Before I soon begin writing about the Battle of Fredericksburg, I am posting five parts of a new War reminiscences collection – one that I’ll likely also use from time to time moving forward through the next couple years. These will be from “Reminiscences of the Civil War: by Judge John W. Stevens, a Soldier in Hood’s Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia.” Stevens served in the 5th Texas Infantry. This final portion describes his departure from Maryland as a wounded soldier. As always when I do these sorts of posts, the italicized text is Stevens’ writing, whereas my remarks will be in regular type, enclosed within [brackets].
Before writing briefly of his experience of leaving the battlefield, Sharpsburg, and Maryland to cross the Potomac into Shepherdstown, Virginia (at that time not yet WV), Stevens’ pen flowed with tributes to the bravery and losses of his gallant comrades:
In after years when rosy spring time comes with fragrant flowers, the fair maidens of Maryland will assemble on the banks of the clear sparkling waters of the Antietam and shroud the graves of the soldier dead, with garlands of nature’s most, loving offerings. Their fair hands will bedeck the little mounds with the gorgeous rose, the queenly tulip, the sweet scented pink, the beautiful purple tinted heliotrope and the fair, majestic lily. The orator of the day will tell in thrilling language how Hood with his two brigades held the gap and drove the enemy in front until McLaws came to Johnson’s aid (Bushrod Johnson.) [This is beautiful writing, and Bushrod Johnson is an interesting Confederate General to say the least, but he was not at Antietam. McLaws’ Division did come to the aid of the Confederates as a major part of the tremendous ENFILADING LINES action in the West Woods. And since the cemetery at Antietam contains only the Union dead, I’m not sure the fair daughters of Maryland are singing the tributes to the Confederate dead nor the orator especially praising General Hood, but it made for great prose.] The chorus of lovely daughters of old Maryland—a state which through all time had been an asylum for religious liberty and has sent brave men to battle by sea and by land—will make the woods melodious with that ever memorable song “Stonewall Jackson is on Your Shore, My Maryland, My Maryland.” The old Maryland battery, once commanded by the brave Snowden Andrews, will be brought out, manned and planted in position and will make the hills resound with its thundering salutes in honor of the distinguished dead. [Again, Snowden Andrews was not at Antietam, nor was the Maryland Battery – was likely at Harpers Ferry, or en route. Andrews was from Baltimore, and he was an architect who designed Government House – the residence of the Governor in Maryland. Andrews suffered a severe intestinal wound at the 8/9/62 Battle of Cedar Mountain, VA. The surgeon remarked that Andrews had but a 1 in 100 chance of surviving, to which is said, “Well, I am going to hold on to my one chance.” He survived, though was not back to service by the time of Antietam. No doubt Stevens knew these men, but is here speaking broadly in flowery language.]
I suppose it was about 8 o’clock in the morning when I reached the field hospital. Dr. Breckenridge, our regimental surgeon, after examining my wound, said to me if I was able to walk to try to cross the Potomac river, three miles distant, at Shepherdstown. So, on I moved, weak and faint from loss of blood and the pain I was suffering. Just at sundown that evening I got into the town, on the south side of the river. There I met Major Littlefield, who gave me three army biscuits—more than I had had to eat in three days previously. I thought it was the sweetest morsel of bread I had ever tasted. A bed was provided for me and there I remained until the morning of the 19th, when I was sent to the hospital at Winchester, some thirty miles away.
[One would presume this must refer to George Washington Littlefield – though he was not a Major at the time of Antietam. He was promoted to that as he lay unconscious on the battlefield of Mossy Creek (TN) in December of 1863. He was the quintessential self-made Texas cattleman and banker. But again, I have to wonder about this identification, as Littlefield was associated with the 8th Texas Cavalry – not connected with Antietam. There was a J.H. Littlefield in the 5th Texas, though he was not of the rank of Major. Details, details.]