Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    The 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

    our Brigade."

    "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

    Auction Info

    Bidding Begins Approx.
    17th Tuesday
    Auction Dates
    6th Sunday
    Proxy Bidding Begins Approx.
    26 Days
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: N/A
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 55
    Auction Type
    Signature®:  Heritage Live®:After Internet bidding closes, live bidding will take place through Your secret maximum bid placed prior to the live event will compete against the live bids. To maximize your chances of winning, enter realistic secret maximum bids on our site. Many of our proxy bidders are successful at winning lots in these auctions, and usually below their secret maximum. You can also place last minute bids directly with us by e-mailing or calling 1-866-835-3243. (Important note: Due to software and Internet latency, live bids may not register in time, so enter realistic proxy bids.)

    Signature® Floor Sessions
    Proxy bidding ends ten minutes prior to the session start time. Live Proxy bidding on Heritage Live starts 24 hours before the live session begins and continues through the session. During the live auction event, bidding in person is encouraged, and Heritage Live includes streaming audio and often video during the event.
    Track Item