The Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers,br>at Antietam

Letter of Henry C. Hall
1st.Lt., Co.I, Eighth Conn. Vols.

(from the Duke University collections (?))

Hall Act. Adjt 8th Conn Vols
Via Washington D.C.
Head Quarters 8th Conn Vols
Mouth of Antietam Creek Md Oct 5
[1862]

My Dear Sister,

It is a clear cool and very pleasant Sunday evening down here in Maryland. I have been very busy during the day at work on the regimental muster rolls getting them made ready for the Pay Master and now at evening I have laid aside my work and seated myself to write to you, a thing I have neglected to do for a long time. The chaplain is preaching in front of my tent with his audience gathered around a camp fire. He is just now trying to instill into their minds the necessity of living up to the great principle of Brotherly love, a splendid principle, but O how difficult to carry into practice in a mans every day life. Life in the Army is not all calculated to learn the mass of men the first great principle of Christianity nor did I ever yet find any particular

phase of life in which it appeared easy for one to forget self and devote our faculties to the assistance of our neighbors. I suppose you long since knew that the Burnside Army Corp is now identified as a portion of the Army of the Potomac and has with that army passed through a short but severe Campaign in Maryland Upon the bloody battlefield of Antietam the 8th and 11th Conn Vols have won immortal honor and when I say this I do not mean that they have gained News paper notoriety through the silly puffs of hired blowers, but I mean that by their coolness and unflinching bravery amidst the most terrible fire of the enemy they have won the respect of all the Generals and other military men who witnessed their conduct. To show you how much dependence is to be placed upon Newspaper representations of battles I have to cite one or two incidents of the late battle You have probably seen in Frank Leslie's

Illustrated Paper a cut representing Hawkins Zouaves making a Brilliant and decisive Bayonet charge upon the Rebel Batteries. A short note from the Artist accompanying the sketch gives the impression that the Zouaves were the only regiment engaged in that charge and that the result was the capture of the battery and the rout of all the rebels in the vicinity. Now the truth of the matter was this. After Burnsides Cops has forced the passage of the creek and all got safely over the rebel brought two heavy batteries of 6 guns each to the top of a series of Hills in front of us and opened fire upon us with shell pieces of railroad iron &c. The troops all laid down to escape the iron tempest as much as possible until our batteries could get into position to reply to the rebel fire. Our batteries had exhausted their ammunition and the rebel guns

still kept up this terrific fire when the word came that position must be forced by Infanrty, accordingly two Brigades were formed in line in the following order from left to right 4th R.I. 16th Conn 11th Conn 8th Conn 103d NY, Hawkins Zouaves and another regiment on the right of the zouaves which I think was the 6th N.H. As soon as the line was formed the order was given to move forward and away we went As we went over the brow of the first hill we had a fine view of the rebel position and rushed on with a cheer over fences and through plowed fields to gain it. A large cornfield came in the line of march of the 16th & 11th Conn and forth R.I. and as they entered it they began to go slower and were soon far in our rear. When we were in the field next to the one that contained the rebel batteries we stopped for a moment to breathe and then started on again with only one fence and a few rods of uneven

ground between us and victory. As we rose the Hill to the fence a terrible burst of every description of missile from the Battery was showered upon us and the Hawkins Zouaves and 103d N.Y. broke and ran back down the Hill while the 8th Conn alone closed up the gaps in her ranks and moved on over the Hill and Fence. One of our companies went to take possession of the now deserted battery but were met by the fire of a whole Brigade of rebels who were concealed in a piece of corn behind the Guns while another rebel Brigade opened on us in front. Our boys now fought with the greatest desperation and held the ground until 173 of our number had fallen dead and wounded (We numbered 375 when we went upon the field) The rebels soon saw our situation and commenced a move to flank us and take us Prisoners before our support could

reach us. Just then Col appleman fell. Gen. Rodman was shot and as Col Harland was riding across the field to order our support his horse was shot under him. The red flag of the rebs was now coming steadily upon us from three sides and in a few moments the open space between us and our friends would have been filled with foes, while our Major gave the command to retreat. But not until the order had been three times repeated did our gallant fellows obey, so busy were they with their fighting. Meanwhile the gallant Zouaves (_ _)were doing nothing safely sheltered behind a protecting hill. What became of the 11th all this time I never knew exactly. But to return to the 16th and 4th R.I. They had advanced but a short distance into the corn when they became engaged with the enemys skirmishers and in a few moments their lines were in utter confusion

and it is thought that they killed each other more than they killed the enemy. You may ask what I was doing all this time. In going up the hill I was in the rear of the line with the Major & Lieut Col punching up the laggards and keeping the alignment as correct as possible. When we reached the top of the hill and the order was given to lie down and load and fire I lay down behind the dead body of a rebel and looked over his back to see the proceedings. A cannon ball drove me away from there just as Col Appleman was wounded and then I was all around after that, doing all I could to encourage the men and keep them steady. The whistle of the iron hail was terrible and it did not seem possible that anyone could escape unhurt, but a little band of us came out uninjured and are now ready to meet the foe again in battle and avenge the death of our fallen comrades. The morning

after the battle Gen Burnside came among us and said Boys you did nobly yesterday Do as well again and all will be well But says a voice our Officers are gone and we have no one to lead us to day Burnside looked around a moment and then said, Connecticut men are all Officers, Every one of them is a born soldier and capable of leading armies and wheeling his horse away they went followed by the cheers of the men who almost worship him. The 16th Conn has received a great deal of praise at home, I think myself they did as well as any green troops would have done but if they had been old troops this conduct would have been shameful. But the time is coming when they will be a splendid regiment if nothing happens then as they have a good Colonel and the regt is composed of good men to make soldiers of. We move from here to morrow morning, probably over the river into Virginia. We soon shall see more hard fighting but I trust in the God who has so far protected me for preservation still, and shall still try to do my duty manfully so that in the event of my death none can say but what I did my whole duty while in my countys service. I would write more but

(first page top margin sideways) I have not the time now but if you will answer soon I will let you hear from me again Give my love to all inquiring Friends
Direct to Henry C.

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