The Cornfield

The Cornfield

This page consists of quotes made about actions around the Cornfield during the Battle of Antietam.  It was last updated on December 24, 2011.  There are 99 quotes in this collection.

 

Confederate Quotes

 

“as though you had set fire to a cane brake of a thousand acres”

A Georgia soldier describes the escalating volume of musketry coming from Lee’s left

From Burnside’s Bridge The Climactic Struggle of the 2nd and 20th Georgia at Antietam Creek by Phillip T. Tucker. Mechanicsburg:  Stackpole, 2000.

 

“The sun seemed to go backwards and night was set aside.”

A North Carolina soldier describes the seemingly endless day

From For Honor, Flag, and Family Civil War Major General Samuel W. Crawford, 1827-1892 by Richard Wagner.  Shippensburg:  White Mane Books, 2005.

 

“Men I cannot say fell-they were knocked out of ranks by the dozen.”

A rebel soldier describing  the ferocity of the Cornfield

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“those corn acres of hell.”

A Virginian describing the Cornfield

From Cavalryman of the Lost Cause by Jeffry D. Wert.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2008.

 

“There was no halt made until we reached the northern boundary of the corn [Miller's corn field], and there for the first time that day I saw the enemy. He had a battery on top of the hill and was shooting over us. Our line silenced the guns, but did not capture them. A quiet of a few minutes followed, then an infantry line appeared on the crest and engaged our line. The flag of the regiment opposing the 11th Miss. was shot down (or lowered) at least a half dozen times before it disappeared behind the hill. Our line did not advance any farther, but kept its same position. The next move in our immediate front was an attempt to get a gun in position to bear on us. It came up in a gallop but the horses were nearly all killed or wounded, the artillerymen disappeared and the effort failed.”

D. L. Lowe.  From “Antietam Eyewitness Accounts.” by Scott D. Hartwig. [Online] Available http://www.historynet.com/antietam-eyewitness-accounts.htm

 

“it seemed the whole world was in arms against us….Their new bright flags were waving in every direction.”

E. Scott Carson of Hampton’s Legion remembers the Cornfield fight

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“but few of our troops on the field, and these seemed to be in much confusion, but still opposing the advance of the enemy’s dense masses with determination.”

Evander M. Law describing the condition of the field when his brigade arrived.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“I thought Darling, that I heard at Malvern Hill heavy cannonading, but I was mistaken.”

G.P. Ring, a member of Hay’s Brigade describing the artillery fire at Antietam

From Lee’s Tigers – The Louisiana Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia by Terry Jones. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

 

“To the Texans in the ranks the sound of battle was deafening:  the boom of artillery; the loud reports of dozens of nearby rifles and the steady popping of thousands more distant; the explosions of shells and the whine and hiss of lead balls and steel fragments.  Men whooped and yelled; others screamed to be heard by their comrades.  File closers and company commanders bellowed orders and encouragement until they were hoarse-or shot.  Dead and dangerously wounded Texans lay among the living and unhurt.  Walking wounded dribbled from the line.  Like a funeral pall, thick clouds of smoke drifted over the corn and at times obscured the sun.”

George E. Otott, author of article describing the Cornfield in his own words.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“I never saw such pretty country or an old one in my life,…splendid crops have been raised in this part of Maryland and everything good to eat.”

H. Watters Berryman of Co I 1st Texas describes Maryland

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“They always take the Texans to the hottest part of the field.”

H. Watters Berryman of Co I, 1st Tex in a letter to his mother speaks about the battle

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“Just as fast as one man would pick it up, he would be shot down.  Eight men were killed or wounded trying to bring it off the field.  I can’t say we were whipped, but we were overwhelmed.”

H. Watters Berryman in a letter to his mother, Watters, a veteran of the 1st Texas describing his battle flag.

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

“the air was full of shot and shell…it seemed almost impossible for a rat to live in such a place.”

J. M. Polk of the 4th Tex describes the Cornfield and pasture.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“Whole ranks of brave men…were mowed down in heaps to the right and left.  Never before was I so consciously troubled with fear that my horse would further injure some wounded fellow soldier, lying helpless on the ground.  This most deadly combat raged until our last round of ammunition was expended.”

