Sunday, September 30, 2012

October 1, 1862 (Wednesday): McClellan Stalls For Time

Railroad Bridge at Harper's Ferry
October 1, 1862-11 a. m . (Received 11.55 a. m.)
Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
    I take it for granted we will hereafter hold Harper's Ferry as a permanent arrangement whatever line of operations may be adopted for the main army. In this event, a permanent and reliable bridge is needed there across the Shenandoah. Mr. Roebling can build a double track suspension bridge on the existing piers in three or four weeks. The wire is now in possession of the Government, and the cost will be some $5,000 besides the wire. No pontoon nor trestle bridge can be made to respect freshests. I ask authority to have this work under taken at once. I would also renew the recommendation that a permanent wagon-bridge be made across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry. This without reference to the further operations of the main army, but simply as a necessity for the proper defense of Harper's Ferry itself.

    Major-General, Commanding.

WASHINGTON, D. C., October 1, 1862.
Major-General McCLELLAN:
    Your telegram of to-day in relation to the building of bridges at Harper's Ferry is received. If you adhere to that place as your base, why not cross at once give battle to the enemy? Unless I am greatly deceived in regard to the enemy's numbers, this can be done now while the river is low. If you wait till the river rises, the roads will be such as to greatly impede your operations. I still adhere to the opinion formerly expressed, that, holding Maryland Heights in force, your army should cross below and compel the enemy to fall back or to give you battle. If he should recross into Maryland or move west, you will then be in his rear, and can be strongly re-enforced from Washington. I know that the Government does not contemplate the delay in your movements for the length of time required to build permanent bridges. I therefore cannot order them till your dispatch has been laid before the War Department and the President. The latter will be with you to-day, and you can consult him there.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 1, Page 10.

McClellan's idea of making Harper's Ferry a permanent base of operations must have alarmed Halleck, who knew the administration would certainly not consent to delaying an advance against Lee until a permanent bridge could be built at Harper's Ferry.  With the season growing late, the window of opportunity to threaten (at a minimum) Lee's army and (at maximum) Richmond was fast closing.  Things would surely have to be brought to a head.  The Roebling mentioned here is John Roebling, the epic figure who built numerous suspension bridges, most notably the Brooklyn Bridge.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 30, 1862 (Tuesday): A.P. Hill and Jackson Clash

Colonel R. H. Chilton of Lee's Staff

September 30, 1862.
Colonel R. H. CHILTON, Assistant Adjutant-General:
    COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of my letter requesting a court of inquiry, with the remarks of Major General T. J. Jackson, and the indorsement of the general commanding, crediting the truth of the charges, and refusing the court.
   I respectfully say to the general that I deny the truth of every allegation made by Major-General Jackson, and am prepared to prove my denial by any number of honorable men, including members of General Jackson's own staff. If General Jackson had accorded me the courtesy of asking an explanation of each instance of neglect of duty as it occurred, I think that even he would have been satisfied, and the necessity avoided of keeping a black-list against me. It is hardly necessary to remark that these charges made by General Jackson are of a serious character, involving my reputation and standing as an officer commanding a division of this army, and, if true, I should be deprived of the command; if untrue, then censure should be passed upon the officer who abuses his authority to punish, and then sustains his punishment by making loose charges against an officer who has done and is doing his utmost to make his troops efficient.
    I again respectfully, reiterate my request for a court of inquiry, to involve the mater of these additional allegations, and ask that a speedy answer be given me.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    A. P. HILL,
    Major-General, Commanding Division.

P. S. - To show the spirit dictating the indorsement of General Jackson, I instance: "Instead of General H. being with his troops, I found him at his headquarters, apparently just up." My headquarters had been at the place General J. Saw me that morning, which was on the road, and not 100 yards from my leading brigade, but, unfortunately for the truth of his conclusions, they were moved the day before. I had breakfasted that morning at 2 o'clock, and, when General J. saw me, had ridden with my escort form my headquarters to where he saw me, some three-fourths of a mile.


September 30, 1862.
   Respectfully forwarded, with the accompanying charge and specifications respecting Major General A. P. Hill's neglect of duty.
    They are not forwarded because I deem a judicial investigation of his conduct necessary, but it appears proper that as I arrested him for neglect of duty, and he insists upon having his case investigated, that I should forward the charge and specifications, so as to enable the commanding general to order a general court-martial for the investigation, should the interest of the public service so require. In regard to General Hill's statement respecting my not asking an explanation of each individual instance of neglect of duty, I would state that I spoke to him about the first neglect, and he did not give a satisfactory explanation. He had ample opportunity of knowing his neglect of duty. When an officer disobeyed or disregards a known order, it is his duty to report is at once, with his explanation, without waiting to be called upon in each individual instance.
    No black-list has been kept against General Hill. The specifications only extend over a period of about four weeks, and are of such a character as would not readily escape the memory. With regard to my statement that "instead of General H. being with his troops, I found him at his headquarters, apparently just up," I would only say, that, as one of my division commanders, I must regard his headquarters as remaining at the same place as established until there is some reason to believe that they have been changed. He admits that his headquarters had been where I saw him, and as he gave me no notice of his havingc hanged them, as he should have done, I regard it as another instance of his neglecting his duty. The want of activity about his headquarters, and other circumstances, impressed me with the opinion that he was just up.

    T. J. JACKSON,

Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 731.

Jackson had arrested Hill as a result of his failure to have his troops up promptly and on the road during the Second Manassas campaign.  He did not charge him, believing the arrest itself a proper rebuke.  In the aftermath of Antietam, where Hill's troops rescued the day for Lee's Army, Hill still nursed a grudge in the matter and likely felt it was a good time to press his points against Jackson.  Although Lee attempted to defuse the matter with his normal tact, the matter was never resolved to Hill or Jackson's satisfaction.  Neither man was compromising in their natures, and it is worth noting that Hill came to Jackson's command as a result of his inability to work with Longstreet. 

September 29, 1862 (Monday): Murder in Louisville

General Jefferson C. Davis
LOUISVILLE, KY., September 29, 1862.
Captain T. T. ECKERT:
    Nelson was killed by General Jeff. C. Davis this morning about 8 o'clock. It seems Nelson treated Davis harshly one night last week and ordered him from the city. This morning Davis confronted Nelson at the Galt House about the insult. Nelson refused to listen, slapped Davis in the face, whereupon Davis turned, went to a friend near by, borrowed a pistol, went back to Nelson who was then in conversation with some one, and shot him in left breast. Nelson died in fifteen minutes after he was shot. Davis will be tried before judge of police court to-morrow morning.

    [Assistant Manager U. S. Military Telegraph.]

Official Records, Series II., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 576.

