Hood's hungry men are sent into action near the Dunker Church

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kholland

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When Hood was relieved by Lawton, on the night of the 16th, and retired to the woods about 250 yards in rear of the Dunkard Church, it was to get food for his men,who had been nearly famished for three days, and he road in search of his wagons. It was with much difficulty that he found these in the darkness, and they contained flour only. Not until nearly dawn was this in the hands of his men and they were without cooking utensils.

It was dawn before the dough was prepared, which the men proceeded to cook on ramrods. About 4 a.m. Hood sent his aid to General D.H. Hill, apprising him of his condition and asking if he could furnish any troops to assist in holding the position on the left, to which Hill replied that he could not. As we have seen, the fighting began at dawn, in and near the East Woods, and, soon thereafter, Hood received notice from Lawton that he would require all the assistance he could give him, and later, when Hartsuff and Gibbon advanced, an officer of Lawton's staff dashed up to Hood, saying "General Lawton sends his compliments, with the request that you come at once to his support" and added that Lawton had been wounded. "To Arms" was instantly sounded, and quite a number of Hood's men were obliged to go to the front, leaving their uncooked rations behind; some carried the half-cooked dough on their ramrods and ate it as they went forward.

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Lone Star 1st Texas Regiment Battle of Antietam Sept 17, 1862
Don Troiani​

The Antietam Manuscript of Ezra Ayres Carman (online)
http://kperlotto3.home.comcast.net/~kperlotto3/carman/EzraCarman.pdf
 

dlofting

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Thanks for posting. Since visiting the Antietam battlefield, I've always had knots in my stomach when reading about the cornfield or bloody lane. Such as large number of men in very small spaces (compared to other major battlefields). No wonder casualties were so high, on both sides.
 

AndyHall

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Private Lawrence Daffan, Co. G, Fourth Texas Infantry, at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862:

On the evening of the 16th we crossed the Antietam Creek, falling back from Boonsboro Gap. This occasioned some skirmishing and artillery duels across the creek, as we had taken a stand near Sharpsburg. We had orders the evening of the 16th to cook up three days’ rations, and to be ready to move at a moment’s warning. We were located nearly a half mile south of an old Dunkard church. There was heavy timber between us and the church; north and west of us there was a large stubblefield where wheat was cut. North of this stubble was a large cornfield of considerable dimensions. Corn there in September is as high as it is here in July; fodder was about ready to be gathered. By daylight the pickets commenced firing. By sunrise wer were ordered forward in line of battle. We stopped near the church in the heavy timber, the branches were falling on us, and many spent balls played around us.

A short time after this we were ordered “forward.” We emerged from the timber into the stubblefield; some of it I think had recently been plowed.

As we emerged from the timber, a panorama, fearful and wonderful, broke upon us. It was a line of battle in front of us. Immediately in front of us was Lawton’s Georgia Brigade. After we left the timber we were under fire, but not in a position to return the fire. As we neared Lawton’s Brigade, the order came for the Texas Brigade to charge. Whenever a halt was made by a command under fire, every man lay flat on the ground, and this was done very quick. Lawton’s Brigade had been on this line fighting some time before we reached them. Lawton’s Brigade attempted to charge, and did charge; their charge was a failure, because their numbers had been decimated; they had no strength.

Then the Texas Brigade as ordered to charge; the enemy was on the opposite side of this stubblefield in the cornfield. As we passed where Lawton’s Brigade had stood, there was a complete line of dead Georgians as far as I could see. Just before reaching the cornfield General Hood rode up to Colonel [Benjamin F.] Carter, commanding the fourth Texas Regiment (my regiment), and told him to front his regiment to the left and protect the flank. This he did and made a charge directly to the west. We were stopped by a pike fenced on both sides. It would have been certain death to have climbed the fence.

Hays’ Louisiana Brigade had been in on our left, and had been driven out. Some of their men were with us at this fence. One of them was a better soldier than I was. I was lying on the ground shooting through the fence about the second rail; he stood up and shot right over the fence. He was shot through his left hand, and through the heart as he fell on me, dead. I pushed him off and saw that “Seventh Louisiana” was on his cap.

