Carnage and freedom

This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Thank you for the editorial "Bloody Antietam: Lincoln's cue for ending slavery" (Our View, Sept. 17). Though most readers are familiar with the Emancipation Proclamation, many have not heard of the battle of Antietam.

My great-grandfather, Charles F. Chidsey, fought in the Civil War. The son of a father who was "an uncompromising enemy to slavery," Charles joined the 129th Regiment of the Pennsylvanian Volunteers at age 18. The 129th arrived at Antietam the day after the battle, and Charles was assigned to the burial detail for Confederate dead.

Charles expressed his feelings in a letter. "My Dear Auntie, We are now encamped along the Potomac about two miles beyond Sharpsburg where the late great battle was fought. I visited the battlefield but the sight was too horrible to be described. [Sergeant Gangwer] tells me some sad, sad news. Poor Dick Williams is dead. He was wounded in [Antietam] and died yesterday morning. No event since the war has made me so sorrowful. I can write no more."

Antietam brought to the forefront the incredible carnage and tragedy of war, yet it allowed our nation to symbolically decree all men and women forever free.

Thomas C. Chidsey