IX. “my Maryland” --Lee's invasion.
been verbally charged with the command of the defenses of Washington; and was, upon fuller advices of Pope
's disasters, invested2
by the President
and Gen. Halleck
with the entire control, not only of those fortifications, but of “all the troops for the defense of the capital,” in obedience to the imperious demand of a large majority of the surviving officers and soldiers.
's original army had in great part been demolished; while that brought from the Peninsula
had been taught to attribute the general ill-fortune not to the tardiness and heartlessness wherewith Pope
had been reenforced and supported by their leaders, but to his own incapacity, presumption, and folly.
McClellan at once ordered a concentration of his forces within the defenses of Washington; where they were soon prepared to resist the enemy, but whither Lee
had no idea of following them.
Having been joined3
by D. H. Hill
's fresh division, from Richmond
, he sent that division at once in the van of his army to Leesburg
; thence crossing, the Potomac
and moving on Frederick
followed with a heavy corps, consisting of A. P. Hill
's, and his own divisions) embracing 14 brigades, crossing4
at White's Ford
and moving on Frederick
, which was occupied on the 6th, without resistance.
, with the rest of his army, rapidly followed, concentrating at Frederick
; whence he issued the following seductive address:
The fond expectations which had prompted this address were never realized.
had no gluttonous appetite for fighting on the side of the Union
; still less for risking their lives in support of the Confederacy
All who were inclined to fighting on that side had found their way into the Rebel
lines long before; there being little difficulty in stealing across the Potomac
, and none at all in crossing by night to Virginia
from the intensely disloyal, slaveholding counties of south-western Maryland
In vain was Gen. Bradley T. Johnson
--who had left Frederick
at the outset of the war to serve in the Rebel
army — made Provost-Marshal
of that town, recruiting offices opened, and all manner of solicitations to enlistment set forth.
The number of recruits won to the Rebel
standard while it floated over Maryland
probably just about equaled its loss by deserters — say from 200 to 300.
The conduct of the Rebel
soldiery was in the main exemplary.
Hungry, ragged, and shoeless, as they often were, they rarely entered a house except by order, and never abused women; but cattle, horses, and everything that might contribute to the subsistence or efficiency of an army, were seized by wholesale, not only for present use, but thousands of animals were driven across the Potomac
to replenish their wasted and inadequate resources.
was early apprised6
of the disappearance of the Rebels
from his front, and soon advised that they were crossing into Maryland
His several corps were accordingly brought across the Potomac
and posted on the north of Washington
; which city he left7
in command of Gen. Banks
, making his headquarters that night with the 6th corps, at Rockville
He moved slowly, because uncertain, as were his superiors, that the Rebel
movement across the Potomac
was not a feint.
But his advance, after a brisk skirmish, on the 12th entered Frederick
, which the Rebels
had evacuated, moving westward, during the two preceding days, and through which his main body passed next day. Here he was so lucky as to obtain a copy of Lee
's general order
, only four days old, developing his prospective movements, as follows:
had thus, by a rare stroke of good fortune, become possessed of his adversary's designs, when it was too late to change them, and when it could not be known to that adversary, at least until developed by counteracting movements, that he had this knowledge, and was acting upon it. Lee
had ventured the hazardous maneuver of dividing his army in a hostile country, and placing a considerable and treacherous, though fordable, river between its parts, while an enemy superior in numbers to the whole of it hung closely upon its rear.
Such strategy must have been dictated by an ineffable contempt either for the capacity of his antagonist or for the most obvious rules of war.
The order above given rendered it clear not only that Harper
's Ferry was Lee
's object, and that Jackson
's corps and Walker
's division were ere this across the Potomac
in eager quest of it, but that only McLaws
's corps--20,000 men at the utmost — was now between our whole army and the coveted prize.
Our corps happened then to be mainly concentrated around Frederick
; but Franklin
's division — nearly 17,000 strong — was some miles southward, and thus nearer to Harper's Ferry
, and in front of McLaws
instantly put his whole army in motion, marching by the left flank on parallel roads leading directly toward the Potomac
and the Ferry
, and sending orders to Franklin
to advance and either force his way to the Ferry
or engage whomsoever might attempt to resist him, assured that corps after corps would follow swiftly his advance and second his attacks, McLaws
must have been utterly crushed before sunset of the 14th, and Harper's Ferry
relieved by midnight at farthest.
That, instead of this, McClellan
should have advanced his main body on the road tending rather north of west, through Turner's Gap to Boonsborough
, rather than on roads leading to Crampton's Gap and to the Potomac
, is unexplained and inexplicable.
The ‘South Mountain
’ range of hills, which stretch north-eastwardly from the Potomac
, are a modified continuation of Virginia
's “Blue Ridge
,” as the less considerable Catoctin range, near Frederick
, are an extension of the “Bull Run
Between them is the valley of Catoctin creek
, some ten miles wide at the Potomac
, but narrowing
to a point at its head.
Several roads cross both ranges; the best being the National Road
(the chief village of the Catoctin Valley
), to Hagerstown
, having divided his army in order to swoop down on Harper's Ferry
, was compelled by McClellan
's quickened and assured pursuit, based on the captured order aforesaid, to fight all our army with half of his own — reversing the strategy usual in this quarter; for, if McClellan
's advance were not impeded, Harper's Ferry
would be relieved.
