First Maryland campaign.
In the Century
for June, 1886, General Longstreet
has an article on the Maryland campaign
of 1862, which is remarkable for its ill-natured allusions to General Jackson
, as well as for its partial view of the campaign and its severe and unfair criticism of General Lee
leads us to infer that he prevailed over Lee
's hesitancy to go into Maryland
at all by reminding him of his (Longstreet
's) ‘experiences in Mexico
, where, on several occasions, we had to live two or three days on green corn.’
's corps certainly, and Longstreet
's probably, had to live on green corn for some days before the second battle of Manassas
, it was hardly necessary in General Longstreet
to recur to Mexican
experiences in order to overcome the hesitancy of Lee
. But however much Lee
yielded to the influence of Longstreet
in crossing the Potomac
, it is evident from General Longstreet
's article that Lee
unfortunately refused to be guided by the wisdom of his lieutenant when he had once entered upon the campaign.
thinks that Lee
ought not to have attempted the reduction of Harper's Ferry
is careful to throw all blame for this movement off his own shoulders, for he tells us that when Lee
proposed to him to undertake it he objected, and urged that ‘our troops were worn with marching,’ &c. He thinks, too, that the fight at South Mountain
was a mistake, and that the stand ought to have been made at Sharpsburg
, and not at the Mountain
, though he does not frankly admit that this would have involved the failure of Lee
's plans for the reduction of Harper's Ferry
After South Mountain
he criticises the battle of Sharpsburg
—thinks it should not have been fought
—but that the Confederate army ought to have yielded the moral effects of victory without further struggle by retiring at once to the south side of the Potomac
After defending General D. H. Hill
from some imaginary assailant for the loss of the captured dispatch, he adopts, more or less, General Hill
's idiosyncrasy in regard to the value of that dispatch to McClellan
and its effect upon the fortunes of the campaign.
He thinks it did McClellan
little good, and that it contributed in no considerable degree to General Lee
The animus of the article is unfair to the Confederate
leader, but makes up for this by being very complimentary to General Longstreet
If the author looks back with distorted vision upon Lee
and his deeds in this campaign, his bile is evidently deeply stirred when the vision of Jackson
passes before his mind.
Speaking of the results of the campaign, he says: ‘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
, and his was the severer and more important service.’
made a wide, sweeping march around the Ferry
, passing the Potomac
, and moving from there on towards Martinsburg
, and turning thence upon Harper's Ferry
to make his attack by Bolivar Heights.
made a hurried march to reach Maryland Heights
could get into position, and succeeded in doing so. With Maryland Heights
in our possession the Federals
could not hold their position there.
put two or three hundred men to each piece of his artillery, and carried it up the Heights
, and was in position before Jackson
came on the Heights
appeared upon Loudoun Heights
, south of the Potomac
and east of the Shenandoah
, thus completing the combination against the Federal
In the description of the battle of Sharpsburg
but a very meagre allusion is made to the tremendous struggle which took place on Jackson
's line, and which was the heaviest attack made by McClellan
during the day; and only the obscurest mention is made of the magnificent blow struck by A. P. Hill
in the afternoon, which relieved Longstreet
's own line from overwhelming pressure, and sent Burnside
's corps broken and bleeding back to the Antietam
The purpose and plans of this Maryland campaign
are not hard to understand.
had just defeated one-half of the Federal
troops in Virginia
, and driven them to the fortifications of Washington
He could not get at his foe in that position, and to remain idle at Manassas
was to give the enemy an opportunity to recover from the blow
he had struck.
He, therefore, (after, it would seem, being satisfied by General Longstreet
that his army might live on green corn!) crossed into Maryland
for he purpose of drawing the Federal
army away from Washington
in order to defend the North
His movement was immediately successful.
, without waiting to reorganize his disjointed forces, set forth from Washington
towards Frederick city, that he might cover Baltimore
as well as the Federal
His movements were necessarily slow, and this slowness was increased by his cautious temperament and the panic fears of the National Administration
, which, but a few days before, had looked upon the fall of the capital as certain.
crept slowly up the Potomac
, carrying on his work of reorganization as he went, stretching his army from the Potomac
to the Patapsco
, so as to cover the great cities upon those rivers.
His force was large, from 80,000 to 90,000 effective men, but his army was not in good condition.
One part of it had but recently returned from the unsuccessful Peninsula campaign, another part under Pope
had been dreadfully beaten at Manassas
Gaps had been filled by new troops not yet inured to service.
