Page images

General R. H. Anderson's division came to Hill's support, and formed in rear of his line. At this time, by a mistake of orders, General Rodes's brigade was withdrawn from its position during the temporary absence of that officer at another part of the field. The enemy immediately pressed through the gap thus created, and G. B. Anderson's brigade was broken, and retired-General Anderson himself being mortally wounded. Major-General R. H. Anderson and Brigadier-General Wright were also wounded and borne from the field.

began to waver. At this moment General Jones ordered Toombs to charge the flank, while Archer, supported by Branch and Gregg, moved upon the front of the Federal line. The enemy made a brief resistance, then broke and retreated in confusion toward the Antietam, pursued by the troops of Hill and Jones, until he reached the protection of the batteries on the opposite side of the river.

In this attack, the brave and lamented Brigadier-General L. O'B. Branch was killed, gallantly leading his brigade.

The heavy masses of the enemy again moved It was now nearly dark, and the enemy had forward, being opposed only by four pieces of massed a number of batteries to sweep the apartillery, supported by a few hundreds of men, proaches to the Antietam, on the opposite side of belonging to different brigades, rallied by General which the corps of General Porter, which had D. H. Hill and other officers, and parts of Walker's not been engaged, now appeared to dispute our and R. H. Anderson's commands-Colonel Cooke, advance. Our troops were much exhausted and with the Twenty-seventh North-Carolina regi- greatly reduced in numbers by fatigue and the ment, of Walker's brigade, standing boldly in casualties of battle. Under these circumstances, line without a cartridge. The firm front pre- it was deemed injudicious to push our advantage sented by this small force, and the well-directed further, in the face of fresh troops of the enemy fire of the artillery, under Captain Miller of the much exceeding the number of our own. Washington artillery, and Captain Boyce's South-were accordingly recalled and formed on the line Carolina battery, checked the progress of the ene- originally held by General Jones. my, and in about an hour and a half he retired. Another attack was made soon afterward, a little further to the right, but was repulsed by Miller's guns, which continued to hold the ground until the close of the engagement, supported by a part of R. H. Anderson's troops.

While the attack on the centre and left was in progress, the enemy made repeated efforts to force the passage of the bridge over the Antietam, opposite the right wing of General Longstreet, commanded by Brigadier-General D. R. Jones. This bridge was defended by General Toombs with two regiments of his brigade, the Second and Twentieth Georgia, and the batteries of General Jones. General Toombs's small command repulsed five different assaults, made by a greatly superior force, and maintained its position with distinguished gallantry.

In the afternoon, the enemy began to extend his line as if to cross the Antietam below the bridge, and at four P.M., Toombs's regiments retired from the position they had so bravely held. The enemy immediately crossed the bridge in large numbers and advanced against General Jones, who held the crest with less than two thousand men. After a determined and brave resistance, he was forced to give way, and the enemy gained the summit.

General A. P. Hill had arrived from Harper's Ferry, having left that place at half-past seven


He was now ordered to reënforce General Jones and moved to his support with the brigades of Archer, Branch, Gregg, and Pender, the last of whom was placed on the right of the line, and the other three advanced and attacked the enemy, now flushed with success. Hill's batteries were thrown forward and united their fire with those of General Jones, and one of D. H. Hill's also opened, with good effect, from the left of the Boonesboro road. The progress of the enemy was immediately arrested, and his line


While the attack on our centre was progressing, General Jackson had been directed to endeavor to turn the enemy's right, but found it extending nearly to the Potomac and so strongly defended with artillery that the attempt had to be abandoned.

The repulse on the right ended the engagement, and, after a protracted and sanguinary conflict, every effort of the enemy to dislodge us from our position had been defeated with severe loss.

