Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia, Of Operations September 2-November 15.
Operations in Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.--September 3-November 14, 1862.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]
HEADQUARTERS, TWO MILES FROM FREDERICKTOWN, MD.,
September 7, 1862. (Received September 10, 1862.)
Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that Lieutenant-Colonel Funk reports that he took possession of Winchester at 11 o'clock on the morning of the 3d instant, the enemy having abandoned the town on the night of the 2d. They blew up their large magazine, burnt an enormous amount of quartermaster's and commissary stores, and about two squares of the city. Still, a quantity of stores, a large amount of ammunition, some fine guns, medical stores, tents, cooking utensils, &c., were left behind, which have been taken possession of by Colonel Funk. I have directed that he make reports of the captured articles to the proper departments, and I desire that they be secured. As I have directed that Winchester be made a depot for this army, and have sent there our disabled men, horses, batteries, and surplus wagon-trains, in order that they may be recruited and refreshed, I particularly want a good commander for that post, one of energy and experience, who will bring everything into order, give confidence to the community, and take advantage of the resources of the country. It has occurred to me that one of our gallant wounded generals, too enfeebled to take the field, might do valuable service in that position, and I would recommend that General Edward Johnson, if capable of performing the duty, be assigned to the post. His services have earned him promotion, which I earnestly recommend, and hope that circumstances may authorize it.
I inclose you a report of General Julius White's command, lately in Winchester, whose troops retired in the direction of Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg, and, as I learn from rumor, have retreated to Pennsylvania. I wish shops opened at Winchester for the repair of our batteries, trains, &c., and request that the Ordnance and Quartermaster's Departments may give the necessary directions for the purpose.
I beg that you will endeavor now to gather in our conscripts to fill the reduced ranks of the Virginia regiments. Those in the Valley should be particularly attended to.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, Sharpsburg, Md., September 16, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS.
Mr. PRESIDENT: My letter to you of the 13th instant informed you of the positions of the different divisions of this army. Learning that night that Harper's Ferry had not surrendered, and that the enemy was advancing more rapidly than was convenient from Fredericktown, I determined to return with Longstreet's command to the Blue Ridge, to strengthen D. H. Hill's and Stuart's divisions, engaged in holding the passes of the mountains, lest the enemy should fall upon McLaws' rear, drive him from the Maryland Heights, and thus relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry. On approaching Boonsborough, I received information from General D. H. Hill that the enemy in strong force was at the main pass on the Frederick and Hagerstown road, pressing him so heavily as to require immediate re-enforcements. Longstreet advanced rapidly to his support, and immediately placed his troops in position. By this time Hill's right had been forced back, the gallant Garland having fallen in rallying his brigade. Under General Longstreet's directions, our right was soon restored, and firmly resisted the attacks of the enemy to the last. His superior numbers enabled him to extend beyond both of our flanks, and his right was able to reach the summit of the mountain to our left, and press us heavily in that direction. The battle raged until after night; the enemy's efforts to force a passage were resisted, but we had been unable to repulse him.
Learning later in the evening that Crampton's Gap (on the direct road from Fredericktown to Sharpsburg) had been forced, and McLaws' rear thus threatened, and believing from a report from General Jackson that Harper's Ferry would tall next morning, I determined to withdraw Longstreet and D. H. Hill from their positions and retire to the vicinity of Sharpsburg, where the army could be more easily united. Before abandoning the position, indications led me to believe that the enemy was withdrawing, but learning from a prisoner that Sumner's corps (which had not been engaged) was being put in position to relieve their wearied troops, while the most of ours were exhausted by a fatiguing march and a hard conflict, and I feared would be unable to renew the fight successfully in the morning, confirmed me in my determination. Accordingly, the troops were withdrawn, preceded by the trains, without molestation by the enemy, and about daybreak took position in front of this place. The enemy did not pass through the gap until about 8 o'clock of the morning after the battle, and their advance reached a position in front of us about 2 p.m. Before their arrival, I received intelligence from General Jackson that Harper's Ferry had surrendered early in the morning. I inclose his report.
