Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War Soldiers Views of the Battle of Antietam  CSPAN  May 15, 2020 5:33pm-6:30pm EDT

5:33 pm
the international slave trade was illegal in the united states after 1808, but it continued an illegal fashion. i think ranger dave had just pulled the plug. >> yes. will you be available for more questions? >> i will. >> and autographs. we do have copies of his book in our gift shop. if you're interested in that, please come see us in the lobby. otherwise, thank you for being here. >> thank you very much. you're watching a special edition of american history tv. airing week days. tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern a look at african-americans and world war i. we visit the smithsonian to speak with a military history guest curator. watch american history tv, now and over the weekend on c-span3.
5:34 pm
>> modern transport poses new dangers of contagion. the struggle against epidemics is a global one. for the danger of death is worldwide. >> sunday on american history tv at 4:00 p.m. eastern on reel america the 1948 film "the eternal fight." >> the traveller now became a carrier of deadly germs, wherever he went the germs stayed and spread. >> and sunday at 6:00 p.m. -- >> -- created the entire continental congress as a committee as a whole to gather amongst ourself an individual caucus and decide how we should proceed. do we really want independency and then he appointed another committee of five men to draft our declaration of american independence. >> from a virtual tour of monty
5:35 pm
cello with interpreter bill barker. >> i served 40 years in public service but i often thought if heaven had begin me a position to my great delight it would have been upon a small spot of ground well watered and near a good market for the produce. gardening is one of my greatest delights. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3. >> every saturday night american history tv takes you to college classrooms around the country for lectures in history. >> why do you all know who lizzy borden is and raise your hand if you ever heard of this murder, the jean harris murder trial before this class. >> a deepest cause where we'll find the true meaning of the revolution was in this transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> so we're going to talk about both of these sides of this story here, right.
5:36 pm
the tools, the techniques of slave owner power and also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead students on topics from the american revolution to 9/11. watch on american history and available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. up next, on the civil war, keith snyder from the antietam battlefield shares personal accounts of soldiers who fought in the battle of antietam on september 17th, 1862. >> through letters and photographs, mr. snyder gives a look at the fears and anxiety and thoughts of the men who fought on what is still the bloodiest single day of american history. the moz by heritage association
5:37 pm
is the host of this event. [ applause ] our first speaker tonight will be keith snyder. i'm not as tall. keith has worked for the national park service for 33 years at four national parks, harper's ferry park, the national mall in memorial parks, manassas national battlefield and antietam national battlefield where he holds the position of chief of resource education and visitor services. keith received his undergraduate degree in 1984 in park administration with a concentration on american history from shepherd university. keith has also served in the united states air force and the air national guard for 40 years and recently retired as a colonel with the 167th airlift wing. he lives with his wife cindy in martinsberg, west virginia.
5:38 pm
please join me in welcoming keith as he talked about the battle of antietam from the perspective of the soldiers that experienced it firsthand. [ applause ] >> thank you, kevin. it is great to be with you. i certainly had a very enjoyable drive down here. this is some beautiful country. so what i'm going to do this evening, the mayor talked about perspective and what i'm going to share with you are actually two perspectives on the battle of antietam. since i'm the opening speaker for three days of antietam information, we thought, kevin and i talked before we came down, it might be good to have a general overview of the maryland campaign. i'm going to do a broad brush stroke to have some perspective when i share with you the words of those that were there. none of us were and for me one of the great things about having the honor and the privilege of working at antietam battlefield
5:39 pm
for the last 26 years, besides being able to walk the grounds almost every day, one of the things that happens there a lot, people walk in the door and maybe some of you have done this, walked in and said, my great grand pappy was at antietam. and first thing we ask is what unit and we have a lot of resources and the next thing that i do is ask them do you have any letters, photographs or diaries. and in many cases they do. let me go out to the car. so over 25 years i've collected a lot of those and it is an opportunity that i have to share that with you. so that is the other perspective we're going to have. is that individual soldier perspective. that is the bulk of the program. but i have to give a perspective by putting it within the campaign. i think these words of the men that were here makes the battle personal. the one thing i'm absolutely convinced of, i'm going to share with you a couple of the insights i've gained after 25 years and one of them is that antietam was very personal. savage beyond all reckoning.