John B. Hood describing the attack of his division at Antietam

From The Warrior Generals Combat Leadership in the Civil War by Thomas B. Buell. New York:  Crown Publishers, 1997.

 

“dead on the field”

John B. Hood when asked where his division was after the attack into the Cornfield

From Cavalryman of the Lost Cause by Jeffry D. Wert.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2008.

 

“Tell General Jackson unless I get reinforcements I must be forced back”

John B. Hood.  In a letter to his mother on Sept 21, Sandie Pendleton reports this conversation.  Hood to Sandie Pendleton whom Jackson had sent forward to “see how it goes” around 8:30 AM on Sep 17 1862

From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999.

 

“Lee:  “Great God General Hood, where is your splendid division?”  Hood:  “They are lying on the field where you sent them.”

John B. Hood in response to Lee’s question “Great God General Hood, where is your splendid division?”

From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999.

 

“It was here that I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms, by far, that occurred during the war.   The two little giant brigades of this division wrestled with this might force, losing hundreds of their gallant officers and men but driving the enemy…from 400-500 yards.”

John B. Hood describing the attack of his division.  OR, 10: Pt 1, 923

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

“The flags, the flags! Where are the flags? The bearers are shot down.”

John R. Woodard, Co G, 1st Tex to Col Work as the 1st Tex retreats out of the Cornfield.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“I had a good gun and drew directly at his breast.  I thought to myself, If we whip I am going to see if I killed you.’ I did not get to investigate.  Just [as] I was raising my gun to my face to fire again, a bullet…struck me in the left side, close up under the arm, coming out under my shoulder blade near my back bone.”

Cpl O.T. Hanks of Co K 1st Tex describes the charge into the Cornfield

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“They were too strong for us, cutting us down like grain before a cradle”

Cpl O.T. Hanks of Co K 1st Tex describes the charge into the Cornfield

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“the hottest place I ever saw on this earth or want to see hereafter.  There were shot, shells, and Minie balls sweeping the face of the earth; legs, arms, and other parts of human bodies were flying in the air like straw in a whirlwind.  The dogs of war were loose, and ‘havoc’ was their cry

One of Hood’s 4th Texans describing their attacks through the Cornfield.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“The roar all about us of nearby small arms and artillery more distant was so deafening that the major, in making his report, had to place his mouth to my ear.  Just as he concluded and whilst we still were standing breast to breast, he with his right side and I withy left towards the front, he was stricken by a bullet, straightened, stiffened and fell backwards prone upon the ground, dead.”

Philip A. Work of the 1st Texas describes the death of Maj. Dale in the Cornfield

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“Their bullets when striking the hillside ground raised puffs of dust just as in the beginning of a shower do large drops of rain on a dusty road.  Strange to say, and Providentially, not a man of us received a wound.”

Philip A. Work describes the retreat from the Cornfield and the musket fire of the pursuing 9th Pennsylvania

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“It is a source of mortification that, upon retiring from the engagement, our colors were not brought off.  I can but feel that some degree of odium must attach under the most favorable circumstances, and although such are the circumstances surrounding the conduct of this regiment,  the loss of our flag will always remain a matter of sore and deep regret….No blame, I feel, should attach to the men of officers, all of whom fought heroically and well.  There was no such conduct upon their part as abandoning or deserting their colors.  They fought bravely, and unflinchingly faced a terrible hail of bullets and artillery until ordered by me to retire.  the colors started back with them, and when the were lost no man knew save him who had fallen with them.”

Philip A. Work’s battle report, the loss of the flags

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“Don’t get excited about it Colonel; go tell General Hood to hold his ground, reinforcements are now rapidly approaching between Sharpsburg and the ford”

Robert E. Lee to Stephen Lee.  Lee quoted in White, H.A. Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy

From R.E. Lee A Biography by Douglas Southall Freeman.  New York Scribners, 1934.

 

“with a few more such regiments as those which Hood now has, as an example of daring and bravery, I could feel much more confidence of the result of the campaign.”

Robert E. Lee wrote to General Louis T. Wigfall at San Antonio, Texas in. September 1862 asking for more Texas troops. He said he needed them very much and relied on those he had, in all tight places, and feared he had to call on them too often. He wrote that they fought grandly and nobly

From “General John Bell Hood.”by M.L. Crimmins. Frontier Times Magazine Vol 10 No 6 (March 1933).

 

“The Federals in apparent double battle line were moving toward us at charge bayonets, common time, and the sunbeams falling from their well-polished guns and bayonets gave a glamour and a show at once fearful and entrancing.”

A staff officer of the Stonewall Brigade noting the Union advance through the Cornfield.  Confederate Veteran, 22 (1914) From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

“a terrific storm of shell, canister, and musketry.”

Thomas Jackson

Jackson describing the attack of Hood’s Div

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

“…this is the time that tries the souls of men.  Standing inactive, conscious of unseen danger, with bullets whistling over and around them, the increasing rattle of musketry in front, with now and then the ominous shriek of a shell as it tears through the ranks, taking out perhaps a file of men….The strain upon the men is terrible.  It takes more than brute courage to make him stand.  There must be some higher, nobler feeling to prompt him or he will run in this moment of his great trial.”

W. D. Pritchard of Co I, 1st Tex describes the tension of waiting under fire

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

“The command to forward dispels all fear, and from the first volley all traces of that fear and dread are gone, all is lost in the excitement.  Men who five minutes before were trembling and praying are now cool, collected and more than apt to be cursing….The din and confusion of battle seems to drown all thoughts.”

W. D. Pritchard of Co I, 1st Tex describes the advance of the Texans

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

“The fall of a comrade near (us) produces no perceptible effect.  One, two, even three may fall in touch but on (we) go conscious of one thing and that is to conquer or die.”

W. D. Pritchard of Co I, 1st Tex describes the advance of the Texans into the Cornfield

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

“These brave men were mowed down like the corn surrounding them.”

W.E. Barry of the 4th Texas describes the Cornfield

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

“While standing there I saw coming up the road from the battlefield some colors, with an escort.  When they arrived the Major asked the Yankee with the colors where they got them.  He said in the cornfield.  He turned to me and inquired if I knew the colors.  I told them they belonged to the First Texas Regiment, remarking at the time that where he got the flag there was many a dead Texans there.  He said there were thirteen dead men lying on and around it when he found it.  I asked him to hand it to me a moment, which he did.  I took it in my hand, kissed it, and handed it back to him, tears blinding my eyes.”

W.E. Barry of the 4th Texas captured at Antietam recounts the story of seeing the captured Texas flags

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

Union Quotes

 

“Rifles are shot to pieces in the hands of the soldiers, canteens and haversacks are riddled by bullets, the dead and wounded go down in scores.  The smoke and fog lift; and almost at our feet, concealed in a hollow behind a demolished fence, lies a rebel brigade pouring into our ranks the most deadly fire of the war.  What there are left of us open on them with a cheer; and the next day, the burial parties put up a board in front of the position held by the Twelfth [Massachusetts] with the following inscription:  ‘In this trench lie buried the colonel, the major, six line officers, and one hundred and forty men of the [13th] Georgia Regiment.”

Benjamin F. Cook, a soldier in the 12th Mass describing the advance the 13th Georgia in the cornfield.  Benjamin Cook History of the Twelfth Mass Volunteers (Webster Regiment) (Boston, 1882), 73.

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

 

“like a scythe running through our line.”

A Federal soldier describing Hoods volley into the face of the attacking Federals emerging from the Cornfield

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“Rally, boys rally! Die like men, don’t run like dogs!”

A private’s rallying cry to men of the 8th Pennsylvania Reserve in the Cornfield

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“like burnt-out slag”

A soldier. A description of a short breathing spell on the northern part of the battlefield

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“one of the finest exhibitions of pluck and manhood ever seen on any battlefield.”

A soldier of the 80th NY defending Battery B describing the attack of the Confederates against Battery B.

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“a great tumbling together of all heaven and earth.”

A Wisconsin man describes Antietam

From How the North Won by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones. Urbana:  University of Illinois Press 1983.