From a more detailed statement furnished by General Jackson's adjutant-general, it appears that 49 pieces of artillery, 24 mountain howitzers, and 17 revolving guns, 11,000 men fit for duty (consisting of twelve regiments of infantry, three companies of cavalry, and six companies of artillery), together with 11,000 small-arms, were the fruits of this victory.
Part of General Jackson's corps has reached us and the rest are approaching, except General A. P. Hill's division, left at Harper's Ferry to guard the place and take care of public property. The enemy have made no attack up to this afternoon, but are in force in our front.
This victory of the indomitable Jackson and his troops gives us renewed occasion for gratitude to Almighty God for His guidance and protection.
I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Sharpsburg, Md., September 18, 1862--6.30 a.m.
His Excellency President DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: On the afternoon of the 16th instant the enemy, who, you were informed on that day, was in our front, opened a light fire of artillery upon our line. Early next morning it was renewed in earnest, and large masses of the Federal troops that had crossed the Antietam above our position assembled on our left and threatened to overwhelm us. They advanced in three compact lines. The divisions of Generals McLaws, R. H. Anderson, A. P. Hill, and Walker had not arrived the previous night, as I had hoped, and were still beyond the Potomac. Generals Jackson's and Ewell's divisions were thrown to the left of Generals D. H. Hill and Longstreet. The enemy advanced between the Antietam and the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike, and was met by General Hill's and the left of General Longstreet's division, where the contest raged fiercely, extending to our entire left.. The enemy was driven back and held in check, but before the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, and Walker--who, upon their arrival on the morning of the 17th, were advanced to support the left wing and center--could be brought into action, that portion of our lines was forced back by superior numbers. The line, after a severe conflict, was restored and the enemy driven back, and our position maintained during the rest of the day.
In the afternoon the enemy advanced on our right, where General Jones' division was posted, who handsomely maintained his position. General Toombs' brigade, guarding the bridge over Antietam Creek, gallantly resisted the approach of the enemy; but his superior numbers enabling him to extend his left, he crossed below the bridge, and assumed a threatening attitude on our right., which fell back in confusion. By this time, between 3 and 4 p.m., General A. P. Hill, with five of his brigades, reached the scene of action, drove the enemy immediately from the position they had taken, and continued the contest until dark, restoring our right and maintaining our ground.
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
September 20, 1862.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
SIR: Since my last letter to you of the 18th, finding the enemy indisposed to make an attack on that day, and our position being a bad one to hold with the river in rear, I determined to cross the army to the Virginia side. This was done at night successfully, nothing being left behind, unless it may have been some disabled guns or broken-down wagons, and the morning of the 19th found us satisfactorily over on the south bank of the Potomac, near Shepherdstown, when the army was immediately put in motion toward Williamsport. Before crossing the river, in order to threaten the enemy on his right and rear and make him apprehensive for his communications, I sent the cavalry forward to Williamsport, which they successfully occupied. At night the infantry sharpshooters, left, in conjunction with General Pendleton's artillery, to hold the ford below Shepherdstown, gave back, and the enemy's cavalry took possession of that town, and, from General Pendleton's report after midnight, I fear much of his reserve artillery has been captured. I am now obliged to return to Shepherdstown, with the intention of driving the enemy back if not in position with his whole army; but, if in full force, I think an attack would be inadvisable, and I shall make other dispositions.
I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
Camp on the Opequon, near Smoketown, September 21, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: As stated to you yesterday, the march of the army toward Williamsport was arrested. General Jackson's corps was turned back toward Shepherdstown, to rectify occurrences in that quarter. Only one or two brigades of the enemy's infantry with cavalry had crossed the river, none of whom had entered Shepherdstown. They displayed a large force of artillery on the opposite bank. General A. P. Hill's division pushed forward, and soon drove them across the river, when this army resumed its march. Only four pieces of artillery fell into the hands of the enemy? which they had carried across the river before they were attacked by A. P. Hill.
