The Antietam Institute has purchased a set of documents written more than a century ago by Jacob Duryee who led the 2nd Maryland Regiment at the battle, including a 53-page account of his unit’s attempt to take the Burnside Bridge.
“One of our members noticed that these were available the day before they went up for auction in New York and our board immediately approved supporting an online bid,” said Chris Vincent, the Institute president. “We were pleased that our bid was successful.”
The typewritten documents — apparently written by Duryee not long before his death in 1918 in hopes of publishing a memoir — describe not only the assault but also conditions in a farm building used as a field hospital for the regiment which suffered 44 percent casualties as it approached the bridge along the road from the south.
Duryee also explains his decision to resign his commission a few days later, incensed that the Maryland Governor Augustus Bradford did not visit the regiment when he came to Antietam a few days after the fighting.
A separate manuscript tells of Duryee’s initial unit, the 7th New York, making its way to Washington via Annapolis just after the riots in Baltimore on April 19, 1861, becoming one of the first units to garrison the capital just after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. There is also a set of letters concerning a reunion of the 7th New York and a Duryee family genealogy.
“There are many interesting aspects to Duryee’s account of the fighting at the Burnside Bridge, including his claim that the 2nd Maryland attacked the bridge at 9 a.m. not 10 as the tablet written by Ezra Carmen states,” Vincent said. “Duryee also tells of being surprised to see a chaplain he knew from the 5th Corps who came to the field hospital to retrieve Duryee’s body, assuming he had been killed.”
After the war, Duryee received a brevet promotion to brigadier general of volunteers. When he died, his body was returned to Antietam, and he is the only general buried in the national cemetery.
“The Institute wants to make sure these important documents are available to students of this battle, both online and in person,” Vincent said. The manuscript will be donated to the Antietam National Battlefield Library later this year.
A special thank you to member – Michael Hill for leading the effort to acquire this unique item.