By Blood and Iron~September, 1862~the third week

General Lee’s attempted invasion of the North comes to a bloody halt in the worst single day of the war. A future justice of the U S Supreme Court is seriously injured in the fighting. Soldiers such as Elisha Hunt Rhodes and Robert Gould Shaw reflect on the horrors of the battle. On the same day women working in a war industry die in an unexplained industrial accident. General McClellan again is slow to move and fails to follow up on his costly success. Harpers Weekly praises a recently killed general.

The lack of Southern cotton causes increased unemployment in Britain. In Belfast Protestants and Catholics battle in the streets. A court in Scotland sentences an alleged murderer to death. In the Hawaiian Islands a princess marries an American man.

September 15– Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia– General Stonewall Jackson’s troops capture the town, taking a large number of Union soldiers as prisoners.

September16– Tuesday– Honolulu, Hawaii– Princess Lydia Kamakaeha Paki, who will become the last reigning monarch of the kingdom, Queen Lilieuokalani, marries an American, John Owen Dominis. He is 30 years old, she is 23.

the princess when she became Queen Liliuokalani

September 17–Wednesday–Belfast, Ireland–A Protestant parade erupts into violence between Catholics and Protestants.

Battle of Antietam

September 17– Wednesday– Sharpsburg, Maryland–At Antietam Creek, in a day long battle, Union forces turn back General Lee’s invasion of the north in the bloodiest single day in the war. The shooting begins about 5:30 in the morning and lasts twelve hours. Federal casualties (dead, wounded, missing) total 12,469 [25% of total force]; Confederate losses amount to 13,724 [30% of total force]. Three Union and two Confederate generals are among the dead. First Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, serving with the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, is among the wounded. Union General McClellan, while leading a force larger than that of Confederate General Lee, attacks Lee in a piecemeal fashion and holds back a strong reserve. As night falls, Lee’s Army is still on the field but threatened by a larger Union force.

September 17– Wednesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– A series of three explosions rocks the main laboratory at Allegheny Arsenal killing 78 of the 158 workers, mostly young women, in the building. The explosion shatters glass and knocks pictures off of walls as far away downtown Pittsburgh, two miles from the blast. The subsequent fire burns 54 bodies beyond recognition. Founded in 1814 the Arsenal employs 1100 workers trying to supply ammunition to the Union Army.

the Powder Magazine as it looks today in historical preservation

September 17– Wednesday– Glasgow, Scotland– Mrs Jessie McLachlan, age 28, goes on trial for the murder of Jess McPherson of 17 Sandyford Place in Glasgowin in early July of this year. The accused was a close friend of Jess McPherson and a former servant in the same house. The jury takes only 15 minutes to find Jessie McLachlan guilty and Judge Lord Deas sentences Jessie McLachlan to be hanged on the 11th of October.

September 18–Thursday– Sharpsburg, Maryland–After yesterday’s horrendous battle, General Lee and his staff decide to withdraw southward. Skirmishing and canon fire continue sporadically. Union General McClellan fails to attack or pursue the Confederates. Elisha Hunt Rhodes describes the battlefield. “I have never in my soldier life seen such a sight. The dead and wounded covered the ground. In one spot a Rebel officer and twenty men lay near a wreck of a battery.”

Dead and wounded at Antietam aswomen care for the bodies

September 18– Thursday– London, England–Her Majesty’s Government reports that 140,000 English workers are unemployed because the Union blockade prevents English factories from receiving cotton from the Confederacy.

September 19– Friday– New York City– The New York Times carries an open letter from the Peace Society of London, England [founded in 1816], to Christians of the United States. It concludes by saying, “The eyes of the whole world are fixed upon you. There is no great principle in which the friends of humanity are interested but must suffer incalculable injury by the prolongation of the conflict. We beseech you, therefore, friends and fellow-Christians, for the interests of civilization, for the honor of free government, for the glory of Christ’s Gospel, that you, the ministers of religion and the conductors of the religious press especially, should put forth your influence to bring forth a speedy settlement of a quarrel which at present is arresting the progress of civilization, bringing disrepute upon all free government, retarding the triumphs of the Gospel, and causing the Name that is above every name to be blasphemed among the heathen through you.”

Battle of Antietam

September 19– Friday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– Colonel John Symington, Commander of the Allegheny Arsenal, writes to the Ordnance Department about Wednesday’s explosion, speculating that it may have been caused “by the leaking out of powder when one of the barrels was being placed on the platform. . . . parties shipping powder [in this case, Dupont and Company] may have used barrels more than once for the shipment of powder, as the barrels have been returned to them at their request.”

September 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles takes note of McClellan’s newest failure. “Nothing from the army, except that, instead of following up the victory, attacking and capturing the rebels, they, after a day’s armistice are rapidly escaping over the river.”

September 19– Friday– Benton County, Iowa– Birth of Adeline De Walt Reynolds. She will enter college at age 64 and after earning her degree, move to Hollywood, California, where she will act in her first movie role in 1940. She will die four weeks before her 99th birthday.

publicity picture of Adeline DeWalt Reynolds

September 20– Saturday– New York City– Harper’s Weekly carries a tribute to General Phil Kearney who died in battle on September 1st. “During the Italian campaign of 1859 Major Kearney served as volunteer aid to General Morris, a distinguished officer in the French army. . . . At the conclusion of this campaign the French officers, who had witnessed . . . the military ardor and enthusiasm of Philip Kearney, called the Emperor Napoleon’s attention to the American officer. His Majesty immediately bestowed upon him the Cross of the Legion of Honor. When the news of the breaking out of this hideous rebellion first reached Europe, Major Philip Kearney was residing in Paris. He lost not a moment. He hurried back to offer his services to his country, and was shortly afterward appointed a Brigadier-General of the forces of New Jersey. . . . Before the commencement of the present struggle his dwelling in Paris was the rendezvous of all American officers passing through France. His hospitality was unbounded, his courtesy that of the high-toned gentleman. We have seen gathered around his table there those now prominent in the rebel army.”

Images from Antietam

September 21– Sunday– Maryland Heights, Maryland– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father, describing the battle at Antietam. As his brigade advanced through a cornfield they encountered numerous Confederate dead and wounded. They shared their water with the wounded. “There are so many young boys and old men among the Rebels, that it seems hardly possible that they can have come of their own accord to fight us, and it makes you pity them all the more, as they lie moaning on the field.” Shaw himself was grazed in the neck by a bullet but otherwise unharmed. That night “the stars came out bright, and we lay down among the dead, and slept soundly until daylight.” Near the end of the lengthy letter he writes, “Every battle makes me wish more and more that the war was over. It seems almost as if nothing could justify a battle like that of the 17th and the horrors inseparable from it.”

Battle of Antietam

September 21– Sunday– San Francisco, California– Citizens donate $100,000 to the Sanitary Commission for the care and relief of wounded and sick Union soldiers. [This would equal about $2.24 million in current value.]

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