One of the most tragic scenes of the Battle of Antietam was the ill-conceived charge of Major Thomas Hyde‘s 7th Maine Infantry on the afternoon of 17 September 1862 at the order of their brigade commander Colonel W.H. Irwin.

Sergeant John C McKenney of Company B recounted his recollection of that day in Old Eliot: a Quarterly Magazine of the History and Biography of the Upper Parish of Kittery, now Eliot in 1906 [online from the Internet Archive]:

Here’s my partial transcription:

I was First Sergt. of B Company, and went into the fight when I could honorably have kept out, as I was on the sick list at the time, and had been for nearly two weeks. The Regiment went into the battle with less than two hundred men.

In the forenoon we were supporting a battery. In the afternoon we were ordered to advance and drive back a large skirmish line of Rebels in our front. We advanced and drove them back over a short hill; and when we reached the top of the hill, we found a rebel brigade waiting for us. They gave us a volley, which we returned the best we could. In a few minutes we discovered that the Rebels were on our flank and rear; they opened fire on us from that direction.

Maj. Hyde immediately gave the order: “By the left flank, double quick, march!” A rail fence was in our path, and a gap had to be made by the head of the column to get through. Maj Hyde could not go where the men were filing through; and 1st Sergeants Hill, Benson and McKenney, stopped and tore down a place for the Major to get his horse through. By this time all had passed on, and left the three Sergeants in the rear of the command. All were running to get out of the trap. I being weak and exhausted, was soon left behind; I was compelled to surrender, and was reported missing. Sergeants Hill and Benson escaped, and were promoted for special bravery.

[pg. 173] For five days we lived mostly on green corn taken from the fields through the Shenandoah Valley. We reached Staunton, and were put into cattle cars, sent to Richmond, and confined in Libbey Prison thirty days.


I haven’t found a photograph for McKenney, but here are Sergeants (by then Lieutenant and Captain, respectively) Benson and Hill, thanks to the Maine State Archives.

From the Grand Traverse Herald of 22 April 1886 (online from the Libraries of Central Michigan University) comes this tidbit about Antietam veteran and late Sergeant of the 7th Maine Infantry Eli McLaughlin.

Jim Buchanan of Walking the West Woods kindly forwarded me cards for two Virginia soldiers said to have died of wounds in US Army field hospitals after the battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862. These are from the National Archives Record Group 109: War Department Collection of Confederate Records, 1825 – 1927.

Privates J.G. Rod, 49th Virginia Infantry and C.W. Keese, 23rd Virginia Infantry.

Unfortunately I cannot identify these men using available military, genealogical, census, or burial records. They don’t correlate with anyone in those regiments with even similar names.

I welcome any assistance you can offer.

For the moment, then, these names do not appear in the AotW database – I don’t know enough about them to know if I already have them listed under other names, or if I’m missing them altogether, which would be regrettable. The nature of the beast, I guess, given the often incomplete or erroneous records of the period.

From John Dooley Confederate Soldier: His War Journal (1945, online from the Hathi Trust), here’s a photograph of him as a Lieutenant in the First Virginia Infantry, probably taken between April and July 1863.

Thanks to J.O. Smith (@civilwarontour) for the pointer to Dooley and to his War Journal. It contains some excellent soldier-view material about the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Christopher Ausman enlisted, along with his brothers Jacob and Peter, as a Private in Company G of the 59th New York Infantry in November 1861. Both Peter and Christopher were wounded at Antietam on 17 September 1862, and Jacob was listed for some months afterward as “missing” and his official military record ends there.

But his brothers knew he’d been killed.

Peter returned to duty, was captured in 1864, and died while a prisoner in the camp at Salisbury, NC. Christopher survived the war and went home in June 1865 after mustering out with the remains of the regiment at Munson’s Hill in Arlington, VA.

In November 1866, in support of Jacob’s widow’s pension application, Christopher sat for a deposition with a Montgomery County, NY justice of the peace, Jonathan Mosher. These are the JP’s notes (touch to enlarge):

The gist of the testimony is in about the middle of that word-pile:

… That Peter Ausman, another brother of Deponent [Christopher] was also present at the said time & place [Antietam on 17 September 1862]. That the said Jacob was at said battle standing between said Peter and Deponent & Deponent saw him shot down & killed by a missile fired by rebel hands …


This document is from Mary Jane Harvey Ausman’s pension file, US National Archives. I found it online from fold3.