5:40 pm
the vast majority of the combat, especially on the infantry side was done at 100 yards and closer or even hand to hand for that matter. it was very personal battle. so we're going to make it personal by hearing what they remembered. this is probably the most tragic, most violent, most memorable day in their lives for most of these men. so voices of antietam. that is what we're going to hear this evening. we're going to start off with robert e. lee and his decision to move north. that is always a challenge for an antietam program. where do you begin? well you have to begin with lee because it is his decision that led to this campaign. the president seems the most propitious time, not a word we use every time, favorable, for the confederate army to enter maryland. lee did do an interview in 1868 and he basically said it we could not afford to be idle. i went into maryland, declared
5:41 pm
lee, to give battle. jefferson davis' boss said we are driven to protect our own country by transferring the seed of the war to that of an enemy who pursues us with an apparent and aimless hostility. they trusted each other. lee wanted to make a move into maryland and he sent a message from lee to davis and before he got an answer back he was already moving north. some of the reasons for the invasion, get the war out of virginia. the folks in this community knew how much war had happened in this area. keep the momentum after the win at second manassas and chantilly. gather supplies on the maryland soil. maybe get some reinforcements there also. throwing off the foreign yoke of this federal oppression, maryland in some respects wasso pressed by lincoln administration. i find it comical when i watch the news, these are the most important midterm elections in the history of the country.
5:42 pm
'62 was pretty important too. 1862. certainly driving to pennsylvania, lee said it, that is a major goal. if the confederate army was marching through the war. he's also look farther east and he's convinced he could defeat this army and on northern soil in two countries. here is his army. he has two wings. they don't have a corp system yet. long street and stewart is calvary. a lot of numbers are there. dennis will talk about that. 39,000, 72 artillery battles. they're going to cross the potomac in early september. one of those crossing was major harris von bork and he described the crossing. it was indeed a magnificent sight as the long column stretched.
5:43 pm
and the waters with burnished with gold and blazed in radiance there were a few moments from the beginning to the close of the war of excitement for intense, of excileration and familiar and strangely thrilling music maryland my maryland. after crossing the potomac, lee's first stop is frederick, maryland. the confederate army will gather there. lee does not get support in maryland. one of his goals was support in maryland and maybe the next few quotes will explain why the citizens of maryland didn't run to join the army. i have never seen a mass of such filthy strong smelling men. three in a room would make it unbearable. and when marching in column along the streets, the smell was most offensive. the fifth that pervades them is most remarkable.
5:44 pm
they have no uniforms. very important here, they are well armed and equipped. they have no uniforms. but well armed and equipped. and had become soenured to the hardships they had little comforts for the civilization. they are the roughest looking set of creatures i ever saw. dr. steiner in the sanitary commission, a dirtier filthier most unsavory set of human beings never strolled through this town. they were as lean and hungry as a set of wolves. well lee's army moved into frederick that means there a crisis in washington, d.c. our nation is at war. for the northerners they've lost most of the action especially here in the east. now other country has invaded. that is how you have to think about this. that is how they thought about it. for president lincoln, turns to george brentan mccell lan, 35 years old and here is his army and a lot of talk about the numbers.
5:45 pm
that is the current figure. you'll hear more about this from my good friend dan. believe me the numbers are all over the place. i'm very comfortable with 70,000. that is effective combat arms. there is the basic corp. that still going. here is two quotes from lincoln and mccellan. you could probably hear me, i'm use my park ranger voice, how is that. yeah. if we defeat the army mr. us, the rebellion is crushed for i do not believe they could organize another army. on september 11th, lincoln makes it pretty simple and clear, god bless you and all with you. destroy the rebel army if possible. go ahead, kevin, you jump in there. how is that? okay. very good.
5:46 pm
thank you. lee is in frederick. oops. lee is in frederick. he has an issue. union soldiers at harper's ferry and martinsberg. so lee will divide his army to capture the forces. a lot of maneuvering here. eventually moving into position to capture the ferry. clears the union soldiers out of martinsberg. heads to hagerstown, and all of this talks about in special order 191. i won't get into the details of that because i'd like to get into the battle itself. i'm sure most of you knew it. and jackson is late. very difficult to try to move into position. he's a couple of days late. mcclennan moved to the battle of south mountain. for me the two most important things i would tell you about the battle of south mountain, one is there were 6,000 casualties there. most of the folks who visit the park have not heard of the battle. that is a very significant
5:47 pm
number. second thing for me what i think is critical about south mountain, the union arm yeah was taunting them as they retreated. this ain't pope's army any more. the union army gained great confidence after september 14th. the confederate army is already the most confident army ever. so now you have a union army with great confidence. three days later, you have two large confident armys that come to those fields intent on destroying each other. that is a very bad combination. the army's gather around sharpsburg on each side of antietam creek. the union on the east side and confederate on the west side and lee has a great road in the hagerstown turnpike. with eye -- with a possible
5:48 pm
route to pennsylvania. they have the protection of the creek as they gather their forces. george mcclennan looks at this from his headquarters in keetyingsville and his forward observation house will go there and look over the field and do a little recognizance and it involves around three bridges, upper, little and lower bridge and will use them to attack the confederate right and left and when things look favorable the confederate center. so that is the basic plan. night before the battle, 15,000 united states soldiers move into position, cross over the upper bridge, this is an incredibly important move on mcclennan's part my good friend dennis frye will speak to this about how important this was. i'll tell you that 15,000 move in. two union corp and the first corp and the 12th corp move up on the north end of the field and settle in on the 16th. there was discussion about launching an attack on the 16th but the fog was so heavy, really no movement could have been made that day. even though there was talk of it. took some time to get into position.
