Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield


The Dunkers

The Dunker movement began in Germany in the early eighteenth century. The peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years War ( 1618 -1648 ) recognized three state churches. Dissenters were persecuted and forced to meet in communities where some degree of tolerance prevailed. In 1708 the denomination was formed with the baptism of eight believers by full immersion. The name Dunker derives from this method of baptism. However they were more commonly known as the German Baptist Brethren. In 1908 the official name became Church of the Brethren.

Because of the church's prominence in the Battle of Antietam, many believe that the Dunkers were the dominant religious denomination in the Sharpsburg area. Actually, they were a very visible, yet prominent minority. The original settlers to this region in the mid 18th century, were the so called "Pennsylvania Germans" or "Deutsche" (Pennsylvania Dutch). These people arrived in the early 1700's and settled in southeastern and south central Pennsylvania before moving into western Maryland and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

One misnomer concerning the Germans is that they were all "Plain People" or "Sect People" (Members of the Dunker, Mennonite or Amish sects). While it is true that the first sizable influx of Germans were Mennonites, these so-called "Sect People" were a minority. The large majority, as many as 90 percent, of the Germans that came to the New World were known as the "Church People," members of the Lutheran and Reformed Church. So it was with the citizens of Sharpsburg and the surrounding countryside. Thus, while some noted area families such as the Mummas were Dunkers, most of the other farm families were not.

Dunkers practiced modesty in their dress and general lifestyle. Other Christian principles which the Dunker's stress are: pacifism, members both North and South refused military service; the brotherhood of man, including opposition to slavery; and temperance, total abstinence from alcohol. A typical Dunker church service supported their beliefs in simplicity. Hymns were sung with no musical accompaniment from organ, piano or other instruments. The congregation was divided with men seated on one side and women on the other. The churches were simple with no stained glass windows, steeple or crosses.

Photography at Antietam

The ability to capture a moment in time has fascinated us ever since an image was first produced in 1839. First a novelty, then a powerful medium of information and emotion, photography and photojournalism came of age during the American Civil War. No other conflict had ever been recorded in such detail. Nowhere else is this truer than at Antietam, the first battlefield photographed before the dead were buried.

It started with just a few, but by 1865 dozens of photographers were hauling glass plates and volatile chemicals across the war-torn countryside. Today, because of their work, we can still look into the faces of soldiers and visit the locations of tragic events.

Photography Comes to America
Louis Daguerre produced the first known image on polished silver plates in his studio in France. His invention quickly captivated the Europeans. Other inventors looked for new ways to produce their photographs. After a decade of silver plates and paper experiments, Englishman Frederick Archer started working with glass plates. This critical breakthrough, the glass negative, allowed positive copies to be transferred or created on light sensitized paper.

The initial problem with glass plates was keeping the light-sensitive chemicals on the glass. Archer overcame this problem by using a sticky transparent liquid called "collodion." For this new process a puddle of collodion was poured onto a glass or iron plate. Then the plate was tilted so that the collodion flowed over the entire plate leaving an even coating. When the coating began to set, the plate was then taken into the "darkroom" and then lowered into a bath of silver nitrate where it received its light-sensitive coating. The plates had to be sensitized just minutes prior to making the exposure and then developed before the coating dried - thus the name "wet plate" photography. After exposing the plate - "taking the picture" - the photographer had to quickly fix and wash the plate thoroughly. Then the finished image was dried over an alcohol lamp and coated with a varnish for protection.

Alexander Gardner at Antietam
When war threatened the nation in the spring of 1861, thousands of soldiers flocked to Washington, D.C., to defend the capital. Photographers followed in their footsteps capturing camp scenes and portraits of untested, jubilant greenhorns in their new uniforms. It so happened that Alexander Gardner had just opened a new studio in the capital for the most notable photographer of his era - Mathew Brady. Gardner also took advantage of the coming storm to increase his business. All of the early war photographs were taken in studios or tents. No one had produced images in the field.

It wasn't until September of 1862 that the first true images of war were produced. Antietam was the first battle to depict the grim and bloody truth of civil war through the lens of photographer Alexander Gardner and his assistant James Gibson. Gardner made two trips to Antietam. The first was just two days after the battle, the second, two weeks later when President Abraham Lincoln visited the battlefield.

