Mansfield, commander of the Army of the Potomac’s Twelfth Corps, was wounded as he led troops into battle early on the morning of September 17, 1862.
The larger of the two monuments honoring the general features a pink granite column topped with a sphere. The monument was dedicated in 1900 and stands near Antietam’s East Woods, at intersection of Smoketown Road and Mansfield Avenue.
A dedication on the west side of the monument’s base reads, “Major General, Joseph K. F. Mansfield, commanding the 12th Corps, Army of the Potomac. Mortally wounded near this spot, September 17, 1862, about 7:35 A.M., while deploying his corps in action.”
The south face features a bronze plaque with the Connecticut shield and an inscription reading, “Erected by the State of Connecticut A.D. 1900 under the auspices of Mansfield Post No. 53, Department of Connecticut G.A.R.”
The G.A.R. refers to the Grand Army of the Republic, the post-Civil War veterans’ organization. The Mansfield Post was established in Middletown, the general’s adopted hometown.
The plaque featuring the Connecticut seal is a 2002 reproduction sponsored by the reenactment and preservation group Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865. The new plaque was modeled after a similar one on the Gen. John Sedgwick monument at Gettysburg.
The east side of the monument’s base is not inscribed, and the north face bears an inscription reading, “The spot where Gen. Mansfield fell is a few yards easterly from this monument. Born December 22, 1803. Killed September 17, 1862.”
Mansfield, a New Haven native, was a career Army officer who served in the Corps of Engineers after graduating from West Point. During his military service, Mansfield lived in Middletown. He served during the Mexican-American War in the 1840s.
After his death, Mansfield was buried in Middletown’s Indian Hill Cemetery. A monument and plot for other Civil War veterans stands near the general’s grave.
An inverted cannon memorial, a short walk east from the larger monument at Antietam, also honors Mansfield’s wounding. The cannon has a plaque reading, “Major General Joseph K.F. Mansfield, U.S.A., mortally wounded 38 yards N. 70° W.”
The precision with which the plaque on the cannon specifies where Mansfield was wounded may not be accurate, since veterans of the battle argued about the location where he was shot (as well as the color of the horse he was riding) for years after the battle.
Disagreements about the specific location of Civil War incidents were common after the war, and understandable if you consider veterans were returning, 20 or 30 years later, to sites they had visited once during the confusion of a battle.