With his usual tendency to exaggerate the strength of his foes, McClellan
believed that the veteran and victorious army in his front was at least equal in strength to his own. Add to these considerations the fact that General Halleck
, the Federal commander-in-chief
, had not recovered from the nightmare induced by Pope
's disasters, and seemed possessed of but one idea, which was, that Lee
's object was to draw off the Federal
army from Washington
, and then suddenly cross to the Virginia
side of the Potomac
and attack that city.
was therefore constantly warning McClellan
against such a movement.
says on the 9th: ‘We must be very cautious about stripping too much the forts on the Washington
It may be the enemy's object to draw off the mass of our forces, and then attempt to attack from the Virginia
side of the Potomac
On the 12th President Lincoln
telegraphs: ‘I have advices that Jackson
is crossing the Potomac
, and probably the whole Rebel army will be drawn from Maryland
On the 13th Halleck
says: ‘Until you know more certainly the enemy's forces south of the Potomac
you are wrong in thus uncovering the capital.
I am of the opinion that the enemy will send a small column towards Pennsylvania
and draw your forces in that direction, then suddenly move on Washington
with the forces south of the Potomac
, and those he might cross over.’
This was the very day on which McClellan
obtained the lost dispatch.
the 14th Halleck
says: ‘I fear you are exposing your left and rear.’
And even as late as the 16th he urges the same idea upon McClellan
Now, if we put together the condition of McClellan
's army, his slowness and caution as a commander, which was so fully evidenced in the Peninsula
campaign, and the apprehension with which the Federal Administration
viewed his increasing distance from Washington
, is it not evident that McClellan
's progress must have been slow, and as he approached the mountains slower still?
In estimating McClellan
's progress, General Lee
could not have known fully of Halleck
's fears, and of the constant pulling back exercised upon Mc-Clellan from Washington
, but he knew the sensitiveness of the Federal Government
in regard to that city, he knew McClellan
's cautious character as a commander thoroughly, he knew the disordered condition of his army—indeed, probably underrated the rapidity with which it was recuperating—and from these data he estimated, fairly and justly, we believe, the length of time it would take McClellan
to reach the South Mountain
expected, of course, when he entered Maryland
that the garrison at Harper's Ferry
would leave the place and escape to the North
Finding that it continued there, he determined, while watching and waiting for McClellan
, to capture this garrison and the large amount of ordnance and other supplies which had been collected at Harper's Ferry
He proposed to General Longstreet
, it seems, to carry out this plan, but finding his senior lieutenant unable to appreciate the opportunity, he turned to Jackson
, whose vigor and boldness better suited the enterprise.
On the 10th of September the army left Frederick
, as General Longstreet
states, was to make a sweeping march by way of Williamsport
, and, driving the Federal
troops at the latter place towards Harper's Ferry
, close all the avenues of escape in the angle between the Shenandoah
and the Potomac
At the same time McLaws
, with his own and Anderson
's divisions, was sent into Pleasant Valley
, with instructions to take Maryland Heights
, and hedge in the garrison on the north side of the Potomac
J. G. Walker
, with two brigades, was ordered from the mouth of the Monocacy
to cross the Potomac
, move towards Harper's Ferry
, and, seizing the Loudoun Heights
, to shut up the eastern angle formed by the Shenandoah
and the Potomac
was sent to Hagerstown
to look after some supplies and reported movements of troops from Pennsylvania
, while D. H. Hill
was left at Boonesboroa to be ready to support Stuart
's cavalry and to guard the mountainpass
which led to McLaws
's rear until Harper's Ferry
It was not General Lee
's original intention to dispute the passage of South Mountain
His design, on the other hand, was to induce the Federal
army, if possible, to cross that range into the Hagerstown Valley
, and when this army had thus gotten fairly out of the reach of Washington
commander expected to give it battle upon his own terms.
And, judging from McClellan
's character and movements, Lee
believed he would have ample time for the reduction of Harper's Ferry
and the reunion of his divided army in the neighborhood of Hagerstown
would be ready to cross the mountain.
Consequently D. H. Hill
were expected to delay McClellan
's march until the operations at Harper's Ferry
should be completed.
On the 13th of September a copy of General Lee
's order, giving the proposed movements of every division in his army until it should be reunited after the capture of Harper's Ferry
, fell into the hands of General McClellan
The copy so captured was the one sent from General Lee
's headquarters addressed to General D. H. Hill
How it was lost, and where, are not definitely known.
states that he never received this copy of the order, and consequently it must have been lost through the carelessness of some one else, but we believe no means exist of tracing the history of this accident further.
thinks that McClellan
might have gotten through his own agencies all the information the order gave him; but such a supposition is at variance with all the facts of the case.
