The loss in the Second Massachusetts was severe. Here fell mortally wounded Lieutenant-Colonel Wilder Dwight, of this regiment, bravely fighting for his country. An official paper is not the place to express the sadness the death of this gallant officer brings to the regiment in which his presence was so much felt, as well as to many friends, serving in the army, to whom he was much endeared. I halted my command, to report to you, sir, the position of the enemy, and was by you ordered to form a supporting line behind batteries in position on my left. The rebel lines again advancing, I threw forward a portion of my brigade to support those nearly in front, while the One Hundred and Seventh New-York was directed to support Captain Cothran's battery on the left. This fine regiment, but just organized and brought into the field, in this battle for the first time under fire, moved with steadiness to its perilous position, and maintained its ground until recalled, though exposed to front fire from the enemy, and a fire over its head from batteries in its rear. About this time, in the order of events as narrated, I received an urgent call from General Greene, commanding the Second division of our corps, to send him any reinforcements I might have and could spare. General Greene at this time was gallantly holding a portion of the woods to the left, the right of which was occupied by the enemy in force. I directed the Thirteenth New-Jersey, Colonel Carman, to support him. This regiment — also for the first time this day under fire — moved coolly and in an orderly manner toward General Greene's position; and I am much gratified to report that the General has spoken to me of their conduct in terms of high commendation. The services of my brigade during a portion of the remainder of the day were confined to forming a supporting line to fresher troops in our front. Again, however — late in the afternoon — was I called into action by a direct order addressed in person by General McClellan to my brigade, to support General Franklin in his intended movement to the front upon the disputed woods. In conformity with this order, I formed my brigade in line of battle directly in rear of General Newton's brigade of General Franklin's corps, and awaited orders from that officer, to whom I had sent a staff-officer to report my position. Captain Wheaton, my aid, immediately brought me an order to move my brigade to the support of a battery on the contested field, somewhat to the left and about three hundred yards to the front of the position I then occupied. The absence of General Crawford from the field by reason of a slight wound, placed me at this time in command of the first division of the corps. Turning over the command of my brigade to Colonel Ruger, of the Third Wisconsin, I conducted him to the assigned position, which he held during the night of the seventeenth instant. The First brigade (Crawford's) of my division, commanded by Colonel Knipe, of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, was drawn up in line of battle, also supporting General Franklin's line, to the right of my original position. Early in the morning, the position of my division was again changed in the same direction, but somewhat in advance of the position of the evening before, supporting General Franklin. I held this line during the day and night of the eighteenth. The morning of the nineteenth revealed the fact that the enemy had fled under cover of the night. Thus terminated a bloody and obstinate contest. From sunrise to sunset the waves of battle ebbed and flowed. Men wrestled with each other in lines of regiments, brigades, and divisions, while regiment, brigade, and division faded away under a terrible fire, leaving long lines of dead to mark where stood the living. Felds of corn were trampled into shreds; forests were battered and scathed by shot and shell; grape and canister mingled its hissing scream in this hellish carnival. Yet within all this, and through it all, the patriots of the North wrestled, with hearts strong and nerves unshaken — wrestled with the rebel hordes that thronged and pressed upon them as to destruction; never yielding, though sometimes halting to gather up their strength, then with one mighty bound throwing themselves upon their foes to drive them into their protecting forests beyond. We slept upon the bloody field of our victory. I cannot too highly praise the conduct of my brigade — of regiments old and new. Of the Second Massachusetts, Colonel Andrews, Third Wisconsin, Colonel Ruger, and Twenty-seventh Indiana, Colonel Colgrove, I had a right to expect much, and was not disappointed. Veterans of Winchester and Cedar Mountain, they can add to their laurels the battle of Antietam Creek. In this battle — I believe unparalleled in the war in severity and duration — officers and men behaved with most praiseworth intrepidity and coolness. The One Hundred and Seventh New-York, Colonel Van Valkenburg, and the Thirteenth New-Jersey, Colonel Carman, being new troops, might well stand appalled at such exposure, but they did not flinch in the discharge of their duties. I have no words but those of praise for their conduct. They fought like veterans, and stood shoulder to shoulder with those who had borne the brunt of war on the Peninsula, in the Shenandoah Valley, and from Front Royal to the Rapidan. They were led by those who inspired them with courage, and they followed with a determination to conquer or die. If I make especial mention of the One Hundred and Seventh New-York volunteers of my brigade, it is that I may speak of its colonel and its lieutenant-colonel--Colonel Van Valkenburg and Lieutenant-Colonel Diven--both of whom, members of the present Congress, have left their congressional duties to organize and bring into the field this fine regiment for their country's service. These gentlemen, in leading their men into the fight, cheering them onward — themselves thoughtless
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
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.