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Maryland Campaign Medal of Honor Series: Jacob Orth, 28th Pennsylvania Infantry

By Gordon Dammann

Business commenced quite early for the 28th Pa Inf at Antietam.  It was 6 o’clock in the morning when we charged and drove the rebels back across the fields to an apple orchard where we encountered a very hard task.  No less that three rebel regts and a battery were our opponents.  To secure a victory over them meant hard fighting. It fell to my lot to encounter the color sgt. of the 7th South Carolina regt. A hand to hand fight ensued.  The final result of our short but sharp conflict was that the Carolinian was minus his flag and I had secured the trophy.  I also had a shot wound through my shoulder.  Six other strands of colors were taken by our Regt in this charge.

Jacob Orth
Jacob G. Orth

This description, though brief, is sufficiently clear to indicate a hard, stubborn, and desperate struggle between two men intent on the possession of the same object (flag) and of the consequences to themselves.

Cpl. Jacob Orth was part of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry, which in turn was part of the 12th Corps under command of Brig. Gen. Joseph Mansfield (who was mortally wounded early in the morning of September 17).  General George Sears Greene commanded the division which included Tyndale’s brigade: 28th Pennsylvania, 7th Ohio, 66th Ohio, and 5th Ohio.  From 9:30 to 10 am they charged toward the woods surrounding the Dunker Church.  Defending the rebel position was the 7th South Carolina part of Kershaw’s command.  In the vicinity of the Dunker Church is where Cpl. Orth engaged in the hand to hand combat and captured the flag of the 7th South Carolina.  The Union regiments held their position for an hour but were pushed back to the East Woods.  Cpl. Orth was wounded in the shoulder and was probably taken to the Line Farm where he was treated.

After Antietam, Jacob George Orth was promoted to sergeant on December 8, 1862.  He was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863 and was discharged on July 6, 1864 after 3 years of service.  He returned to West Philadelphia and died on September 11, 1907.  He is buried in West Laurel Cemetery in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

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