The Battle of Antietam: Letter by Marcus A. Emmons, 21st M...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Antietam: Letter by Marcus A. Emmons, 21st Mass. Infantry - Fighting at Burnside.
A four-page letter in ink comes with its original cover. The letter is headed Antietam, Md., Sept. 22nd, 1862. The writer, Marcus A. Emmons, was a member of Co. K of the 21st Mass. Infantry, and a resident of Hardwick, Mass. The 21st Mass. had the distinction at the Battle of Antietam in participating in the intense fighting at the Burnside Bridge and lost heavily in their effort. In this letter what we now call "Burnside Bridge" was referred to as "Antietam Bridge" at the time. After mentioning the fighting at South Mountain he writes "where we had a bloody engagement with the Rebels and whipped them in good shape," Emmons continues"
"Antietam Bridge where our Regiment was twice engaged, firing 30 rounds
in the forenoon. When the Rebels fell back and the 2nd Brigade crossed the
bridge, we had not more than from 8 to 9 rounds left to a man. Our Regiment
remained near the bridge till 5 o'clock p.m. when we were ordered forward with
"We advanced amid a shower of bullets and took up a position behind a rail fence
where we were exposed to both a raking fire from the Infantry and Artillery of the
Rebels. It was here that Lieut. Holbrook of Co. C, formerly Sargent in Co. K, was
killed. He was beloved by all who knew him."
"We (21st Reg., the other Regiments leaving as soon as they were out of ammunition)
remained 1/2 an hour after our ammunition was gone, lying flat on
the ground, with the shell bullets and grape falling thick about us. It was rather
tough I can assure you, but the balls done us but little harm."
"After we lay down, it was getting dark, but at last the Rebels saw some of our
men who were looking after the wounded, and they began to fire so close that
we fell back to the bridge again without losing a man. Co. K had 2 of the old
company (Sargent Davis and Wm. Harrington) and 3 of the new recruits (Tolman,
Brigham, and Jackson) wounded during the day. Sargent Davis was wounded
so badly in the leg that he has since had it amputated."
"The Rebels had a very strong position, and I think killed more of our men than
we did of theirs, but at the battle of South Mountain, they lost 8 to our 1.
I never saw such a sight as presented itself the morning after that battle. The
ground was strewn with their dead. We marched from Antietam Bridge in
pursuit of the Rebels to this place. They have pretty much all left Maryland, and
we are expecting a week or two of rest which would do us some good.
There was only 85 men the morning after the battle in our Regiment for duty, part
of it went back from South Mountain with the prisoners."
"P. S. Direct to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. Gen. Reno was
killed at South Mountain. He came out as our Brigadier General. At the time
of his death he had command of the 9th Army Corps. Burnside now commands
the right wing of the Army. Marcus A. Emmons"
Following the Battle of Antietam, Emmons would go on to fight at Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and was killed on June 2nd, 1864 at the Battle of Bethesda Church, Virginia. The letter is in very good condition with several ink stains and normal aging. The cover is complete with stamp and Fredrick, Md. postmark. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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