The Civil War Sesquicentennial: Those Who Served

Claire Enkosky - September 18th, 2012

The battle of Antietam ended 150 years ago today, and to honor the memory of those who served, we will highlight some of the fantastic images from the New York State Military Museum collection on New York Heritage.

This collection includes hundreds and hundreds of photographic portraits of Civil War soldiers.  These portraits have been cross referenced with the American Civil War Research Database, which aggregated information from State Rosters, census records, award records, pension records, and more.   As a result, each portrait in the  New York State Military Museum collection has a brief glimpse into that soldier's life.  Here are a few who served in Antietam.


Aaron Rhodes, pictured left, was 18 when he enlisted in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 1862.  He was wounded 150 years ago at Antietam, but did survive the war, being discharged on March 11th, 1865 (3 years after mustering in).




Abner Doubleday is pictured to the right with his wife, Mary.  He was already a veteran, having first joined the army in 1842 after graduating from West Point.  He had fought in the Mexican war and Seminole war, and was at Fort Sumter when that first battle of the Civil War began in April of 1861.   As General, he commanded troops at Antietam, opening the battle in favor of the North and capturing six battle flags.   Ten months later, his division was crucial in pushing back Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, sending the Southern troops into retreat.  He retired in 1873 and died twenty years later in Mendham, New Jersey.

The Battle of Antietam is most famous because it was the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history.  Over 23,000 men died that day, 3,765 of whom were from the state of New York.

George B. Force, top left, enlisted in Rochester at the age of 30.  He was commissioned into the Field & Staff NY 108th Infantry on September 9th, 1862, and died in Antietam just 8 days later.  William Evans, top center, enlisted in Utica at the age of 21 in August of 1861.  He was killed in Antietam and buried in the Antietam National Cemetery at gravesite #687.  The dour looking Jesse Everett Stevens, top right, might have been guessing his fate when this portrait was taken.  He enlisted on August 6th in Elmira, and died in Antietam less than two months later.

These three men above, Charles N. Crawford, Charles M. Smith, and  David Myers, were all wounded on September 17th, 1862 at Antietam.  All three died, but not immediately.    Myers died a week later, Smith died on October 12th, and poor Crawford died of his wounds on October 27th, 40 days later.   One must pity them for the last days and weeks of their lives; they were surely in agony.