So, Gen. Pleasanton
, leading our cavalry advance on the road to Hagerstown
, encountered some resistance8
at the crossing of Catoctin creek
; but, skirmishing occasionally with Stuart
's cavalry, pressed on, backed by Cox
's division of Burnside
's corps, to find the enemy in force before Turner's Gap of South Mountain
, a few miles beyond.
This gap is about 400 feet high; the crests on either side rising some 600 feet higher; the old Hagerstown
and Sharpsburg roads, half a mile to a mile distant, on either side, rising higher than the National Road
, and materially increasing the difficulty of holding the pass against a largely superior force.
, in his eagerness to grasp the prize whereon he was intent, and in his confident assurance that McClellan
would continue the cautious and hesitating movement of six or seven miles a day by which he had hitherto advanced from Washington
, had pushed Longstreet
forward on Jackson
's track to Hagerstown
whence six of his brigades, under Anderson
, had been sent to cooperate with McLaws
against Maryland Heights
and Harper's Ferry
This left only D. H. Hill
's division of five brigades to hold Turner's Gap and tie adjacent passes, with such help as might be afforded by Stuart
's cavalry; Stuart
having reported to Hill
, on the 13th, that only two brigades were pursuing them.
He was undeceived, however, when, at 7 A. M. next morning, Cox
's division of Burnside
's corps advanced up the turnpike from Middletown
, preceded by Pleasanton
's cavalry and a battery, and opened on that defending the Gap
; while by far the larger portion of the Army of the Potomac could be seen, by the aid of a good field-glass, from a favorable position on the mountain, either advancing across the valley or winding down the opposite heights into it.
reports his division as but 5,000 strong; and even this small force had been somewhat dispersed in pursuance of the orders of Lee
and the erroneous information of Stuart
The brigade of Gen. Garland
, which was first pushed forward to meet our advance, was instantly and badly cut up, its commander being killed; when it retired in disorder, and was replaced by that of Anderson
, supported by those of Rhodes
, who held the pass firmly for hours against the most gallant efforts of Cox
's Ohio regiments.
But, meanwhile, our superior numbers, backed by desperate fighting, enabled us steadily to gain ground on either side, until the crest of the heights on the left of the pass was fairly ours, though one of our batteries had
meantime been all but lost; its gunners having been shot down or driven off, and its guns saved from capture only by a determined charge of the 23d Ohio, 100th Pennsylvania, and 45th New York.
The rattle of musketry ceased at noon, and for two hours only the roar of cannon was heard; the combatants on either side awaiting the arrival of reenforcements.
Hitherto, only Reno
's division on our side, and Hill
's on that of the Rebels
, had been engaged.
But, at 2 P. M., Hooker
's corps came up on our side, and took the old Hagerstown road, leading away from the turnpike on our right, with intent to flank and crush the Rebel
At 3 P. M., our line of battle was formed, with Ricketts
's division on the right; King
's, commanded by Hatch
, in the center, with its right resting on the turnpike, and Reno
's on the left; and a general advance commenced, under a heavy fire of artillery.
had sent pressing messages to Longstreet
, at Hagerstown
, for help; and two brigades had already arrived; as Longstreet
himself, with seven more brigades, did very soon afterward; raising the Rebel
force in action thereafter to some 25,000 or 30,000 men. Longstreet
, ranking Hill
, of course took command; little to the satisfaction of Hill
, who evidently thinks he
could have done much better.10
The enemy's advantage in position was still very great, every movement on our part being plainly visible to them; while we could know nothing of their positions nor their strength, except from their fire and its effect.
Our men were constantly struggling up rocky steeps, mainly wooded, where every wall, or fence, or inequality of ground, favors the combatants who stand on the defensive.
The disparity in numbers between those actually engaged was not very great — possibly three to two--but then, our men were inspirited by the
consciousness that a great army stood behind them.
Still, the ground was stubbornly contested, foot by foot; Gen. Hatch
, commanding the 1st division, being disabled by a wound, and succeeded by Gen. A. Doubleday
. Col. Wain
-wright, 76th New York, who now took command of Doubleday
's brigade, was likewise wounded.
steadily advanced; and had fairly flanked and worsted the Rebel
left, when darkness put an end to the fray.
The struggle on our left commenced later, and was signalized by similar gallantry on both sides; but numbers prevailed over desperation, and the Rebels
were steadily forced back until the crest of the mountain was won. Here fell, about sunset, Maj.-Gen. Jesse L. Reno
, mortally wounded by a musket-ball, while, at the head of his division, he was watching through a glass the enemy's movements.
, with the Pennsylvania Reserves, had followed Hooker
from Catoctin creek
up the old Hagerstown road, so far as Mount Tabor church.
He went into action on the right of Hatch
's division, and was soon heavily engaged; his brigades being admirably handled by Gen. Seymour
and Cols. Magilton
, the last of whom was wounded.
It had not fully reached the summit in its front, when darkness arrested the conflict.
's brigade of Ricketts
's division, which had been ordered to its support, was just then coming into action.
Our advance up the turnpike in the center, being contingent on success at either side, was made last, by Gibbon
's brigade of Hatch
's, and Hartsuff
's of Ricketts
's division; the artillery fighting its way up the road, with the infantry supporting on either side.
The struggle here was obstinate, and protracted till 9 o'clock, when Gibbon
's brigade had nearly reached the top of the pass, and had exhausted every cartridge; suffering, of course, severely.
At midnight, it was relieved by Gorman
's brigade of Sumner
's corps, which, with Williams
's, had reached the foot of the mountain a little after dark.
