Human Interest Stories from Antietam
Publication date: March 2009
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
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Scott Mingus presents another insightful, rich collection of human interest stories, this one surrounding the Maryland campaign of September 1862. Although each mini-story stands by itself as a fascinating anecdote, the author places them in context, chronologically, to give the reader a deeper understanding of what went on during this historic event. It's as if we are placed in the event and able to look around and see what is happening from the perspective and experiences of soldiers and civilians alike. This work, in four chapters, covers the actions leading up to the battle of Antietam and follows through to the aftermath of America's bloodiest day. Sources for each story are included to allow the reader/researcher to explore this subject even further. It also offers an "easy read" for those who might not otherwise be interested studying the details characteristic of historic narratives. Here are just a few samples: As one regiment was preparing for a second assault on an enemy position, the men had to pass through a piece of ground littered with the dead and dying from the unsuccessful prior attack. Although they were not yet under hostile fire, one soldier suddenly staggered amid the dead and dying, for he, to his sudden shock, had noted the body of his father, who belonged to a different regiment. Nearby lay a wounded man who knew both the father and son. He pointed to the still corpse and then upwards to the sky, and solemnly intoned, "It is well with him." Perhaps comforted by the thought that his father was now in Paradise, the young soldier regained his composure, fixed his bayonet, and rejoined the advance. After the battle, he returned and helped bury his father. As the fighting intensified around the Lower Bridge, the raucous racket of battle frightened a large sow and her litter. She raced directly towards the stunned Ninth New Hampshire, leaping over corpses that were in her way. She charged through a gap in a rail fence and then tried to run through the narrow opening between the legs of a soldier. He collapsed onto the back of the frightened hog, which carried him, screaming in terror, to the rear. As a section of the Rockbridge Artillery galloped by General Lee, an artilleryman, black with the grime and powder of a long day's fight, stopped for a moment to salute the commanding general, who returned the greeting without recognizing his admirer. It was eighteen-year-old Robert E. Lee, Jr., the general's youngest son, whose countenance and appearance masked his identity. After a brief personal exchange, young Lee raced ahead to rejoin his battery. The Nineteenth Maine Infantry was camped nearby on Bolivar Heights. This regiment "had the largest men in it that I ever saw," according to artilleryman Tom Aldrich. However, apparently their brains did not match their brawn. The Maine boys marched to the top of the heights and stacked arms near mealtime. During the fall of Harper's Ferry two weeks before, a battery of 20 lb. Parrott Rifles had occupied that position, and several discarded shells were still lying about. Without checking to see if the rounds were still live, several Maine lumberjacks soon used the shells to construct a fireplace to set their frying pans on. Soon they had a nice fire started and began preparing their food. The heat soon set off some of the shells, with fierce explosions ringing the air.