I regret also to report that on the night of the 14th instant, when 1 determined to withdraw from the gap in front of Boonsborough to Sharpsburg, a portion of General Longstreet's wagon-train was lost. When his division was ordered back from Hagerstown to the support of D. H. Hill, his train was directed to proceed toward Williamsport, with a view to its safety, and, if necessary, to its crossing the river. Unfortunately, that night the enemy's cavalry at Harper's Ferry evaded our forces, crossed the Potomac into Maryland, passed up through Sharpsburg, where they encountered our pickets, and intercepted on their line of retreat to Pennsylvania General Longstreet's train on the Hagerstown road. The guard was in the extreme rear of the train, that` being the only direction from which an attack was apprehended. The enemy captured and destroyed 45 wagons, loaded chiefly with ammunition and subsistence.
The army is resting to-day on the Opequon, below Martinsburg. Its present efficiency is greatly paralyzed by the loss to its ranks of the numerous stragglers. I have taken every means in my power from the beginning to correct this evil, which has increased instead of diminished. A great many men belonging to the army never entered Maryland at all; many returned after getting there, while others who crossed the river kept aloof. The stream has not lessened since crossing the Potomac, though the cavalry has been constantly employed in endeavoring to arrest it. As illustrative of the fact, I inclose a report just received from General J. R. Jones, who was sent to Winchester to arrest stragglers at that point while the army was at Sharpsburg. It occasions me the greatest concern in the future operations of the army, for it is still my desire to threaten a passage into Maryland, to occupy the enemy on this frontier, and, if my purpose cannot be accomplished, to draw them into the Valley, where I can attack them to advantage. Some immediate legislation, in my opinion, is required, and the most summary punishment should be authorized. It ought to be construed into desertion in face of the enemy, and thus brought under the Rules and Articles of War. To give you an idea of its extent in some brigades, I will mention that, on the morning after the battle of the 17th, General Evans reported to me on the field, where he was holding the front position, that he had but 120 of his brigade present, and that the next brigade to his, that of General Garnett, consisted of but 100 men. General Pendleton reported that the brigades of Generals Lawton and Armistead, left to guard the ford at Shepherdstown, together contained but 600 men. This is a woeful condition of affairs, and I am pained to state it, but you ought not to be ignorant of the fact, in order, if possible, that you may apply the proper remedy. It is true that the army has had hard work to perform, long and laborious marches, and large odds to encounter in every conflict, but not greater than were endured by our revolutionary fathers, or than what any army must encounter to be victorious. There are brilliant examples of endurance and valor on the part of those who have had to bear the brunt in the battle and the labor in the field in consequence of this desertion of their comrades. I hope by a few days' rest, if it is possible to give it, and the regular issue of rations, to restore the efficiency of the army for the work before it. The enemy know has suffered on his side, especially his infantry, as they have been driven in all encounters. His artillery is numerous and powerful, and his re-enforcements arrive daily. I shall endeavor at least to detain him on this frontier and to give him sufficient employment. If re-enforcements, clothing, and shoes could be forwarded to the army, it would be of the greatest benefit.
I have not heard of General Loring for some time, nor do I know whether he is employed in the Valley of the Kanawha or where. From such information as I get, I believe the enemy has pretty much withdrawn from Western Virginia.
I am, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, August 19, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
GENERAL: I have the honor to forward a report of the capture of Harper's Ferry and the operations of the army in Maryland (1862). The official reports of Lieutenant-General Jackson and the officers of his corps have only been recently received, which prevented its earlier transmittal. This finishes the reports of the operations of the campaign of 1862. They were designed to form a continuous narrative, though, for reasons given, were written at intervals. May I ask you to cause the several reports to be united, and to append the tabular statements accompanying each? Should this be inconvenient, if you could return the reports to me, I would have them properly arranged.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
CAPTURE OF HARPER'S FERRY AND OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND.