 

“I thought I had seen men piled up and cut up all kinds of shape, but never anything in comparison to that field.”

A Yankee describing the Cornfield

From Cavalryman of the Lost Cause by Jeffry D. Wert.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2008.

 

“Move these troops out of here at once. You’re in open range of a battery.”

Abner Doubleday to Gibbbon early in the morning of Sep 17

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Boys, the command is no longer forward, but now it is follow me.”

Alois Bachman of the 19th Indiana orders a charge

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“I’m going to my death boys, but I’m going into the battle all the same.”

An unidentified soldier from Company B Sixth Wisconsin rejoins his company and is killed at the Cornfield

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Beyond the hollow ground the green cornfield swayed and moved, although there was no wind.  The glint of bayonets could be seen here and there amid the leafage, and long, tearing volleys came out of the corn, while wreaths of yellowish-white smoke drifted up above it as if the whole field were steaming.”

Bruce Catton

Catton describing the cornfield

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“‘B” Fourth Artillery, was very roughly handled here yesterday, losing about thirty killed and wounded.”

Charles S. Wainright reporting on the status of Btry B 4th US

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998.

 

“…and Gibbon ran his own battery down the road to within 150 yards of the corner of the woods, where it remained about ten minutes.  It was an awful place to put a battery; in front of two haystacks, and with its flank within easy range of the enemy.  I cannot see how Gibbon could have placed it there, especially when there was quite as commanding a position and a safe one only some 300 yards farther back.”

Charles S. Wainright writing on the employment of Battery B 4th US at Antietam

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998.

“They had a splendid view of Hooker’s advance driving the enemy before them in a rapid and disordered flight.”

David Hunter Strother reports on the view of the battle from McClellan’s HQ

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

“[H]e, in his agony, knowing death must soon come, was calling, Mother! Mother! MOTHER! Brave hearts trembled-strong men wept-indescribable emotions swept over mind and heart.”

E. Livingston Allen of the 13th NJ recalls passing a wounded man of the 107th NY

From  “Who Would Not Be A Soldier?” by Scott D. Hartwig. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

“he showed the white feather that morning, dodged behind a tree and grew there, letting his line go helter skelter without direction.”

Edward S. Bragg recalls the cowardice of Cpt Hooe during the advance

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“they gave us a hot reception, but it was unavailing to check the bullet like force of the command.”

Edward S. Bragg recalls the rebel skirmishers in the cornfield

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“every man of the Sixth acted as if he thought he was the Sixth Wis. And had its honor in his keeping.”

Edward S. Bragg recalls the men of his regiment

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“The battlefield was too terrible to behold without a shock.  I never want to see another such.  I counted eighty Rebels in one row along the fence in front of us, lying so thick you could step from one to the other, and this was only in one place.  In others they lay in heaps, mowed down, and many of our brave boys with them.  So it was everywhere.” Edward S. Bragg of the 6th Wisconsin, and wounded at Antietam describes the scene where the Texas Brigade fought.

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“No sooner was the column in motion than the enemy opened fire on us with artillery, and so accurate was his range that the second shell exploded in the ranks, disabling 13 men.”

Edward S. Bragg of the 6th WI reports the opening artillery fire

From  “Defending Lee’s Flank.” by Robert E. L. Krick. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

“He was a leader of men, who commanded not by fear, by but kindness, and there was not in his command a man who did not love the father of the famous regiment.”

Felix Agnus who served on the General Duryee’s staff during the Civil War

New York Times, September 28, 1890

 

“The corn and the trees, so fresh and green in the morning, were reddened with blood and torn by bullet and shell, and the very earth was furrowed by the incessant impact of lead and iron.”

Francis Palfrey of the 20th Mass reports on the Cornfield

From A Diary of Battle The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 by Charles S. Wainwright edited by Allan Nevins. New York:  De Capo Press, 1998.

“We cheer; we are in ecstasies. While shells and canister are still resonant and minies sizzling spitefully, yet I think this one of the supreme moments of my existence.”

