previous next


The invasion of Maryland.

by James Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, C. S. A.
When the Second Bull Run campaign closed we had the most brilliant prospects the Confederates ever had. We then possessed an army which, had it been kept together, the Federals would never have dared attack. With such a splendid victory behind us, and such bright prospects ahead, the question arose as to whether or not we should go into Maryland. General Lee, on account of our short supplies, hesitated a little, but I reminded him of my experience in Mexico, where sometimes we were obliged to live two or three days on green corn. I told him we could not starve at that season of the year so long as the fields were loaded with “roasting ears.” Finally lie determined to go on, and accordingly crossed the river and went to Frederick City. On the 6th of September some of our cavalry, moving toward Harper's Ferry, became engaged with some of the Federal artillery near there. General Lee proposed that I should organize a force, and surround the garrison and capture it. I objected, and urged that our troops were worn with marching and were on short rations, and that it would be a bad idea to divide our forces while we were in the enemy's country, where he could get information, in six or eight hours, of any movement we might make. The Federal army, though beaten at the Second Manassas, was not disorganized, and it would certainly come out to look for us, and we should guard against being caught in such a condition. Our army consisted of a superior quality of soldiers, but it was in no condition to divide in the enemy's country. I urged that we should keep it well in hand, recruit our strength, and get up supplies, and then we could do anything we pleased. General Lee made no reply to this, and I supposed the Harper's Ferry scheme was abandoned. A day or two after we had reached Frederick City, I went up to General Lee's tent and found the front walls closed. I inquired for the general, and he, recognizing my voice, asked me to come in. I went in and found Jackson there. The two were discussing the move against Harper's Ferry, both heartily approving it. They had gone so far that it seemed useless for me to offer any further opposition, and I only suggested that Lee should use his entire army in the move instead of sending off a large portion of it to Hagerstown as he intended to do. General Lee so far changed the wording of his order as to require me to halt at Boonsboro' with General D. H. Hill; Jackson being ordered to Harper's Ferry via Bolivar Heights, on the south side; McLaws by the Maryland Heights on the north, and Walker, via Loudoun Heights, from the south-east. This was afterward changed, and I was sent on to Hagerstown, leaving D. H. Hill alone at South Mountain.

The movement against Harper's Ferry began on the 10th. Jackson made a wide, sweeping march around the Ferry, passing the Potomac at Williams-port, and moving from there on toward Martinsburg, and turning thence upon Harper's Ferry to make his attack by Bolivar Heights. McLaws made a [664] hurried march to reach Maryland Heights before Jackson could get in position, and succeeded in doing so. With Maryland Heights in our possession the Federals could not hold their position there. McLaws put 200 or 300 men to each piece of his artillery and carried it up the heights, and was in position when Jackson came on the heights opposite. Simultaneously Walker appeared upon Loudoun Heights, south of the Potomac and east of the Shenandoah, thus completing the combination against the Federal garrison. The surrender of the Ferry and the twelve thousand Federal troops there was a matter of only a short time.

If the Confederates had been able to stop with that, they might have been well contented with their month's campaign. They had had a series of successes and no defeats; but the division of the army to make this attack on Harper's Ferry was a fatal error, as the subsequent events showed.

While a part of the army had gone toward Harper's Ferry I had moved up to Hagerstown. In the meantime Pope had been relieved and McClellan was in command of the army, and with ninety thousand refreshed troops was marching forth to avenge the Second Manassas. The situation was a very serious one for us. McClellan was close upon us. As we moved out of Frederick he came on and occupied that place, and there he came across a lost copy of the order assigning position to the several commands in the Harper's Ferry move.