The arduous service in which our troops had been engaged, their great privations of rest and food, and the long marches, without shoes, over mountain roads, had greatly reduced our ranks before the action began. These causes had compelled thousands of brave men to absent themselves, and many more had done so from unworthy motives. This great battle was fought by less than forty thousand men on our side, all of whom had undergone the greatest labors and hardships in the field and on the march. Nothing could surpass the determined valor with which they met the large army of the enemy, fully supplied and equipped, and the result reflects the highest credit on the officers and men engaged. Our artillery, though much inferior to that of the enemy in the number of guns and weight of metal, rendered most efficient and gallant service throughout the day, and contributed greatly to the repulse of the attacks on every part of the line.

General Stuart, with the cavalry and horse artillery, performed the duty intrusted to him, of guarding our left wing, with great energy and courage, and rendered valuable assistance in de feating the attack on that part of our line.

On the eighteenth, we occupied the position of the preceding day, except in the centre, where our line was drawn in about two hundred yards. Our ranks were increased by the arrival of a num ber of troops, who had not been engaged the day before, and, though still too weak to assume the

offensive, we awaited without apprehension a renewal of the attack.

The day passed without any demonstration on the part of the enemy, who, from the reports received, was expecting the arrival of reenforce-mac east of the Blue Ridge, and advanced southments. As we could not look for a material in-ward, seizing the passes of the mountains as he crease of strength, and the enemy's force could progressed. General Jackson's corps was ordered be largely and rapidly augmented, it was not to take position on the road between Berryville thought prudent to wait until he should be ready and Charlestown, to be prepared to oppose an again to offer battle. During the night of the advance from Harper's Ferry, or a movement into eighteenth, the army was accordingly withdrawn the Shenandoah Valley from the east side of the to the south side of the Potomac, crossing near mountains, while at the same time he would Shepherdstown, without loss or molestation. threaten the flank of the enemy should he continue his march along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge. One division of Longstreet's corps was sent to the vicinity of Upperville to observe the enemy's movements in front.

The enemy advanced the next morning, but was held in check by General Fitz-Hugh Lee with his cavalry, who covered our movement with boldness and success. General Stuart, with the main body, crossed the Potomac above Shepherdstown and moved up the river. The next day he recrossed at Williamsport, and took position to operate upon the right and rear of the nemy, should he attempt to follow us.

After the army had safely reached the Virginia hore, with such of the wounded as could be removed and all its trains, General Porter's corps, anth a number of batteries and some cavalry, apgeared on the opposite side.

General Pendleton was left to guard the ford with the reserve artillery and about six hundred nfantry. That night the enemy crossed the river above General Pendleton's position, and his infantry support giving way, four of his guns were taken. A considerable force took position on the right bank under cover of their artillery, on the commanding hills on the opposite side. The next morning General A. P. Hill was ordered to return with his division and dislodge them. Advancing under a heavy fire of artillery, the three brigades of Gregg, Pender, and Archer attacked the enemy vigorously and drove him over the river with heavy loss.

The condition of our troops now demanded repose, and the army marched to the Opequan, near Martinsburgh, where it remained several days, and then moved to the vicinity of Bunker Hill and Winchester.

The enemy seemed to be concentrating in and near Harper's Ferry, but made no forward movement. During this time the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was destroyed for several miles, and that from Winchester to Harper's Ferry broken up, to within a short distance of the latter place, in order to render the occupation of the Valley by the enemy after our withdrawal more difficult.

making the entire circuit of General McClellan's army; he recrossed the Potomac below Harper's Ferry without loss.

The enemy soon afterward crossed the Poto

On the eighteenth October, General Stuart was ordered to cross the Potomac above Williamsport, with twelve or fifteen hundred cavalry, and endeavor to ascertain the position and designs of the enemy. He was directed, if practicable, to enter Pennsylvania and do all in his power to impede and embarrass the military operations of the enemy. This order was executed with skill, address, and courage. General Stuart passed through Maryland, occupied Chambersburgh, and destroyed a large amount of public property,

About the last of October the Federal army began to incline eastwardly from the mountains, moving in the direction of Warrenton. As soon as this intention developed itself, Longstreet's corps was moved across the Blue Ridge, and, about the third of November, took position at Culpeper Court-House, while Jackson advanced one of his divisions to the east side of the Blue Ridge.