's division had also arrived, and taken position in the rear of Hooker
; while Sykes
's division of regulars and the artillery reserve had halted for the night at Middletown
; so that McClellan
had most of his army in hand, ready to renew the action next morning.
, who was also present, and whose end had been secured by the precious hours here gained for his Harper's Ferry
operations, withdrew his forces during the night; so that, when our skirmishers advanced next morning, they encountered only the dead and the desperately wounded.11
states his losses in this affair at 312 killed, 1,234 wounded, and 22 missing: total, 1,568; claims about 1,500 prisoners--no guns — and says: “The loss to the enemy in killed was much greater than our own, and probably also in wounded.”
This is hardly credible; since the Rebels
fought with every advantage of position and shelter, and were nowhere so driven as to lose heavily by a fire upon huddled, disorganized masses, when retreating in disorder.12
, with the 6th corps, composed of his own, Couch
's, and Sykes
's divisions, forming the left wing of McClellan
's army, had advanced cautiously up the north bank of the Potomac
, through Tenallytown
, and Poolesville
— his right passing through Rockville
— until McClellan
's discovery that Lee
had divided his army in order to clutch Harper's Ferry
induced a general quickening of movement on our side.
Still advancing, he approached, at noon on the 14th, the pass through Crampton's Gap in the South Mountain
, just beyond Burkettsville
, several miles south-westward of that at which Burnside
, leading our main advance, had, some hours earlier, found his march obstructed by Hill
Before him was Howell Cobb
, with two or three brigades of McLaws
's division, whereof the larger portion was some miles farther on, operating against Maryland Heights
and Harper's Ferry
afforded good positions for defense; but the disparity of numbers was decisive; and Cobb
— who, of course, had orders to hold on at any cost — was finally driven out, after a smart contest of four or five hours, wherein his force was badly cut up. Our loss here was 115 killed and 418 wounded; our trophies, 400 prisoners, one gun, and 700 small arms.
but have realized how precious were the moments, he was still in time to have relieved Harper's Ferry
; whence, following up his advantage with moderate vigor, he was but six miles distant when it surrendered at 8 next morning.
, leaving Frederick
on the 10th, had pushed swiftly through Middletown
, where he recrossed the Potomac
next day; striking thence at Martinsburg
, which was held by Gen. Julius White
, with some 2,000 Unionists
, warned of Jackson
's approach in overwhelming strength, fled during the night of the 11th to Harper's Ferry
; where he found Col. D. S. Miles
, of Bull Run
dishonor, in command of some 10,000 men, partly withdrawn from Winchester
and other points up the Valley
, but in good part composed of green regiments, hastily levied on tidings of the Chickahominy
disasters, and officered by local politicians, who had never yet seen a shot fired at a line of armed men. White
ranked Miles, and should have taken command; but he waived his right in deference to Miles
's experience as an old army officer, and offered to serve under him; which was accepted.
, who had cheaply acquired
a good supply of provisions and munitions at Martinsburg
, did not allow himself to be detained by them; but, hurrying on, was before Harper's Ferry
at 11 A. M. of the 13th.
Waiting only to ascertain that McLaws
, who was to cooperate on the other side of the Potomac
, and Walker
, who was dispatched simultaneously from Frederick
, with orders to cross the Potomac
at Point of Rocks
and come up on the south, so as to shut in and assail our garrison from that side of the Shenandoah
, were already in position, he ordered A. P. Hill
, with his division, to move down the north bank of the Shenandoah
into Harper's Ferry
; while Lawton
, with Ewell
's, and J. R. Jones
, with Jackson
's own division, were to advance upon and threaten the beleaguered Unionists
farther and farther to their right.
is little more than a deep ravine or gorge, commanded on three sides by steep mountains, and of course defensible only from one or more of these.
A commander who was neither a fool nor a traitor, seeing enemies swarming against him from every side, would either have evacuated in haste, and tried to make his way out of the trap, or concentrated his force on one of the adjacent heights, and here held out, until time had been afforded for his relief.
Miles did neither.
the 32d Ohio, Col. T. H. Ford
, on Maryland Heights
; where they were reenforced14
by the 39th and 126th New York, and next day by the 115th New York and part of a Maryland regiment.
's requisition for axes and spades was not filled; and the only 10 axes that could be obtained were used in constructing15
a slight breastwork of trees near the crest, with an abatis in its front; where McLaws
's advance appeared and commenced skirmishing the same day.
An attack in force was made, early next morning,16
and was repulsed; but was followed at 9 o'clock by another and more determined, when--Col.
E. She<*>ill, 126th New York, being severely wounded — his regiment broke and fled in utter rout, and the remaining regiments soon followed the example, alleging an order to retreat from Maj. Hewitt
, who denied having given it. Our men were rallied after running a short distance, and reoccupied part of the ground they had so culpably abandoned, but did not regain their breastwork; and of course left the enemy in a commanding position.
At 2 o'clock next morning17 Ford
, without being further assailed, abandoned the Heights
, so far as we still retained them, spiking his guns: 4 of which, at a later hour in the morning, were brought off by four companies, under Maj. Wood
, who went over on a reconnoissance and encountered no opposition.