During both of his trips, Gardner moved across the battlefield taking advantage of another new photographic technique that increased the impact of war images - stereograph. Two lenses capture two simultaneous photographs, and when seen through a viewer, the mind creates a three-dimensional image. Parlors were filled with cards and viewers as stereo views became the rage in America. Of the approximately ninety images Gardner took at Antietam, about seventy were in stereo, adding a new, horrific view of the American landscape to home collections.

Newspapers could not reproduce photographs, but woodcuts from the Antietam images spread across the country. Gardner's original images were put on display in New York City at Brady's gallery. New Yorkers were shocked and appalled. The New York Times stated that Brady was able to "bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it…"

Preliminary Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States, and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed.

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the Governments existing there, will be continued.

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

That the executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States, and part of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof shall, on that day be, in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto, at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.

That attention is hereby called to an Act of Congress entitled "An Act to make an additional Article of War" approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figure following:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such:

"Article-All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor, who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.

"Sec.2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage."

Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled "An Act to suppress Insurrection, to punish Treason and Rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes," approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:

"Sec.9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found on (or) being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude and not again held as slaves.

"Sec.10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service."

And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the act, and sections above recited.

And the executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States, and their respective States, and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

Abraham Lincoln
By the President

William H. Seward
Secretary of State

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862; Presidential Proclamations, 1791-1991; Record Group 11; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives.

George B. McClellan

George B. McClellan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 3, 1826. He was the third of five children born to Dr. George and Elizabeth (Brinton) McClellan. His family moved within the upper ranks of Philadelphia society.

Young George entered school at the age of 5. He attended private schools and a prep school before entering the Military Academy at West Point in 1842. At the age of 15, he was the youngest of the West Point arrivals that year to seek a place as fourth classman. In 1846, he had earned the distinction of graduating second in his class of 59. (He was outranked in his class only by Charles S. Stewart, who later would serve under him as a captain of engineers.) The class of '46 contributed 20 generals to the Union and Confederate armies.

Upon graduation, George McClellan was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. In the Mexican War, he won brevets of 1st Lieutenant and Captain for his zeal, gallantry, and ability in constructing roads and bridges over routes for the marching army. He was also an instructor at West Point for 3 years.

McClellan's other accomplishments include surveyor of possible transcontinental railroad routes. As a member of a board of officers, he was sent abroad to study the armies of Europe and observe the Crimean War. This resulted in the development of the "McClellan saddle," which was standard equipment in the army until mechanization eliminated horses in 1942.

In 1857, he resigned his commission of Captain in the 1st Cavalry to become Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, where he occasionally worked with a lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. When the Civil War began, he was living in Ohio, where he served as president of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.

His heart was captured by a young lady named Ellen Marcy. Ellen had received numerous marriage proposals, but was strongly encouraged by her father to accept McClellan's. On May 22, 1861, they were married in New York.

George McClellan had proven himself to be an efficient organizer with strong personal magnetism. For this reason, and some successes in West Virginia, President Lincoln approved him Major General in the regular army. He was outranked only by General-in-Chief Winfield Scott. He reorganized a disjointed and poorly disciplined army, pushing it into the field in response to Lee's invasion.

After the Battle of Antietam, he was ordered to turn over his command to his good friend Ambrose E. Burnside and to go home to New Jersey to await further orders. They never came.

In 1864, McClellan was nominated for President by the Democratic Party but lost the election. He did serve as governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881. On October 29, 1885, George Brinton McClellan died in Orange, NJ. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Trenton.

Campaign Timeline

Date Eastern Theater   Other Events

Three day Battle of Second Manassas or Second Bull Run, VA begins   CSA Gen. Braxton Bragg leads the Army of the Tennessee North from Chattanooga, TN
    CSA Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's Army of Kentucky invades Kentucky
Union Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia defeated at Second Manassas, begins withdrawal toward Washington, D.C.    
Battle of Chantilly or 0x Hill, VA; Pope's rearguard attacked in driving rainstorm, Union army continues toward Washington    
Union Gen. George B. McClellan restored to command in Virginia and around Washington
CSA Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrating Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) at Chantilly
3 Wednesday Lee moves ANV toward Leesburg, VA, writes CSA President Jefferson Davis "The present seems to be the most propitious time since the commencement of the war for the Confederate Army to enter Maryland"   Smith occupies state capitol of Frankfort, Kentucky


