Roasting Green corn at the camp-fire.1|
On the 3d of September, 1862, the Federal
army under General Pope
having been confounded, General Lee
turned his columns toward the Potomac
, with Stonewall Jackson
On the 5th of September Jackson
crossed the Potomac
at Whitens Ford, a few miles beyond Leesburg
The passage of the river by the troops marching in fours, well closed up, the laughing, shouting, and singing, as a brass band in front played “Maryland
, my Maryland
,” was a memorable experience.
in the corps imparted much of their enthusiasm to the other troops, but we were not long in finding out that if General Lee
had hopes that the decimated regiments of his army would be filled by the sons of Maryland
he was doomed to a speedy and unqualified disappointment.
However, before we had been in Maryland
many hours, one enthusiastic citizen presented Jackson
with a gigantic gray mare
She was a little heavy and awkward for a war-horse, but as the general's “Little Sorrel” had a few days before been temporarily stolen, the present was a timely one, and he was not disposed to “look a gift horse in the mouth.”
Yet the present proved almost a Trojan horse to him, for the next morning when he mounted his new steed and touched her with his spur the loyal and undisciplined beast reared straight into the air, and, standing erect for a moment, threw herself backward, horse and rider rolling upon the ground.
The general was stunned and severely bruised, and lay upon the ground for some time before he could be removed.
He was then placed in an ambulance, where he rode during the day's march, having turned his command over to his brother-in-law, General D. H. Hill
, the officer next in rank.
Early that day the army went into camp near Frederick
, and Generals Lee
, and for a time “Jeb
, had their headquarters near one another in Best
Hither in crowds came the good people of Frederick
, especially the ladies, as to a fair.
, still suffering from his hurt, kept to his tent, busying himself with maps and official papers, and declined to see visitors.
Once, however, when he had been called to General Lee
's tent, two young girls waylaid him, paralyzed him with smiles and embraces and questions, and then jumped into
their carriage and drove off rapidly, leaving him there, cap in hand, bowing, blushing, and speechless.
But once safe in his tent he was seen no more that day. The next evening, Sunday, he went into Frederick
for the first time to attend church, and there being no service in the Presbyterian Church he went to the German Reformed., As usual he fell asleep, but this time more soundly than was his wont.
His head sunk upon his breast, his cap dropped from his hands to the floor, the prayers of the congregation did not disturb him, and only the choir and the deep-toned organ awakened him. Afterward I learned that the minister was credited with much loyalty and courage because he had prayed for the President
of the United States
in the very presence of Stonewall Jackson
Well, the general didn't hear the prayer, and if he had he would doubtless have felt like replying as General Ewell
did, when asked at Carlisle, Pennsylvania
, if he would permit the usual prayer for President Lincoln
--“Certainly; I'm sure he needs it.”
believed that Harper
's Ferry would be evacuated as soon as he interposed between it and Washington
But he did not know that Halleck
, and not McClellan
, held command of it. When he found that it was not
evacuated he knew some one had blundered, and took steps to capture the garrison and stores.
On Tuesday, the 9th, he issued an order, directing General Jackson
to move the next morning, cross the Potomac
, and envelop Harper's Ferry
on the Virginia
In the same order he directed General McLaws
to march on Harper's Ferry
by way of Middletown
and seize Maryland Heights
, and General Walker
to cross the Potomac
below Harper's Ferry
and take Loudoun Heights
, all to be in position on the 12th, except Jackson
, who was first to capture, if possible, the troops at Martinsburg
Early on the 10th Jackson
was off. In Frederick
he asked for a map of Chambersburg
and its vicinity, and made many irrelevant inquiries about roads and localities in the direction of Pennsylvania
To his staff, who knew what little value these inquiries had, his questions only illustrated his well-known motto r “Mystery, mystery is the secret of success.”
I was then assistant inspector-general on his staff, and also acting aide-de-camp.
It was my turn this day to be intrusted with the knowledge of his purpose.