Private Daniel Dailey (or Daly, Daily, Delay, Daylay, Delany), Company K, 50th Georgia Infantry was captured on South Mountain on 14 September 1862 and was issued a parole slip on 3 October at Boonsboro, MD. He was back with his Company by the end of the year and survived to go home in 1865.

The parole was signed by Major William Henry Wood, acting Provost Marshal General of the Army of the Potomac, and by Captain James Judson Van Horn. Both were West Point graduates and professional soldiers before the war. This document is from Private Dailey’s Compiled Service Records at the US National Archives, and is online thanks to fold3.

Orrin William Beach, First Sergeant of Company B, 34th New York Infantry, was in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862, and undoubtedly saw many of his “boys” killed or wounded as they fought beside the rookies of the 125th Pennsylvania in the West Woods just north of the Dunker Church that morning [map].

One of the men who fell near him was Corporal Arthur A O’Keefe of Company B. About 3 months later, a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Beach wrote Corporal O’Keefe’s father about his son’s death at Antietam. Here’s a typescript of that letter accompanied by a copy of a photo of young Arthur.


The CDV of Lt. Beach above is in the collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. There’s also a lovely 1864 photograph of him as a Captain in the 16th NY Heavy Artillery in the NY State Military Museum.

The transcribed letter and O’Keefe photograph were shared to the FamilySearch database by Kathy McGerty.

This excellent photograph is in the collection of the Library of Congress and was taken in February 1863. It is of Captain James William Forsyth, then US Provost Marshall at Aquia Creek, VA – a large supply base for the Union Army. He’s sitting on a 50 pound crate of “Army Bread”, better known as hardtack, a staple of the soldiers’ diet.

Forsyth had been on the staffs of Generals McClellan and Mansfield on the Maryland Campaign, and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac’s Provost Marshall General after Antietam on 17 September 1862.

Probably typical of the work of the Provost Marshall after a battle, here’s an example of Forsyth’s signature on a parole given by Private John H. Reynolds of the 15th South Carolina Infantry who was captured at Sharpsburg (touch to enlarge). Slightly less typical, I expect, was Private Reynolds’ request to not be exchanged or returned.

That document is from Reynolds’ Compiled Service Record file, US National Archives. I got my copy from fold3.

James Forsyth moved across the River Tweed from his birthplace, Coldstream, Scotland, to Berwick-on-Tweed in England with his family as a small child in about 1842, and was a student there into the 1850s.

In 1861, by then a painter in Providence, RI, he enlisted in the 12th Massachusetts Infantry in Boston. He received a serious wound to his hand at Antietam and spent the next 9 months in Army hospitals and another year in the Veteran Reserve Corps before going home.

He was a painter to age 47, when he was killed in a railroad accident near his home in Lynn, Massachusetts, leaving a widow Isabella and 12 year old daughter Helen Eveline, the lone survivor of their 5 children.

The photograph here of part of the “old bridge” (built 1611-1634) into Berwick is from a promotional brochure [PDF] produced by English Heritage.

Here’s a photograph taken just after the war of Benjamin Crawford Brantley (left), late Private of Company B, 13th Georgia Infantry.

He went by Crawford or Croff and was not yet 17 years old when he enlisted in 1861. He was wounded at Sharpsburg in 1862, at Gettysburg (1863), at Spotsylvania (1864), and finally, and most seriously, at Winchester, VA in September 1864. He lost his left forearm to amputation at a Federal field hospital in Winchester and was in the prison hospital at Point Lookout, MD to February 1865.

Which gives me a good excuse to show you this lovely 1864 bird’s-eye view of Crawford’s temporary home at Point Lookout. Click or touch to see more detail.

The photograph at the top was shared online by by Ken Brantley on his Brantley Association of America website. The other man is not identified.

This copy of the Point Lookout print is online from the Library of Congress.