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"Barefoot at Antietam." Topic

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482 hits since 16 Aug 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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NickNorthStar Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Aug 2018 1:13 p.m. PST

The question is, did any Confederate Soldiers fight barefoot at the Battle of Antietam?

I've been reading quite a bit about the campaign, and I think it's clear there was a supply problem for the Confederates, including providing enough shoes.

Then I read conflicting accounts. The first was that there was an order that any barefoot soldier was to remain in the rear, and an officer complained he saw shoes in the ditches, discarded by those who didn't want to fight.
The second was an eye witness account of a Federal Soldier observing barefoot soldiers forming up for action during the morning of the battle.

What do we think? Should there be some barefoot figures in your units for Antietam?


Soaring Soren17 Aug 2018 1:47 p.m. PST

As long as we don't have to paint individual toe nails, I'd be good with seeing barefooted Rebs.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

Well, they are also reported marching barefoot in Maryland into the North, so…

So, you can have barefoot Rebels, or scatter shoes on some of the stands for atmosphere. grin

Cleburne186317 Aug 2018 3:51 p.m. PST

Many Federals were at the end of their ropes as far as clothing. If I recall, members of the Irish Brigade were barefoot as well.

jdginaz17 Aug 2018 6:20 p.m. PST

I just finished re-reading "landscape Turned Red" plenty of references to barefoot Rebs but no mention of the Irish Brigade being barefoot or of the Federals being at the of their rope. On the contrary they were well supplied having just retaken the field after being reorganized after the Peninsula campaign & the loss at 2nd Bull Run.

rmaker17 Aug 2018 7:47 p.m. PST

We need to remember that for many of the soldiers, especially those from rural backgrounds, barefoot was the normal state.

KonfederateKief18 Aug 2018 1:33 a.m. PST

I seem to recall reading that Lee left most of his bare foot men back in Virginia as marching on Maryland's harder roads (stone or gravel?) would gave slowed down the movement. But evidently it appears that they were present.

NickNorthStar Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Aug 2018 5:51 a.m. PST

No that is what I read as well. The Macadam roads were tearing their bare feet up.

But then the eye-witness account of the bare foot regiment forming up at Antietam contradicts it.

Wargamer Dave20 Aug 2018 8:07 a.m. PST

What % of Confederates would have been barefoot? And I suppose that % would decrease after a victory as they would loot the Union bodies if they still commanded the field? Or did some Southerners prefer to be barefoot??

Wargamer Dave21 Aug 2018 6:42 a.m. PST

This is a decent resource:

Jacob Engelbrecht, a civilian wrote that "Many [Confederate soldiers] were barefooted and some had one shoe & one barefoot-they really looked "Ragged and tough." The first 8 or 10 thousand got a tolerable good supply of clothing and shoes and boots but the stores and shops were soon sold out." This forced many shops to close their doors. Many of the Confederate soldiers paid for these items using Confederate C-notes, which were worthless in Maryland.


As the Confederate army marched out of Frederick, many of barefooted soldiers marched upon the National Pike. The macadamized road tore their feet up, forcing many to march along side of the road. Shotwell, a Confederate soldier in the 8th Virginia Infantry, was shoeless and could not keep up with Longstreet's wing as it marched to Hagerstown. In Funkstown, a civilian offered his boots to the soldier but they were four sizes to big. The soldier gave them back realizing that the oversized boots would make his feet blister and bleed even more.

NickNorthStar Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Aug 2018 5:41 a.m. PST

Thanks for sharing the link Dave. I'd read that too. I can't recall where I read about the order for barefooted soldiers to be left in the rear (I've read loads recently on Antietam). Interestingly, the eye witness account about the bare foot soldiers on the battlefield I recall referred to the Texans appearing. Were they particularly ill equipped?

I still haven't found a source anywhere to say one way or the other. It's clear parts of the army on the march were barefoot, it's whether they were allowed to come to battle.

jdginaz23 Aug 2018 11:19 a.m. PST

At Antietam the Rebs were so short of men they were putting every man possible in the line. The restriction on taking barefoot men on the campaign was about them being able to keep up with the army on the march not about being able to fight.

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