Battle of Antietam Creek, The
DESCRIPTION: At Antietam, singer hears a wounded comrade tell of leaving his home, disliking his master, and running off to New Orleans, where he is concripted. After ten battles, he has been wounded. The singer realizes that the man is his own brother
EARLIEST DATE: 1938 (recording, Warde Ford)
LONG DESCRIPTION: At the battle of Antietam Creek, singer hears a wounded comrade tell of leaving his home and family for Ohio. The man tells of being an apprentice, disliking his master, then running off to New Orleans, where he is concripted into the army. He has been in ten battles, but has finally been wounded -- by his brother, he thinks. The singer realizes that the man is his own brother, and rushes to him as he dies. The singer buries him
KEYWORDS: army battle Civilwar war parting travel death dying burial work injury brother apprentice
Sept 17, 1862 - Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland meets a bloody check at the hands of George McClellan -- and vice versa
FOUND IN: US(MW)
Warde Ford, "The Battle of Antietam Creek" (AFS 4213 A, 1939; on LC29, in AMMEM/Cowell)
cf. "General Lee's Wooing" (subject) and notes there
NOTES [313 words]: The Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg was hardly a victory for anyone. It produced the highest casualties of any single day of battle in the Civil War. By the time it was over, every regiment in Robert E. Lee's invading army was worn out, and he may have had fewer than 25,000 effective soldiers left. George McClellan still had unused troops, but he refused to commit them; his losses had also been immense, and he didn't realize how badly Lee had been beaten.
After the battle, Lee headed back across the Potomac. The "wooing" of Maryland, which many Southerners thought would bring the state over to the Confederacy, or at least bring in a lot of recruits, was over, with little benefit to the southern cause. The one good result of Antietam was that it was enough of a victory -- barely -- to allow Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Both the fact that the dying soldier in this song was inducted in Louisiana and the fact that he had been in ten battles would imply that he was a member of Stonewall Jackson's corps. In all likelihood, we are to believe that he was a member of either Hays's "Louisiana Tigers" (division of Ewell/Early) or Starke's/Stafford's brigade (division of Jackson/Winder/Talliaferro/Stark; later commanded by Edward Johnson). These were, apart from a few artillerymen, the only Louisiana troops in Lee's army.
What's more, the divisions of Ewell and Jackson had had harder fighting than almost any others in the army. A truly veteran regiment from other parts of Lee's army -- say the First North Carolina -- might have fought seven or eight battles by then (First Bull Run, Fair Oaks/Seven Pines, Seven Days, Second Bull Run, and Antietam, plus perhaps one or two skirmishes such as Big Bethel or Williamsburg) -- but Jackson's and Ewell's troops had also had a part in the dozen or so battles of Jackson's Valley Campaign. - RBW
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