Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Letter From Home. Hattie [Reese?] to
Found by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
on the battlefield probably
in the vicinity of the Sunken Road.
Harvard Law School Library,
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,
Civil War Letters and Telegrams
Write to the Soldier [1] 

"Nothing will do the men in the army so much good, that can be sent from home, as letters; and next after letters, newspapers, anything that will tell them of home and give them all the news that may be floating around the towns that very day become dearer to them in the distance."

"We have recently learned of a letter written by a soldier, wounded at Antietam, who laid two days and two nights on the field nor could have his wounds dressed till actually maggots were living in them; and who since has died, in which he says, “You do not know how good it is out here, to hear from home, and from those we love; if you did, I think you would write oftener. Write and let me know all about matters and things at home.”

"This is the demand of all the soldiers. They would be glad to have presents, luxuries or needed articles, but you may believe this, that most of them would give everything in the shape of luxuries, aye, they would be willing to go bareheaded and barefooted if they could hear from home. Think a minute how they must feel in the smoke and dust of battle, when the strong fall down and die, or in camp, where men sicken to be confined to the hospital, and hope fades away and the heart sinks, and many a doubt comes over them whether they should ever return to the homes and friends they have left: what are their reflections? What then would they give to see one from home? What for a brief line?"

"They will not tell you half their desires on this point; but an officer in the army after the first Bull Run fight informed a friend that he had seen strong men fail and die, simply from homesickness. All their talk was of home, all their thoughts of home, and it was home that last they spoke when they ceased to breath. Let the friends of the soldier never forget to improve every opportunity, then, to write to them. They will be braver men, and healthier and better, the oftener they hear from their friends. Better than food to a famishing man is a letter from the hand of one he loves, for that is bread to the spirit, it is what will keep a man up when bread is worthless and medicines fail to give hope. Write then to the soldiers; write often; you can do nothing better for them."


From The Webster Times (Massachusetts), Saturday Morning, Nov. 1, 1862 (Volume IV # 34), retrieved  from

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"After a while the woods became too hot to hold anybody:" Edwin Marks and the Louisiana Guards in the West Woods

New Orleans, La. May 31st, 1899.
Gen’l. E.A. Carman, War Department,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

In answer to your enquiries as to my personal knowledge and recollections of the part sustained by the Louisiana Guard Battery in the battle of Sharpsburg, September 17th, 1862, I would reply, that as you promise, the lapse of time since, added to a self conscious want of powers of observation, must render and details that I may give, very meagre and unsatisfactory. Such as they are, I cheerfully give you.

After the capture of ‘Harper’s Ferry,’ we returned by a forced march to the proximity of the impending battle of Sharpsburg, arriving there at about dark on the evening of September 16th. The battery was at the time attached to Hays’ Brigade of Jackson’s corps, and was under the general command of Gen. Harry T. Hays of the 1st La. Brigade.[1] That officer ordered us to bivouac for the night in a neck of woods. Early on the morning of the 17th, probably about 3 to 4 o’clock, Gen. Jackson passed along 
May 20, 2012 iPhone photo by Dasno ( member).
Retrieved from May 14, 2013.
and interrogated as to how we came to be placed in such an exposed position and at once ordered us to remove ourselves further to the rear. The movement was at once entered upon but we did not retire without encountering a heavy shelling of the the woods by the enemy. After a while the woods became too hot to hold anybody. 

In the forenoon, say about 10 o’clock on the 17th, we received orders to report on the extreme left to assist the cavalry under Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. The Confederate line was thin at that point and it required active work of all engaged to repel the attempted flank movement of the Union forces. The battery did good service, the shots were well directed and elicited praise from Gen. Stuart. During a portion of the day Gen. Jackson was in the vicinity, and received information of the progress of the general battle, and issuing orders for movements of his corps. As to the topographical location of the battery in this engagement, I have no other guide to my memory beyond the fact that the battery passed a “wooden” church to reach it. After an exhaustion of ammunition and after the danger had been passed, we were ordered to about the centre of the lines.

I have no other distinct recollections.

Yours truly, Edwin Marks[2]


Source: Edwin Marks to Ezra Carman, May 31st, 1899, Antietam Studies, Record Group 92, National Archives.


At the bottom of the two page typescript letter, Ezra Carman added this annotation: “In a subsequent letter Marks says he has no recollection of the relative position of the battery.”

[1] Brigadier General Harry Thompson Hays (1820-1876) commanded the Hays' Brigade composed of  the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 14th Louisiana Infantry and the Louisiana Guard Artillery. He lost about half of his command at Antietam. Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web under entry for Harry Thompson Hays. 

[2] On April 28, 1861 twenty-five year old Edwin Marks enlisted as a private for one year’s service in the Louisiana Guard Artillery at New Orleans. The Confederate Research Sources lists his service: “Present on all Rolls to Oct., 1863. Roll Nov. and Dec., 1863, Absent, taken prisoner at Rappahannock Station, Va., Nov. 7. Federal Rolls of Prisoners of War, Captured at Rappahannock Station, Va., Nov. 7, 1863. Forwd. from Pt. Lookout, Md., from Washington, D. C., Nov. 11, 1863. Paroled Pt. Lookout, Md., —, 1864. Exchanged City Pt., Va., March 6, 1864. Rolls Oct., 1864, to Feb., 1865, Absent, wounded, Oct. 27. Furloughed for 60 days by Med. Brd. On List of Prisoners of War, C. S. A., Paroled Charlotte, N. C., May 3, 1865.” Confederate Research Sources Volume 2, Page 876. Accessed via on May 14, 2012 under “Service History of Edwin Marks.” Thanks to member Dasno for Confederate Research Sources information.

Columbia, South Carolina born Marks (1836-1909) survived the war and returned to New Orleans where in 1866 he resided at 57 Tchoupitoulas Street. By 1880 he resided at 702 Magazine Street with his wife, Sarah Woolf Levin Marks (1847-1913), and two daughters and two sons. He listed his occupation as a coffee broker. At the time of his correspondence with Carman, Marks, then 63, resided at 1443 Magazine Street in New Orleans’ Ward 1. His household included his wife, two daughters and one son. He listed his occupation as secretary to an insurance agent. U.S. Census, Louisiana, 1880, 1900; U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

For more biographical information on Edwin Marks, please see

Monday, May 13, 2013

"The Federal sharpshooters...gave us a good deal of worry..." John T. Block and the Louisiana Guards

New Orleans May 30 1899

Genl E.A. Carman
Washington, D.C.

My dear Sir,

The “Louisiana Guard Battery,” consisted of four (4) guns, two rifle and two howitzers. Capt Edgar D’Aquin, Hays Louisiana Brigade, Ewell’s Division, Jackson’s Corp.

My recollection of the battle of Sharpsburg is as follows. After an all night march from Harpers Ferry, we crossed the Potomac at or near Shepherdstown on the the morning of the 16th and marched out (I suppose it was the Shepherdstown Road), where we halted for rest, then proceeded down this road until dark, when we filed in to a patch of woods[1] with Hays Brigade.

9:00 Hours--D'Aquin's Battery moves onto Hauser Ridge.
Cope/Carman Map (1908)

This woods must have been in the neighborhood of the Church,[2] and near the line of battle, as the pickets kept up a lively firing all night, much to the discomfort of Jackson’s foot Cavalry.

We remained in this position until one or two o’clock on the morning of the 17th (I being on guard at the time) General Jackson and his staff rode up to where we had the horses picketed, and wanted to know what Cavalry is this; when informed that it was Artillery, he called for the officer in command and said to him, this is no place for your Battery, get out as quick as possible, this woods will be shelled in a short time.

Day was just breaking when we reached the opening, the shelling was very heavy at this time. We went to the rear out of range and camped on the side of the road. It was early in the forenoon when we were ordered to report to Genl J.E.B. Stuart on the extreme left of our Army. Immediately took position on a knoll in an open field.[3]

I think we held this position until three or four o’clock in the evening. If I am not mistaken the 13th Virginia Regiment was the only Confederate Infantry on this part of our lines. Genl Stewart, was with or near the Battery while we were in action and Genl Jackson was with him for sometime. This was a very hot place and kept the men at the Battery hard at work. Fortunately our casualties were light, only one slightly wounded.

As I see the battlefield after so many years have elapsed, is that there was a ravine in front of us (don’t know whether it was a stone fence or a stream) on our front, beyond this was an open space, the woods being some distance back where the Federal troops were.[4] In the opening in front of our battery there was several trees (looked to me like apple trees) The Federal sharpshooters[5] were concealed in these trees and gave us a good deal of worry until we found out where the minnies were coming from.
After learning this position and on our way to the rear to replenish our ammunition chest, a courier halted us and wanted [to] know if we had any howitzer ammunition. On being informed that we had, the two guns went into the fight again. If I am not mistaken they went back through the woods they left in the early morning. 

Mr. J. H. O’Connor was with this section and may be able to give you some information.[5] Our camp on the evening of the evening of the 17th was on I suppose the same road that we marched from Shepherdstown. We entered through a double gate.

Don’t remember the date of retreat, our battery was with the rear guard of the Army. Took position on the heights of Shepherdstown to protect the crossing of the rear of the Army. Our loss in this position was heavy in men and horses.

A Federal battery took a position on the left at the ford and made it very warm for us for until we succeeded in blowing up one of their Caissons.

Messrs Marks[6] and O’Connor will send you their recollections of the battle field.

Hoping by this poor description of the battery at Sharpsburg will assist you in locating the position of our battery.

I am

Very respectfully

John T Block

P.S. Our loss at Shepherdstown was three men killed by explosion of one shell and several wounded. The horses suffered most. JTB


Source: John T. Block to Ezra Carman, May 30 1899, National Archives, Antietam Studies, Record Group 92. 

Twenty eight year old John T. Block enlisted as a private on April 28, 1861 in the Louisiana Guard Artillery. Born in Missouri, he resided at the outbreak of the war with his younger brother Robert in the First Ward home of sugar broker James W. Demarat. John gave his occupation in 1860 as a “gauger” or inspector. He survived the war and by 1880 he was the head of a household that included his wife, Mary, three sons, two daughters, and a boarder. 1860 and 1880 Census (Louisiana); National Archives, Record Group 109 (Louisiana), M320, Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Louisiana units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier, Roll 073; Andrew B. Booth. Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers and Confederate Commands. Vol. I-III. (New Orleans, LA, USA: n.p., 1920), Volume 1 B. Page 12.


[1] The West Woods.

[2] The Dunkard Church.

[3] See maps on post of May 10, 2013.

[4] The Cope/Carman 9:00 o’clock map shows the battery pulling up on Hauser Ridge to the left of Brockenbrough’s Baltimore Battery. This would place it nearly opposite the First Minnesota. An unidentified battery is depicted on the map just in front of the 13th Virginia. Edward A. Walker of the First Minnesota observed “Our regiment was close to a rail fence and a corn field between us and the enemies battery. This battery was on a hill about 700 yards to our right—directly in front of us was their infantry, about 300 yards distant at the commencement of the fight. As soon as we got into the proper position both sides commenced peppering one another. Our company fired a few shots at the artillerymen, but as the distance was so great we directed most of our shots at the rebel colors…” Richard Moe, The Last Full Measure: Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers (New York: Avon Books, 1993), pp. 181-82.

[5] This is probably the Minnesota Sharpshooters, Second Company who were attached to the First Minnesota. They are depicted in the Cope/Carman map as forming on the left of the regiment’s line which would align them nearly opposite D'Aquin's battery.

[6] See post of May 10 for John O’Connor’s correspondence to Ezra Carman of June 14, 1899 and July 5, 1899.

[7] The correspondence of Edwin Marks will be posted here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Louisiana Guard Battery: John O'Connor to Ezra Carman, June 14, 1899

Daybreak: D'Aquin's Battery position just north of the Alfred
Poffenberger Farmstead.
New Orleans June 14 1899

Gen. E.A. Carman
War Dept., Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir.

I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 20th. Ulto. in which you desire me to give such information as I possess of the Louisiana Guard Battery in the field of Sharpsburg Sept 17 1862. [1]

With pleasure I comply with your request and will begin by stating that at daybreak on that day the battery was on the east side of a narrow woods, the Dunker Church being about 150 yds south east from where we were.

6:00 Hours: Battery south of Nicodemus Heights.
From this position we were ordered to retire and upon emerging from the woods on the west side we moved towards the Confederate left for a distance of about 1/2 mile when we commenced firing.[2]

We remained in this position until our ammunition was exhausted when we moved towards the Confederate right a distance not extending 1/2 of a mile, where we replenished our ammunition chest. [3]

While thus engaged we were called upon by Genl J.E.B. Stuart for a howitzer which was at once rushed forward and from which Canister was fired upon an advancing Federal force.

7:30 to before 10:30: Battery south of the Cox Farmstead.
Nothing further was done by the Battery until about 4 p.m. when we moved in a S.E. direction direction and reached a commanding position from which we opened fire upon a moving force of infantry. [4]

We remained here about an hour and when returning from it observed a 3 inch parrot gun that was so jambed between trees that it doubtless required more time for it extrication than those in command could give to it. We succeeded in removing it with its limber chest containing, I think, 25 rounds of ammunition. I remember the howitzer incident above mentioned very clearly as I had charge of it and also that the Parrott gun as I helped to remove it & it was placed in my charge.[5]

10:30 to 16:20 Hours: As Confederate left stabilizes, the
battery takes up a north/south position on high
ground south of Nicodemus Heights.

The foregoing statement I feel quite sure, embodies the movement and actions of the Battery during the day. There may of course be some differences as to the actual time when our movements took place after the position we were in at day break. This position we reached in the early part of the previous night and from what we then learned[,] only the Confederate pickets were between us and the Federals. I may add that Genl. Stonewall Jackson himself gave us the order to retire saying that that was no place for a battery.[6]

The following day was given to putting our affairs in order, resting & sleeping until the time for moving toward the Potomac arrived, which river we crossed about day light on the 19th.
The Battery had four iron guns (2 rifled & 2 howitzers) made in Richmond Va. Our Captain was Edgar D’Aquin, a native of New Orleans.[7]

Trusting the above map be of some aid to your in the object you desire be accomplished.

I am Yours very truly, Jno H. O’Connor[8]


New Orleans July 5 1899

Gen E. A Carman War Dept
Washington DC

Dear Sir:

Yours of the 24th ulto enclosing a map of the Sharpsburg has been received.[9]

16:20 Hours: "about 4 p.m. ... we moved in a S.E. direction
direction and reached a commanding position from
which we opened fire upon a moving force of infantry."
As to locations & distances I cannot add anything to what I have already written you. The Dunker Church seemed much nearer than 400 yds to us. I have no recollection of the locations of any infantry command. I will state however that the position which our battery occupied at day break of the 17th was in consequence of Capt D’Aquin’s efforts to find Hays La. Brigade to the Commander of which he was ordered to report. He failed to find him that night (16th). The position of Artillery on the extreme left, which is marked on the map, corresponds, I think with our first position in action in the early morning. From there we returned to near Cox’s[6] as shown on your map, where our howitzer, as mentioned in my former letters, was used. The roads &c shown in you map aids me in forming this opinion. The last position in which our battery was engaged, in the afternoon, was further, I think, from Cox’s than the ridge which you state was occupied by Stuarts batteries NW of J Hauser. I am governed in this opinion, as to distance, by the locations on your map and the measurements stated in your letter.

In referring to the points of the Compass in my former letter I was guided in so doing by a sketch of the battlefield in my possession.

Very respectfully

Jno H. O’Connor

Source: Antietam Studies, Record Group 92, National Archives.


[1] The Louisiana Guard was "originally organized at New Orleans as the Louisiana Guard, Company B of the First Louisiana Infantry, but was made an independent artillery battery during the Winter of 1861. It's first Captain was Louis E. D'Aquin. After duty in the Department of Norfolk in early 1862, It served through the War with the Army of Northern Virgina, surrendering at Appomattox with 17 men present. ... The battery was attached to Hays Brigade on the [Maryland] Campaign, and served on the northern part of the battlefield at Sharpsburg, along Hauser's Ridge." Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web under Louisiana Guards.

[2] Ezra Carman's commentary describes the movement of the battery in some detail: "When Sedgwick's lines began to break, Poague's, Raine's, Brockenbrough's and D'Aquin's batteries started northerly along the Hauser ridge and kept up an advancing fire from all favoring points,all the time under a severe fire from the Union guns, but all the time advancing and firing. As these batteries continued moving to the left the guns were mixed up, D'Aquin's being generally in the lead. Some were halted in the Nicodemus cornfield, the highest point on the ridge, and opened fire upon the 59th New York, 15th Massachusetts and detachments of other regiments that had halted near the Nicodemus place, but one battery, supported by the 13th Virginia, moving between the woods and the cornfield, came to a knoll on the flank of the 1st Minnesota and about 260 yards from it, where it had an enfilading fire upon its line."  Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), p. 218.

[3] The battery carried 1 10 pounder Parrott and 2 three inch Ordnance Rifles.  Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web under Louisiana Guards.

[4] This was Irwin and Brooks Brigades of William Smith's Division, VI Corps. Ezra Carman noted this engagement: "J .R. Johnson's Virginia battery, which had fallen back with Trimble's Brigade, early in the morning, returned to the field about 2 p.m. and took position 300 yards to the right of and in advance of Reel's barn, a cornfield in its immediate front. It relieved Fry's Battery of H.P. Jones' battalion and immediately became severely engaged with Union artillery and poured an incessant and annoying fire upon Irwin's and Brooks brigades and upon Richardson's division, all efforts to silence it were unavailing. For some time Johnson was alone but was afterwards joined by D'Aquin's battery, which took position on his right. Both batteries were engaged until dark, with very little infantry for support. The batteries were on a point of a hill, the grass was burning around them, and when the engagement became very hot the caissons were moved to the foot of the hill to the left, near several haystacks. They retired at 8 o'clock." Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), pp. 339, 341.

[5] Col. Stapleton Crutchfield's OR of April 16, 1863 records that Captain D'Aquin's battery "captured one 10-pounder Parrott, which they brought off."

The "capture" of the Parrott is mentioned in another account: "In the battle of the 17th the battery was supported by Captain McClellan's sharpshooters. The boys could see the whites of the enemy's eyes. There was a bold charge; but it was a brave repulse. In the afternoon the company, by a proceeding not set down in the programme, captured a 10-pounder Parrott gun, afterward known as the 'D'Aquin's gun.' Brave D'Aquin was fated not to own that gun long. His hand fell as he touched his gun for the last time hard by the Rappahannock." Confederate Military History, a Library of Confederate State Military History: Volume 10.1, Louisiana. Clement Anselm Evans, ed., (Atlanta, 1899), page 244. (August, 1899). Retrieved May 10, 2013 from the Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University. Text provided by Perseus Digital Library, with funding from Tufts University. Original version available for viewing and download at

The identification of the "captured" Parrott is a mystery. D'Aquin's battery was located at all times west of the Hagerstown Pike. At 4:20, the battery was positioned 150 yards west of the Pike, south of the Dunkard Church, and opposite the intersection of the Piper Farm lane and the Pike (see Cope / Carman 16:20 hours map). The gun must have been a Confederate piece since no Union artillery was ever positioned in that location. 

[6] Ezra Carman comments on this instance: "The greater part of Jackson's artillery did not enter the West Woods, but was in the open ground west of them, near the A. Poffenberger barn, but Poague's, Brockenbrough's and D'Aquin's batteries followed the infantry and took position, Poague's on Grigsby's line, Brockenbrough's in front of Starke's Brigade and D'Aquin's near Brockenbrough's. Before the action had fairly opened Jackson saw that D'Aquin was in a very exposed position, where, after the infantry became engaged, he could not use his guns to advantage, and ordered him out of the woods to the open ground on the west to act with Stuart's cavalry. Poague, who had done some work, at dusk of the 16th, sent back his two 10-pound Parrott guns and was given two howitzers from Rains' Battery, and, at daybreak of the 17th had three guns a few feet in advance of Grigsby's line and about 35 yards west of the Hagerstown road. Skirmishers were well out in front from D.R. Miller's on the right to beyond the Nicodemus house on the left." Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), p. 67.

[7] Captain Louis Edgar D'Aquin (1836-1862). "Captain D'Aquin was killed in action near Fredericksburg, Va, on 13 Deccember 1862, and relieved in command by Captain Charles Thompson. Capt Thompson was killed in action near Winchester, Va, on 15 June 1863. By Gettysburg the battery was under the command of Capt. Charles A. Green." Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web under D'Aquin; U.S. Census for Mobile, Alabama, 1850.

[8] John H. O'Connor mustered in to the First Louisiana Infantry (Nelligan's), Company B as a private on April 28, 1861 for one year service. From the record: "This regiment was detached and assigned to duty as an Independent Field Artillery Company by Special Order 272, Headquarters, Richmond, Va., dated July 25, 1861 and subsequently became Capt. Green's Company (Louisiana Guard Artillery)." Record Group 109,  NARA M320. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Louisiana units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier.

[9] Map not found.

[10] This is the Cox Farmstead located on Taylor's Landing Road which is now Mondale Road. See 10:30 map above.