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HARPER'S FERRY INVESTED.
Smith's on the left. The brigades of Bartlett and Torbett, of Slocum's force, supported by Newton, advanced steadily upon Cobb at the base of the mountain, driving him from his stone-wall defenses up the acclivity. On the left, the brigades of Brooks and Irwin, of Smith's division, charged up the mountain in the same manner. After a struggle of several hours, in which the Nationals had much the superiority in numbers, the latter gained the crest of the Pass, and the Confederates fled down the western side of the mountain.'
Franklin was now only six miles from Harper's Ferry, and was competent to fly to its relief. Let us see what was the condition of affairs there at this critical juncture, and what happened.
The post at Harper's Ferry, as we have observed, was in command of Colonel D. II. Miles. A large amount of military stores had been collected there, which must be sacrificed if the garrison should be withdrawn. Halleck determined to hold it until McClellan should succor the garrison, and orders were given accordingly to the commander. McClellan advised another course; but on the day of the struggle at Turner's and Crampton's Gaps, he sent Miles word to "hold out to the last extremity," as he might "count on every effort" to relieve him. In the mean time Jackson, by quick
movements, had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and Sept. 11, marched rapidly upon Martinsburg. General Julius White, in command of troops there, fled with them to Harper's Ferry. He ranked Miles, but deferred to his position as an old army officer, and offered to serve under him. The junction of these forces, with some from Winchester, made the garrison over twelve thousand strong.
At noon of the 13th Jackson was in full force in the rear of Harper's Ferry, and at once placed himself in communication with Walker and McLaws. The former was already on Loudon Heights, across the Shenandoah, and the latter was struggling for Maryland Heights, across the PotoThe summits of these mountains are within cannon-shot of each
other, and command Harper's Ferry below, into which plunging missiles of every kind might be hurled.
Heedless of the danger that might soon brood on those heights, Miles had done nothing worthy of a skillful or loyal commander to save his post and garrison below. He had placed a few troops under Colonel T. H. Ford, of the Thirty-second Ohio, on Maryland Heights, but did not comply with that commander's requisition for intrenching tools, that he might fortify his position; so, on the 12th, when McLaws' advance appeared on the crest of the Elk
1 Franklin's loss was 115 killed and 418 wounded; total, 538. His gain consisted of 400 prisoners, 1 caisson, and 700 small arms. Cobb's loss was upwards of 600.
2 These were the Thirty-second Ohio, Thirty-ninth, One Hundred and Fifteenth, and One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York, and part of a Maryland regiment.
SURRENDER OF HARPER'S FERRY.
Mountain, two or three miles northward, and soon commenced skirmishing,' Ford had only a slight breast-work of trees, with an abatis in front of it, near the crest, for defense. He repelled an assault in force at an early hour on the 13th, but when it was renewed a little later, by Kershaw, some of his troops gave way and fled in great confusion. They were rallied, but the Confederates had secured such vantage-ground that, under cover of darkness, at two o'clock the next morning, Ford, hopeless of aid from Miles, spiked his guns and withdrew to Harper's Ferry.
All was now lost, unless Miles could hold out until succor could come from Franklin. Harper's Ferry was completely invested early on the 14th, the great hills around it, excepting Bolivar Heights, on which the Nationals had batteries, being then in possession of the foe, From these commanding positions an artillery fire was opened in the afternoon. McLaws had pushed forward to the Potomac at Sandy Hook, and barred the way to escape down the river, and General Wright, with artillery, was well posted at the foot of Maryland Heights. "Hold out to the last extremity, Colonel Miles," said McClellan by messenger, "and, if possible, reoccupy Maryland Heights with your whole force. The Catoctin Valley is in our possession, and you can safely cross the river at Berlin." But Miles did no such thing. At nine o'clock that night he allowed his cavalry, two thousand strong, under Colonel Davis, to depart, and before morning eleven of Ewell's guns were taken across the Shenandoah, and so planted as to assail the National batteries on Bolivar Heights, in reverse. At dawn no less than nine batteries opened upon the garrison. The portion of it on Bolivar Heights was driven to the lower hill, near the town, and the certain destruction of all seemed impending. Miles soon displayed a white flag, and at eight o'clock terms of surrender had been agreed upon. Miles was then dead. His white flag had not been readily seen, and the firing had continued for thirty or forty minutes. A shot killed him, and the duty of surrendering devolved upon General White. Nearly twelve thousand men became prisoners of war, and a considerable amount of spoils fell into the hands of the victors. The conduct of Miles was such, according to sworn testimony, that his loyalty to the cause of the Republic is suspected.3
Lee now possessed Maryland Heights and Harper's Ferry, but found himself in such peril that the victory seemed like a snare. Franklin's advent in Pleasant Valley on the morning of the 15th was a specter that appalled him. The severance of his army by his enemy was threatened, and he took measures to concentrate it. He withdrew his troops from South Mountain across Pleasant Valley and Elk Ridge, and took position in the Antietam
1 McLaws and Anderson had evacuated Pleasant Valley on the day when Jackson captured Martinsburg. McLaws at once ordered Kershaw to take his own and Barksdale's brigades up a rough mountain road to the crest of the Elk Mountain, and to follow the ridge to Ford's position on Maryland Heights.
The number of men surrendered was 11,583, half of them from New York, and the remainder from Ohio and Maryland. Most of them were raw levies, some of them being three months men, under the President's call of the first of June. The spoils were 73 cannon, 18,000 small arms, 200 wagons, and a large quantity of tents and camp equipage.
3 A Commission appointed to investigate the matter showed that Miles had been ordered a month before the surrender to fortify Maryland Heights, but had neglected to do so; that he had refused to furnish Ford with intrenching tools; that two days before the surrender he had paroled sixteen Confederate prisoners and allowed them to pass into the Confederate lines, by which the foe might obtain full information; that he had held a private interview with a captured Confederate officer, and paroled him; that he allowed him to pass back into his own lines, and that he appeared among the first to reach the National camp as one of the victors.
THE ARMIES IN THE ANTIETAM VALLEY.
Valley, in the vicinity of Sharpsburg. Jackson also, seeing the menacing peril, had left the matter of capitulation at Harper's Ferry to A. P. Hill, and with the remainder of his command recrossed the Potomac, and by swift marches rejoined Lee on the Antietam Creek. McLaws saw that his own force might be crushed by a vigorous movement on the part of Franklin, and as the surrender of Harper's Ferry seemed to give him leave to withdraw, he abandoned Maryland Heights, passed the Potomac at the Ferry, and made his way to Lee by Shepherdstown. Walker had already abandoned Loudon Heights, and made his way by the same route toward the main army. By these quick movements Lee's forces became consolidated before McClellan was ready to strike him a serious blow. On the 16th of September the Confederate Army was well posted on the heights near Sharpsburg, on the western side of the Antietam Creek, which traverses a very beautiful valley, and falls into the Potomac six miles above Harper's Ferry.
When McClellan observed the Confederates retreating from South Mountain, on the morning of the 15th,' he ordered his whole army forward in pursuit. Lee's plans were thwarted, and he found himself compelled to fight; and with the troops in hand that morning he made as great a display of power as possible, that Jackson and his other leaders, who had been operating against Harper's Ferry, might bring up their forces. This stratagem was successful. McClellan was so impressed with the idea that overwhelming numbers were on his front, that he hesitated, and finally, as he says in his report (page 200), he "found that it was too late to attack that day." That hesitation and delay was fatal. At ten o'clock in the morning he had sent a thrill of joy through the country by announcing to the General-in-Chief the utter demoralization and decimation of the Confederates, and the assurance that he was "following as rapidly as the men could move;"" but sadness followed, for the hopes excited by that announcement were not realized.
There was some sharp skirmishing on the 15th; first with cavalry and then with artillery. McClellan's vanguard of horsemen overtook the covering cavalry of the Confederates at Boonsborough, charged upon them, killed and wounded a number, and captured two hundred and fifty men and two guns. And when the main body of the Nationals approached the Antietam Creek, on the Keedysville and Sharpsburg roads, the Confederates opened their artillery upon them, and received some sharp responses. This was the sum of the conflict on the 15th.
On the morning of the 16th both armies were actively preparing for battle. The bulk of the Confederate forces, under Longstreet and D. H. Hill, stood along the range of heights between Sharpsburg and the Antietam, which flowed between the belligerents. Longstreet was on the right of the road between Sharpsburg and Boonsborough, and Hill on the left. Hood's division was posted between Hill and the Hagerstown road, north of Miller's farm, so as to oppose an expected flank move
1 See McClellan's dispatches. He erroneously supposed his troops had been fighting the whole of Lee's army, and he reported accordingly. "It is stated," he said, "Lee gives his loss at 15,000," and added, "We are following as rapidly as the men can move." This announcement on the morning of the 15th caused the President to telegraph to McClellan, saying, "God bless you and all with you; destroy the rebel army if possible."
