Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
Spend some time this month in remembrance of those fallen boys from the “Herkimer Regiment”, those forty-three souls of the Old 34th Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers (NYSV) who were killed the morning of September 17, 1862 at the American Civil War Battle of Antietam. Three-Hundred & Eleven men of the 34th NYSV were engaged that day – men who hailed from upstate New York – and most of them Herkimer County residents. The Herkimer boys were engaged in a brutal fight -– perhaps better described as an ambush -- with well hidden Confederate forces for about one-half hour just after 9 o’clock that morning. The majority of these honored dead were fighting in the “West Woods” section of the Antietam Battlefield, slightly northwest of the now famous Dunker Church. An impressive monument was dedicated in 1902 to the valiant officers and men of the 34th New York Infantry Regiment, standing guard on the exact battlefield location where they struggled that truly longest day. This 34th NY Infantry tribute is displayed in the above photo.
I’ve been doing some research on the 34th NYSV for several months now – and can truthfully report that the real story remains unknown (maybe always will due to conflicting reports). But I strongly tend towards very bad leadership at all levels of federal command that day…of course starting right at the top of Union command with the cautious, ineffective, even incompetent leadership of commanding General George McClellan. The carnage inflicted this day by both Blue and Grey, the bloodiest single day battle of the rebellion and in American history, was nearly too awful for words. I’ll relate just one moving report quoted from the notes made during the Antietam Battlefield 34th monument dedication on September 17, 1902:
“The writer at the dedication related the following incident of the battle: Milford N. Bullock, of Company K, was found dead on the field after the battle. The position in which he was lying indicated the painful circumstances of his death. He was lying on his back, his rifle by his side. The ramrod of his gun was in his hand, the lower end against the trigger of the gun, and the muzzle of the gun at his head. It appeared at the time that the wound he had received had not been sufficient to cause instant death; but, being in mortal agony, he had contrived to end his sufferings by taking his own life. He had placed the gun by his side; the muzzle at his head, and by means of the ramrod had succeeded in discharging it. The circumstances were all so painful, that his comrades, at the suggestion of Captain Northup, agreed that they would not mention them in their letters home. But now, after forty years, there is no harm in referring to them. Young Bullock was from Stratford, Herkimer County, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. His courage, his fidelity to duty were always unquestioned. His grave is not at home among his kindred, but far away, like that of so many others. He sleeps among the many unknown dead, in the great National Cemetery at Antietam; but we have never walked down those beautiful shaded aisles without feeling that we were again very near to our beloved comrade of those far-off days.” --Lt. L. N. Chapin
But today let’s just remember those forty-three men of the gallant 34th Infantry Regiment NYSV who made the supreme sacrifice the morning of September 17, 1862. Twelve of these 34th NYSV soldiers are buried with fellow New Yorkers in marked graves at the Antietam National Cemetery, the grave number is indicated following the soldier's name. Several more unidentifiable 34th NYSV soldiers rest in unknown graves in this hollowed ground. Here are the names of those killed-in-action or mortally-wounded-in-action on this single mid-September day:
· Adle, John H. C. -- Grave #826
· Allen, William G. -- Grave #834
· Armour, David C.
· Ashley, Sergt. Jacob J. C.
· Bailey, Henry C. -- Grave #845
· Beardsley, John G. -- Grave #524
· Bramley, Henry D.
· Buck, Martin A.
· Bullock, Milford N. K.
· Carey, Corp. David A.
· Cool, Stephen B.
· Coon, James E.
· Coonan, Patrick D.
· Crouch, Corp. David F.
· Dickson, John F.
· Donohoe, James A. -- Grave #832
· Easterbrook, Albert G. G.
· Eldridge, William E. G.
· Gadban, Lewis D.
· Gillman, Henry A. -- Grave #831
· Greek, Ezra I.
· Hartley, Robert H. A.
· Hawley, George A. E.
· Hayes, Dennis D.
· Helmer, Sergt. Aaron G.
· Hill, Second Lieut. Clarence E. H.
· Hicks, Lawrence G.
· Hubbell, Henry D.
· Jolly, Peter D. -- Grave #593
· Lewis, William K. -- Grave #844
· Ladew, Warren C. B.
· Lyon, First Sergt. Henry C. I.
· Mead, Sergt. Garland W. G.
· Murphy, John A.
· Mycue, John D.
· Keef, Corp. Arthur B.
· Orcutt, Alvin E. -- Grave #825
· Rhodes, Color Sergt. Chester S. H. -- Grave #828
· Rubbins, William G. -- Grave # 829
· Salisbury, William A. C. -- Grave #827
· Sashagra, Anthony D.
· Walby, Ralph B.
· White, Daniel E.
Note: the letter following the named dead is the Company within the 34th New York Infantry Regiment to which the man was assigned during the Battle of Antietam.
Another seventy-four men of the 34th New York were wounded-in-action on the morning of September 17, 1862 in their bloody engagement during the Battle of Antietam. Nine troops remain missing-in-action (MIA). Many of the MIA are no doubt buried in unknown graves at Antietam.