's dispatches show, the movement of Confederate troops to the south side of the Potomac
was interpreted as a menace to Washington
, and served simply to hamper McClellan
Nor could any agencies, even had they been vastly more efficient than usual, have revealed to McClellan
the position for days to come of every part of Lee
's army as well as the designs of its commander.
, it is certain, valued the importance of the order infinitely higher than General Longstreet
He gave vent to demonstrations of joy when he read it, and at once comprehended the opportunity presented for striking his adversary a tremendous blow.
By a prompt movement forward he might expect to overwhelm the small part of Lee
's army in his front, and, turning down upon the rear of McLaws
, might raise the siege of Harper's Ferry
, and perhaps destroy a portion of the troops engaged in conducting it.
At once orders were issued to every part of the Federal
army for a vigorous forward movement.
found his cavalry pickets
attacked and pressed back with unusual vigor.
Everything on the evening of September 13th gave indications of a change in the mode of movement of the Federal
Some one who had been a witness of the scene at McClellan
's headquarters when the lost dispatch was brought to him came through the lines and informed Stuart
, who then understood the cause of the Federal
sent in turn, the information to General Lee
received it some time during the night of the 13th, and at once ordered Longstreet
back to Boonesboroa to support Hill
says that he urged Lee
not to make a stand at Boonesboroa, but to bring D. H. Hill
back to Sharpsburg
leaves us in doubt as to his opinion of the effect of this movement on the Harper's Ferry
enterprise, but as such a movement would have uncovered McLaws
's rear, there is no doubt that it would have cost the failure of the plan for the reduction of Harper's Ferry
. General Lee
was not prepared to yield so much to his enemy.
Nor is it certain that the line of the Antietam
presented any better opportunity for opposing McClellan
than did South Mountain
, where greatly inferior forces could, if well handled, keep back, for a time at least, the Federal
It is not our purpose to discuss the battle of South Mountain
, about which much might be said.
General D. H. Hill
, aided later in the day by General Longstreet
, was able to hold the mountain passes at Turner's Gap all day of September 14th.
Their commands suffered heavily, however, and such positions were won by the Federal
army as to insure their possession of the mountain next day. Meantime the Federals
had gained possession of Crampton's Gap, but not until too late to press McLaws
on the 14th.
withdrew towards Sharpsburg
While this movement was in progress he learned of the fall of Harper's Ferry
, and ordered the concentration of his whole army behind the Antietam
Let us turn now to operations about Harper's Ferry
According to General Lee
's captured order McLaws
was to possess himself of Maryland Heights
by Friday morning, September 12th; Walker
, at the same time, was, if practicable, to be in possession of Loudoun Heights
, by Friday night, September 12th, was expected to be in possession of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and ‘of such of the enemy as may be at Martinsburg
had by far the longest march to make to reach Harper's Ferry
; it amounted to about fifty miles. He was at Martinsburg
, according to orders, on the night of the 12th, and had driven the Federal
troops from that place towards Harper's Ferry
About 11 o'clock on the morning of the 13th the head of his column came in sight of the enemy drawn up on Bolivar Heights, the southwestern suburb of Harper's Ferry
was fully on time.
, who had not half the distance of Jackson
to march, entered Pleasant Valley
on the 11th, and on the 12th proceeded towards Maryland Heights
The way was rough.
themselves were not strongly guarded—by a small force, I think, of two regiments.
It was about half-past 4 on Saturday evening, the 13th, when General Kershaw
succeeded in carrying the Heights
The Confederate loss in this operation was slight, which shows that the resistance was not very determined.
It was difficult to get artillery upon the mountain from the Pleasant Valley
side and General McLaws
had to haul them up by hand, and it was 2 o'clock P. M. Sunday, 14th, before McLaws
's guns were in position to cooperate with Jackson
's in the reduction of Harper's Ferry
Thus the capture of Maryland Heights
was accomplished, not on Friday morning, but some thirty hours later, on Saturday evening, and when McLaws
got possession of the Heights
had been for some hours at Bolivar
, who crossed to the Virginia
side at the Point of Rocks
, reached the foot of Loudoun Heights
by 10 o'clock on the 13th (Saturday), and took possession of them without opposition by 2 P. M. of that day. By 8 o'clock on the morning of the 14th his artillery was up and ready for action.
