Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“One of them was a better soldier than I was.”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 17, 2018

Private Lawrence Daffan, Co. G, Fourth Texas Infantry, at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862:

On the evening of the 16th we crossed the Antietam Creek, falling back from Boonsboro Gap. This occasioned some skirmishing and artillery duels across the creek, as we had taken a stand near Sharpsburg. We had orders the evening of the 16th to cook up three days’ rations, and to be ready to move at a moment’s warning. We were located nearly a half mile south of an old Dunkard church. There was heavy timber between us and the church; north and west of us there was a large stubblefield where wheat was cut. North of this stubble was a large cornfield of considerable dimensions. Corn there in September is as high as it is here in July; fodder was about ready to be gathered. By daylight the pickets commenced firing. By sunrise wer were ordered forward in line of battle. We stopped near the church in the heavy timber, the branches were falling on us, and many spent balls played around us.
A short time after this we were ordered “forward.” We emerged from the timber into the stubblefield; some of it I think had recently been plowed.
As we emerged from the timber, a panorama, fearful and wonderful, broke upon us. It was a line of battle in front of us. Immediately in front of us was Lawton’s Georgia Brigade. After we left the timber we were under fire, but not in a position to return the fire. As we neared Lawton’s Brigade, the order came for the Texas Brigade to charge. Whenever a halt was made by a command under fire, every man lay flat on the ground, and this was done very quick. Lawton’s Brigade had been on this line fighting some time before we reached them. Lawton’s Brigade attempted to charge, and did charge; their charge was a failure, because their numbers had been decimated; they had no strength.
Then the Texas Brigade as ordered to charge; the enemy was on the opposite side of this stubblefield in the cornfield. As we passed where Lawton’s Brigade had stood, there was a complete line of dead Georgians as far as I could see. Just before reaching the cornfield General Hood rode up to Colonel [Benjamin F.] Carter, commanding the fourth Texas Regiment (my regiment), and told him to front his regiment to the left and protect the flank. This he did and made a charge directly to the west. We were stopped by a pike fenced on both sides. It would have been certain death to have climbed the fence.
Hays’ Louisiana Brigade had been in on our left, and had been driven out. Some of their men were with us at this fence. One of them was a better soldier than I was. I was lying on the ground shooting through the fence about the second rail; he stood up and shot right over the fence. He was shot through his left hand, and through the heart as he fell on me, dead. I pushed him off and saw that “Seventh Louisiana” was on his cap.
The Fifth [Texas], First [Texas] and Eighteenth Georgia, which was the balance of my brigade, went straight down into the cornfield, and when they struck this cornfield, the corn blades rose like a whirlwind, and the air was full.


Lawrence Daffan was seventeen years old at the time. He survived this fight, the assault on Little Round Top at Gettysburg the following year, and the Battle of Chickamauga, only to be captured in late 1863 and spend the remainder of the war as a prisoner at Rock Island, Illinois. Passage from My Father as I Remember Him, by Katie Daffan. Image: “The Hagerstown Pike,” by Walton Taber.

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Michael Vaughan said, on September 18, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Both of them were better soldiers than I would have been….

  2. Matt McKeon said, on September 18, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Good post

  3. Rob Baker said, on September 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Today, we started “Glory”

  4. Steve Green said, on September 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Pvt Daffan would have made a wonderful journalist. This is a fine piece of reporting.

  5. Mike Furlan said, on September 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    “The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those who have the least meaning in their lives, the impoverished refugees in Gaza, the disenfranchised North African immigrants in France, even the legions of young who live in the splendid indolence and safety of the industrialized world, are all susceptible to war’s appeal.”
    ― Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

  6. battlecastnet said, on September 26, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I’ve never heard of this source before. Thanks for posting. Is the book My Father as I Remember Him worth checking out as a primary source for Civil War researchers or would you not recommend it?

    • Andy Hall said, on September 26, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      It was a private printing compiled by his daughter, Katie Devon, after his death. There are a handful of copies in archives. It includes some good information written in the first person explaining Lawrence‘s wartime experiences, but it does not include any other soldiers’ reminiscences. It’s useful as one of (many) first hand accounts of the Fourth Texas Infantry up through the Chattanooga campaign.

  7. Thomas J. Crane said, on October 1, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I think Pvt Daffan is saying it may have been a questionable tactic to stand up at the top of the fence and shoot. But, even so, he respects the man’s courage, as we all must. Nice post. Thanks.

  8. chancery said, on October 24, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Andy, did you take down a post about a t-shirt?

Leave a Reply to Michael Vaughan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: