Daniel O Corbin

Daniel O. Corbin

            Daniel O. Corbin was a soldier of the eighteenth regiment in the Massachusetts infantry. He fought during the Civil War for the Union and survived the various skirmishes and battles that he was involved in. He was a private for his entire career as a soldier which was served in H Company. At age 19, he signed up for three years, voluntarily and was involved in several battles. Daniel O. Corbin was a dutiful soldier and stayed with his regiment until he was honorably discharged.

            Corbin was a bonnet presser before he became a soldier for the United States. A bonnet presser was someone who helped to manufacture bonnets, a garment that women wore in this time on their heads. The regiment that Daniel Corbin enlisted in was mustered in Readville or in Boston on August 27, 1861 and the troops marched to defend Washington the very next day.

            “We have had miserable weather here for the last three weeks --- snow, rain, hail and wind have all combined to render the ground unfit to be out on, and the air unhealthy to breath. So you see we are in the right climate coughs, colds &etc. There is scarcely a man in the regiment who has not a cold of some description and sleeping on the near bare ground is no help to them.” (Graham, par. 27).

            This report depicts the egregious weather and horrible conditions that Daniel Corbin had to endure along with the other members of the eighteenth Massachusetts infantry. The air pollution and disease that was sweeping over the troops was a real problem that all the soldiers of that regiment underwent and tolerated for their country.

            Daniel Corbin answered Lincoln’s call for one million men to serve for three years in 1861 but didn’t fight in a major battle until a full one year later in 1862. He enlisted in time to participate in three major battles before he discontinued his enrollment in the infantry. The first of these battles was Second Bull Run, a confederate victory that grossed many Union casualties. This fight took place in Prince William County near the same location as the first battle of Bull Run and Daniel fought under the leadership of Major General John Pope. The action raged from August 28th to August 30th. Pope was concentrating his forces on General “Stonewall” Jackson when Jackson received reinforcements from General Longstreet. Longstreet then proceeded to mount the largest counterattack of the war and obtain victory for the confederacy. 22,180 men were killed before the union troops were finally pushed back. The largest amount of casualties (13,830) belonged to the Union. This was Daniel O. Corbin’s first real battle.

            It is important to note that it is a distinct possibility that Private Daniel O. Corbin was engaged in the battle at Antietam. Research suggests that he may have participated in this battle although there is no clear record of his regiment being involved. This fight took place only two days before Corbin, reportedly, fought in Shepherdstown and since Daniel O. Corbin was in the Maryland Campaign and Antietam is in Maryland, it is entirely possible that he was in both.

            The Second, known, battle experienced by Private Corbin was on September 19th, 1862 and lasted until September 20th. Known as Shepherdstown, this was an attack lead by Major General Fitz John Porter of the Union military. Porter successfully captured four of the confederate’s cannons and might have inflicted great damage if he hadn’t been discouraged from following the rebel troops by an intelligent rearguard maneuver executed by Major General A.P. Hill. Neither sides experienced many casualties in this assault, indeed a combined total of only 625 men died at Shepherdstown.

            Daniel O. Corbin’s last battle of the Civil War was at Fredericksburg. Major General Ambrose E. Burnside was in charge of the Army of the Potomac during this battle and the eighteenth Massachusetts infantry was in the Army of the Potomac at this time. General Burnside launched an attack on General Robert E. Lee, the Confederate’s lead commander and major general of Virginia’s land and naval forces, while Lee and his troops were well entrenched in the heights behind the town. This resulted in massive casualties and Burnside eventually called a retreat. During this battle Private Daniel O. Corbin was wounded and lost three of his fingers. The fighting lasted between December 11th and 15th, 1862 and Daniel O. Corbin was honorably discharged on January 22nd in 1863.