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 (Ancestry.com member).
Retrieved from Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com on May 14, 2012 under “Service History of Edwin Marks.” Thanks to Ancestry.com 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; Ancestry.com. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

For more biographical information on Edwin Marks, please see http://www.geocities.ws/mmarks47/markspage.html#edwin.

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