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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Vol. II Review

And here is the review for Vol. II:

The Mary­land Cam­paign of Sep­tem­ber 1862 Vol­ume II: Antietam

Ezra A. Car­man, edited and anno­tated by Thomas G. Clemens

Savas Beatie, 2012, 670pp., $37.50

ISBN: 978–1-61121–114-6

Image cour­tesy of amazon.com

The clas­sic off The Mary­land Cam­paign of Sep­tem­ber 1862 has long been con­sid­ered a clas­sic in mil­i­tary lit­er­a­ture but some­thing which has been miss­ing in the doc­u­ment is anno­ta­tions. Upon read­ing pri­mary sources, there are some ques­tion­able things which have been writ­ten in these accounts, but with a good anno­ta­tion, the errors are cor­rected and sources prop­erly. Thomas G. Clemens has pro­vided these anno­ta­tions and are an excel­lent way to re-read this classic.

Ezra Ayres Car­man was born in Oak Tree, New Jer­sey and attended the West­ern Mil­i­tary Acad­emy in Ken­tucky. Dur­ing the Civil War, he fought with New Jer­sey units and faced some of the fiercest fight­ing through­out the war includ­ing the Bat­tle of Anti­etam. After the war, he was appointed to the Anti­etam National Ceme­tery Board of Trustees and the Bat­tle­field Board. Thomas G. Clemens has spent years study­ing the Mary­land Cam­paign and gained his doc­tor­ate at George Mason Uni­ver­sity. He has writ­ten a myr­iad of mag­a­zine arti­cles and has appeared in doc­u­men­taries along with being a licensed tour guide at Anti­etam National Bat­tle­field. Also, he is an instruc­tor at Hager­stown Com­mu­nity Col­lege and also founded the Save His­toric Anti­etam Foundation.

Much of vol­ume one deals with the Bat­tle of South Moun­tain and the process of reach­ing the bat­tle­field of Anti­etam. With­out vol­ume one, vol­ume two does not make much sense but both works stand as clas­sics. In order to appre­ci­ate the full con­text of Carman’s work, both vol­umes need to be read and with Clemens’ anno­ta­tions aid the work in the best way pos­si­ble. Thomas G. Clemens has per­formed a labor of love and his notes on the Bat­tle of Anti­etam are quite exten­sive. Through­out the text, there are quite a few good his­toric maps and the text is also fueled with many good pho­tographs of the field. The Bat­tle of Anti­etam is one of the most ter­ri­fy­ing expe­ri­ences from the Civil War and is con­sid­ered the blood­i­est day in Amer­i­can his­tory. In all of the works on the bat­tle, there are few which do not men­tion the work done by Ezra Car­men and since he was present at the bat­tle, the pri­mary source can be seen as more accu­rate than oth­ers. With­out the words of Clemens, there could be some con­fu­sion on the part of the reader not quite famil­iar with the bat­tle­field of Anti­etam or the rest of the Mary­land Campaign.

The Mary­land Cam­paign of Sep­tem­ber 1862 Vol­ume II: Anti­etam, stands on its own as a great work of Civil War lit­er­a­ture, but is more appre­ci­ated with both vol­umes. I highly rec­om­mend this book to any­one who has an inter­est in the Mary­land Cam­paign or is just inter­ested in the Bat­tle of Anti­etam. This in depth work by a Civil War vet­eran brings the hor­ror of the bat­tle­field to the reader and the anno­ta­tions of Clemens bring acad­e­mia to the work. These two vol­umes will be hailed as the great­est edi­tion of Carman’s work and a great addi­tion to the annals of Civil War history.

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Review

This nice review of Vol. I & II was just sent to me. Thought I’d share it.

The Mary­land Cam­paign of Sep­tem­ber 1862 Vol­ume I: South Mountain

Ezra A. Car­man, Edited and Anno­tated by Thomas G. Clemens

2010, Savas Beatie, 576 pp., $37.50

ISBN: 978–1-932714–81-4

Image Cour­tesy of Barnes and Noble

Much has been writ­ten about the Mary­land Cam­paign sur­round­ing the Bat­tle of Anti­etam, but there have always been the clas­sics. As it is with clas­sics, espe­cially clas­sics which were writ­ten right after the war, they run out of print and are quite dif­fi­cult to get your hands on. For the longest time, I had heard of the great nar­ra­tive which Ezra Car­man had writ­ten on the entirety of the Mary­land Cam­paign but was never able to get it. That was, until Thomas G. Clemens and Savas Beatie released the work in an anno­tated fashion.