5:49 pm
the night of the 16th, it was damp, it was rainy, it was miserable. kind of another conclusion i've reached just from reading a lot and think being it, one of the reasons another reason that i think the battle on the 17th is so terrible and the casualties are high, it is a miserable night on the night of the 16th. everybody there is soaking wet. has no fires. has no food. has no coffee and they're miserable. and the next morning they want to hurt somebody. and i don't know you've felt like that on a monday morning. that is one of the things that i think makes it so terrible. the night before almost everybody there wrote about that event the night before. because they all know. the whims of the next day would take over the 12th corp and a night he would never forget. so dark and mysterious and uncertain, the occasional pickets and outpost as troops come into position. there was a half dreamy sensation of it all.
5:50 pm
the certain impression that tomorrow was to be great with the future of the fate of our country. so much responsibility, so much future anxiety. captain william parker, he's with an artillery battery rights with an auto lurie battery right where the visitor sits today. as we lay upon the field and look up into the great sky, we can put blush for the wickedness of man. no man who lay upon the field and realized the drop -- deep tragedy which could be enacted on the moral could be but sat in thoughtful. we thought of dear ones for away and we were glad they knew not of the setting stars were rapidly bringing on. david thompson, all through the evening the shifting and placing had gone on and the moving mass is being dimly described in the strange half lights of earth in the sky. there was something really
5:51 pm
impressive, yet unreal in the gradual drawing together of those whimpering armies on the covering of the night. something of awe and dread as always in the secret preparations for men momentous deeds. any of you guys sent the text like that lately? these men are amazing. that's why i want to share with you because their words are better than anything i could've ever shared. joe hooker spent the night in the river barn up here in the north end of the field. it's about 2:00 in the morning. it's raining, he finally gets a chance to get some sleep, he steps into the barr, he looked at his staff. we are through for tonight but tomorrow we will fight the battle that will decide the fate of the republic and i agree. sir obviously you cannot see all this detail, it's really for effect. but the next morning, the first score, 8000 soldiers were launched the assault very early that morning. the opening of the battle is really artillery.
5:52 pm
they were 520 candidates involved in the battle of antietam. 50,000 rounds. 3000 rounds of an hour. as i speak for 45 minutes of an hour think of that same moment that day, there are 3000 rounds being fired. never did a day open more beautiful. we were stirred at the first streets of dawn, no revel-y called this morning. too close to the enemy. no one is needed to arouse us. a simple call by a sergeant or corporal and every man was instantly awaken all alert, all realized there was ugly business ahead and plenty of it. william good hue from wisconsin, even as the role was being called, the musket fire, the picket lines commence quite briskly. looking all align i saw men wiping the moisture from their muskets for the dew had been a heavy and just now the was a considerable fog. the premonition's of that battle we're growing stronger. the symptoms of an impending battle had been appeared for more than 24 hours and we knew
5:53 pm
that the combination of another great tragedy was at hand. samuel tunes from new jersey, it was a trying situation for us. but we had become in a measure accustomed to the sound of conflict and impatiently awaited the orders that should send us into action. we could not drive away the thoughts of the hidden dangers that menaced us. the certainty of death never before seen so near. the approach of dawn was dreaded as though it was to witness our last day upon earth, our thoughts wandered back home and the loved ones there. that's a common theme. think about yourself maybe in the last night, your last night on earth, you think of the loved ones back home. maybe just zoom in a little bit more to this first action. stick plea in the stonewall
5:54 pm
brigade, the spectacle presented was one of splendor of magnificent as a enemy advanced, we beheld one of the most brilliant displays of troops we've ever seen in double battle lines. the federal moving towards us at charge bayonet's and the sunbeams falling on the well polished guns and bayne it gave a glamour any show out once fearful and entrancing. frank shell was an artist. he did some sketches at antietam. he was actually watching the battle. they yank he line pushed its position and its direction beautifully indicated by the national and regimental colors waving about the corn stalks and by the sparking flashes from gun barrels and the ban it's. who that's dude upon that hill top could ever forget the sole racking suspense, the burning anxiety, the heart thumps of the history making moments.