It thus appears that McLaws
were each more than a day late in reaching their positions and about two days late in getting their artillery into place for effective co-operation in the reduction of the garrison.
Hence the statement by General Longstreet
made a hurried march to reach Maryland Heights
could get in position, and succeeded in doing so, gives an entirely erroneous impression.
We have nothing to say in derogation of the brave and skillful part performed by General McLaws
and General Walker
in the reduction of Harper's Ferry
—all honor to them for what they did—but it is evident that if McLaws
made a hurried march, Jackson
must have made one more than twice as much hurried, since in the same time he marched about fifty miles to McLaws
Nor is it true that McLaws
reached Maryland Heights
got in position.
It was General Lee
's intention, evidently, from his order, that both McLaws
should be in position before Jackson
, as it was likely that the enemy, when alarmed, would attempt to escape through the avenues to be guarded by their commands, but Jackson
, as we have seen, was in front of Bolivar
before either Maryland
or Loudoun Heights
After the various commands were in position the intervention of the rivers between Jackson
and his colleagues made it difficult to communicate with them.
The only means of communication was by signals, and some hours were consumed in learning the condition of affairs and transmitting the orders for attack.
opened fire from his guns on the afternoon of the 14th.
then followed suit, and McLaws
joined in a little later in the afternoon.
The fire from Walker
's guns was effective, as it was a plunging fire at no great distance.
was too far off to accomplish as much, but the moral effect of his shells, plunging from the mountain tops, was no doubt great.
's troops were the only ones who could come in contact with the garrison since the Potomac
separated the Federals
, and the Shenandoah
separated them from Walker
made disposition therefore to attack the Federal
, in his interesting article in the June Century
, says that as late as midday on the 14th Jackson
had no knowledge of the important events transpiring at the South Mountain
passes, and thought the fight going on there was simply a cavalry affair.
He therefore spoke at that time of regularly summoning the garrison to surrender, and of giving time for the removal of non-combatants before opening his batteries.
Later in the day Jackson
learned from General Lee
of the great danger threatened by McClellan
's unexpectedly rapid advance, and was informed of the urgent necessity for completing the operations at Harper's Ferry
set to work with all his energy on the night of the 14th, and accomplished the object in view.
During that night A. P. Hill
, who was next the Shenandoah
, was thrown forward, until some of his troops were on the right and in the rear of the Federal
line of defence.
's division, near the Potomac
, was thrown forward to attack the portion of the Federal
line in its front.
's division was moved forward on the turnpike between the two.
During the night Colonel Crutchfield
took ten guns over the Shenandoah
, and established them near the foot of Loudoun Heights
, so as to attack the formidable fortifications of the Federals
Colonel Lindsay Walker
, and his gallant adjutant, Ham
, brought up a large number of Hill
's batteries to a position which a portion of Hill
's infantry had gained.
The greatest activity prevailed in Jackson
's command during the night.
The General himself took little if any rest, and soon after daylight mounted his horse and rode to the front.
Fire was opened from all of Jackson
's batteries that were in position at an early hour.
This fire was
seconded by McLaws
's and Walker
's guns from the mountain tops.
‘In an hour,’ says Jackson
, ‘the enemy's fire seemed to be silenced, and the batteries of General Hill
were ordered to cease their fire, which was the signal for storming the works.’
Again, however, the enemy opened, drawing a rapid fire from Hill
's batteries at close quarters.
At 8 o'clock, as Jackson
's lines were about moving forward to the attack, the white flag was hoisted, and the garrison surrendered.
The captures amounted to over 1,000 men, 73 pieces of artillery, 13,000 stand of small arms, and other stores.
During the 14th McClellan
had thrown forward Franklin
ton's Gap, through which McLaws
had entered Pleasant Valley
After a spirited resistance by Colonel Munford
's cavalry and Mc-Laws's rear guard, the mountain pass was forced, and at nightfall Franklin
had full possession of the road to McLaws
But a day had been gained, and this was enough to insure the fall of Harper's Ferry
During the evening and night of the 14th McLaws
moved back a large part of his troops, and drew them up across the Valley
in so strong a position, and so skillfully, that Franklin
next morning declined to attack.
After the surrender of Harper's Ferry
who, on the morning of the 15th, was hedged in by the garrison at the one end of Pleasant Valley
, and by Franklin
at the other, was relieved from his unpleasant position.
