The Antietam Roster

7 August 2012

The number of people present on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 cannot be precisely known, but it must have been large. Ezra Carman estimated troops actually engaged on September 17th at about 85,000 (51,536 Union, 32,851 Confederate), with thousands in reserve and in support roles nearby. The armies’ mustering strengths in the first week of September were as great as 85,000 and 65,000, respectively. Adding in the Federal garrisons at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, along with local and detached units along the railroad and Potomac River, I think there were something like 160,000 soldiers on the Campaign.

I’d like to know all their names, and get them listed on Antietam on the Web (AotW) so their families, researchers, and other interested people can find them. I can’t possibly get them all, I know. No one could, but I’m working on it.

I’m not the first person to think of this, of course, nor the first to do something about it. Almost two years ago Dr. Tom Clemens passed to me a set of loose-leaf notebooks chronicling some of the work of the original Antietam Roster Commission (ARC). Organized in 1996, the Commission consisted of Professor Joe Harsh, Ranger Paul Chiles, and Tom.

The primary purpose of the ARC was to compile a roster if the Union and Confederate participants in the Maryland Campaign of 1862. They also set standards for inclusion, requiring primary or reputable secondary documentation that each man named was actually present on the Campaign. With the aid of George Mason students and other volunteers, the original Commission accumulated the names and units of about 1800 soldiers – all Confederates – working from sources ranging from the Official Records (ORs) and Regimental histories to all 39 years worth of the Confederate Veteran magazine. I have the printouts in those binders.

I’ve started a slightly updated, smaller version of the Commission, which I call the Antietam Roster Project. Since April I’ve been adding to the existing set of soldier profiles on AotW by going through some of those original ARC lists, and pulling them into the AotW database. I started with regiments from Texas (First, 4th, and 5th Infantry) and Georgia (3rd, 4th, 10th, & 50th ) because those states had the most names in the original Roster. I’ve been adding details for many of the troops, and photographs for a few, from additional sources, and I’ve gone off on my own on a couple of interesting Federal units, too.

If you’d like to see a particularly nice example of how this is coming along, take a look at the page for the 4th Texas Infantry . Notice the Roster symbol at the bottom, and click the text link to “Get a list of everyone we have for this unit.” [click here to open in a new window or tab].

The 4th Texas is special because the ARC compiled a list of just about everyone – 329 names – present with the 4th. They used a couple of excellent regimental histories, one compiled almost immediately afterward, in 1863, which detailed specifically who was there. I don’t expect to be that lucky for many other regiments as the project goes forward.

For most regiments and batteries, I’m only going to be able to add names for those killed, wounded, missing, AWOL, or otherwise notable – or noted in a letter, diary, or unit history – in Maryland. The men who were there and did their duty, but didn’t stand out in some way may never be represented in the Roster – sorry to say. Another reason we’ll never know all of them.

As a result of this focused effort – and a related project to produce a better list of men killed on the Campaign in time for the 150th Anniversary (story later) – the population of people in the AotW database has grown from about 1,100 in April to more than 5,200 today. A drop in the bucket, sure, but good progress.

… and boy are my arms tired!

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The units I’ve covered somewhat systematically (# names), so far, are:

4th Texas Infantry (329)
118th Pennsylvania (273)
50th Georgia (236)
63rd New York (221)
1st Texas (197)
125th Pennsylvania (170)
20th New York (167)
5th Texas (103)
4th Georgia (99)
3rd Georgia (94)
10th Georgia (89)
First Co. Mass. Sharpshooters (38)

As part of that other project, I’ve also scrubbed through and added these populations:

Soldiers [on the Campaign] buried at Antietam National Cemetery (1,248)
Burials at Washington Confederate Cemetery (Rose Hill), Hagerstown (622)
Confederate participants buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick (63)
Confederate participants buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown (76)

So, who should be next?

One Response to “The Antietam Roster”

  1. Bruce James says:

    Hi:

    My great-great-grandfather, John Wesley Cheatham, joined the 48th Georgia Infantry in April 1862 as a private. He was a lieutenant at Gettysburg and a captain shortly thereafter. But at Antietam he would have been a private, I believe. What documentation would you want to add him to your list?

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