5:55 pm
the heart thumps of the history making moments. rufus, who i think maybe has the most compelling account of all of the battle of antietam. a quoted more than once. our line appeared at the end of the corn, -- rose up from the ground simultaneously, the hostile battle lines open a tremendous battle fire plan each other. i cannot say they were ranked -- after the rank by the doesn't. george campbell in the 12 massachusetts, they would have the highest percentage of loss of the battle of antietam. they took 334 men into the battle, they lost 224. how terrible the shock, our men go down, screen and groans follow-up first falling, we load and fog are rapidly as we can. our officers cry, give it to them boys! there is a pandemonium of voices, a roar of musketeer, a storm of bullets, shelves are bursting among those continually in the wild excitement of battle i forget my fear and think only of
5:56 pm
killing as many of the full as i can. a man a few paces from you struck squarely in the face by a solid shot, fragment of the poor fellows head film me with discussed. there's just a few of us left now. sandy pendleton, such a storm of balls i could never concede a possible for meant to live through. shot in shelves, shrieking in crashing, canisters and bullets whistling and his seeing. most fiend like through the air until you can almost see them. with 3000 rounds an hour and three to 4 million bullets fired and 12 hours, it's almost as if you can see them. the fire became fearful, incessant, merged into a tumultuous course that made the earth tremble. the discharge of musket sounded upon the ear like the rolling of 1000 distant drums. he captured the essence of the american civil war in one
5:57 pm
sense. i've been trying to do that for 35 years. he did it a one sentence. he was in the 12th massachusetts. he's actually wounded early on as the fellows from his regiment just kind of drag him over to the east woods, getting behind the tree for protection. here's what he remembered. our troops advanced, their firing was terrific, the corn stocks fell as if mode, the air was full of explosions and the smell of brimstone. missiles of all kinds strikes the tree. i was shot through the right thigh by our own men. sorry for being wounded by the southerners, he was shot by his own. a poor fellow with uplifted arm big for water. i was exposed to the fire of slavery and freedom. his arm is shot off and the man speaks no more. another confederate lays in front of me with a horrible wound. it is hell. i became unconscious, where remember nothing of the struggle for the possession of the cornfield, the last
5:58 pm
struggle for possession of the cornfield. he was caught between the fire of slavery and freedom. confederate auxiliary was shrieking and flaring all around, striking the ground and wicked manner and throwing up durst and dust and great clouds as high as the trees. it seemed as though " all the devils inferno has been incarnated on a symbol of this horrible field ". all the devils incarnate, are symbols on this horrible field. 12 core reinforced, another 7000 thrown into combat. another thing that i basically have a sense of maybe after being there for 25 years. nobody is really in command of anything at the battle of antietam. you can see more than ten feet. obviously you can tell in the numbers, i mean they fire 3 million bullets and only hit 23,000. they weren't very good shot to mainly because of the smoke, the noise, the confusion in the terror, really all the commander can do on the field is just keep throwing guys at
5:59 pm
it and that's the problem. there's a lot of them in a very small area and they keep throwing them at them. stonewall jackson, he wrote in his official report about sunrise, the federal interest be advanced -- on the eastern side of the turnpike writing in our skirmishes. batteries were open and front with shelling canister nourish troops became exposed for near an hour to a tougher fix storm of shell canister mosques are tree. -- and maintain their position in the face of superior numbers with stubborn resolutions. sometimes drive the enemy before them, sometimes being compelled to fall back before the well sustained destructive fire. the carnage on both sides was terrific. soldier in the six of wisconsin, a great tumbling together of all heaven and earth, the slaughter on both sides was enormous. a soldier in the fourth teen new york. it was on the part of our men,
6:00 pm
an intense, hysterical excitement and eagerness to go forward, a reckless disregard for life and suffering and everything but -- wisconsin are refusing to a common mess in the frantic struggle to shoot fast. everybody tears cartridges, loads passes guns or shoots. men are falling in their places and running back into the corn. many of the recruits who are killed or wounded only left home ten days ago. one fourth of mccullough, maybe one third of his army has never fought a battle. some of them are firing their weapons the first time in their lives on september 17th. back to rufus gauze, after a few rounds advanced aligned stopped and -- fill back to the edge of the corn and lay down on the ground behind a little fence. he is describing the fence of the south edge of the cornfield. another lineman came through the corn. we all join together. jumped over the fence and push down into the open fields. forward is the word.
