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The 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteers were mustered into service only about a month before they found themselves in the Maryland campaign. Because the regiment was a rookie unit, Antietam would soon become its baptism of fire. As the 132nd was advancing on the Roulette farm, a shot from a Confederate battery slammed into the Roulette farm yard, hitting some bee houses and releasing the angry critters. Some men dropped their muskets and ran into nearby fields, while others slapped their clothes and batted at the angry honey bees.

In the meantime, more Confederate artillery shells and bullets were causing confusion among the Union troops. Brigade commanders were quickly concerned that the hysteria that gripped the 132nd could rapidly spread to wholesale panic among the other troops. An order of “double quick” allowed the Pennsylvanians to advance past the Roulette farm and eventually outdistance the bees. As the regiment advanced across open fields toward the Sunken Road, the Confederates opened with a terrific volley of musketry that brought down many of the Union line. With no cover from the fire, the 132nd was ordered to lie down and crawl toward the Rebel lines. Exposed to musketry, artillery fire, and the choking smoke from black powder, some of the 132nd also “suffered from welts left by William Roulettes’ angry bees. The 132nd Pennsylvania felt the full fury of two enemies that September day in 1862.

The Roulette farm outside of Sharpsburg