The enemy having retired to the protection of the fortifications around Washington and Alexandria, the army marched on September 3 toward Leesburg. The armies of Generals McClellan and Pope had now been brought back to the point from which they set out on the campaigns of the spring and summer. The objects of those campaigns had been frustrated and the designs of the enemy on the coast of North Carolina and in Western Virginia thwarted by the withdrawal of the main body of his forces from those regions. Northeastern Virginia was freed from the presence of Federal soldiers up to the intrenchments of Washington, and soon after the arrival of the army at Leesburg information was received that the troops which had occupied Winchester had retired to Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg. The war was thus transferred from the interior to the frontier, and the supplies of rich and productive districts made accessible to our army. To prolong a state of affairs in every way desirable, and not to permit the season for active operations to pass without endeavoring to inflict further injury upon the enemy, the best course appeared to be the transfer of the army into Maryland. Although not properly equipped for invasion, lacking much of the material of war, and feeble in transportation, the troops poorly provided with clothing, and thousands of them destitute of shoes, it was yet believed to be strong enough to detain the enemy upon the northern frontier until the approach of winter should render his advance into Virginia difficult, if not impracticable. The condition of Maryland encouraged the belief that the presence of our army, however inferior to that of the enemy, would induce the Washington Government to retain all its available force to provide against contingencies, which its course toward the people of that State gave it reason to apprehend. At the same time it was hoped that military success might afford us an opportunity to aid the citizens of Maryland in any efforts they might be disposed to make to recover their liberties. The difficulties that surrounded them were fully appreciated, and we expected to derive more assistance in the attainment of our object from the just fears of the Washington. Government than from any active demonstration on the part of the people, unless success should en able us to give them assurance of continued protection.
Influenced by these considerations, the army was put in motion, D. H. Hill's division, which had joined us on the 2d, being in advance, and-between September 4 and 7 crossed the Potomac at the fords near Leesburg, and encamped in the vicinity of Fredericktown.
It was decided to cross the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, in order, by threatening Washington and Baltimore, to cause the enemy to withdraw from the south bank, where his presence endangered our communications and the safety of those engaged in the removal of our wounded and the captured property from the late battlefields. Having accomplished this result, it was proposed to move the army into Western Maryland, establish our communications with Richmond through the Valley of the Shenandoah, and, by threatening Pennsylvania, induce the enemy to follow, and thus draw him from his base of supplies.
It had been supposed that the advance upon Fredericktown would lead to the evacuation of Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, thus opening the line of communication through the Valley. This not having occurred, it became necessary to dislodge the enemy from those positions before concentrating the army west of the mountains. To accomplish this with the least delay, General Jackson was directed to proceed with his command to Martinsburg, and, after driving the enemy from that place, to move down the south side of the Potomac upon Harper's Ferry. General McLaws, with his own and R. H. Anderson's division, was ordered to seize Maryland Heights, on the north side of the Potomac, opposite Harper's Ferry, and Brigadier-General Walker to take possession of Loudoun Heights, on the east side of the Shenandoa, where it unites with the Potomac. These several commands were directed, after reducing Harper's Ferry and clearing the Valley of the enemy, to join the rest of the army at Boonsborough or Hagerstown.
The march of these troops began on the 10th, and at the same time the remainder of Longstreet's command and the division of D. H. Hill crossed the South Mountain and moved toward Boonsborough. General Stuart, with the cavalry, remained east of the mountains, to observe the enemy and retard his advance.
A report having been received that a Federal force was approaching Hagerstown from the direction of Chambersburg, Longstreet continued his march to the former place, in order to secure the road leading thence to Williamsport, and also to prevent the removal of stores which were said to be in Hagerstown. He arrived at that place on the 11th, General Hill halting near Boonsborough to prevent the enemy at Harper's Ferry from escaping through Pleasant Valley, and at the same time to support the cavalry. The advance of the Federal Army was so slow at the time we left Fredericktown as to justify the belief that the reduction of Harper's Ferry would be accomplished and our troops concentrated before they would be called upon to meet it. In that event, it had not been intended to oppose its passage through the South Mountains, as it was desired to engage it as far as possible from its base.
General Jackson marched very rapidly, and, crossing the Potomac near Williamsport on the 11th, sent A. P. Hill's division directly to Martinsburg, and disposed the rest of his command to cut off the retreat of the enemy westward. On his approach, the Federal troops evacuated Martinsburg, retiring to Harper's Ferry on the night of the 11th, and Jackson entered the former place on the 12th, capturing some prisoners and abandoned stores.
