After the surrender of Harper's Ferry
, Sept. 15, 1862.
felt himself in a perilous position, for General Franklin
had entered Pleasant Valley
that very morning and threatened the severance of his army.
Lee at once took measures to concentrate his forces.
He withdrew his troops from South Mountain
and took position in the Antietam valley
, near Sharpsburg, Md. Jackson
swift marches, had recrossed the Potomac
and joined Lee
on Antietam Greek
When the Confederates
left South Mountain
's troops followed them.
's plans were thwarted, and he found himself compelled to fight.
was very cautious, for he believed the Confederates
were on his front in overwhelming numbers.
It was ascertained that Lee
's army did not number more than 60,000, McClellan
's effective force was 87,000.
's army was well in hand (Sept. 16), and Lee
's was well posted on the heights near Sharpsburg
, on the western side of Antietam Creek
, a sluggish stream with few fords, spanned by four stone bridges.
On the right of the National
line were the corps of Hooker
In the advance, and near the Antietam
, General Richardson
's division of Sumner
's corps was posted.
On a line with this was Sykes
's (regular) division of Porter
Farther down the stream was Burnside
In front of Sumner
were batteries of 24-pounder Parrott guns.
's corps and Couch
's division were farther down the valley, and the divisions of Morrell
, of Porter
's corps, were approaching from Frederick
A detachment of the signal corps, under Major Myer
, was on a spur of South Mountain
prudently hesitated to attack, the Confederates
put him on the defensive by opening an artillery fire upon the Nationals at dawn （Sept. 16, 1862). He was ready for response in the course of the afternoon, when Hooker
crossed the Antietam
with a part of his corps, commanded by Generals Ricketts
, and Doubleday.
Hooker at once attacked the Confederate
left, commanded by “Stonewall Jackson
,” who was soon reinforced by General Hood
was directed to send over Mansfield
's corps during the night, and to hold his own in readiness to pass over the next morning.
's first movement was successful.
He drove black the Confederates
, and his army rested on their arms that night on the ground they had won. Mansfield
's corps crossed in the evening, and at dawn (Sept. 17) the contest was renewed by Hooker
It was obstinate and severe.
batteries on the east side of the creek greatly assisted in driving the Confederates
away, with heavy loss,, beyond a line of woods.
It was at this time, when Hooker
advanced, that Jackson
The Confederates swarmed out of the works and fell heavily upon Meade
, when Hooker
called upon Doubleday
A brigade under General Hartsuff
pressed forward against a heavy storm of missiles, and its leader was severely wounded.
's corps had been ordered up, and before it became engaged the veteran leader was mortally wounded.
The command then devolved on General Williams
, who left his division in the care of General Crawford
, and the latter seized a piece of woods near by. Hooker
had lost heavily; Doubleday
's guns had silenced a Confederate battery; Ricketts
was struggling against constantly increasing numbers on his front; and the National
line began to waver, when Hooker
, in the van, was wounded and taken from the field.
to the support of Crawford
, and Gordon
and French bore down upon the Confederates
more to the left.
now held position at the Dunker Church, and seemed about to grasp the palm of victory (for Jackson
were falling hack), when fresh Confederate troops, under McLaws
, supported by Early
, came up. They penetrated the National
line and drove it back, when the unflinching Doubleday
gave them such a storm of artillery that they, in turn, fell back to their original position.
, twice wounded, was carried from the field, and the command of his division devolved on Gen. O. O. Howard
. Generals Crawford
were also wounded.
was sent over to assist the hard-pressed Nationals.
Forming on Howard
's left, he sent Slocum
with his division towards the centre.
At the same time General Smith
was ordered to retake the ground on which there had been so much fighting, and it was done within fifteen minutes. The Confederates were driven far back.
Meanwhile the divisions of French and Richardson
had been busy.
The former received orders from Sumner
to press on and make a diversion in favor of the right.
's division, composed of the brigades of Meagher
, and Brooks
(who had crossed the Antietam
at ten o'clock), gained a good
The Confederates, reinforced by fresh troops, fought desperately.
was mortally wounded, and Gen. W. S. Hancock
succeeded him in command, when a charge was made that drove the Confederates
in great confusion.
Night soon closed the action on the National
right and centre.
had been wounded and carried from the field, when the command of his troops devolved on Colonel Burke
During the fierce strifes of the day Porter
's corps, with artillery and Pleasonton
's cavalry, had remained on the east side of the stream, as a reserve, until late in the afternoon, when McClellan
sent over some brigades.
On the morning of the 17th the left, under Burnside
, engaged in a desperate struggle for the possession of a bridge just below Sharpsburg
That commander had been ordered to cross it and attack the Confederates
It was a difficult task, and Burnside
, exposed to a raking fire from the Confederate batteries and an enfilading fire from sharp-shooters, was several times repulsed.
Finally, at a little past noon, two regiments charged across the bridge and drove its defenders away.
The divisions of Sturgis
, and Rodman
, and Scammon
's brigade, with four batteries, passed the bridge and drove the confederates almost to Sharpsburg
A. P. Hill
, with fresh troops, fell upon Burnside
's left, mortally wounding General Rodman
, and driving the Nationals nearly back to the bridge.
Gen. O'B. Branch
, of North Carolina
, was also killed in this encounter.
The Confederates were checked by National artillery on the eastern side of the stream, and, reserves advancing under Sturgis
, there was no further attempt to retake “the Burnside Bridge
,” as it was called.
came up just in time to save Lee
's army from destruction.
Darkness ended the memorable struggle known as the Battle of Antietam
The losses were very severe.
reported his losses at 12,460 men, of whom 2,010 were killed.
He estimated Lee
's loss as much greater.
The losses fell heavily upon certain brigades.
That of Duryee
retired from the field with not more than twenty men and four colors.
Of the brigades of Lawton
, on the Confederate
side, more than one-half were lost.
On the morning of the 18th both parties seemed more willing to rest than to fight; and that night Lee
“Burnside Bridge,” Antirtan Creek.|
shattered army stole away in the darkness, recrossed the Potomac
, and planted eight batteries on the high Virginia bank that menaced pursuers.
There had been a very tardy pursuit.
At dark on the evening of the 19th, Porter
, who was on the left bank of the river, ordered Griffin
to cross the stream with two brigades and carry Lee
He captured four of the guns.
On the next morning (Sept. 20) a part of Porter
's division made a reconnoissance in force on the Virginia
side, and were assailed by Hill
in ambush, who drove them across the Potomac
and captured 200 of the Nationals.
and Harper's Ferry
were retaken by the Union