previous next

[346] near Fairfield. A severe skirmish followed, but General Sedgwick refrained from bringing on a general engagement.

During Sunday, between the hours of ten o'clock A. M. and six P. M., after the details for burying the dead had been made, all the corps were ordered to move in three columns, as nearly as possible upon the heels of the enemy. Headquarters, itself, was ordered to move to Creagerstown that evening, twenty-two miles distant. This, I think, was before the result of General Sedgwick's reconnoissance had become known.

Subsequently all the orders for moving were countermanded, and the various corps halted from Sunday night until Tuesday morning. Headquarters remained at a point ten miles south-east of Gettysburgh until that time.

In the mean time our cavalry were rapidly developing the line of the enemy's retreat. Instead of moving toward Chambersburgh, which is almost south-west of Gettysburgh, Lee took a shorter line of retreat, and at once seized the two upper gaps in the South-Mountain, namely, the gap leading from Fairfield through Jack's Mountain to Waynesboro, known as Fountaindale Gap, and the gap through which passes the road from Emmnittsburgh to Waynesboro and Greencastle, known as Monterey Gap. Then by the country roads, in a south-westerly direction, toward Hagerstown.

There were then left to General Meade two routes to pursue-one to follow directly on the heels of the enemy, and fight him in these gaps, or march at once for Harmon's, Braddock's, Turner's, and Crampton's Gaps, in South-Mountain range-all below those occupied by the enemy.

The latter route was adopted, involving an average of march of from fifteen to twenty miles further than the enemy had to go, and on Tues-day morning, two days after Lee had fully abandoned his position, the army was put upon forced marches for the western slope of the South-Mountain. The general rendezvous of the corps was Middletown, in the valley, between the Catoctin and South-Mountain ranges. Four or five of the army corps entered this valley by a road six or eight miles north of Frederick, while two or three of them moved around by the angle of Frederick, and thence west into the Middle-town Valley.

The concentration of the different corps at Middletown was made substantially on Wednes-day night — some being in advance, some at, and some just in the rear of Middletown. Headquarters, which made a single leap of thirty-five miles from Gettysburgh to Frederick on Tuesday, moved to Middletown on Wednesday.

On Thursday, July ninth, the march was re-sulned, the Second and Twelfth corps passing down the Middletown Valley to Crampton's Gap, eight miles below Turner's Gap, through which the balance of the army passed. Thursday night's headquarters were moved to the Mountain House in the Gap, four miles west of Middletown.

On Friday, the army was all well over the mountain, well in hand for attack or defence more so by far than when the enemy made this attack at Gettysburgh, for the corps were then twenty miles away. Thursday night, the Sixth corps, which was in advance, had pushed out four miles beyond Boonsboro, or within three miles of Funkstown, Buford's cavalry having gallantly cleared the road after two days severe fighting with Stuart.

On Friday, the headquarters of General Meade were established near Antietam Bridge, on the Williamsport road, three miles west of Boonsboro, and seven miles south of Hagerstown, they remaining there until Tuesday night.

From Friday until Tuesday morning, our average advance against the enemy was about three miles. During this time our line was formed on the west side of the Antietam, and we approached the enemy to within a distance ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half. Here we fell to throwing up works of defence.

The lines of the two armies were from six to eight miles long, that of the enemy being the longest. Of course, thus extended, both were very weak, and the advantage rested with the party who made a vigorous and sudden attack. I believe I am correct in saying that we never fully compelled the enemy to develop his line. We knew he had one, but its exact location, character, and strength was not, as far as I am able to learn, fully ascertained. There is good evidence, however, for the belief that the chief portion of the enemy's works were thrown up between Thursday and Monday. What little information we got of their doings tended to show this. In addition, they kept up an exceedingly stubborn front, with their pickets and skirmishers, and acted in every way just as we know they always do, when they wish to conceal some inportant movement — just as we do when we desire to do the same thing.

On Sunday evening a council of the corps commanders, also attended by the Chief Engineer. the Chief of Cavalry, and the Chief of Staff, was held. The question of attacking the enemy was discussed. Of the seven infantry corps commanders, five opposed an attack and two favored it-Generals Howard and Wadsworth. In addition, General Warren, Chief Engineer, and General Pleasanton, commanding the Cavalry corps, earnestly favored a forward movement, as they had not failed to do from the first. A council was said to be necessary, because it was the only way, in view of the active nature of the campaign thus far, by which a correct idea of the efficiency of each corps could be ascertained. It is worthy of note that Generals Howard and Wadsworth, who advised an attack, were the weakest in numbers.

What General Meade's own inclination was I am not positively informed, but I think he desired to push ahead, but finally deferred to the opinion of the majority of his subordinates. A consideration which, doubtless, had some influence in delaying a movement, was the fact that reenforcements were slowly arriving, and we were


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George G. Meade (3)
Wadsworth (2)
Sedgwick (2)
R. E. Lee (2)
Melvin F. Howard (2)
Henry Warren (1)
J. E. B. Stuart (1)
A. Pleasanton (1)
Abraham Buford (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: