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VI. the Maryland campaign. September-October, 1862.

I. Manoeuvres previous to Antietam.

When Lee put his columns in motion from Richmond, it was with no intent of entering upon a campaign of invasion across the great river that formed the dividing line between the warring powers. But who can foretell the results that may spring from the simplest act in that complex interplay of cause and effect we name war? A secondary operation, having in view merely to hold Pope in check, had effected not only its primal aim, but the infinitely more important result of dislodging the Army of the Potomac from the Peninsula. Thus relieved of all care touching Richmond, Lee was free to assume a real offensive for the purpose not merely of checking but of crushing Pope. The success of the campaign had been remarkable. From the front of Richmond the theatre of operations had been transferred to the front of Washington; the Union armies had been reduced to a humiliating defensive, and the rich harvests of the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia were the prize of the victors. To crown and consolidate these conquests, Lee now determined to cross the frontier into Maryland.

The prospective advantages of such a transfer of the theatre of war to the north of the Potomac seemed strongly to invite it; for, in addition to the telling blows Lee might [195] hope to inflict in the demoralized condition of the Union army, and the prestige that the enterprise would lend the Confederate cause abroad, it was judged that the presence of the hostile force would detain McClellan on the frontier long enough to render an invasion of Virginia during the approaching winter difficult, if not impracticable.1

Yet, if the enterprise had promised only such military gain, it is doubtful whether the Richmond government would have undertaken a project involving the renunciation of the proved advantages of their proper defensive; but it seemed, in addition, to hold out certain ulterior inducements, which were none the less alluring for being somewhat vague. The theory of the invasion assumed that the presence of the Confederate army in Maryland would induce an immediate rising among the citizens of that State for what General Lee calls ‘the recovery of their liberties.’ If it did not prompt an armed insurrection, it was, at least, expected that the people of Maryland would assume such an attitude as would seriously embarrass the Government and necessitate the retention of a great part of its military force for the purpose of preventing anticipated risings. By this means it was believed that it would be difficult for the Union authorities to apply a concentrated effort to the expulsion of the invading force.2

Without the prospect of some such incidental and ulterior advantages as these, the enterprise would hardly have been undertaken; for, not only was it perilous in itself, but the Confederate army was not properly equipped for invasion: it lacked much of the material of war and was feeble in transportation, while the troops were so wretchedly clothed and [196] shod that little else could be claimed for them than what Tilly boasted of his followers—that they were an army of ‘ragged soldiers and bright muskets.’3

Plausible though this anticipation of a secessionist uprising in Maryland seemed, it rested on a false basis and was not more emphatically belied by experience than it was condemned by sound reasoning before the fact. Nevertheless, misled by this illusion, Lee turned the heads of his columns away from the direction of Washington, which he never seems to have dreamed of assailing directly, and put them in motion towards Leesburg. Between the 4th and 7th of September the whole Confederate army crossed the Potomac by the fords near that place, and encamped in the vicinity of Frederick, where the standard of revolt was formally raised, and the people of Maryland invited by proclamation of General Lee to join the Confederate force. But it soon became manifest that the expectation of practical assistance from the Marylanders was destined to grievous disappointment; and the ragged and shoeless soldiers who entered the State chanting the song in which Maryland was made passionately to invoke Southern aid against Northern despotism found, instead of the rapturous reception they had anticipated, cold indifference or ill-concealed hostility. Of the citizens of Maryland a large number (and notably the population of the western counties) were really loyal, a considerable number indifferent, and a smaller number bitterly secessionist. But to permit the secessionists to move at all, it was necessary that Lee should first of all demonstrate his ability to remain in the State by overthrowing the powerful Union force that was moving to meet him; while the lukewarm, whom the romance of the invasion might have allured, were repelled by the wretchedness, the rags, and the shocking filth of the ‘army of liberation.’ [197]

In the dark hour when the shattered battalions that survived Pope's campaign returned to Washington, General Mc-Clellan, at the request of the President, resumed command of the Army of the Potomac, with the addition thereto of Burnside's command and the corps composing the late Army of Virginia. Whatever may have been the estimate of McClellan's military capacity at this time held by the President, or General Halleck, or Mr. Secretary Stanton, or the Committee on the Conduct of the War, there appears to have been no one to gainsay the propriety of the appointment or dispute the magic of his name with the soldiers he had led. McClellan's reappearance at the head of affairs had the most beneficial effect on the army, whose morale immediately underwent an astonishing change. The heterogeneous mass made up of the aggregation of the remnants of the two armies, and the garrison of Washington, was reorganized into a compact body—a work that had mostly to be done while the army was on the march;4 and as soon as it became known that Lee had crossed the Potomac, McClellan moved towards Frederick to meet him. The advance was made by five parallel roads, and the columns were so disposed as to cover both Washington and Baltimore; for the left flank rested on the Potomac, and the right on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The right wing consisted of the First and Ninth corps, under General Burnside; the centre, of the Second and Twelfth corps, under General Sumner; and the left wing, of the Sixth Corps, under General Franklin.5 [198]

The uncertainty at first overhanging Lee's intentions caused the advance from Washington to be made with much circumspection; and it might, perhaps, be fairly chargeable with tardiness, were there not on record repeated dispatches of the time from the general-in-chief, charging McClellan with too great a precipitancy of movement for the safety of the capital. The van of the army entered Frederick on the 12th of September, after a brisk skirmish at the outskirts of the town with the Confederate troopers left behind as a rearguard. It was found that the main body of Lee's army had passed out of Frederick two days before, heading westward towards Harper's Ferry.

It is now necessary, for a just appreciation of the events of the Maryland campaign, that I should give an outline of the plan of operations which the Confederate commander had marked out for himself. This plan was simple, but highly meritorious. Lee did not propose to make any direct movement against Washington or Baltimore with the Union army between him and these points, but aimed so to manoeuvre as to cause McClellan to uncover them. With this view, he designed, first of all, to move into Western Maryland and establish his communications with Richmond through the Shenandoah Valley. Then, by a northward movement, menacing Pennsylvania by the Cumberland Valley, he hoped to draw the Union army so far towards the Susquehanna as to afford him either an opportunity of seizing Baltimore or Washington, or of dealing a damaging blow at the army far from its base of supplies. His first movement from Frederick was, therefore, towards the western side of that mountain range which, named the Blue Ridge south of the Potomac, and the South Mountain range north of the Potomac, forms the eastern wall of the Shenandoah and Cumberland valleys—the former [199] his line of communications with Richmond and the latter his line of manoeuvre towards Pennsylvania.

Sketch of manoeuvres on Antietam.

Now, at the time Lee crossed the Potomac, the Federal post at Harper's Ferry, commanding the debouteh of the Shenandoah Valley, was held by a garrison of about nine thousand men, under Colonel D. H. Miles, while a force of twenty-five hundred men, under General White, did outpost duty at Martinsburg and Winchester. These troops received orders direct from General Halleck.

Lee had assumed that his advance on Frederick would cause the immediate evacuation of Harper's Ferry6 by the [200] Union force, because that position, important as against a menace by way of the Shenandoah Valley, became utterly useless now that the Confederates were actually in Maryland; and the garrison, while subserving no purpose, was in imminent danger of capture. In this anticipation, Lee had proceeded solely on a correct military appreciation of what ought to have been done; and indeed General McClellan, who had no control over this force, urged the evacuation of the post the moment he learned Lee was across the Potomac. But it was the whim of General Halleck to regard Harper's Ferry as a point per se and in any event of the first importance to be held; and he would listen to no proposition looking to its abandonment. It is a remarkable illustration of the mighty part played in war by what is called accident that this gross act of folly which, as might have been expected, resulted in the capture of the entire garrison of Harper's Ferry, was, nevertheless, as will presently appear, a main cause of the ultimate failure of the Confederate invasion.

