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Some of the new troops on the left, although many of them fought well during the battle, and are entitled to great credit, were, at the close of the action, driven back, and their morale impaired. On the morning of the 18th General Burnside requested me to send him another division to assist in holding his position on the other side of the Antietam, and to enable him to withdraw his corps if he should be attacked by a superior force. He gave me the impression that if he were attacked again that morning he would not be able to make a very vigorous resistance. I visited his position early, determined to send General Morell's division to his aid, and directed that it should be placed on this side of the Antietam, in order that it might cover the retreat of his own corps from the other side of the Antietam, should that become necessary, at the same time it was in position to re-enforce our centre or right, if that were needed. Late in the afternoon I found that, although he had not been attacked, General Burnside had withdrawn his own corps to this side of the Antietam, and sent over Morell's division alone to hold the opposite side. A large number of our heaviest and most efficient batteries had consumed all their ammunition on the 16th and 17th, and it was impossible to supply them until late on the following day. Supplies of provisions and forage had to be brought up and issued, and infantry ammunition distributed. Finally, re-enforcements to the number of 14,000 men—to say nothing of troops expected from Pennsylvania—had not arrived, but were expected during the day. The 18th was, therefore, spent in collecting the dispersed, giving rest to the fatigued, removing the wounded, burying the dead, and the necessary preparations for a renewal of the battle. Of the re-enforcements, Couch's division, marching with commendable rapidity, came up into position at a late hour in the morning. Humphrey's division of new troops, in their anxiety to participate in the battle which was raging, when they received the order to march from Frederick at about half past three p.m., on the 17th, pressed forward during the entire night, and the mass of the division reached the army during the following morning. Having marched more than twenty-three miles after half past four o'clock on the preceding afternoon, they were, of course, greatly exhausted, and needed rest and refreshment. Large re-enforcements expected from Pennsylvania never arrived. During the 18th orders were given for a renewal of the attack at daylight on the 19th. On the night of the 18th the enemy, after passing troops in the latter part of the day from the Virginia shore to their position behind Sharpsburg, as seen by our officers, suddenly formed the design of abandoning their position, and retreating across the river. As their line was but a short distance from the river, the evacuation presented but little difficulty, and was effected before daylight. About 2,700 of the enemy's dead were, under the direction of Major Davis, assistant inspector general, counted and buried upon the battle-field of Antietam. A portion of their dead had been previously buried by the enemy. This is conclusive evidence that the enemy sustained much greater loss than we. Thirteen guns, thirty-nine colors, upwards of fifteen thousand stand of small arms, and more than six thousand prisoners, were the trophies which attest the success of our army in the battles of South Mountain, Crampton's Gap, and Antietam. Not a single gun or color was lost by our army during these battles.
Tabular report of casualties in the army of the Potomac in the battle of Antie-
- General Other offi- Elisted men. Aggregate. d
An estimate of the forces under the confederate General Lee, made up by di-
General D. H. Hill's 2d division............
- General J. E. B. Stuart, cavalry. --------------------------
General Ransom's and Jenkins's brigade. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , 3,000 men.
Forty-six regiments not included in above. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18,400 “
Artillery, estimated at 400 guns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ---------.... 6,000 “ Total ------------------------------------------- 97,445 “
These estimates give the actual number of men present and fit for duty.
Our own forces at the battle of Antietam were as follows:
1st corps ---------------------------------------------- 14,856 men. 2d corps. ----------------- ---------------------------- 18,813 “ 5th corps (one division not arrived) ------------------------ 12,930 “ 6th corps -------------------------------------------... 12,300 “ 9th corps ---------------------------------------------- 13,819 “ 12th corps ------. . . . . . . . . . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10,126 “ Cavalry division---------------------------------------- 4,320 “ Total in action ----------------------------------- S7,164 “
When our cavalry advance reached the river on the morning of the 19th, it was discovered that nearly all the enemy's forces had crossed into Virginia. during the night, their rear escaping under cover of eight batteries, placed in strong positions upon the elevated bluffs on the opposite bank. General Porter, commanding the 5th corps, ordered a detachment from Griffin's and Barnes's brigades, under General Griffin, to cross the river at dark, and carry the enemy's batteries. This was gallantly done under the fire of the enemy; several guns, caissons, &c., were taken, and their supports driven back half a mile. The information obtained during the progress of this affair indicated that the mass of the enemy had retreated on the Charlestown and Martinsburg roads, towards Winchester. To verify this, and to ascertain how far the enemy had retired, General Porter was authorized to detach from his corps, on the "...; of the 20th, a reconnoitring party in greater force. This detachment crosse the river, and advanced about a mile, when it was attacked by a large body of the enemy lying in ambush in the woods, and driven back across the river with considerable loss. This reconnoissance showed that the enemy was still in force on the Virginia bank of the Potomac, prepared to resist our further advance. It was reported to me on the 19th that General Stuart had made his appearance at Williamsport with some four thousand cavalry and six pieces of artillery, and that ten thousand infantry were marching on the same point from the direction of Winchester. I ordered General Couch to march at once with his division, and a part of Pleasonton's cavalry, with Franklin's corps, within supporting distance, for the purpose of endeavoring to capture this force. General Couch made a prompt and rapid march to Williamsport, and attacked the enemy vigorously, but they made their escape across the river. I despatched the following telegraphic report to the general-in-chief:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POToMAC, . “Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862. “I have the honor to report that Maryland is entirely freed from the presence of the enemy, who has been driven across the Potomac. No fears need now be entertained for the safety of Pennsylvania. I shall at once occupy Harper's Ferry. 4. “G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General, Commanding. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Commanding United States Army.”
On the following day I received this telegram:
“WASHINGTON, September 20, 1862–2 p.m. “We are still left entirely in the dark in regard to your own movements and those of the enemy. This should not be so. You should keep me advised of both, so far as you know them. “H. W. HALLECK, “General-in-Chief. “Major General G. B. McClella N.”
To which I answered as follows:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of The PotoMAC, “Near Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862—8 p.m.
“Your telegram of to-day is received. I telegraphed you yesterday all I knew, and had nothing more to inform you of until this evening. Williams's corps (Banks's) occupied Maryland heights at 1 p.m. to-day. The rest of the army is near here, except Couch's division, which is at this moment engaged with the enemy in front of Williamsport; the enemy is retiring, via Charlestown and Martinsburg, on Winchester. He last night reoccupied Williamsport by a small force, but will be out of it by morning. I think he has a force of infantry near Shepherdstown.
“I regret that you find it necessary to couch every despatch I have the honor to receive from you in a spirit of fault-finding, and that you have not yet found leisure to say one word in commendation of the recent achievements of this army, or even to allude to them.
“I have abstained from giving the number of guns, colors, small arms, prisoners, &c., captured, until I could do so with some accuracy. I hope by tomorrow evening to be able to give at least an approximate statement.
“G. B. McCLELLAN,
“Major General, Commanding: “Major General HALLEck,
On the same day I telegraphed as follows:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of THE PotoMAC, * “September 20, 1862, “As the rebel army, now on the Virginia side of the Potomac, must in a great measure be dependent for supplies of ammunition and provisions upon Richmond, I would respectfully suggest that General Banks be directed to send out a cavalry force to cut their supply communication opposite Washington. This would seriously embarrass their operations, and will aid this army materially. “ G. B. McCLElDAN, “Major General, Commanding. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Commanding United States Army.”
Maryland heights were occupied by. General Williams's corps on this day, and on the 22d General Sumner took possession of Harper's Ferry.
It will be remembered that at the time I was assigned to the command of the forces for the defence of the national capital, on the 2d day of September, 1862, the greater part of all the available troops were suffering under the disheartening influences of the serious defeat they had encountered during the brief and unfortunate campaign of General Pope. Their numbers were greatly reduced by casualties, their confidence was much shaken, and they had lost something of that “esprit du corps’’ which is indispensable to the efficiency of an army Moreover, they had left behind, lost, or worn out, the greatest part of their clothing and camp equipage, which required renewal before they could be in proper condition to take the field again. The intelligence that the enemy was crossing the Potomac into Maryland was received in Washington on the 4th of September, and the army of the Potomac was again put in motion, under my direction, on the following day, so that but a very brief interval of time was allowed to reorganize or procure supplies. The sanguinary battles of South Mountain and Antietam fought by this army a few days afterwards, with the reconnoissances immediately following, resulted in a loss to us of ten general officers, many regimental and company officers, and a large number of enlisted men, amounting in the aggregate to fifteen thousand two hundred and twenty, (15,220.) Two army corps had been sadly cut up, scattered, and somewhat demoralized in the action on the 17th. In General Sumner's corps alone forty-one (41) commissioned officers and eight hundred and nineteen (819) enlisted men had been killed; four (4) general officers, eighty-nine (89) other commissioned officers, and three thousand seven hundred and eight (3,708) enlisted men had been wounded, besides five hundred and forty-eight (548) missing; making the aggregate loss in this splendid veteran corps, in this one battle, five thousand two hundred and nine, (5,209.) In General Hooker's corps the casualties of the same engagement amounted to two thousand six hundred and nineteen, (2,619.) The entire army had been greatly exhausted by unavoidable overwork, fatiguing marches, hunger, and want of sleep and rest, previous to the last battle. When the enemy recrossed the Potomac into Virginia the means of transportation at my disposal were inadequate to furnish a single day's supply of subsistence in advance. Many of the troops were new levies, some of whom had fought like veterans, but the morale of others had been a good deal impaired in those severely contested actions, and they required time to recover, as well as to acquire the necessary drill and discipline. Under these circumstances I did not feel authorized to cross the river with the main army over a very deep and difficult ford in pursuit of the retreating enemy, known to be in strong force on the south bank, and thereby place that stream, which was liable at any time to rise above a fording stage, between my army and its base of supply. I telegraphed on the 22d to the general-in-chief as follows:
“As soon as the exigencies of the service will admit of it, this army should be reorganized. It is absolutely necessary, to secure its efficiency, that the old skeleton regiments should be filled up at once, and officers appointed to supply the numerous existing vacancies. There are instances where captains are commanding regiments, and companies are without a single commissioned officer.”
On the 23d the following was telegraphed to the general-in-chief:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of The PotoMAC, “Near Shepherdstown, September 23, 1862–9.30 a. m.
“From several different sources I learn that General R. E. Lee is still opposite to my position at Leestown, between Shepherdstown and Martinsburg, and that General Jackson is on the Opequan creek, about three miles above its mouth, both with large forces. There are also indications of heavy re-enforcements moving towards them from Winchester and Charlestown. I have therefore ordered General Franklin to take position with his corps at the cross-roads about one mile northeast of Bakersville, on the Bakersville and Williamsport road, and General Couch to establish his division near Downsville, leaving sufficient force at Williamsport to watch and guard the ford at that place. The fact of the enemy's remaining so long in our front, and the indications of an advance