Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]

ter. By this time, it was dark, and the firing soon ceased; the hostile infantry lying down for the night at points within half musket-shot of each other. At daylight next morning,” the battle was commenced in earnest: the left of Meade's and the right of Ricketts's line becoming engaged at nearly the same moment, the former with artillery, the latter with infantry; while a battery was pushed forward beyond the woods directly in IIooker's front, across a plowed field, to the edge of a corn-field beyond it, destined before night to be soaked with blood. Hood's thin division, which had confronted us at evening, had been withdrawn during the night, and replaced by Lawton's and Trimble's brigades of Ewell's division, under Lawton, with Jackson's own division, under D. R. Jones, on its left, supported by the remaining brigades of Ewell. Jackson was in chief command on this wing, and here was substantially his old corps around him. Against these iron soldiers, IIooker's corps hurled itself, and, being superior in numbers, compelled them to give ground; but not until Jones and Lawton had been wounded, with many more field officers, and Starke, who succeeded Jones in command, killed. Early, who succeeded Lawton, was ordered by Jackson to replace Jackson's own division, which had suffered so severely and was so nearly out of ammunition that it had to be temporarily withdrawn from the combat. By this time, Ticketts and Meade had pushed the Rebel line back across the cornfield and the road, into the woods

beyond, and was following with eager, exulting cheers. But Hood's division, somewhat refreshed, had by this time returned to the front, backed by the brigades of Ripley, Colquitt, Garland (now under Col. McRae), and D. R. Jones, by whom the equilibrium of the fight was restored; our men being hurled back by terrible volleys from the woods, followed by a charge across the corn-field in heavy force. Hooker called up his nearest brigade; but it was not strong enough, and he sent at once to Doubleday: “Give me your best brigade instantly s” That brigade came down the hill on our right at double-quick, and was led by Harts.uff into the corn-field, and steadily up the slope beyond it, forming on the crest of the ridge, under a hurricane of shot and shell, and firing steadily and rapidly at the Rebel masses just before them. They held their position half an hour, unsupported, though many fell; among them their leader, IIartsuff, wounded severely; until for a second time the enemy was driven out of the cornfield into the woods. Meantime, both sides were strengthening this wing. Ticketts's division, having attempted to advance and failed, had fallen back. Part of Mansfield's corps had gone in to their aid, and been driven back likewise, with their General mortally wounded. Doubleday’s guns were still busy on our extreme right, and had silenced a Rebel battery which for half an hour had enfiladed Hooker's center. Ticketts sent word that he could not advance, but could hold his ground. Hooker, with Crawford's and Gordon's fresh brigades of Mansfield's corps, came up to his support, determined again to advance and carry the woods to the right of and beyond the corn-field. Going forward to reconnoiter on foot, Hooker satisfied himself as to the nature of the ground, returned and remounted amid a shower of Rebel bullets, which he had all the morning disregarded; but the next moment a musket-ball went through his foot, inflicting a severe and intensely painful wound; which compelled him, after giving his orders fully and deliberately, to leave the field at 9 A. M. Sumner, arriving at this moment, assumed command, sending forward Sedgwick's division of his own corps to support Crawford and Gordon ; while Richardson and French, with his two remaining divisions, went forward farther to the left; Sedgwick again advancing in line through the corn-field already won and lost. But by this time McLaws—who, by marching all night, had reached Shepherdstown from Harper's Ferry that morning, and instantly crossed —had been sent forward by Lee to the aid of Jackson; while Walker's division had been hurried across from their as yet unassailed right. Again Hood's brigade was withdrawn from the front, while the fresh forces under Walker and McLaws advanced with desperate energy, seconded by Early on their left. Sedgwick was thrice badly wounded, and compelled to retire; Gens. Dana and Crawford were likewise wounded. The 34th New York —which had broken at a critical moment, while attempting a maneuver under a terrible fire—was nearly cut to pieces; and the 15th Massachusetts, which went into action 600 strong, was speedily reduced to

* Sept. 17.

[ocr errors]

134. Gen. IIoward, who took command of Sedgwick's division, was unable to restore its formation, and Sumner himself had no better success. Again the center of our right gave back, and the corn-field was retaken by the enemy. But the attempt of the Rebels to advance beyond it, under the fire of our batteries, was repelled with heavy loss on their part; Col. Manning, who led Walker's own brigade, being severely wounded, and his brigade driven back. Doubleday, on our farther right, held firmly; and it seemed settled that, while either party could repel a charge on this part of the line, neither could afford to make one. But now Franklin had come up with his fresh corps, and formed on the left; Slocum, commanding one of his divisions, was sent forward toward the center; while Smith, with the other, was ordered to retake the ground that had been so long and so hotly contested. It was no sooner said than done. Smith's regiments, cheering, went forward on a run, swept through the corn-field and the woods, cleared them in ten minutes, and held them. Their rush was so sudden and unexpected that their loss was comparatively small; and the ground thus retaken was not again lost. Nearer the center, French's division of Sumner's corps had attempted to carry the line of heights whereon the Rebels were posted, and had made some progress, repulsing a countercharge and capturing a number of prisoners, with some flags. Attempts successively to turn his right and then his left were foiled ; but, after a bloody combat of four hours, French paused, considerably in advance of the position on which the fight had commenced, but without having carried the heights. Richardson's division of Sumner's corps advanced on the left of French, crossing the Antietam at 9; A. M., and going steadily forward under a heavy artillery fire, halfway up from the creek to Sharpsburg, over very rugged ground, much of it covered with growing corn, and intersected by stone walls, which afforded every advantage to the defensive. The musketry fire on both sides was severe; but our men steadily gained ground; Caldwell's and Meagher's (Irish) brigade vieing with each other in steadiness and gallantry. Here

Col. Francis C. Barlow, of Caldwell's

brigade, signalized himself by seizing an opportunity to advance the 61st and 64th New York on the left, and take in flank a Rebel force, which, sheltered by a sunken road, was attempting to enfilade our line, capturing over 300 prisoners and 3 flags. The left of this division being now well advanced, the enemy, maneuvering behind a ridge, attempted to take it in flank and rear, but was signally defeated ; the 5th New Hampshire and the 81st Pennsylvania facing to the left and meeting their charge by a countercharge, which was entirely successful. Some prisoners and the colors of the 4th North Carolina remained in our hands. The enemy next assailed the right of this division; but Col. Barlow, again . advancing his two New York regiments, aided by Kimball's brigade on the right, easily repulsed it. Next, a charge was made directly on Richardson’s front, which was defeated as before, and our line still farther ad

vanced as far as Dr. Piper's house, very near to Sharpsburg, and about the center of the Rebel army at the beginning of the battle. Here artillery was brought up—this division having thus far fought without it— and, while personally directing the fire of Capt. Graham's battery, 1st U. S. Artillery, Tichardson fell mortally wounded, and was succeeded by Hancock. Gen. Meagher had fallen some time before: the command of his brigade devolving on Col. Burke, of the 63d New York. One or two more attempts or menaces were made on this part of our line, but not in great force; and, though its advance was drawn back a little to avoid an enfilading fire from Rebel batteries, to which it could not respond, it held its well advanced position when night closed the battle. Porter's corps, in our center, holding the roads from Sharpsburg to Middletown and Boonsborough, remained unengaged, east of the Antietam, until late in the afternoon; when two brigades of it were sent by McClellan to support our right; while six battalions of Sykes's regulars were thrown across the bridge on the main road to repel Rebel sharp-shooters, who were annoying Pleasanton's horse-batteries at that point. Warren's brigade was detached and sent to the right and rear of Burnside, leaving but little over 3,000 men with Porter. Burnside's corps held our extreme left, opposite the lowest of the three bridges crossing the Antietam. He was ordered, at 8 A. M., to cross this one, which was held by Gen. R. Toombs,with the 2d and 20th Georgia, backed by some sharp-shooters and the batteries of Gen. D. R. Jones, on Longstreet's right wing. Several feeble attempts to execute this order having been successively repulsed, Burnside was further ordered to carry not only the bridge but the heights beyond, and advance along their crest upon Sharpsburg; but it was not till 1 P.M. that the bridge was actually taken, by a charge of the 51st New York and the 51st Pennsylvania; the enemy making no serious resistance, and retreating to the heights as our troops came over in force. More hours passed idly; and it was after 3 P.M. before Burnside, under peremptory orders, charged up the heights, carrying them handsomely; some of his troops reaching even the outskirts of Sharpsburg. It was an easy but a short-lived triumph; for, thus far, Lee had been able to spare but about 3,000 men, under D. R. Jones, to hold this flank of his position. Had this success been obtained hours earlier, it might have proved decisive. The Rebel forces throughout the greater part of the day had abundant occupation on our right, so that Lee was unable to spare sufficient troops to resist a determined advance by our left; but now, just as victory seemed to smile upon our arms, A. P. IIill's division —which had only been ordered from IIarper's Ferry that morning, and started at 73 o'clock—came on the ground, and, covered by a heavy fire of artillery, charged our extreme left, when disordered by charging and fighting, and drove it back in still greater confusion. Gen. Rodman, who commanded it, was mortally wounded; and the enemy, rallying with spirit and redoubling the fire of



his artillery, charged in front and flank, and drove our men in confusion down the hill toward the Antietam, pursuing until checked by the fire of our batteries across the river. Gen. L. O'B. Branch, of N. C., was killed in this charge. Our reserves on the left bank now advancing, while our batteries redoubled their fire, the Rebels wisely desisted, without attempting to carry the bridge, and retired to their lines on the heights, as darkness put an end to the fray. Jackson, during the afternoon, had been ordered by Lee to turn our right and attack it in flank and rear; but, on reconnoitering for this purpose, he found our line extended nearly to the Potomac, and so strongly defended with artillery that to carry it was impossible; so he declined to make the attempt. So closed, indecisively, the bloodiest day that America ever saw. Gen. McClellan states his strength —no doubt truly—in this battle at 87,164, including 4,320 cavalry, which was of small account on such ground and in such a struggle. General Couch's division, 5,000 strong, had been sent away toward IIarper's Ferry—evidently through some misapprehension—and only arrived at a late hour next morning;” as did IIumphrey's division of raw recruits, which had left Frederick—-23 miles distant—at 4 P.M. of the sanguinary 17th. McClellan estimates Lee's strength at 97,445, including 6,000 artillery (400 guns), 6,400 cavalry, and making Jackson's corps number 24,778 —all far too high. Lee says he had “under 40,000 men;" which probably includes neither cavalry nor A. P. IIill's division; and perhaps not

* Sept. 18.

vol. II.-14

« AnteriorContinuar »