A WAR RELIC
How a Boy Fought and Lost His Life at Antietam
General Hector Tyndale Post No. 160, of this city, has been presented with a small brass cannon, which is apparently a toy, but it has a historical interest.
It was used at the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, with deadly effect. It was drawn from Sharpsburg while the battle was in progress by a boy sixteen years of age, who lived in the vicinity, and who, like old John Burns at Gettysburg a year later, went into the conflict on his own responsibility. He took a position on an elevation and with his little cannon faced the enemy and poured load after load of deadly missiles from the muzzle of his miniature cannon into the ranks of the Confederates. The young hero fought for hours in the ranks of the Union army. Among the hundred thousand men with whom he fought there was not one with whom he had any personal acquaintance.
While thus engaged he was shot, it is believed, by a rebel sharp-shooter. When found he was lying upon his face, with his body across the little gun. After his death the cannon was kept until recently, when it was sold for old brass and brought to this city with other old metals. A comrade of the Tyndale Post, who is an extensive metal broker, learned the history of the little piece of artillery, then dirty and corroded, and presented it to the society. It has been cleaned and brightened up and looks like new. It is about three feet in length and has a bore of less than two inches.
Xenia [OH] Daily Gazette 3 August 1886: p. 1
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Battle of Antietam of 17 September 1862, was the bloodiest single day in the American Civil War. Over 500 cannons were deployed with terrible effect. Participants dubbed it “Artillery Hell” for the fire that rained down from the artillery batteries on the heights. One can have no conception of the infernal noise of the battlefield.
Toy cannons were a popular amusement of the young. While many were designed to fire wooden projectiles, a surprising number were designed to be actually fired, to deadly, sometimes fatal effect. For example, in 1901, 244 persons across the United States were injured by toy cannons over the Fourth of July holiday.
Mrs Daffodil has, alas, not been able to corroborate this touching story of youthful soldiery, nor locate the original cannon.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.