At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, the Great War ended under the terms of an armistice, a cease-fire agreement, signed at 5 o’clock that morning.

The most immediate requirement of the Armistice was the withdrawal of all German forces to the line of the Rhine River, which, along with “beachheads” on the east bank, was the part of Germany to be occupied by Allied troops. French, British, Belgian, and American.

One of about two million Americans of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France that day was 23 year old Joseph F. Downey from Scranton, Pennsylvania, my grandfather.

That lovely hand colored map, Territorial Terms of the Armistice, is among a stunning cache of papers he left us. They’ll help me remember him and those millions of others on this centennial of the end of the First World War.

Lieutenant Nathaniel Wales’ story at Antietam may be unique. It is certainly startling: he was saved from a fatal wound by wearing armor at the battle.

I’ve not previously found anything else like this associated with Antietam. Having little experience with the subject, then, I went off to find out something about body armor of the Civil War. As a bonus along the way, I also came upon a number of interesting characters and connections in Wales’ family.

Our man was probably named for his 5x great-grandfather Nathaniel Wales (1586-1681), weaver, who arrived in Massachusetts from Yorkshire, England in 1635. He made the passage in the ship James out of Bristol with other pilgrims including the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669), father to Increase, grandfather of Cotton. Wales was later brother-in-law, by the second of his three wives, to Major General Humphrey Atherton. Wales’ descendants were generally successful business people in Boston and nearby towns.

Our Nathaniel’s father Thomas Crane Wales (1805-1880), 7 generations down the line, was prominent in the boot and shoe business, particularly in rubber overshoes and boots. He seems to have been a major player in that market for much of the 1840s and 50s. He had invented and patented a lined, waterproof cold weather boot he called the “Arctic”, which was hugely popular and widely imitated. As a result, I expect young Nathaniel had the benefit of a well-to-do Boston upbringing and education.

He was a salesman in Dorchester when the Civil War began, and also belonged to a Boston militia company called the New England Guard. He was 18 years old when he enlisted as First Sergeant, Company G, 24th Massachusetts Infantry in September 1861. He looks to be a very self-possessed young man.

The fine folks at the Western Maryland Historical Library (WHILBR), on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the War, scanned and transcribed a large number of local newspaper pieces for the period 1861-65.  I’ve just picked up on four of these specific to soldiers who died in Hagerstown after Antietam in October, November, and December 1862.

Here’s a sample, a clipping from the Hagerstown Herald of Freedom & Torch Light of 19 November 1862:


For some of these men, I only had known that they had died, but not where or when.  I’ve got some updating to do!

[Latest update of 11 June 2022]

At the bottom of this post you’ll find the latest lists of the men who died on, or as a result of, the Maryland Campaign of September 1862.Their names are pulled from the database of Antietam of the Web, so there’s a page there for every one of them, should you care to learn more.

The first is a list of the soldiers killed at Sharpsburg on 16, 17, or 18 September. The Official Records (ORs) and the Antietam Battlefield Board put the number killed at Antietam at about 1,550 Confederates and 2,100 Federals. I’ve found 1,690 and 2,209 so far.

The second is of those who died of their wounds in the days and weeks after the battle. Just as dead, these men are not included in the counts above, and only make the scale of the carnage that much worse. There are 793 Confederate and 998 Union soldiers here.

The third lists all of the individuals who died on, or as a result of, the Campaign as a whole, which covers the period of 4 September – when the first Confederate troops crossed the Potomac River into Maryland – through 20 September 1862, the end of the battle between threatening Federals and the rear guard of the Army of Northern Virginia near Shepherdstown, VA. Included are deaths in the combat actions of the Campaign: the fights on South Mountain, at Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, and Boteler’s Ford, and in a myriad of skirmishes that month; and also more than 300 men who died of disease, accident, or other cause.

Although mostly complete, these lists are an ongoing work – I will continue to add individuals as I learn of them. Also be aware that the information is only as good as the sometimes imperfect historical record behind it.

[Original post of 25 Aug 2012]

Attached to this post is my first feeble attempt at a list of individual soldiers who died on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 – those killed or mortally wounded in action, or otherwise died as a result of their presence there. As far as I know there is no single, comprehensive list anywhere. This one is a start.

click to see larger image

I have been motivated in part by the upcoming memorial reading of the names of the Dead of Antietam at the Antietam National Cemetery on Sunday, September 16. ANB Ranger Alann Schmidt is leading the effort, and put out a call for names to add to the lists of local burials he already has available (National Cemetery, Rose Hill,  Mt Olivet, and Elmwood).  I hope to be able to contribute some others.

The following nicely summarizes what we’re up against here, though. It’s from the folks at the Western Maryland Regional Library:

According to the Antietam National Battlefield website 2,100 Union solders were killed, 9,550 were wounded, and 750 were listed as missing or captured. Of the Confederate soldiers, 1,550 were killed, 7,750 were wounded and 1,020 missing or captured. The number of men who died of their wounds or the number of missing who had been killed is not known. A conservative estimate of 20% of the wounded dying of their wounds and 30% of the missing killed gives an approximate number of soldiers who died as a result of this battle at 7,640.

This doesn’t even consider the hundreds who died in other action and of other causes during the Campaign – on South Mountain, at Harpers Ferry, at Shepherdstown, and in all the skirmishes in between.

The initial list contained a little over 2,700 names – less than 1/3 of those who died.  I’m adding names to my database all the time, though, so the list will grow, and I will post new editions here periodically. As of June 2022 it contains 7,490 names.

The Current Lists

[PDF 1.5M] Cover

  [PDF 52K] Introduction/Guide

Killed at Antietam/Sharpsburg on 16-18 September 1862

  [PDF 971 KB] Killed at Antietam (3899 names, sorted by State)  v2  11 June 2022

[PDF 984 KB] Killed at Antietam (3899 names, sorted by rank)  v2  11 June 2022

Wounded at Antietam/Sharpsburg and died later

  [PDF 478 KB] Mortally Wounded at Antietam (1791 names, sorted by State)  v2  11 June 2022

  [PDF 484 KB] Mortally Wounded at Antietam (1791 names, sorted by rank)  v2  11 June 2022

The Dead of the Campaign of September 1862

[PDF 2.2 MB] The Dead List (7490 names, sorted by State) v12.0  11 June 2021


The iconic photograph here is by Alexander Gardner. He took it on September 19th or 20th, 1862 on the battlefield at Antietam, and titled it “A Lonely Grave“. Bill Frassanito did some masterful research for his book and identified the grave in question as that of Private John Marshall of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry. I got my copy of the photograph from the Library of Congress.

The quote above from the Western Maryland Regional Library is on their fine WHILBR site in a page about Confederate burials on the campaign.


For the lack of a better place, here’s a list of one. Killed on the campaign, but I don’t know who he is.

M. (probably Marcel) Diendonnie or Dieudonnie. A soldier who was mortally wounded by a gunshot to his hip, probably at Antietam on 17 September and died at a US Army hospital in Frederick, MD on 23 November. He’s buried in Antietam National Cemetery.  He’s only in the hospital and burial records, listed in Company E of either the First Rhode Island Infantry (not at Antietam) or the First New York Infantry. No one with a similar name is found in those or any other military roster. A mystery man.

Because he was conspicuous on his white horse and close to the battle-front on the morning of Wednesday, 17 September 1862 near Sharpsburg, Maryland, perhaps it was inevitable that Major General Joseph Hooker would be killed or wounded in the ferocious combat there.

Major General Joseph Hooker (Library of Congress)
Major General Joseph Hooker (c. 1862, Library of Congress)

And wounded he was. Although it is fantasy to speculate, there were those who thought the battle of Antietam would have gone differently had Hooker not been knocked from command of the Federal First (I) Army Corps by a bullet through the foot at about nine o’clock that morning.

Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862.

MY DEAR HOOKER: I have been very sick the last few days, and just able to go where my presence was absolutely necessary, so I could not come to see you and thank you for what you did the other day, and express my intense regret and sympathy for your unfortunate wound. Had you not been wounded when you were, I believe the result of the battle would have been the entire destruction of the rebel army, for I know that, with you at its head, your corps would have kept on until it gained the main road. As a slight expression of what I think you merit. I have requested that the brigadier-general commission rendered vacant by Mansfield’s death may be given to you. I will this evening write a private note to the President on the subject, and I am glad to assure you that, so far as I can learn, it is the universal feeling of the army that are the most deserving in it.

With the sincere hope that your health may soon be restored, so that you may again be with us in the field, I am, my dear general, your sincere friend,


Looking into the nature of the General’s injury led me in a somewhat different direction, however – toward learning about the medical care he received, and more about the life and career of his doctor, Assistant Surgeon Benjamin Douglas Howard, USA …

Frank Schell’s battle

17 January 2010

Frank Schell accompanied the Army of the Potomac on the Maryland Campaign of 1862, and was on the field for the battle on 17 September. He was a civilian there from New York – a sketch artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Fortunately for those who study the battle, a number of his original battlefield sketches have survived. I’ve recently discovered a set sold at auction in 2007, and a group preserved in a collection at Boston College, in particular. I’ve grabbed some selected gems among them to use here.