Finding that, contrary to his expectation, Harper's Ferry was not evacuated, it became necessary for Lee to dislodge that force before concentrating his army west of the mountains, and to this duty Jackson, with his own three divisions, the two divisions of McLaws, and the division of Walker, was assigned. Jackson was to proceed by way of Sharpsburg, crossing the Potomac above Harper's Ferry, and, investing it by the rear; McLaws was to move by way of Middletown on the direct route to the ferry, and seize the hills on the Maryland side known as Maryland Heights; Walker was to cross the Potomac below Harper's Ferry and take possession of the Loudon Heights. The advance was begun on the 10th: the several commanders were all to be at their assigned positions by the night of the 12th, cause the surrender by the following morning, and immediately rejoin the remainder of the army, with which Lee was to move to Boonsboroa or Hagerstown.

Up to the time of Lee's leaving Frederick, McClellan's advance had been so tardy as to justify the Confederate commander in the belief that the reduction of Harper's Ferry [201] would be accomplished and his columns again concentrated before he would be called upon to meet the Union army. But this expectation was disappointed, and all Lee's plans for ulterior operations in Maryland were thwarted by a piece of good fortune that befell General McClellan at this time. There accidentally fell into the hands of the Union commander on the day of his arrival at Frederick a copy of Lee's official order for the above movements of his troops, whereby his whole plan was betrayed to his antagonist. Instructed of the project of his rival, McClellan immediately ordered a rapid movement towards Harper's Ferry; and Lee, unaware of what had happened, suddenly found the Union army pressing forward with an unwonted rapidity that threatened to disconcert all his plans. On the afternoon of the 13th, before Lee had received any word from Jackson, Stuart, who with his troopers was covering the Confederate rear, reported McClellan approaching the passes of South Mountain, and it became evident that if he were allowed to force these, he would be in position to strike Lee's divided columns, relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry, and put a disastrous termination to the Confederate campaign. Lee had not intended to oppose any resistance to the passage of the South Mountain, and had already moved to Boonsboroa and Hagerstown to await Jackson's operations. But when the news of McClellan's approach reached him, he instantly ordered Hill's division back from Boonsboroa to guard the South Mountain passes, and instructed Longstreet to countermarch from Hagerstown to Hill's support.

McClellan, by his knowledge of Lee's movements, was so perfectly master of the situation, and the stake was so great as to authorize, indeed to demand, the very boldest action on his part. He knew the imperilled condition of the garrison at Harper's Ferry, which had by this time been placed under his control, and though its investment was the result of that absurd policy that, against his protest and in violation of sound military principle, had retained it in an untenable position, still he was bound to do his utmost to relieve it. McClellan [202] acted with energy but not with the impetuosity called for. If he had thrown forward his army with the vigor used by Jackson in his advance on Harper's Ferry, the passes of South Mountain would have been carried before the evening of the 13th, at which time they were very feebly guarded, and then debouching into Pleasant Valley, the Union commander might next morning have fallen upon the rear of McLaws at Maryland Heights, and relieved Harper's Ferry, which did not surrender till the morning of the 15th. But he did not arrive at South Mountain until the morning of the 14th; and by that time the Confederates, forewarned of his approach, had recalled a considerable force to dispute the passage.

The line of advance of the Union right and centre conducted across South Mountain by Turner's Gap, that of the left by Crampton's Gap, six miles to the southward. Franklin's corps was moving towards the latter; and Burnside's command (the corps of Reno and Hooker) had the advance by the former. The Confederate defence of Crampton's Pass was left to McLaws, who was engaged in the investment of Harper's Ferry from the side of Maryland Heights; but Turner's Pass, as commanding the debouche of the main highway from Frederick westward, was committed to the combined commands of Hill and Longstreet. This pass is a deep gorge in the mountains, the crests of which on each side rise to the height of one thousand feet. The gap itself is unassailable; but there is a practicable road over the crest to the right of the pass, and another to the left. The key-point of the whole position is a rocky and precipitous peak which dominates the ridge to the right of the pass. With a considerable force this position is very defensible; but when the advance of the Union force reached the mountain, on the morning of the 14th, it was guarded only by D. H. Hill's division of five thousand men. Reno's corps arrived near the pass early in the forenoon; but that officer directed all his efforts to the assault of the crest on the left—the key-point being overlooked. After a sharp fight Reno succeeded in dislodging [203] the Confederate brigade opposed to him, and established his troops on the first ridge, but was unable to push beyond.7 The commanding importance of the ground to the right of the pass soon developed itself, however, and on the arrival of Hooker's corps in the middle of the afternoon, he was directed to assault that position. By this time Hill had been re-enforced by two divisions of Longstreet. The ridge to the north of the turnpike is divided into a double crest by a ravine, and Hooker put in Meade's division on the right, and Hatch's on the left; Rickett's division being held in reserve. The ground is very difficult for the movement of troops, the hill-side being steep and rocky; but the advance was made with much spirit—the light-footed skirmishers leaping and springing up the slopes and ledges with the nimbleness of the coney. It was found that, owing to the precipitous figure of the mountain sides, the hostile artillery did little hurt; but the Confederate riflemen, fighting behind rocks and trees and stone walls, opposed a persistent resistance. They were, however, forced back, step by step; and by dark, Hooker's troops had carried the crest on the right of the gap. Now, as simultaneous with this, Gibbon with his brigade had worked his way by the main road well up towards the top of the pass, and as Reno's corps had gained a firm foothold on the crest to the left of the pass, it seemed that the position was carried; and though it was by this time too dark to push through to the western side of the mountain, yet the whole army was up, and with the position secured would in the morning force an issue by its own pressure. Yet these successes were not gained without a heavy sacrifice. Fifteen hundred men were killed and wounded in this severe struggle, and among those who fell was General Reno, commander of the Ninth Corps, an able and respected [204] officer. The Confederate loss was above three thousand men, whereof fifteen hundred were prisoners.

The action at South Mountain deservedly figures as a brilliant affair; and the only adverse comment that may be made thereon will turn on the tardiness in commencing the attack; for, with a more vigorous conduct on the part of General Burnside, he might have forced the pass during the forenoon, while yet defended only by Hill's small force; and not-withstanding the previous delay, this would still have put Mc-Clellan in position to succor Harper's Ferry.

During the contest at Turner's Gap, Franklin was struggling to force the passage of the ridge at Crampton's Pass, defended by a part of the force of McLaws, who was then engaged in the investment of Harper's Ferry.8 The position here was similar to that at Turner's Gap, and the operations were of a like kind. Forming his troops with Slocum's division on the right of the road and Smith's on the left, Franklin advanced his line, driving the Confederates from their position at the base of the mountain, where they were protected by a stone wall, and forced them back up the slope of the mountain to near its summit, where, after an action of three hours, the crest was carried.9 Four hundred prisoners, seven hundred stand of arms, one piece of artillery, and three colors were captured in this spirited action. Franklin's total loss was five hundred and thirty-two, and the corps rested on its arms, with its advance thrown forward into Pleasant Valley. During the night, the Confederates at Turner's Gap [205] withdrew, and the Union right and centre in the morning passed through to the west side of the mountain.

