Human Interest Stories From Antietam: Vignette 3

by Brett Schulte on April 9, 2008 · 0 comments

Fellow blogger Scott Mingus has been writing a series of books on “Human Interest Stories” of various Civil War campaigns. Recently, I looked at Human Interest Stories from Antietam and promised to provide a few more stories from the book. This is the third of four entries I hope to devote to the subject. I’ll include a vignette from each chapter of the book. Please note this series can be purchased from Colecraft Books.

Chapter 3: Antietam

Pg. 57

Struck in their left flank about 9:30 a.m. by a savage surprise counterattack, Sedgwick’s three brigades quickly melted, suffereing some 2,200 casualties in less than twenty minutes. The surviving Federals were sent flying to the rear, seeking shelter wherever they could find it. Among the more fortunate soldiers was George F. Fletcher of the Fifteenth Massachusetts. His Company H was utterly devastated, with only nine of sixty-two men making it back to the rear lines without injury. One of his brothers was killed, but George had somehow remained unhurt in the torrent of projectiles, despite a very close call. Shortly before the battle, the regiment’s mail had been delivered, but the men had no time to scan through it. Fletcher had folded a copy of Harper’s Weekly several times into a compact rectangle and placed it in his blouse pocket, intending to read it later. Jolted by a sudden blow to the chest, he found that he had not been injured. A Confederate Minie ball had struck him in the pocket and pierced the outer layers of the folded newspaper. Its thickness had blunted the impact of the bullet and saved his life. His luck would run out less than a year later, when Fletcher was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg defending against Pickett’s Charge.

Andrew E. Ford, The Story of the Fifteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War 1861-1864. (Clinton, Massachusetts: Press of W.J. Coulter, 1898).

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