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In Their Own Words

September 18, 1862

Georgia Soldier Wrote of Battle of Antietam

A Georgia soldier wrote home to his wife, describing the Battle of Antietam as he saw it.

“…I am in good health this morning as far as my body is concerned, but in my mind I am perplexed. Great God, what awful things I have to chronicle this morning! One of the most awful battles that was ever fought was fought yesterday commenced at daylight and continued all day into dark. It is hard to find out which side got the best of it, but reports say we did. The battle has not been continued as yet this morning, though they seem to be preparing to fight. I was not in the fighting myself, though our regiment was. General Semmes left me at his headquarters to guard his things. Our regiment went into the fight [at] 12 o’clock in good spirits, Lieutenant [Simpson] at the head, waving his sword and cheering the men on. But, alas for the noble person, he fell, severely wounded and it is thought he will die. He was doing the part of a brave man. As soon as he fell the regiment called for him, but he could not answer. They then asked who would lead them to the charge. When Lieutenant [ ] of Semme’s staff said he would, and they said go on off. He fought with his bright sword flying in the air and men after him with yells like demons. They fought and fought like men and while other regiments have straggled off, they - that is what is left of them - are ready for them again. It will be said no more that the 53rd Georgia Regiment won’t fight. Molly, I have not heard who was killed and wounded in my company, though I learn that the regiment was almost cut to pieces. I will try to find out after I get to send this off. I will send you a list of them. I have no doubt but some of my friends is lying cold on the ground now. How long will we continue to follow up the Yankees and how much more we will fight before we stop I know not, but it looks like they are going to kill all the men in battle before they stop. This war will have to stop before long, as all the men will be killed off. God grant that is may close and close soon! …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 184-185.