If not too late, McClellan was now in a position to succor the garrison at Harper's Ferry, whose situation was one of almost tragic interest.10 But by a hapless conjuncture, on the very morning that the army broke through the South Mountain, and was in position to relieve the beleaguered force, it was surrendered by Colonel Miles! I shall briefly detail the circumstances under which this took place.

Leaving Frederick on the 10th, Jackson made a very rapid march by way of Middletown, Boonsboroa, and Williamsport, and on the following day crossed the Potomac into Virginia, at a ford near the latter place. Disposing his forces so that there should be no escape for the garrison from that side, he moved down towards Harper's Ferry. On his approach, General White with the garrison of Martinsburg evacuated that place, and retired to Harper's Ferry, the rear of which, at Bolivar Heights, Jackson reached on the 13th, and immediately proceeded to put himself in communication with Walker and McLaws, who were respectively to co-op erate in the investment from Loudon and Maryland heights. Walker was already in position on Loudon Heights, and McLaws was working his way up Maryland Heights. The latter position is the key-point to Harper's Ferry, as a brief description will show.

The Elk Ridge, running north and south across parts of Maryland and Virginia, is rifted in twain by the Potomac, and the cleavage leaves on each side a bold and lofty abutment of rock. Maryland Heights is the name given the steep on the north bank, and Loudon Heights the steep on the south bank. Between Loudon Heights and Harper's Ferry the Shenandoah breaks into the Potomac, and to the rear of [206] the ferry is a less bold ridge, named Bolivar Heights, which falls off in graceful undulations southward into the Valley of the Shenandoah. The picturesque little village of Harper's Ferry lies nestling in the basin formed by these three heights, which tower into an almost Alpine sublimity. A line drawn from any one mountain-top to either of the others must be two miles in stretch; yet rifle-cannon crowning these heights can easily throw their projectiles from each to other— a sort of Titanic game of bowls which Mars and cloudcom-pelling Jove might carry on in sportive mood. But the Maryland Height is the Saul of the triad of giant mountains, and far o'ertops its fellows. Of course, it completely commands Harper's Ferry, into which a plunging fire even of musketry can be had from it. While therefore Harper's Ferry is itself the merest military trap, lying as it does at the bottom of this rocky funnel, yet the Maryland Height is a strong position, and if its rearward slope were held by a determined even though small force, it would be very hard and hazardous to assail.

Colonel Miles, in the distribution of his command, had posted on Maryland Heights a force under Colonel Ford, retaining the bulk of his troops in Harper's Ferry. This was a faulty disposition. He should have evacuated the latter place, and transferred his whole force to Maryland Heights, which he could readily have held till McClellan came up. Under his instructions from General Halleck, he was bound, however, to hold Harper's Ferry to the last extremity, and, interpreting this order literally as applying to the town itself, he refused to take this step when urged to it by his subordinates. But what was worse, Ford, after opposing a very feeble and unskilful resistance to McLaws' attack on the 13th, retired to Harper's Ferry, spiking his guns and toppling them down the declivity. Thus Maryland Heights was abandoned altogether. McLaws succeeded in dragging some pieces up the rugged steep, and Jackson and Walker being already in position, the investment of Harper's Ferry was by the morning of the 14th complete. The Bolivar and [207] Loudon heights were crowned with artillery during the day, and at dawn of the 15th the three co-operating forces opened fire upon the garrison. They were already doomed men; and in two hours, Miles raised the white flag in token of surrender. The Confederates, not perceiving the signal, continued the fire for some time after this, and one of the shot killed Miles on the spot he had surrendered to his own disgrace.

Jackson received the capitulation of twelve thousand men, and came into possession of seventy-three pieces of artillery, thirteen thousand small-arms, and a large quantity of military stores. But leaving the details to be arranged by his lieutenant, General Hill (A. P.), the swift-footed Jackson turned his back on the prize he had secured, and headed towards Maryland to unite with Lee, who was eagerly awaiting his arrival at Sharpsburg.

The successful lodgment McClellan had gained on the crest of South Mountain by the night of the 14th admonished Lee that he might no longer hope to hold Turner's Pass. He therefore withdrew Longstreet and D. H. Hill across Pleasant Valley and over Elk Ridge into the valley beyond—the valley of the Antietam. In the morning McClellan passed through his right and centre and took position at Boonsboroa. Meantime, Franklin, having the night previously swept away the adverse force, passed through Crampton's Pass and debouched into Pleasant Valley in the rear of McLaws. This seemed a favorable opportunity to destroy that force, which was isolated from all the rest of Lee's army; but, appreciating his danger, the Confederate officer, in the morning, withdrew all his force from Maryland Heights, with the exception of a single regiment, and formed his troops in battle order across Pleasant Valley to resist any sudden attack, and before Franklin could make his dispositions to strike, the garrison at Harper's Ferry had surrendered. This left free exit for McLaws, who skilfully retired down the Valley towards the Potomac, which he repassed at Harper's Ferry, and by a detour by way of Shepherdstown joined Lee at Sharpsburg. [208]

Upon the retirement of the Confederates on the morning of the 15th, McClellan pushed forward his whole army in pursuit; but after a few miles' march, the heads of the columns were brought to a sudden halt at Antietam Creek, a rivulet that, running obliquely to the course of the Potomac, empties into it six miles above Harper's Ferry. On the heights crowning the west bank of this stream, Lee, with what force he had in hand, took his stand to oppose McClellan's pursuit, and form a point of concentration for his scattered columns.

II. the battle of Antietam.

Whatever ulterior purposes Lee may have had touching the prosecution of the Maryland invasion, affairs had so worked together that it had become now absolutely necessary for him to stand and give battle. Whether he designed abandoning the aggressive and repassing the Potomac, or purposed manoeuvring by the line of Western Maryland towards Pennsylvania, he was obliged first of all to take up a position on which he might unite his divided forces, closely pressed by the advancing Union columns, and receive the attack of his antagonist. The circumstances were such that a battle would necessarily decide the issue of the invasion.

It was late in the afternoon of the 15th when the Army of the Potomac drew up on the left bank of Antietam Creek, on the opposite side of which the Confederate infantry was seen ostentatiously displayed. The day passed in observation of the position, and next morning that moiety of the Confederate force that had been engaged in the investment of Harper's Ferry rejoined Lee. The Confederate commander formed his troops on a line stretched across the angle formed by the Potomac and Antietam; and as the Potomac here makes a sharp curve, Lee was able to rest both [209] flanks on that stream, while his front was covered by the Antietam. The Confederate line was drawn in front of the town of SharpsburgLongstreet's command being placed on the right of the road from Sharpsburg to Boonsboroa, and D. H. Hill's command on the left. From Sharpsburg a turnpike runs northward across the Potomac to Hagerstown, from which direction the position might be turned; and to guard against this, Hood's two brigades were placed on the left. Jackson's command was placed in reserve near the left. The 16th saw the whole Confederate force concentrated at Sharpsburg, with the exception of the divisions of McLaws and A. P. Hill, which had not yet returned from Harper's Ferry. So greatly had the Confederate army become reduced by its previous losses and by straggling, that Lee was unable to count above forty thousand bayonets.

In this vicinity, the Antietam is crossed by four stone bridges; but three of these were covered by the hostile front, and so guarded as to forbid the hope of forcing a direct passage. McClellan therefore determined to throw his right across the creek by an upper and unguarded bridge, beyond the Confederate left flank, and when this manoeuvre should have shaken the enemy, the centre and left were to carry the bridges in their front. Porter's corps was posted on the left of the turnpike, opposite Bridge No. 2; Burnside's Ninth Corps on the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg turnpike, directly in front of Bridge No. 3. The turning movement was intrusted to Hooker's corps, to be followed by Sumner's two corps. The examination of the ground, and the posting of troops, and of artillery to silence the fire of the enemy's guns on the opposite side of the Antietam, occupied the hours of the 16th till the afternoon,—a lively artillery duel being, meanwhile, waged between the opposing batteries.11 Then, [210] towards the middle of the afternoon, Hooker's corps was put in motion, and crossed the stream at the upper bridge and ford, out of range of the hostile fire. Advancing through the woods, Hooker soon struck the left flank of the Confederate line, held by Hood's two brigades. Lee had anticipated a menace on that flank, and had made his dispositions accordingly,—Hood's brigades forming a crotchet on the Confederate left.12 It was towards dusk when the troops of Hooker and Hood met; and after a smart skirmish between the Confederates and the division of Pennsylvania Reserves under General Meade, the opposing forces rested on their arms for the night, both occupying a skirt of woods which forms the eastern and northern inclosure of a considerable clearing on both sides of the Hagerstown road.

This movement across the Antietam on the 16th was of no advantage: it was made too late in the day to accomplish any thing, and it served to disclose to Lee his antagonist's purpose. The Confederate commander made no change in his dispositions, save to order Jackson, who lay in reserve in the rear of the left, to substitute a couple of his brigades in the room of Hood's worn-out command. General McClellan strengthened the turning column by directing Sumner to throw over, during the night, the Twelfth Corps under General Mansfield to the support of Hooker; and he ordered Sumner to hold his own corps (the Second) in readiness to cross early in the morning.

At the first dawn of the 17th the combat was opened by Hooker, who assailed the Confederate left, now held by [211] Jackson's force. The ground on which the battle opened was the same field on which the action continued to be waged during the day; and it has already been indicated in that opening extending to the east and west of the Hagerstown road bounded on each side by woods. In the fringe of forest on the eastern side of the road, Hooker had the previous evening effected a lodgment, though morning found the Confederate riflemen still clinging to its margin, while the main force of Jackson lay in the low timbered ground on the west side of the road,13 where the Confederate troops were pretty well protected by outcropping ledges of rock. But though it had this tactical advantage for the defence, the position was really untenable; for it was completely commanded and seen in reverse by high ground a little to the right of where Hooker formed his line of battle. This height was the keypoint of all that part of the field, and had it been occupied by Union batteries, as it should have been, the low timbered ground around the Dunker church where Jackson's line lay could not have been held fifteen minutes. It is a noteworthy fact, that neither General Hooker, nor General Sumner who followed him in command on this part of the field, at all appreciated the supreme importance of this point.14 The former, beginning the combat, opened a direct attack with the view of carrying the Hagerstown road and the woods on the west side of it; and this continued to be the aim of all the subsequent attacks, which were made very much in detail, and thus lost the effective character they might have had with more comprehensive dispositions.

Hooker formed his corps of eighteen thousand men, with Doubleday's division on the right, Meade's in the centre, and Ricketts' on the left. Jackson opposed him with two divisions, Ewell's division being advanced to command the open ground, while the Stonewall division lay in reserve in the [212] woodland on the west side of the Hagerstown road. His entire force present numbered four thousand men—a great disproportion of numbers.15 After an hour's bloody ‘bushwhacking,’ Hooker's troops succeeded in clearing the hither woods of the three Confederate brigades, which retired in disorder across the open fields, with a loss of half their reduced numbers.16 The Union batteries on the opposite bank of the Antietam had secured an enfilade fire on Jackson's advanced and reserve line, and, together with the batteries in front, inflicted severe loss on the enemy. Hooker then advanced his centre under Meade to seize the Hagerstown road and the woods beyond. In attempting to execute this movement, the troops came under a very severe fire from Jackson's reserve division, which, joined by the two brigades of Hood [213] that had moved up in support, issued from the woods, and threw back Meade's line, which was much broken. At the same time, Ricketts' division on the left became hotly engaged with three brigades of Hill's division, which were at this time closed up on the right of Jackson in support; and Hooker's right division, under Doubleday, was held in check by the fire of several batteries of Stuart's horse-artillery posted on commanding ground on his right and front.

Hooker had suffered severely by the enemy's fire; but, worse still, had lost nearly half his effective force by straggling.17 In this state of facts, his offensive power was completely gone; and, at seven o'clock, Mansfield's corps, which had crossed the Antietam during the night and lay in reserve a mile to the rear, was ordered up to support and relieve Hooker's troops. Of this corps, the first division, under General Williams, took position on the right, and the second, under General Greene, on the left. During the deployment, that veteran soldier, General Mansfield, fell mortally wounded. The command of the corps fell to General Williams, and the division of the latter to General Crawford, who, with his own and Gordon's brigade, made an advance across the open field, and succeeded in seizing a point of woods on the west side of the Hagerstown road. At the same time, Greene's division on the left was able to clear its front, and crossed into the left of the Dunker church. Yet the tenure of these positions was attended with heavy loss; the troops, reduced to the attempt to hold their own, began to waver and break, and General Hooker was being carried from the field severely wounded, when, opportunely, towards nine o'clock, General Sumner with his own corps reached the field.18 [214]

The battle had now declared itself with great obstinacy between the Union right and Confederate left without having burst forth on any other part of the line. The action was fought very much in detail by both sides—each, as from time to time re-enforcements reached it, being able to claim a partial success. Hooker, after driving one of Jackson's divisions, was in turn forced back by the other; and Mansfield's corps, having caused this to retreat, found itself overmastered by the fresh battalions of Hood.19 The combat, though very murderous to each side, had been quite indecisive. It was in this situation of affairs that Sumner's force reached the ground; and it seemed at first that this preponderance of weight thrown into the Union scale would give it the victory. The troops of Jackson and Hood had been so severely punished as to leave little available fight in them; so that, when Sumner threw Sedgwick's divisions on his right across the open field into the woods opposite—the woods in which Crawford had been fighting—he easily drove the shattered Confederate troops before him, and held definitive possession of the woods around the Dunker church. At the same time, Sumner advanced French's division on what had hitherto been the left, and Richardson's division still further to the left to oppose the Confederate centre under Hill. Richardson [215] had got handsomely to work, and French had cleared his front, when disaster again fell on the fatal right. At the moment that Sedgwick appeared to grasp victory in his hands, and the troops of Jackson and Hood were retiring in disorder,20 two Confederate divisions, under McLaws and Walker, taken from the Confederate right, reached the field on the left, and immediately turned the fortunes of the day.21 A considerable interval had been left between Sumner's right division under Sedgwick and his centre division under French. Through this the enemy penetrated, enveloping Sedgwick's left flank, and, pressing heavily at the same time on his front, forced him out of the woods on the west side of the Hagerstown road, and back across the open field and into the woods on the east side of the road—the original position held in the morning.22 The Confederates, content with dislodging the Union troops, made no attempt to follow up their advantage, but retired to their original position also.

We must now look a little to Sumner's other divisions—to French and Richardson on his centre and left. When the pressure on Sedgwick became the hardest, Sumner sent orders to French to attack, as a diversion in favor of the former. French obeyed, with the brigades of Kimball and [216] Weber, and succeeded in forcing back the enemy to a sunken road which runs almost at right angles with the Hagerstown road. This position was held by the division of D. H. Hill, three of whose brigades had been advanced to assist Jackson in his morning attacks; and it was these that were assailed by French and driven back in disorder to the sunken road.23 Uniting here with the other brigades of Hill, they received the attacks both of French and of Richardson's division to his left.

The latter division was composed of the brigades of Meagher, Caldwell, and Brooke. Meager first attacked, and fought his way to the possession of a crest overlooking the sunken road in which Hill's line was posted. After sustaining a severe musketry fire, by which it lost severely, this brigade, its ammunition being expended, was relieved by the brigade of Caldwell—the former breaking by companies to the rear, and the latter by companies to the front. Caldwell immediately became engaged in a very determined combat, and was supported by part of Brooke's brigade, the rest of the latter being posted on the right to thwart an effort on the part of the enemy to flank in that direction. The action here was of a very animated nature; for Hill, being re-enforced by the division of Anderson,24 assumed a vigorous offensive, and endeavored to seize a piece of high ground on the Union left, [217] with the view of turning that flank. This manoeuvre was, however, frustrated by the skill and promptitude of Colonel Cross of the Fifth New Hampshire (Caldwell's brigade), who, detecting the danger, moved his regiment towards the menaced point. Between his command and the Confederate force there then ensued a spirited contest—each endeavoring to reach the high ground, and both delivering their fire as they marched in parallel lines by the flank.25 The race was won by Cross. The effort to flank on the right was handsomely checked by Brooke, French, and Barlow—the latter of whom, changing front with his two regiments obliquely to the right, poured in a rapid fire, compelling the surrender of three hundred prisoners with two standards. A vigorous direct attack was then made, and the troops succeeded in carrying the sunken road and the position, in advance, around what is known as Piper's House, which, being a defensible building, formed, with its surroundings, the citadel of the enemy's strength at this part of the line. The enemy was so much disorganized in this repulse that only a few hundred men were rallied on a crest near the Hagerstown road. This slight array formed the whole Confederate centre; and there is little doubt that a more energetic following up of the success gained would have carried this position and fatally divided Lee's wings.26 The few Confederates showed a very bold front, however, and, deceived by this, Richardson contented [218] himself with taking up a position to hold what was already won.

Three out of the six corps of the Army of the Potomac, and they the strongest, had thus been drawn into the seething vortex of action on the right; and each in succession, while exacting heavy damage of the enemy, had been so punished as to lose all offensive energy; so that noon found them simply holding their own. Porter with his small reserve corps, numbering some fifteen thousand men, held the centre, while Burnside remained inactive on the left, not having yet passed the Antietam.27 Now, between twelve and one o'clock, Franklin with two divisions of his corps, under Slocum and W. F. Smith (Couch remaining behind to occupy Maryland Heights), reached the field of battle, from where the action at Crampton's Pass had left him. General McClellan had designed retaining Franklin on the east side of the Antietam, to operate on either flank or on the centre, as circumstances might require. But by the time he neared the field, the strong opposition developed by the attacks of Hooker and Sumner rendered it necessary for him to be immediately pushed over the creek to the assistance of the right.28 The arrival of Franklin was opportune, for Lee had now accumulated so heavily on his left, and the repulse of Sumner's right under Sedgwick had been so easily effected, that the enemy began to show a disposition to resume the offensive— directing his efforts against that still loose-jointed portion of Sumner's harness, between his right and centre. General [219] Smith, with quick perception of the needs of tile case, of his own accord filled up this interval with a part of his division; and his third brigade, under Colonel Irwin, charged forward with much impetuosity, and drove back the advance until abreast the Dunker church. Though Irwin could not hold what he had wrested from the Confederates, his boldness, seconded by another charge made soon after by the Seventh Maine Regiment alone, served to quell the enemy's aggressive ardor. Franklin then formed the rest of his available force in a column of assault, with the intent to make another effort to gain the enemy's stronghold in the rocky woodland west of the Hagerstown turnpike—the woods Hooker had striven for, and Sumner had snatched and lost. But Sumner having command on the right, now intervened to postpone further operations on that flank, as he judged the repulse of the only remaining corps available for attack would peril the safety of the whole army.29

It is now necessary to look to the other end of the Union line, held by the Ninth Corps under Burnside. This force lay massed behind the heights on the east bank of the Antietam, and opposite the Confederate right, which it was designed he should assail after forcing the passage of the Antietam by the lower stone-bridge. The part assigned to General Burnside was of the highest importance, for a successful attack by him upon the Confederate right would, by carrying the Sharpsburg crest, force Lee from his line of retreat by way of Shepherdstown. General McClellan, appreciating the full effect of an attack by his left, directed Burnside early in the morning to hold his troops in readiness30 to assault the bridge in his front. Then, at eight o'clock, on learning how much opposition had been developed by Hooker, he ordered Burnside to carry the bridge, gain possession of [220] the heights, and advance along their crest upon Sharpsburg,31 as a diversion in favor of the right. Burnside's tentatives were frivolous in their character; and hour after hour went by, during which the need of his assistance became more and more imperative, and McClellan's commands more and more urgent. Five hours, in fact, passed, and the action on the right had been concluded in such manner as has been seen, before the work that should have been done in the morning was accomplished. Encouraged by the ease with which the left of the Union force was held in check, Lee was free to remove two-thirds of the right wing under Longstreet— namely, the divisions of McLaws and Walker—and this force he applied at the point of actual conflict on his left, where, as has already been seen, the arrival of these divisions served to check Sumner in his career of victory, and hurl back Sedgwick. This step the Confederate commander never would have ventured on had there been any vigor displayed on the part of the confronting force; yet this heavy detachment having been made from the hostile right, should have rendered the task assigned to General Burnside one of comparative ease, for it left on that entire wing but a single hostile division of twenty-five hundred men under General Jones, and the force actually present to dispute the passage of the bridge did not exceed four hundred.32 Nevertheless, it was one o'clock, and after the action on the right had been determined, before a passage was effected; and this being done, two hours passed before the attack of the crest was made.33 [221] This was successfully executed at three o'clock, the Sharpsburg ridge being carried and a Confederate battery that had been delivering an annoying fire, captured. It was one of the many unfortunate results of the long delay in this operation on the left that just as this success was gained, the division of A. P. Hill, which Jackson had left behind to receive the surrender of Harper's Ferry, reached the field from that place by way of Shepherdstown,34 and uniting his own re-enforcement of two thousand men35 with the troops of Jones that had been broken through in the attack, he assumed the offensive, recaptured the battery, and drove back Burnside over all the ground gained, and to the shelter of the bluff bordering the Antietam. This closed the action on the left, and as that on the right had been suspended, the battle ceased for the day. It was found that the losses on the Union side made an aggregate in killed and wounded of twelve thousand five hundred men; while the Confederate loss proves to have been above eight thousand.36 [222]

The morning of the 18th brought with it the grave question for McClellan whether to renew the attack or to defer it, even with the risk of Lee's retirement. After anxious deliberation, he resolved to defer attack37 during the 18th, with the determination, however, to renew it on the 19th, if re-enforcements, expected from Washington, should arrive. But during the night of the 18th, Lee withdrew across the Potomac, and by morning he stood again with his army on the soil of Virginia. This inactivity of McClellan after Antietam, has been made the theme for so much animadversion, that it may be proper to set forth briefly the facts that should guide criticism in this case.

It should first of all be borne in mind that the action at Antietam, though a victory in its results, seeing that it so crippled Lee's force as to put an end to the invasion, was tactically a drawn battle—a battle in which McClellan had suffered as much as he had inflicted. In such cases, it requires in the commander a high order of moral courage to renew battle. An ordinary general, overwhelmed with his own losses, the sum and details of which forcibly strike his mind, and powerfully appeal to his sensibilities, is apt to lose sight of those equal, or perhaps greater, suffered by the enemy; and hence indecision, timidity, and consequent inaction. What McClellan knew was that the battle had cost the terrible sacrifice of over twelve thousand men; that two of his corps were completely shattered, and that his oldest generals counselled a surcease of operations. He did not know, what is now a matter of historic certainty, that the Confederate army was by this time frightfully disorganized and almost at the end of its supplies both of food and ammunition. The general situation was, moreover, such as to inspire a circumspect policy on the part of McClellan; for Virginia had been lost, and Maryland was invaded, and his [223] army was all that stood between Lee and Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

The conduct of a commander should be judged from the facts actually known to him; and these were the facts known to General McClellan. Nevertheless, I make bold to say (and in doing so I think I am seconded by the opinion of a majority of the ablest officers then in the army38), that General McClellan should have renewed the attack on the morning of the 18th. This opinion is grounded in two reasons—the one, general in its nature; the other, specific and tactical.

If it is possible to imagine a conjuncture of circumstances that would authorize a general to act á l'outrance and without too nice a calculation of risks, it is when confronting an enemy who, having moved far from his base, has crossed the frontier, and being foiled in his plan of invasion, is seeking to make good his retreat. This was the situation of Lee. He was removed an infinite distance from his base; his plan of campaign had been baulked; his army, reduced to half the effective of that of his opponent, was in a condition of great demoralization, and he had a difficult river at his back. McClellan stood on his base, with every thing at his hand, and his troops, doing battle on loyal soil, fought with a verve and moral force they never had in Virginia and could be called on for unwonted exertion.

But in addition to these considerations there is a special reason that promised a more successful result of an attack on the 18th than that which had attended the action of the 17th. The battle-field was by this time better understood; and notably General McClellan had had his attention directed to that commanding ground on the right, before mentioned, which formed the key-point of the field; but which, strange to say, had been overlooked the day before. It was proposed to seize this point with a part of Franklin's corps; and had [224] this been done, Jackson's position would have been wholly untenable. Besides, Burnside held the deboiche of the bridge on the extreme left, and threatened the Confederate right; and Porter's corps was fresh—having been in reserve the day previous. If these considerations may be regarded as overruling the reasons that prompted McClellan to postpone attack, then his conduct must be looked upon as an error.

The Confederate campaign in Maryland lasted precisely two weeks. Its failure was signal. Designed as an invasion, it degenerated into a raid. Aiming to raise the standard of revolt in Maryland, and rally the citizens of that State around the secession cause, it resulted in the almost complete disruption of that army itself. Instead of the flocks of recruits he had expected, Lee was doomed to the mortification of seeing his force disintegrating so rapidly as to threaten its utter dissolution, and he confessed with anguish that his army was ‘ruined by straggling.’39 Thoroughly disillusionized, therefore, respecting co-operation in Maryland, on which he had counted so confidently, it is not probable that Lee would have sought to push the invasion far, even had its military incidents turned out better for him; but from the moment he set foot across the Potomac circumstances so shaped themselves as to thwart his designs. The retention of the garrison at Harper's Ferry compelled him to turn aside [225] and reduce that place. This required the presence of his whole army to cover the operation; and before it was completed, McClellan had come up and forced him into a corner, so that he never was able to carry out his original design of taking up a position in Western Maryland, whence to threaten Pennsylvania. Crippled at Antietam, he was fain to cross the Potomac, and seek in Virginia the opportunity to gather up the fragments of his shattered strength; for he had no longer the army with which the campaign was begun. More than thirty thousand men of the seventy thousand with which he set out from Richmond, were already dead or hors de combat. The remainder were in a sorry plight. Both armies in fact felt the need of some repose; and, glad to be freed from each other's presence,40 they rested on their arms—the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley, in the vicinity of Winchester, and the Army of the Potomac near the scene of its late exploits, amid the picturesque hills and vales of Southwestern Maryland.

Iii. Close of McClellan's career.

The movement from Washington into Maryland to meet Lee's invasion, was defensive in its purpose, though it assumed the character of a defensive-offensive campaign. Now that this had been accomplished and Lee driven across the frontier, it remained to organize on an adequate scale the means of a renewal of grand offensive operations directed at the Confederate army and towards Richmond. The completion of this work, including the furnishing of transportation, clothing, supplies, etc., required upwards of a month, and [226] during this period no military movement occurred, with the exception of a raid into Pennsylvania by Stuart. About the middle of October, that enterprising officer, with twelve or fifteen hundred troopers, crossed the Potomac above Williamsport, passed through Maryland, penetrated Pennsylvania, occupied Chambersburg, where he burnt considerable government stores, and after making the entire circuit of the Union army, recrossed the Potomac below the mouth of the Monocacy. He was all the way closely pursued by Pleasonton with eight hundred cavalry, but though that officer marched seventy-eight miles in twenty-four hours, he was unable to intercept or overtake his fast-riding rival.

On the recrossing of the Potomac by Lee after Antietam, McClellan hastened to seize the debouche of the Shenandoah Valley, by the possession of Harper's Ferry. Two corps were posted in its vicinity, and the Potomac and Shenandoah spanned by ponton-bridges. At first McClellan contemplated pushing his advance against Lee directly down the Shenandoah Valley, as he found that, by the adoption of the line east of the Blue Ridge, his antagonist, finding the door open, would again cross to Maryland. But this danger being removed by the oncoming of the season of high-water in the Potomac, McClellan determined to operate by the east side of the Blue Ridge, and on the 26th his advance crossed the Potomac by a ponton-bridge at Berlin, five miles below Harper's Ferry. By the 2d November the entire army had crossed at that point. Advancing due southward towards Warrenton, he masked the movement by guarding the passes of the Blue Ridge, and by threatening to issue through these, he compelled Lee to retain Jackson in the Valley. With such success was this movement managed, that on reaching Warrenton on the 9th, while Lee had sent half of his army forward to Culpepper to oppose McClellan's advance in that direction, the other half was still west of the Blue Ridge, scattered up and down the Valley, and separated from the other moiety by at least two days march. McClellan's next projected move was to strike across obliquely westward and [227] interpose between the severed divisions of the Confederate force; but this step he was prevented from taking by his sudden removal from the command of the Army of the Potomac, while on the march to Warrenton. Late on the night of November 7th, amidst a heavy snow-storm, General Buckingham, arriving post-haste from Washington, reached the tent of General McClellan at Rectortown. He was the bearer of the following dispatch, which he handed to General McClellan:

General orders, no. 182.

War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, November 5, 1862.
By direction of the President of the United States, it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that army.

By order of the Secretary of War.

E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.

It chanced that General Burnside was at the moment with him in his tent. Opening the dispatch and reading it, without a change of countenance or of voice, McClellan passed over the paper to his successor, saying, as he did so: ‘Well, Burnside, you are to command the army.’41

Thus ended the career of McClellan as head of the Army of the Potomac—an army which he had first fashioned, and then led in its maiden but checkered experience, till it became a mighty host, formed to war, and baptized in fierce battles and renowned campaigns. From the exposition I have given of the relations which had grown up between him and those who controlled the war-councils at Washington, it will have appeared that, were these relations to continue, it would have been better to have even before this removed McClellan—better for himself, and better for the country. This, indeed, [228] was practically done, when, on the return from the Peninsula, his troops were sent forward to join Pope; but the disastrous termination of that campaign prompted the recall of McClellan as the only man who could make the army efficient for the trying emergency. Having accomplished his work of expelling Lee from Maryland, he entered, after a brief repose, on a new campaign of invasion; and it was in the midst of this, and on the eve of a decisive blow, that he was suddenly removed. The moment chosen was an inopportune and an ungracious one; for never had McClellan acted with such vigor and rapidity—never had he shown so much confidence in himself or the army in him. And it is a notable fact that not only was the whole body of the army-rank and file as well as officers—enthusiastic in their affection for his person, but that the very general appointed as his successor was the strongest opponent of his removal.

