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vision on the south side of the Potomac was to carry Loudon heights and cut off his retreat in that direction. McLaws with his own command and the division of R. H. Anderson was to move by Boonsboro' and Rohrersville to carry the Maryland heights. The signal officers inform me that he is now in Pleasant valley. The firing shows that Miles still holds out. Longstreet was to move to Boonsboro', and there halt with the reserve corps; D. H. Hill to form the rear guard ; Stuart's cavalry to bring up stragglers, &c. We have cleared out all the cavalry this side of the mountains and north of us. The last I heard from Pleasanton he occupied Middletown, after several sharp skirmishes. A division of Burnside's command started several hours ago to support him. The whole of Burnside's command, including Hooker's corps, march this evening and early to-morrow morning, followed by the corps of Sumner and Banks, and Sykes's division, upon Boonsboro' to carry that position. Couch has been ordered to concentrate his division and join you as rapidly as possible. Without waiting for the whole of that division to join, you will move at daybreak in the morning by Jefferson and Burkettsville upon the road to Rohrersville. I have reliable information that the mountain pass by this road is practicable for artillery and wagons. If this pass is not occupied by the enemy in force, seize it as soon as practicable, and debouch upon Rohrersville in order to cut off the retreat of or destroy McLaws's command. If you find this pass held by the enemy in large force, make all your dispositions for the attack and commence it about half an hour after you hear severe firing at the pass on the Hagerstown pike, where the main body will attack. Having gained the pass, your duty will be first to cut off, destroy, or capture McLaws's command and relieve Colonel Miles. If you effect this you will order him to join you at once with all his disposable troops, first destroying the bridges over the Potomac, if not already done, and, leaving a sufficient garrison to prevent the enemy from passing the ford, you will then return by Rohrersville on the direct road to Boonsboro', if the main column has not succeeded in its attack. If it has succeeded, take the road to Rohrersville, to Sharpsburg and Williamsport, in order either to cut off the retreat of Hill and Longstreet towards the Potomac, or prevent the repassage of Jackson. My general idea is to cut the enemy in two and beat him in detail. I believe I have sufficiently explained my intentions. I ask of you, at this important moment, all your intellect and the utmost activity that a general can exercise.
“GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
“ Major General Commanding. “ Major General W. B. FRANKLIN,
“Commanding 6th Corps.”
Again, on the 14th, I sent him the following:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
“ Frederick, September 14, 1862-2 p. m. “Your despatch of 12.30 just received. Send back to hurry up Couch. Mass your troops and carry Burkettsville at any cost. We shall have strong opposition at both passes. As fast as the troops come up I will hold a reserve in readiness to support you. If you find the enemy in very great force at any of these passes let me know at once, and amuse them as best you can so as to retain them there. In that event I will probably throw the mass of the army on the pass in front of here. If I carry that it will clear the way for you, and you must follow the enemy as rapidly as possible.
“GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
“ Major General Commanding. “Major General FRANKLIN.”
General Franklin pushed his corps rapidly forward towards Crampton's pass, and at about 12 o'clock on the 14th arrived at Burkettsville, immediately in rear of which he found the enemy's infantry posted in force on both sides of the road, with artillery in strong positions to defend the approaches to the pass. Slocum’s division was formed upon the right of the road leading through the gap, and Smith's upon the left. A line formed of Bartlett's and Torbett's brigades, supported by Newton, whose activity was conspicuous, advanced steadily upon the enemy at a charge on the right. The enemy were driven from their position at the base of the mountain, where they were protected by a stone wall, steadily forced back up the slope until they reached the position of their battery on the road, well up the mountain. There they made a stand. They were, however, driven back, retiring their artillery in echelon until, after an action of three hours, the crest was gained, and the enemy hastily fled down the mountain on the other side.
On the left of the road, Brooks's and Irvin’s brigades, of Smith's division, formed for the protection of Slocum's flank, charged up the mountain in the same steady manner, driving the enemy before them until the crest was carried. Four hundred prisoners from seventeen different organizations, seven hundred stand of arms, one piece of artillery, and three colors, were captured by our troops in this brilliant action. It was conducted by General Franklin in all its details. These details are given in a report of General Franklin, herewith submitted, and due credit awarded to the gallant officers and men engaged.
The loss in General Franklin's corps was one hundred and fifteen killed, four hundred and sixteen wounded, and two missing. The enemy's loss was about the same. The enemy's position was such that our artillery could not be used with any effect. The close of the action found General Franklin's advance in Pleasant valley on the night of the 14th, within three and a half miles of the point.on Maryland heights where he might, on the same night or on the morning of the 15th, have formed a junction with the garrison of Harper's Ferry had it not been previously withdrawn from Maryland heights, and within six miles of Harper's Ferry.