, with his own and Anderson
's divisions, leaving Frederick
on the 10th, had entered Pleasant Valley
, on the 11th; and, perceiving at once that Maryland Heights
was the key of the position, had sent18 Kershaw
, with his own and Barksdale
's brigades, up a rugged mountain road, impracticable for artillery, to the crest of the Elk Mountains
, two or three miles northward of Maryland Heights
, with orders to follow along that crest, and so approach and carry our position; while Wright
's brigade, with 2 guns, was to take post on the southern face of South Mountain
, and so command all the approaches along the Potomac
, with the rest of his force, save the brigades holding Crampton's Gap, moved down Pleasant Valley
to the river.
advanced according to order, through dense woods and over very rough ground, until he encountered and worsted Ford
's command on the Heights
, as we have seen; while Wright
took, unopposed, the positions assigned them, and McLaws
advanced to Sandy Hook
, barring all egress from Harper's Ferry
down the Potomac
The morning of the 14th was spent by McLaws
in cutting a road practicable for artillery to the crest of Maryland Heights
, whence fire was opened from 4 guns at 2 P. M.; not only shelling our forces at the Ferry
, but commanding our position on Bolivar Heights, beyond it. Before night, Walker
's guns opened likewise from Loudon Heights, and Jackson
's batteries were playing from several points, some of them enfilading our batteries on Bolivar Heights; while shots from others reached our helpless and huddled men in their rear.
During the night, Col. Crutchfield
's chief of artillery, ferried 10 of Ewell
's guns across the Shenandoah
, and established them where they could take in reverse our best intrenchments on Bolivar Heights; soon compelling their evacuation and our retreat to an inferior position, considerably nearer the Ferry
, and of course more exposed to and commanded by McLaws
's guns on Maryland Heights
At 9 P. M.,19
our cavalry, some 2,000 strong, under Col. Davis
, 12th Illinois, made their escape from the Ferry
, across the pontoon-bridge, to the Maryland
bank; passing up the Potomac
unassailed, through a region swarming with enemies, to the mouth of the Antietam, thence striking northward across Maryland
, reaching Greencastle, Pa.
, next morning; having captured by the way the ammunition train of Gen. Longstreet
, consisting of 50 to 60 wagons.
Miles assented to this escape; but refused permission to infantry officers who asked leave to cut their way out: saying he was ordered to hold the Ferry
to the last extremity.
Next morning at daybreak,20
batteries reopened from seven commanding points, directing their fire principally at our batteries on Bolivar Heights.
At 7 A. M., Miles stated to Gen. White
that a surrender was inevitable, his artillery ammunition being all but exhausted; when the brigade commanders were called together and assented.
A white flag was thereupon raised; but the Rebels
, not perceiving it, continued their fire some 30 to 40 minutes, whereby Miles was mortally wounded.
was just impelling a general infantry attack, when informed that the
white flag had been raised on the defenses.
At 8 A. M., a capitulation was agreed to, under which 11,583 men were passed over to the enemy — about half of them New Yorkers; the residue mainly from Ohio
Nearly all were raw levies; some of them militia, called out for three months. Among the spoils were 73 guns, ranging from excellent to worthless; 13,000 small arms, 200 wagons, and a large quantity of tents and camp-equipage.
Of horses, provisions, and munitions, the captures were of small account.
, whose appreciation of the value of time was unsurpassed, did not wait to receive the surrender; but, leaving that duty to Hill
, hurried off the mass of his followers to rejoin Gen. Lee
; and, by marching day and night, reached the Antietam
It is impossible to resist the conclusion that Miles, in this affair, acted the part of a traitor.
He had been ordered, one month before his surrender, to fortify Maryland Heights
; which he totally neglected to do. He refused or neglected to send the axes and spades required by Col. Ford
, giving no reason therefor.
He paroled, on the 13th, 16 Rebel prisoners, authorizing them to pass out of our lines into those of the enemy; thus giving the Rebel
commanders the fullest knowledge of all wherewith ours should have wished to keep them ignorant.
Another Rebel, an officer named Rouse
, who had been captured and had escaped, being retaken, was allowed a private interview by Miles, and thereupon paroled to go without our lines.
He, still under parole, appeared in arms at the head of his men, among the first to enter our lines after the surrender.
As to Gen. McClellan
, his most glaring fault in the premises would seem to have been his designation22
of Col. Miles
, after his shameful behavior at Bull Run
, to the command of a post so important as Harper's Ferry
It is easy now to reproach him with the slowness of his advance from Washlington to Frederick
; but it must be borne in mind that his force consisted of the remains of two beaten armies — his own and Pope
's;--not so much strengthened as swelled by raw troops, hastily levied for an emergency; while opposed to him was an army of veterans, inferior indeed in numbers, but boasting of a succession of victories from first Bull Run
onward, and proudly regarding itself as invincible.
Perplexed as to Lee
's intentions, and hampered by the necessity of covering at once Washington
moved slowly, indeed; but only a great military genius, or a rash, headstrong fool, would have ventured to do otherwise.
After he learned at Frederick
had divided his army, in his eagerness to clutch the tempting prize, McClellan
blundered sadly in not hurling his army at once on McLaws
, and thus cutting his way swiftly to the Ferry
; yet, with all his mistakes, he moved vigorously enough to have seasonably relieved Miles, had that officer evinced loyalty and decent fitness for his position, or had Ford
defended Maryland Heights
with vigor and tenacity.
's insisting that Harper
's Ferry should be held, after he knew
that the Rebel
army had crossed into Maryland
, is one of those puzzles so frequently exhibited in the strategy of that Generalissimo, which must find their solution in some higher, subtler, and more leisurely existence.