The military character of McClellan will not be difficult to settle, however much it is yet obscured by malicious detraction on the one hand, or blind admiration on the other. He was assuredly not a great general; for he had the pedantry of war rather than the inspiration of war. His talent was eminently that of the cabinet; and his proper place was in Washington, where he should have remained as generalin-chief. Here his ability to plan campaigns and form large strategic combinations, which was remarkable, would have had full scope; and he would have been considerate and helpful to those in the field. But his power as a tactician was much inferior to his talent as a strategist, and he executed less boldly than he conceived: not appearing to know well those counters with which a commander must work-time, place, and circumstance. Yet he was improving in this regard, and was like Turenne, of whom Napoleon said that he was the only example of a general who grew bolder as he grew older.

To General McClellan personally it was a misfortune that he became so prominent a figure at the commencement of the contest; for it was inevitable that the first leaders should be sacrificed to the nation's ignorance of war. Taking this into [229] account, estimating both what he accomplished and what he failed to accomplish, in the actual circumstances of his performance, I have endeavored in the critique of his campaigns to strike a just balance between McClellan and history. Of him it may be said, that if he does not belong to that foremost category of commanders made up of those who have always been successful, and including but a few illustrious names, neither does he rank with that numerous class who have ruined their armies without fighting. He ranges with that middle category of meritorious commanders, who, like Sertorius, Wallenstein, and William of Orange, generally unfortunate in war, yet were, in the words of Marmont, ‘never destroyed nor discouraged, but were always able to oppose a menacing front, and make the enemy pay dear for what he gained.’

1 Lee: Report of the Maryland Campaign, in Reports of the Army or Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 27.

2 General Lee's statement on this head is somewhat vague; but it can hardly mean any thing else than what is indicated above: ‘The condition of Maryland encouraged the belief that the presence of our army, however inferior to that of the enemy, would induce the Washington Government to retain all it available force to provide against contingencies which its course towards the people (f that State gave it reason to apprehend.’—Ibid.

3 ‘Thousands of the troops,’ says Lee, ‘were destitute of shoes.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 27. ‘Never,’ says General Jones, who commanded Jackson's old ‘Stonewall’ division, ‘had the army been so dirty, ragged, and ill provided for, as on this march.’—Ibid., vol. II., p. 221.

4 ‘Like the rest of the army, the artillery may be said to have been organized on the march and in the intervals of conflict.’—Hunt: Report of Artillery Operations of the Maryland Campaign.

5 The First Corps (McDowell's old command) had been placed under General Hooker. The Ninth Corps, of Burnside's old force, was under General Reno. Sumner continued to command his own (Second) corps, and also controlled the Twelfth (Banks' old command), which was placed under General Mansfield, a veteran soldier, but who had not thus far been in the field. The Sixth Corps, under General Franklin, embraced the divisions of Smith (W. F.), Slocum, and Couch. Porter's did not leave Washington until the 12th of September, and rejoined the army at Antietam. General H. J. Hunt, who had been in command of the reserve artillery on the Peninsula, relieved General Barry as chief of artillery, and remained in that position till the close of the war. General Pleasonton commanded the cavalry division. The army with which McClellan set out on the Maryland campaign, made an aggregate of eighty-seven thousand one hundred and sixty-four men, of all arms.

6 ‘It had been supposed that the advance upon Frederick would lead to the evacuation of Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, thus opening the line of communication through the Valley.’—Lee's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 28.

7 The Confederate brigade opposed to Reno was under General Garland, who was killed early in the action. ‘Garland's brigade,’ says General Hill, ‘was much demoralized by his fall, and the rough handling it had received; and had the Yankees pressed vigorously forward, the road might have been gained.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 112.

8 Crampton's Pass debouches into Pleasant Valley directly in the rear of and but five miles from Maryland Heights, opposite Harper's Ferry. McLaws on learning the approach of the Union force, and seeing the danger of this attack in his rear, sent back General Cobb, with three brigades, instructing him to hold Crampton's Pass until the work at Harper's Ferry should be completed, ‘oven if he lost his last man in doing it.’ McLaws' Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 165.

9 Slocum's line, on the right, formed of Bartlett's and Torbett's brigades, supported by Newton, carried the crest. Smith's line, formed of Brooks' and Irwin's brigades, was disposed for the protection of Slocum's flank, and charged up the mountain simultaneously. The brunt of the action fell upon Bartlett's command.

10 To convey to Colonel Miles the information that the army was coming to his relief, he sent repeated couriers to run the gauntlet of the investing lines, and all along the march he fired signal guns to announce the progress of his approach.

11 The Union batteries were those of Taft, Langner, Von Kleizer, and Weaver, placed on the ridge on the east side of the Antietam, between the turnpike bridge and the house occupied as general headquarters (Pry's). The practice of these batteries was excellent, and their superiority over the Confederate artillery was soon apparent. Of this there is a very frank confession in the Report of General D. H. Hill: ‘An artillery duel between the Washington (New Orleans) Artillery and the Yankee batteries across the Antietam on the 16th was the most melancholy farce in the war. They could not cope with the Yankee guns.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 119.

12 ‘In anticipation of a movement to turn the line of Antietam, Hood's two brigades had been transferred from the right to the left, and posted between D. H. Hill and the Hagerstown road.’—Lee: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 32.

13 This road will be noted, in the accompanying sketch, as that on the margin of which stands what is known as the ‘Dunker church.’

14 It is equally remarkable that its importance was overlooked by the Con federates until several hours after the action opened.

15 Incredible though this return of the strength of Jackson's two divisions may appear, it is vouched for by official evidence. So reduced had his numbers become by the heavy losses of the campaign, and by the great straggling that attended the march through Maryland, that Jackson's old (Stonewall) division numbered but one thousand six hundred men. General J. R. Jones, who commanded this division at Antietam, says of it: ‘The division was reduced to the numbers of a small brigade, and, at the beginning of the fight, numbered not over one thousand six hundred men.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., pp. 222,223. Of the number of the three brigades of Ewell's division holding the advanced line, General Early, who, at a subse quent part of the day, came into command of it, reports as follows: Lawton's brigade, one thousand one hundred and fifty; Hayes' brigade, five hundred and fifty; Walker's brigade, seven hundred. This would make a total for the two divisions of four thousand men—the number above given.

16 ‘The terrible nature of the conflict in which these brigades had been engaged, and the steadiness with which they maintained their position, is shown by the losses they sustained. They did not retire from the field until General Lawton (commanding division) had been wounded and borne from the field; Colonel Douglas, commanding Lawton's brigade, had been killed; and the brigade had sustained a loss of five hundred and fifty-four killed and wounded out of one thousand one hundred and fifty, losing five regimental commanders out of six. Hayes' brigade had sustained a loss of three hundred and twenty-three out of five hundred and fifty, including every regimental commander and all of his staff; and Colonel Walker and one of his staff had been disabled, and the brigade he was commanding had sustained a loss of two hundred and twenty-eight out of less than seven hundred present, including three out of four regimental commanders.’—Ibid., pp. 190, 191.