Having finished this public inquiry, he took me aside, and after asking me about the different fords of the Potomac
and Harper's Ferry
, told me that he was ordered to capture the garrison at Harper's Ferry
, and would cross either at Williamsport
, as the enemy might or might not withdraw from Martinsburg
I did not then know of General Lee
The troops being on the march, the general and staff rode rapidly out of town and took the head of the column.
Just a few words here in regard to Mr. Whittier
's touching poem, “Barbara Frietchie
An old woman, by that now immortal name, did live in Frederick
in those days, but she never saw General Jackson
, and General Jackson
never saw “Barbara Frietchie
I was with him every minute of the time he was in that city,--he was there only twice,--and nothing like the scene so graphically described by the poet ever happened.
must have been misinformed as to the incident.
[See p. 619.--Editors.]
On the march that day, the captain of the cavalry advance, just ahead; had instructions to let no civilian go to the front, and we entered each village we passed before the inhabitants knew of our coming.
two very pretty girls, with ribbons of red
, and blue
floating from their hair, and small Union flags in their hands, rushed out of a house as we passed, came to the curbstone, and with much laughter waved their flags defiantly in the face of the general.
He bowed and raised his hat, and, turning with his quiet smile to his staff, said: “We evidently have no friends in this town.”
And this is about the way he would have treated Barbara Frietchie
Having crossed South Mountain
, at Turner's Gap, the command encamped for the night within a mile of Boonsboro
‘, Here General Jackson
must determine whether he would go on to Williamsport
or turn toward Shepherdstown
I at once rode into the village with a cavalryman to make some inquiries, but we ran into a squadron of Federal cavalry, who without ceremony
proceeded to make war upon us. We retraced our steps, and although we did not stand upon the order of our going, a squad of them escorted us out of town with great rapidity.
When I tried a couple of Parthian shots at them with my revolver, they returned them with interest, and shot a hole in my new hat, which, with the beautiful plume that a lady in Frederick
had placed there, rolled in the dust.
This was of little moment, but at the end of the town, reaching the top of the hill, we discovered, just over it, General Jackson
, walking slowly toward us, leading his horse.
There was but one thing to do. Fortunately the chase had become less vigorous, and, with a cry of command to unseen troops, we turned and charged the enemy.
They, suspecting trouble, turned and fled, while the general quickly galloped to the rear.
I recovered my hat and plume, and as I returned to camp I picked up the gloves which the general had dropped in mounting, and took them to him. Although — he had sent a regiment of infantry to the front as soon as he went back, the only allusion he made to the incident was to express the opinion that I had a very fast horse.
The next morning, having learned that the Federal
troops still occupied Martinsburg
, General Jackson
took the direct road to Williamsport
He there forded the Potomac
, the troops now singing, and the bands playing, “Carry me back to ole Virginny!”
We marched on Martinsburg
General A. P. Hill
took the direct turnpike, while Jackson
, with the rest of his command, followed a side road, so as to approach Martinsburg
from the west, and encamped four miles from the town.
His object was to drive General White
, who occupied Martinsburg
, toward Harper's Ferry
, and thus “corral” all the Federal
troops in that military pen. As the Comte de Paris
puts it, he “organized a kind of grand hunting match through the lower valley of Virginia
, driving all the Federal
detachments before him and forcing them to crowd into the blind alley of Harper's Ferry
Fatigued by the day's march, Jackson
was persuaded by his host of the night to drink a whisky toddy — the only glass of spirits I ever saw him take.
While mixing it leisurely, he remarked that he believed he liked the taste of whisky and brandy more than any soldier in the army; that they were more palatable to him than the most fragrant coffee, and for that reason, with others, he rarely tasted them.
The next morning the Confederates
Here the general was welcomed with great enthusiasm, and a great crowd hastened to the hotel to greet him. At first he shut himself up in a room to write dispatches, but the demonstration became so persistent that he ordered the door to be opened.
The crowd, chiefly ladies, rushed in and embarrassed the general with every possible outburst of affection, to which he could only reply, “Thank you, you're very kind.”
He gave them his autograph in books and on scraps of paper, cut a button from his coat for a little girl, and then submitted patiently to an attack by the others, who soon stripped the coat of nearly all the remaining buttons.