The enemy gradually concentrated about Warrenton, his cavalry being thrown forward beyond the Rappahannock, in the direction of Culpeper Court-House, and occasionally skirmishing with our own, which was closely observing his movements.

[blocks in formation]

the seventeenth, it was ascertained that Sumner's corps had marched from Catlett's Station, in the direction of Falmouth, and information was also received that, on the fifteenth, some Federal gunboats and transports had entered Acquia Creek. This looked as if Fredericksburgh was again to be occupied, and McLaws's and Ransom's divisions, accompanied by W. H. F. Lee's brigade of cavalry and Lane's battery, were ordered to proceed to that city. To ascertain more fully the movements of the enemy, General Stuart was directed to cross the Rappahannock. On the morning of the eighteenth he forced a passage at Warrenton Springs, in the face of a regiment of cavalry and three pieces of artillery, guarding the ford, and reached Warrenton soon after the last of the enemy's column had left. The information he obtained confirmed the previous reports, and it was clear that the whole Federal army, under Major-General Burnside, was moving toward Fredericksburgh. On the morning of the nineteenth, therefore, the remainder of Longstreet's corps was put in motion for that point. The advance of General Sumner reached Falmouth on the afternoon of the seventeenth, and ttempted to cross the Rappahannock, but was Iriven back by Colonel Ball, with the Fifteenth Virginia cavalry, four companies of Mississippi infantry, and Lewis's light battery.

On the twenty-first it became apparent that General Burnside was concentrating his whole army on the north side of the Rappahannock. On the same day, General Sumner summoned the corporate authorities of Fredericksburgh to surrender the place by five P.M., and threatened, in case of refusal, to bombard the city at nine o'clock, next morning. The weather had been tempestuous for two days, and a storm was raging at the time of the summons. It was impossible to prevent the execution of the threat to shell the city, as it was completely exposed to the batteries on the Stafford hills, which were beyond our reach. The city authorities were informed that while our forces would not use the place for military purposes, its occupation by the enemy would be resisted, and directions were given for the removal of the women and children as rapidly as possible. The threatened bombardment did not take place; but in view of the imminence of a collision between the two armies the inhabitants were advised to leave the city, and almost the entire population, without a murmur, abandoned their homes. History presents no instance of a people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism, or a higher spirit of fortitude and courage, than was evinced by the citizens of Fredericksburgh. They cheerfully incurred great hardships and privations, and surrendered their homes and property to destruction rather than yield them into the hands of the enemies of their country. General Burnside now commenced his preparations to force the passage of the Rappahannock and advance upon Rich- to impede his movements until the army could be mond. When his army first began to move toward Fredericksburgh, General Jackson, in pursuance of instructions, crossed the Blue