He withdrew through Harper's Ferry
, and returned to the army by the route taken by Jackson
, many of whose men had had little rest on the night of the 14th, left A. P. Hill
to dispose of the prisoners and stores at Harper's Ferry
, and on the evening of the 15th set out to rejoin his chief.
By a severe night-march he reached the Potomac
, and on the morning of the 16th crossed the river and rejoined Lee
followed him closely, and reached the battlefield at about the same time.
rested for some time near Harper's Ferry
, and then moved towards Sharpsburg
, which he did not reach until about 9 o'clock on the 17th.
Of the soldiers of the Federal
garrison cooped up in Harper's Ferry
none escaped except about 1,300 cavalry under Colonel Davis
They silently made their way up the north bank of the Potomac
at the foot of Maryland Heights
during the night of the 14th.
Next morning in their retreat they ran foul of some of Longstreet
's trains near Sharpsburg
and did some damage.
The road by which these soldiers escaped was on General McLaws
had suggested to McLaws
the propriety of guarding it, and Jackson
had cautioned him against the danger of the garrison's attempting
to escape into Maryland
, but McLaws
, no doubt, thought his troops on Maryland Heights
sufficiently blocked the road at its base, and the consequence was the escape of the Federal
The operations of Harper's Ferry
were under Jackson
's control as the senior officer
There was, we believe, no disposition on the part of the Virginia
papers, nor of anyone else, to make Jackson
the ‘hero of Harper's Ferry
’ to the disparagement of any of his colleagues, but it probably never occurred to any one but General Longstreet
's was not the leading part in this brilliant operation.
All honor to General McLaws
for what he did, but his was not the ‘severer and more important service.’
Creditable as was the part he played, it has no claim either from its intrinsic importance, or from the manner in which he discharged the duties assigned him, to be classed with Jackson
's achievements on the same occasion.
, after the capture of the lost dispatch, was no longer perplexed as to his adversary's designs, but was free to devote all of his energies to the relief of Harper's Ferry
and the crushing of that part of the Confederate army which was nearest to him before the other portion could rejoin it, the habitual caution and slowness of the Federal
commander prevented him from reaping the full advantage of his good fortune.
As we have seen, Lee
was able to hold him back at the South Mountain
passes until nightfall on the 14th of September, and the time thus gained was sufficient to insure the fall of Harper's Ferry
early next morning.
This disaster to the Federal
army was known to McClellan
as soon as it was to Lee
, and thenceforward the former's only object must have been to exact as severe a penalty as possible from his adversary for this success.
took position behind the Antietam
, on September 15th, he had but Longstreet
and D. H. Hill
with him, and as this fact was known to McClellan
, it is difficult to account for the deliberation of his movements.
, it is true, disposed of his troops and batteries so as to show as formidable a front as possible Imposed upon to some extent by this, and slow at best, McClellan
not only did not attack on the afternoon of the 15th, but was not ready to do so until nightfall of the 16th.
It was Wednesday morning, the 17th of September, before the Federal
commander was able to deliver battle.
used every hour of his time in energetic efforts to re-unite his army.
The troops about Harper's Ferry
were recalled to Sharpsburg
by orders suitable to the urgency of the occasion.
, leaving A. P. Hill
's division, marched back on the evening and night
of the 15th. J. G. Walker
was close behind him. These two reached Sharpsburg
during the forenoon of the 16th.
were a day later, and arrived on the morning of the 17th after the battle had been some hours in progress.
A. P. Hill
was sent for on the night of the 16th, and, leaving early on the 17th, reached the field, as we shall see, in time to snatch victory from Burnside
, by great effort, concentrated all his army in time for participation in the battle.
This concentration was, however, effected by exhausting marches and at the price of much straggling.
On the 16th the two armies were separated by Antietam creek
occupying the hills west of the stream, which offered a fine commanding position.
His right rested at the Burnside bridge
-the lower one of the three which were used in the battle.
His right centre faced towards the bridge on the turnpike leading from Sharpsburg
His left centre and left extended northward, gradually receding from the creek and finally resting upon the Hagerstown turnpike
some two miles or so north of Sharpsburg
Cavalry continued the line thence to the Potomac
's—two divisions held the left, supported by Hood
In the centre was D. H. Hill
Beyond him, towards the right, was Evans
and D. R. Jones
's division of Longstreet
A part of Toombs
's brigade held the bridge on the right.
J. G. Walker
's brigades had been sent to this flank on the 16th, but early on the 17th were ordered to the other wing to help Jackson
's cavalry was mainly on Jackson
's left guarding that flank.
