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Here are Private Chester S. Rhoades (left) of Company H, 34th New York Infantry holding the state flag and Sergeant Charles B. Barton of Company C with the national colors. Both were in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862, at the head of their regiment at the front left of Major General John Sedgwick’s Division of the Union 2nd Army Corps as they crashed into the Confederates of Major General Lafayette McLaw’s Division in the West Woods that morning [map].

Colonel Suiter’s [34th New York] regiment was detached from the brigade and moved directly to the front, together with a new regiment [125th Pennsylvania] of nine months men. This support was almost fatal to the 34th, for when in the thickest of the fight, the new lines broke and ran, leaving Suiter’s command to take care of themselves. The rebels were about taking advantage of the situation by surrounding them when Sedgwick came to the rescue, and gave the order to fall back. As Sedgwick gave the order he was shot in the neck and wrist and badly wounded. This regiment barely escaped destruction.

Sometime on that fateful day Private Rhoades was killed and Sergeant Barton was shot as many as 7 times; he survived, but never fought again.


Judging by the ragged condition of the national flag, at least, that photograph was probably taken following the Peninsula Campaign of Spring/Summer 1862. It is now in the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress.

The quote above is from Beers’ History of Herkimer County, New York (1879).

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