6:01 pm
the men are loading and firing with demonical fury and shouting and laughing hysterically. the whole field before us is covered with rebels fleeing for their lives. great numbers of men are shot while climbing over the post and rail fences along the turnpike. we push on over the open field halfway to the little church, of course the famous dunkirk church on the landscape. this moment, it's when we will have the counterattack. i got to go back one, sorry. counterattack of command. i'm sure most of you know the story. they are held in reserve basically behind the church. they are brought out. they crossed the turnpike about 100 yards north of the haters town pike. aj baker, the 11th mississippi. my regiment one in a run into battle. i was at once wounded in the foot by a fraction of a bombshell. it seemed to me that every blasted yang key was firing at us with guns of illimitable range. my company lost every officer
6:02 pm
in private except one, either killed or wounded. scott carson. it seems the whole world was in arms against us. there are new bright flags were waving in every direction. george, the first texas had the high percentage of casualties in the confederate army. " to the texans in the ranks, the sound of battling was deafening, the booming of all chilly, the steady popping of thousands more distant. the explosions of shelves and the wind and his of lead balls and steel fragments. men whooped and yelled. other scream to be heard by their comrades, file closures and company commander spelled orders and encouraged until they were horsed or shot. dead and dangerously wounded texans lay among the living and unheard, walking wounded dribble from the line like a funeral paul. thick clouds of smoke drifted
6:03 pm
over the corn and at times obscured the sun. put that vision in your mind when you walk the field on sunday ". polk, first texas, the air was full of shot a shell and we are open field with no protection. it seemed impossible for a rat to live in such a place. the dead and dying were in every direction it didn't take time -- i didn't take time to load my gun for their plenty of loaded guns lying on the ground by my side. dead and winded when -- men. they were not all confederates. the blue in the gray were all mixed up. john bel hood, the contest regime to our last round of ammunition was expended. two thirds of its number hold breaks of brave men were mow down and heaps to the right and left. never before was i so continuously troubled with the fear that my horse would further injure some wounded fellow lying helpless on the ground. soldier in the fourth texas, it was the hottest place i ever
6:04 pm
saw north or want to see here after the. they were shots, shelves, many balls, sweeping the face of the earth, lakes, arms and parts of human bodies flying in the air likes drawn in a whirlwind. the dogs of war were loose and havoc was their cry. joe hooker commanding the first court, he was wounded, carried off the field. in a time that i'm writing, every stop in the greater part of the field was cut as closely as could've and done with the knife. -- a few moments before. it was never my fortune to witness such a dismal bloody that battlefield. samuel coats, pennsylvania. when we first entered the field, the stocks stood thick and strong, describing the cornfield again. but by the close of the day, nada stop scarcely a vestige of corn could be seen anywhere to sure that a crop of grain had
6:05 pm
been gathered. this crop of grain was gathered not by the hand and sweat a brow in peace but it had been destroyed by the red hand of carnage and blood in war. the corn was harvested by the red hand of carnage. the results of these first attacks, hookers first core in the confederate counterattack, took the brunt of this. 11 of 15 regimental commanders are killed and wounded and douglas is brigade, just off the court failed, he lost 50% of his 560 men. hayes brigade lost 60%, jackson's vision changed hands four times. some of the recent scholarship done by some of our guys and volunteers, they were almost 200 command changes on the bad field of antietam in 12 hours. you think about that in your organization. 200 command changes in 12 and -- 12 hours and you wonder why
6:06 pm
nothing up in the next day. a hookers core last 2600 men, -- 60% the 12 core comes on the field, man field is mortally wounded. i'll fee williams takes over. man's field said, or excuse me i'll fee williams said, the war of the infantry was beyond anything conceivable for the initiated. if all the stone and brick houses on broadway should tumble at once, the roaring rattle could hardly be greater. in a midst is hundreds of pieces of artillery right and left where thundering i sort of a base to the infernal music. sort of all the buildings on broadway fell at once, the noise cannot be greater. charles coffin, correspondent with the boston journal. it was no longer alone the boom of the batteries bunny rattle of musk tree. at first, pattern like drops upon a roof that have been a roar, a crash, a roar like mighty ocean billowing upon the
6:07 pm
shore. shaping the pebbles, wave upon waves with deep and heavy explosions of the batteries like the crashing of thunderbolts. the soldier in the 1:28 be a, i was fighting in a cornfield during the extreme left of the line when i was wounded, a ball pass through my thigh but did not injure the bone. the bullets flew so fast, i had not time to look around. i came off the field myself making my way there through the shower bullets and shell. here's another soldier. it was the only -- it was only the thought of home that brought me from that place, only the thought of home. there is a lull in the fighting after the first and 12. ed wynne sumner would arrive, leave that most of that discussion too vince armstrong. i'm sure you will hear about that tomorrow. one point i would make about that, basically george mcclellan we hear about is cautious timidity and all of that, it's ridiculous. he doubles down.
6:08 pm
he stand in 50, 000, he will send another 15,000. he's making simultaneous attacks encores on opposite ends of the field. one of the units that has, or a unit that has suffered the number of highest casualties -- sedgewick into the west woods is, i will move the maps for you. sumner in the whites woods, the 15th massachusetts, frank blurred. i guess the bullets flew for about 18 to 20 minutes, as fast as we can get them in and out of our guns. now that the rebels began to fall back, i thought to myself, we got you now! but almost at the same time, i heard a voice from the rear crying, fall back! i turned around and said, what does that mean? are the rebels falling back themselves? but again, the cry, fall back! now someone yelled, fall back, we're flank, the rebels are on a rear! i look back and all was true in a moment. always confuse. every man for themselves. we ran like a flock of sheep. the rebels modus down.