Lee begins crossing his army over the Potomac River near Leesburg VA. All the units will be in Maryland by Sept. 7    
Army of the Potomac begins to move out of Washington    
"Stonewall" Jackson occupies Frederick, MD, Lee's entire army is across the Potomac    
McClellan moves his headquarters out of Washington to Rockville, MD    
Lee issues a Proclamation to the people of Maryland: "It is for you to decide your destiny freely and without constraint"    
-Lee issues Special Orders #191 in Frederick outlining plans for taking of Harpers Ferry, VA (now WV)
-CSA Gen John G. Walker's Division leaves Frederick enroute to the Monacacy River Aqueduct and Loudon Heights, VA
10 Wednesday -Jackson leaves Frederick toward Middletown at 3 am, over South Mountain to Boonsboro by nightfall
-CSA Gen James Longstreet follows Jackson through Middletown toward Hagerstown
-CSA Gen Layfayette McLaws' Division moves toward Maryland Heights by way of Middletown and Burkittsville.
-Walker fords Potomac at Point of Rocks and camps through the 11th
Confederates enter Hagerstown, MD.
By evening, Jackson within 4 miles of Martinsburg, VA (now WV)
McClellan enters Frederick    
-McLaws begins assault on Maryland Heights
-CSA Gen D.H. Hill at Boonboro
-Jackson occupies Martinsburg
-McLaws takes Maryland Heights
-Walker reaches Loudon Heights, VA
-By night, Jackson reaches Bolivar Heights,WV
Copy of Special Orders 191 found in Frederick, delivered to McClellan by early evening; by 10 pm Lee knows of excitement in Federal camp, orders Longstreet to Boonsboro, warns McLaws
-Union Gen William Franklin's VI Corps takes Crampton's Gap, in line facing South in Pleasant Valley
-Union Gens Jesse Reno (IX Corps) and Joseph Hooker (I Corps) attack at Fox's and Turner's Gaps
-D.H. Hill and Longstreet withdraw after dark
-Walker has artillery in place on Loudon Heights by 1 pm
-McLaws has artillery in place on Maryland Heights by 2 pm

Emancipation Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863; Presidential Proclamations, 1791-1991; Record Group 11; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives.

Back to Freedom at Antietam

The Mumma Bible

Daniel Miller donated the leather bound volume to the Dunker congregation in 1853. After the battle Sergeant Nathan Dykeman, 107th New York, took the bible. It remained in his home in Schuyler County, New York until his death in 1903.

Dykeman's sister decided to return the bible to its rightful owners and sold it to the veterans organization of the 107th New York. They in turn gave it to Mr. John T. Lewis, an African -American who had moved from Maryland to New York. Lewis returned the bible to the Sharpsburg congregation in 1903. It eventually was acquired by the Washington County Historical Society and donated to the National Park Service. Today the Mumma Bible is on display in the visitor center.

Henry Kyd Douglas Collection

Henry Kyd Douglas was on Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's staff in the Maryland Campaign. He was a great asset to the Confederate leadership at Antietam because he grew up about four miles from the battlefield. His childhood home "Ferry Hill" still stands above the Potomac River and is owned by the C.& O. National Historic Park. Douglas served throughout the war in the eastern theater, was captured at Gettysburg and reached the rank of Colonel.

After the war Douglas worked as a lawyer in Hagerstown, Maryland, and was active in the Maryland National Guard. He wrote his memoirs, "I Rode With Stonewall" and was instrumental in the creation of the Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown where the Confederate remains on the battlefield were re-burried. Douglas died in 1903 and is buried in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Robert E. Lee

Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at "Stratford" in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the fifth child born to Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and his second wife, Ann Hill (Carter) Lee. He grew up in an area where George Washington was still a living memory.

Educated in the Alexandria, Virginia, schools, he obtained appointment to West Point in 1825. In 1829, Robert E. Lee graduated second in the class without a single demerit against his name. He was commissioned a brevet 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers.

On June 30, 1831, he married Mary Ann Randolph Custis. They had seven children. All three of their sons served in the Confederate army. George Washington Custis and William Henry Fitzhugh ("Rooney") attained the rank of Major General and Robert E. Lee, Jr., that of Captain. The latter served as a private in the Rockbridge Artillery at the Battle of Antietam. During the Mexican War, Robert E. Lee was promoted to Colonel due to his gallantry and distinguished conduct in performing vital scouting missions.