, at 3 A. M. of the 15th, was aware — for he telegraphed to Halleck
— that he had been fighting the forces of D. H. Hill
; that they had disappeared from his front; and that Franklin
had likewise been completely successful at Crampton's Gap, on his left.
He says in this dispatch: “The enemy disappeared during the night; our troops are now advancing in pursuit.”
At 8 A. M., he telegraphed again — still from Bolivar
, at the foot of Turner's Gap:
I have just learned from Gen. Hooker, in the advance — who states that the information is perfectly reliable — that the enemy is making for the river in a perfect panic; and Gen. Lee last night stated publicly that he must admit they had been shockingly whipped.
I am hurrying every thing forward to endeavor to press their retreat to the utmost.
Had even the last sentence of this dispatch been literally true, Lee
's destruction was imminent and certain.
It was now too late to save Harper's Ferry
— for it had this moment fallen — but not too late to superbly avenge it. With Lee
's order in his hand, McClellan
must have known that the forces from which he and Franklin
had just wrested the passes of the South Mountain
were all that Lee
had to depend upon, save those which he had detached and sent — mainly by long circuits — to reduce Harper's Ferry
, and which must now be mainly on the other side of the Potomac
Precious hours had been lost by massing on his right instead of his left, and fighting for Turner's Gap, when he should only by a feint have kept as many Rebels there as possible, while he poured the great body of his army, in overwhelming strength and with the utmost celerity, through Crampton's Gap, crushing McLaws
and relieving Harper's Ferry
But there was still time, if not to retrieve the error, at least to amend it. Our soldiers, flushed with unwonted victory, and full in the faith that they had just wrested two strong mountain-passes from the entire Rebel army, were ready for any effort, any peril.
To press forward with the utmost rapidity, and so relieve Harper's Ferry
, if that might still be, but at all events to crush that portion of the Rebel
army still north of the Potomac
, if it should stand at bay, and rout and shatter it should it attempt to ford the river; at the very worst, to interpose between it and the other half, under Jackson
, should it attempt to escape westward by Hagerstown
, and thus be in position to assail and overwhelm either half before it could unite with the other, was the course which seems to have been as obvious to McClellan
as it must be to every one else.
The advance was again led by Gen. Pleasanton
's cavalry, who overtook at Boonsborough
cavalry rear-guard, charged it with spirit, and routed it, capturing 250 prisoners and 2 gains.
's division, of Sumner
's corps, followed; pressing eagerly on that afternoon;23
and, after a march of 10 or 12 miles,
descried the Rebels
posted in force across Antietam creek
, in front of the little village of Sharpsburg
halted and deployed on the right of the road from Keedysville
, with his division of regulars, following closely after, came up and deployed on the left of that road.
himself, with three corps in all, came up during the evening.
had of course chosen a strong position; but delay could only serve to strengthen it, while giving opportunity for the arrival of Jackson
, and McLaws
, from Harper's Ferry
; which McClellan
now knew had fallen that morning: Franklin
having apprised him of the hour when the sound of guns from that quarter ceased.
then resolved to attack at daylight next morning,24
he might before noon have hurled 60,000 gallant troops against not more than half their number of Rebels; for, though Jackson
arrived with his overmarched men that morning, he left A. P. Hill
behind at the Ferry
, while McLaws
, still confronting Franklin
in Pleasant Valley
, was obliged to cross the Potomac
at Harper's Ferry
, and recross it at Shepherdstown
, in order to come up at all; and did not arrive until the morning of the 17th.
, clearing London Heights
and crossing the Shenandoah
on the 15th, had followed Jackson
during the night, and arrived at Shepherdstown
early on the morning of the 16th; crossing and reporting to Lee
, aware that every hour's delay was an inestimable advantage to him, made as great a display of force as possible throughout the 15th and 16th, though he thereby exposed his infantry — it seemed wantonly — to the fire of our artillery.
But, on the morning of the 17th, when our columns advanced to the attack, and the battle began in earnest, his whole army, save A. P. Hill
's division, being on hand, the regiments and brigades hitherto so ostentatiously paraded seemed to have sunk into the earth ; and nothing but grim and frowning batteries were seen covering, each hill-crest and trained on every stretch of open ground where-by our soldiers might attempt to scale those rugged steeps.
The struggle was inaugurated on the afternoon of the 16th, by our old familiar maneuver: Hooker
, on our right, being directed to flank and beat the enemy's left, backed by Sumner
, and Mansfield
, who were to come into action successively, somewhat nearer the enemy's center.
It would have been a serious objection, ten hours before, to this strategy, that it tended, event if successful, to concentrate the enemy, by driving him back on his divisions arriving or expected from Harper
Ferry, rather than to interpose between him and them.
moved at 4 P. M.; and, making a long detour, crossed the Antietam
out of sight and range of the Rebel
Turning at length sharply to the left, he came to an open field, with woods in front and on either side, whence our skirmishers were saluted by scattering shots, followed by volleys of musketry from the left and front.
— reconnoitering in the advance, as usual — halted and formed his lines; Ricketts
's division on the left; Meade
, with the Pennsylvania Reserves, in the center; while Doubleday
, on the right, planting his guns on a hill, opened at once on a Rebel battery that had begun to enfilade our center.
By this time, it was dark, and the firing soon ceased; the hostile infantry lying down for the night at points within half musket-shot of each other.
At daylight next morning26
the battle was commenced in earnest: the left of Meade
's and the right of Ricketts
's line becoming engaged at nearly the same moment, the former with artillery, the latter with infantry; while a battery was pushed forward beyond the woods directly in Hooker
's front, across a plowed field, to the edge of a corn-field beyond it, destined before night to be soaked with blood.