6:09 pm
sedgewick's division moves into the west woods, flanked on three sides. they will lose half of the command in 20 minutes. and when some new rides into the group, back boys for god sakes move back, you are in a bad fix! francis, 20th massachusetts, in less time that it takes to tell that, the ground was strewn with the bodies of the dead and wounded. jonathan stone the 15th mess. you ask me about the battle of antietam of which i will try to relate the battle occurred on the 17th of september in my opinion, you put down in history is the most desperate battle of the war. thousands yield their lives at this government must and shall live. how i escaped so many bullets that showered upon this, god only knows. the bullets came whizzing by my face cutting down right and left, poor fellows falling thick and fast around me. you cannot realize the horrors of a battlefield to see the dead and wounded, some with arms and legs off, caught up in every conceivable way, it was
6:10 pm
awful. the 15th regiment is now a mere corporal guard, less than it was before the battle. stonewall jackson once again, by the time the inspector reinforcements arrived in the whole command now united, charge upon the enemy, check their advance -- with great slaughter entirely from and be on the woods and gain possession of our original position. no further advance was made by the enemy on the left. the 20 minutes of the west woods, sedgewick's division went into battle with 5400 men. they lost 2200 wounded captured are missing. most of them pulling out. the other two divisions in the command, french richardson will turn towards the sunken road. turning towards the sunken road. get a little closer here. moving towards the sunken road. here is frederik hitchcock from pennsylvania. the volleys of moscow tree, we were approaching sounded in the distance like a rapid pouring of shock on a tin pan.
6:11 pm
or the tearing of a heavy canvas. that's a nice sound your mind. think of canvas tearing as the volleys ripped down the lines of infill tree. to tell the truth, how does one feel in the situation? i felt the situation most keenly and felt uncomfortable. i said to myself, this is the duty i undertook to perform my country now will do it. leave the results with god. my greater fear was not that i might be killed but it might be grievously wounded and left of victims suffering on the field. another soldier, on occasional shell with buyer over reminding us that we will rapidly approaching the debatable ground. doesn't that someone all up to? the debatable ground. it was a hell of a debate. osbourne, 14th carolina. mounted officers info uniforms, -- waving in the ban glistening in
6:12 pm
the sun. they said they came without a position of a parade day, there was spectacular pageantry before the bush tree. john gordon, of course, he's quoted a lot. my rifles flamed and roared in the federal faces like a blinding blaze of lightning. the effect was appalling. the entire frontline with few exceptions went down in the consuming blast. thomas liver more from new hampshire, the rowing of bursting shells, the rolling of moscow tree, the humming of -- our own she is that all seem to fill the hole arise and drive piece of way forever. charles johnson said, it was a savage continual thunder that cannot compare to any sound i've heard. sergeant fuller from new york, we were shooting them like sheep and a pan. james from north carolina, the many balls charred in the shell rained upon us from any direction except the rear, the slaughter was terrible. when the order was retreat, i can scarcely extricate myself in the dead and wounded around me. the post battle at the sunken
6:13 pm
road, edward spangler, the lane was packed with their dead. at one point, 13 dead bodies lay in a heap in other places nearly two, three, five deep. no battle of the war so sharpton duration presented such a scene of carnage. we are going to move to the other side. the attack on the sunken road -- we will move south to the south end. we are moving into the ninth core, ambrose burn side. here's one soldiers account from ohio. the fearful moment had arrived. skirmishes were advance to clear the bridge and ledges of rebel sharpshooters. forward wrangled along the lines and the assaulting columns charged the bridge. the opposite gloves and ledges were instantly light it up with one long sheet of flame. volley after volley of musk tree were driven to the faces of advancing columns. the head of the column push on bravely but it was seen to waver and melt away before such a murderous blast. in vain, the champions of
6:14 pm
freedom struggled against a driving storm of iron and lead that tore remorselessly through our ranks. soldiers from the second maryland, the beret fellows reeled and felt back as if smitten at the bridge by a blast of hell. at this, bridge the murderous balls and bursting shares were appalling. destruction hovered in the air. death environ did. the approaches were strewn with dead men. it's banned the antietam but also attempted to cross a found eternity to. private george brunson, wrote to his wife that evening. i do not know the name of that creek but i've named it the creek of death, such a slaughter i hope never to witness again. burn side takes a bridge somewhere near 12:30, 1:00 then he prepared for two hours for the final advance of the day.