The murder of Major General William Nelson by Brigadier General Jefferson C. (no relation) Davis at the Galt Hotel in Louisville is one of the most bizarre incidents of the war.  Nelson had removed Davis from command of a Kentucky home guard regiment a week before, ordering him to Cincinnati for reassignment.  Instead, Davis went to Louisville with Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton to confront Nelson.  They met around 8 a.m. in the hotel with the massive (6'4", 300+ pounds) Nelson cursing at Davis and throwing his card in his face (reportedly calling him a "puppy" before slapping him).  Davis retired, obtained a pistol, and returned to shoot Davis dead with a single shot to the chest.  Although General D.C. Buell asked Halleck to convene a board to charge Davis with murder, the area commander (General Wright) declined, since Buell himself had not preferred charges.  The case languished on the books of the local circuit court until 1863, but never came to trial and Davis spent the rest of the war serving with distinction in the western campaigns and Sherman's march to the sea.  Although the influence of Morton and the need for experienced officers likely spared him a trial, he was never named Major General although his service would have warranted this brevet rank.  The two men were opposites, Davis being a regular army officer of quiet intelligence.  Nelson was alternately engaging and consumed with rages.  Both were well regarded as able commanders.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 28, 1862 (Sunday): "Bad and Dangerous Men"

General John W. Davidson

SAINT LOUIS DISTRICT, September 28, 1862.
Colonel HARDING, Pilot Knob:
Colonel PECKHAM, Cape Girardeau:
    You will arrest all persons in the vicinity of your posts and commands who come properly under the designation of "bad and dangerous men," and send them up here under guard to be imprisoned during the war. Publish an order stating the same and circulate it around your counties. Under the President's proclamation any one advising against enlistments or speaking against the Government comes under the above category.


Official Records, Series II., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 571.

It is seldom noted that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on the 22nd of September and on the 24th issued notice of a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.  It allowed that "..all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of the United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:"

It did not take long for hard line elements to seize on the opportunity to imprison "bad and dangerous men".  Davidson is Brigadier-General John Wynn Davidson, just arrived in the West from the Army of the Potomac.  A career Army officer, he was a native Virginian who remained loyal to the Union.  Davidson remained in service after the war, dying in 1881 while on an inspection tour.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 27, 1862 (Saturday): "We are greatly deficient.."

Doubleday Hill, Williamsport (

September 27, 1862-10 a. m.
    All the information in my possession goes to prove that the main body of the enemy is concentrated no far from Martinsburg, with some troops at Charlestown; not many in Winchester. Their movements of late have been an extension toward our right and beyond it. They are receiving re-enforcements in Winchester, mainly, I think, of conscripts, perhaps entirely so.
    This army is not now in condition to undertake another campaign nor to bring on another battle, unless great advantages are offered by same mistake of the enemy or pressing military exigencies render it necessary. We are greatly deficient in officers. Many of the old regiments are reduced to mere skeletons. The new regiments need instruction. Not a day should be lost in filling the old regiments-our main dependence-and in supplying vacancies among the officers by promotion.
    My present purpose is to hold the army about as it is now, rendering Harper's Ferry secure and watching the river closely, intending to attack the enemy should he attempt to cross to this side.
Our possession of Harper's Ferry gives us the great advantage of a secure debouche, but we cannot avail ourselves of it until the railroad bridge is finished, because we cannot otherwise supply a greater number of troops than we now have on the Virginia side at that point. When the river rises so that the enemy cannot cross in force, I purpose concentrating the army somewhere near Harper's Ferry, and then acting cording to circumstances, viz,moving on Winchester, if from the position and attitude of the enemy we are likely to gain a great advantage by doing so, or unless devoting reasonable time to the organization of the army and instruction of the new troops, preparatory to an advance on whatever line may be determined. In any event, I read it as absolutely necessary to send new regiments at once to the old corps for purposes of instruction, and that the old regiments be filled at once. I have no fears as to an attack on Washington by the line of Manassas. Holding Harper's ferry as I do, they will not run the risk of an attack on their flank and rear while they have the garrison of Washington in their front. I rather apprehend a renewal of the attempt in Maryland should the river remain low for a great length of time, and should they receive considerable addition to their force.
    I would be glad to have Peck's division as soon as possible. I am surprised that Sigel's men should have been sent to Western Virginia without my knowledge. The last I heard from you on the subject was that they were at my disposition. In the last battles the enemy was undoubtedly greatly superior to us in number, and it was only by very hard fighting that we gained the advantage we did. As it was, the result was at one period very doubtful, and we had all we could do to win the day. If the enemy receives considerable re-enforcements and we none, it is possible that I may have too much on my hands in the next battle. My own view of the proper policy to be-pursued, is to retain in Washington merely the force necessary to garrison it, and to send everything else available to re-enforce this army. The railways give us the means of promptly re-enforcing Washington should it become necessary. If I am re-enforced, as I ask, and am allowed to take my own course, I will hold myself responsible for the safety of Washington. Several persons recently from Richmond say that there are no troops there except conscripts, and they few in number. I hope to give you details as to late battles by this evening. I am about starting again for Harper's Ferry.

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 1, Page 70.

McClellan outlines here a plan of inaction.  He still imagines Lee his superior in numbers, still commits to no forward movement.  His army was battered and disorganized, but so was Lee's.  There was not in McClellan a will to action.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 26, 1862 (Friday): "We shall feel free to fire..."

The Hulk of the Minnesota in 1898 (

Off Newport News, Va., September 26, 1862.
Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fort Monroe, Va.:
    GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your reply to my communication of the 25th, relative to giving notice to the foreign consuls and to the inhabitants of Norfolk to prepare them in the event of an attack on Norfolk, now threatened by the concentration of rebel forces in the vicinity of Suffolk, the outpost of Norfolk. Should the enemy march upon the town, and under shelter of it attack the troops and gunboats, the latter, stationed in the harbor to assist in maintaining our occupation of the place, would be obliged to fire upon it.
    By giving timely notice to the women and children, the consuls, & c., we shall feel free to fire, should it become necessary to do so. By hesitation and delay, lest we put to some inconvenience the inhabitants, of whom the influential, if not the larger part, appear hostile to the General Government, we may entail on ourselves the disagreeable alternative, in the event of a sudden attack, of firing upon a town whose people have not had the benefit of a previous and proper notice. A premature warning would be better for them and for us than none at all, and might possibly have the effect of inducing the enemy, at the instance of the inhabitants, to desist from any attempt against our position there.
    I therefore propose that the terms of a notice shall at once be arranged to your satisfaction and signed by me, so that you may date, sign, and publish it, whenever in your good judgment it shall be proper to do so.
    I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,

    S. P. LEE,
    Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 18, Part 1, Page 406.

With Confederate forces at Suffolk, south of Norfolk, it might have become necessary for the Navy to shell the city if Union forces there were attacked.  Here Lee, of the Navy, communicates with Dix of the Army regarding the amount and type of notice to be given to civilians in such an event.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 25, 1862 (Thursday): Lee's Intentions

General Robert E. Lee

Camp on the Opequon, near Smoketown, September 25, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS, Richmond, Va.:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: Since my letter of the 23rd instant, the enemy has been quiet. He is in occupation of Harper's Ferry, and has troops posted both on the Maryland and Loudoun Heights. I presume he will reconstruct the railroad bridge over the Potomac, and I see it stated in the Baltimore papers that a new bridge over the Monocacy has been built. When the railroad is open to Harper's Ferry he may possibly advance up the valley, where I shall endeavor to occupy and detain him.
    When I withdrew from Sharpsburg into Virginia, it was my intention to recross the Potomac at Williamsport, and move upon Hagerstown, but the condition of the army prevented; nor is it yet strong enough to advance advantageously. Some of the stragglers have been gathered in, but many have wandered to a distance, feigning sickness, wounds, &c., deceiving the guards and evading the scouts. many of them will not stop until they reach their distant homes.
    In a military point of view, the best move, in my opinion, the army could make would be to advance upon Hagerstown and endeavor to defeat the enemy at that point. I would not hesitate to make it even with our diminished number, did the army exhibit its former temper and condition; but, as far as I am able to judge, the hazard would be great and a reverse disastrous. I am, therefore, led to pause.
    I have written to General Loring suggesting the advantages, since the enemy has been driven from the Kanawha Valley, of proceeding down the Monongahela Valley, breaking up the railroad in the vicinity of Clarksburg, Fairmont, Cheat River, &c., and, should opportunity offer, of continuing his route into Pennsylvania and collecting horses and other necessaries for the army generally. I have told him to keep me advised of his movement should he undertake the expedition, that there may be co-operation, if practicable, between the two armies.
    I am, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,

   R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 626.

Lee's mind is still turned to the offensive, but he is realistic about the condition of his army.  His desire, after Antietam, was to recross at Williamsport and move on Hagerstown but the great amount of straggling prevented a reasonable chance of success.  Most telling is his description of stragglers, not just from lack of food or shoes, but from "feigning sickness, wounds, &c" in an attempt to get home.  The enthusiastic soldiers of 1861 who feared missing combat have been replaced by men who have grown tired of war.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 23, 1862 (Wednesday): General Orders 139

Emancipation Proclamation
Washington, September 24, 1862.
The following proclamation by the President is published for the information and government of the Army and all concerned:
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.
    That it is my purpose upon the next meeting of Congress to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be continued.
     That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, henceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

     That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States, and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.
     That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled "An act to make an additional Article of War," approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figures following:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the Army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such:
"ARTICLE-. All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due; and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.
'SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from the after its passage."
Also, to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled "An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes," approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:
'SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons, or deserted by them and coming under the control of the Government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found on [or] being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterward occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude and not again held as slaves.
'SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, expect for crime, or some offense against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretense whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service."
    And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the act and sections above recited.
     And the Executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States and their respective States and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.
    In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
     Done at the city of Washington this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.


By the President:
Secretary of State.

By order of the Secretary of War:

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 584.

General Orders 139 is the military publication of notice for the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued on the 22nd.

September 23, 1862 (Tuesday): The Armies Observe Each Other

Vicinity of the Armies After Antietam (Google Earth-click to enlarge)

Near Sharpsburg, September 23, 1862--9.15 a. m.
Major General W. B. FRANKLIN,
Commanding Sixth Corps, &c.:
    GENERAL: There are good reasons for believing that Generals R. E. Lee and Jackson are still opposite to us; the former at a place called Leetown, between Shepherdstown and Martinsburg; the latter on the Opequon Creek, about three miles above its mouth, both having large forces. There are also indications of heavy re-enforcements moving in this direction from Winchester and Charlestown. In view of this the commanding general directs that you march you corps, via Downsville, to a cross-roads about one mile above Bakersville on the Williamsport and Bakersville road, or as near that point as you can find good camping ground. It is desirable to watch and guard the ford at Williamsport. If you think Kenly's brigade sufficient for that purpose you will direct General Couch to move his division to a point on the same road by which you are to march, a little this side of Downsville. You will please give instructions to him and to General Kenly to exercise great vigilance in watching all the fords in their vicinity, and for that purpose you will leave a small force of cavalry with each of them. Your position will be nearly opposite to where Jackson's headquarters are said to be. Please report your arrival at your new position and direct General Couch to do the same, and send all the information you can collect about the forces opposite.
     Yours, very respectfully,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

Camp on the Opequon, near Smoketown, September 23, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS, Richmond, Va.:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: My desire for the welfare of the army and the success of the war induces me to trouble you very often. In addition to the matters to which I have recently called your attention, there is another of vital importance to the service. A great number of officers and men borne on the rolls of the army I fear are permanently incapacitated for duty. These should be discharged and their places filled with effective men. Justice would seem to require that some provision should be made for their support, but whether this had better be done now or left to the close of the war you and Congress must determine. Companies whose rolls show a maximum of men cannot be filled by accepting new members when they offer, unless the inefficient men be removed, nor can the places of officers unfit for duty be filled until the present incumbents are retired. The subject of recruiting this army is also one of paramount importance. The usual casualties of battle have diminished its ranks, but its numbers have been greatly decreased by desertion and straggling. This was the main cause of its retiring from maryland, as it was unable to cope with advantage with the numerous host of the enemy. His ranks are daily increasing, and it is just reported, on what I consider reliable authority, that 40,000 joined the army of General McClellan on the day after the battle of Sharpsburg. We have now abundance of arms, and if the unarmed regiments in Texas and Arkansas could be brought forward, as well as the conscripts from the different States, they would add greatly to our strength. Our stragglers are being daily collected, and that is one of the reasons of my being now stationary. How long they will remain with us, or when they will again disappear, it is impossible for me to say.
    The enemy, since he was repulsed in his attempt on the morning of the 20th to cross the Potomac below Shepherdstown, has been quiet. General Fitz John Porter's corps, I understand, is stationed on the Maryland side of that ford, but the great bulk of his army is within our observation at Williamsport. Two regiments of infantry, I learn from Colonel Munford, who is observing the fords near Harper's Ferry, have crossed the river at that point; their object is not yet known. I am endeavoring to have the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad destroyed as far as it is within our reach. We have plenty of beef and flour for our troops, hay for our horses, and some grain. I hope every effort is being made by the War department to collect conscripts from those counties in Virginia now within our control. No time should be lost in effecting this purpose.
    It is also important that such stores as may be needed for future use should be collected by the Commissary Department. If a supply of hard bread could be sent in such manner as to reach us in good condition, it would be of great service; but its transportation in such barrels as are now used from Culpeper Court-House to the army would be hazardous. I observe that the enemy pack their hard bread in small, light boxes, by means of which more can be carried in a wagon than in barrels. I recommend that similar boxes be used for the transportation of our bread.
     I am, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,
    General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I. Vol. 19, Part 2, Pages 623 and 861, respectively.

Armies sometimes remained in close proximity for days after a major battle.  In this case, Lee's army was located just east of Martinsburg in scattered camps and the bulk of McClellan's forces at Williamsport.  McClellan is watching the fords along the Potomac lest Lee cross again and Lee is keeping a wary eye on his opposite number.  Lee might have already retreated further south, but he must remain stationary so his stragglers might be rounded up and returned to the ranks.  It is telling Lee remarks, "How long they will remain with us, or when they will again disappear, it is impossible for me to say."  But he is gathering numbers daily, and pressing Davis for conscripts and regiments which Arkansas and Texas which have yet to be fitted out.  His supply of weapons has increased from captures on the field at Antietam and the recovery of weapons from his own dead and disabled.  This is no small thing, as some regiments were not fully armed as a result of men throwing away their weapons on the march north.