This “lost order” has been the subject of much severe comment by Virginians who have written of the war. It was addressed to D. H. Hill, and they charged that its loss was due to him, and that the failure of the campaign was the result of the lost order. As General Hill has proved that he never received the order at his headquarters it must have been lost by some one else.1 Ordinarily, upon getting possession of such an order, the adversary [665] would take it as a ruse de guerre, but it seems that General McClellan gave it his confidence, and made his dispositions accordingly. He planned his attack upon D. H. Hill under the impression that I was there with 12 brigades, 9 of which were really at Hagerstown, while R. H. Anderson's division was on Maryland Heights with General McLaws. Had McClellan exercised due diligence in seeking information from his own resources, he would have known better the situation at South Mountain and could have enveloped General D. H. Hill's division on the afternoon of the 13th, or early on the morning of the 14th, and then

The old Lutheran Church, Sharpsburg. From a War-time photograph. The church stands at the east end of the village, on Main street, and was a Federal hospital after the battle. Burnside's skirmishers gained a hold in the first cross-street below the church, where there was considerable fighting. On the hill in the extreme distance Main street becomes the Shepherdstown road, by which the Confederates retreated.--Editors.

turned upon McLaws at Maryland Heights, before I could have reached either point. As it was, McClellan, after finding the order, moved with more confidence on toward South Mountain, where I). H. Hill was stationed as a Confederate rear-guard with five thousand men under his command. As I have stated, my command was at Hagerstown, thirteen miles farther on. General Lee was with me, and on the night of the 13th we received information that McClellan was at the foot of South Mountain with his great army. General Lee ordered me to march back to the mountain early the next morning. I suggested that, instead of meeting McClellan there, we withdraw Hill and unite my forces and Hill's at Sharpsburg, at the same time explaining that Sharpsburg was a strong defensive position from which we could strike the flank or rear of any force that might be sent to the relief of Harper's Ferry. I endeavored to show him that by making a forced march to Hill my troops would be in an exhausted condition and could not make a proper battle. Lee listened patiently enough, but did not change his plans, and directed that I should go back the next day and make a stand at the mountain. After lying down, my mind was still on the battle of the next day, and I [666] was so impressed with the thought that it would be impossible for us to do anything at South Mountain with the fragments of a worn and exhausted army, that I rose and, striking a light, wrote a note to General Lee, urging him to order Hill away and concentrate at Sharpsburg. To that note I got no answer, and the next morning I marched as directed, leaving General Toombs, as ordered by General Lee, at Hagerstown to guard our trains and supplies.

We marched as hurriedly as we could over a hot and dusty road, and reached the mountain about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, with the troops much scattered and worn. In riding up the mountain to join General Hill I discovered that everything was in such disjointed condition that it would be impossible for my troops and Hill's to hold the mountain against such forces as McClellan had there, and wrote a note to General Lee, in which I stated that fact, and cautioned him to make his arrangements to retire that night. We got as many troops up as we could, and by putting in detachments here and there managed to hold McClellan in check until night, when Lee ordered the withdrawal to Sharpsburg.

On the afternoon of the 15th of September my command and Hill's crossed the Antietam Creek, and took position in front of Sharpsburg, my command filing into position on the right of the Sharpsburg and Boonsboro' turnpike, and D. H. Hill's division on the left. Soon after getting into position we found our left, at Dunker Church, the weak point, and Hood, with two brigades, was changed from my right to guard this point, leaving General D. H. Hill between the parts of my command.

That night, after we heard of the fall of Harper's Ferry, General Lee ordered Stonewall Jackson to march to Sharpsburg as rapidly as he could come. Then it was that we should have retired from Sharpsburg and gone to the Virginia side of the Potomac.

The moral effect of our move into Maryland had been lost by our discomfiture at South Mountain, and it was then evident we could not hope to concentrate

Lee's headquarters in Sharpsburg. From a photograph. This house, which was the residence of Jacob H. Grove, is noted in Sharpsburg as the place where Lee held a conference with Longstreet and D.--I. Hill. But Lee's headquarters tents were pitched in a small grove on the right of the Shepherdstown road, just outside the town.--Editors.


South-eastern stretch of the sunken road,--or “bloody Lane.” [see map, P. 636.1] from a photograph taken in 1885.

in time to do more than make a respectable retreat, whereas by retiring before the battle we could have claimed a very successful campaign.