A number of batteries had been sent to assist him.
's plan was to throw the corps of Hooker
, and Sumner
, supported by Franklin
if necessary, against the Confederate
left wing, and, as soon as matters looked favorable there, to move Burnside
's corps against the Confederate
Whenever either of these attacks were successful, he intended to advance his centre with all the forces then disposable.
It thus appears that McClellan
intended to throw the half of his army upon Lee
's left and support it if necessary by Franklin
His other operations were to be in concert with this, but subsidiary.
At daylight on the 17th, Hooker
opened the battle by fiercely attacking Jackson
After a terrible struggle, Jackson
's two weak divisions were forced back, when Hood
's veteran brigades and part of D. H. Hill
's brave men came to the rescue, and Hooker
's corps was broken in pieces.
, who was close
, came to his assistance, and once more ensued a struggle of the fiercest and bloodiest character.
yielded to the pressure and were forced to the west side of the Hagerstown turnpike
, while Hill
's men were driven back upon the remainder of his division along the ‘Bloody Lane.’
The Federals got for a time a foothold near the Dunker church; but if the Confederates
's wing had been forced to yield ground, they had exacted a fearful price for it, and at 9 o'clock in the morning Mansfield
's corps was fought out. There was nothing left of it but a few fragments, in no condition of themselves to renew the attack.
had fallen and Hooker
had been borne wounded from the field.
Now it was that McClellan
threw in Sumner
, whose corps made the Federal
force that had been launched against the left of the Confederate army, in all 40,000 men. Sumner
's corps became divided in moving to the attack.
himself, leading Sedgwick
's division, followed the track of Hooker
and moved against Jackson
's weak lines in the woods north of the Dunker church.
found that at this time Hooker
's corps was not only repulsed but dispersed.
He says: ‘I saw nothing of his corps at all as I was advancing with my command on the field.
There were some troops lying down on the left which I took to belong to Mansfield
's corps was dispersed.
There is no question about that.’
Though it is plain from this that Jackson
had nothing to fear from Hooker
, the advance of Sedgwick
's five or six thousand fresh men threatened to overwhelm the weak Confederate line.
But one brigade (Early
's) of Jackson
's command had not been seriously engaged.
Early was instructed (in conjunction with the other forces at hand) to hold the enemy in check if possible until reinforcements could arrive.
and J. G. Walker
were rapidly approaching.
, with his artillery, and Grigsby
, with a handful of Jackson
's old division, clung tenaciously to some ground in Sedgwick
's front, while Hood
, in the woods near the church, fiercely contested every inch he was forced to yield.
A bold and skillful move of Early
defeated and drove back some of Mansfield
's men, who were pressing Hood
, and opened the way for a crushing flank attack upon Sedgwick
In a few moments this attack was made by McLaws
, and Early
, all in conjunction, and in twenty minutes two fifths of Sedgwick
's men were hors de combat
, and the remainder were driven in confusion to the refuge of the Federal
batteries from the line of which they had advanced.
This ended the serious fighting on the Confederate
's attack had failed, and Jackson
and his gallant colleagues held the field.
was leading Sedgwick
to the attack the other two divisions of his corps, under French and Richardson
, turned southward, and soon found themselves face to face with the centre of the army along the Bloody Lane
This position was held at first by two of D. H. Hill
's brigades and some fragments of the others.
A little later R. H. Anderson
's division reinforced it. Sumner
, when Sedgwick
was being pressed, ordered French and Richardson
to attack the troops in their front in order to make a diversion.
After a most gallant resistance Hill
was driven from the Bloody Lane
was involved in the defeat, and it looked as if the enemy was about to pierce the Confederate
The noble efforts of many brave men prevented this result.
The artillery was managed and served with a skill and gallantry never surpassed.
Fragments of commands fought with a splendid determination.
As General Longstreet
says, the brave Colonel J. R. Cooke
showed front to the enemy when he no longer had a cartridge.
Such instances of courage and gallantry as General Longstreet
relates of his own staff did much to encourage our men. The manner in which Longstreet
, D. H. Hill
, and other officers of high rank exposed themselves contributed to the result, and though, as General Longstreet
says, some ground was gained and held at this point by the Federals
, the attempt to break through the centre failed.
's article would lead one to infer that this attack of French and Richardson
was the leading event of the day on the field north of Sharpsburg
It does not, however, deserve this distinction, having been subsidiary to the efforts made early in the morning further to the Confederate
Let us see how the battle seemed to the people who were making the attacks up to this time.