Ridge, and placed his corps in the vicinity of Orange Court-House, to enable him more promptly to cooperate with Longstreet. About the twenty-sixth November he was directed to advance toward Fredericksburgh, and, as some Federal gunboats had appeared in the river, at Port Royal, and it was possible that an attempt might be made to cross in that vicinity, D. H. Hill's division was stationed near that place, and the rest of Jackson's corps so disposed, as to support Hill or Longstreet, as occasion might require. The fords of the Rappahannock above Fredericksburgh were closely guarded by our cavalry, and the brigade of General W. H. F. Lee was stationed near Port Royal to watch the river above and below. On the twenty-eighth, General Hampton, guarding the upper Rappahannock, crossed to make a reconnoissance on the enemy's right, and, proceeding as far as Dumfries and Occoquan, encountered and dispersed his cavalry, capturing two squadrons and a number of wagons. About the same time, some dismounted men of Beale's regiment, Lee's brigade, crossed in boats below Port Royal to observe the enemy's left, and took a number of prisoners. On the fifth December General D. H. Hill, with some of his field-guns, assisted by Major Pelham, of Stuart's horse artillery, attacked the gunboats at Port Royal, and caused them to retire. With these exceptions, no important movement took place, but it became evident that the advance of the enemy would not be long delayed. The interval was employed in strengthening our lines, extending from the river about a mile and a half above Fredericksburgh along the range of hills in the rear of the city to the Richmond Railroad. As these hills were commanded by the opposite heights, in possession of the enemy, earthworks were constructed upon their crest, at the most eligible positions for artillery. These positions were judiciously chosen and fortified under the direction of Brigadier-General Pendleton, Chief of Artillery, Colonel Cabell of McLaws's division, Colonel E. P. Alexander and Captain S. R. Johnson of the engineers. To prevent gunboats from ascending the river a battery, protected by intrenchments, was placed on the bank, about four miles below the city, in an excellent position, selected by my aid-de-camp, Major Talcott. The plain of Fredericksburgh is so completely commanded by the Stafford heights that no effectual opposition could be made to the construction of bridges or the passage of the river, without exposing our troops to the destructive fire of the numerous batteries of the enemy. At the same time, the narrowness of the Rappahannock, its winding course and deep bed, prevented opportunities for laying down bridges at points secure from the fire of our artillery. Our position was, therefore, selected with a view to resist the enemy's advance after crossing, and the river was guarded only by a force sufficient


Before dawn, on the eleventh December, our signal guns announced that the enemy was in

motion. About two A.M., he commenced prepara- | brigade was stationed behind the interval between tions to throw two bridges over the Rappahan- Lane and Pender, and Gregg's in rear of that, benock, opposite Fredericksburgh, and one about a tween Lane and Archer. These two brigades, with mile and a quarter below, near the mouth of the Forty-seventh Virginia regiment and TwentyDeep Run. Two regiments of Barksdale's bri- second Virginia battalion, of Field's brigade, congade, McLaws's division, the Seventeenth and stituted General Hill's reserve. Early's and TaEighteenth Mississippi, guarded these points, the liaferro's divisions composed Jackson's second former, assisted by the Eighth Florida, of Ander-line-D. H. Hill's division his reserve. His arson's division, being at the upper. The rest of tillery was distributed along his line in the most the brigade, with the Third Georgia regiment, eligible positions so as to command the open also of Anderson's division, was held in reserve ground in front. General Stuart, with two briin the city. From daybreak until four P.M. the gades of cavalry and his horse artillery, occupied troops, sheltered behind the houses on the river the plain on Jackson's right, extending to Masbank, repelled the repeated efforts of the enemy saponax creek. to lay his bridges opposite the town, driving back On the morning of the thirteenth, the plain on his working parties and their supports, with great which the Federal army lay was still enveloped slaughter. At the lower point where there was in fog, making it impossible to discern its operano such protection, the enemy was successfully tions. At an early hour the batteries on the resisted until nearly noon, when, being greatly heights of Stafford began to play upon Longexposed to the fire of the batteries on the oppo- street's position. Shortly after nine A.M., the site heights, and a superior force of infantry on partial rising of the mist disclosed a large force the river banks, our troops were withdrawn, and moving in line of battle against Jackson. Dense about one P.M. the bridge was completed. Soon masses appeared in front of A. P. Hill, stretching afterward one hundred and fifty pieces of artille- far up the river, in the direction of Fredericksry opened a furious fire upon the city, causing our burgh. As they advanced, Major Pelham, of troops to retire from the river-bank about four Stuart's horse artillery, who was stationed near P.M. The enemy then crossed in boats, and pro- the Port Royal road with one section, opened a ceeded rapidly to lay down the bridges. His ad- rapid and well-directed enfilade fire, which arvance into the town was bravely resisted until rested their progress. Four batteries immediatedark, when our troops were recalled, the neces-ly turned upon him, but he sustained their heavy sary time for concentration having been gained. fire with the unflinching courage that ever distinguished him. Upon his withdrawal, the enemy extended his left down the Port Royal road, and his numerous batteries opened with vigor upon Jackson's line. Eliciting no response, his infantry moved forward to seize the position occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker. The latter reserving his fire until their line had approached within less than eight hundred yards, opened upon it with such destructive effect as to cause it to waver and soon to retreat in confusion.

