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"THEN LET THE HURRICANES ROAR"
Morning came quietly as it usually did in the town of Sharpsburg Maryland. It was nothing like the day previous. Henry Harrison was up early searching and asking about his cousin George. Henry had hoped that George might have come in during the night, but he was still not with the Regiment
Henry gazed across the fields where a few burial details were busy preparing the long trenches for the dead. Henry wanted to search the West Woods, where George was last seen alive, but they still remained under enemy control. Later in the day the strict orders to remain in ranks in case of an attack were relaxed and Henry and several other members of Company D visited various points on the battlefield viewing the carnage of the day before.
The silent dead were still grasping their guns, their faces blackening in the September sun. Henry looked at the bodies thinking he might find George among them. George was not to be found on the fields nor among the wounded. Henry continued to search the remainder of the day but could not find any trace of George Harrison.
On Friday, September l9th, the 13th Regiment received orders to move out towards Harpers Ferry. In the afternoon they started their march. Their route led them over most of the battlefield as they moved southerly towards and through the town of Sharpsburg. As they moved over the fields they passed group after ghastly group of lifeless bodies. We cannot know what Henry felt leaving his cousin George behind, but we do know that George Harrison was never heard from again. (14)
It is likely that George Harrison's family received the official telegram relating the sad news of the loss of their son within a day or so of the battle. Everyone was concerned how Mrs. Harrison would take the news for she was then seven months with child. On Monday, September 22, 1862, the news of George Harrison reached the village of Centerville through the Newark Daily Advertiser. Under the column reporting "Losses of the 13th Regiment and D. C. Volunteers" were listed the following for his company: "Company D -- Missing: Geo. Bots, Geo. Harrison, Thos. Giles, Aaron Green, D. B. Collard"
Not long after receiving the tragic news, Rufus F. Harrison, set out for Antietam battlefield in hopes of recovering his son's body. Upon arrival at Sharpsburg, Mr. Harrison searched the makeshift hospitals, fields and battle area. He inquired anyone who might know something about the whereabouts of his son. From what information he could gather it was apparent the Confederates had put his son’s body into a mass grave during the time they held the West Woods. Though he tried desperately to find his son’s grave, its actual location remained unknown. Sadly, Mr. Harrison returned to his family back in Centerville.
On November 14, 1862 almost two months after the death of her young son, Mrs. Harrison gave birth to a new baby boy. This new child was named....George R. Harrison.
On January 26, 1864, Rufus Harrison, then a member of the New Jersey State Assembly, and long known as a staunch supporter of the Union, presented the following resolutions:
"Resolved, the senate concurring, that so much of Governor Parker's message as relates to the battlefield of Antietam be referred to the committee on federal regulations, and that said committee be instructed to report what action is necessary for carrying into effect His Excellency's suggestion of erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the heroic dead of New Jersey who fell on that sanguinary field." (15)
Thus the New Jersey monument, erected in 1903, near the Haggerstown Pike on the western edge of the famous cornfield, had as its first advocate 39 years earlier in the New Jersey Legislature, Rufus F. Harrison, father of George Harrison. Perhaps Mr. Harrison felt somewhat relieved knowing his son's body would have a suitable monument to acknowledge his deed and death.
The New Jersey State Monument has a slender column rising from a hexagonal base and is surmounted by a sculptured likeness of Captain Hugh C. Irish of Company K 13th Regiment who was killed near that spot while leading his men across the Haggerstown Pike. (See Photos 1, 2A, 5, 6, & 7)
In 1903 when the N. J. monument was being erected, a resident of Sharpsburg, Charles Crowl, was fatally injured when the hoisting derrick he was climbing collapsed. A short time after Crowl's death another resident of Sharpsburg, Mrs. A. K. McGraw, was also accidentally killed near the N. J. Monument. Mrs. McGraw was out with her husband and infant child when she asked her husband to show her where Mr. Crowl received his fatal injury. As her husband began turning their carriage the horse shied at the battlefield marker throwing Mrs. McGraw and her baby out of the carriage. Mrs. McGraw's neck was broken killing her instantly.
Along with the New Jersey State Monument, several regimental markers were also placed on the fields. One marker is located on the edge of the woods road, which runs westerly from the north side of the Dunker Church. (Now Confederate Avenue), On this marker it states that in the fields before it the 13th New Jersey Regiment saw action for a second time on September l7th between 11:20 a.m. and 12:00 noon. This was their position when they went to General Green's support who held a salient position around the little Dunker Church. Somewhere in the field before this marker George R. Harrison lost his life. His body may still remain there in an unknown grave. (See Photo 4)
Several years after the war the veterans of the 13th Regiment formed a Regimental Society and each year held reunions commemorating the battlefield of Antietam and others they had fought in. The members of Company D also formed a separate society called the "D" Society on December 5, 1867. Henry F. Harrison was a member of both societies until they eventually disbanded, as the veterans grew too old to participate. These societies also raised funds to have a regimental marker placed on the battlefield of Gettysburg, another battle in which the 13th participated.
Thirty-two years after the battle of Antietam, at the 9th reunion of the 13th Regiment, held on September l9th, 1894 at the Eagle Rock Reservation in Orange, N. J., a guest speaker took the podium to say a few words about the 13th Regiment. He was the Honorable Elias M. Condit. Mr. Condit began: "It is true I remember the 13th Regiment when it lay at Camp Frelinghuysen in the city of Newark, and I remember some of my dear friends that were members of that regiment and I think the nearest and dearest friend of my boyhood days was one of the first who laid down his life for his country in this regiment, George R. Harrison."(16)
One hundred and eighteen years after his death at Antietam, the letter George Harrison had written home on September 9, 1862 would come to the attention of this writer who was then doing research on the life of Rufus F. Harrison, George's father. His letter would be the catalyst causing his brief tale of valor, the days between August l4th and September l7th, 1862 to be told.
AFTER NOTE ON THE 13TH REGIMENT
The 13th Regiment went on after the battle of Antietam to fight in nineteen of the most historic battles of the Civil War. On September 24, 1863 the 13th was detached with the entire 12th Corps for service in the west.
On June 8, 1865 the Regiment was officially mustered out from active service.
Two years, nine months, and fourteen days after it left the city of Newark on August 31, 1862 with 937 men and officers it returned with 327. One hundred and three of its number were killed in battle or died of wounds received on the fields. Over three hundred were wounded.
On the Regiments return the battle flag which had been presented by Reverend Levy and Miss Landell on August 29th, 1862 now bore in gold letters the words: Antietam, Chancellorville, Gettysburg, Resaca, Dallas, Kulps Farm, Nancy's Creek, Peach Tree Creek, Rocky Face Ridge, Pine Knob, Cassville, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Savannah, Averysboro, and Bentonville.
Henry F. Harrison was promoted to Corporal on May 1, 1865. He participated in all the battles of which the Regiment was engaged except Gettysburg and Peach Tree Creek. Henry was discharged with the Company and returned to Centerville, New Jersey. He purchased a farm adjacent to the farm owned by his uncle Rufus F. Harrison, George's father. He lived there until his death. His farmhouse still stands in the town at number 150 Harrison Avenue, Roseland, N. J. (then called Centerville) and at the time of this writing was being used as the towns paramedic emergency center.
(1) Centerville, New Jersey was then a section of Livingston Township, Essex County, N.J. The name of the town was changed to Roseland prior to being incorporated in 1908. Rufus F. Harrison was rumored to be responsible for having altered the original Post Office application making the name of the town Roseland instead of Roslyn as originally intended. See Ricord - Biographical and Genealogical History of the City of Newark and Essex County, N. J. Lewis Publishing Company, New York, and Chicago, 1898
(2) Camp Frelinghuysen served as the regimental campgrounds for the 13th Regiment mustered in August 25th, the 20th Regiment NJV. on September 18th, and the 27th NJV. on September 19th, 1862. Later in the war the 33rd Regiment NJV. mustered September 5,1863 and the 37th NJV. June 23, 1864, and the 30th Regiment October 11, 1864.
After the war this campground was converted into a city park by famed landscape architect Frederick Laws Olmstead, the designer of New York's Central Park. Today what remains of the Morris Canal is a scenic waterway flowing through the park. Near the canal and near the former band shell, rests a large boulder on which is a bronze marker identifying this area as the site of Camp Frelinghuysen. This marker is located between what is now Park Avenue and the Interstate 280 (which borders Orange Avenue) and opposite the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Clifton Street.