17 McClellan: Report; Meade: Report.

18 Of the extraordinary statement respecting this part of the battle made by General Hooker, in his evidence before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, it must be said, at least, that it is not justified by facts: ‘At that time [nine o'clock],’ says he, ‘my troops were in the finest spirit: they had whipped Jackson, and compelled the enemy to fly, throwing away their arms, their banners, and saving themselves as best they could.’ (Report, vol. i., P. 581.) Now not only is this contradicted by the facts above recited, and which are derived from the reports of both sides; but General Sumner, who at the time spoken of by General Hooker reached the field, says: ‘On going upon the field I found that General Hooker's corps had been dispersed and routed. I passed him some distance in the rear, where he had been carried wounded, but I saw nothing of his corps at all as I was advancing with my command on the field. I sent one of my staff-officers to find where they were, and General Ricketts, the only officer we could find, stated that he could not raise three hundred men of the corps.’ Sumner: Evidence on Antietam, vol. i., p. 368.

19 General Sumner afterwards held the following language in regard to these partial attacks: ‘I have always believed that, instead of sending these troops into that action in driblets, had General McClellan authorized me to march these forty thousand on the left flank of the enemy, we could not have failed to throw them right back in front of the other divisions of our army on the left.’—Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 368.

20 Jackson admits that his troops had ‘fallen back some distance to the rear’ (Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 104); but the reports of the commanders that came upon the ground to take the place of his troops give this ‘falling back’ the character of a disorderly rout.

21 The fact that it was the oncoming of these divisions that decided the action on Sumner's right is plainly marked by the time of their arrival, which is put down in all the Confederate reports at ten o'clock. Sumner's corps had arrived at nine.

22 Of this attack, McLaws says: ‘The troops were immediately engaged, driving the enemy before them in magnificent style, at all points, sweeping the woods with perfect ease. They were driven not only through the woods, but over a field in front of the woods, and over two high fences beyond, and into another body of woods over half a mile distant from the commencement of the fight.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 170. See also reports of his brigade commanders—Semnes, Ibid., p. 349; Barksdale, p. 351; Kershaw, p. 353.

23 These brigades were respectively those of Colquitt, Ripley, and McRae; and General Hill mentions the following curious circumstance as the cause of the repulse that befell them: ‘The men advanced with alacrity, secured a good position, and were fighting bravely, when Captain Thompson, Fifth North Carolina, cried out, “They are flanking us!” This cry spread like an electric shock along the ranks, bringing up vivid recollections of the flank fire at South Mountain. In a moment they broke and fell to the rear. Efforts were made to rally them in the bed of an old road, nearly at right angles to the Hagers. town pike, and which had been their position previous to the advance.’—Re ports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 115.

24 ‘In the mean time, General R. H. Anderson reported to me with some three or four thousand men as re-enforcements to my command. I directed him to form immediately behind my men.’—Hill: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 116.

25 Report of Richardson's division. (This report is made by General Hancock, who was assigned to the command on the field of Antietam-General Richardson having been mortally wounded during the forenoon.)

26 This inference is strongly justified by the evidence of the Confederate reports. General Hill says: ‘There were no troops near to hold the centre except a few hundred rallied from various brigades. The Yankees crossed the old road, which we had occupied in the morning, and occupied an orchard and cornfield in advance of it. Affairs looked very critical. They had now got within a few hundred yards of the hill which commanded Sharpsburg and our rear. I was satisfied, however, that the Yankees were so demoralized that a single regiment of fresh men could drive the whole of them in our front across the Antietam. I got up about two hundred men, who said that they were willing to advance to the attack if I would lead them. We met, however, with a warm reception, and the little command was broken and dispersed. Colonel Iverson had gathered up about two hundred men, and I sent them to the right to attack the Yankees in flank. They drove them back a short distance, but, in turn, were repulsed. These two attacks, however, had a most happy effect. The Yankees were completely deceived by their boldness, and induced to believe that there was a large force in our centre.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 117.

27 The left of Sumner's command was sustained by Pleasonton's cavalry division and the horse batteries, to whose support most of Sykes' division (Porter's corps) in the afternoon crossed the Antietam

28 McClellan: Report, pp. 385, 386.

29 Franklin: Report of Antietam.

30 ‘Early on the morning of the 17th, I ordered General Burnside to form his troops and hold them in readiness to assault the bridge in his front and to await further orders.’—McClellan: Report, p. 389.

31 McClellan: Report, p. 390.

32 These statements, surprising though they may seem, are not made at random, but rest on a sure basis of official evidence. General Jones, who commanded the entire right, says: ‘When it is known that on that morning my whole command of six brigades, comprised only two thousand four hundred and thirty men, the enormous disparity of force with which I contended can be seen.’—Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 219. The force covering the bridge-head consisted of two regiments under General Toombs, numbering four hundred and three men.-Ibid.

33 ‘Though the bridge and upper ford were thus left open to the enemy, he moved with such extreme caution and slowness, that he lost nearly two hours in crossing and getting into action on our side of the river; about which time General A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harper's Ferry.’—Toombs' Report: Ibid., p. 324.

34 This conjuncture is obtained by a comparison of the time of the attack and of the arrival of Hill. The assault was made about three o'clock, and Hill began to arrive about half-past 2. ‘The head of my column arrived upon the battle-field of Sharpsburg, a distance of seventeen miles, at half-past 2, and, reporting in person to General Lee, he directed me to take position on our right.’—Hill: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 128.

35 ‘The three brigades of my division actively engaged did not number over two thousand men, and these, with the help of my splendid batteries, drove back Burnside's corps of fifteen thousand men.’—Hill: Ibid., p. 129. It appears, however, from Toombs' Report (Ibid., p. 325), that his brigade also aided in this counter-attack.

36 I give this only as an approximate estimate. General Lee gives his aggregate loss in killed and wounded in the Maryland campaign as ten thousand two hundred and ninety-one. As the killed and wounded in all the other actions save Antietam were not above two thousand two hundred and ninetyone, it leaves about eight thousand for the casualties of that battle. General McClellan states that about two thousand seven hundred of the Confederate dead were buried; and taking this as a basis, and counting the usual proportion of five wounded to one killed, the aggregate would be very much in excess of General Lee's statement. But it is needless to sound deeper in this sea of blood.

37 McClellan's Report, p. 211.

38 I may here say that this opinion is shared by General Franklin, an officer distinguished for the maturity of his military judgments. He, at the time urged a renewal of the attack on the morning of the 18th.

39 The Confederate reports are replete with evidence of the enormous straggling that attended the Maryland campaign. Says Lee: ‘The arduous service in which our troops had been engaged, their great privations of rest and food, and the long marches without shoes over mountain roads, had greatly reduced our ranks before the action began. These causes had compelled thousands of brave men to absent themselves, and many more had done so from unworthy motices. This great battle was fought by less than forty thousand men on our side.’—Report, p. 35. Says Hill: ‘Had all our stragglers been up, McClellan's army would have been completely crushed or annihilated. Thousands of thievish poltroons had kept away from sheer cowardice. The straggler is generally a thief, and always a coward, lost to all sense of shame: he can only be kept in the ranks by a strict and sanguinary discipline.’—Reports of Maryland Campaign, vol. II., p. 119.

40 On the retreat of Lee, a not very judicious pursuit into Virginia was made by a part of Porter's corps, but the pursuing column was soon driven back across the Potomac with considerable loss.

41 Hurlbut: McClellan and the Conduct of the War.

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