Even better, in 1904 Schell published his recollection of the events that were going on around him as he was drawing these same pictures. So in sharing his pictures and his superb eye, I can also leave the writing to Frank – to narrate his own drawings and give us a sense of his Battle of Antietam.

Hooker crossing the Antietam (16 Sept 1862)click to see larger image
Hooker’s Corps crosses the Antietam (16 September 1862, pub. Leslie’s 11 Oct 1862)

As I awoke soon after daylight on the morning of September 17, 1862, the air was already vibrating with mighty sounds of battle … With spirits aflame, I speeded at my best from Keedysville for the headquarters of the commanding general … I joined the group about the commanding general, who was anxiously scanning through his field glass the situation to the right, across the Antietam. Looking more to the left, the thick west wood, with its dark, broad front so clearly emphasized by the little white Dunker church, was clearly in view along its entire extent upon the Hagerstown turnpike.

General McClellan suddenly lowered his glass, and, with a few animated words and expressive gestures, called Porter’s attention to something that caused an immediate ferment of buzzing excitement throughout the group and a close scrutinizing of the bit of woodland, for the time being, the focus of such absorbing interest …

Halt at Clarksburg (Md), McClellan's Staff, Sept 12th 1862
Halt at Clarksburg, Sept 12th 1862, McClellan’s Staff (DH Strother, 1862)

David Hunter Strother (1816 – 1888) – writer, artist and Federal officer – was on General George McClellan’s staff on the Maryland Campaign of 1862. His creative skills resulted is some fascinating artifacts of that period, which I’m enjoying in my study of Antietam and its participants.

Born in Martinsburg, (now West) Virginia, he had trained as an artist in New York and Europe, and was working as a writer and illustrator in books and magazines in his 20’s. His father “Colonel” John – an Army Lieutenant 1813 to 1815 – ran the Strother House hotel in Berkeley Springs.

By the 1850’s D.H. was famous as “Porte Crayon” – his nom de plume. He was on assignment for Harpers Weekly at Harpers Ferry in 1859 and covered John Brown’s trial and execution …

There are half a dozen unfinished posts waiting in the queue for this (very occasional) blog, but I am prompted to actually publish one at last by some fascinating email correspondence from Marianne Tierney, whose great-great-grandfather John Westbrook you see here. Marianne and her cousin Art Van Allsburg have collected and have shared some family treasures concerning their ancestor and Antietam.

John Westbrook click to see larger image
John Westbrook (postwar, courtesy M. Tierney)

This photograph is magnificent, but more exciting is a letter written by Marianne’ s grandfather Van Allsburg in 1964 which recalls what he heard from his grandfather Westbrook firsthand. With it, and some other tidbits I’ve dug up, we can follow something of this soldier’s life through and following the catastrophic Battle of Antietam …

Officers of the US Regular Army units present on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 have a staunch advocate in one of our loyal readers. He has been poking me to make up for obvious deficiencies in my understanding of those present, as seen in the Antietam on the Web database.

14th US Infantry at Alexandria, Va, March 1862 (USAMHI/MOLLUS)click to see larger image
Officers of the 14th US Inf. camp near Alexandria, Va., March 1862 (USAMHI, T. Reese)

In addition to providing additional details for some of the officers we do cover on AotW, he’s also challenged me to add a number of men not yet listed. I fear I am not doing this fast enough to suit, but have had a rewarding weekend doing further research on the Regulars at Antietam and these new candidates of interest …

In spite of my recent neglect of the subject of the Battle here on the internets, the rest of the interested World continues to feed the machine. To all of you who’ve sent me things, I’m making some time now to catch up with getting all those gems online on AotW, and thanks very much to all for your patience and persistence!

J.A. Reynolds CDV, 1864J.A. Reynolds CDV, 1864 (back)
Major John A. Reynolds, Chief of Artillery, XXth Army Corps (1864, courtesy Scott Hann Collection)

By way of immediate example, above are scans of a carte de visite (CDV) sent by Scott Hann to fill an empty spot on this officer’s bio page. Scott has a massive collection of images and has been most generous in sharing some of the best with us to help put faces with the names of the men at the Battle.

John Reynolds was Captain of Battery L, 1st Regiment New York Artillery (Light) at Antietam. In this post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the battery’s commander, and feature a first hand – if dramatic and lengthy – description of their experience in Maryland in a contemporary letter written by one of his Lieutenants to a Rochester newspaper.