150 YEARS AGO TODAY at 2 a.m. the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut rose quietly from their bivouac near Antietam Creek at 2 a.m. Ammunition was issued and the men assembled with the rest French’s Division of the Second Corps to march toward the sound of heavy fighting that began at dawn. They forded the creek and entered the East Woods where the terribly bloody price that day would extract from both armies was already being told in the countless wounded men who sought refuge under the canopy of trees, and the untold hundreds that lay lifeless in the fields just beyond the woods.
French’s Division marched out of the woods to the south, Gen. Weber’s Brigade first, then Col. Morris’ Brigade, followed by Gen. Kimball’s Brigade. The regiments in Morris’ Brigade were left to right: 108th NY, 130th PA, 14th CT. They followed Weber’s men down into a shallow swale, past the Mumma and Roulette farms, then up the slope to the north of the lane to the Roulette farm.
\n\nThe men of Webb”s Brigade were the first to assault the heavily defended Confederates in the sunken farm road that would become known as the “Bloody Lane.” The men of the 14th CT saw the men of the men of the 1st DE and 5th MD cut down before their eyes, and when these men rushed back up the slope, they caused some of the men from Connecticut to break for the rear as well. Then Morris’ Brigade advanced, but they remained farther from the sunken road than did Weber’s men. They were ordered to maintain fire upon the enemy, which they did until Kimball’s Brigade came up to relieve them. The banner photo at the top of this page shows the bend in the Bloody Lane where the men fought.
The 14th CT was ordered to take up position in a farm lane (I believe it was Roulette’s). Here they watched the Division of Gen. Richardson, including the Irish Brigade drive up over the crest of the hill in front of them and out of sight toward the sunken road. And they also saw how greatly the numbers of the Irish had been reduced when that brigade withdrew.
But then there was a breakthrough at the sunken road and the men of the Fourteenth were going forward again. They were attached to Richardson”s Division to help position and defend a battery of artillery. This was when Gen. Richardson was mortally wounded by a shell fragment. The 14th CT ended its first day in battle positioned between Gen. Meagher’s Irish Brigade and Gen. Caldwell’s Brigade in the newly established Federal line along the eastern side of the Bloody Lane. The division was now under the command of Gen. Winfield S. Hancock.
The Fourteenth Connecticut suffered a fifteen percent loss at Antietam. Killed: 2 company captains, 19 enlisted men. Wounded: 2 officers, 86 enlisted men. Missing: 28 enlisted men.
Fiction Connection: Antietam is Michael G. Palmer’s first test as a soldier, and while he emerges unhurt, his worth as a soldier remains uncertain.