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movements should be successful, to advance our centre with all the forces then disposable.
About 2 p. m. General Hooker, with his corps, consisting of General Ricketts's, Meade's and Doubleday's divisions, was ordered to cross the Antietam at a ford, and at bridge No. 1, a short distance above, to attack and, if possible, turn the enemy's left. General Sumner was ordered to cross the corps of General Mansfield (the 12th) during the night, and hold his own (the 2d) corps ready to cross early the next morning. On reaching the vicinity of the enemy's left a sharp contest commenced with the Pennsylvania reserves, the advance of General Hooker's corps, near the house of D. Miller. The enemy were driven from the strip of woods where he was first met. The firing lasted until after dark, when General Hooker's corps rested on their arms on ground won from the enemy.
During the night General Mansfield's corps, consisting of Generals Williams's and Green's divisions, crossed the Antietam at the same ford and bridge that General Hooker's troops had passed, and bivouacked on the farm of J. Poffenberger, about a mile in rear of General Hooker's position. At daylight on the 17th the action was commenced by the skirmishers of the Pennsylvania reserves. The whole of General Hooker's corps was soon engaged, and drove the enemy from the open field in front of the first line of woods into a second line of woods beyond, which runs to the eastward of and nearly parallel to the . Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike.
This contest was obstinate, and as the troops advanced the opposition became more determined and the number of the enemy greater. General Hooker then ordered up the corps of General Mansfield, which moved promptly toward the scene of action.
The first division, General Williams's, was deployed to the right on approaching the enemy; General Crawford's brigade on the right, its right resting on the Hagerstown turnpike; on his left General Gordon's brigade. The second division, General Green's, joining the left of Gordon's, extended as far as the burnt buildings to the north and east of the white church on the turnpike. During the deployment, that gallant veteran General Mansfield fell mortally wounded, while examining the ground in front of his troops. General Hartsuff, of Hooker's corps, was severely wounded, while bravely pressing forward his troops, and was taken from the field.
The command of the twelfth corps fell upon General Williams. Five regiments of first division of this corps were new troops. One brigade of the second division was sent to support General Doubleday.
The one hundred and twenty-fourth Pennsylvania volunteers were pushed across the turnpike into the woods beyond J. Miller's house, with orders to hold the position as long as possible.
The line of battle of this corps was formed, and it became engaged about seven a. m., the attack being opened by Knapp's (Pennsylvania,) Cothran's (New York,) and Hampton's (Pittsburg) batteries. To meet this attack the enemy had pushed a strong column of troops into the open fields in front of the turnpike, while he occupied the woods on the west of the turnpike in strong force. The woods (as was found by subsequent observation) were traversed by outcropping ledges of rock. Several hundred yards to the right ard rear was a hill which commanded the debouche of the woods, and in the fields between was a long line of stone fences, continued by breastworks of rails, which covered the enemy's infantry from our musketry. The same woods formed a screen behind which his movements were concealed, and his batteries on the hill and the rifle works covered from the fire of our artillery in front.
For about two hours the battle raged with varied success, the enemy endeavoring to drive our troops into the second line of wood, and ours in turn to get possession of the line in front.
Our troops ultimately succeeded in forcing the enemy back into the woods
near the turnpike, General Green with his two brigades crossing into the woods to the left of the Dunbar church. During this conflict General Craw. ford, commanding first division after General Williamns took command of the corps, was wounded and left the field.
General Green being much exposed and applying for re-enforcements, the thirteenth New Jersey, twenty-seventh Indiana, and the third Maryland were sent to his support with a section of Knapp's battery.
At about nine o'clock a. m. General Sedgwick's division of General Sumner's corps arrived. Crossing the ford previously mentioned, this division marched in three columns to the support of the attack on the enemy's left. On nearing the scene of action the columns were halted, faced to the front, and established by General Sumner in three parallel lines by brigade, facing toward the south and west; General Gorman's brigade in front, General Dana's second, and General Howard's third, with a distance between the lines of some seventy paces. The division was then put in motion and moved upon the field of battle, under fire from the enemy's concealed batteries on the hill beyond the roads. Passing diagonally to the front across the open space and to the front of the first division of General Williams's corps, this latter division withdrew.
Entering the woods on the west of the turnpike, and driving the enemy before them, the first line was met by a heavy fire of musketry and shell from the enemy's breastworks and the batteries on the hill commanding the exit from the woods ; meantime a heavy column of the enemy had succeeded in crowd. ing back the troops of General Green's division, and appeared in rear of the left of Sedgwick's division. By command of General Sumner, General Howard faced the third line to the rear preparatory to a change of front to meet the column advancing on the left; but this line now suffering from a destructive fire both in front and on its left, which it was unable to return, gave way towards the right and rear in considerable confusion, and was soon followed by the first and second lines.
General Gorman's brigade, and one regiment of General Dana's, soon rallied and checked the advance of the enemy on the right. The second and third lines now formed on the left of General Gorman's brigade, and poured a destructive fire upon the enemy.
During General Sumner's attack, he ordered General Williams to support him. Brigadier General Gordon, with a portion of his brigade, moved forward, but when he reached the woods, the left of General Sedgwick's division had given way; and finding himself, as the smoke cleared up, opposed to the enemy in force with his small command, he withdrew to the rear of the batteries at the second line of woods. As General Gordon's troops unmasked our batteries on the left, they opened with canister; the batteries of Captain Cothran, 1st New York, and I, 1st artillery, commanded by Lieutenaut Woodruff, doing good service. Unable to withstand this deadly fire in front and the musketry fire from the right, the enemy again sought shelter in the woods and rocks beyond the turnpike.
During this assault Generals Sedgwick and Dana were seriously wounded and taken from the field. General Sedgwick, though twice wounded, and faint from loss of blood, retained command of his division for more than an hour after his first wound, animating his command by his presence.
About the time of General Sedgwick's advance, General Hooker, while urging on his command, was severely wounded in the foot and taken from the field, and General Meade was placed in command of his corps. General Howard assumed command after General Sedgwick retired..
The repulse of the enemy offered opportunity to rearrange the lines and reorganize the commands on the right, now more or less in confusion. The batteries of the Pennsylvania reserve, on high ground, near I. Poffenburger's house, opened fire, and checked several attempts of the enemy to establish batteries n front of our right, to turn that flank and enfilade the lines.
While the conflict was so obstinately raging on the right, General French was. pushing his division against the enemy still further to the left. This division crossed the Antietam at the same ford as General Sedgwick, and immediately in his rear. Passing over the stream in three columns, the division marched about a mile from the ford, then facing to the left, moved in three lines towards the enemy: General Max Weber's brigade in front; Colonel Dwight Morris's brigade of raw troops, undrilled, and moving for the first time under fire, in the second, and General Kimball's brigade in the third. The division was first assailed by a fire of artillery, but steadily advanced, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, and encountered the infantry in some force at the group of houses on Roulette's farm. General Weber's brigade gallantly advanced with an unwavering front and drove the enemy from their position about the houses.
While General Weber was hotly engaged with the first line of the enemy, General French received orders from General Sumner, his corps commander, to push on with renewed vigor to make a diversion in favor of the attack on the right. Leaving the new troops, who had been thrown into some confusion from their march through cornfields, over fences, &c., to form as a reserve, he ordered the brigade of General Kimball to the front, passing to the left of General Weber. The enemy was pressed back to near the crest of the hill, where he was encountered in greater strength posted in a sunken road forming a natural rifle-pit running in a northwesterly direction. In a cornfield in rear of this road were also strong bodies of the enemy. As the line reached the crest of the hill a galling fire was opened on it from the sunken road and cornfield. Here a terrific fire of musketry burst from both lines, and the battle raged along the whole line with great slaughter. · The enemy attempted to turn the left of the line, but were met by the 7th Virginia and 132d Pennsylvania volunteers and repulsed. Foiled in this, the enemy made a determined assault on the front, but were met by a charge from our lines which drove them back with severe loss, leaving in our hands some three hundred prisoners and several stand of colors. The enemy having been repulsed by the terrible execution of the batteries and the musketry fire on the extreme right, now attempted to assist the attack on General French's division by assailing him on his right and endeavoring to turn this flank, but this attack was met and checked by the 14th Indiana and 8th Ohio volunteers, and by canister from Captain Tompkins's battery, 1st Rhode Island artillery. Having been under an almost continuous fire for nearly four hours, and the ammunition nearly expended, this division now took position immediately below the crest of the heights on which they had so gallantly fought, the enemy making no attempt to regain their lost ground.