On the forenoon of the 15th, the blue uniforms of the Federals appeared among the trees that crowned the heights on the eastern bank of the Antietam. The number increased, and larger and larger grew the field of blue until it seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and from the tops of the mountains down to the edges of the stream gathered the great army of McClellan. It was an awe-inspiring spectacle as this grand force settled down in sight of the Confederates, then shattered by battles and scattered by long and tiresome marches. On the 16th Jackson came and took position with part of his command on my left. Before night the Federals attacked my left and gave us a severe fight, principally against Hood's division, but we drove them back, holding well our ground. After nightfall. Hood was relieved from the position on the left, ordered to replenish his ammunition, and be ready to resume his first position on my right in the morning. General Jackson's forces, who relieved ]Hood, were extended to our left, reaching well back toward the Potomac, where most of our cavalry was. Toombs had joined us with two of his regiments, and was placed as guard on the bridge on my right. Hooker, who had thrown his corps against my left in the afternoon, was reinforced by the corps of Sumner and Mansfield. Sykes's division was also drawn into position for the impending battle. Burnside was over against my right, threatening the passage of the Antietam at that point. On the morning of the 17th the Federals were in good position along the Antietam, stretching up and down and across it to our left for three miles. They had a good position for their guns, which were of the most approved make and metal. Our position overcrowned theirs a little, but our guns were inferior and our ammunition was very imperfect. [668]

Back of McClellan's line was a high ridge upon which was his signal station overlooking every point of our field. D. R. Jones's brigades of my command deployed on the right of the Sharpsburg pike, while Hood's brigades awaited orders. D. H. Hill was on the left extending toward the Hagerstown-Sharpsburg pike, and Jackson extended out from Hill's left toward the Potomac. The battle opened, heavily with the attacks of the corps of Hooker, Mansfield, and Sumner against our left center, which consisted of Jackson's right and D. H. Hill's left. So severe and persistent were these attacks that I was obliged to send Hood to support our center. The Federals forced us back a little, however, and held this part of our position to the end of the day's work. With new troops and renewed efforts McClellan continued his attacks upon this point from time to time,

The sunken road, or “bloody Lane.” from a photograph taken since the War. This view is from the second bend in the lane, looking toward the Hagerstown pike, the Dunker Church wood appearing in the background. In the foreground Richardson crossed to the left into the cornfield near Piper's house. The house in the middle-ground, erected since the war, marks the scene of French's hard fight after passing Roulette's house. Editors.

while he brought his forces to bear against other points. The line swayed forward and back like a rope exposed to rushing currents. A force too heavy to be withstood would strike and drive in a weak point till we could collect a few fragments, and in turn force back the advance till our lost ground was recovered. A heroic effort was made by D. H. Hill, who collected some fragments and led a charge to drive back and recover our lost ground at the center. He soon found that his little band was too much exposed on its left flank and was obliged to abandon the attempt. Thus the battle ebbed and flowed with terrific slaughter on both sides.

The Federals fought with wonderful bravery and the Confederates clung to their ground with heroic courage as hour after hour they were mown down like grass. The fresh troops of McClellan literally tore into shreds the already ragged army of Lee, but the Confederates never gave back.

I remember at one time they were surging up against us with fearful

The sunken road, looking East from Roulette's Lane. From a photograph taken in 1885.

[669] numbers. I was occupying the left over by Hood, whose ammunition gave out. He retired to get a fresh supply. Soon after the Federals moved up against us in great masses.

We were under the crest of a hill occupying a position that ought to have been held by from four to six brigades. The only troops there were Cooke's regiment of North Carolina infantry, and they were without a cartridge. As I rode along the line with my staff I saw two pieces of the Washington Artillery (Miller's battery), but there were not enough men to man them. The gunners had been either killed or wounded. This was a fearful situation for the Confederate center. I put my staff — officers to the guns while I held their horses. It was easy to see that if the Federals broke through our line there, the Confederate army would be cut in two and probably destroyed, for we were already

Confederate dead (of D. H. Hill's division) in the sunken road. From a photograph.

badly whipped and were only holding our ground by sheer force of desperation. Cooke sent me word that his ammunition was out. I replied that he must hold his position as long as he had a man left. He responded that he would show his colors as long as there was a man alive to hold them up. We loaded up our little guns with canister and sent a rattle of hail into the Federals as they came up over the crest of the hill.

That little battery shot harder and faster, with a sort of human energy, as though it realized that it was to hold the thousands of Federals at bay or the battle was lost. So warm was the reception we gave them that they dodged back behind the crest of the hill. We sought to make them believe we had many batteries before them. As the Federals would come up they would see the colors of the North Carolina regiment waving placidly and then would receive a shower of canister. We made it lively while it lasted. In the meantime General Chilton, General Lee's chief of staff, made his way to me and asked, “Where are the troops you are holding your line with?” I pointed to my two pieces and to Cooke's regiment, and replied, “There they are; but that regiment hasn't a cartridge.”

Chilton's eyes popped as though they would come out of his head; he struck spurs to his horse and away he went to General Lee. I suppose he [670] made some remarkable report, although I did not see General Lee again until night. After a little a shot came across the Federal front, plowing the ground in a parallel line. Another and another, each nearer and nearer their line. This enfilade fire, so distressing to soldiers, was from a battery on D. H. Hill's line, and it soon beat back the attacking column.

Meanwhile, R. H. Anderson and Hood came to our support and gave us more confidence. It was a little while only until another assault was made against D. H. Hill, and extending far over toward our left, where McLaws and Walker were supporting Jackson. In this desperate effort the lines seemed to swing back and forth for many minutes, but at last they settled down to their respective positions, the Confederates holding with a desperation which seemed to say, “We are here to die.”

Meantime General Lee was over toward our right, where Burnside was trying to cross to the attack. Toombs, who had been assigned as guard at that point,

Roulette's farm. 1.--View of William Roulette's farm-house. 2.--Roulette's spring-house, in which Confederate prisoners were confined during the battle. 3.--Roulette's spring, a copious fountain which refreshed many thirsty soldiers of both armies.

did handsome service. His troops were footsore and worn from marching, and he had only four hundred men to meet the Ninth Corps. The little band fought bravely, but the Federals were pressing them slowly back. The delay that Toombs caused saved that part of the battle, however, for at the last moment A. P. Hill came in to reinforce him, and D. H. Hill dis-covered a good place for a battery and opened with it. Thus the Confederates were enabled to drive the Federals back, and when night settled down the army of Lee was still in possession of the field. But it was dearly bought, for thousands of brave soldiers were dead on the field and many gallant commands were torn as a forest in a cyclone. It was heart-rending to see how Lee's army had been slashed by the day's fighting.

Nearly one-fourth of the troops who went into the battle were killed or wounded. We were so badly crushed that at the close of the day ten thousand fresh troops could have come in and taken Lee's army and everything it had. But McClellan did not know it, and [apparently] feared, when Burnside was pressed back, that Sharpsburg was a Confederate victory, and that he would have to retire. As it was, when night settled down both armies were content to stay where they were. [671]

During the progress of the battle of Sharpsburg General Lee and I were riding along my line and D. H. Hill's, when we received a report of movements of the enemy and started up the ridge to make a reconnoissance. General Lee and I dismounted, but Hill declined to do so. I said to Hill, “If you insist on riding up there and drawing the fire, give us a little interval so that we may not be in the line of the fire when they open upon you.” General Lee and I stood on the top of the crest with our glasses, looking at the movements of the Federals on the rear left. After a moment I turned my glass to the right — the Federal left. As I did so, I noticed a puff of white smoke from the mouth of a cannon. “There is a shot for you,” I said to General Hill. The gunner was a mile away, and the can-non-shot came whisking through the air for three or four seconds and took off the front legs of the horse that Hill sat on and let the animal down upon his stumps. The horse's head was

After the battle-position of the Confederate batteries in front of Dunker Church. From a photograph.

so low and his croup so high that Hill was in a most ludicrous position. With one foot in the stirrup he made several efforts to get the other leg over the croup, but failed. Finally we prevailed upon him to try the other end of the horse, and he got down. He had a third horse shot under him before the close of the battle. That shot at Hill was the second best shot I ever saw. The best was at Yorktown. There a Federal officer came out in front of our line, and sitting down to his little platting table began to make a map. One of our officers carefully sighted a gun, touched it off, and dropped a shell into the hands of the man at the little table.2

When the battle was over and night was gathering, I started to Lee's headquarters to make my report. In going through the town I passed a house that had been set afire and was still burning. The family was in great distress, and I stopped to do what I could for them. By that I was detained until after the other officers had reached headquarters and made their reports. [672] My delay caused some apprehension on the part of General Lee that I had been hurt; in fact, such a report had been sent him. When I rode up and dismounted he seemed much relieved, and, coming to me very hurriedly for one of his dignified manner, threw his arms upon my shoulders and said:

Here is my old war-horse at last.

When all the reports were in, General Lee decided that he would not be prepared the next day for offensive battle, and would prepare only for defense, as we had been doing.

The next day [the 18th] the Federals failed to advance, and both armies remained in position. During the day some of the Federals came over under a flag of truce to look after their dead and wounded. The following night we withdrew, passing the Potomac with our entire army. After we had crossed, the Federals made a show of pursuit, and a force of about fifteen hundred crossed the river and gave a considerable amount of trouble to the command under Pendleton. A. P. Hill

Field-hospitals at Captain Smith's barns, near Sharpsburg. From a photograph. These pictures, according to a letter received by the editors from Dr. Samuel. Sexton (8th Ohio), represent two field-hospitals established for the use of French's division at Antietam. The upper one was in charge of Dr. Sexton, who sent back the wounded men under his care at the front to this place during the battle, and afterward organized a hospital for all of the wounded soldiers found there,--utilizing for that purpose Captain Smith's barns, and erecting, besides, a number of shelters (shown in the cut) out of Virginia split-rails, set up on end in two parallel rows, meeting at the top, where they were secured. The sheds thus made were afterward thatched with straw, and could accommodate about 10 or 15 men each.

The lower picture shows an adjacent hospital for wounded Confederate prisoners, which was in charge of Dr. Anson Hurd of the 14th Indiana, who is seen standing on the right.

was sent back with his division, and attacked the Federals who had crossed the river in pursuit of us. His lines extended beyond theirs, and he drove them back in great confusion. Some sprang over the bluffs of the river and were killed; some were drowned and others were shot.3

Proceeding on our march, we went to Bunker Hill, where we remained for several days. A report was made of a Federal advance, but it turned out to be only a party of cavalry and amounted to nothing. As soon as the cavalry [673]

Blackford's, or Boteler's, Ford, Prom the Maryland side. From a recent photograph. This picture, taken from the tow-path of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, shows the ford bellow Shepherdstown by which Lee's army retreated after Antietam, the cliff on the Virginia side being the scene of the disaster to the 118th Pennsylvania, or Corn Exchange, regiment. When Porter's corps arrived at the Potomac in pursuit, on September 19th, Confederate artillery on the cliffs disputed the passage. A small Union force, under General Griffin, moved across the river in face of a warm fire, and, scaling the heights, captured several pieces of artillery. This attacking party was recalled during the night. Next morning, the 20th, two brigades of Sykes's division crossed and gained the heights on the left by the cement mill, while one brigade of Morell's division advanced to the right toward Shepherdstown and ascended the heights by way of the ravine. The 118th Pennsylvania formed beyond the crest and abreast of the dam. Soon the Confederates attacked with spirit. The Union forces were withdrawn without much loss, except to the 118th Pennsylvania, which was a new regiment, numbering 737 men, and had been armed, as it proved, with defective rifles. They made a stout resistance, until ordered to retreat, when most of the men fled down the precipitous face of the bluff and thence across the river, some crossing on the dam, the top of which was then dry. They were also under fire in crossing; and out of 361 in killed, wounded, and captured at this place, the 118th Pennsylvania lost 269.

retired we moved back and camped around Winchester, where we remained until some time in October. Our stragglers continued to come in until November, which shows how many we had lost by severe marches.

The great mistake of the campaign was the division of Lee's army. If General Lee had kept his forces together, he could not have suffered defeat. [674] At Sharpsburg he had hardly 37,000 men,4 who were in poor condition for battle, while McClellan had about 87,000, who were fresh and strong.

The next year, when on our way to Gettysburg, there was the same situation of affairs at Harper's Ferry, but we let it alone.

General Lee was not satisfied with the result of the Maryland campaign, and seemed inclined to attribute the failure to the Lost Dispatch; though I believe he was more inclined to attribute the loss of the dispatch to the fault of a courier or to other negligence than that of the officer to whom it was directed.

Our men came in so rapidly after the battle that renewed hope of gathering his army in great strength soon caused Lee to look for other and new prospects, and to lose sight of the lost campaign. But at Sharpsburg was sprung the keystone of the arch upon which the Confederate cause rested. Jackson was quite satisfied with the campaign, as the Virginia papers made him the hero of Harper's Ferry, although the greater danger was with McLaws, whose service was the severer and more important. Lee lost nearly 20,000 by straggling in this campaign,--almost twice as many as were captured at Harper's Ferry.

The battle casualties of Jackson's command from the Rappahannock to the Potomac, according to the “Official Records,” were 4629, while mine, including those of R. H. Anderson's division, were 4725, making in all, 9354. That taken from the army of 55,000 at the Second Manassas left a force of 45,646 moving across the Potomac. To that number must be added the forces that joined us; namely, D. H. Hill with 5000, McLaws with 4000, and Walker with 2000. Thus Lee's army on entering Maryland was made up of nearly 57,000 men, exclusive of artillery and cavalry. As we had but 37,000 at Sharpsburg, our losses in the several engagements after we crossed the Potomac, including stragglers, reached nearly 20,000. Our casualties in the affairs of the Maryland campaign, including Sharpsburg, were 13,964. Estimating the casualties in the Maryland campaign preceding Sharpsburg at 2000, it will be seen that we lost at Sharpsburg 11,000 to 12,000. Only a glance at these figures is necessary to impress one with the number of those who were unable to stand the long and rapid marches, and fell by the wayside, viz., 8000 to 9000. The Virginians who have written of the war have often charged the loss of the Maryland campaign to “laggards.” It is unkind to apply such a term to our soldiers, who were as patient, courageous, and chivalrous as any ever marshaled into phalanx. Many were just out of the hospitals, and many more were crippled by injuries received in battle. They were marching without sufficient food or clothing, with their muskets, ammunition, provisions, and in fact their all, packed upon their backs. They struggled along with bleeding feet, tramping rugged mountain roads through a heated season. Such soldiers should not be called “laggards” by their countrymen. Let them have their well-earned honors though the fame of others suffer thereby.

1 See General Hill's statement on p. 570, and General Colgrove's on p. 603. The following is the text of the “lost order” as quoted by General McClellan in his official report:

Special orders, no. 191.

headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, September 9th, 1862.
The army will resume its march to-morrow, taking the Hagerstown road. General Jackson's command will form the advance, and after passing Middletown, with such portions as he may select, take the route toward Sharpsburg, cross the Potomac at the most convenient point, and by Friday night take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, capture such of the enemy as may be at Martinsburg, and intercept such as may attempt to escape from Harper's Ferry.

General Longstreet's command will pursue the same road as far as Boonsboro‘, where it will halt with the reserve, supply, and baggage trains of the army.

General McLaws, with his own division and that of General R. H. Anderson, will follow General Longstreet; on reaching Middletown he will take the route to Harper's Ferry, and by Friday morning possess himself of the Maryland Heights and endeavor to capture the enemy at Harper's Ferry and vicinity.

General Walker, with his division after accomplishing the object in which he is now engaged, will cross the Potomac at Check's ford, ascend its right bank to Lovettsville, take possession of Loudoun Heights, if practicable, by Friday morning, Keyes's ford on his left, and the road between the end of the mountain and the Potomac on his right. He will, as far as practicable, cooperate with General McLaws and General Jackson in intercepting the retreat of the enemy.

General D. H. Hill's division will form the rear-guard of the army, pursuing the road taken by the main body. The reserve artillery, ordnance, and supply trains, etc., will precede General Hill.

General Stuart will detach a squadron of cavalry to accompany the commands of Generals Longstreet, Jackson, and McLaws, and, with the main body of the cavalry, will cover the route of the army and bring up all stragglers that may have been left behind.

The commands of Generals Jackson, McLaws, and Walker, after accomplishing the objects for which they have been detached, will join the main body of the army at Boonsboro' or Hagerstown.

Each regiment on the march will habitually carry its axes in the regimental ordnance-wagons, for use of the men at their encampments, to procure wood, etc. By command of General R. E. Lee.

R. H. Chilton, Assistant Adjutant-General. Major-General D. H. Hill, Commanding Division.

Comparison of the above with the copy of the order as printed among the Confederate Correspondence ( “Official Records,” Volume XIX., Part II., p. 603) shows that the latter contains two paragraphs, omitted above. In the first paragraph the officers and men of Lee's army are prohibited from visiting Fredericktown except on written permission; and in the second paragraph directions are given for the transportation of the sick and disabled to Winchester.--Editors.

2 Major Alfred A. Woodhull, Surgeon, U. S. A., wrote from David's Island, N. Y., July 16th, 1886:

General Longstreet's ‘best shot’ was undoubtedly the shell that shattered the plane table that First Lieutenant Orlando G. Wagner, Topographical Engineer, was using in front of Yorktown, when he was mortally wounded, precisely as described. He died April 21st, 1862.

Early on the morning of September 17th, 1862 (about 8 or 9 o'clock), I was standing near the guns of Captain Stephen H. Weed, 5th Artillery, when a small group came in sight, directly in our front, about a mile away. There was no firing of any importance at that time on our left, and Captain Weed, who was a superb artillerist himself, aimed and fired at the single mounted man and struck the horse. I witnessed the shot, and have no doubt it was the one General Longstreet commemorates as the ‘second best.’ My recollection is that the horse was gray, and I had the impression that the party was somewhat to the left (south) of the turnpike. General Longstreet kindly writes me that he cannot now recall the hour, but that there was little firing at the time, and that the place ‘ was about twenty feet from the Boonsboro' pike, north.’

” Editors.

3 Major Alfred A. Woodhull, Surgeon, U. S. A., wrote from David's Island, N. Y., July 21st, 1886, concerning this movement:

“Early Saturday, September 20th, Major Charles S. Lovell, 10th Infantry, crossed to reconnoiter with the Second Brigade (regulars), of Sykes's division, and other troops followed. On our ascent to the plateau we passed some abandoned artillery, but met with no opposition until nearly a mile from the bank, where a long infantry line was confronted unexpectedly. Major Lovell had been informed that cavalry was to cross before us at day-light, but we were then found to be in advance, and the cavalry which was to feel the way was in our rear, and being useless was at once withdrawn. The overlapping size of the advancing force in front, its manifest effort to envelop our left flank as well, and the probability of its extension beyond our right, compelled an immediate return, which was effected with steadiness, while skirmishing. Infantry reinforcements that had crossed the river were simultaneously withdrawn, but on the right the 118th Pennsylvania, known as the “Corn Exchange” regiment, suffered severely, especially in one wing, where it was said at the time that there was a misapprehension of orders. When our men were in the strewn there were dropping shots, but there was no direct infantry fire of importance. A fierce Union artillery fire was kept up to cover the retreat of our right, which indeed lost heavily. But there was no such slaughter as the Confederate reports announced (I think A. P. Hill put it at 3000, and said the Potomac was blue with the Yankee dead). Had the cavalry really been in advance, the reconnoissance could have been accomplished with comparative ease. I was a medical officer attached to the infantry, and, acting as an aide for Major Lovell, had opportunity to witness what is here stated.” Editors.

4 This was Lee's estimate as stated to me at the time. It is much above the estimate of those who have since written of this campaign. Colonel Charles Marshall, in his evidence in the Fitz John Porter case, gives our forces at the Second Manassas on August 29th as 50,000, not including artillery or cavalry. R. H. Anderson joined me on the night of August 29th, with over 4000.--J. L.

Lee says officially that “Antietam was fought with less than 40,000 men on our side.”--Editors.

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: