"REVISITING THE SCENE OF THE CONFLICT"
CAPTAIN ARTHUR S. FITCH
REVISITING THE SCENE OF THE CONFLICT
interesting account of the recent visit of the 107th Regiment, N. Y. Vols. to
The 19th annual reunion of the
107th Regiment, N. Y. Vols. was ordered to be held on the battle field of
A delightful ride of eleven hours
brought the excursionists to Sharpsburg Station,
The morning of the 17th dawned
warm and cloudless, like that other morning twenty three years ago. The
comrades and visitors were early astir proceeding through the town to the
The old Dunker church was the objective point of many. This reached, a lane was discovered running back toward the position the 107th occupied. Along this lane the comrades hurried to a point that the right wing advanced to on the morning of the battle. The situation was at once recognized. The writer together with comrade Frank Frost and others were riding leisurely along the lane, when the location began to take on a familiar look. Climbing out we hurried down the lane to where, as we remembered it, out companies lay. At this moment up came Gen. Diven, who had followed us in a carriage. He, too, had recognized the place, and impatient at the slow progress of the carriage, he had come hurrying up. He speedily discovered a stump just protruding from the ground, and standing thereon said, "Here is the identical spot where I stood when the regiment advanced to this place." There could be no doubt about it.
It was while lying here that the regiment encountered a perfect storm of missiles from the enemy's guns, and the beautiful blue banner it carried was torn to pieces by a bursting shell. The exact spot where the color guard stood at that time was the subject of considerable good natured dispute and chaffing between Col. Fox, Lieut. Bronson, Sergt. Pooley, Gen. Diven and others, but they all agreed that the colors "were there" anyway, and thus ended the discussion. The next thing done was to locate the position where the regiment lay when ordered to support the batteries in the cleared field in front of the woods. The secretary remembered a big stone pile in front of company B, the right company, and thought he discovered the same as the party left the lane. He was informed by the keen-eyed "Frosty" that the object he took for a stone pile was a straw stack, and the laugh was on the secretary. However, a closer investigation disclosed the stone pile, with the clump of trees and bushes around it, and once there the position of the right of the regiment was clearly fixed.
Capt. Orr and Theo. Smith, of Company F., came up and at once coincided with the decision made, and the latter, circling about once or twice like a hound searching for a lost trail, at last fixed upon the spot near to which he flattened the ground as our batteries hurled shot and shell just above our heads during the four long hours the regiment occupied this trying position. Here it was that Theodore was struck by a shell and lost his leg. A comrade found a stump that he declared Capt. Miles, of Co. F., crept up to that he might obtain a better view of the enemy's position, and as the boys gathered about it, one of them discovered a bullet half imbedded in the wood. It was quickly dug out and preserved as a memento of the field. Comrade Frost picked up a rusty and battered canteen which had lain undisturbed since the battle. Pieces of bone and parts of a skull were also picked up. The whole view from this point was familiar. In front, the woods about the Dunker church, where the enemy were posted, behind, the woods from which the regiment emerged at the beginning of the battle, and to which they retired when relieved.
From this field the comrades passed to the rear, to the stone house where the spring was, and where many wounded were carried. The house and spring are still there and the house but little changed. Theo. Smith visited the house where his leg was amputated and found the very room wherein he lay for many days, the same family still occupying the house
A portion of the party now went back a mile to the Line farm, where the regiment bivouacked the night of the 16th, from thence advancing toward the field. The course of the advance on the morning of the 17th was easily traced. At the point where the regiment formed line of battle, just previous to going forward, a rest was taken. Here it was that Gen. Mansfield fode out and spoke these works: "Ah! boys, we shall do a fine thing today. We have got them where we want them; they cannot escape with the skin of their teeth". He then rode forward and within ten minutes was shot and mortally wounded.
His body was placed in a blanket and carried from the field by our men, passing directly through our line as we stood waiting the order to go forward. This incident made a lasting impression upon the minds of all.
It is not my purpose to describe the events of that battle day. The story has been told many times. The reports of Gen. Gordon who commanded the brigade to which the 107th was attached, and of Capt. Cothran whose battery (M. 1st. N. Y. Art.) it supported, speak in highest praise of the manner in which the regiment acquitted itself. No greater praise can be spoken than these official reports contain.
Having traversed the field pretty
completely, the comrades returned to the town and rested from their somewhat
fatiguing tramp. A portion of them visited
After they had assembled in the cars, a business meeting of the association was held. Officers for the ensuing year were chosen and the following resolution was adopted with hearty unanimity:
RESOLVED, That thanks of this association are due and are hereby sincerely given to the comrades of Antietam Post, No. 14, G.A.R. of Sharpsburg, Md., and to the citizens of that place for their cordial welcome; to Editor C. W. Adams of Hagerstown, Md., and to Dr. C. F. Russell of Sharpsburg, Md., and late Captain C. S. A., for favors and courtesies extended; and to Superintendent S. S. Meade, passenger agent, E. S. Harrar and other officials of the Northern Central Railroad, and to the officers of the Cumberland Valley and Shenandoah Valley Railroad Companies, for their untiring efforts to make the excursion a pleasant one.
A. S. Diven, Chairman.
A. S. Fitch, Secretary.
A telegram of greeting was sent
during the day to the 27th Indiana Vols., who were
also attached to Gordon's brigade, and who were holding a reunion that same day
In connection with this account of their visit to the battlefield, Capt. Fitch indulges in the following touching reverie in regard to three nights, which will always be memorable to the survivors of the Regiment:
The First Night --- The night of
The welcome marching orders ---
the hurried preparations --- the filling of the haversacks and canteens, the
rolling and slinging of blankets (knapsacks and tents were left behind), the falling
in, the standing in line ready for the "forward" that came just as
night fell --- Off at last, one thousand men --- boys we would call them now
--- fresh from home, marching in columns of four, guns at a right shoulder, the
long column winding out and away up hill and down dale, with a steady tramp,
tramp, tramp, the cadence broken only by "the laugh, the shout, the
witticism arch." The night air grows cool and crisp --- the pace quickens
--- the moon shines down upon the dark mass of men, horses, wagons and
artillery. It glistens upon the bayonets and gun-barrels, and the line becomes
a rippling, tossing stream of shimmering steel. Ah! who
can forget it? As they cross the
The Second Night ---
The Third Night ---
As night falls, the train arrives
at the station of
S. Calvin Mumma
The above information was obtained from the official records
of "The Battle of Antietem" located