Managing Member & Webmaster
- Apr 1, 1999
- Martinsburg, WV
Service/Branch: United States Army
Entered Service In: Chelsea, Massachusetts
Entered Service: August 1862
Unit: Company C, 35th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Discharged: June 1865
MEDAL OF HONOR DETAILS
Location of Action: Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland
Date of Action: September 17, 1862
Date Award Issued: November 18, 1896
Citation: Although wounded and exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy, at the risk of his own life he rescued a badly wounded comrade and succeeded in conveying him to a place of safety.
Additional Notes: I couldn't find a story to explain exactly what happened with Sgt. Haskell, other than he was issued this citation. Using the best information I could piece together from the Regimental history, based on other Medals of Honor issued to the regiment. It sounds like one member of the regiment was recognized in 1874 for taking action*, but two others including Haskell were not, until much later.
Following the history, I found that Frank F. Whitman was the Corporal who was issued the earlier MoH for the same action, his citation reads: "Was among the last to leave the field at Antietam and was instrumental in saving the lives of several of his comrades at the imminent risk of his own."
Here is Cpl. Whitman's story, which most likely includes the action taken by Sgt. Marcus Haskell:
To VENTURE, for the sake of wounded comrades, into a conspicuous and dangerous position is the height of soldierly pluck. Corporal Frank M Whitman describes it thus:
"At the battle of Antietam, General Burnside, commander of the Ninth Corps, was ordered to take and hold the bridge that crossed a stream of water on the opposite side of which the Confederates were in large force, and well protected the natural formation of the bank.
"The duty of taking this bridge was given to our brigade by the commander of the corps. The fight was a fierce one, but was soon won by our forces. We then advanced in line of battle up the hill, driving the enemy before us, until we reached a very high stone wall, behind which they made another stand. This stone wall ran along the ascending slope of the next hill beyond the one over which we were advancing. Our forces steadily went up and over the first hill and were part way down the descending slope, when our progress was stopped by the terrible fire of the enemy.
"We were obliged to retire. I and a few others were separated from our comrades and left behind with the dead and wounded on the field. We fired a last volley, receiving one in return which sent death to one of our men.
"Lying low and carefully watching, I discovered the enemy moving to another part of the field a short distance away. Cautiously I looked around among the men, and found that two besides myself were alive and unhurt. Turn which way one would, nothing could be seen or heard but the dead the dying and the wounded, and the suppressed moans and cries of agony from all directions; here and there cries for a cooling drink of water, or a call for assistance and a helping hand. Mangled bodies of brave men, wherever one turned! A ghastly scene, that will ever be before my eyes!
"We three undertook to relieve the suffering as far as we could and to get the wounded away from the place. This work we continued for several hours, after which we set out to find the regiment. On regaining our lines, at my urgent solicitation two officers, and a number of men were sent with me to remove as many wounded as possible without drawing the fire of the enemy.
"On returning to the field, we found that the enemy had advanced his picket line some distance beyond his own line, and well up to that of ours. Because of this advance our picket would not allow us to go outside of the lines, but I pleaded with him so earnestly that I was permitted to make the attempt to get a wounded comrade of my own company. This was a very delicate task, for bad I attracted the attention of the enemy, an engagement would, without doubt have been precipitated. Stealthily, however, I worked my way to where my comrade lay, within a few feet of the enemy's pickets, and told him in a whisper what I could do for him with his co-operation. My friend, though suffering great pain, from a wound in the leg that caused his death three weeks afterward, mutely and thankfully took up the journey to our lines, which though near seemed yet so far away. With great difficulty the task was accomplished, and we got within the lines, unobserved by the enemy, or at least without drawing their fire. The two officers and other men were able to remove quite a number of our wounded to a place where they could receive medical care.
"The morning dawned sad and dreary, through the falling rain, Company G was astir early, and counting its members, I saw only eight present with myself the sole surviving company officer. All commissioned and non commissioned officers who had been in action, except myself, were gone. Nine were killed, and thirty five wounded."
In a later engagement, the brave corporal was shot, and lost his right leg.
Excerpted from: Deeds of Valor, Walter Frederick Beyer & Oscar Frederick Keydel, Perrien-Keydel Co., 1902, Pages 88-90.
* Page 51, History of the Thirty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862-1865: With a Roster, (Boston: Mills, Knight & Co.), 1884.
Birthdate: February 12, 1843
Birthplace: Chelsea, Mass
Spouse: Rosetta J Small Haskell
Died: October 29, 1925
Buried: Beechwood Cemetery, Centerville, Massachusetts