But when they looked beseechingly at his hair, which was thin, he drew the line there, and managed to close the interview.
These blandishments did not delay his movements, however, for in the afternoon he was off again.
On the 13th he invested Bolivar Heights and Harper's Ferry
On this day General McClellan
came into possession, by carelessness or accident, of General Lee
's order of the 9th, and he was thus notified of the division of the Confederate army and the intention to capture Harper's Ferry
From this moment General Lee
's army was in peril, imminent in proportion to the promptness with which the Federal
commander might use the knowledge he thus obtained.
The plans of the latter were quickly and skillfully made.
Had they been executed more rapidly, or had Jackson
been slower and less sure, the result must have been a disastrous one to us. But military critics disposed to censure General McClellan
for not being equal to his opportunities should credit him with the embarrassment of his position.
He had not been in command of this army two weeks. It was a large army, but a heterogeneous one, with many old troops dispirited by recent defeat, and many new troops that had never been under fire.
With such an army a general as cautious as McClellan
does not take great risks, nor put the safety of his army rashly “to the touch, to win or lose it all.”
was inclined by nature to magnify the forces of the enemy, and had he known General Lee
's weakness he would have ventured more.
Yet when we remember what Pope
had done and suffered just before, and what happened to Burnside
not long after, their friends can hardly sit in judgment upon McClellan
On the afternoon of the 13th Colonel Miles
, in command at Harper's Ferry
, made the fatal mistake of withdrawing his troops from Maryland Heights
, and giving them up to McLaws
has said, “He who wars walks in a mist through which the keenest eyes cannot always discern the right path.”
But it does seem that Colonel Miles
might have known that to abandon these heights under the circumstances was simply suicidal.3
met with so much delay in opening communication with McLaws
, and ascertaining whether they were in position, that much of the 14th was consumed.
But late in the afternoon A. P. Hill
gained a foothold, with little resistance, well up on the enemy's left, and established some artillery at the base of Loudoun Heights
and across the Shenandoah
, so as to take the Federal
line on Bolivar Heights in rear. (General Hill
had been placed under arrest by General Jackson
, before crossing the Potomac
, for disobedience of orders, and the command of his division devolved upon General Branch
, who was killed a few days later at Antietam
Believing a battle imminent, General Hill
requested General Jackson
to reinstate him in command of his division until the approaching engagement was over.
No one could appreciate such ant appeal more keenly than General Jackson
, and he at once restored General Hill
to his command.
The work the Light Division
did at Harper's Ferry
proved the wisdom of Hill
's request and of Jackson
's compliance with it.)
During the 14th, while Jackson
was fixing his clamps on Harpers Ferry
was pushing against Lee
's divided forces at Turner's Gap.
, under Burnside
and under the eye of General McClellan
, were fighting the battle of South Mountain
against D. H. Hill
were killed on opposite sides, and night ended the contest before it was decided.
At the same time Franklin
was forcing his way through Crampton's Gap, driving out Howell Cobb
commanding his own brigade and one regiment of Semmes
's brigade, both of McLaws
's division, Parham
's brigade of R. H. Anderson
's division, and two regiments of Stuart
's cavalry under Colonel Munford
The military complications were losing their simplicity.
Being advised of these movements, Jackson
saw that his work must be done speedily.
On Monday morning, at 3 o'clock, he sent me to the left to move Jones
forward at first dawn, and to open on Bolivar Heights with all his artillery.
This feint was executed promptly and produced confusion on the enemy's right.
Troops were moved to strengthen it. Then the guns from Maryland
and Loudoun Heights
opened fire, and very soon, off on our right, the battle-flags of A. P. Hill
rose on Bolivar Heights, and Harper's Ferry
Returning, I found General Jackson
at the church in the wood on the Bolivar and Halltown turnpike
, and just as I joined him a white flag was raised on Bolivar
and all the firing ceased.
Under instructions from General Jackson
, I rode up the pike and into the enemy's lines to ascertain the purpose of the white flag.
Near the top of the hill I met General White
and staff and told him my mission.