On the night of the 14th the following despatch was sent to General Franklin :
“ BOLIVAR, September 15—1 a. m. “GENERAL: *
* “ The commanding general directs that you occupy, with your command, the road from Rohrersville to Harper's Ferry, placing a sufficient force at Rohrersville to hold that position in case it should be attacked by the enemy from Boonsboro'. Endeavor to open communication with Colonel Miles at Harper's Ferry, attacking and destroying such of the enemy as you may find in Pleasant valley. Should you succeed in opening communication with Colonel Miles, direct him to join you with his whole command, with all the guns and public property that he can carry with him. The remainder of the guns will be spiked or destroyed; the rest of the public property will also be destroyed. You will then proceed to Boonsboro', which place the commanding general intends to attack tomorrow, and join the main body of the army at that place; should you find, however, that the enemy have retreated from Boonsboro' towards Sharpsburg, you will endeavor to fall upon him and cut off his retreat. “ By command of Major General McClellan.
“GEORGE D. RUGGLES,
“ Colonel and Aide-de-Camp. "General FRANKLIN.”
H. Ex. Doc. 15- 13
On the 15th the following were received from General Franklin :
“ AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT PLEASANT,
“ September 15—8.50 a. m. GENERAL : My command started at daylight this morning, and I am waiting to have it closed up here. General Couch arrived about 10 o'clock last night. I have ordered one of his brigades and one battery to Rohrersville or to the strongest point in its vicinity. The enemy is drawn up in line of battle about two miles to our front, one brigade in sight. As soon as I am sure that Rohrersville is occupied I shall move forward to attack the enemy. This may be two hours from now. If Harper's Ferry has fallen—and the cessation of firing makes me fear that it has—it is my opinion that I should be strongly re-enforced. *
* . *
“Major General Commanding Corps. “General G. B. MCCLELLAN.”
“SEPTEMBER 15—11 a. m. “General: I have received your despatch by Captain ()'Heefe. The enemy is in large force in my front, in two lines of battle stretching across the valley, and a large column of artillery and infantry on the right of the valley looking towards Harper's Ferry. They outnumber me two to one. It will of course not answer to pursue the enemy under these circumstances. I shall communicate with Burnside as soon as possible. In the mean time I shall wait here until I learn what is the prospect of re-enforcement. I have not the force to justify an attack on the force I see in front. I have had a very close vie of it, and its position is very strong. “Respectfully,
“W. B. FRANKLIN,
“Major General. “General G. B. MCCLELLAN, Commanding."
Colonel Miles surrendered Harper's Ferry at 8 a. m. on the 15th, as the cessation of the firing indicated, and General Franklin was ordered to remain where he was to watch the large force in front of him, and protect our left and rear until the night of the 16th, when he was ordered to join the main body of the army at Keedysville, after sending Couch's division to Maryland heights. While the events which have just been described were taking place at Crampton's gap the troops of the centre and right wing, which had united at Frederick on the 13th, were engaged in the contest for the possession of Turner's gap..
On the morning of the 13th General Pleasanton was ordered to send McReynolds's brigade and a section of artillery in the direction of Gettysburg, and Rush's regiment towards Jefferson to communicate with Franklin, to whom the 6th United States cavalry and a section of artillery had previously been sent, and to proceed with the remainder of his force in the direction of Middletown in pursuit of the enemy.
After skirmishing with the enemy all the morning, and driving them from several strong positions, he reached Turner's gap of the South mountain in the afternoon, and found the enemy in force and apparently determined to defend the pass. He sent back for infantry to General Burnside, who had been directed to support him, and proceeded to make a reconnoissance of the position.
The South mountain is at this point about one thousand feet in height, and its general direction is from northeast to southwest. The national road from Fred
erick to Hagerstown crosses it nearly at right angles through Turner's gap, a depression which is some four hundred feet in depth.
The mountain on the north side of the turnpike is divided into two crests, or ridges, by a narrow valley, whichi, though deep at the pass, becomes a slight depression at about a mile to the north. There are two country roads, one to the right of the turnpike and the other to the left, which give access to the crests overlooking the main road. The one on the left, called the “Old Sharpsburg road,” is nearly parallel to and about half a mile distant from the turnpike, until it reaches the crest of the mountain, when it bends off to the left. The other road, called the “Old Hagerstown road," passes up a ravine in the mountains about a mile from the turnpike, and bending to the left over and along the first crest, enters the turnpike at the Mountain House, near the summit of the pass.
On the night of the 13th the positions of the different corps were as follows:
13th, 11.30 p. m.-Sykes to move at 6 a. m. after Hooker, on the Middletown and Hagerstown road.
14th, 1 a. m.-Artillery reserve to follow Sykes closely. 13th, 8.45 p. m.-Turner to move at 7 a. m. 14th, 9 a. m.-Sumner ordered to take the Shookstown road to Middletown. 13th, 6.45 p. m.-Couch ordered to move to Jefferson with his whole division.