During the night and the succeeding day the enemy crossed in large numbers at and below the town, secured from material interruption by a dense fog. Our artillery could only be used with effect when the occasional clearing of the mist rendered his columns visible. His batteries, on the Stafford heights, fired at intervals upon our position. Longstreet's corps constituted our left, with Anderson's division resting upon the river, and those of McLaws, Pickett, and Hood extending to the right, in the order named. Ran- About one P.M., the main attack on the right som's division supported the batteries on Marye's began by a furious cannonade, under cover of and Willis's hills, at the foot of which Cobb's which three compact lines of infantry advanced brigade, of McLaws's division, and the Twenty- against Hill's front. They were received as befourth North-Carolina, of Ransom's brigade, were fore by our batteries, by whose fire they were stationed, protected by a stone wall. The imme- momentarily checked, but soon recovering, they diate care of this point was committed to Gen- pressed forward, until coming within range of our eral Ransom. The Washington artillery, under infantry the contest became fierce and bloody. Colonel Walton, occupied the redoubts on the Archer and Lane repulsed those portions of the crest of Marye's hill, and those on the heights to line immediately in front of them; but before the the right and left, were held by part of the re- interval between these commands could be closed serve artillery, Colonel E. P. Alexander's bat- the enemy pressed through in overwhelming talion, and the division batteries of Anderson, numbers, and turned the left of Archer and the Ransom, and McLaws. A. P. Hill, of Jackson's right of Lane. Attacked in front and flank, two corps, was posted between Hood's right and Ham- regiments of the former and the brigade of the ilton's Crossing, on the railroad. His front line, latter, after a brave and obstinate resistance, gave consisting of the brigades of Pender, Lane, and way. Archer held his line with the First TenArcher, occupied the edge of a wood. Lieuten- nessee, and with the Fifth Alabama battalion, ant-Colonel Walker, with fourteen pieces of artil-assisted by the Forty-seventh Virginia regiment lery, was posted near the right, supported by the and the Twenty-second Virginia battallion, conFortieth and Thirty-fifth Virginia regiments, of tinued the struggle until the arrival of reenforceField's brigade, commanded by Colonel Brocken- ments. Thomas came gallantly to the relief of brough. Lane's brigade, thrown forward in ad- Lane, and joined by the Seventh and part of the vance of the general line, held the woods, which Eighteenth North-Carolina, of that brigade, rehere projected into the open ground. Thomas's pulsed the column that had broken Lane's line,