On the left of General French, General Richardson's division was hotly engaged. Having crossed the Antietam about 9.30 a. m. at the ford crossed by the other divisions of Sumner's corps, it moved on a line nearly parallel to the Antietam, and formed in a ravine behind the high grounds overlooking Roulette's house; the 2d (Irish) brigade, commanded by General Meagher, on the right; the 3d brigade, commanded by General Caldwell, on his left, and the brigade commanded by Colonel Brooks, 53d Pennsylvania volunteers, in support. As the division moved forward to take its position on the field, the enemy directed a fire of artillery against it, but owing to the irregularities of the ground did but little damage.
Meagher's brigade advancing steadily soon became engaged with the enemy posted to the left and in front of Roulette's house. It continued to advance under a heavy fire nearly to the crest of the hill overlooking Piper's house, the enemy being posted in a continuation of the sunken road and cornfield before
referred to. Here the brave Irish brigade opened upon the enemy a terrific musketry fire.
All of General Sumner's corps was now engaged: General Sedgwick on the right; General French in the centre, and General Richardson on the left. The Irish brigade sustained its well-earned reputation. After suffering terribly in officers and men, and strewing the ground with their enemies as they drove them back, their ammunition nearly expended, and their commander, General Meagher, disabled by the fall of his horse shot under him, this brigade was ordered to give place to General Caldwell's brigade, which advanced to a short distance in its rear. The lines were passed by the Irish brigade breaking by company to the rear, and General Caldwell's by company to the front as steadily as on drill. Colonel Brooks's brigade now became the second line.
The ground over which General Richardson's and French's divisions were fighting was very irregular, intersected by numerous ravines, hills covered with growing corn, enclosed by stone walls, behind which the enemy could advance unobserved upon any exposed point of our lines. Taking advantage of this, the enemy attempted to gain the right of Richardson's position in a cornfield near Roulette's house, where the division had become separated from that of General French's. A change of front by the 52d New York and 2d Delaware volunteers, of Colonel Brooks's brigade, under Colonel Frank, and the attack made by the 53d Pennsylvania volunteers, sent further to the right by Colonel Brooks to close this gap in the line, and the movement of the 1320 Pennsylvania and 7th Virginia volunteers of General French's division, before referred to, drove the enemy from the cornfield and restored the line.
The brigade of General Caldwell, with determined gallantry, pushed the. enemy back opposite the left and centre of this division, but sheltered in the sunken road, they still held our forces on the right of Caldwell in check. Col- · onel Barlow, commanding the 61st and 64th New York regiments of Caldwell's brigade, seeing a favorable opportunity, advanced the regiments on the left, taking the line in the sunken road in flank, and compelled them to surrender, capturing over three hundred prisoners and three stands of colors.
The whole of the brigade, with the 57th and 66th New York regiments of Colonel Brooks's brigade, who had moved these regiments into the first line, now advanced with gallantry, driving the enemy before them in confusion into the cornfield beyond the sunken road. The left of the division was now well advanced, when the enemy, concealed by an intervening ridge, endeavored to turn its left and rear.
Colonel Cross, 5th New Hampshire, by a change of front to the left and rear, brought his regiment facing the advancing line. Here a spirited contest arose to gain a commanding height, the two opposing forces moving parallel to each other, giving and receiving fire. The 5th gaining the advantage, faced to the right and delivered its volley. The enemy staggered, but rallied and advanced desperately at a charge. Being re-enforced by the 81st Pennsylvania, these regiments met the advance by a counter charge. The enemy fled, leaving many killed, wounded, and prisoners, and the colors of the 4th North Carolina, in our hands.