(3) Newark Daily Advertiser, August 30, 1862.
(4) See "The Life History of the United States, 1849-1865 Volume 5" Time-Life Books, page 124, for a color lithograph of the canteen in Philadelphia. By January of 1862 this canteen had welcomed and served food and drink to some 100,000 battle bound Union soldiers. B/W version included in photo section of this paper.
(5) Samuel Toombs Reminiscences of the War - 13th New Jersey Volunteers, Page 13 New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, N.J.
(6) Reunion of the 13th New Jersey Volunteers. llth Reunion held in 1896, page 26 (hereafter called "reunions").
(7) John Gibbon - "Personal Recollections of the Civil War", N. Y. 1928
(7A) There is in account by Samuel Toombs who was a member of the 13th Regiment and who wrote a series of articles, later made into a book called "Reminiscences of the War'. The 13th New Jersey Volunteers" published in 1878. In most respects his little book covers the 13th's history accurately and all events he mentions corresponds to official records. But in his book he states the 13th crossed the South Mountain at Cramptons Gap and moved into and through Pleasant Valley towards Boonsborough. He also mentions this was the same route General Franklin's troops took, which is true of Franklin’s Corps. Cramptons Gap is some six miles below Turners Gap and was the Gap where Franklin's Corps was engaged on the l4th of September. It is possible the 12th Corps divided sending some regiments south through Cramptons Gap but there is no evidence of this movement other then Tomb’s statement in his book. It is possible this movement did take place but was not mentioned or recorded. In any event according to official records the Regiment crossed the mountain at Turners Gap and moved towards Boonsborough along the National Highway (now Route 40 alternate).
(8) Reunions - llth Reunion 1896, page 32, page 20. Both of these accounts made after the war report the incident of seeing this Boston Regiment of the Irish Brigade while in the East Woods
(10) Reunions - 3rd Reunion, 1888, page 61. Dr. J. H. Love, Surgeon for the 13th Regiment
(11) Reunions - llth Reunion 1896, page 32, J. B. Wilde
(12) Reunions - 3rd Reunion, 1888, Dr. Love
(13) Foster, John, Y., "New York and the Rebellion", 1868, page 319.
(14) On Saturday, September 20th, the Regiment had another severe march and again there was considerable straggling. They passed through the little town of Rohresville and entered Pleasant Valley going through Brownsville. They then encamped about 4 miles from Sandy Hook, Maryland where they remained until the 23rd. On the 23rd of September the Regiment, with the Brigade to which it belonged, went into camp on Maryland Heights opposite Harpers Ferry. Up to this time the 13th N. J. Regiment had been in the service of the United States for 29 days. The men looked forward to this time of rest on the Heights and a short respite from active campaigning.
(15) Ricord - Ibid, page 299.
(16) Reunions - 9th Reunion, 1894, page 27.
ANTIETAM - William A. Frassanito Scribner Publishing
ANTIETAM & FREDRICKSBURG - F.W. Palfrey Blue & Grey Press-Reprint
BATTLES & LEADERS of the CIVIL WAR - Ned Bradford, Reprint Edition, Fairfax press
CAMPFIRE and BATTLEFIELD-Rossiter Johnson....Reprint Edition, Fairfax Press
CENTURY WAR BOOK Reprint of Articles written by officers involved in the various conflicts, originally published in the 1870's, Reprint Edition.
GLEAM of BAYONETS The Battle of Antietam & Robert E. Lee's Maryland Campaign - September 1862 - James V. Murfin.
HARPERS PICTORIAL HISTORY of the CIVIL WAR -Gurnsey & Alden...Fairfax Press
OFFICIAL RECORDS of the WAR of the REBELLION Volume XIX...Government Publishing Office.
RICORD - BIOGRAPHICAL and GENEALOGICAL HISTORY of the CITY OF NEWARK and ESSEX COUNTY, N. J. Lewis Publishing Company, New York, and Chicago, 1898
TWO YEARS of GRIM WAR - Photographic History of the Civil War F. T. Miller
© 1982 Louis A. Robertella
Revised and Edited 2003.