In 2007, one of the very first tours I ever did involved an older couple who arrived with a family heirloom paper mentioning the history of a grandfather wounded at the Battle of Antietam. We tour guides REALLY like this sort of thing! It is very cool! But, it is easier to do if we have some advanced notice … especially if the unit involved is a bit more on the fringe of things.

The couple’s grandfather (W. Leahy) was listed as in the 60th New York. A quick look at the Order of Battle I always carry with me in my tour notebook told me that this was part of Greene’s Division of the 12thCorps. When we think of Greene’s Division at Antietam, we think of the final successful Union push across the Cornfield to the valley just below the Visitor’s Center … and as well, a later push into the West Woods behind the Dunker Church.

60th NY Officers - early in the War in Virginia

However, the 60th NY was a part of Goodrich’s Brigade of Greene’s Division, and as such was actually detached from the Division to assist with efforts more to the northwest in conjunction with the 1st Corps attacks. Here is how it is described on one of the iron tablets at the Park:

Goodrich’s Brigade was detached from its Division, when east of Joseph Poffenberger’s, and ordered to the assistance of Doubleday’s Division. It crossed the Hagerstown Pike near Miller’s, formed in the north part of the West Woods and on the open ground east of them and, supported by Patrick’s Brigade, advanced in the direction of the Dunkard Church. When nearing this point it was stubbornly resisted by the enemy posted in the woods immediately southwest of this, and Colonel Goodrich was mortally wounded. The loss in the Brigade was heavy and it was obliged to retire.

The scant information page about this ancestor also revealed that he was later wounded twice at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. In the coming days, I was able to spend some research time in securing and looking through a copy of a history of the 60th NY; and sure enough, the grandfather was listed in this account of the fighting at Lookout Mountain:

“Rushing through and over these works, the 60th, in conjunction with the 102nd, 137th, and 149th N.Y.S. Vols., swept on, carrying the 2nd and 3rd line of the rebel works, and leaving in their rear two brass field-pieces, from which they had driven the enemy, and, at which place, Major Thomas was badly wounded in the face and neck. Sergeant Leahy, who bore the colors, being twice hit, fell to the ground, and, on the Adjutant’s shouting, “The colors are down! Who will take them?” Sergeant Buck sprang forward, seized the flag, and, with a coolness of bravery undisturbed by the whiz of bullets, which came thick and fast, steadily bore it in advance of the regiment, and planted it, at last, on that point of the mountain where the rebels had boasted that the Stars and Stripes should never wave again.”   [1]

Guests often make some sort of remark like, “How in the world do you remember all those names and numbers and dates?”  Well, all the Antietam Guides are walking encyclopedias of information – much of it remote and obscure. But for even the best, it is but a fraction of what can be known.

If you had an ancestor at Antietam, we LOVE to hear about and research it and show you exactly where they walked. But it is really helpful to know it in advance, if possible!  🙂

60th NY veterans dedicating monument at Culp's Hill in Gettysburg - 1888

[1]  Eddy, Richard. History of the Sixtieth regiment, New York state volunteers, from the commencement of its organization in July, 1861, to its public reception at Ogdensburg as a veteran command. Philadelphia: Crissy & Markley, printers, 1864.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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