, a gallant officer of Sedgwick
's division, who has given us the best account so far written of this campaign, says: ‘The right attack spent its force when Sedgwick
Up to that time there had been close connection of place and some connection of time between the movements of the First (Hooker
's), Twelfth (Mansfield
's), and Second (Sumner
's) corps, but after that the attacks were successive, both in time and place; and good as were some of the troops engaged, and gallant as some of the fighting, the movements of French and Richardson
excite but a languid interest, for such use as was made of these troops was not of the kind to drive Hill
, and Lee
from a strong position,
from which six divisions of the Federal
army had already recoiled, and recoiled in a condition which left them for the moment almost incapable of further service.’
The fighting on the Confederate
left and left centre was over by one o'clock in the day. Here McClellan
's heaviest blows had been delivered, and they had been foiled with such fearful loss to the Federal
army, that when Franklin
reached the field about midday Sumner
would not permit him to resume the offensive lest the repulse of this last body of fresh men might lead to overwhelming disaster.
It would be difficult to gather from General Longstreet
's article that Jackson
and his men had much to do with this tremendous struggle on the Confederate
left, though they received the first and most terrible blows delivered that morning against the Confederate army.
's plan of throwing Burnside
forward against the Confederate
right flank at the same time that his main attack was being made on their left failed of execution Toombs
, with a handful of Georgians, held the bridge over the Antietam
for hours against all efforts of Burnside
to cross it. No more gallant thing was done that day than the defence of this bridge, and it was taken only when Burnside
had found his way across the creek at a ford below, and threatened to envelop Toombs
Though forced from his position at last, the time Toombs
had gained was invaluable to the Confederates
The fighting on Jackson
's and D. H. Hill
's line had been over some hours before Burnside
was ready to advance.
When the advance did come, however, it was in such overwhelming force that D. R. Jones
's division was gradually driven back from point to point, until, by the middle of the afternoon, the Federal
troops were in the very suburbs of Sharpsburg
, and the day that McClellan
had lost on his right seemed about to be won by Burnside
on his left.
It was at this critical moment that A. P. Hill
, who had marched seventeen miles from Harper's Ferry
that morning, and had waded the Potomac
, reached the field upon the flank of Burnside
's victorious column.
With a skill, vigor and promptness, which cannot be too highly praised, A. P. Hill
formed his men in line, and threw them upon Burnside
, and the other brigades of D. R. Jones
's division, gave such aid as they were able.
The Confederate artillery was used with the greatest courage and determination to check the enemy, but it was mainly A. P. Hill
's attack which decided the day at this point, and drove Burnside
in confusion and dismay back to the bridge.
There is no part of General Longstreet
's article more unworthy than the single line in which he obscurely refers to
the splendid achievement of a dead comrade, whose battles, like Ney
's, were all for his country, and none against it, and who crowned a brilliant career by shedding his life's blood to avert the crowning disaster.
A. P. Hill
's march was a splendid one.
He left Harper's Ferry
sixteen hours after McLaws
, but reached the battle-field only five hours behind him. McLaws
had, however, the night to contend with.
The vigor of Hill
's attack, with hungry and march worn men, is shown by the fact that he completely overthrew forces twice as numerous as his own. Though his force of from two thousand to three thousand five hundred men was too small to permit of an extended aggressive, his arrival was not less opportune to Lee
than was that of Blucher
, nor was his action when on the field in any way inferior to that of the Prussian field marshal.
The battle of Sharpsburg
was a very bloody one, and a very exhausting one to the Confederate army.
As General Longstreet
says: ‘Nearly one-fourth of Lee
's men were killed and wounded,’ but they had met and defeated all the attempts of an army more than twice as numerous as themselves to drive them from their position.
We think General Longstreet
must have forgotten much of the battle when he says that ‘at the close of the day 10,000 fresh troops could have come in and taken Lee
's army and everything he had.’
A fact or two will show how wide he is of the mark.
In the afternoon McClellan
visited the right of his lines, where the main battle had taken place.
had refused permission to Franklin
, with more than ‘1,000 fresh men,’ to resume the attack.
declared that these troops were the only ones available for any effective resistance in case of attack; that Hooker
's, and his own corps had suffered so heavily that they could not be counted on, and that it was not safe to risk in fight the last body of fresh troops that was within reach.