Ezra Ayres Car­man was born in Oak Tree, New Jer­sey and attended the West­ern Mil­i­tary Acad­emy in Ken­tucky. Dur­ing the Civil War, he fought with New Jer­sey units and faced some of the fiercest fight­ing through­out the war includ­ing the Bat­tle of Anti­etam. After the war, he was appointed to the Anti­etam National Ceme­tery Board of Trustees and the Bat­tle­field Board. Thomas G. Clemens has spent years study­ing the Mary­land Cam­paign and gained his doc­tor­ate at George Mason Uni­ver­sity. He has writ­ten a myr­iad of mag­a­zine arti­cles and has appeared in doc­u­men­taries along with being a licensed tour guide at Anti­etam National Bat­tle­field. Also, he is an instruc­tor at Hager­stown Com­mu­nity Col­lege and also founded the Save His­toric Anti­etam Foundation.

I should make one thing clear about this work. It is not a reprint. So many times when clas­sics are reprinted, that it all they do, but this one is not one of those works. Clemens anno­tates the whole doc­u­ment with mod­ern sourc­ing and exten­sive foot­notes. Pub­lished in two vol­umes, the first deals with the Bat­tle of South Moun­tain and some of the pre­lim­i­nary details of the cam­paign while the sec­ond deals with the Bat­tle of Anti­etam. The anno­ta­tions through­out not only give us an up to date look into the Mary­land Cam­paign with mod­ern sources, but a look into the mind of Car­man as he was writ­ing the work. Clemens tells us who Car­man was more likely to paint in a greater light because of his expe­ri­ences in the war and the pol­i­tick­ing going on between Lin­coln and McClel­lan through­out. While Car­man states that this was not just a bat­tle against armies, but a bat­tle between the high com­mand in Wash­ing­ton, Clemens adds that to tell us that not all was easy for the com­man­ders. One of the aspects of the cam­paign which is largely ignored is the action taken at Harper’s Ferry before the Bat­tle of Anti­etam and here, Car­man places it in his nar­ra­tive. The details of the cap­ture of Union sol­diers at the gar­ri­son is greatly impor­tant to the study of the cam­paign and here, it is given explicit detail through both the nar­ra­tive of Car­man and the anno­ta­tion of Clemens.

The Mary­land Cam­paign of Sep­tem­ber 1862 Vol­ume I: South Moun­tain is a great addi­tion to any Civil War library and is highly rec­om­mended for any reader. The excel­lent map sys­tem used in the book is a great aid to the nar­ra­tive and the anno­ta­tions are sec­ond to none. This is an excel­lent print­ing of this clas­sic and goes to show that there is more to write about when it comes to the Mary­land Cam­paign even if it is through anno­ta­tions. Thomas G. Clemens has done a fan­tas­tic job and has per­formed a labor of love by pour­ing his knowl­edge into this text. Highly recommended!

http://www.gettysburgchronicle.com/book-reviews/the-annotation-of-a-classic

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Volume Three

The third, and last, vol­ume of Carman’s man­u­script is now in the hands of Savas-Beatie. No word yet on pub­lish­ing date, but I hope later this year. It includes a chap­ter on the bat­tle of Shep­herd­stown Ford, and chap­ters sum­ming up the cam­paign, and also sup­ple­men­tal infor­ma­tion on the pre­lude to the cam­paign. A large por­tion of it is also a Bio­graph­i­cal Dic­tio­nary of every­one Car­man men­tioned in his nar­ra­tive, and also any vet­eran whose mem­oirs I cited in doc­u­ment­ing how Car­man knew what he wrote. In addi­tion to the com­man­ders this dic­tio­nary lists many com­mon sol­diers and junior offi­cers; peo­ple you will not find on Wikipedia! I’ll keep you posted on the progress towards pub­li­ca­tion, and will get back to post­ing more here too.