The Fifth [Texas], First [Texas] and Eighteenth Georgia, which was the balance of my brigade, went straight down into the cornfield, and when they struck this cornfield, the corn blades rose like a whirlwind, and the air was full.

Lawrence Daffan was seventeen years old at the time. He survived this fight, the assault on Little Round Top at Gettysburg the following year, and the Battle of Chickamauga, only to be captured in late 1863 and spend the remainder of the war as a prisoner at Rock Island, Illinois. Passage from My Father as I Remember Him, by Katie Daffan.
 
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AUG

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1st Lt. James L. Lemon of Co. A, 18th Georgia Infantry, Hood's Texas Brigade, wrote the following in his reminiscences:

Upon reaching the town, our brigade was ordered to the left of our lines, where we lay tired & hungry all day on the 16th, while under fire of the enemy's long-range guns. Our haversacks were empty & our rations had not arrived, causing much grumbling among the men, as we had not eaten in several days.​

On the evening of the 16th our brigade was ordered to form line of battle & we advanced into a cornfield & into a piece of timber where we met almost by accident a force of Yanks from the 1st and 3rd Penn'a Reserves. Among this bunch were a couple of drummer boys, about 12 or 13 years old who were trying hard to "put on a brave face," but who were clearly terrified. Col. Ruff ordered their drums confiscated & then released as we were not equipped or inclined to care for children. Our drum had been damaged & thrown away at Groveton, so we took theirs as "spoils of war." Private Boring captured the boys. As he was driving them to the rear at point of the bayonet they heaped so much abuse upon him--out of their fear or nervousness--that he had to be restrained from striking them with a club musket. Of course, he was instantly the target of many wags among our company who joked with him about "scaring little boys" & etc. He replied that he would be d***d if he'd take such abuse from "d***d Yankee whelps." The boys were released & "beat a hasty retreat" back to their lines, with Boring giving them a rite hard look as they went.​
The other prisoners were sent to the rear to cook rations, which, it was said, had finally arrived. We were literally famished having marched hard, fought battles & marched again on nothing but green corn in the last 3 days, We formed in the rear & waited, but the promised wagons & rations had not arrived. Thus, we lay on our arms suffering from the most severe hunger, with no recompense. The wagons did not reach us until just before dawn & were almost assaulted by the men, wild as they were in their hunger. Calm was quickly restored however & rations were drawn, & cook-fires started. To our everlasting dismay, the firing from the field from which we had withdrawn had greatly intensified & we were ordered back to the front at once. Our men went almost wild with anger & furiously threw their rations to the ground & poured out their coffee as they moved into line. Gen'l Wofford had ridden up & was among us as we formed, calling our "Never mind boys, there will be plenty to eat soon enough. It is the Yankees who have taken your breakfast. Make them pay for it!" A savage yell went up in response & the men's faces I shall never forget. Wild eyed and furious clenched teeth & oaths from every man, from the most savage to the most mild-hearted, all were as one in their wrath. They were like savage Devils from the infernal regions, howling madly & looking for a fight.​

- Feed Them the Steel! edited by Mark Lemon
 
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ErnieMac

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Reminiscences of James Daniel Roberdeau, Captain in Company B, 5th Texas Infantry
http://library.columbustexas.net/history/roberdeau.htm

We arrived at Sharpsburg late in the evening of the 15th, bivouacked on the field, sleeping upon our arms. On the morning of the 16th we were moved north about one mile, where we remained during the day, supporting batteries, etc. The enemy having employed the day in disposing his forces, and having completed his alignments, threw forward the Fifth Pennsylvania reserve corps, when we were advanced, the 5th regiment deployed in front. Some desultory skirmishing was began about dark, resulting in a few casualties —among them Hardy Allen of Co. E, the color bearer. Then preparations for the morrow's strife were begun by throwing forward two men from each company for observation and picket, Hunt Terrell and Geo. Monroe were Co. B's detail and went forward. A detail to go to Sharpsburg for rations being ordered, Co. B named W. J. Sloneker, J. E. Obenhaus and Geo. Gegenworth. They did not return before the battle began. This was Tuesday night, 15th, the last rations issued having been on Friday, 13th. On taking position in the morning of the 16th in a field of Irish potatoes, plowed up for gardening, we secured a mess or two. The brigade was then (about 10 a.m.,) relieved by General Drayton's brigade, when we withdrew to a skirt of timber in the rear of the famous Dunkard's church, and lay down to sleep the last sleep for many. W. H. Carlton sent to the rear on surgeon's certificate, being quite sick. ......

