In Their Own Words
September 21, 1862
Civil War Soldier Told of Death of his Brother at Antietam
The repercussions of the Battle of Antietam were still being felt; on this day a Georgia soldier had to write back home telling of the death of his brother.
“…I write to…tell the family that Walter was killed at a battle fought at Sharpsburg, Maryland, on Wednesday, 17th instant. On that morning I was standing at the foot of the Potomac River…and saw him come over. … He went immediately on to the battlefield and was perhaps half a mile north of the village when ordered to advance. He drew his sword and, waving it in the air, cried, ‘Come on!’ and just at that moment a minie ball struck him from the left in the shoulder, which passed through and lodged just under his right arm. That prostrated him and completely paralyzed him from that point to his feet. A friend laid him down and stayed with him until he himself was shot. There they both lay under a terrible fire, the regiment falling back. He was shot three times in the left side. His left leg, just above the ankle, had a minie ball entirely through, leaving a large orifice and his left great toe was shot on top. His cap was shot off his head and torn all to pieces, but did not hit his head. As the enemy had possession of the ground, he was not taken off the battlefield until next day about 2 o’clock. His friends stole in and brought him away. …”
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), p. 186.