Letter from John T. Block, Louisanna Guard Artillery

I have posted this let­ter, not know­ing much at all about Block. His spelling and gram­mar are uncor­rected and his com­ments about the Shep­herd­stown bat­tle are quite inter­est­ing. Any infor­ma­tion about Block will be much appreciated.

John T. Block to Ezra Car­man, May 30, 1899, in Anti­etam Stud­ies, National Archives.
New Orleans May 30th 1899
Genl E.A. Car­man
Wash­ing­ton DC
My dear sir,
The “Louisiana Guard Bat­tery,” con­sisted of four (4) guns, two rifle and two how­itzers. Capt Edgar D’Aquin, Hays Louisiana Brigade, Ewells Divi­sion, Jackson’s Corps.
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 Shep­perd­stown on the morn­ing of the 16th and marched out (I sup­pose was the Shep­pard­stown Road, where we halted for rest, then pro­ceeded down this road until dusk, when we filed in to a patch of woods with Hays Brigade.
This woods must have been in the neigh­bor­hood of the Church and near the line of bat­tle, as the pick­ets kept up a lively fire­ing 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 of as quick as pos­si­ble. This wood 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 JEB Stu­art on the extreme left of our Army. Ime­di­ately took posi­tion on a Knoll in an open field.
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 some time. 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 bat­tle field after so many years have elapsed is, that there was a ravine in front of us (dont know whether it was a stone fence or a stream) in our front, beyond this was an open space, the woods being some dis­tance back where the Fed­eral Troops were. In the open­ing in front of our bat­tery there was sev­eral trees (looked to me like apple trees) The Fed­eral sharp­shoot­ers were con­cealed in these trees and gave us a good [?] [of?] [?] until we found out where the Min­nies were com­ing from.
After leav­ing this posi­tion and on our way to the rear, to replen­ish our amu­ni­tion chest, a courier halted us and wanted know if we had any how­itzer amu­ni­tion, 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. Our camp on the evening of the 17th was on I sup­pose the same road that we marched from Shep­perd­stown. We entered through a dou­ble gate.
Dont remem­ber the date of retreat, our bat­tery was with the rear guard of the Army, took posi­tion on the heights of Shep­perd­stown 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 of the ford and made it very warm for us for until we suc­ceeded in blow­ing up one of their Cais­sons.
Messrs Mark 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 Shep­perd­stown was three men killed by explo­sion of one shell and sev­eral wounded. The horses suf­fered most.
JTB

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