In 1852, he became Superintendent of the Military Academy. In 1855, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis transferred Lee from staff to line and was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel 2nd Cavalry. He was then sent to West Texas, where he served from 1857-1861. In February of 1861, General Winfield Scott recalled Lee from Texas when the lower South seceded from the Union.

Politically, Robert E. Lee was a Whig. Ironically, he was attached strongly to the Union and to the Constitution. He entertained no special sympathy for slavery. When Virginia withdrew from the Union, Lee resigned his commission rather than assist in suppressing the insurrection. His resignation was two days following the offer of Chief of Command of U.S. forces under Scott. He then proceeded to Richmond to become Commander-in-Chief of the military and naval forces of Virginia. When these forces joined Confederate services, he was appointed Brig. Gen. in the Regular Confederate States.

Lee returned to Richmond in March of 1862 to become military advisor to President Davis. Whenever he had a plan, General Lee took the initiative and acted at once. Cutting off supplies and reinforcements executed by Jackson at Seven Pines was a successful Confederate venture. He also stopped McClellan's threat to Richmond during the Seven Days Battle (June 26-July 2, 1861). At the Battle of Second Manassas, Lee defeated Pope. At the Battle of Antietam, his Northern thrust was checked by McClellan; however, he repulsed Burnside at Fredericksburg in December of 1862. In May of 1863, Gen. Lee defeated Gen. Hooker at Chancellorsville, but was forced onto the strategic defensive after Gettysburg in July. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House.

After the surrender, Lee returned to Richmond. He assumed the presidency of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University). His example of conduct for thousands of ex-Confederates made him a legend even before his death on October 12, 1870. General Robert E. Lee is buried at Lexington, Virginia.

Clara Barton

"In my feeble estimation, General McClellan, with all his laurels, sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the age, the angel of the battlefield."
Dr. James Dunn
Surgeon at the Battle of Antietam

"A ball has passed between my body and the right arm which supported him, cutting through his chest from shoulder to shoulder. There was no more to be done for him and I left him to his rest. I have never mended that hole in my sleeve. I wonder if a soldier ever does mend a bullet hole in his coat?" Clara Barton at Antietam

Shy Tomboy
As Clara Barton moved briskly among the maimed and wounded soldiers at Antietam, few could imagine that she was once a shy, retiring child. Born in the central Massachusetts town of North Oxford on Christmas Day, 1821, Clarissa Harlowe Barton was the baby of the family. Her four brothers and sisters were all at least 10 years her senior.

When she was young, Clara's father regaled her with his stories of soldiering against the Indians. Her brothers and cousins taught her horseback riding and other boyish hobbies. Although she was a diligent and serious student, Clara preferred outdoor frolics to the indoor pastimes "suitable" for young ladies of that time.

Despite her intelligence, Clara was an intensely shy young girl, so much so that her parents fretted over it. At times, Clara was so overwrought she could not even eat. But the demure girl overcame her shyness in the face of a crisis—a pattern that would repeat itself during her lifetime. When her brother became ill, Clara stayed by his side and learned to administer all his medicine, including the "great, loathsome crawling leeches."

Throughout her life, Clara Barton led by example. In an era when travel was arduous, and many men and almost all women stayed close to home, Miss Barton traveled far and wide looking for new challenges. After teaching for several years in her home town, she opted for additional schooling.

After a year of formal education in western New York state, Miss Barton resumed teaching in Bordentown, N.J. Miss Barton taught a "subscription school," where parents of students chipped in to pay the teacher's salary. On her way to school, Miss Barton noticed dozens of children hanging around on street corners. Their parents could not afford the "subscription." Miss Barton offered to teach in a school for free if the town provided a building. The first day, six students showed up, the next day 20, and within a year there were several hundred students at New Jersey's first free public school.

Having lost her position as head of the school to a man simply because she was a woman, Miss Barton moved to Washington, D.C. She took a job as a clerk at the U.S. Patent Office, no mean feat for a women in those days. Even more shocking, she earned the same salary as male clerks.

