Dead Soldiers of the 2nd Regiment N.C. State Troops, Bloody Lane, Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862
The campaigns of 1862, from Shiloh through Second Manassas, resulted in bloodbaths unequaled in American history, but it was the Battle of Sharpsburg,
more than any other, that indelibly impressed the cost of war upon Americans, both North and South. To many Northerners the gut-wrenching reality of combat was brought home by the appearance, for the first time in the history of war, of graphic and grotesque photographs of the dead. Two days after the battle, Alexander Gardner and James F. Gibson, employees of famed photographer Matthew Brady, visited the battlefield and recorded a series of ninety-five views. By October those images were on display in Brady’s New York gallery, where they were widely scrutinized by a horrified public.
Many of the photographs were of dead soldiers. Most were of Confederates, and three, according to William A. Frassanito, the leading modern authority on the Sharpsburg images, probably depict dead North Carolinians in Bloody Lane. The 2nd Regiment N.C. State Troops was the leftmost regiment of Anderson’s Brigade in Bloody Lane, and this image is thought to be of that unit’s dead. (Frassanito reached that conclusion after a systematic examination of the lay of the land in comparison with the angles of the Gardner photographs.) Standing in the background is a Union burial party, probably from the 130th Pennsylvania Regiment, many of which had charged the position on which they stood. Following is a roll of members of the 2nd North Carolina who were killed in action on September 17, 1862, some of whose remains are depicted in this photograph.
Private Wyatt Adcock, Company F, Anson County, enlisted August 15, 1862.
Private W. H. Bowers, Company F, Northampton County, enlisted August 15, 1862.
Private N. T. Eason, Company D, Wilson County, enlisted May 1, 1862.
Private J. R. Edwards, Company F, Anson County, enlisted August 15, 1862.
Private Evlin Faircloth, Company F, Sampson County, enlisted August 15, 1862.
Private Jacob H. Flowers, Company B, Wilson County, enlisted May 27, 1861.
Private Elijah T. Hardison, Company F, Craven County, enlisted May 27, 1861.
Sergeant Joseph R. Herring, Company H, Wayne County, enlisted May 27, 1861.
Private Samuel Hines, Company H, Wayne County, enlisted June 26, 1861.
Private Mack C. Kelly, Company B, Wilson County, enlisted May 28, 1861.
Private Alexander Rogers, 2nd Company C, Duplin County, enlisted February 15, 1862.
Private Joseph H. Styron, Company I, Craven County, enlisted June 10, 1861.
First Sergeant Andrew J. Taylor, Company F, Craven County, enlisted May 27, 1861.
Colonel Charles C. Tew, Orange County, appointed May 8, 1861.
The copy of the image I have posted here is only medium resolution. The version of the image published by Matthew Brady can be seen online at the Library of Congress here: http://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/ds/05100/05186v.jpg Many details in the image become apparent when studying a high resolution copy, especially the .TIFF file (56.4 megabytes), also downloadable from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014646935/resource/
Image: Library of Congress.
William A. Frassanito, Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978), 202-207; Manarin et al., North Carolina Troops, 3:379-479; Mast, State Troops and Volunteers, 1:341, 359.