The sounds of rattling weapons, and the clang of tin cups against canteens were heard throughout the night. General Sumner’s entire Second Corps was now in place, and the little Maryland town of Sharpsburg was now going to be the focus of a tremendous battle.
Among the various sutlers and “camp followers” which accompanied the Army of the Potomac was seventeen-year old Amy Anne Howard. Amy was a pretty New York City laundress and when her employer Mrs. Harrington announced that she was going to “march south” with the boys of the 61st, Amy begged for the chance to go with her.
While Amy’s patriotism, and loyalty to the widowed Harrington, were without question, she did have her own agenda as well. This was namely the person of Private John Randolph Daniels. Howard and Daniels had grown up in the same tenement and when he had joined the army she was sure her “life would end” without him.
Now they were in Maryland, and the relationship, while still rather innocent, was blossoming. But the upcoming battle seemed ominous. On the 16th of September, John Randolph, therefore went to his company commander and begged for permission to marry. The Captain was a compassionate man and gave his assent.
John then went and found Amy and asked her to marry him. While this was an unorthodox way to arrange things it did make things run a bit smoother.
Amy jumped at the chance. Early on the morning of the 17th, Mrs. Harrington quickly prepared the soon-to-be bride’s hair and the three rushed to the Chaplain just as the opening sounds of battle began to be heard.
There, next to the Chaplain’s tent, the young couple, attended by Mrs. Harrington and a quickly waylaid Corporal Taylor, stood before the clergyman.
“Time being what it is,” the old parson said, “we will dispense with all the unnecessary bits.”
The couple nodded in agreement as a salvo of canon fire briefly drowned out their speech.
“Amy Anne, do you take John Randolph?”
“Yes, sir.” she replied.
“John Randolph, do you take Amy Anne?”
“Yes sir!” John said loudly.
“Then consider yourselves took,” the chaplain said. “Now kiss that girl, and go fetch your musket, Soldier.”
And that was that.
John survived the Battle of Antietam, and the pair had thirty-five years and seven children together.