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 22, 1862 (Monday): Depredations

Rare Photo of Confederate Soldiers On March-Frederick, MD.

September 22, 1862.
    The depredations committed by this army, its daily diminution by straggling, and the loss of arms thrown aside as too burdensome by stragglers, make it necessary for preservation itself, aside from considerations of disgrace and injury to our cause arising form such outrages committed upon our citizens, that greater efforts be made by our officers to correct this growing evil. It is feared that roll-calls are neglected, and officers of companies and regiments are ignorant of the true condition of their commands, and are unable to account properly for absentees. To correct this, the general commanding wishes the prescribed roll-calls to be made at reveille, each man appearing under arms, in order that the company commander may know that they have not been thrown aside, and wherever a man is found without his arms and equipments that he be refurnished; those lost to be immediately charged against him on the muster-rolls. As half a quire of foolscap paper will last one year for a morning report, containing, as it does, thirty-two lines, and it is the labor of half an hour to rule the columns of a morning report for one month, the morning report will be made every morning to the regimental or battalion commander and sent through brigade to division commanders. Inspections of arms and equipments will be made at least weekly, and company officers will see that the arms are properly cleaned and in serviceable condition, and learn daily that cartridge-boxes are properly filled. A brigade guard will march in rear of each brigade to keep up the ranks, drive up all stragglers, irrespective of commands, and all leaving the ranks. Commanding officers of regiments will frequently during the march pass along the lines of the regiment to see that the ranks are closed up, and that company officers are present with and attending to the proper order of their companies, arresting all neglecting their duty or absent without authority, detailing a field-officer, or officer next in rank to himself, to follow in rear to see these orders executed. Upon arriving in camp, the brigade guard will immediately take measures to protect houses in the vicinity, sentinels being placed to prevent those of the command form overrunning the houses or depredations being committed upon their grounds. Where forage, wood, or other necessaries are required, they must be obtained through the proper staff officers, who will purchase for the use of the command. Officers have been allowed as inspectors to division commanders, and these inspectors will examine the company and regimental papers, and see that a proper system of accountability prevails; that company officers make proper returns and have given proper receipts for all arms in their possession, and that all property issued to soldiers has been duly charged where lost, and measures taken to indemnify the Government for losses sustained though carelessness or neglect. Quartermasters and commissaries will be compelled to remain with their trains, their accounts will be examined, property on hand inspected,and where disobedience of orders or misappropriation of property appears, report fact to commanding general for correction. The destruction of private property in attributed in a great measure to teamsters and quartermaster's attaches, who tear down fences whenever halting temporarily to cook or park their train, without regard to damage to private property. Inspectors should, therefore, be actively and constantly employed in seeing that orders issued have been received, and if not, advising the ignorant, and, where known, seeing that they are properly executed, as, upon their activity and energetic performance of duty, commanders will be advised of the condition of their commands and be enabled to adopt necessary means to secure their efficiency. A permanent provost guard, under and efficient, energetic, and firm officer, will be established in each army corps, to which all prisoner will be turned over, either those captured or those under general charges, who, in addition to their duties as guard, will perform provost duty in correcting and punishing violations of orders coming under their observation. Commanding officers of regiment having instructed officers of their commands to look to their good order on the march and elsewhere, will arrest all neglecting this duty; this system will be carried up through the different grades.
    The commanding general is satisfied that you feel the same solicitude with himself for the advancement of our cause, and earnestly appeals to you to impress your general and other officers, by personal explanations, and calls upon their sense of duty and interest in that success which alone can preserve to them everything they hold dear in this life, making every necessary effort to bring about a better state of discipline, and to impress men and officers with the importance of a change necessary to the preservation of this army and its successful accomplishment of its mission, as its better discipline, greater mobility, and higher inspirations must counterbalance the many advantages over us, both in numbers and material, which the enemy possess.
    I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

   Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 619.

The image of the Army of Northern Virginia has been burnished by its accomplishments on the battlefield.  It does not take away from them to note it was subject to the same pressures as other armies north and south.  The Antietam campaign exposed problems on the march which were not as apparent fighting closer to home.  One aspect not much discussed, but mentioned here, is soldiers throwing aside weapons on the march to lighten their burden.  Depredations against civilians were also a fact which Lee was determined to minimize.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 21, 1862 (Sunday): For Want of Shoes

Civil War Richmond (

Near Martinsburg, W. Va., September 21, 1862.
Colonel A. C. MYERS, Quartermaster-General, Richmond, Va.:
    COLONEL: I desire to call your attention to the great deficiency of clothing in this army (particularly under-clothing and shoes), for the want of which there is much suffering. When in Maryland, I am informed by Colonel Corley, there were purchased, through individuals privately, by the Quartermaster's Department, for distribution, some 4,000 or 5,000 pairs of shoes. This was by no means sufficient to supply the men without them, there being at this time at Winchester a camp of 900 men who are not effective because barefooted, and a great many more likewise with the army. The near approach of cold weather rudders it all the more necessary that clothes, and especially underclothing, should be supplied, and I request that you will forward to Winchester, at as early a day as practicable, such a supply of clothing and shoes as it is in the power of the Department under your control to furnish.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 614.

The accounts of the Antietam campaign rightly focus on the straggling in Lee's army caused, at least in part, by a lack of shoes.  Now back in Virginia, Lee petitions the Quartermaster-General for shoes and under clothing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 20, 1862 (Saturday): "A spirit of fault-finding.."

General Jesse L. Reno


No. 17. Mouth of Antietam, Md., September 20, 1862.
The commanding general announces to the corps the loss of their late leader, Major General Jesse L. Reno.
    By the death of this distinguished officer the country loses one of its most devoted patriots, the army one of its most thorough soldiers. In the long list of battles in which General Reno has fought in his country's service, his name always appears with the brightest luster, and he has now bravely met a soldier's death while gallantly leading his men at the battle of South Mountain.
     For his high character and the kindly qualities of his heart in private life, as well as for the military genius and personal daring which marked him as a soldier, his loss will be deplored by all who knew him, and the commanding general desires to add the tribute of a friend to the public mourning for the death of one of the country's best defenders.
    By command of Major-General Burnside:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Centreville [Keedysville, Md.], September 20, 1862 - 6.30 a. m.
General MARCY, Chief of Staff:
    GENERAL: I have started two brigades of cavalry and a battery of artillery to Jones' Cross-Roads, to proceed in the direction of Williamsport. That force will be amply sufficient for any rebels to be met in that quarter.
    The remainder of my command is about getting off for Shepherdstown. The order of Major General Fitz John Porter of yesterday, sending my command to the rear, by the order of General McClellan, and which was transmitted by General Buford, had interfered most materially with a proper pursuit of the enemy. Many of the men of my command have had nothing to eat for two days, and last night, in consequence of the movement to the rear, they missed their trains, and are now starting out without anything. I would also call to the attention of the General commanding the fact that neither provisions nor forage can be obtained in Virginia, that country having been eaten out by the rebels. I have therefore to request that supplies be pushed on to me, if I find it advantageous to proceed on after the enemy, on reaching him. I trust, after the past experience of yesterday, the general commanding will not permit corps commanders to interfere with the cavalry under my command, for it breaks up all my system and plans.
     I shall do everything in my power to make up for the time we have lost.
    I am, general, very respectfully,

    Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry Division.

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 20, 1862.
General STONEMAN, Poolesville:
    It is represented here that wounded officers of Stuart's cavalry are on the Maryland side, un paroled. This matter must not be neglected.
     It is also represented that the troops of your division are pillaging and plundering the country. Stringent measures must be resorted to to enforce order.

    H. W. HALLECK,

September 20, 1862 - 11.30 a. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
     I have had but one case (of a wounded officer) reported to me, and the person reporting him did not know his whereabouts. I know of no officer of the rebel army in Maryland, unparoled. The whole country is covered with stragglers from General McClellan's army, and they are the depredators. I am trying to collect them together. Every means in our power has been taken to prevent pillaging by the troops under my command. From the time we left Washington squads of men were passed, who said they had been sent forward to find and join their regiments. Some were out of hospitals, &c. They are now all being stopped at the mouth of the Monocacy.


September 20, 1862
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army:
     As the rebel army, now on the Virginia side of the Potomac, must in a great measure, be dependent for supplies of ammunition and provisions upon Richmond, I would respectfully suggest that General Banks be directed to send out a cavalry force to cut their supply communication opposite Washington. This would seriously embarrass their operations, and will aid this army materially.

    Major-General, Commanding.

WASHINGTON, September 20, 1862- 2 p. m.
    We are still left entirely in the dark in regard to your own movements and those of the enemy. This should not be so. You should keep me advised of both, so far as you know them.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Near Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862-8 p. m.
Major-General HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, Washington:
    Your telegram of to-day is received. I telegraphed you yesterday all I knew, and had nothing more to inform you of until this evening. Williams' corps (Banks') occupied Maryland Heights at 1 p. m. to-day. The rest of the army is near here, except Couch's division, which is at this moment engaged with the enemy in front of Williamsport. The enemy is retiring via Charlestown and Martinsburg on Winchester. He last night reoccupied Williamsport by a small force, but will be out of it by morning. I think he has a force of infantry near Shepherdstown.
     I regret that you find it necessary to couch every dispatch I have the honor to receive from you in a spirit of fault-finding, and that you have not yet hound leisure to say one word in commendation of the recent achievements of this army, or even to allude to them.
     I have abstained from giving the number of guns, colors, small-arms, prisoners, &c., captured until I could do so with some accuracy. I hope by to-morrow evening to be able to give at least an approximate statement.

    Major-General, Commanding.

Near Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862--8.30 p. m.
Major-General BURNSIDE:
    General McClellan directs me to say that the force of the enemy in front of General Porter seems merely intended to cover retreat of wagon train, &c. There is some force of the enemy at Williamsport, against which Couch moved this morning, and Franklin is ordered to go to-night. Williams' (Banks') corps arrived at Maryland Heights at 1 p. m. to-day. The commanding general directs you to hold yourself in readiness to move in the same direction as soon as events have developed themselves here and at Williamsport.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 335 and others.

The lack of unity within the Union command structure continued unabated at a time when cohesion was demanded.  McClellan's Headquarters remains at Sharpsburg, three days after the battle with his opponent on the move.  As so often was the case, he fails to communicate with higher authorities and sees insults at every turn (as in the letter to Halleck).  The cavalry appears here to be played out, with little organization devoted to resupply.  The announcement of the death of Reno at South Mountain is a military courtesy routinely used to inform troops of the loss of an important officer.  Beyond the courtesy involved, the loss of Reno was keenly felt, as he was an able officer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 19, 1862 (Friday): "..a complete victory."

Firing across the Potomac at Sherpardstown

September 19, 1862 - 8.30 a. m. (Received 11 a. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
But little occurred yesterday except skirmishing, being fully occupied in replenishing ammunition, taking care of wounded, &c. Last night the enemy abandoned his position, leaving his dead and wounded on the field. We are again in pursuit. I do not yet know whether he is falling back to an interior position or crossing the river. We may safely claim a complete victory.


September 19, 1862 - 10.30 a. m. (Received 11 a. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    Pleasonton is driving the enemy across the river. Our victory was complete. The enemy is driven back into Virginia. Maryland and Pennsylvania are now safe.


September 19, 1862. (Sent 12.30 p. m.)
Major-General MCCLELLAN:
     Yours of 8.30 and 10.30 are just received. All available troops from railroad guards were sent to you yesterday. Enemy's forces at Leesburg were moved yesterday. Stoneman's provisional division, unless ordered otherwise by you, is still guarding fords below Point of Rocks. So long as the river remains low there is much danger of a movement below your left. Letters received here give it as a part of Lee's original plan to draw you as far as possible up the Potomac, and them move between you and Washington. Perhaps his defeat may be such as to prevent the attempt.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862--1.15 p. m.
Brigadier-General PLEASONTON:
    GENERAL: Your two dispatches just received. General McClellan directs me to say that he does not propose to cross the river, and that he does not desire you to do so, unless you see a splendid opportunity to inflict great damage upon the enemy without loss to yourself.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

September 19, 1862-8.15 p. m. (Received 8.30 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
    As an act of justice to the merits of that most excellent officer, Major General Joseph Hooker, who was eminently conspicuous for his gallantry and ability as a leader in several hard-fought battles in Virginia, and who, in the battle of Antietam Creek, on the 17th instant, was wounded at the head of his corps while leading it forward in action, I most urgently recommend him for the appointment of brigadier-general in the U. S. Army, to fill the vacancy created by the death of the late Brigadier-General Mansfield. this would be but a fit reward for the service General Hooker rendered his country. I feel sure his appointment would gratify the entire army.


September 19, 1862.
General PENDLETON, Commanding:
    GENERAL: In obedience to your request that I would keep you posted, I have the honor to state that Colonel Edmond, Thirty-eighth Virginia, reports that we have not a piece of artillery in position, firing., and the enemy have, as far as he could ascertain, twenty-odd. There is nothing to prevent the enemy from crossing except the line of sharpshooters on the river.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Colonel, Commanding Armistead's Brigade.

September 19, 1862--10 p. m.
Brigadier-General PLEASONTON:
GENERAL: Colonel Hunt opened nineteen guns on the enemy just before dark and kept up his fire until night set in. The enemy scattered in all directions. An infantry force of about 400 men was crossed immediately, and it is believed that five or six guns have fallen, or will fall, into our possession. Colonel Hunt thinks that you should be at the river by daylight without fail, and that you should take your artillery with you. General McClellan concurs fully in this, and directs that you push your command forward after the enemy as rapidly as possible, using your artillery upon them wherever an opportunity presents, doing them all the damage in your power without incurring too much risk to your command. If great results can be obtained, do not spare your men or horses.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.
    P. S.--Our troops will hold the heights on the opposite side of the river during the night.
R. B. M.

September 19, 1862--11 p. m.
Brigadier-General PLEASONTON:
    GENERAL: The rebel General Stuart is reported to have moved to Williamsport with 4,000 cavalry and six pieces of artillery. It is also reported that 10,000 infantry of the enemy are approaching Williamsport from Winchester. Couch has been ordered to move to Williamsport so as to be there at daylight, picking up Colonel Voss' regiment of cavalry at Jones' Cross-Roads. General McClellan, therefore, directs that you send out immediately sufficient cavalry to scout all the roads on our right, to give timely notice of the approach to this point of any mounted force of the enemy. You will send two batteries with half of your entire cavalry force to report at daylight in the morning to Major-General Porter at Shepherdstown. With the remainder of your cavalry and two batteries of artillery you will proceed at once to Jones' Cross-Roads, and there await the arrival of General Couch's command. From this point you will move on Williamsport with General Couch, and co-operate with him in capturing, if possible, or elese in driving off, such force of the enemy as may be found there.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

Keedysville [Md.], September 19, 1862.
GENERAL: General Sumner reports that the enemy's artillery is moving to the west, and that he (the enemy) is felling trees behind him, as elsewhere. The commanding general directs you to push forward your pickets; ascertain if the enemy appears to be retiring, and, if so, to mass your troops in readiness to move in any direction. The corps commanders and General Pleasonton are directed to do the same, and the latter to throw out small cavalry detachments on the various roads leading from our position in the direction of the enemy's retreat, to ascertain the nature and degree of the obstructions therein.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

HAGERSTOWN, MD., September 19, 1862 - 9.30 p. m.
Major-General HALLECK:
Our information this evening, from a reliable source, is that the enemy in front of McClellan commenced to cross the river last night, and finished this morning. They are all on the south side. A force of the enemy occupies Williamsport and threatens Hagerstown; numbers not ascertained, but further information expected to-night. About 7,000 Pennsylvania militia, under General Reynolds, have gone toward Williamsport. In case of any attack on Hagerstown, which I do not apprehend, we will take care that no considerable amount of supplies falls into the hands of the enemy.

    H. HAUPT.
    HARRISBURG, PA., September 19, 1862.

September 19, 1862 - 10.45 p. m.
Major-General PORTER:
GENERAL: General Pleasonton has been directed to have his cavalry and artillery at the river by daylight, and has been informed that you intend to cross at that time, and would co-operate with him.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

September 19, 1862 - 11.40 p. m.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
    We have about 10,000 prisoners surrendered at Harper's Ferry, and ordered to Annapolis. These, with what are there, will make 20,000. We require, to keep these men in order, four regiments. I have one miserable regiment at Annapolis. I have another ordered from Patuxent there, but it is a very poor regiment. Two other regiments ought to be sent there immediately, in consequence of the plundering propensities of the prisoners, of which there are many complaints. I have none to spare, having sent all I could spare to General McClellan. I have a dispatch that the rebels have recrossed the Potomac. Look out for Washington. You are not out of the woods. The rebels are a day a half in advance of McClellan.


[P. S.] - Colonel Miles had about 12,000 men for the defense of Harper's Ferry, including 1,500    cavalry, which made their escape before the surrender.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 331 and various others.

In victory as in defeat, McClellan is hesitant.  He has Lee's army, much diminished, trying to recross the Potomac back into Virginia.  But he is cautious, ordering contact with the enemy only insofar as it would be at a great advantage.  He claimed a complete victory, but victory would not be complete without an aggressive pursuit of Lee's army.   One such point of advantage is Boteler's Ford near Shepardstown.  Lee had sent Pendleton there with 45 guns and two infantry brigades.  About dusk, 2,000 infantrymen under Griffin (Porter's V Corp) crossed and took 4 guns.  The following morning, the Union forces would attempt to cross in more force and A.P. Hill's division would have to counter march 5 miles to retake possession of the ford under heavy artillery fire from Hunt's guns.  It is worth noting, while commenting on McClellan's lack of aggressiveness, these dispatches reflect a concern Lee would still threaten Washington once he recrossed the Potomac, being already a day and a half's march ahead of the Army of the Potomac.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 18, 1862 (Thursday): "after a severe conflict.")

Burnside's Bridge-Antietam
Sharpsburg, Md., September 18, 1862-6.30 a. m.     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 number. 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, whore General Jones' division was posted, who handsomely maintained his position. General Tombs' 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,
    General, Commanding.
    His Excellency President DAVIS,
    Richmond, Va.

Keedysville, Md., September 18, 1862 - 8 a. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army:
    The battle of yesterday continued for fourteen hours, and until after dark. We held all we gained, except a portion of the extreme left; that was obliged to abandon a part of what it had gained. Our losses very heavy, especially in general officers. The battle will probably be renewed to-day. Send all the troops you can by the most expeditious route.

     Major-General, Commanding.

September 18, 1862-9 A. M.
Brigadier-General MEADE:
    GENERAL: The commanding general desires you to reorganize your corps as rapidly as possible, and get it in condition either to make an attack or to resist one. Please keep a good watch of the movements of the enemy, and report everything of importance.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

September 18, 1862 - 10 a. m.
    Hagerstown reports no firing up to 9 o'clock. A rumor is prevalent that McClellan granted armistice to bury dead. Your ammunition train left Baltimore 7.30, and will be put though quick. Governor and staff have gone to Hagerstown to expedite movement of Pennsylvania forces to battle-field. Surgeon Smith also gone, with 40 surgeons.


September 18, 1862.
Captain ECKERT:
    Went to Sandy Hook. Line all right to Harper's Ferry Bridge, except between two poles. Thirty rebel pickets this side of the bridge, but were about leaving when I left, at 5 o'clock. There are less than 200 rebels in Harper's Ferry. No artillery. A large fire broke out as I was leaving, probably the pontoon bridge and Government property. The tents left by our troops remain standing. A rebel lieutenant told two women, who left Harper's Ferry at noon, that they were surrounded, and should leave as soon as possible. A negro from Shepherdstown states that the rebels attempted to cross the river last night, but, water being too deep, many were drowned. Our men that were killed on Maryland Heights during Saturday's fight are still unburied. The rebel killed and wounded were about 355 in that day's fight. Citizens of Sandy Hook are burying our dead. We will go in advance as soon as relieved, and thence to Harper's Ferry. The bridge at Harper's Ferry was burned, but the piers are good. They tried five times to blow them up, but did not succeed.

    WM. C. HALL,

Keedysville, September 18, 1862-5.45 p. M.
Major-General FRANKLIN:
    GENERAL: The commanding general directs you to throw forward two companies or more of skirmishers, supported by a brigade, and with them to take possession of the corn-field and height on the right of the woods supposed to be occupied by the enemy in force. You will hold your whole corps in readiness to support the brigade, should this be required. After having obtained possession of the corn-field and height, you will make such dispositions with your infantry and artillery as may be required to hold the position and to drive the enemy out of the adjacent wood. Lieutenant Comstock will indicate to you the enemy out of the adjacent wood. Lieutenant Comstock will indicate to you the position mentioned at an early hour to-morrow morning. It is desired that this movement be executed immediately thereafter unless contrary orders be sent during the night. General Sumner will be instructed to replace your troops in line by others from his corps.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

P. S. -Push your pickets forward at an early hour in the morning to ascertain whether the enemy is  in  force in your front.

    R. B. M.,
    Chief of Staff.

Keedysville, September 18, 1862-7.40 p. M.
Brigadier-General MEADE:
    GENERAL: The commanding general directs you to push forward your pickets at an early hour in the morning, and to ascertain whether the enemy is in force in your front. Please send a staff officer to these headquarters to report the result.
I am, &c.,

    R. B. MARCY,
    Chief of Staff.

(Verbal orders to same effect given General Burnside.)

Official Records,  Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 323 and others.

Lee did not immediately retreat from Antietam.  Various theories explain his remaining in a precarious position, the most likely being he wanted to conceal from McClellan exactly how damaged his forces were.  McClellan, as always, moved cautiously and did not press his advantage.  The letter from Lee to Davis is worth mentioning for how little he tells his President about the condition of his forces.  Throughout the campaign the correspondence between Lee and Davis seems to imply anxiety on Davis' part toward the operation.  A full accounting by Lee of the extent of his casualties would have not have made him rest easier.  Part of Lee's letter is missing, so it is possible a fuller accounting of the danger at hand was shown later in it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 17, 1862 (Wednesday): Antietam

Burnside's Bridge at Antietam

September 17, 1862-4.30 a. m.
Brigadier-General PENDLETON,
Commanding Artillery:
    GENERAL: I desire you to keep some artillery guarding each of the fords at Williamsport, Falling Wasters, and Sherpherdstown, and have some infantry with it, if possible.
    Very respectfully, yours,

   R. E. LEE,

September 17, 1862 - 7 a. m.
General PORTER:
    GENERAL: My skirmishers are across the bridge - three companies. They have had some firing this morning. The enemy's guns are where they were yesterday, and are firing at the hill where Benjamin's guns were yesterday. A large force of infantry (enemy's) are to the left of Sharpsburg, up the valley, awaiting evidently the approach of our attack from that direction. They have set fire to farm houses, &c.
    Very, respectfully,


Hagerstown, Md., September 17, 1862 - noon.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    I am informed that your communication with General McClellan is interrupted. The latest reports from my vedettes describe the battle as very severe at 11 a. m. The enemy's right rested on Sharpsburg pike, 2 miles this side of Sharpsburg. Our left was on the northeast side of Antietam Creek, near Porterstown. The enemy is reported to be retreating toward Williamsport, at which point my vedettes report the bridge burned and aqueduct destroyed by us. The enemy may possibly endeavor to break through here, or may strike across to Dam Numbers 4, if it is not held by us. None but very raw troops here - infantry. Shall I telegraph direct again, or through General Reynolds?

   Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp, Commanding.

September 17, 1862 - 5.30 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    Heavy and continuous firing heard in direction of Williamsport since 4 o'clock; now continues. About forty shots per minute are heard, apparently coming nearer. Scouts report that at 3.30 o'clock the enemy were on the run toward the Williamsport road. I think enemy have made another stand, flanking toward Williamsport; the heavy cannonading would so indicate.

    Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

 Series I. Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 321

It is striking how little communication from the day of the Battle of Antietam is in the Official Records.  Much of the Union communication was by way of signal stations and does not appear here.  As usual, very little Confederate "day of battle" notes are available.  The battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War, with nearly 4,000 killed and 17,000 wounded.

September 16, 1862 (Tuesday): Time Lost On Account of Fog

Middle Bridge, Antietam

Bivouac near Sharpsburg, Md., September 16, 1862 - 7 a. m.
(Received 12 m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The enemy yesterday held a position just in front of Sharpsburg. When our troops arrived in sufficient force it was too late in the day to attack. This morning a heavy fog has thus far prevented us doing more than to ascertain that some of the enemy are sill there. Do not know in what force. Will attack as soon as situation of enemy is developed. I learn Miles surrendered 8 a. m. yesterday unconditionally. I fear his
resistance was not as stubborn as it might have been. Had he held the Maryland Heights he would inevitably have been saved. The time lost on account of the fog is being occupied in getting up supplies, for the want of which many of our men are suffering.

Major General, Commanding.

September 16, 1862 - 2.35 p. m.
Governor CURTIN:
    Since telegraphing you, dispatch came from General McClellan, dated 7 o'clock this morning. Nothing of importance happened with him yesterday. This morning he was up with the enemy at Sharpsburg, and was waiting for heavy fog to rise.


HARRISBURG, PA., September 16, 1862 - 5.30 p. m.
President LINCOLN:
The following just received from Hagerstown:
    Jackson has recrossed the Potomac, and General McClellan has engaged him with a large force a few miles this side of Sharpsburg, 10 miles from here. The whole rebel army in Maryland will probably be annihilated or captured to-night. McClellan is on the battle-field.

Governor of Pennsylvania.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 311.

McClellan enjoyed a considerable advantage in forces near Sharpsburg on the 16th.  But fog, physical and mental, delayed an immediate attack on Lee.  With A.P. Hill not yet on the field and the Confederate position not fully developed, an attack was certainly worth attempting.  But McClellan believed he faced a force at least as equal to his own and waited for all his forces to arrive.  Late in the day he would have Hooker cross Antietam Creek and probe the Confederate lines, but it was a limited engagement.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15, 1862 (Monday): "Destroy the rebel army if possible".

Sharpsburg/Antietam (Google Earth) Click to Enlarge

Colonel R. H. CHILTON.
NEAR 8 A. M. September 15, 1862
    GENERAL: Through God's blessing, Harper's Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered. As Hill's troops have borne the heaviest part in the engagement, he will be left in command until the prisoners and public property shall be disposed of, unless you direct otherwise. The other forces can move off this evening so soon as they get their rations. To what point shall they move? I write at this time in order that you may be apprised of the condition of things. You may expect to hear from me again to-day after I get more information respecting the number of prisoners, &c.


Washington, September 15, 1862-2.45 p.m.
Major-General McCLELLAN:
    Your dispatch of to-day received. God bless you and all with you.
     Destroy the rebel army if possible.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 1, Page 53.

The destruction of an army, which Lincoln desires McClellan to achieve, was not easy to accomplish.  However, this was a rare opportunity to do just that.  Lee's army had lost heavily at South Mountain, Hill was at Harper's Ferry paroling Union prisoners, and the main body of Confederate forces was greatly reduced by straggling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 14, 1862 (Saturday): "The troops behaved magnificently."