6:15 pm
i'm going the wrong way, i'm sorry. what we call the final attack. eventually, burn side will create a battle on of 8000 men basically a mile wide driving on the sharper. here are two of the most honored comments i can share with you. here is david oh thompson. we heard all through the war that the army was eager to be laid against the enemy. when you come to hunt for this particular itch, it's always the next regiment that has it. (laughs) the truth is, when bullets are cracking squalls like eggshells, the consuming passion in the breast of an average man is to get out of the way. between the physical fear of going forward in the moral fear of turning back, there is a predicament of exceptional awkwardness from which a hidden hole in the ground would be a wonderful welcome outlet. he's looking for a hole in the ground. i get it. private from issued in. i've heard of the scene and pictures of battle it will all
6:16 pm
be in a line. while standing on an ice level field. a number of ladies taken care of the wounded, etc, etc but it isn't so. i had a bullet strike me on top of my head just as i was going to fire on a piece of shell struck my foot, a ball hit my finger another hit my thumb. i concluded they met me. soldier in the 79th highlander 's making the advance up the burn side bridge road. as soon as the enemy discovered our line, the guns opened with the shell and it was a terrible ordeal. the fire was pouring death upon our ranks, cutting them down and every discharge. very benson from south carolina. as they rushed onto the field, we hurried onto the field of battle. suddenly rose before us a line of the enemy when we drove in disorder at the first fire. we poured volley after volley. that was with terrible execution. he's part of hoods counterattack or excuse me, hills counterattack that will drive back for inside. at the end of the day, the ninth corps suffers 2400 men. killed and wounded and the two
6:17 pm
divisions really defending their jones and hill, another thousand killed and wounded. one thing that happens at antietam, and we've been trying to solve this. most people visit, they come to the park, take a couple of hours, they finally get to the burn side bridge and they're done. what's sad about that is, the vast majority of the fighting or on that fly or into the field is after the bridge. there's five times many casualties after the bridge. that's where the real action is the most people have no idea. to summarize, from sunrise to sunset, the waves of battle ebbed and flowed. men wrestled with each other in lines of regiments, brigades and divisions while regiments brigades and divisions faded away under the terrible fire leaving long lines of dead to mark where stood the living. fields of corn were trampled into shreds. force were battered unscathed. huge limbs sent crashing to the earth. read by shell around shot. grape in canister mingled.
6:18 pm
their his thing screen in this hellish carnival. george gordon describes the battle of antietam as a " hellish carnival ", not a carnival i want to visit. francis, as the sun psych on the september 17th. the last sounds of battle along antietam creek died away. there were thousands sleeping the sleep that knows no waking and many times as many suffering all the agonies that are attend on moons. the corn entry so fresh in green in the morning were red and with the blood and torn by bullet and shell and the very earth was furrowed by the incessant impact of leaden iron. the blessed night came and brought with it sleep and forgetfulness and refreshment to many. but the murmur of the night went breathing over the fields of wheat and clover was mingled with the groans of countless sufferers of both armies. who can tell? who can imagine the horrors of
6:19 pm
such a night? lieutenant blakely, 16 connecticut, of all the gloomy night, this was a sad if we've ever experienced. all was quiet and silent as the grave. john walker, a confederate general, to though all those who have not been witness to a great battle like this, where more than 100,000 men armed with all the appliances of modern sciences killed, they are engaged in the work of slaughtering each other. it is impossible by the power of words to convey an adequate idea of the terrible subliminity. the constant booming of cannons, ceaseless warmest tree, the glimpse of galloping horsemen in marching infiltrate now seen and lost in the smoke adding weirdness to the terror. all together make up a combination of sights and sounds holy indescribable was. over there by the church, private hicks from pennsylvania. under the dock sheets of the tearing up lay a lifeless form of a drummer boy.
6:20 pm
not more than 17 years old. at the facts of hair, eyes of blue and the for a delicate mold. as i approached him, i stoop down and as i did so i perceived a bloody markup on his forehead. it showed where the lead of messenger of death had produced a wound that caused his death. his lips were compressed, his eyes half open. a smile played upon his countenance. by his side laid his tenor drum never to be tapped again. rufus dogs saad every battle in the eastern -- that's what he's seen. surpassed anything on anybody field in my observation. the angle of death, the cold harbor slaughter in the friendly spring field were all compared mentally with me with what i saw at antietam. my feeling was, the antietam turnpike was passed all of
6:21 pm
manifest evidence of slaughter. jacob hours, an awful sight here warm writing. the groans of the wounded, the bloodstain bodies, the confusion. it is something no one can have any idea of on the state been here themselves. i found wars a terrible thing to think of when you are actually engaged in it, it's worse yet. william child, he had to deal with the results of this. he is a surgeon from new hampshire. the days after a battle are 1000 times worse than the days of a battle. sunken road, we all know. the physical pain is not the greatest pain suffered, how awful it is, you can have no idea until you've seen it the ideas of the affairs after the battle appear sickening but they suffer no pain. the poor wounded, mutilated soldiers that yet have life and sensation make eight most forward picture. the burial crews moved in. the confederates had gone down as grass falls before the side
6:22 pm