and drove it back to the railroad. In the mean cannonade, our batteries poured a rapid and detime, a large force had penetrated the wood as far structive fire into the dense lines of the enemy as Hill's reserve, and encountered Gregg's bri- as they advanced to the attack, frequently breakgade. The attack was so sudden and unexpected ing their ranks, and forcing them to retreat to the that Orr's rifles, mistaking the enemy for our shelter of the houses. Six times did the enemy, own troops retiring, were thrown into confusion. notwithstanding the havoc caused by our batterWhile in the act of rallying them, that brave ies, press on with great determination, to within soldier and true patriot, Brigadier-General Maxcy one hundred yards of the foot of the hill; but Gregg fell, mortally wounded. Colonel Hamil- here encountering the deadly fire of our infantry, ton, upon whom the command devolved, with the his columns were broken and fled in confusion to four remaining regiments of the brigade and one the town. In the third assault, the brave and company of the rifles, met the enemy firmly and lamented Brigadier-General Thomas R. R. Cobb checked his further progress. The second line fell at the head of his gallant troops, and almost was advancing to the support of the first. Law- at the same moment Brigadier-General Cook was ton's brigade, of Early's division, under Colonel borne from the field, severely wounded. Fearing Atkinson, first encountered the enemy, quickly that Cobb's brigade might exhaust its ammunifollowed on the right and left by the brigades of tion, General Longstreet had directed General Trimble, under Colonel Hoke, and Early, under Kershaw to take two regiments to its support. Colonel Walker. Taliaferro's division moved for- Arriving after the fall of General Cobb, he asward at the same time on Early's left, and his sumed command, his troops taking position on right regiment, the Second Virginia, belonging to the crest and at the foot of the hill, to which Paxton's brigade, joined in the attack. The con-point General Ransom also advanced three other test in the woods was short and decisive. The regiments. The Washington artillery, which had enemy was quickly routed and driven out with sustained the heavy fire of artillery and infantry loss, and, though largely reënforced, he was with unshaken steadiness, and contributed much forced back and pursued to the shelter of the to the repulse of the enemy, having exhausted railroad embankment. Here he was gallantly its ammunition, was relieved about four P.M. by charged by the brigades of Hoke and Atkinson, Colonel Alexander's battalion. The latter occuand driven across the plain to his batteries. At-pied the position during the rest of the engagekinson, continuing the pursuit too far, his flank ment, and by its well-directed fire, rendered great became exposed, and, at the same time, a heavy assistance in repelling the assaults made in the heavy fire of musketry and artillery was directed afternoon, the last of which occurred shortly against his front. Its ammunition becoming ex- before dark. This effort met the fate of those hausted, and Colonel Atkinson being severely, that preceded it, and when night closed in, the and Captain Lawton, adjutant-general, mortally shattered masses of the enemy had disappeared wounded, the brigade was compelled to fall back in the town, leaving the field covered with dead to the main body, now occupying our original and wounded. Anderson's division supported line of battle, with detachments thrown forward the batteries on Longstreet's left, and though not to the railroad. The attack on Hill's left was re-engaged, was exposed throughout the day to a pulsed by the artillery on that part of the line, hot artillery fire, which it sustained with steady against which the enemy directed a hot fire from courage. twenty-four guns. One brigade advanced up Deep Run, sheltered by its banks from our batteries, but was charged and put to flight by the Sixteenth North-Carolina, of Pender's brigade, assisted by the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh North-Carolina, of Law's brigade, Hood's division. The repulse of the enemy on our right was decisive, and the attack was not renewed, but his batteries kept up an active fire at intervals, and sharp-shooters skirmished along the front during the rest of the afternoon. While these events were transpiring on our right, the enemy, in formidable numbers, made repeated and desperate The attack on the thirteenth had been so easily assaults upon the left of our line. About eleven repulsed, and by so small a part of our army, A.M., having massed his troops, under cover of that it was not supposed the enemy would limit the houses of Fredericksburgh, he moved forward his efforts to one attempt, which, in view of the in strong columns to seize Marye's and Willis's magnitude of his preparations, and the extent of hills. General Ransom advanced Cook's bri- his force, seemed to be comparatively insignifigade to the top of the hill, and placed his own, cant. Believing, therefore, that he would attack with the exception of the Twenty-fourth North- us, it was not deemed expedient to lose the adCarolina, a short distance in the rear. All the vantages of our position, and expose the troops batteries on the Stafford heights directed their to the fire of his inaccessible batteries beyond fire upon the positions occupied by our artillery, the river, by advancing against him. But we with a view to silence it, and cover the movement were necessarily ignorant of the extent to which of the infantry. Without replying to this furious he had suffered, and only became aware of it

During the night, our lines were strengthened by the construction of earth-works at exposed points, and preparations made to receive the enemy next day. The fourteenth, however, passed without a renewal of the attack. The enemy's batteries on both sides of the river played upon our lines at intervals, our own firing but little. The sharp-shooters on each side skirmished occasionally along the front.

On the fifteenth, the enemy still retained his position, apparently ready for battle; but the day passed as the preceding.

« PreviousContinue »