's thin division, which had confronted us at evening, had been withdrawn during the night, and replaced by Lawton
's and Trimble
's brigades of Ewell
's division, under Lawton
, with Jackson
's own division, under D. R. Jones
, on its left, supported by the remaining brigades of Ewell
was in chief command on this wing, and here was substantially his old corps around him. Against these iron soldiers, Hooker
's corps hurled itself, and, being superior in numbers, compelled them to give ground; but not until Jones
had been wounded, with many more field officers, and Starke
, who succeeded Jones
in command, killed.
Early, who succeeded Lawton
, was ordered by Jackson
to replace Jackson
's own division, which had suffered so severely and was so nearly out of ammunition that it had to be temporarily withdrawn from the combat.
By this time, Ricketts
had pushed the Rebel
line back across the corn-field and the road, into the woods beyond, and was following with eager, exulting cheers.
's division, somewhat refreshed, had by this time returned to the front, backed by the brigades of Ripley
(now under Col. McRae
), and D. R. Jones
, by whom the equilibrium of the fight was restored; our men being hurled back by terrible volleys from the woods, followed by a charge across the corn-field in heavy force.
called up his nearest brigade; but it was not strong enough, and he sent at once to Doubleday
: “Give me your best brigade instantly!”
That brigade came down the hill on our right at double-quick, and was led by Hartsuff
into the corn-field, and steadily up the slope beyond it, forming on the crest of the ridge, under a hurricane of shot and shell, and firing steadily and rapidly at the Rebel
masses just before them.
They held their position half an hour, unsupported, though many fell; among them their leader, Hartsuff
, wounded severely; until for a second time the enemy was driven out of the corn-field into the woods.
Meantime, both sides were strengthening this wing.
's division, having attempted to advance and failed, had fallen back.
Part of Mansfield
's corps had gone in to their aid, and been driven back likewise, with their General mortally wounded.
's guns were still busy on our extreme right, and had silenced a Rebel battery which for half an hour had enfiladed Hooker
sent word that he could not advance, but could hold his ground.
, with Crawford
's and Gordon
's fresh brigades of
's corps, came up to his support, determined again to advance and carry the woods to the right of and beyond the corn-field.
Going forward to reconnoiter on foot, Hooker
satisfied himself as to the nature of the ground, returned and remounted amid a shower of Rebel bullets, which he had all the morning disregarded; but the next moment a musket-ball went through his foot, inflicting a severe and intensely painful wound; which compelled him, after giving his orders fully and deliberately, to leave the field at 9 A. M. Sumner
, arriving at this moment, assumed command, sending forward Sedgwick
's division of his own corps to support Crawford
; while Richardson
, with his two remaining divisions, went forward farther to the left; Sedgwick
again advancing in line through the corn-field already won and lost.
But by this time McLaws
— who, by marching all night, had reached Shepherdstown
from Harper's Ferry
that morning, and instantly crossed — had been sent forward by Lee
to the aid of Jackson
; while Walker
's division had been hurried across from their as yet unassailed right.
's brigade was withdrawn from the front, while the fresh forces under Walker
advanced with desperate energy, seconded by Early
on their left.
was thrice badly wounded, and compelled to retire; Gens. Dana
were likewise wounded.
The 34th New York--which had broken at a critical moment, while attempting a maneuver under a terrible fire — was nearly cut to pieces; and the 15th Massachusetts, which went into action 600 strong, was speedily reduced to 134. Gen. Howard
, who took command of Sedgwick
's division, was unable to restore its formation, and Sumner
himself had no better success.
Again the center of our right gave back, and the corn-field was retaken by the enemy.
But the attempt of the Rebels
to advance beyond it, under the fire of our batteries, was repelled with heavy loss on their part; Col. Manning
, who led Walker
's own brigade, being severely wounded, and his brigade driven back.
, on our farther right, held firmly; and it seemed settled that, while either party could repel a charge on this part of the line, neither could afford to make one.
But now Franklin
had come up with his fresh corps, and formed on the left; Slocum
, commanding one of his divisions, was sent forward toward the center; while Smith
, with the other, was ordered to retake the ground that had been so long and so hotly contested.
It was no sooner said than done.
's regiments, cheering, went forward on a run, swept through the corn-field and the woods, cleared them in ten minutes, and held them.
Their rush was so sudden and unexpected that their loss was comparatively small; and the ground thus retaken was not again lost.
Nearer the center, French
's division of Sumner
's corps had attempted to carry the line of heights whereon the Rebels
were posted, and had made some progress, repulsing a countercharge and capturing a number of prisoners, with some flags.
Attempts successively to turn his right and then his left were foiled; but, after a bloody combat of four
hours, French paused, considerably in advance of the position on which the fight had commenced, but without having carried the heights.
's division of Sumner
's corps advanced on the left of French
, crossing the Antietam
at 9 1/2 A. M., and going steadily forward under a heavy artillery fire, half way up from the creek to Sharpsburg
, over very rugged ground, much of it covered with growing corn, and intersected by stone walls, which afforded every advantage to the defensive.
The musketry fire on both sides was severe; but our men steadily gained ground; Caldwell
's and Meagher
's (Irish) brigade vieing with each other in steadiness and gallantry.