About 7 o'clock, a.m., while we were preparing to cook rations, we were startled by Drayton's brigade breaking in on us, having been driven in by the enemy. We were immediately formed and moved forward, Law's brigade on the right. As we moved forward Gen. Hood withdrew the 4th, placing it upon the extreme left and somewhat detached, as I learn, from the brigade. So impetuous was the enemy's charge on Drayton that we encountered him within a short distance of our camp, repulsing him and driving him into and beyond the skirt of woods from which he had emerged, but at fearful cost. From that time until relieved by Gen. T. S. Anderson's Georgia brigade it was a continuous "see-saw," the enemy renewing the charge and forcing us back, to be again repulsed and driven back. All this was over the dead and wounded of each army. At what time of day we were relieved there is a diversity of opinion, and I will say that it was far advanced, and after we had exhausted our ammunition and resorted to that of the dead and wounded, besides exchanging guns with them, those carried in being too hot to handle. You are aware that twenty rounds is considered quite a battle. Speaking of the duration of time we were engaged, a comrade of the 4th unites with me in saying, "It was the longest day ever made!"

Of the loss to our brigade, it was particularly severe, that of the 1st Texas being 82.3 per cent, as gleaned from United States war department, and is given as the greatest of any regiment of either army during the war.

When it is remembered that, since the 7th of August we had marched from Richmond, Va., to Frederick City, Md., with counter marches, fought one of the greatest battles of the war at Manassas, with several skirmishes, without sufficient clothing or food, often bare-foot, the wonder is that we put up such a fight against an adversary generously equipped and daily receiving new acquisitions of men, and on his own territory. The conditions considered, stamp it not only the bloodiest, but place it in the fore front, in every particular, of conspicuous battles in modern history.

The following list comprises Co. B's strength on that occasion, as I find from my diary; Sergeant D. E. (Ellis) Putney, Privates A. Hicks Baker, W. J. Darden, W. S. Cherry, John Graf, John Hoffman, John Kolbo, John Morrissey, M. McNeilis, J. D. Roberdeau. Of the nine Baker, Hoffman, Kolbo and McNeillis were killed. Monroe, sent out the night before missing and supposed to be killed. Darden and Morrissey were wounded and captured, and the captain wounded while re-forming, after the battle was over. Of the four killed, three fell in the open field, and your brother Hicks just as we entered the woods, carrying the regimental flag. Here I shall speak of him only to say he possessed all the attributes of the soldier and genuine friend. Of those actively engaged in that battle, this writer only survives, save D. M. Currie, litter-bearer, who certainly was in it. Re-forming at the place from which we entered the woods, the command of the company devolved upon Sergeant Putney.

During the 18th the two armies, with few changes, occupied their respective original ground, busy burying the dead and caring for the wounded; and at night we recrossed the Potomac river at Sheperdstown—on the next day repulsing an effort of the enemy to pursue. General Lee then distributed his army between the river and Winchester, our command being at Baldwin's Spring, from which place I may renew and review in detail the incidents of the campaign.

The writer claims not to be correct in all the statements given, since a lapse of thirty-seven years of busy and varied pursuits have alike claimed a share of memory.

J. D. R.​
 
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What a waste of magnificent men. Jackson should have had his men in along the wood line and waited. Why was it important to hold the stupid cornfield? Not Jackson's best day. He used 25.000 men to stop 25,000 men. Almost cost the Confcderacy the war.
 

Northern Light

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When I was at Antietam, some of the old signs referred to the Dunkard Church, but other refer to it as the Dunker Church. Which is the proper name, or is there a proper name?
 

