speak too highly of the efficiency of our batteries, and of the great service they rendered. On more than one occasion, when our infantry was broken, they covered its re-formation, and drove back the enemy. The cavalry had little field for operation during the engagement, but was employed in supporting the horse-artillery batteries in the centre, and in driving up stragglers, while awaiting opportunity for other service. The signal corps, under Major Myers, rendered during the operations at Antietam, as at South-Mountain, and during the whole movements of the army, efficient and valuable service. Indeed, by its services here, as on other fields elsewhere, this corps has gallantly earned its title to an independent and permanent organization. The duties devolving upon my staff during the action were most important, and the performances of them able and untiring. At a later day I propose to bring to the notice of the department their individual services. With the day closed this memorable battle, in which, perhaps, nearly two hundred thousand men were for fourteen hours engaged in combat. We had attacked the enemy in position, driven them from their line on one flank, and secured a footing within it on the other. Under the depression of previous reverses, we had achieved a victory over an adversary invested with the prestige of former successes and inflated with a recent triumph. Our forces slept that night conquerors on a field won by their valor, and covered with the dead and wounded of the enemy. The night, however, presented serious questions ; morning brought on grave responsibilities. To renew the attack again on the eighteenth, or to defer it, with the chance of the enemy's retirement after a day of suspense, were the questions before me. A careful and anxious survey of the condition of my command, and my knowledge of the enemy's force and position, failed to impress me with any reasonable certainty of success, if I renewed the attack without reinforcing columns. A view of the shattered state of some of the corps sufficed to deter me from pressing them into immediate action, and I felt that my duty to the army and the country forbade the risks involved in a hasty movement, which might result in the loss of what had been gained the previous day. Impelled by this consideration, I awaited the arrival of my reenforcements, taking advantage of the occasion to collect together the dispersed, give rest to the fatigued, and remove the wounded. Of the reenforcements, Couch's division, although marching with commendable rapidity, was not in position until a late hour in the morning; and Humphrey's division of new troops, fatigued with forced marches, were arriving throughout the day, but were not available until near its close. Large reenforcements from Pennsylvania, which were expected during the day, did not arrive at all. During the eighteenth, orders were given for a renewal of the attack at daylight on the nineteenth. On the night of the eighteenth, the enemy, after having been passing troops in the latter part of the day from the Virginia shore to their position behind Sharpsburgh, as seen by our officers, suddenly formed the design of abandoning their line. This movement they executed before daylight. Being but a short distance from the river, the evacuation presented but little difficulty. It was, however, rapidly followed up. A reconnoissance was made across the river on the evening of the nineteenth, which resulted in ascertaining the near presence of the enemy in some force, and in our capturing six guns. A second reconnoissance, the next morning, which, with the first, was made by a small detachment from Porter's corps, resulted in observing a heavy force of the enemy there. The detachment withdrew with slight loss. I submit herewith a list of the killed, wounded and missing in the engagements of the fifteenth, and of the sixteenth and seventeenth. The enemy's loss is believed, from the best sources of information, to be nearly thirty thousand. Their dead were mostly left on the field, and a large number of wounded were left behind. While it gives me pleasure to speak of the gallantry and devotion of officers and men, generally displayed throughout this conflict, I feel it necessary to mention that some officers and men skulked from their places in the ranks until the battle was over. Death on the spot must hereafter be the fate of all such cowards, and the hands of the military commanders must be strengthened with all the power of the Government to inflict it summarily. The early and disgraceful surrender of Harper's Ferry deprived my operations of results which would have formed a brilliant sequence to the substantial and gratifying success already related. Had the garrison held out twenty-four hours longer, I should in all probability, have captured that part of the enemy's force engaged in the attack on the Maryland Heights, while the whole garrison, some twelve thousand strong, could have been drawn to reenforce me on the day of the decisive battle-certainly on the morning of the eighteenth. I would thus have been in a position to have destroyed the rebel army. Under the same circumstances, had the besieging force on the Virginia side at Harper's Ferry not been withdrawn, I would have had thirty-five or forty thousand less men to encounter at Antietam, and must have captured or destroyed all opposed to me. As it was, I had to engage an army fresh from a recent, and to them a great victory, and to reap the disadvantages of their being freshly and plentifully supplied with ammunition and supplies. The object and results of this brief campaign may be summed up as follows: In the beginning of the month of September, the safety of the National capital was seriously endangered by the presence of a victorious enemy, who soon after crossed into Maryland, and then directly threatened Washington and Baltimore, while they occupied the soil of a loyal State, and threatened an invasion of Pennsylvania. The army of the
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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