In the forenoon of the following day his leading division, under General A. P. Hill, came in sight of the enemy strongly intrenched on Bolivar Heights, in rear of Harper's Ferry. Before beginning the attack, General Jackson proceeded to put himself in communication with the cooperating forces under Generals McLaws and Walker, from the former of whom he was separated by the Potomac and from the latter by the Shenandoah. General Walker took possession of Loudoun Heights on the 13th, and the next day was in readiness to open upon Harper's Ferry. General McLaws encountered more opposition. He entered Pleasant Valley on the 11th. On the 12th he directed General Kershaw, with his own and Barksdale's brigade, to ascend the ridge, whose southern extremity is known as Maryland Heights, and attack the enemy, who occupied that position with infantry and artillery, protected by intrenchments. He disposed the rest of his command to hold the roads leading from Harper's Ferry eastward through Weverton and northward from Sandy Hook, guarding the pass in his rear, through which he had entered Pleasant Valley, with the brigades of Semmes and Mahone. Owing to the rugged nature of the ground on which Kershaw had to operate and the want of roads, he was compelled to use infantry alone. Driving in the advance parties of the enemy on the summit of the ridge on the 12th, he assailed the works the next day. After a spirited contest they were carried, the troops engaged in their defense spiking their heavy guns and retreating to Harper's Ferry. By 4.30 p.m. Kershaw was in possession of Maryland Heights.
On the 14th a road for artillery was cut along the ridge, and at 2 p.m. four guns opened upon the enemy on the opposite side of the river, and the investment of Harper's Ferry was complete.
In the mean time events transpired in another quarter which threatened to interfere with the reduction of the place. A copy of the order directing the movement of the army from Fredericktown had fallen into the hands of General McClellan, and disclosed to him the disposition of our forces. He immediately began to push forward rapidly, and on the afternoon of the 13th was reported approaching the pass in South Mountain, on the Boonsborough and Fredericktown road. The cavalry under General Stuart fell back before him, materially impeding his progress by its gallant resistance, and gaining time for preparations to oppose his advance. By penetrating the mountain at this point, he would reach the rear of McLaws and be enabled to relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry. To prevent this, General D. H. Hill was directed to guard the Boonsborough Gap and Longstreet ordered to march from Hagerstown to his support.
On the 13th General Hill sent back the brigades of Garland and Colquirt to hold the pass, but subsequently ascertaining that the enemy was near in heavy force, he ordered up the rest of his division.
Early on the 14th a large body of the enemy attempted to force its way to the rear of the position held by Hill by a road south of the Boonsborough and Fredericktown turnpike. The attack was repulsed by Garland's brigade, after a severe conflict, in which that brave and accomplished young officer was killed. The remainder of the division arriving shortly afterward, Colquitt's brigade was disposed across the turnpike road; that of G. B. Anderson, supported by Ripley, was placed on the right, and Rodes' occupied an important position on the left. Garland's brigade, which had suffered heavily in the first attack, was withdrawn, and the defense of the road occupied by it intrusted to Colonel Rosser, of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry, who reported to General Hill with his regiment and some artillery. The small command of General Hill repelled the repeated assaults of the Federal Army and held it in check for five hours. Several attacks on the center were gallantly repulsed by Colquitt's brigade, and Rodes maintained his position against heavy odds with the utmost tenacity. Longstreet, leaving one brigade at Hagerstown, had hurried to the assistance of Hill, and reached the scene of action between 3 and 4 p.m. His troops, much exhausted by a long, rapid march and the heat of the day, were disposed on both sides of the turnpike. General D. R. Jones, with three of his brigades-those of Pickett (under General Garnett), Kemper, and Jenkins (under Colonel Walker)--together with Evans' brigade, was posted along the mountain on the left; General Hood, with his own and Whiting's brigade (under Colonel Law), Drayton's, and D. R. Jones' (under Col. G. T. Anderson), on the right. Batteries had been placed by General Hill in such positions as could be found, but the ground was unfavorable for the use of artillery. The battle continued with great animation until night. On the south of the turnpike the enemy was driven back some distance, and his attack on the center repulsed with loss. His great superiority of numbers enabled him to extend beyond both of our flanks. By this means he succeeded in reaching the summit of the mountain beyond our left, and, pressing upon us heavily from that direction, gradually forced our troops back after an obstinate resistance. Darkness put an end to the contest.
The effort to force the passage of the mountains had failed, but it was manifest that without re-enforcements we could not hazard a renewal of the engagement, as the enemy could easily turn either flank. Information was also received that another large body of Federal troops had during the afternoon forced their way through Crampton's Gap, only 5 miles in rear of McLaws. Under these circumstances, it was determined to retire to Sharpsburg, where we would be upon the flank and rear of the enemy should he move against McLaws, and where we could more readily unite with the rest of the army. This movement was efficiently and skillfully covered by the cavalry brigade of General Fitzhugh Lee, and was accomplished without interruption by the enemy, who did not appear on the west side of the pass at Boonsborough until about 8 a.m. on the following morning. The resistance that had been offered to the enemy at Boonsborough secured sufficient time to enable General Jackson to complete the reduction of Harper's Ferry.
On the afternoon of the 14th, when he found that the troops of Walker and McLaws were in position to co-operate in the attack, he ordered General A. P. Hill to turn the enemy's left flank and enter Harper's Ferry. Ewell's division (under General Lawton)was ordered to support Hill, while Winder's brigade, of Jackson's division (under Colonel Grigsby),with a battery of artillery, made a demonstration on the enemy's right near the Potomac. The rest of the division was held in reserve. The cavalry under Major Massie was placed on the extreme left, to prevent the escape of the enemy. Colonel Grigsby succeeded in getting possession of an eminence on the left, upon which two batteries were advantageously posted. General A. P. Hill, observing a hill on the enemy's extreme left occupied by infantry without artillery, and protected only by an abatis of felled timber, directed General Pender, with his own brigade and those of [General] Archer and Colonel Brocken brough, to seize the crest, which was done with slight resistance. At the same time he ordered Generals Branch and Gregg to march along the Shenandoah, and, taking advantage of the ravines intersecting its steep banks, to establish themselves on the plain to the left and rear of the enemy's works. This was accomplished during the night. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, chief of artillery of A. P. Hill's division, placed several batteries on the eminence taken by General Pender, and, under the directions of Colonel Crutchfield, General Jackson's chief of artillery, ten guns belonging to Ewell's division were posted on the east side of the Shenandoah, so as to enfilade the enemy's intrenchments on Bolivar Heights, and take his nearest and most formidable works in reverse. General McLaws in the mean time made his preparations to prevent the force which had penetrated at Crampton's Gap from coming to the relief of the garrison. This pass had been defended by the brigade of General Cobb, supported by those of Semmes and Mahone; but unable to oppose successfully the superior numbers brought against them, they had been compelled to retire with loss. The enemy halted at the gap, and during the night General McLaws formed his command in line of battle across Pleasant Valley, about 1 miles below Crampton's [Gap], leaving one regiment to support the artillery on Maryland Heights, and two brigades on each of the roads from Harper's Ferry.
The attack on the garrison began at dawn. A rapid and vigorous fire was opened from the batteries of General Jackson and those on Maryland and Loudoun Heights. In about two hours the garrison, consisting of more than 11,000 men, surrendered. Seventy-three pieces of artillery, about 13,000 small-arms, and a large quantity of military stores, fell into our hands. Leaving General A. P. Hill to receive the surrender of the Federal troops and secure the captured property, General Jackson, with his two other divisions, set out at once for Sharps-burg, ordering Generals McLaws and Walker to follow without delay. Official information of the fall of Harper's Ferry and the approach of General Jackson was received soon after the commands of Longstreet and D. H. Hill reached Sharpsburg, on the morning of the 15th, and reanimated the courage of the troops. General Jackson arrived early on the 16th and General Walker came up in the afternoon. The presence of the enemy at Crampton's Gap embarrassed the movements of General McLaws. He retained the position taken during the night of the 14th to oppose an advance toward Harper's Ferry until the capitulation of that place, when, finding the enemy indisposed to attack, he gradually withdrew his command toward the Potomac. Deeming the roads to Sharpsburg on the north side of the river impracticable, he resolved to cross at Harper's Ferry and march by way of Shepherdstown. Owing to the condition of his troops and other circumstances, his progress was slow, and he did not reach the battlefield at Sharpsburg until some time after the engagement of the 17th began. The commands of Longstreet and D. H. Hill, on their arrival at Sharpsburg, were placed in position along the range of hills between the town and the Antietam, nearly parallel to the course of that stream, Longstreet on the right of the road to Boonsborough and Hill on the left. The advance of the enemy was delayed by the brave opposition he encountered from Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, and he did not appear on the opposite side of the Antietam until about 2 p.m. During the afternoon the batteries on each side were slightly engaged.