He replied that Colonel Miles
had been mortally wounded, that he was in command and desired to have an interview with General Jackson
Just then General Hill
came up from the direction of his line, and at his request I conducted them to General Jackson
, whom I found sitting on his horse where I had left him. He was not, as the Comte de Paris
says, leaning against a tree asleep, but exceedingly wide-awake.
The contrast in appearances there presented was striking.
, riding a handsome black horse, was carefully dressed and had on untarnished gloves, boots, and sword.
His staff were equally comely in costume.
On the other hand, General Jackson
was the dingiest, worst-dressed, and worst-mounted general that a warrior who cared for good looks and style would wish to surrender to. The surrender was unconditional, and then General Jackson
turned the matter over to General A. P. Hill
, who allowed General White
the same liberal terms that Grant
afterward gave Lee
The fruits of the surrender were 12,520 prisoners ( “Official Records
” ), 13,000 arms, 73 pieces of artillery, and several hundred wagons.
, after sending a brief dispatch to General Lee
announcing the capitulation, rode up to Bolivar
and down into Harper's Ferry
The curiosity in the Union
army to see him was so great that the soldiers lined the sides of the road.
Many of them uncovered as he passed, and he invariably returned the salute.
One man had an echo of response all about him when he said aloud: “Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't have been caught in this trap!”
lost little time in contemplating his victory.
When night came, he started for Shepherdstown
with J. R. Jones
, leaving directions to McLaws
to follow the next morning.
He left A. P. Hill
behind to finish up with Harper's Ferry
His first order had been to take position at Shepherdstown
to cover Lee
's crossing into Virginia
, but, whether at his own suggestion or not, the order was changed, and after daylight on the 16th he crossed the Potomac
there and joined Longstreet
had, by that time, nearly all his army in position on the east bank of the Antietam, and General Lee
was occupying the irregular range of high ground to the west of it, with the Potomac
in his rear.
Except some sparring between Hooker
on our left, the 16th was allowed to pass without battle, fortunately for us. In the new dispositions of that evening, Jackson
was placed on the left of Lee
[See map, p. 636.]
The first onset, early on the morning of the 17th, told what the day would be. The impatient Hooker
, with the divisions of Meade
, and Ricketts
, struck the first blow, and Jackson
's old division caught it and struck back again.
Between such foes the battle soon waxed hot. Step by step and marking each step with dead, the thin Confederate line was pushed back to the wood around the Dunker Church.
(commanding in place of Jones
, already wounded), and D. H. Hill
with part of his division, engaged Meade
And now in turn the Federals
halted and fell back, and left their dead by Dunker Church.
entered the fight, and beat with resistless might on Jackson
The battle here grew angry and bloody.
was killed, Lawton
wounded, and nearly all their general and field officers had fallen; the sullen Confederate line again fell back, killing Mansfield
and wounding Hooker
, and Hartsuff
And now D. H. Hill
led in the rest of his division; Hood
also took part, to the right and left, front and rear of Dunker Church.
The Federal line was again driven back, while artillery added its din to the incessant
rattle of musketry.
, with the fresh division of Sedgwick
, re-formed the Federal
line and renewed the offensive.
was driven back, and Hill
partly; the Dunker Church wood was passed, the field south of it entered, and the Confederate
Just then McLaws
, hurrying from Harper's Ferry
, came upon the field, and hurled his men against the victorious Sedgwick
He drove Sedgwick
back into the Dunker wood and beyond it, into the open ground.
Farther to our right, the pendulum of battle had been swinging to and fro, with D. H. Hill
and R. H. Anderson
hammering away at French and Richardson
, until the sunken road became historic as “bloody lane.”
was mortally wounded and Hancock
assumed command of his division.
Brigadier-General William E. Starke. From a Tintype.
In the cannonade which began with dawn of the 17th, General J. R. Jones, commanding the left division of Jackson, was stunned and injured by a shell which exploded directly over his head.
General Starke was directed to take command of the division, which he led against Hooker, and a half-hour later he fell pierced by three minie-balls.
Of that terrible struggle Stonewall Jackson says in his report: “The carnage on both sides was terrific.
At this early hour General Starke was killed.
Colonel Douglass, commanding Lawton's brigade, was also killed.