ErnieMac

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When I was at Antietam, some of the old signs referred to the Dunkard Church, but other refer to it as the Dunker Church. Which is the proper name, or is there a proper name?
The members of the Anabaptist sect known as the Church of the Brethren were referred to by outsiders by the terms Dunker, Dunkard and a number of other names. The name of the church per the National Park Service is the Dunker Church.
 
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Northern Light

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The members of the Anabaptist sect known as the Church of the Brethren were referred to by outsiders by the terms Dunker, Dunkard and a number of other names. The name of the church per the National Park Service is the Dunker Church.
Thanks, Mr. Mac!
 
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Lnwlf

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The members of the Anabaptist sect known as the Church of the Brethren were referred to by outsiders by the terms Dunker, Dunkard and a number of other names. The name of the church per the National Park Service is the Dunker Church.
IIRC, the term "Dunker" or "Dunkerd" is a reference to this sects practice of baptism by emersion.
 

ole

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Dunkard, n. One of a religious denomination practicing trine immersion and refusing oaths and military service; -also Tunkers, Dippers, and, by themselves, Brethren, or, officially, German Baptist Brethren. The denomination was founded in 1708 at Schwarzenau, in Wittenburg, Germany, by Alexander Mack. In 1719 the Dunkers began to come to Pennsylvania, whence the group had spread, mainly westward. The Dunkers regard nonconformity to the world as an important principle, following closely scripture teaching and observing the primitive simplicity of the church.
 
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TexasRed

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I just finished reading Carman. Very very excellent two volume set. A good friend of mine is the head historian at Antietam and had suggested it to me. If anyone who is even remotely interested in Antietam, I highly reccemend it
 

RobertP

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What a waste of magnificent men. Jackson should have had his men in along the wood line and waited. Why was it important to hold the stupid cornfield? Not Jackson's best day. He used 25.000 men to stop 25,000 men. Almost cost the Confcderacy the war.
I am familiar with the battle but don't claim to be an expert. It does seem to me that Jackson couldn't stay in the woods entirely without creating a gap in the overall defense line in the area around the church. Also by acting aggressively against three Corps he was able to turn them back in detail rather than taking a passive stance and allowing them to cooperate better.

Did he really use 25,000 to stop 25,000? From what I recall the only time he had any advantage in numbers was when McLaws Division came onto the field.
 
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I am familiar with the battle but don't claim to be an expert. It does seem to me that Jackson couldn't stay in the woods entirely without creating a gap in the overall defense line in the area around the church. Also by acting aggressively against three Corps he was able to turn them back in detail rather than taking a passive stance and allowing them to cooperate better.

Did he really use 25,000 to stop 25,000? From what I recall the only time he had any advantage in numbers was when McLaws Division came onto the field.
I think the line could have down the eastern edge of the West Woods then across the church area to near the Sunken Road. Somewhat "L" shaped. I think any approaching Union troops would be stymied by the fire into their right flank. I am not an expert either, but I think the troop totals are approximately those.
I think the Union corps were going to attack in echelon no matter how Jackson lined up.
I just don't see any advantage to holding the cornfield. Honestly though, I need to walk the ground again to get a better feel.
 
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James N.

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176-jpg.jpg


Above, looking in the direction Hood's men came from; this is probably the "stubblefield" referred to. Below, the Dunker Church today, as rebuilt after it was damaged by a windstorm.

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borderstates

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Part of the issue was the failure by Lil' Mac to put his troops in motion at the same time. II Corp was a very large Corp by AoP standards, around 15,000 men and it was used horribly by Bull (headed) Sumner. Not only did he put Uncle John in a killing box in the West Wood, he failed to keep French in order. French sort of got lost. Much more should be written about G.S. Greene and his small division (2,200 - 2,300 men) breaking Jackson like a dry twig. If you walk the ground, you find their flank markers some 200 yards to the rear behind the Dunker Church. I know that Hooker getting shot in the foot had a lot to do with things going sideways. Still, Lil' Mac should have been involved and Sumner had the men to capitalize on the break that Greene opened up.

Just some quick thoughts and I am away from my reference materials so I may have some of the figures out of sort.
 
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