Antietam Anecdotes: Human Interest Stories from the Antietam Campaign
will be published in early 2007 by Colecraft Industries, who produced
my corresponding Gettysbrg book. Here is a sample story to whet your
appetite. The 300 or so anecdotes and incidents cover a wide range -
irony, pathos, humor, compassion, unusal, animal stories, etc. and
are sure to include some fresh information you have not read before,
as I poured over hundreds of regimental histories, newspapers,
journals, etc. to assemble my source material, which I then rewrote
for clarity and style.
Men sometimes can get carried away with their emotions when exposed
to the shock of war. Tears, cowardice, indifference, anger,
arrogance, and recklessness can all be magnified in the trauma. Corp.
William Roach of Company K of the 81st Pennsylvania took careful aim
at a Confederate color sergeant as he retired and cleanly shot him,
dropping the Rebel to the ground. Ignoring heavy musketry that
continued along the opposing lines, Roach ran ahead of his company
and lifted up the cap of the fallen flag bearer. He triumphantly
placed the cap on the end of his bayonet and twirled it around,
proudly exclaiming to his comrades, "That is the way to do it!" While
he was absorbed in this self-congratulatory act of ego, another Union
soldier slipped past, snatched up the fallen Confederate flag, and
raced off with the prize. Roach was left ruefully standing with only
the Rebel cap.
Frank Moore, Anecdotes, Poetry, and Incidents of the War: North and
South. 1860-1865. (New York: Publication office, Bible house, J.
Porteus, agent, 1867).
Here's another one:
General Lee, normally stoic and calm as battle loomed, allowed his
emotions to betray him. As he was riding in the rear lines, he
encountered a soldier surreptitiously toting a freshly killed pig.
Enraged, Lee ordered the thief to be arrested. As an example to
discourage other pilferers, he was to be escorted to Stonewall
Jackson and shot for his wanton disobedience of Lee's strict orders
against foraging. Short of men already, Jackson soon commuted the
execution sentence, and instead ordered the man to be sent straight
to the front lines. He was to be placed in a position where the odds
were highest he would be shot by the Yankees. The culprit fought
well, survived the battle, and redeemed himself through his bravery
under the scathing fire. He later became regarded as the man who had
lost the pig, but "saved his bacon."
Armistead L. Long, Memoirs of Robert E. Lee: His Military and
Personal History. (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and
Pre-orders will be accepted in late winter. In the meantime, I thank
all of you in this forum who have offered suggestions and ideas!