On the 16th the artillery fire became warmer, and continued throughout the day. The enemy crossed the Antietam beyond the reach of our batteries and menaced our left. In anticipation of this movement, Hood's two brigades had been transferred from the right and posted between D. H. Hill and the Hagerstown road. General Jackson was now directed to take position on Hood's left, and formed his line with his right resting upon the Hagerstown road and his left extending toward the Potomac, protected by General Stuart with the cavalry and horse artillery. General Walker, with his two brigades, was stationed on Longstreet's right. As evening approached, the enemy opened more vigorously with his artillery, and bore down heavily with his infantry upon Hood, but the attack was gallantly repulsed. At 10 p.m. Hood's troops were relieved by the brigades of Lawton and Trimble, of Ewell's division, commanded by General Lawton. Jackson's own division, under General J. R. Jones, was on Lawton's left, supported by the remaining brigades of Ewell.
At early dawn on the 17th the enemy's artillery opened vigorously from both sides of the Antietam, the heaviest fire being directed against our left. Under cover of this fire a large force of infantry attacked General Jackson. They were met by his troops with the utmost resolution, and for several hours the conflict raged with great fury and alternate success. General J. R. Jones was compelled to leave the field, and the command of Jackson's division devolved on General Starke. The troops advanced with great spirit, and the enemy's lines were repeatedly broken and forced to retire. Fresh troops, however, soon replaced those that were beaten, and Jackson's men were in turn compelled to fall back. The brave General Starke was killed, General Lawton was wounded, and nearly all the field officers, with a large proportion of the men, killed or disabled. Our troops slowly yielded to overwhelming numbers and fell back, obstinately disputing the progress of the enemy. Hood returned to the field, and relieved the brigades of Trimble, Lawton, and Hays, which had suffered severely. General Early, who succeeded General Lawton in the command of Ewell's division, was ordered by General Jackson to move with his brigade to take the place of Jackson's division, most of which was withdrawn, its ammunition being nearly exhausted and its numbers much reduced. A small part of the division, under Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, united with Early's brigade, as did portions of the brigades of Trimble, Lawton, and Hays. The battle now raged with great violence, the small commands under Hood and Early holding their ground against many times their own numbers of the enemy, and under a tremendous fire of artillery. Hood was re-en-forced by the brigades of Ripley, Colquitt, and Garland (under Colonel McRae), of D. H. Hill's division, and afterward by D. R. Jones' brigade, under Col. G. T. Anderson. The enemy's lines were broken and forced back, but fresh numbers advanced to their support, and they began to gain ground. The desperate resistance they encountered, however, delayed their progress until the troops of General McLaws arrived and those of General Walker could be brought from the right. Hood's brigade, greatly diminished in numbers, withdrew to replenish their ammunition, their supply being entirely exhausted. They were relieved by Walker's command, who immediately attacked the enemy vigorously, driving him back with great slaughter. Colonel Manning, commanding Walker's brigade, pursued until he was stopped by a strong fence, behind which was posted a large force of infantry with several batteries. The gallant colonel was severely wounded, and his brigade retired to the line on which the rest of Walker's command had halted.
Upon the arrival of the re-enforcements under General McLaws, General Early attacked with great resolution the large force opposed to him. McLaws advanced at the same time, and the enemy were driven back in confusion, closely followed by our troops beyond the position occupied at the beginning of the engagement. The enemy renewed the assault on our left several times, but was repulsed with loss. He finally ceased to advance his infantry, and for several hours kept up a furious fire from his numerous batteries, under which our troops held their position with great coolness and courage. The attack on our left was speedily followed by one in heavy force on the center. This was met by part of Walker's division and the brigades of G. B. Anderson and Rodes, of D. H. Hill's command, assisted by a few pieces of artillery The enemy was repulsed, and retired behind the crest of a hill, from which they kept Up a desultory fire. 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' 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. Maj. Gen. R. H. Anderson and Brigadier-General Wright were also wounded and borne from the field.
