BG Joseph Mansfield, Military Heritage Magazine, February 2007
A SINGLE MOMENT OF GLORY
For more than forty years Joseph King Fenno Mansfield (1803-1862) prepared himself for the ultimate test of a soldier - high command in war. After a long and successful career marked by bravery in the field and rapid promotion during the Mexican War, celebrated achievements as a military engineer, recognition as an expert on defensive fortifications, and a distinguished tenure as Inspector General of the U.S. Army, the moment he’d been waiting for arrived on the morning of September 17, 1862. At the small western Maryland village of Sharpsburg - where the Potomac runs west and Antietam Creek runs east of the town – Mansfield’s brief moment of glory came just two days after assuming command of XII Corps, Army of the Potomac. Personally leading one of his regiments into battle, he was struck by a bullet in the chest and taken to a makeshift hospital where 24 hours later, he lay dead. About these basic details there is no dispute, but for almost a century and a half the rest of the story has generated controversy – sometimes bitter – among the participants and then among historians.