POSITION OF THE TWO ARMIES.
ment in that direction; and near that point, in the rear, Jackson's exhausted troops were posted in reserve, his line stretching from the Hagerstown road toward the Potomac, and protected by Stuart with cavalry and artillery. Walker was posted on Longstreet's right with two brigades a little south of Sharpsburg, near Shaveley's farm. General Lee had his quarters in a tent, as usual, on the hill close by Sharpsburg, where the National cemetery now is, and from that point he overlooked much of the country that was made a battle-field the next day.
Along the line of the Confederate Army, the Antietam (a sluggish stream with few fords) was spanned by four stone bridges' of like architecture, three of which were strongly
Sharpsburg pike, stood the corps of Sumner and Hooker. In advance, on the right of the turnpike and near the Antietam, General Richardson's division of Sumner's corps was posted. In line with this, on the left of that road, was Sykes's regular division of Porter's corps, protecting bridge No. 2. Farther down the stream, on the left, and not far from No. 3, Burnside's corps was posted. Upon a ridge of the first line of hills east of Antietam, between the turnpike and Pry's house, and in front of Sumner and Hooker,
batteries of 24-pounder Parrott guns, commanded by Captains Taft, Langner, and Von Kleizer, and Lieutenant Weaver, were planted. On the crest of the hill, above bridge No. 3, were batteries under Captain Weed and Lieutenant Benjamin. Franklin's corps and Couch's division were farther down in Pleasant Valley, near Brownsville, and Morrell's division of Porter's corps was approaching from Boonsborough, and Humphrey's from Frederick. A detachment of the Signal Corps, under Major Myer, had a station on Red Ridge, a spur of South Mountain, which overlooked the entire field of operations, and from that
1 The upper, or No. 1, was at the crossing of the Keedysville and Williamsport road; No. 2 was on the Keedysville and Sharpsburg turnpike, two miles below; No. 3 was about a mile below this and Sharpsburg, on the Rohersville and Sharpsburg road; and No. 4 near the mouth of the creek, on the Sharpsburg and Harper's Ferry road.
PREPARATIONS FOR BATTLE.
point it performed very important service. Such was the general position of the contending armies on the 16th of September.
The Confederates opened an artillery fire on the Nationals at dawn, but it was afternoon before McClellan was ready to put his troops in position for attack, the morning having been spent in reconnoitering, finding fords, and other preparations required by prudence. There was found to be a lack of ammunition and rations, and these had to be supplied from tardily approaching supply-trains. Finally he was in readiness, and at two o'clock in the afternoon Hooker was ordered to cross the Antietam at and near bridge No. 1, with the divisions of Ricketts, Meade, and Doubleday, and attack and turn the Confederate left. Sumner was directed to throw over the stream during the night General Mansfield's corps (Twelfth), and to hold his own (Second) ready to cross early the next morning. Hooker's movement was successful. Advancing through the woods he struck Hood, and after a sharp contest, commenced with Meade's Pennsylvania Reserves, near the house of D. Miller, and which lasted until dark, the Confederates were driven back. Hooker's men rested that night on their arms upon the ground they had won from their foe. Mansfield's corps (divisions of Williams and Greene) crossed the Antietam during the evening in Hooker's track, and bivouacked on Poffenberger's farm, a mile in his rear.
The night of the 16th was passed by both armies with the expectation of a heavy battle in the morning. Few officers found relief from anxiety, for it was believed by many that it might be a turning-point in the war. Only the Commander-in-Chief of the National army seems to have had a lofty faith that all would be well. He retired to his room at a little past ten o'clock, and did not leave it until eight o'clock the next morning, when the surrounding hills had been echoing the sounds of battle which had been raging within a mile of head-quarters for three hours. Then, with some of his aids, he walked to a beautiful grove on the brow of a declivity near Pry's, overlooking the Antietam, and watched the battle on the right for about two hours, when he mounted his horse and rode away to Porter's position, on the right, where he was greeted, as usual, by the hearty cheers of his admiring soldiers.'
The contest was opened at dawn" by Hooker, with about eighteen thousand men. He made a vigorous attack on the Confederate left, Sept. 17, commanded by Jackson. Doubleday was on his right, Meade on his left, and Ricketts in the center. His first object was to push the Confederates back through a line of woods, and seize the Hagers
1 Oral statement to the author, by Mr. and Mrs Pry.