With the outbreak of war and the cascade of wounded Union soldiers into Washington, Miss Barton quickly recognized the unpreparedness of the Army Medical Department. For nearly a year, she lobbied the Army bureaucracy in vain to bring her own medical supplies to the battlefields. Finally, with the help of sympathetic U. S. Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, Miss Barton was permitted to bring her supplies to the battlefield. Her self-appointed military duties brought her to some of the ugliest battlefields of 1862—Cedar Mountain, Va., Second Manassas, Va., Antietam, Md., and Fredericksburg, Va.

"I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay." Clara Barton

First Corps

MGen. Joseph Hooker (w)
BGen George G. Meade
Escort: 2nd New York Cavalry (4 companies), Capt John E. Naylor

BGen John P. Hatch (w, 9/14)
BGen Abner Doubleday
First Brigade
Col Walter Phelps, Jr.
22nd New York Infantry, LtCol John McKie, Jr.
24th New York Infantry, Capt John D. O'Brian (w)
30th New York Infantry, Col William M. Searing
90th New York Infantry, (14th Militia), Maj. William H. de Bevoise
2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, Col Henry A. V. Post (w)

Second Brigade
BGen Abner Doubleday
Col William P. Wainwright (w, 9/14)
LtCol J. William Hofmann
7th Indiana Infantry, Maj Ira G. Grover
76th New York Infantry, Col William P. Wainwright, Capt John W. Young
95th New York Infantry, Maj Edward Pye
56th Pennsylvania Infantry, LtCol S. William Hofmann, Capt. Frederick Williams

Third Brigade
BGen Marsena R. Patrick
21st New York Infantry, Col William F. Rogers
23rd New York Infantry, Col Henry C. Hoffman
35th New York Infantry, Col Newton B. Lord
89th New York Infantry (20th Militia), LtCol Theodore B. Gates

Fourth Brigade
BGen John Gibbon
19th Indiana Infantry, Col Solomon Meredith, LtCol Alois O. Bachman (k),
Capt William W. Dudley
2nd Wisconsin Infantry, Col Lucius Fairchild (w, 9/14), LtCol Thomas S. Allen (w),
Capt George B. Ely
6th Wisconsin Infantry, LtCol Edward S. Bragg (w), Maj Rufus R. Dawes
7th Wisconsin Infantry, Capt John B. Callis

Capt J. Albert Monroe
1st New Hampshire, Lt Frederick M. Edgell D
1st Rhode Island,Capt J. Albert Monro
L, 1st New York, Capt John A. Reynolds
B, 4th U.S., Capt Joseph B. Campbell (w), Lt James Stewart

BGen James B. Ricketts
First Brigade
BGen Abram Duryea
97th New York, Maj Charles Northrup
104th New York, Maj Lewis C. Skinner
105th New York, Col Howard Carroll (mw)
107th Pennsylvania, Capt James MacThomson

Second Brigade
Col William A. Christian
Col Peter Lyle (w)
26th New York, LtCol Richard H. Richardson
94th New York, LtCol Calvin Littlefield
88th Pennsylvania, LtCol George W. Gile (w), Capt Henry B. Myers
90th Pennsylvania, Col Peter Lyle, LtCol. William A. Leech

Third Brigade
BGen George L. Hartsuff (w)
Col Richard Coulter
12th Massachusetts, Maj Elisha Burbank (mw), Capt Benjamin F. Cook
13th Massachusetts, Maj J. Parker Gould
83rd New York (9th Militia), LtCol William Atterbury
11th Pennsylvania, Col Richard Coulter, Capt David M. Cook

F, 1st Pennsylvania, Capt Ezra W. Matthews
C, Pennsylvania, Capt James Thompson

(Pennsylvania Reserves)
BGen George G. Meade
BGen Truman Seymour
First Brigade
BGcn Truman Seymour
Col R. Biddle Roberts
1st Pennsylvania, Col R. Biddle Roberts, Capt William C. Talley
2nd Pennsylvania, Capt James N. Byrnes
5th Pennsylvania, Col Joseph W. Fisher
6th Pennsylvania, Col William Sinclair
13th Pennsylvania (1st Rifles), Col Hugh W. McNeil (k, 9/16), Capt. Dennis McGee

Second Brigade
Col Henry C. Bolinger (w, 9/14)
Col Albert L. Magilton
3rd Pennsylvania, LtCol John Clark
4th Pennsylvania, Maj John Nyce
7th Pennsylvania, Col Henry C. Bolinger (w, 9/14) Maj Chauncey A. Lyman
8th Pennsylvania, Maj Silas M. Bailey