The heavy masses of the enemy again moved forward, being opposed only by four pieces of artillery, supported by a few hundred men belonging to different brigades, rallied by General D. H. Hill and other officers, and parts of Walker's and R.H. Anderson's commands, Colonel Cooke, with the Twenty-seventh North Carolina Regiment, of Walker's brigade, standing boldly in line without a cartridge. The firm front presented by this small force and the well-directed fire of the artillery, under Captain Miller, of the Washington Artillery, and Captain Boyce's South Carolina battery, checked the progress of the enemy, and in about an hour and a half he retired. Another attack was made soon afterward a little farther 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 center 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 Brig. Gen. 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' small command repulsed five different assaults made by 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 4 p.m. Toombs' 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 2,000 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 7.30 a.m. He was now ordered to re-enforce 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 General D. H. Hill's also opened with good effect from the left of the Boonsborough road. The progress of the enemy was immediately arrested and his lines 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 his batteries on the opposite side of the river. In this attack the brave and lamented Brig. Gen. L. O'B. Branch was killed, gallantly leading his brigade.
It was now nearly dark, and the enemy had massed a number of batteries to sweep the approaches to the Antietam, on the opposite side of which the corps of General Porter, which had not been engaged, now appeared to dispute our advance. Our troops were much exhausted and greatly reduced in numbers by fatigue and the casualties of battle. Under these circumstances it was deemed injudicious to push our advantage further in the face of fresh troops of the enemy, much exceeding the number of our own. They were accordingly recalled and formed on the line originally held by General Jones. While the attack on our center 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 40,000 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 defeating the attack on that part of our line.
On the 18th we occupied the position of the preceding day, except in the center, where our line was drawn in about 200 yards. Our ranks were increased by the arrival of a number of troops, who had not been engaged the day before, and, though still too weak to assume the offensive, we awaited without apprehension the 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 re-enforcements. As we could not look for a material increase in strength, and the enemy's force could be largely and rapidly augmented, it was not thought prudent to wait until he should be ready again to offer battle. During the night of the 18th the army was accordingly withdrawn to the south side of the Potomac, crossing near Shepherdstown, without loss or molestation.
The enemy advanced the next morning, but was held in check by General Fitzhugh 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 enemy should he attempt to follow us. After the army had safely reached the Virginia shore with such of the wounded as could be removed and all its trains, General Porter's corps, with a number of batteries and some cavalry, appeared on the opposite side. General Pendleton was left to guard the ford with the reserve artillery and about 600 infantry. 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 Opequon, near Martinsburg, 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.
On October 8 General Stuart was ordered to cross the Potomac above Williamsport with 1,200 or 1,500 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 Chambersburg, and destroyed a large amount of public property, making the entire circuit of General McClellan's army. He recrossed the Potomac below Harper's Ferry without loss.
The enemy soon after crossed the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, and advanced southward, seizing the passes of the mountains as he progressed. General Jackson's corps was ordered to take position on the road between Berryville and Charlestown, to be prepared to oppose an advance from Harper's Ferry or a movement into the Shenandoah Valley from the east side of the mountains, while at the same time he would 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.
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 November 3 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. This situation of affairs continued without material change until about the middle of November, when the movements began which resulted in the winter campaign on the Lower Rappahannock.
The accompanying return of the medical director will show the extent of our losses in the engagements mentioned. The reports of the different commanding officers must, of necessity, be referred to for the details of these operations.
I desire to call the attention of the Department to the names of those brave officers and men who are particularly mentioned for courage and good conduct by their commanders. The limits of this report will not permit me to do more than renew the expression of my admiration for the valor that shrunk from no peril and the fortitude that endured every privation without a murmur. I must also refer to the report of General Stuart for the particulars of the services rendered by the cavalry besides those to which I have alluded. Its vigilance, activity, and courage were conspicuous, and to its assistance is due in a great measure, the success of some of the most important and delicate operations of the campaign.
R. E. LEE,
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