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Topography of An- mile or thereabout from the rear of the Confederate left was a meeting-house known as the Dunker Church. It was enveloped in a skirt of woods, which, extending in a rudely circular form northward, inclosed a cultivated area, across which, like a di ameter, the Hagerstown Road passed. In the woods, near the church, were ledges of limestone, affording an excellent breastwork-a rocky citadel. The middle part of the area was a corn-field; its eastern side had been recently plowed. This area, encircled by woods, was the focus of the battle of Antietam.
TOPOGRAPHY OF ANTIETAM.
́ ́ ́SEPI IZTM P.M.
NATIONAL LINE SEPIEMBER
BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.
plan for the impending engagement was to attack the enemy's left with the corps. of Hooker and Mansfield, supported by Sumner's, and, if necessary, by Franklin's; and as soon as matters looked favorably there, to move the corps of Burnside against the enemy's extreme right, upon the ridge running to the south and rear of Sharpsburg, and, having carried that position, to press along the crest toward their left, and, whenever either of these flank movements should be successful, to advance his centre with all the forces then disposable.
On the afternoon of the 16th Hooker accordingly cross
Approach of the na
ed the Antietam, and, advancing southwesttional right wing. wardly, came to the eastern edge of what has been described as the battle-area. He lay there in the woods that night, for the Confederates had sent two brigades across from the Dunker Church, and they were just in front of him. Mansfield's corps had followed Hooker, and lay a little in his rear. Sumner was ready to follow them at daybreak. On the Confederate side, during the night, Hood's division had been relieved by a part of Jackson's corps.
As soon as he could see, Hooker made so furious an attack, supported by batteries on the east side of the Antietam, that Jackson's brigades could not retain their hold, but were expelled with severe loss across the corn-field of the battle-area, over the Hagerstown Road, and into the woods beyond the Dunker Church, in which were their reserves. These, issuing forth, after an infuriated struggle, succeeded in checking Hooker's advance. The antagonists, fighting in a cloud of sulphury smoke, almost exterminated each other. Jackson says: “The carnage on both sides was terrificthan half the brigades of Lawton and Hays were either killed or wounded, and more than a third of Trimble's; all their regimental commanders, except two, were either killed or wounded." It was necessary to withdraw the wreck of regiments to the rear, and replace it by Hood's division. On the other side, Hooker's corps was nearly destroyed.
Mansfield's corps had now (73 A.M.) reached the field, and had made its way down to the Hagerstown Road, where it was met by the division of D. H. Hill, which had come out of the woods at the Dunker Church. Another furious encounter ensued: the valley was filled with smoke. Out of the battle-din-the yells of the Confederate, the cheers of the national troops-down in the
The battle of
THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.
Charges of the national right and Confederate left.
corn-field, came forth a ghastly procession of wounded Mansfield's troops were driven back to the woods from which they had emerged. Mansfield was killed, and Hooker shot through the
Death of Mansfield.
THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.
In its turn, Sumner's corps had arrived. It was nine o'clock. The Confederates now could neither advance nor hold their position. Their officers saw that to remain where they were was only useless butchery. Sumner's right division, Sedgwick's, followed the retiring but still desperately resisting Confederates across the bloodstained area, forcing their way into the woods beyond the Dunker Church. At that moment the divisions of McLaws and Walker, which had just come up from Harper's Ferry, confronted them. These troops had taken post among the rocky ledges, which formed stone bulwarks waist high. They leaped forth and compelled their antagonists to retreat, expelling them from the Dunker woods, through the corn-field, and into the woods beyond. But, in their turn, they were driven back by Franklin, who now came up, and compelled them to make the bloody passage to the Dunker Church again. The corn-field was now finally held by the national troops.
Though dreadfully exhausted, the Confederates did not give up their attempt. While Sumner's right was thus engaged with McLaws, his left divisions had advanced half way from the Antietam to Sharpsburg. A desperate attack was made on the left flank of his left division, but it was foiled. The Confederates then tried to force their way between that and his centre division, but were repulsed. His line succeeded eventually in holding the ground it had won.
Repeated charges and countercharges.
Such were the events on McClellan's right. A battlewave of blood pulsated back and forth over the contest
on the left.
ed area. Alternately the national troops advanced, alterBurnside's attack nately the Confederates. On his left, Burnside received orders at 8 A.M. to force the lower stone bridge and gain the opposite heights. The approach to the bridge formed a kind of defile, which was swept by the enemy's artillery. Delay occurred. It was not until one o'clock that Burnside made the passage. Had this been done earlier in the day, it would have weakened the resistance that Lee was making at the Dunker Church, and probably have given McClellan the victory. It was done too late for that, and, indeed, too late altogether, for by the time it was accomplished A. P. Hill had come up from Harper's Ferry, and, falling on Burnside's left flank, forced him back to the bridge.
His success; but he is at last forced back.
THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.
Porter's corps, which constituted the national centre, was in reserve, and had taken no direct part in the bat tle. It had been reduced by the sending of detachments to other portions of the field to 4000 men.
The battle of Antietam thus closed without those wellmarked results which might have been expected from the preponderance of the na tional force. The Confederates had made a most gallant defense in their perilous position. The error on McClel lan's part was characteristic. He had used his troops too much in driblets and detail instead of in an overwhelming mass. His total strength was 87,164, of which 4320 were cavalry. His losses were 2010 killed, 9416 wounded, 1043 missing; that is, nearly Losses in the battle. 13,000 in all (12,469). Lee's force was about 45,000 at the beginning of the battle, but during the day it was increased to 70,000; of these, 2700 were buried by McClellan, others having been buried by the Confederates themselves. His total loss was about 13,533. As an offset to their success at Harper's Ferry, McClellan
Close of the battle.
says, "13 guns, 39 colors, upward of 15,000 stand of small-arms, and more than 6000 prisoners, were the trophies which attest the success of our arms in the battles of South Mountain, Turner's Gap, and Antietam. Not a single gun or color was lost by our army during these battles."
BATTLE-FIELD OF ANTIETAM.
Not long after the battle of Antietam I visited the The battle-field on field, and was an eye-witness of some of the next day. those scenes which Captain Noyes has so well described. That officer says: "Through torn-up corn-fields, robbed of their tasseled grain by hungry horses and hungry men, past farm-houses, barns, and outhouses crowded with the wounded, I came to a quiet little grove near the roadside, and here I found my train. How charming to my jaded senses appeared the scene. At a camp-fire sat the teamsters, cooking their noontide meal of mutton, potatoes, and coffee. The horses stood half asleep, tethered to the wagons. It was a sudden and quick transition from the battle-field, with its constant strain of excitement, to a picnic in peaceful woods.
"My route carried me over the late battle-field, and I Devastation in the spent much of the afternoon, part of the time in company with a friend, in visiting some of the most severely contested points, to be awestruck, sickened, almost benumbed with its sights of hor ror. Within this space of little more than a mile square —this spot, once beautiful with handsome residences and well-cultivated farms, isolated, hedged in with verdure, sacred to quiet, calm content, the hottest fury of man's hottest wrath had expended itself, burning residences and well-filled barns, plowing fields of ripened grain with artillery, scattering every where, through corn-field, wood, and valley, the most awful illustrations of war. Not a building about us which was not deserted by its occupants, and rent and torn by shot and shell; not a field