Third Brigade
Col Thomas F. Gallagher (w)
LtCol Robert Anderson
9th Pennsylvania, LtCol Robert Anderson, Capt Samuel B. Dick
10th Pennsylvania, LtCol Adoniram J. Warner (w), Capt Jonathan P. Smith
11th Pennsylvania, LtCol Samuel M. Jackson
12th Pennsylvania, Capt Richard Gustin

A, 1st Pennsylvania, Lt John G. Simpson
B, 1st Pennsylvania, Capt James H. Cooper
C, 5th U. S., Capt Dunbar B. Ransom

Notes of Abbreviations:

Lt = Lietutenant
Capt = Captain
Maj = Major
LtCol = Lieutenant Colonel
Col = Colonel
BGen = Brigadier General
MGen = Major General

(w) = wounded
(mw) = mortally wounded
(k) = killed
(c) = captured
Unless otherwise noted, casualities occured on September 17th.

Flags at Antietam

Every unit that marched onto the fields of battle across America was led by at least one flag that was purposely positioned in the center front of the regiment. The flags were the largest and most colorful objects on the field. Through the smoke and terror of battle they acted as a guide, a symbol, and a rallying point. Many of the flags were sewn by the wives and mothers in the home towns who sent their men off to war. Imagine standing on your town square in 1861 with farmers, laborers and merchants apprehensively enlisting, bands playing patriotic music, and town leaders making speeches. At the conclusion of the day a flag would be presented to the new regiment or company. In Louisiana Idelea Collens offered a flag to the DeSoto Rifles and stated, "receive then from your mothers and sisters, from whose affections greet you, these colors woven by our feeble but reliant hands; and when this bright flag shall float before you on the battlefield, let it…inspire you with the brave and patriotic ambition of a soldier aspiring to his own, and his country's honor and glory."

The Medal of Honor

A total of 1,520 Medals were awarded during the Civil War. Twenty men received Medals for their gallantry on the Battlefield at Antietam. Eight of the twenty men were awarded the Medal for either capturing or saving flags.

In 1916 a board of five retired General Officers was appointed to investigate the validity of all the Medals which had been awarded. 911 names were stricken from the list, most from the Civil War. The majority of those were from the 27th Maine Infantry who in June of 1863, a critical time of the war, received Medals of Honor just for re-enlisting.

When appropriate medals could not be supplied, the Confederate Congress authorized the Roll of Honor in October of 1862. The Roll of Honor covered all ranks and it was ordered that the Roll would be: 1) preserved in the office of the Adjutant and Inspector General; 2) read at the head of every regiment at the first dress-parade after its receipt and; 3) published in at least one newspaper from each state.

Freedom at Antietam

As the glowing sun set over the bloody fields of Antietam, the Civil War became a different war. Five days after the battle, armed with pen and paper, Abraham Lincoln changed the war when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The proclamation reflected Lincoln's new way of thinking about the conflict. Until this time, it was seen as a rebellion, a fight to preserve the Union without touching slavery. Now Lincoln was threatening to crush the Confederacy by destroying slavery, the basis of its economy and society. Now the North was waging a moral crusade to free the slaves.

While the Emancipation Proclamation reflected Lincoln's high-minded morality, the president was under great pressure to act. Congress was urging emancipation. Escaped slaves were fleeing to the Union army as it advanced in the South, complicating military operations. And the enlistment of black Americans as soldiers could give the Union's ailing war machine a much-needed boost.

Forever Free, but When?
Lincoln's preliminary proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, declared that on New Year's Day, 1863, slaves in areas then "in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." For areas not deemed to be in rebellion, slavery would be unchanged.

The final proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, identified those areas "in rebellion." They included virtually all of the Confederacy, except areas controlled by the Union army. The document notably excluded the so-called border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, where slavery existed side by side with Unionist sentiment. In areas where the U.S. government had authority, such as Maryland and much of Tennessee, slavery went untouched. In areas where slaves were declared free--most of the South--the federal government had no effective authority.

By the summer of 1862, Congress was pushing hard for emancipation. Now Lincoln's proclamation, a vital step on the gradual path to freedom for American slaves, articulated emancipation as the government's new policy.