Another column of the enemy, advancing under shelter of a stone wall and cornfield, pressed down on the right of the division; but Colonel Barlow again advanced the 61st and 64th New York against these troops, and with the attack of Kimball's brigade on the right, drove them from this position. .
Our troops on the left of this part of the line having driven the enemy far back, they, with re-enforced numbers, made a determined attack directly in front. To meet this, Colonel Barlow brought his two regiments to their position in line, and drove the enemy through the cornfield into the orchard beyond, under a heavy fire of musketry, and a fire of canister from two pieces of artillery in the orchard, and a battery further to the right, throwing shell and case
shot. This advance gave us possession of Piper's house, the strong point contended for by the enemy at this part of the line, it being a defensible building several hundred yards in advance of the sunken road. The musketry fire at this point of the line now ceased. Holding Piper's house, General Richardson withdrew the line a little way to the crest of a hill, a more advantageous position. Up to this time the division was without artillery, and in the new position suffered severely from artillery fire which could not be replied to. A section of Robertson's horse battery, commanded by Lieutenant Vincent, 2d artillery, now arrived on the ground and did excellent service. Subsequently a battery of brass guns, commanded by Captain Graham, 1st artillery, arrived, and was posted on the crest of the hill, and soon silenced the two guns in the orchard. A heavy fire soon ensued between the battery further to the right and our own. Captain Graham's battery was bravely and skilfully served, but unable to reach the enemy, who had rifled guns of greater range than our smooth-bores, retired by order of General Richardson, to save it from useless sacrifice of men and horses. The brave general was himself mortally wounded while personally directing its fire.
General Hancock was placed in command of the division after the fall of General Richardson. General Meagher's brigade, now commanded by Colonel Burke, of the 63d New York, having refilled their cartridge-boxes, was again ordered forward, and took position in the centre of the line. The division now occupied one line in close proximity to the enemy, who had taken up a position in the rear of Piper's house. Colonel Dwight Morris, with the 14th Connecticut and a detatchment of the 108th New York, of General French's division, was sent by General French to the support of General Richardson's division. This command was now placed in an interval in the line between General Caldwell's and the Irish brigades.
The requirements of the extended line of battle had so engaged the artillery that the application of General Hancock for artillery for the division could not be complied with immediately by the chief of artillery or the corps commanders in his vicinity. Knowing the tried courage of the troops, General Hancock felt confident that he could hold his position, although suffering from the enemy's artillery, but was too weak to attack, as the great length of the line he was obliged to hold prevented him from forming more than one line of battle, and, from his advanced position, this line was already partly enfiladed by the batteries of the enemy on the right, which were protected from our batteries opposite them by the woods at the Dunker church.
Seeing a body of the enemy advancing on some of our troops to the left of his position, General Hancock obtained Hexamer's battery from General Franklin's corps, which assisted materially in frustrating this attack. It also assisted the attack of the 7th Maine, of Franklin's corps, which, without other aid, made an attack against the enemy's line, and drove in skirmishers who were annoying our artillery and troops on the right. Lieutenant Woodruff, with battery I, 2d artillery, relieved Captain Hexamer, whose ammunition was expended. The enemy at one time seemed to be about making an attack in force upon this part of the line, and advanced a long column of infantry towards this division; but on nearing the position, General Pleasonton opening on them with sixteen guns, they halted, gave a desultory fire, and retreated, closing the operations on this portion of the field. I return to the incidents occurring still further to the right.
Between 12 and 1 p. m. General Franklin's corps arrived on the field of battle, having left their camp near Crampton's pass at 6 a. m., leaving General Couch with orders to move with his division to occupy Maryland heights. General Smith's division led the column, followed by General Slocum’s.
It was first intended to keep this corps in reserve on the east side of the Antietam, to operate on either flank or on the centre, as circumstances might