This opinion of one of the bravest of his subordinates, of the man who had had charge for hours of that part of the battle-field, and who had been in the midst of the battle himself, was approved by McClellan
About the same time, or somewhat before it, Jackson
, under Lee
's direction, was trying to organize a force of 4,000 or 5,000 men from his meagre lines with which to move out and attack the right flank of the Federal
A little later Longstreet
himself was ordering J. G. Walker
, near the Dunker church, to resume the offensive.
went out in advance of Jackson
to feel the way for his movements.
He found the enemy commanding, with a great
mass of artillery in good position, the country extending all the way to the Potomac
, and Jackson
reluctantly concluded that the movement was impracticable with the forces he had at hand.
Thus, while McClellan
and his lieutenants were husbanding a fresh corps of 12,000 men because the 40,000 men who had been engaged on the Federal
right were deemed incapable of even holding their own lines in case of a counter attack, Lee
and his subordinates were planning such a counter attack to be made, not by fresh troops, but by regiments every one of which had been engaged in the morning struggle.
Note another fact: General Lee
held his position all next day, and no attempt was made upon it by the Federal
was unwilling to risk further battle without reinforcements, and these were on their way to him. Lee
, on the other hand, offered battle all day on the 18th.
He was ready and willing to meet the army he had repulsed on the 17th.
But he could expect no reinforcements to offset those which were about to join McClellan
, and he, therefore, withdrew his forces across the Potomac
on the night of the 18th.
It seems to me very clear that there were no 10,000 soldiers in McClellan
's army (and he had more than that number of fresh troops) who could have overwhelmed Lee
. The truth of the matter is that the Confederate army was better off at the close of Sharpsburg
than the Federal
army, and it is far more likely that Jackson
with ‘10,000 fresh men’ would have driven the latter into the Antietam
than have been driven from his own position.
It is certain at any rate that Lee
thought so, and their views may be taken as a fair offset to General Longstreet
When General Lee
undertook the reduction of Harper's Ferry
, he expected to accomplish it and to reunite his army in the Hagerstown Valley
before having to deal with McClellan
We have seen that this expectation was justified by the condition of the Federal
army, by McClellan
's character as a commander, and by the sensitiveness of the Federal Government
in regard to Washington
This expectation was defeated by the loss of the dispatch containing General Lee
's plans, and, we believe, by this alone.
seems to think that only Virginian writers consider this dispatch of great importance.
We believe that Generals Longstreet
and D. H. Hill
are the only two people who refuse to see the decisive importance of the lost dispatch upon the campaign.
, Comte de Paris
, &c.) General Lee
, we know, thought it the most important factor in the campaign.
It changed all his plans and, as he believed, the result.
A single day of delay on McClellan
at South Mountain
would probably have rendered the battle at this barrier unnecessary.
Two days delay would certainly have relieved Lee
from all necessity of defending the passes, and would have rendered possible the concentration of his army anywhere in the Hagerstown Valley
in time for battle.
There seems to us no reasonable room for doubt that the lost dispatch cost Lee
these days, and perhaps several others.
The rapid advance of McClellan
on the defensive, forced him to fight at South Mountain
or permit Harper's Ferry
to be relieved, and compelled him either to give battle at Sharpsburg
with a march-worn and depleted army or to yield the prestige of victory without a struggle.
He succeeded in capturing Harper's Ferry
and all it contained, but a few days' delay would have enabled him to concentrate his army without forced marches and the straggling produced by them, and would have placed him in condition to give McClellan
battle instead of receiving it. He might even then have failed, for, as General Lee
once said, ‘no man can predict the result of a battle.’
But does not the wonderful skill, ability, and courage with which the Confederate
commander extricated himself from the dangers that threatened him after the capture of the lost dispatch show what might have been expected had not an untoward accident prevented the execution of his original plans?
We regret the tone in which General Longstreet
speaks of Virginians
, of the great leader under whom he served, of the gallant colleagues by whose side he fought.
can never forget on how many of their fields General Longstreet
won imperishable laurels.
They can never forget the true, brave, skilful soldier who shed his blood upon Virginian soil.
They will ever gladly turn away from his carping criticisms to recall the leader who, in conjunction with A. P. Hill
, struck so splendidly at Frazier's Farm, whose ability was so conspicuous in seconding Jackson
at Second Manassas
, whose name is indissolubly associated with Sharpsburg
, Marye's Hill, the Wilderness
, and many other noted fields; who was ever ready to strike great blows alongside of his Virginian colleagues and under the leadership of his great Virginian commander.
McDonough, Maryland, July 26, 1886