Here Col. Francis C. Barlow
, of Caldwell
's brigade, signalized himself by seizing an opportunity to advance the 61st and 64th New York on the left, and take in flank a Rebel force, which, sheltered by a sunken road, was attempting to enfilade our line, capturing over 300 prisoners and 3 flags.
The left of this division being now well advanced, the enemy, maneuvering behind a ridge, attempted to take it in flank and rear, but was signally defeated ; the 5th New Hampshire and the 81st Pennsylvania facing to the left and meeting their charge by a countercharge, which was entirely successful.
Some prisoners and the colors of the 4th North Carolina remained in our hands.
The enemy next assailed the right of this division; but Col. Barlow
, again advancing his two New York regiments, aided by Kimball
's brigade on the right, easily repulsed it. Next, a charge was made directly on Richardson
's front, which was defeated as before, and our line still farther advanced as far as Dr. Piper
's house, very near to Sharpsburg
, and about the center of the Rebel
army at the beginning of the battle.
Here artillery was brought up — this division having thus far fought without it — and, while personally directing the fire of Capt. Graham
's battery, 1st U. S. Artillery, Richardson
fell mortally wounded, and was succeeded by Hancock
had fallen some time before: the command of his brigade devolving on Col. Burke
, of the 63d New York. One or two more attempts or menaces were made on this part of our line, but not in great force; and, though its advance was drawn back a little to avoid an enfilading fire from Rebel batteries, to which it could not respond, it held its well advanced position when night closed the battle.
's corps, in our center, holding the roads from Sharpsburg
, remained unengaged, east of the Antietam
, until late in the afternoon; when two brigades of it were sent by McClellan
to support our right; while six battalions of Sykes
's regulars were thrown across the bridge on the main road to repel Rebel sharp-shooters, who were annoying Pleasanton
's horse-batteries at that point.
's brigade was detached and sent to the right and rear of Burnside
, leaving but little over 3,000 men with Porter
's corps held our extreme left, opposite the lowest of the three bridges crossing the Antietam
He was ordered, at 8 A. M., to cross this one, which was held by Gen. R. Toombs
, with the 2d and 20th Georgia, backed by some sharp-shooters and
the batteries of Gen. D. R. Jones
, on Longstreet
's right wing.
Several feeble attempts to execute this order having been successively repulsed, Burnside
was further ordered to carry not only the bridge but the heights beyond, and advance along their crest upon Sharpsburg
; but it was not till 1 P. M. that the bridge was actually taken, by a charge of the 51st New York and the 51st Pennsylvania; the enemy making no serious resistance, and retreating to the heights as our troops came over in force.
More hours passed idly; and it was after 3 P. M. before Burnside
, under peremptory orders, charged up the heights, carrying them handsomely; some of his troops reaching even the outskirts of Sharpsburg
It was an easy but a short-lived triumph ; for, thus far, Lee
had been able to spare but about 3,000 men, under D. R. Jones
, to hold this flank of his position.
Had this success been obtained hours earlier, it might have proved decisive.
The Rebel forces throughout the greater part of the day had abundant occupation on our right, so that Lee
was unable to spare sufficient troops to resist a determined advance by our left; but now, just as victory seemed to smile upon our arms, A. P. Hill
's division — which had only been ordered from Harper's Ferry
that morning, and started at 7 1/2 o'clock--came on the ground, and, covered by a heavy fire of artillery, charged our extreme left, when disordered by charging and fighting, and drove it back in still greater confusion.
, who commanded it, was mortally wounded; and the enemy, rallying with spirit and redoubling the fire of his artillery, charged in front and flank, and drove our men in confusion down the hill toward the Antietam
, pursuing until checked by the fire of our batteries across the river.
Gen. L. O'B. Branch
, of N. C.
, was killed in this charge.
Our reserves on the left bank now advancing, while our batteries redoubled their fire, the Rebels
wisely desisted, without attempting to carry the bridge, and retired to their lines on the heights, as darkness put an end to the fray.
, during the afternoon, had been ordered by Lee
to turn our right and attack it in flank and rear; but, on reconnoitering for this purpose, he found our line extended nearly to the Potomac
, and so strongly defended with artillery that to carry it was impossible; so he declined to make the attempt.
So closed, indecisively, the bloodiest day that America
states his strength — no doubt truly — in this battle at 87,164, including 4,320 cavalry, which was of small account on such ground and in such a struggle.
's division, 5,000 strong, had been sent away toward Harper's Ferry
— evidently through some misapprehension — and only arrived at a late hour next morning;27
as did Humphrey
's division of raw recruits, which had left Frederick
--23 miles distant--at 4 1/2 P. M. of the sanguinary 17th.
's strength at 97,445, including 6,000 artillery (400 guns), 6,400 cavalry, and making Jackson
's corps number 24,778--all far too high.
says he had “under 40,000 men;” which probably includes neither cavalry nor A. P. Hill
's division; and perhaps not
's. The Richmond Enquirer
of the 23d (four days after the battle) says it has “authentic particulars” of the battle; and that “the ball was opened on Tuesday evening about 6 o'clock, by all of our available force, 60,000 strong, commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee
And this seems to be the more probable aggregate.
, in his “Southern history of the War
,” says of this battle: “It was fought for half the day with 45,000 men on the Confederate
side; and for the remaining half with no more than an aggregate of 70,000 men.”
makes his entire loss in this battle 12,469: 2,010 killed, 9,416 wounded, and 1,043 missing; and says his army counted and buried “about 2,700” of the enemy, beside those buried by themselves: whence he estimates their total loss as “much greater” than ours.
