Sumner

I From 0930, French's and Richardson's divisions of Federal II Corps attack sunken road positions and make no headway 1 From 1030 counterattack led by McLaws' and Walker's divisions stem the advance of Sedgwick's 2nd division of Federal II Corps about West Wood and send its xx

A Fighting was fierce around the ruins of the Mumma house and hams, which had been previously destroyed by D. H. Hill's troops. None the less, wounded men took shelter in what remained of the buildings.

► Smith's Division of VI Corps charged forward to aid French's badly battered troops, sending Irwin's Brigade against Confederates near the Dunker Church.

A Fighting was fierce around the ruins of the Mumma house and hams, which had been previously destroyed by D. H. Hill's troops. None the less, wounded men took shelter in what remained of the buildings.

► Smith's Division of VI Corps charged forward to aid French's badly battered troops, sending Irwin's Brigade against Confederates near the Dunker Church.

of the regiment to Lightfoot's immediate left, Major Lafayette Hobson of the 5th Alabama, asked Lightfoot in amazement if the order was intended for the entire brigade. Lightfoot replied in the affirmative, and Hobson took the 5th Alabama out of the sunken road also. Rodes' men promptly abandoned their position, to the astonishment of their brigade commander.

The commander of the Federal forces immediately opposite Rodes, Brigadier General Kimball, ordered an advance and took possession of the sunken road as Rodes' Confederates deserted it. Kimball and Barlow claimed 300 Southern prisoners and a number of Confederate colours. The remaining formations of Anderson's Confederate Division, now commanded by Brigadier General Pryor, should have been available to halt further 68

Federal progress, but Pryor's men apparently merged with other retreating Confederates. It is a little uncertain what happened to these units, as no reports are extant in the Official Records from any of the principals of Anderson's division, but what is certain is that they made no real attempt to impede Kimball and Caldwell's advance. There was little left to stop the Federals, except Longstreet's reserve artillery and whatever Southern infantry could be rallied by D. H. Hill and Robert Rodes.

There was further severe fighting as the Federals tried to advance through the orchard and on to the high ground to their front. Kimball was attacked on his right by a number of Southern formations, which he dealt with by refusing the right of the 14th Indiana and the 8th Ohio regiments. Caldwell was attacked on his left by scattered Confederate soldiers led forward personally by Hill. 'Affairs looked very critical,' wrote Hill in his report. The 5th New Hampshire commanded by Colonel Edward Cross was the regiment on Caldwell's left. Cross perceived the danger represented by Hill's assault: 'I instantly ordered a change of front to the rear', he wrote in his report, 'which was executed in time to confront the advancing line of the enemy in their center with a volley at

A Major General Israel B. Richardson was mortally wounded by artillery during the attack through the cornfield.

very short range, which staggered and hurled them back.' Cross and his men were rewarded by the capture of the state colour of the 4th North Carolina. The vigilant Colonel Barlow deflected a Confederate assault on Caldwell's right, but the Federal troops were fought out and no further advance seemed possible in the face of a severe artillery fire put up by Longstreet's reserve artillery directly in front of Kimball and Caldwell. Major General Richardson was mortally wounded at this stage by a Confederate shell.

The Federals had succeeded in driving the Confederates out of the sunken road, and they had advanced beyond it, but that is all their remaining strength was capable of. The situation was also bad for various Southern formations; indeed, to call 70

► Confederate dead of D. H. Hill's division lie where they fell, in the sunken road - a near con-temprary engraving based on a photograph.

A Major General Israel B. Richardson was mortally wounded by artillery during the attack through the cornfield.

► Nelson A. Miles served as lieutenant colonel of the 61st New York Infantry Regiment during the battle of Antietam, taking command of the regiment after its colonel, Francis C. Barlow, was disabled at that battle. The regiment was one of two that swept the Sunken Road with fire and finally took the position.

► Confederate dead of D. H. Hill's division lie where they fell, in the sunken road - a near con-temprary engraving based on a photograph.

Surgeon of the Confederate Army wearing regulation dress. His sword is a cavalry officer's sabre. Painting by Ron Volstad.

what remained of Hill's and Anderson's formations 'brigades' and 'regiments' was now ludicrous. The Confederates had, however, held the centre of their line. It was shortly after 1300, and the second phase of the Battle of Antietam was over. From this point, attention would settle on the Federal left, where Burnside's IX Corps faced a stone bridge over the Antietam Creek and threatened to assault Lee's right.

ANTIETAM: BURNSIDE BRIDGE

The evidence suggests that McClellan intended Burnside to advance across the Antietam Creek after I, XII, and II Federal Corps had severely weakened the Confederate line and had forced Lee to commit all his available reserves. Burnside would then be in a position to drive the right of Lee's army beyond the village of Sharpsburg, prevent his retreat across the Potomac, and complete his destruction by driving the Confederate forces against McClellan's other formations, supported by the as yet uncommitted V Corps. In order to com plete this mission, Burnside should have had his corps across Antietam Creek, deployed, and ready to advance no later than noon.

McClellan claimed in his post-war writing that he ordered Burnside at 0800 on 17 September to 'carry the bridge, then to gain possession of the heights beyond, and to advance along the crest upon Sharpsburg'. If McClellan dispatched the order as he stated, and if Burnside received it by 0930, IX Corps should have been in position by noon. McClellan asserted further in his memoirs that

when it became apparent there was no activity on Burnside's front he sent an aide to discover why, who returned reporting that 'little progress had been made'. McClellan states that he sent a second aide, who eventually delivered the same report. An exasperated McClellan then ordered his Inspector General, Lieutenant Colonel William Sackett, to join Burnside and remain until the commander-in-chief's orders had been carried out and Burnside's men were across the Antietam.

A Below left: This drawing made from an 1885 photograph shows the heights to the left where Cohh's troops commanded the Burnside bridge. There were no buildings at that time, and the ground on the hillside was then covered with trees, adding cover for the defence.

▼ This is the view Confederate defenders had of the bridge, showing how exposed it was to enemy fire.

Burnside states in his report that he received an order from McClellan to carry the stone bridge to his front early in the morning; however, Burnside adds that McClellan's order also contained the qualifying statement, 'await further orders before making the attack'. Burnside admits receiving an order to attack at 1000, but it would be 1300 before his leading regiments were actually over the bridge, and it would be 1500 before IX Corps was prepared to advance on Sharpsburg. Burnside should have been attacking towards Sharpsburg around 1300, in order to take full advantage of the severe fighting on Lee's left and centre, concluding at approximately this time. The Antietam Creek may not appear to the casual visitor as a military obstacle today, but it represented precisely that in 1862 to troops attempting to manage their equipment, cross a stream of uncertain depth, and ascend the steep, slippery opposite bank in the face of enemy rifle fire. In addition, jus-

▼ This is the view Confederate defenders had of the bridge, showing how exposed it was to enemy fire.

tice to Burnside demands that it be pointed out the forcing of a defended river line is perhaps one of the most difficult operations known to military science.

Burnside refused to admit that he was no longer a wing commander. He preferred to believe that the commander of the Kanawha Division, Brigadier General Jacob Cox, was actually in command of IX Corps. Burnside insisted on sharing tactical command on the field with Cox, as the other formation of his 'wing', I Corps, was on the extreme Federal right flank. Burnside wrote in his report, 'General Cox was retained in temporary command of the IX Army Corps, which was the only portion of my command then with me, and my orders were to a great extent given directly to him.' The command situation was, to say the least, confusing.

The Crossing

IX Corps took up position facing Antietam Creek after 0700, with the 2nd Division/IX Corps, commanded by Brigadier General Samuel Sturgis, supported by Colonel George Crook's 2nd Brigade/the Kanawha Division/IX Corps, directly opposite the stone bridge. Brigadier General Isaac Rodman's 3rd Division/IX Corps, minus the 2nd Brigade's 11th Connecticut Regiment deployed as skirmishers in front of Sturgis, was three-quarters of a mile to Burnside's left, looking for a practical ford and constituting the extreme left of the Army of the Potomac. Rodman was supported by the other formation of the Kanawha Division, Colonel Eliakam Scammon's 1st Brigade. The 1st Division/IX Corps, commanded by Brigadier General Orlando Willcox, was kept to the rear and slightly to the right as a reserve. Cox placed the artillery batteries of IX Corps to cover approaches to the stone bridge.

4 Top: Errors abound in this impression of the crossing of the Burnside Bridge. Union troops would not have wont greatcoats in the seasonable September weather, while the Confederates were not actually on the bridge itself but defended it from the heights above.

A Below: This picture rather more accurately shows the 51st Pennsylvania and 51st New York Regiments actually carrying the bridge after the 2nd Maryland and 6th New Hampshire had been destroyed by enemy fire in the attempt.

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