Brass Napoleon Award Act of Kindness: 132nd Pennsylvania & Lt. Col. Reuben B. Nisbet, 3rd Georgia Infantry at Antietam

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lelliott19

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"He asked to be laid down in some sheltered place, for, said he, 'I have but a few moments to live.' I well remember his refined, gentlemanly appearance, and how profoundly sorry I felt for him." Before the Civil War, Dr. Reuben Battle Nisbet was a trained physician, but he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a Captain, was promoted to Lt. Col., and was severely wounded at the Bloody Lane during the Battle of Sharpsburg. In fact, he was wounded "several times," and his wounds were thought to be mortal.

He was presumed dead for some time. At least until his wife received a letter from him.

...the wife of Col. Reuben Nisbet, has received a letter from her husband, dated at Hagerstown, Maryland, the 25th of September. In it, he states that he was carried a mile from the field of Sharpsburg, on the back of a Federal soldier, and fell into the hands of Army Surgeons who were old medical classmates. At writing, he was domiciled in the house of a lawyer at Hagerstown - his wounds rapidly healing, and he hoped to be able to travel, on parole in four weeks. [The Weekly Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), October 21, 1862, page 3.]​
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Lt. Col., 3rd Georgia Infantry, Wright's Brigade, Anderson's Division, Longstreet's Corps
In his memoirs, War from the Inside, Frederick Lyman Hitchcock of the 132nd Pennsylvania wrote from his diary:
...Their first line in the sunken road seemed to be all dead or wounded, and several of our men ran down there, to find that literally true. They brought back the lieutenant-colonel, a fine-looking man, who was mortally wounded. I shook his hand, and he said, "God bless you, boys, you are very kind." He asked to be laid down in some sheltered place, for, said he, "I have but a few moments to live." I well remember his refined, gentlemanly appearance, and how profoundly sorry I felt for him. He was young, lithely built, of sandy complexion, and wore a comparatively new uniform of Confederate gray, on which was embroidered the insignia of the "5th [sic] Ga., C. S. A." He said, "You have killed all my brave boys; they are there in the road." And they were, I saw them next day lying four deep in places as they fell, a most awful picture of battle carnage.​

In later years, Hitchcock evidently recognized his mistake - the 5th Georgia was a part of the Army of Tennessee and so was not present at the Battle of Sharpsburg. In his footnotes, Hitchcock suggests that the Lt. Col. might have been of "the 6th Ga., and this officer was probably Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Newton of that regiment."

I believe that Hitchcock's diary entry actually describes Lt Col Reuben Nisbet, 3rd Georgia Infantry. Lt. Col. Vincent M Wilcox, commanding the 132nd Pennsylvania, noted the capture of Lt. Col. Nisbet in his after-action report. I think its highly unlikely that the 132nd Pennsylvania captured TWO Lt Colonels. And if they did, why would Wilcox mention one, but fail to mention the other? Unfortunately, we may never know the identity of the soldier who carried Nisbet off the field, for a mile on his back.

According to the report of Lt Col Vincent M Wilcox, commanding 132nd Pennsylvania:
...When our men were nearly exhausted of strength and ammunition, you directed me to fix bayonets and charge upon the rifle-pits, but at this moment the Irish Brigade came up and joined our men in the charge. They drove the enemy from their stronghold and captured some 300 prisoners, including a number of officers, among them Lieutenant-Colonel [Reuben B.] Nisbet of Macon, Ga., all of whom were sent to the rear.​

Among Nisbet's records, this letter, dated May 13, 1863, summarizes the situation:
When he fell, as it was supposed mortally wounded, at Sharpsburg he received several wounds, two of them very dangerous - fell into the hands of the enemy, was reported killed & we believed it for a month. He remained a prisoner for two or three months, came home & almost died after he got home, of his wounds. He has recovered his general health, but his ancle and foot are paralised by a wound in the leg & he is incapable of field service.
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Lt. Col. Reuben B Nisbet, the subject of this sketch, had a cousin, Col. James Cooper Nisbet, who also served in the CS Army. Here is what he had to say about Reuben Battle Nisbet's experiences.
My cousin, Col. R. B. Nisbet (Eatonton, Georgia), commanding the 3rd Georgia Infantry (Wright's Brigade) received three severe wounds and fell into the hands of the enemy. He was taken off the field and sent to Baltimore, where, by permission of the officer in charge of the ambulances containing the wounded prisoners, he was taken to the private residence of Col. Robt. Brent, a prominent lawyer of that city; furnished the best medical attention, and tenderly nursed back to health by the daughters of Colonel Brent. Col. Nisbet was finally exchanged, returned to his Regiment, and was wounded again. He rose from the rank of Captain. There was no better soldier! After the War, he practiced his profession of medicine, except when called to represent his constituents in various positions of trust. He died a few years ago, at the age of seventy-five. Handsome, brilliant, chivalrous, this was one of Nature's noblemen.​