Frank Holsinger of the Pennsylvania Reserves describes the Cornfield fighting

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“With daylight came the roar of artillery and the din of battle in Hooker’s front. The Second Corps still remained in the old position, the ranks being carefully closed and ready to move at the note of the bugle….Some sought the hilltops, some climbed to the crests of straw stacks and from these elevated positions saw the battle ‘from afar off,’ and saw it plainly, commenting upon it as it progressed.”

Franklin Sawyer, a Second Corps soldier witnesses the battle of Antietam before being ordered forward

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

“every move of the Regiment on this day was with precision and in order, not withstanding the front and sometimes flank fire it was under continuously for several hours.”

George Hoyt wrote this of the 7th Wisconsin

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“[first shell] struck the ground bounded over our heads [and] then there was lively work falling in.”

George Sumner describing the opening shots of the battle of Antietam

From  “Defending Lee’s Flank.” by Robert E. L. Krick. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

“For half an hour after the battle had grown to its full strength, the line of fire swayed neither way. The half hour passed, the rebels began to give way, only a little, but at the first indication of a receding fire, Forward , was the word and on went the line with a cheer and a rush.”

George Smalley of the New York Tribune was with Hooker at the opening of the battle.

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

 

“He was perfectly conscious of his situation, and bore his pain with heroic fortitude, saying to his friend, Mussey, with almost his last breath, ‘I am willing to die. Tell my father and friends I fought and died for my country.”

A soldier recalls the passing of Gustavus Sargent at Antietam

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“General Hooker is wounded in the foot. General Sumner is coming up. The enemy is driven on our left and retiring, they open briskly on the right. General Mansfield is killed.”

Herbert von Hammerstein

Message from Maj von Hammerstein back to McClellans HQ on the status of the fighting.

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

“After they discovered our position they threw down their arms and broke for the woods (what was left of them). Then we had fun picking them off. We might have taken them all prisoners, but we wasn’t’ in for that. We killed everyone of them; even a wounded man could not be seen creeping off without being plugged by a minie. They refused to surrender to us, but they had to our minie balls.”

Hugh Perkins of Co. I, 2nd Wisconsin

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“did not think a man in Duryea’s brigade on that day, was hurt by a cannon shot.”

Isaac Hall did not recall a single soldier of Duryea’s brigade getting hit by artillery fire.

From  “Defending Lee’s Flank.” by Robert E. L. Krick. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

 

“General Gibbon was in the battery, and seeing the advantage which the enemy had, ordered one of the guns which was placed on the turnpike to be used against the enemy’s infantry in the cornfield, General Gibbon acting as both cannoneer and gunner at this piece.”

James Stewart, a section leader in Battery B reports on the actions of Genl Gibbon

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“From that day forth I regarded him as possessing but little real merit.”

James Wilson, an aide on McClellan’s staff crestfallen after Hooker refuses to return to the field pleading intense pain.

From Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton.  New York: Anchor Books 1990.

 

“I ordered the regiment to charge into the cornfield.  They started in a gallant style cheering as they moved and penetrated the cornfield, but because of overpowering numbers of concealed enemy we were compelled to fall back.”

Joel Wanner of the 128 PA describes their attack into the cornfield

From For Honor, Flag, and Family Civil War Major General Samuel W. Crawford, 1827-1892 by Richard Wagner.  Shippensburg:  White Mane Books, 2005.

 

“Even the eighteen years which have elapsed have failed to obliterate the recollection of the thrill of horror [with] which I witnessed the sight, nor the apprehension I felt lest the shock should scatter the regiment like a flock of frightened sheep.  I had not yet learned all the powers of discipline in that brigade, nor what the extent of the tests it would successfully pass through.”

John Gibbon recalls the first artillery round that struck the ranks of the Sixth Wisconsin

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“We knew but little of what was going on beyond our immediate vicinity. We were in the hottest of hornets nests and had all we could do to attend to what was in our front whilst the sounds of a severe battle reached our ears from all directions. Bullets, shot and shell whistled and screamed around us, wounded men came to the rear in large numbers, and the six Napoleon guns of Battery B hurled forth destruction in double rounds of canister as the enemy in increased numbers rushed forward to capture the guns.”

