Aftermath of Antietam - A Soldier's Story

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NH Civil War Gal

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I decided to post it here instead of Soldier's Tales since this is what I consider "Antietam Week" and being a horse person, I can only imagine the terror of the poor horse too.

"I was compelled to go through a field in the rear of Dunker Church, over which, to and fro, the pendulum of battle had swung several times that day. It was a dreadful scene, a veritable field of blood. The dead and dying lay as thick over it as harvest sheaves. The pitiable cries for water and appeals for help were much more horrible to listen to than the deadliest sounds of battle.

Silent were the dead, and motionless. But here and there were raised stiffened arms; heads made a last effort to lift themselves from the ground; prayers were mingled with oaths, the oaths of delirium; men were wriggling over the earth; and midnight hid all distinction between the blue and the grey. My horse trembled under me in terror, looking down at the ground, sniffing the scent of blood, stepping falteringly as a horse will over or by the side of human flesh; afraid to stand still, hesitating to go on, his animal instinct shuddering at this cruel human mystery.

Once his foot slid into a little shallow filled with blood and spurted a little stream on his legs and my boots. I had had a surfeit of blood that day and I couldn’t stand this. I dismounted and giving the reins to my courier I started on foot into the wood of Dunker Church… The opposing lines of battle, resting on their arms, were lying almost within a stone’s throw, one of the other.”

-Lt. Henry Kyd Douglas, C.S.A.; September 18, 1862
 
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Arioch

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Lt. Douglas's uniform is in the Antietam museum at the visitors center. He grew up in the Sharpsburg area and was a special advisor, during this engagement, to the general staff....

He was the one who commented that the creek was not more than 3-4 feet deep at any given place near the bridge...and he couldn't believe that Burnside kept trying to funnel his troops over the bridge..
 
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Henry Kyd Douglas's book "I rode with Stonewall" sits on my reading list for quite some time now ... thanks for reminding me of it!

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