|The Dunker church on the Antietam battlefield|
The regimental history I found for the 36th Massachusetts records this note about the month of September:
"On Monday, September 15th, Colonel Bowman received from a mounted orderly a note written in pencil, which purported to be an order from General McClellan, signed " R. B. Marcy, Chief of Staff," directing all troops on the road to hurry forward as rapidly as possible. Colonel Bowman doubted the genuineness of this hasty scrawl, and the more so on account of the appearance of suspicious persons about the camp the night before. Not knowing the result of the battle of the previous day and afraid that an attempt might be made to capture his regiment in its isolated position, he decided not to move his command until lie received further instructions or had better information concerning the state of affairs at the front. This delay undoubtedly prevented our participation in the battle of Antietam, which was fought September 17th."
So, only by some confusion about orders did W. B. and his comrades avoid the Battle of Antietam.
The narrative records that they camped some time at Keedysville, then broke camp and passed through Sharpsburg.
"There the Thirty-sixth was assigned to the Third Brigade of the first division of the NinthCorps. In the brigade were the Forty-fifth and One Hundredth (Roundheads) Pennsylvania regiments, to which we -soon became warmlv attached, and with which we were to be associated during nearly our whole period of service. Than these two regiments there were no better in the Ninth Corps ; and our regard for both officers and men increased as common experiences drew us nearer together. Indeed, they became to us almost as brothers, and we have reason to believe that this feeling was mutual. Colonel Welch, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, commanded the brigade, and General O. B. Willcox, the division."
The entire group marched to an area just above Harper's Ferry, where they made camp.
"By order of General Wilcox. Sunday, September 29th, was observed by the division as a day of special religious service, to give thanks to God for our recent victories in Maryland. The whole division was brought together, and the services were conducted by Chaplain Canfield, of the Thirty-sixth, and other chaplains of New York and Pennsylvania regiments. The band first played"Old Hundred." The 46th Psalm was then read, and a hymn sung to the well-known tune of Balerma. Remarks were then made by four chaplains belonging to the division. The services were very interesting and solemn throughout. In the afternoon Chaplain Canfield preached."
Shortly after this, on October 3, Union troops were reviewed by General McClellan and President Lincoln.
|President Lincoln with General McClellan at Sharpsburg reviewing the troops|
Camp Forbes Mariland Sunday Sept 28 /62 (This must be where mail went)
I write a few more lines. I almost dispair of hearing from you as I have not received one word to comfort me. I begin to think perhaps you have not received my letters. Charles Farrer has received two and Chaffin and Moore and Davis and Hubbard have received some but not one world from those that are dearer to me than life itself but I comfort myself that there are some on the way as we have been marching and have not been able to get regular mail. We have now got Big and we are in Wilcox division and Burnside corps. We have just come from devine service and it was very comforting there. There were thousands of soldiers present and the different chaplains spoke very encouraging and one made a prayer in German. We could not understand one word.
I am not quite as well as usual. I have got a little touch of bowel complaint but not bad. I have not missed one duty on account of health.
Oh Dear Wife if ever I felt the need of a hope in Christ it has been since I left your blessed influence. I know I have your prayers. Perhaps you would like to know if I wish myself at home. I wish the thing was settled so we could all go home but I would come home just now if I could but if I ever live to come home I think I shall know how to prize a humble quiet home. I have seen a little of a soldiers life. It is not a pleasant life but the cause is a worthy one but there is great sacrifice of life and property but those that stay at home and find fault don’t know the first thing about it. We are encamped between Sharpsburg and Harper’s Ferry about 7 miles from the latter place. There are acres covered with tents. I saw W W Clapp a week ago today. TE Hall came to our camp a few days ago. I did not see him but A. Chaffin saw him. I have seen Henry White twice. He took dinner with me yesterday. He has been out here fourteen months and been in nine battles and is unharmed. We are a brigaded with the 46th and 100th Pennsylvania regiments. They were in the last great battles but we have not seen any fighting yet but don’t know how soon we may. Oh Dear wife how are those Dear little ones and that Dear aged Mother. May God sustain and comfort her. She has the prayers of one undutiful son. I shall never forget her kindness. Tell Eugene to write to me and be kind to you and take care of that little Brother. Give my love to all. Write as often as you can and write about the friends of the other Holden boys as we all feel anxious when a letter comes from there. I hear that Capt. Kelton is dead and is to be brought to Holden to bury. Everyone says he was a brave soldier. I hope you will write all the particulars just as they are in regard to yours and the children’s health and circumstances. We are going to send to have a box sent to the Holden boys. I shall want my undershirts and a pair of woolen mittens with fingers for the forefingers. I will send a little money if I am sure that it will reach you safe. I shall write often and hope you will.
Winslow B Rogers Bugler
Compt G 36 Reg’t Mass. Volt
9th Army Corps
Washington, D C
Camp Forbes Mariland Monday Sept 29 /62
I had just sealed the with letter and we have just received a mail this afternoon and I wish you could have seen the anxiety that was manifested and the rejoicing when the name was called and a letter presented. Oh it has done me more good than anything else could have done to hear that you were so comfortable and to know that it came from your Dear hands. I received one from Warren and Herman and two from you and Joel and Eugene. Oh I thank God for them. I am pretty well today. you wrote me in regard to the papers I should like them very much. I think the mail will come more regular than it has done before as we have got Brigaded. I have written to Warren and Joel and Mother.
Dear wife be careful of your health and not try to do too much. You spoke of my realizing that I had another son. Oh Cassandria that little image is fixed on my mind so that I never shall forget it. Give my love to all. Tell Eugene to write every time you do.
Goodbye for the present.
May Gods blessing rest upon you.
W. B. Rogers
Warren was W.B.'s brother. Joel was the husband of his sister Emeline Bliss Rogers. Hermann was Warren's son and W. B's nephew. W. B. was related either by blood or marriage to several of the Holden boys : Chaffin, Davis and Hubbard all pop up in the family tree.
If there was a letter where Winslow recorded his impressions of the visit by Lincoln and McClellan, it has been lost. The next letter takes up on the march in late October. There is an underlying sense of how things really are in these letters. He talks of a "bowel complaint". Dysentery probably. It was everywhere in the war. He asks for undershirts and mittens. He's cold at night. He's missing home and longing for letters and news of home. He's trying to be cheerful, but you can read between the lines.
So far, they haven't been tested in battle. It won't last, of course.