John Gibbon describes the fighting around Battery B

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“The whole line soon became hotly engaged, and the enemy, heavily reinforced from the woods, made a dash upon the battery. This attack, however was successfully repelled by heavy discharges of canister from the guns, the fire of the few remaining men of the Second and Sixth Wisconsin, and the flank fire poured in by the Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana, which had been brought around to sweep the front of the battery with their fire, Captain Campbell having in the mean time joined Stewart’s with the other four pieces of the battery.”

John Gibbon reporting on the battle for Battery B

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Yes I did do that. I knew the men of my old brigade would fight without me and just at that particular moment that gun needed looking after to make its fire effective.”

John Gibbon to Harry Heth at the Army Navy Club in Washington DC regarding Gibbon taking over a gun at Antietam. As related by William Harries

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Hooker’s instructions were short and to the point….I was to advance directly to the front and attack.”

John Gibbon recollection of his orders from Hooker

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“three-quarters of us are ready to testify…we were not under artillery fire at all till the very last part of our engagement.”

John M Gould of the 10th ME indicates that his unit was not struck by artillery from Nicodemus Heights

From  “Defending Lee’s Flank.” by Robert E. L. Krick. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

 

“awful carnage…with the bullets flying all around me and man after man dropping here and there.”

John Otis recalls the Cornfield

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“all the devils infernal had been incarnated and assembled on this horrible field.”

John Vautier of the 88th PA describes the artillery fire that strikes Christian’s brigade early in the battle

From  “Defending Lee’s Flank.” by Robert E. L. Krick. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

 

“God, you aint going back are you? Not yet. I still have a few more cartridges left.”

Robert Tomlinson of Co B 6th Wisconsin protests Dawes order to retreat.

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“I could hear the crack of he muskets and once in a while a volley. I went out on to he hill to watch the progress of the battle. Yonder Hookers men were hard at it. The air seemed to be alive with bursting shell and the tremendous roar of musketry showed that the Hellish work had commenced in earnest.”

Roland E. Bowen, a Second Corps soldier witnesses the battle of Antietam before being ordered forward

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

“Before us was a strip of open land, beyond which, on the left-hand side of the turnpike, was rising ground, covered by a large cornfield,”

Rufus Dawes describes the Cornfield

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“I felt a great sense of responsibility, when thus suddenly in command of the regiment in the face of a terrible battle.” Rufus Dawes upon assuming command of the 6th Wisconsin

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“Simultaneously, the hostile battle lines opened a tremendous fire upon each other.  Men, I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens.  But we jumped over the fence, and pushed on, loading, firing, and shouting as we advanced.  There was, on the part of the men, great hysterical excitement, eagerness to go forward, and a reckless disregard of live, or every thing but victory…Everybody tears cartridges, loads, passes guns, or shoots.” Rufus Dawes describes the Cornfield

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Now is the pinch. Men and officers of New York and Wisconsin are fused into a common mass, in the frantic struggle to shoot fast. Men are falling in their places or running back into the corn.”

Rufus Dawes describes the arrival of Phelp’s New York brigade to his assistance.

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Whoever stood in front of the cornfield at Antietam needs no praise.”

Rufus Dawes describes the Cornfield

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“long gray lines of men emerged from the West Woods in rear of the Dunkard Church, double quicked out to the right and left of the turnpike, fronted their lines and moved forward.”

Rufus Dawes describes the advance of Hood’s division.

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

“indescribably horrible”

Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin describing the battlefield

From  “General McClellan’s Bodyguard.” by Brooks Simpson. The Antietam Campaign. Edited by Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

 

“This was the most dreadful slaughter to which our regiment was subjected in the war.”

Rufus Dawes speaking of the casualties at Antietam

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Another great battle fought.  Terrible as it was to some, to us it was really almost nothing compared to Antietam.”

Rufus Dawes after Fredericksburg still recalls Antietam as the worst

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

 

“Men I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens.”

Maj Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin describes as the attack opens

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“A long and steady line of rebel gray, unbroken by the fugitives who fly before us, comes sweeping down through the woods around the church.  They raise the yell and fire.  It is like a scythe running through our line.  ‘Now save, who can.’ It is a race for life that each man runs for the cornfield.”