General Lawton, commanding division, and Colonel Walker, commanding brigade, were severely wounded.
More than half of the brigades of Lawton and Hays were either killed or wounded, and more than a third of Trimble's, and all the regimental commanders in those brigades, except two, were killed or wounded.”--Editors. |
For a while there was a lull in the storm.
It was early in the day, but hours are fearfully long in battle.
About noon Franklin
, with Slocum
and W. F. Smith
, marched upon the field to join the unequal contest.
tried his luck and was repulsed.
then ordered a halt.
's fight was over, and a strange silence reigned around Dunker Church.
had not visited the left that day. As usual he trusted to Jackson
to fight his own battle and work out salvation in his own way. How well he did it, against the ablest and fiercest of McClellan
's lieutenants, history has told.
During all this time Longstreet
, stripped of his troops,--sent to the help of Jackson
,--held the right almost alone, with his eye on the center.
He was now called into active work on his own front, for there were no unfought troops in Lee
's army at Sharpsburg
; every soldier on that field tasted battle.
, with his corps of fourteen thousand men, had been lying all day beyond the bridge which now bears his name.
Ordered to cross at 8 o'clock he managed to get over at 1, and by 3 was ready to advance.5
moved against the hill which D. R. Jones
held with his little division of 2500 men. Longstreet
was watching this advance.
was at General Lee
's headquarters on a knoll in rear of Sharpsburg
A. P. Hill
was coming, but had not arrived, and it was apparent that Burnside
must be stayed, if at all, with artillery.
One of the sections, transferred to the right from Jackson
at the request of General Lee
, was of the Rockbridge Artillery, and as it galloped by, the youngest son of the general-in-chief
, Robert E. Lee, Jr.
, a private at the guns, black with the grime and powder of a long day's fight, stopped a moment to salute his father and then rushed after his gun. Where else in this war was the son of a commanding general a private in the ranks?
Going to put this section in place, I saw Burnside
's heavy line move up the hill, and the earth seemed to tremble beneath their tread.
It was a splendid and fearful sight, but for them to beat back Jones
's feeble line was scarcely war. The artillery tore, but did not stay them.
They pressed forward until Sharpsburg
was uncovered and Lee
's line of retreat was at their mercy.
But then, just then, A. P. Hill
, picturesque in his red battle-shirt, with 3 of his brigades, 2500 men, who had marched that day 17 miles from Harper's Ferry
and had waded the Potomac
, appeared upon the scene.
Tired and footsore, the men forgot their woes in that supreme moment, and with no breathing time braced themselves to meet the coming shock.
They met it and stayed it. The blue line staggered and hesitated, and, hesitating, was lost.
At the critical moment A. P. Hill
was always at his strongest.
Quickly advancing his battle-flags, his line moved forward, Jones
's troops rallied on him, and in the din of musketry and artillery on either flank the Federals
broke over the field.
did not wait for his other brigades, but held the vantage gained until Burnside
was driven back to the Antietam
and under the shelter of heavy guns.
The day was done.
Again A. P. Hill
, as at Manassas
, Harper's Ferry
, and elsewhere, had struck with the right hand of Mars
No wonder that both Lee
, when, in the delirium of their last moments on earth, they stood again to battle, saw the form of A. P. Hill
leading his columns on; but it is a wonder and a shame that the grave of this valiant Virginian in Hollywood cemetery has not a stone to mark it and keep it from oblivion.
The battle at Sharpsburg
was the result of unforeseen circumstances and not of deliberate purpose.
It was one of the bloodiest of the war, and a defeat for both armies.
The prestige of the day was with Lee
, but when on the night of the 18th he recrossed into Virginia
, although, as the Comte de Paris
says, he “left not a single trophy of his nocturnal retreat in the hands of the enemy,” he left the prestige of the result with McClellan
And yet when it is known that General McClellan
had 87,000 troops at hand, and General Lee
fought the battle with less than 35,000,6
an army depleted by battles, weakened by privations, broken down by marching, and “ruined by straggling,” it was unquestionably on the Confederate
side the best-fought battle of the war.