As the Rebels
fought mainly on the defensive, under shelter of woods, and on ground commanded by their artillery, this might seem improbable.
(writing his report on the 6th of March following) is silent as to his losses, while the account of them given as complete in the official publication of “Reports of the Operations of the Army of Virginia, from June, 1862, to Dec. 13th, 1862,” is palpably and purposely an under-statement.
That account makes the total Rebel loss in the Maryland
battles only 10,291: viz., killed, 1,567; wounded, 8,724; and says nothing of missing; while McClellan
gives details of considerable captures on several occasions, and sums up as follows:
Thirteen guns, 39 colors, upward of 15,000 stand of small arms, and more than 6,000 prisoners, were the trophies which attest the success of our arms in the battles of South Mountain, Crampton's Gap, and Antietam.
Not a single gun or color was lost by our army during these battles.
And the reports of Lee
's corps or division commanders give the following aggregates:
D. H. Hill
| ||Killed.||Wounded.||Missing. ||Total.|
|D. H. Hill's||464 ||1,852||925||3,241|
|A. P. Hill's28 ||63||283||-- ||346|
reports 3,241 disabled, including 4 Colonels
, out of less than 5,000; and Lawton
's brigade lost 554 out of 1,150.
Among the Rebel
killed were Maj.-Gen. Starke
, of Miss.
, Brig.-Gens. L. O'B. Branch
, of N. C.
, and G. B. Anderson
; Cols. Douglass
's brigade), Liddell
, 11th Miss., Tew
, 2d N. C., Barnes
, 12th S. C., Mulligan
, 15th Ga., Barclay
, 23d do., and Smith
, 27th do. Among their wounded were Maj.-Gen. R. H. Anderson
, Brig.-Gens. Lawton
, of S. C.
, R. Toombs
, of Ga.
, of course, did not care to renew the battle on the morrow of such a day; and McClellan
, though reenforced that morning by about 14,000 men, stood still also.
He says he purposed to renew the combat the next morning;29
but, when his cavalry advance reached the river, they discovered that Lee
had quietly moved off across the Potomac
during the night, leaving us only his dead and some 2,000 of his desperately wounded.
having posted 8 batteries on the Virginia bluffs
of the Potomac
, supported by 600 infantry under Pendleton
to cover his crossing, Gen. Porter
, at dark,30
sent across Gen. Griffin
, with his own and Barnes
's brigades, to carry them.
This was gallantly done, under the fire of those batteries, and 4 guns taken; but a reconnoissance in force, made by part of Porter
's division next morning31
was ambushed by A. P. Hill
, a mile from the ford, and driven pell-mell into the river, with considerable loss, after a brief struggle; the Rebels
taking 200 prisoners. They held that bank thenceforth unmolested until next day, and then quietly disappeared.
moved westward, with the bulk of his army, to the Opequan creek
, near Martinsburg
; his cavalry, under Stuart
, recrossing the Potomac
, whence he escaped on the approach of Gen. Couch
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was now pretty thoroughly destroyed for some distance by the Rebels
--neither for the first nor the last time.
sent forward Gen. Williams
on his left to retake Maryland Heights
, which he did32
without opposition; as Gen. Sumner
, two days later, occupied Harper's Ferry
soon retired to the vicinity of Bunker Hill
; whence, seeing that he was not pursued nor imperiled by McClellan
, he dispatched33 Stuart
, with 1,800 cavalry, on a bold raid into Pennsylvania
Crossing the Potomac
pushed on rapidly to Chambersburg
, where he destroyed a large amount of supplies; and, retiring as hurriedly as he came, he made a second circuit of McClellan
's army, recrossing without loss into Virginia
at White's Ford
, below Harper's Ferry
, hearing he had gone on this raid, felt entirely confident that he could not escape destruction, and made extensive preparations to insure it; but his plans were foiled by lack of energy and zeal.
paroled at Chambersburg
275 sick and wounded, whom he found there in hospital; burned the railroad depot, machineshops, and several trains of loaded cars, destroying 5,000 muskets and large amounts of army clothing.
Perhaps these paid the Rebels
for their inevitable waste of horse-flesh, and perhaps not.
Here ensued a renewal of the old game of cross-purposes — McClellan
calling loudly and frequently for reenforcemenets, horses, clothing, shoes, and supplies of all kinds, which were readily promised, but not always so promptly supplied ; Halleck
sending orders to advance, which were not obeyed with alacrity, if at all. A distemper among the horses throw 4,000 out of service, in addition to the heavy losses by Rebel bullets and by over-work.
states that McClellan
's army had 31,000 horses on the 14th of October; McClellan
responds that 10,980 were required to move ten days provisions for that army, now swelled to 110,000 men, beside 12,000 teamsters, &c.; and that, after picketing the line of the Potomac
, he had not 1,000 desirable cavalry.
His entire cavalry force was 5,046; his artillery horses, 6,836; he needed 17,832 animals to draw his forage; so that he was still 10,000 short of the number actually required for an advance.
At length, Gen. McClellan
, between the 26th of October and the 2d of November; and, moving unopposed down the east side of the Blue Ridge
's army being still in the Valley
, but moving parallel with ours), occupied Snicker's Gap and Manassas
; and had advanced to Warrenton
, when he was relieved from command,34
directed to turn it over to Gen. Burnside
, and report by letter from Trenton, N. J.
; which he proceeded forthwith to do. Thus ended his active participation in the war.