Maj Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin describes the arrival of Hood’s Texans

From “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Civil War Regiments:  A Journal of the American Civil War. Vol 5, No 3. Campbell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998.

 

“There was…near hysterical excitement, eagerness to go forward, and a reckless disregard for life, of everything but victory….The men are loading and firing with demonical fury and shouting and laughing hysterically.”

Rufus Dawes describing the fighting at Antietam

From Abner Doubleday A Civil War Biography by Thomas Barthel. Jefferson:  McFarland & Co., 2010.

 

“As we appeared at the edge of the cornfield], a long line of men in butternut and gray rose up from the ground.  Simultaneously, the hostile battle lines opened a tremendous fire upon each other.  Men, I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens.”

Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin describing his advance through the cornfield.  Dawes Sixth Wisconsin: 90

From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

 

“about daylight, General Doubleday came galloping along the line, and he ordered [the brigades] be moved out at once out of its position.  He said we were in range of rebel batteries.”

Rufus Dawes

Dawes describes Doubleday at Antietam

From Abner Doubleday A Civil War Biography by Thomas Barthel. Jefferson:  McFarland & Co., 2010.

“The cannonading and musketry kept up a constant roar more terrific than the most violent thunder storm I ever heard,”

Sebastian Duncan Jr. of the 13th NJ describing the battle to his mother.

From  “Who Would Not Be A Soldier?” by Scott D. Hartwig. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

 

“We were finally however ordered to lie down in a cornfield & stray shot and shell began to whiz over our heads and burst around us. Of course every one thought it incumbent upon him to dodge every time he heard a shot when even though it was flying a hundred feet above us. This feeling soon passed away however and the boys were decidedly too anxious to get up and see what was going on. They were soon satisfied. We were ordered to get up and throw off our bundles (I in this way lost my rubber and woolen blankets & have not seen them since) & march to the left into the woods [East Woods]. Lying just in front of our lines was a great number of dead and wounded. One poor fellow lay just before us with one leg shot off; the other shattered and otherwise badly wounded; fairly shrieking with pain.”

Sebastian Duncan Jr. 13th NJ 12th Corps

From “Antietam Eyewitness Accounts.” by Scott D. Hartwig. [Online] Available http://www.historynet.com/antietam-eyewitness-accounts.htm

“Our flags are cut in shreds with the enemy balls.”

Letter by Walter Phelps to his wife describing the Battle of Antietam.

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010.

“but the fire of Sunday bore no comparison to the one of Wednesday”

Walter Phelps comparing the fire at Antietam to that of South Mountain

From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010.

 

“Near Sharpsburg. Sept. 17th  1862. On the field Dear Mother, It is a misty moisty morning. We are engaging the enemy and are drawn up in support of Hooker who is now banging away most briskly. I write in the saddle to send you my love and to say that I am very well so far — Dearest mother, I am wounded so as to be helpless. Good bye if so it must be I think I die in victory. God defend our country. I trust in God & love you all to the last Dearest love to father & all my dear brothers. Our troops have left the part of the field where I lay — Mother, yrs Wilder All is well with those that have faith”

Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862

From Massachusetts Historical Society Collection

 

“Hooker wounded and left the field. Sumner is OK. Things look blue.”

William S. Albert

Message from William S. Albert back to McClellans HQ on the status of the fighting.

From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

 

“Never mind me, fight! Hold your positions1 I will get off if I can, if not never mind1 Fight boys, don’t give up the ground!”

The exhortations of the wounded for their comrades to fight on.

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

3 Responses

  1. Dear James,

    I came across your website while looking through Antietam websites – something I haven’t done in a few years. I am glad my article was useful to your collection of quotes. Great idea and nicely done. I look forward to reading the other sections.

    Best Regards,
    George

    • Hello George
      I am pleased that you took a look at my blog. Your article and the terrific set of maps that accompany it have been key to my understanding of the battle and to the Cornfield in particular. As a volunteer and guide at Antietam, I spend a lot of time at the Cornfield and again, your work has helped me understand it. My quote database is a work in progress and as I accumulate more quotes, I will add them. Best Regards. Jim

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