no orders to retreat!” Richard shouted. “Stop!” He grabbed a soldier by the arm. “Come back and hold the line!”
“Let go of me!” the soldier shouted and raised his rifle, intending to bring it down on Richard. Richard jumped out of the way just in time and crashed into a Union soldier who had charged the works.
Richard jumped up and fired at the advancing blue coats. He pushed another away from him with his rifle and was turning to a third, when he realized he was the only one left in the trench.
“Hey? Where’d everyone go?” He suddenly found himself tangling with a Yankee, trying to break free and escape. The Yank threw him to the ground. Richard rolled over and covered his head while trying to regain his feet.
Gen. J.C. Caldwell is sometimes viewed as a coward, but his days in the army aren’t over. His day will come in 1863.
 Thomas Meagher (pronounced “Marr”) was the commander of the Irish Brigade. He never got over his defeat, and eventually resigned in 1863.
 In 1864, he will be the only general to launch a successful attack at Cold Harbor.
 Colonel who replaced Col. Gordon on the field. It is controversial as to whether he ordered a retreat or not.
Annnnnd you'll have to buy the book to find out what happened :)
Until Next Time,
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Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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