this preliminary report nothing more than a sketch of the main features of this great engagement, reserving for my official report, based upon the reports of the corps commanders, that full description of details which shall place upon record the achievements of individuals and of particular bodies of troops. The design was to make the main attack upon the enemy's left — at least, to create a diversion in favor of the main attack, with the hope of something more — by assailing the enemy's right, and as soon as one or both of the flank movements were fully successful, to attack their centre with any reserve I might then have on hand. The morning of the sixteenth (during which there was considerable artillery firing) was spent in obtaining information as to the ground, rectifying the position of the troops, and perfecting the arrangements for the attack. On the afternoon of the sixteenth Hooker's corps, consisting of Ricketts's and Doubleday's divisions, and the Pennsylvania reserves, under Meade, was sent across the Antietam Creek, by a ford and bridge to the right of Kedysville, with orders to attack, and, if possible, turn the enemy's left. Mansfield, with his corps, was sent in the evening to support Hooker. Arrived in position, Meade's division of the Pennsylvania reserves, which was at the head of Hooker's corps, became engaged in a sharp contest with the enemy, which lasted until after dark, when it had succeeded in driving in a portion of the opposing line, and held the ground. At daylight the contest was renewed between Hooker and the enemy in his front. Hooker's attack was successful for a time, but masses of the enemy, thrown upon his corps, checked it. Mansfield brought up his corps to Hooker's support, when the two corps drove the enemy back, the gallant and distinguished veteran Mansfield losing his life in the effort. Gen. Hooker was, unhappily, about this time wounded, and compelled to leave the field, where his services had been conspicuous and important. About an hour after this time, Sumner's corps, consisting of Sedgwick's, Richardson's and French's divisions, arrived on the field — Richardson some time after the other two, as he was unable to start as soon as they. Sedgwick, on the right, penetrated the woods in front of Hooker's and Mansfield's troops. French and Richardson were placed to the left of Sedgwick, thus attacking the enemy toward their left centre. Crawford's and Sedgwick's lines, however, yielded to a destructive fire of masses of the enemy in the woods, and, suffering greatly, (Generals Sedgwick and Crawford being among the wounded,) their troops fell back in disorder; they, nevertheless, rallied in the woods. The enemy's advance was, however, entirely checked by the destructive fire of our artillery. Franklin, who had been directed the day before to join the main army with two divisions, arrived on the field from Brownsville about an hour after, and Smith's division replaced Crawford's and Sedgwick's lines. Advancing steadily, it swept over the ground just lost, but now permanently retaken. The divisions of French and Richardson maintained with considerable loss the exposed positions which they had so gallantly gained, among the wounded being Gen. Richardson. The condition of things on the right toward the middle of the afternoon, notwithstanding the success wrested from the enemy by the stubborn bravery of the troops, was at this time unpromising. Sumner's, Hooker's and Mansfield's corps had lost heavily, several general officers having been carried from the field. I was at one time compelled to draw two brigades from Porter's corps (the reserve) to strengthen the right. This left for the reserve the small division of regulars who had been engaged in supporting during the day the batteries in the centre, and a single brigade of Morell's division. Before I left the right to return to the centre, I became satisfied that the line would be held without these two brigades, and countermanded the order which was in course of execution. The effect of Burnside's movement on the enemy's right was to prevent the further massing of their troops on their left, and we held what we had gained. Burnside's corps, consisting of Wilcox's, Sturgis's and Rodman's divisions, and Cox's Kanawha division, was intrusted with the difficult task of carrying the bridge across the Antietam, near Rohrback's firm, and assaulting the enemy's right, the order having been communicated to him at ten o'clock A. M. The valley of the Antietam, at and near the bridge, is narrow, with high banks. On the right of the stream the bank is wooded, and commands the approaches both to the bridge and the ford. The steep slopes of the bank were lined with rifle-pits and breastworks of rails and stones. These, together with the woods, were filled with the enemy's infantry, while their batteries completely commanded and enfiladed the bridge and ford and their approaches. The advance of the troops brought on an obstinate and sanguinary contest, and from the great natural advantages of the position, it was nearly one o'clock before the heights on the right bank were carried. At about three o'clock P. M. the corps again advanced, and with success, driving the enemy before it, and pushing on nearly to Sharpsburgh, while the left, after a hard encounter, also compelled the enemy to retire before it. The enemy here, however, were speedily reenforced, and with overwhelming masses. New batteries of their artillery, also, were brought up and opened. It became evident that our force was not sufficient to enable the advance to reach the town, and the order was given to retire to the cover of the hill, which was taken from the enemy earlier in the afternoon. This movement was effected without confusion, and the position maintained until the enemy retreated. Gen. Burnside had sent to me for reenforcements late in the afternoon, but the condition of things on the right was not such as to enable me to afford them. During the whole day our artillery was everywhere bravely and ably handled. Indeed, I cannot
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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