On the 14th General Pleasanton continued his reconnoissance. Gibson's battery and afterwards Benjamin's battery (of Reno’s corps) were placed on high ground to the left of the turnpike, and obtained a direct fire on the enemy's position in the gap.
General Cox's division, which had been ordered up to support General Pleasanton, left its bivouac, near Middletown, at 6 a. m. The 1st brigade reached the scene of action about 9 a. m., and was sent up the old Sharpsburg road by General Pleasanton to feel the enemy and ascertain if he held the crest on that side in strong force. This was soon found to be the case; and General Cox having arrived with the other brigade, and information having been received from General Reno that the column would be supported by the whole corps, the division was ordered to assault the position. Two 20-pounder Parrotts of Simmons's battery and two sections of McMullan's battery were left in the rear in position near the turnpike, where they did good service during the day against the enemy's batteries in the gap. Colonel Scammon's brigade was deployed, and, well covered by skirmishers, moved up the slope to the left of the road with the object of turning the enemy's right, if possible. It succeeded in gaining the crest and establishing itself there, in spite of the vigorous efforts of the enemy, who was posted behind stone walls and in the edges of timber, and the fire of a battery which poured in canister and case shot on the regiment on the right of the brigade. Colonel Crooke's brigade marched in columns at supporting distance. A section of McMullan's battery, under Lieutenant Croome, (killed while serving one of his guns,) was moved up with great difficulty, and opened with canister at very short range on the enemy's infantry, by whom (after having done considerable execution) it was soon silenced and forced to withdraw.
One regiment of Crook's brigade was now deployed on Scammon's left, and the other two in his rear, and they several times entered the first line and relieved the regiments in front of them when hard pressed. A section of Sumner's battery was brought up and placed in the open space in the woods, where it did good service during the rest of the day.
The enemy several times attempted to retake the crest, advancing with boldness, but were each time repulsed. They then withdrew their battery to a point more to the right, and formed columns on both our flanks. It was now about noon, and a lull occurred in the contest which lasted about two hours, during which the rest of the corps was coming up. General Wilcox's division was the first to arrive. When he reached the base of the mountain, General Cox advised him to consult General Pleasanton as to a position. The latter indicated that on the right, afterwards taken up by General Hooker. General Wilcox was in the act of moving to occupy this ground, when he received an order from General Reno to move up the old Sharpsburg road and take a position to its right, overlooking the turnpike. Two regiments were detached to support General Cox, at his request. One section of Cooke's battery was placed in position near the turn of the road, (on the crest,) and opened fire on the enemy's batteries across the gap. The division was proceeding to deploy to the right of the road, when the enemy suddenly opened (at one hundred and fifty yards) with a battery which enfiladed the road at this point, drove off Cook's cannoneers with their limbers, and caused a temporary panic in which the guns were nearly lost. But the 79th New York and 17th Michigan promptly rallied, changed front under a heavy fire, and moved out to protect the guns with which Captain Cook had remained. Order was soon restored, and the division formed in line on the right of Cox, and was kept concealed as much as possible under the hillside until the whole line advanced. It was exposed not only to the fire of the battery in front, but also to that of the batteries on the other side of the turnpike, and lost heavily
Shortly before this time Generals Burnside and Reno arrived at the base of the mountain ; and the former directed the latter to move up the divisions of Generals Sturgis and Rodman to the crest held by Cox and Wilcox, and to move upon the enemy's position with his whole force as soon as he was informed that General Hooker (who had just been directed to attack on the right) was well advanced up the mountain.
. General Reno then went to the front and assumed the direction of affairs, the positions having been explained to him by General Pleasanton. Shortly before this time I arrived at the point occupied by General Burnside, and my headquarters were located there until the conclusion of the action. General Sturgis had left his camp at 1 p. m., and reached the scene of action about 31 p. m. Clark's battery, of his division, was sent to assist Cox's left, by order of General Reno, and two regiments (2d Maryland and 6th New Hampshire) were detached by General Reno and sent forward a short distance on the left of the turnpike. His division was formed in rear of Wilcox's, and Rodman's division was divided ; Colonel Fairchilds's brigade being placed on the extreme left, and Colonel Harland's, under General Rodman's personal supervision, on the right.
My order to move the whole line forward and take or silence the enemy's batteries in front was executed with enthusiasm. The enemy made a desperate resistance, charging our advancing lines with fierceness, but they were everywhere routed and fled.
Our chief loss was in Wilcox's division. The enemy's battery was found to be across a gorge and beyond the reach of our infantry; but its position was made untenable, and it was hastily removed and not again put in position near us. But the batteries across the gap still kept up a fire of shot and shell.
General Wilcox praises very highly the conduct of the 17th Michigan in this advance--a regiment which had been organized scarcely a month, but which