from Webster Times , September 25, 1869 (Vol IX #30), contributed by Mike Branniff
| September 17th
I wonder if the good people of Webster give a passing thought to the late “ Slater Guards”, Co. I, 15th Mass. Volunteers? Surely those who lost friends in this company will not forget them, although their own loved ones lie silent in the dust. My mind wanders back through the past when, seven years ago today, such brave men as Leut. (Frank)Corbin, (Lucius H.) Briggs, (Moses) Wood, (Henry L.) Amidon, (Abram) Sargent, (Edwin L.) Parmenter, (George R.) Stone, (Samuel) Emerson, (Charles G.) Foster, (Alfred) Tourtellotte, (George) Butler, (Orsemus G.) Chapman, and others laid down their lives upon the field of battle, that the nation might live.
The battle of Antietam.. We will not follow the fortunes of the “gallant old 15th," from Worcester on the way to Antietam, through Balls Bluff, Harpers Ferry, Winchester, Seige of Yorktown, West Point, Hannover Court House, Fair Oaks, before Richnond, Savage Station, the seven days fight, Malvern Hill,covering Popes retreat at second Bull Run fight.
But will wander back through the shades of time to the eve of the 17th of September. Our lines of battle were all stationed, artillery in position, rations issued for three days, preparing for the great struggle. We were told by our officers that tomorrow was to decide one of the great battles of the war, also that Washington was to be saved for the third time. The 17th was ushered in on a calm beautiful morning, not a cloud could be seen in the expansive blue. The gentile sighing of the autumn breeze wafting the sweet scented magnolia through that rich valley, now laden with the harvest of golden September, so soon to bathe itself in the nations blood, filled the heart with emotions never to be forgotten.
Ah, well do we remember the last peacefull words of Leut. Corbin, just a moment before we started for the scene of conflict. He says, soon we shall meet the enemy, expect a hard fight, many of us will fall, perhaps it may be you, perhaps me. Raising his eyes above him and looking out upon the calm still morning he said, “This is much too beautiful a morning to die.“ How soon to meet his fate he little knew. But hark! picket firing, report of cannon, infantry firing, volley after volley, Hooker advancing, in our front (the center). Brave Hooker, opens the conflict. On, on charged the fiery hosts. Rapid discharges of musketry tell us of reinforcements. For two hours the battle raged. Six times did the armies contend over the cornfield. (Noted in Carleton”s report )
We were quietly looking on, expecting orders every moment. There is a lull, Orders come. Hooker has driven them from their first position, and finds them stronger in the second. Fall in Gorman’s brigade, light marching order, 80 rounds of ammunition. “By the right flank, by left file, forward march.“ A quarter of a mile brings us to the calm, quiet steam of Antietam, its rippling laughing waters running silently along, emptying itself into the turbulent Potomic. We ford it, close up: on, on we go. Orders come to hurry up. Soon we come upon Hooker’s battleground. ”Charge bayonets, forward, double quick,“ over the dead and wounded, for our line must not be broken. Through the cornfield, over the fense, into woods. “Halt! fire.” Fifty two Webster men, Co. I, fought that morning, fought untill but seven remained. The “ gallent old 15th", 600 strong, but 180 left. No line completely broken. Capt. Joslin, Corbin, Bradley, gone, Co I consolodated with Co E, ( Oxford Co ) for a short time. Only seven men left to tell the sad story. Dead and left on the field of honor. Leut. Corbin’s body was brought up to the regiment, on the morning of the 18th that we might take a last look at the lifeless remains of one whom Co. I and the regiment loved and honored as an officer. These brave soldiers are gone. They have left their footprints on the sands of time, a lesson for the nation. It was a hard struggle and consumed men and money. Let us all, every spring of roses revive their memory. Let us wave the garland wreath of victory over their graves, and teach our children their heroic deeds, and say to all nations “Let us have peace.”
Peace with her olives crowned, shall stretch