Sources:
"Col. Nisbet Not Killed," The Weekly Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), October 21, 1862, page 3.
Portrait from Find-a-grave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/20123510/reuben-battle-nisbet
War From the Inside:The Story of the 132nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the War for the Suppression of the Rebellion, 1862-1863, Frederick Lyman Hitchcock, J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1904. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29313/29313-h/29313-h.htm#FNanchor_C_3
Four Years on the Firing Line, Col. James Cooper Nisbet, Imperial Press, Chattanooga, TN., 1914, page 157. https://archive.org/stream/fouryearsonfirin00nisb/fouryearsonfirin00nisb_djvu.txt
Transactions of the Medical Association of Georgia, Volume 52, Published by the Association, 1901. pp. 42-43. https://books.google.com/books?id=X94CAAAAYAAJ&dq=Reuben+Battle+Nisbet&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Antietam on the Web http://antietam.aotw.org/officers.php?officer_id=699&from=results

BIO Reuben Battle Nisbet (6 February 1830 - 10 April 1901)
A graduate of Oglethorpe College, he attended a series of lectures at Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, PA, and graduated from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta. He began the practice of his profession in partnership at Macon GA and removed to Eatenton, GA where he began his own practice. At the outbreak of the war, Nisbet enlisted 26 April 1861 as Captain of the Brown Rifles which became Company B, 3rd Georgia Infantry. Wounded at Malvern Hill, 1 July 1862, he recovered and returned to his regiment in time to participate in the Maryland Campaign. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel December 1862, to rank from 1 July 1862. He was wounded again at Sharpsburg, in the combat at the Bloody Lane. His wound was presumed mortal, but he was captured on the field and taken prisoner by men of the 132nd Pennsylvania. He recovered, was paroled, and eventually retired to the Invalid Corps 16 May 1864. After the war, he returned to the practice of Medicine at Eatenton, which he continued until his death 10 April 1901.
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AUG

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Nice research! As to Hitchcock's account, I think you're right about the lieutenant colonel being Nisbet rather than Newton. I remember there was a thread quoting Hitchcock's account posted a while ago, and although I didn't post anything there, it left me wondering about that....

Though the 6th Georgia in Colquitt's brigade was also in the Sunken Road, their main action was in the Cornfield that morning, where the regiment was decimated. Also, Colquitt's men were positioned on the western end of the road, while Wright's brigade (including the 3rd Georgia) was on the eastern side of the road, closer to where the 132nd Pennsylvania fought.

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Map from Antietam on the Web.

According to History of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. Jacob C. Higgins of that regiment found Lt. Col. Newton while advancing into the West Woods:

As soon as the fire of the Confederate battery near the church was silenced, an officer, to us unknown, ordered the regiment into the west woods, and requested it to hold the same. To the command, "Forward," we moved with spirit and rapidity, driving before us some South Carolina and Georgia troops. When we came to the Hagerstown turnpike, Colonel Higgins says, Lieutenant-Colonel Newton, of the Sixth Georgia Regiment, was found in a dying condition. He asked Higgins for stimulants or morphine, and when told he had none, he said, "I am shot through. Oh, my God, I must die," and turned over and died.
 
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Andy Cardinal

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Nice research! As to Hitchcock's account, I think you're right about the lieutenant colonel being Nisbet rather than Newton. I remember there was a thread quoting Hitchcock's account posted a while ago, and although I didn't post anything there, it left me wondering about that....

Though the 6th Georgia in Colquitt's brigade was also in the Sunken Road, their main action was in the Cornfield that morning, where the regiment was decimated. Also, Colquitt's men were positioned on the western end of the road, while Wright's brigade (including the 3rd Georgia) was on the eastern side of the road, closer to where the 132nd Pennsylvania fought.

View attachment 311729
Map from Antietam on the Web.

According to History of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. Jacob C. Higgins of that regiment found Lt. Col. Newton while advancing into the West Woods:

As soon as the fire of the Confederate battery near the church was silenced, an officer, to us unknown, ordered the regiment into the west woods, and requested it to hold the same. To the command, "Forward," we moved with spirit and rapidity, driving before us some South Carolina and Georgia troops. When we came to the Hagerstown turnpike, Colonel Higgins says, Lieutenant-Colonel Newton, of the Sixth Georgia Regiment, was found in a dying condition. He asked Higgins for stimulants or morphine, and when told he had none, he said, "I am shot through. Oh, my God, I must die," and turned over and died.
I had posted about Newton earlier. Thanks @lelliott19 , Nisbet makes more sense.