Although his famous proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, black Americans saw Lincoln as a savior. Official legal freedom for the slaves came in December 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery.

Political Tightrope
Like everything else in Lincoln's administration, the slavery issue was fraught with political pitfalls. On one hand, Lincoln was under pressure to attack slavery from Congress and from some of his own generals.

But Lincoln was beholden to the Union border states of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, where some slaveowners were loyal Union men. Lincoln was afraid to seize their private property (their slaves) and lose those states to the Confederacy, so he exempted them from his Emancipation Proclamation.

The timing of the proclamation was also political. Lincoln penned his first copy in July 1862, when Union armies were losing one battle after another. But Secretary of State William Seward persuaded Lincoln that emancipation then would look like the "last measure of an exhausted government . . . stretching forth its hands to . . . Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government." (In the mid-19th century, black Americans were sometimes called Ethiopians.)

So Lincoln decided to wait for a victory on the battlefield. Antietam gave him his opportunity.

Six Generals Killed

Wounded at Antietam
September 17, 1862

Army of the Potomac
BGen Samuel W. Crawford
BGen Napoleon J.T. Dana
BGen George L. Hartsuff
MGen Joseph Hooker
BGen John Sedgwick
BGen Max Weber

Army of Northern Virginia
MGen Richard H. Anderson
BGen Maxcy Gregg
BGen John R. Jones
BGen Alexander R. Lawton
BGen Roswell S. Ripley
BGen Ambrose R. Wright

Killed at South Mountain
September 14, 1862

MGen Jesse L. Reno

BGen Samuel Garland

The Signal Corps

An Innovative Technology of War
Armies through the ages used drums, trumpets, and banners to communicate on the battlefield. These methods were used in the American Civil War as well. However, during the Civil War, both armies introduced a new signal technology that permitted rapid communication across the battlefield and farther. The new system used flags or torches to talk to each other. With signal stations on the field and surrounding ridges, the U.S. Signal Corps operated throughout the Battle of Antietam, not only sending messages, but also observing behind the Confederate lines.

A Signal Party on Duty in the Field
A U.S. Army signal party could be as small as an officer and two privates. This ratio of officers to men is evident in Alexander Gardner's photograph taken of the signal detachment on Elk Mountain east of the battlefield a few weeks after the battle. There are three officers and six enlisted men.

Only the officer understood the code, and he was responsibel for encoding and decoding messages. The enlisted men would flag the signals and assist in reading incoming signals which were given to the officer for translation. Signalmen were selected by examinations and were generally more educated. Commissioned officers were tested in reading and writing, composition, arithmetic, chemistry, natural philosophy, surveying and topography.

Not only were they expected to serve as communicators, they also assisted commanders with reconnaissance and survelliance by virtue of their location at high points on the terrain and their mobility. The life of a signalman could be behind the lines enjoying good food and the comfort of a commander's headquarters—or in advance of the army exposed to the elements in remote and isolated locations, experiencing hardship and danger.

Signal Stations During the Battle
There were several U.S. signal stations on or near the Antietam Battlefield. The most important, under Lt. Joseph Gloskoski, was located on Elk Mountain overlooking the field from the east. Lt. Gloskoski reported that during the battle he communicated with at least five different stations on the field. These were General McClellan's headquarters at the Pry House; General Burnside's headquarters on the Union left; and General Hooker's headquarters on the Union right. Additionally, he refers to "two stations in the center of our lines." One of these was possibly at the Roulette farm. The other may have been the station situated near the Miller farm.

Gloskoski's Elk Mountain station sent the most famous signal of the battle. Late in the afternoon this party observed Lt. General A.P. Hill's division of Confederates approaching the battlefield after its long march from Harpers Ferry. The Elk Mountain station sent an urgent message to Gen. Burnside, "Look well to your left. The enemy are moving a strong force in that direction."

Confederate signalman were also active during the battle and official maps of the battlefield indicate a CSA signal station was located behind the West Woods.