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Letter from Capt. John Frank, Battery G, 1st NY Art.

Frank wrote sev­eral let­ters to the Bat­tle­field Board, help­ing to locate its posi­tion on the field. below is a type­script of one of those letters.

Lamar­tine
Fond du Lac Co Wis.
Dec 28th [18]99
Genl. E.A. Car­man.
Dear Sir:
In reply to yours of the 16th Inst. stat­ing the dif­fi­culty of locat­ing my Bat­tery on Sept 17/[18]62 I have the honor to state that under the cir­cum­stances I am com­pelled to go into details, even at the risk of being con­sid­ered tire­some. I desire it to be dis­tinctly under­stood, that the points of the com­pass as well as the hours of the day are merely guess­work, the remain­ing state­ments are facts, as I now remem­ber them. Shortly after sun­rise on that day Sumner’s Artillery, under com­mand of Maj. Clark, 4th U.S. Arty. crossed what was des­ig­nated to me the upper Bridge of the Anti­etam, after a slow march of about two hours the Col­umn was brought to a long stop in a piece of tim­ber to await orders. While Maj Clark was assign­ing posi­tions to the lead­ing Bat­ter­ies we heard to roar of bat­tle on our right flank. About 9 A.M Kirby’s Batty I 1st U.S. Arty, that day under Lieut. Woodruff, came from the direc­tion of the com­bat, one of the offi­cers claim­ing to be out of ammu­ni­tion.
I imme­di­ately rode up to the brow of the ridge about ¼ mile to our right flank, found that part of the field with­out a man or a gun, three Con­fed­er­ate Brigades, returned from their defeat of Sedg­wick reform­ing down on the flat North of the Dunker Church Woods with the evi­dent inten­tion of advanc­ing under­cover of the ridge to crush French’s flank on the oppo­site slope of the ridge; to pre­vent that move I rushed my Bat­tery up on the ridge, the only Artillery then opposed to me being a Bat­tery of 6 Brass Guns on a hill about 800 yds in my front, and very poorely [sic] served, per­haps for want of ammu­ni­tion. In less than 15 min­utes a four gun Bat­tery appeared on the front and left of the Rebel Infantry open­ing a sav­age attack at about 900 yards. This fail­ing to drive my Bat­tery out of posi­tion another four Gun Bat­tery opened to my left from the Woods north of the Dunker Church at about 800 yds inflict­ing con­sid­er­able dam­age, but one of my per­cus­sion shells explod­ing a Cais­son, and another shell dis­mount­ing a gun of Batty no 2 and send­ing it out of the field, enabled me to bring the full force of my 6 Napoleons to bear on Batty no 3 which was presently silenced, two of the Guns being found dis­mounted the next day. While engaged by Bat­ter­ies No 1 and 2 I was informed that through the spe­cial efforts of Maj Clark the 6th Maine had been sent to my sup­port, and after the fir­ing ceased I pro­ceeded with one of my Guns to the high­est part of the ridge about 80 Rods to my right to dis­lodge a Rebel Skir­mish line behind the stone fence inclos­ing [sic] a corn­field and run­ning along my front. In mov­ing that gun I encoun­tered a New York Bat­tery (likely Cowan’s) on the extreme end of the Ridge about 80 Rods to the right of my Bat­tery. I may be per­mit­ted to men­tion that this is the only and sole con­nec­tion I formed with the noted Corn­field, as my line of fire against Bat­ter­ies No 1 and two ranged over, and that against No 3 ranged along the edge thereof. About this time the gap between my Bat­tery and French’s Divi­sion was closed by Hancock’s Brigade; the ground over which I manou­vered [sic] was either pas­ture or ele­vated mead­ow­lands.
I am pos­i­tive that the 6th Maine when I first viewed the reg­i­ment was some 30 to 60 paces to my right, lay­ing in a shal­low ravine run­ning down to our rear.
Respect­fully
Your obdt Servt
Jno. [John] D. Frank.

Obvi­ously he is incor­rect about Cowen and the 6th ME, and I wel­come your thoughts about who he did see.

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