Great story.
 

lelliott19

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Nice research! As to Hitchcock's account, I think you're right about the lieutenant colonel being Nisbet rather than Newton. I remember there was a thread quoting Hitchcock's account posted a while ago, and although I didn't post anything there, it left me wondering about that....
Oh wow! Thanks for the map and for the account of Newton being found elsewhere on the field. Fantastic! So that pretty much seals the deal I'd think? We can be pretty much certain that the Lt Col Hitchcock describes was actually Nisbet?
I had posted about Newton earlier. Thanks @lelliott19 , Nisbet makes more sense. Great story.
I just wish we could figure out who the soldier was who carried Nisbet a mile on his back. You know. to us, it seems like something significant - that would be recorded? But I think that kind of thing happened WAY more often than most people think. And way more than some historians want to talk about. Im not sure why some historians want to focus on negative feelings between the two sides? Ive read a lot of accounts, diaries, letters, etc on both sides and have found way more references to interacting kindly with the enemy. I just dont get it. Makes no sense to try to deny something that is so easily proven. Maybe just no one has ever compiled good, reliable data on the topic?
 
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lelliott19

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Frederick Lyman Hitchcock was the 132nd Pennsylvania's adjutant at Antietam.
Thanks Ryan. I should have mentioned that.

Here's the original newspaper article. I should have included it in the OP as well. I was just so excited to find it that I transcribed it, but neglected to include an image.
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The Weekly Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), October 21, 1862, page 3.

@Brian Downey the article may be of interest to you.
 

Brian Downey

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This is lovely stuff @lelliott19

I've grabbed the quote from his cousin's memoir to add to R.B. Nisbet's bio page, thanks especially for finding that. Here's that cousin, by the way. He assumed command of his regiment at Sharpsburg as senior Captain and was also wounded there.

I wish I had a wartime photo of Reuben, too, but haven't found one yet ...

jc_nisbet.jpg
 

lelliott19

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I've grabbed the quote from his cousin's memoir to add to R.B. Nisbet's bio page, thanks especially for finding that.
Thanks Brian. Im pleased that something I found will be of use for your fantastic website. I use Antietam on the Web all the time! Its absolutely the BEST source around for compiled information on all things Antietam. Thank you for providing your research in such a well-organized and useful format.

Thank you for adding the image of James C Nisbet to this thread. Much appreciated.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Oh wow! Thanks for the map and for the account of Newton being found elsewhere on the field. Fantastic! So that pretty much seals the deal I'd think? We can be pretty much certain that the Lt Col Hitchcock describes was actually Nisbet?

I just wish we could figure out who the soldier was who carried Nisbet a mile on his back. You know. to us, it seems like something significant - that would be recorded? But I think that kind of thing happened WAY more often than most people think. And way more than some historians want to talk about. Im not sure why some historians want to focus on negative feelings between the two sides? Ive read a lot of accounts, diaries, letters, etc on both sides and have found way more references to interacting kindly with the enemy. I just dont get it. Makes no sense to try to deny something that is so easily proven. Maybe just no one has ever compiled good, reliable data on the topic?

THIS. Thanks so much! You do see so much of the negative. For every post reunion where men met as ex-foes someone reminds us it wasn't so and how there was also post war animosity. Sure there was but there were a lot of men who'd had enough of hate. I remember when first joining there someone posted the account of a Confederate soldier going over a wall to aid Union wounded who were calling for water. ' Apocryphal ', and ' never happened '. The thing is you could see where listening to fellow humans suffering hour after hour without responding would be awful.

It's why picket stories are awesome. As told during the war by men who were there, stories seem an inevitable result of men who had a tough time viewing each other as enemies.

Thanks for keeping at this. It's awfully important and yes, I want to know who it was who carried him for a mile. Bet it's somewhere.
 

Sbc

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THIS. Thanks so much! You do see so much of the negative. For every post reunion where men met as ex-foes someone reminds us it wasn't so and how there was also post war animosity. Sure there was but there were a lot of men who'd had enough of hate. I remember when first joining there someone posted the account of a Confederate soldier going over a wall to aid Union wounded who were calling for water. ' Apocryphal ', and ' never happened '. The thing is you could see where listening to fellow humans suffering hour after hour without responding would be awful.

It's why picket stories are awesome. As told during the war by men who were there, stories seem an inevitable result of men who had a tough time viewing each other as enemies.

Thanks for keeping at this. It's awfully important and yes, I want to know who it was who carried him for a mile. Bet it's somewhere.
So true—even during the Great War the belligerents at times showed kindness.(Christmas 1914)
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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So true—even during the Great War the belligerents at times showed kindness.(Christmas 1914)

There must be a reason we're so struck by these stories. I don't know, maybe we're just not cut out for hating anyone enough to wipe them from the planet. The exceptions to that are just so gosh darn noisy it looks like we're outnumbered.
 