Eyewitness to Battle

"We were massed `in column by company' in a cornfield; the night was close, air heavy...some rainfall...The air was perfumed with a mixture of crushed green corn stalks, ragweed, and clover. We made our beds between rows of corn and would not remove our accouterments."
Pvt. Miles C. Huyette, Company B, 125th Pennsylvania Infantry

"As night drew nearer, whispers of a great battle to be fought the next day grew louder, and we shuddered at the prospect, for battles had come to mean to us, as they never had before, blood, wounds, and death."
Mary Bedinger Mitchell, (Resident of Shepherdstown)

"...I began to feel wretchedly faint of heart, for it seemed timely that the coming of battle meant my certain death."
Pvt. Ezra E. Stickley, Company A, 5th Virginia Infantry

"The stillness of the night is broken by the hostile picket shots close to the front. What are the thoughts that fill the minds of the men as they lie there, anxiously awaiting the morning? Who can describe them?"
Cpl. Arthur S. Fitch, Company B, 107th New York Infantry

"Suddenly a stir beginning far up on the right, and running like a wave along the line, brought the regiment to its feet. A silence fell on everyone at once, for each felt that the momentous `now' had come."
Pvt. David L. Thompson, Company G, 9th New York Volunteers

"Our first fire was rattling volley; then came the momentary interval occupied in loading. The rifles were, of course, muzzle loaders, with iron ramrods; the cartridges were new and the brown paper of the toughest description, so that strong fingers were required to tear out the conical ball and the little paper cap of gunpowder. Emptying these into the muzzle and ramming home and capping the piece took time---seemingly a long time in the hurry of action..."
History of the 35th Massachusetts Volunteers

"It was no longer alone the boom of the batteries, but a rattle of musketry--at first like pattering drops upon a roof; then a roll, crash, roar, and rush, like a mighty ocean billow upon the shore, chafing the pebbles, wave on wave, with deep and heavy explosions of the batteries, like the crashing of the thunderbolts."
Charles Carleton Coffin, Army Correspondent

"I was lying on my back, supported on my elbows, watching the shells explode overhead and speculating as to how long I could hold up my finger before it would be shot off, for the very air seemed full of bullets, when the order to get up was given, I turned over quickly to look at Col. Kimball, who had given the order, thinking he had become suddenly insane."
Lt. Matthew J. Graham, Company H, 9th New York Volunteers

"Sometimes a shell would burst just over our heads, scattering the fragments among us."
Lt. Thomas H. Evans, 12th U.S. Infantry

"The third shell struck and killed my horse and bursting, blew him to pieces, knocked me down, of course, and tore off my right arm..."
Pvt. Ezra E. Stickley, Company A, 5th Virginia Infantry

"Such a storm of balls I never conceived it possible for men to live through. Shot and shell shrieking and crashing, canister and bullets whistling and hissing most fiend-like through the air until you could almost see them. In that mile's ride I never expected to come back alive."
LtCol A.S. "Sandie" Pendleton, CSA

Researching Civil War Ancestors

The following are some guidelines and suggestions on researching Civil War ancestors. Usually, it is best to start with the soldier's full name, his military unit (regiment, battery, ship, etc.) and the county where you believe he enlisted. Then, each of the following steps may yield more information. In many cases, information about Confederate soldiers is limited.

1. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database, Internet accessible at is a good place to start. The CWSS database contains over 5 million soldier names from over 30 states and territories, and the website has several other useful links to possibly obtain more detailed information.

2. The National Archives has copies of official military and pension records for Civil War soldiers. You may request a search of these records by first obtaining NATF forms 85 (for pension files) and 86 (for military record) from the National Archives, by either email at [email protected] or by postal mail at:

Be sure to include the type of form(s) you are requesting (NATF 85, NATF 86, or both), the quantity of forms you need, and your postal mailing address. The National Archives website,, also has useful information.

3. In addition, check with the state archives in the home state of your ancestor's unit to see what records are available. County and local historical societies are often another good source of more detailed information.

4. Studying your ancestor's military unit may also be beneficial. Frederick Dyer's A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion has short histories of Union regiments, while Joseph H. Crute, Jr.'s Units of the Confederate States Army includes Southern regiments. Specific histories on your ancestor's regiment may also be available in local libraries. The Antietam National Battlefield library has some reference materials, plus unit files on regiments that fought in the Battle of Antietam. You may do research at the library by making an appointment with the park historian at (301) 432-8674. Other NPS battlefield sites may also have more information on particular units.

5. Many other resources for genealogical research, such as guidebooks and websites, may help you further your search. Check your local bookstore, or do a word search on the Internet and see what you can find. Good luck!