and -- ties on railroad and heaps like cord wood mingled with the splintered and shattered fence wells. words are inadequate to portray the scene. captain fable from new york, " there were every man mutilation, heads, arms, greater numbers than ever seen on any other field. how many shattered hopes we buried none of us could ever know ". war is a dreadful thing. a battlefield is an ugly blot on civilization. mr. lincoln gives it meaning though. he wrote, when the rebel army was at frederick i determined that soon as it would be driven out of maryland to issue the proclamation of emancipation. i said nothing to anyone but i made a promise to myself and to my maker, the rebel army is now driven out and i'm going to
6:23 pm
fulfill that promise and the president, five days after antietam changes a course of our war, changes our nation. the war is no longer -- for foreign half million americans. he said on january 1st, i never in my life felt more certain that i was doing the right. my whole heart isn't it. the beginning of the end of the rebellion and the beginning of the new life for the nation. we had a lot of visitors through the park. i've been blessed. about 7 million people have visited the park since i've been working there. some days if you like i've talked to most of them but i'm incredibly best to live in such a special place. one visitor i will share with you just to close out. 1963, six months before he's assassinated, president kennedy
6:24 pm
visited the battlefield 20 something years ago. i gave a toward to ted kennedy, senator ted kennedy. at a sense of history when i was doing my ranger thing as i always do. hey, you've been here before sir? he said, yes i was here with my brother. he was talking about this visit. they came over from camp david in the helicopter. he captured it all, the president did in his writing. and tom symbolizes something even more important than combat heroism in the military strategy. it marks a diplomatic turning point a worldwide consequence. from this point odd word, our similar warhead and you do mention which was important to the whole course of human liberty. thank you all very much. i appreciate it. and a time for questions? okay, no problem. go ahead, scott.
6:25 pm
>> did you find a lot of accounts of union and confederate that the same spot in the battlefield? >> no, i wish i did. it would make it even better when it? i've heard this a lot is i have a lot more union material than confederate and for every historic in this room would probably agree with that. it's a lot harder to find accounts on the confederate side. there's a whole near a reason for that but hopefully you all, as i do, appreciate their words because to me they were there, i was not and they saw it, they felt it, they remembered it. most of these, some of these -- you gotta feel a little careful cherry-picking quotes to make a point. i'm guilty of that too. go ahead sir. >> do you think that one of the reasons why general mcclellan is held so negatively by so many historians in antietam is because a lot of the historiography is based on his letters to his wife where some,
6:26 pm
particularly battlefield guy to antietam said he was just off gassing like a lot of men do when they come home from work. just expressing his inner thoughts to his wife. he wasn't necessarily -- he was speaking tongue in cheek and they're kind of taken out of context. you're quoting a lot of soldiers so i thought will be interesting to see what your perspective would be. >> i agree with that 100%. any one of us don't want our letters to our wives to be made public and to think that fully expresses all of it. i think mcclellan gets a bum rap. you are probably gonna hear that from dana so many other speakers today. a lot of it is because the post war, lincoln, he's against lincoln and the election of 1864. well that's almost as bad as long street speaking out against generally. he's pushed off to the side for the rest of his life to. i think, what people ask me all
6:27 pm
the time, who wins this battle? you can talk about that 1 million different ways. i've had a lot of those conversations at the highest level of government and military. i did a tour for 17 four star general and we had that conversation. a lot of it depends on whether you are thinking tactically, operationally, strategically. who would cheese are operational objectives? robert elite does not and george mcclellan doesn't most times he beats him to the punch. his speed, his lack routine is actually winning the milan campaign. why that has been turned so badly, i think it's because of his opposition to lincoln and no one's going to pick mcclellan over lincoln, let's face it. just my sense of it. go ahead. >> is it still true that this is the deadliest day in american history? >> we certainly think so. if you want to be precise, you can say --
6:28 pm
if you don't hear, that he asked if it's a deadliest day? it's the worst one day battle in american history. you can make some arguments, maybe the second day of gettysburg, whatever, but it is the worst one day battle in america, one of the most difficult time for this entire nation. it was september 2001 and i got probably 50 phone calls from across the country on the casualty numbers whether 9/11 was not going to be the bloodiest day, which it is not. people want to know and that's not a distinction. the other thing that i -- have you heard tonight for my comments is, it doesn't matter if it's 3000, 30, 000, 300, 000, if it's your son or your father, we can't get so caught up in these numbers and who is the greatest and who is the worst and whatever. i mean, you are hearing that for me but if it's you or your family, the numbers no matter. it's one that matters. if it's you or your son.
6:29 pm
i'm done preaching. sorry about that. go ahead sir. he asked about the d-day casualties. i will ask tell you, antietam it's four times detail, six times pearl harbor because i had done that month. 6000, now it's not necessarily apples and apples because you're talking american casualties on details and american casualties on pearl harbor and of course we are the two sides of conflict. we combine those from the civil war. 6000 american casualties, 4000, so it's 3000 at pearl harbor. i get that question a lot to. you guys have been awesome. really appreciated. thanks kevin, a great friend for inviting me down.

61 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on