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scone

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There must be a reason we're so struck by these stories. I don't know, maybe we're just not cut out for hating anyone enough to wipe them from the planet. The exceptions to that are just so gosh darn noisy it looks like we're outnumbered.
its human nature … when dust settled take care of the wounded almost all if not all did no mater who owned the field... some places better than others... to many to list thnk you for sharing
 

Patrick H

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This is a great story, Lara. In reading the diary entry, I am struck once again by how beautifully these people wrote. Imagine relating this story in texting shorthand--that would be a disaster.
 
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rpkennedy

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From Georgia's records of the 3rd Georgia at Antietam:

Killed and Mortally Wounded
Adjutant Joel W. Perry, Jr., died 9/19
Corporal Robert E. Clarke (Co. A)
Ransom Warnock (Co. A)
John R. Houghton (Co. C), died 10/27
William H. McBride (Co. C)
Elisha J. Reid (Co. C)
2nd Lt. Crawford J. Reese (Co. D)
Benjamin A. Baldwin (Co. D)
B.D. Moore (Co. E)
David C. Rodgers (Co. E)
Daniel J. Adkins (Co. F)
J.M. Cook (Co. F)
James R. Pennington (Co. F), died 9/21
Corporal Thomas A. Mabry (Co. H)
Corporal Jesse D. Moore (Co. H)
Corporal William S. Hyer (Co. H)
Samuel Cook (Co. H)
Augustus M. Ramsey (Co. H)
Corporal John J. Tribble (Co. I)
Isaac W. Keel (Co. I)
Jarmon W. Lord (Co. I)
Isaac Reid (Co. I)
Daniel M. Wynn (Co. I)
Corporal George C. Graham (Co. K)
John W. Nabors (Co. K), died 3/22/63
Sergeant David M. Elder (Co. L)
Corporal Hillman P. Fullilove (Co. L)
Archibald B. Bradshaw (Co. L), wounded and captured, died unknown date
Calvin Hendon (Co. L)
John L. Hendon (Co. L), wounded and captured, died unknown date
Joseph S. Jones (Co. L)

Wounded
Lt. Colonel Reuben B. Nisbet
2nd Lt. Mackey W. Wimberly (Co. A)
Jr. 2nd Lt. Seaborn J. Bell (Co. A)
Avery D. Jenkins (Co. A)
William Warnock (Co. A)
Captain John S. Reid, Jr. (Co. B)
2nd Lt. Reuben R. DeJarnette (Co. B)
James T. Bozeman (Co. B)
Wiley C. Brannan (Co. B)
Allen T. Lawrence (Co. B), also captured
George L. Prestwood (Co. B)
Jr. 2nd Lt. John F. Cheney (Co. C)
Sergeant Joseph T. Davison (Co. C)
Ensign Isaac W. Reese (Co. D)
William A. Brooks (Co. D)
Thomas H. Burruss (Co. D)
Wiley B. Williams (Co. D)
Sergeant Thomas J. Glover (Co. E)
Sergeant George W. Snead (Co. E)
Corporal Vincent Pratt (Co. E)
1st Lt. J.D. Frank Brown (Co. F)
2nd Lt. Alexander H. Cumming (Co. F)
William R. Harrell (Co. F)
David B. Pennington (Co. F)
John T. Vanlandingham (Co. F)
2nd Lt. John L. Ells (Co. G)
Owen M. Keener (Co. G)
James H. Kemp (Co. G)
John Wethers (Co. G), probably died as there are no more records of him
1st Sergeant Henry F. Parks (Co. H)
Corporal William H. Hammett (Co. H)
Edward C. Crowder (Co. H)
Frank Kercher (Co. H)
1st Sergeant William O'Bannon (Co. I)
Sergeant James A. Lindsey (Co. I)
Sergeant Pleman H. Nesbit (Co. I)
James R. Brack (Co. I)
William B. Davis (Co. I)
Newton J.L. Kettles (Co. I)
James G. Ockington (Co. I)
James M. Outlaw (Co. I)
T.N. Roster (Co. I)
Henry C. Warner (Co. I)
William T. Warner (Co. I)
James A. Williams (Co. I)
1st Sergeant Samuel D. Mitchell (Co. K)
Sergeant George H. Palmer (Co. K)
Richard B. Baxter (Co. K)
George C. Daniel (Co. K)
James P. Dorsey (Co. K)
Charles T. Evans (Co. K)
James S. Parr (Co. K)
James H. Reaves (Co. K)
Adolphus D. Wamberling (Co. K)
Asa A. Winn (Co. K)
Sergeant Richard S. Jones (Co. L)
Herman Franks (Co. L)
William A. Rutledge (Co. L)

Captured
Sidney A. Averett (Co. B)

Ryan
 
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