War Correspondant's Arch at Crampton's Gap (

Via point of Rocks, Md., September 15, 1862-2 p. m.
General HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army:
    We are firing the passes of the Blue Ridge. Have possession of the heights on the left of Hagerstown pike; are now attacking the right. Franklin is attacking the Rockville [Crampton's] Pass, through the same ranges. Thus far all goes well. have taken about 100 prisoners. I have the troops in hand. They are confident, and hope to have full possession of the passes by dark.

Major-General, Commanding.

Three miles beyond Middletown, Md.,
September 14, 1862-9.40 p. m.
(Received 1 1. m., 15th)
Major-General HALLECK,
    After a very severe engagement, the corps of Hooker and Reno have carried the heights commanding the Hagerstown road. The troops behaved magnificently. They never fought better. Franklin has been hotly engaged on the extreme left. I do not yet know the result, except that the firing indicated progress on his part. The action continued until after dark, and terminated leaving us in possession of the entire crest. It has been a glorious victory. I cannot yet tell whether the enemy will retreat during the night or appear in increased force in the morning. I am hurrying up everything from the rear, to be prepared for any eventuality. I regret to add that the gallant and able General Reno is killed.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 289.

On the 13th McClellan came into possession of General Orders 191, a copy of Lee's instructions to his commanders.  Knowing Lee would not be moving east to threaten Washington or Baltimore, McClellan moved with (for him) unprecedented aggressiveness.  Striking at the three passes of the South Mountain range he succeeded in pushing open the passes late in the day.  The time gained by a stubborn Confederate resistance enabled Lee to establish a position near Sharpsburg along Antietam Creek.  It is interesting to note McClellan still does not realize he badly outnumbers Lee.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 13, 1862 (Friday): "...they outnumber me when united."

Harper's Ferry
FREDERICK CITY, MD., September 13, 1862-11 p. m.
(Received 1 p. m., September 14.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    An order from General R. E. Lee, addressed to General D. H. Hill, which has accidentally come into my hands this evening-the authenticity of which is unquestionable-discloses some of the plans of the enemy, and shows most conclusively that the main rebel army is now before us, including Longstreet's, Jackson's, the two Hills', McLaws', Walker's, R. H. Anderson's, and Hood's commands. That army was ordered to march on the 10th, and to attack and capture our forces at Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg yesterday, by surrounding them with such a heavy forces that they conceived it impossible they could escape. They were also ordered to take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; afterward to concentrate again at Boonsborough or Hagerstown. That this was the plan of campaign on the 9th is confirmed by the fact that heavy firing has been heard in the direction of Harper's Ferry this afternoon, and the columns took the roads specified in the order. It may, therefore, in my judgment, be regarded as certain that this rebel army, which I have good reasons for believing amounts to 120,000 men or more, and know to be commanded by Lee in person, intended to attempt penetrating Pennsylvania.  The officers told their friends here that they were going to Harrisburg and Philadelphia. My advance has pushed forward to-day, and overtaken the enemy on the Middletown and Harper's Ferry roads, and several slight engagements have taken place, in which our troops have driven the enemy from their position. A train of wagons, about three-quarters of a mile long, was destroyed to-day by the rebels in their flight. We took over 50 prisoners. This army marches forward early to-morrow morning, and will make forced marches, to endeavor to relieve Colonel Miles, but I fear, unless he makes a stout resistance, we may be too late. A report came in just this moment that Miles was attacked to-day and repulsed the enemy, but I do not know what credit to attach to the statement. I shall do everything in my power to save Miles if he still holds out. Portions of Burnside's and Franklin's corps moved forward this evening. I have received your dispatch of 10 a. m. You will perceive, from what I have stated, that there is but little probability of the enemy being in much force south of the Potomac. I do not, by any means, wish to be understood as undervaluing the importance of holding Washington. It is of great consequence, but upon the success of this army the fate of the nation depends. It was for this reason that I said everything else should be made subordinate to placing this army in proper condition to meet the large rebel force in our front. Unless General Lee has changed his plans, I expect a severe general engagement to-morrow. I feel confident that there is now no rebel force immediately threatening Washington or Baltimore, but that I have the mass of their troops to contend with, and they outnumber me when united.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 281.

Handed A.P. Hill's lost order on a silver platter, McClellan still manages to misunderstand the opportunity presented him.  Lee certainly had less than half the 120,000 men McClellan imagined.  After the Second Manassas campaign and Union forces having been in close contact with their opposite numbers, there is no excuse for this delusion.  Nowhere in the captured orders is there any mention or indication Harrisburg and Philadelphia were targets for the advance.  Yet he believes they are, based on rumors which were most likely planted for his benefit with locals.  "..they outnumber me when united.", the constant cry of McClellan to this point in the war, continues.  As to where he thought he would engage Lee the next day, one can only speculate.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 12, 1862 (Thursday): A "Babel" of Confusion

Camp Dennison, Cincinnati

WASHINGTON, September 12, 1862.
Major-General BOYLE, Louisville, KY:
    Your dispatch of last evening received. Where is the enemy which you dread in Louisville? How near to you to? What is General Gilbert's opinion? With all possible respect for you I must think General Wright's military opinion is the better. He is as much responsible for Louisville as for Cincinnati. General Halleck telegraphed him on this very subject yesterday and I telegraph him now, but for us here to control him there on the ground would be a babel of confusion which would be utterly ruinous. Where do you understand Buell to be and what is he doing?


Washington, September 12, 1862.
Major-General WRIGHT, Cincinnati, Ohio:
    I am being appealed from Louisville against your withdrawing troops from that place. While i cannot pretend to judge of the propriety of what you are doing, you would much oblige me by furnishing me a rational answer to make to the Governor and others at Louisville.


LOUISVILLE, KY., September 12, 1862.
    I expect no enemy here soon. If Bragg is in the State when Smith and he unite they may move on Louisville. General Gilbert's opinion may be inferred from dispatch he sent you. I believe he concurs with me. I have no idea there is any considerable force of the enemy near Cincinnati. Bragg is reported already in the State with large force on the line I indicated some days ago. I do not believe it. There is some force, but it is not large. Bragg may enter soon. Buell is at Nashville. Part of his army is at Bowling Green. McCook's division, which was on this side the Cumberland River, now is reported to have recrossed to the Nashville side. i have heard nothing from Buell. My information is from Colonel Bruce at Bowling Green. I concur with you that General Wright's military opinion is better than I ever thought mine to be, but I can know facts as well as the ablest military man. There are many reports. Deserters from Buckner report him with 10,000 men near Tompkinsville. Bragg reported at Burkesville and Columbia advancing into the center of the State. I do not believe any of the reports of an early attack at any point. They can, and I hope will, be driven out before they attack.


LOUISVILLE, KY., September 12, 1862.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT:
    The enemy must destroy Buell's army or cast it off to the west a long distance before attempting the capture of Cincinnati. If we secure Buell's line of communication with this place an attack on Cincinnati in force is an impossibility unless by the way of the Kanawha and Western Virginia. Granger's division is of the utmost importance as a head to the force now here, and a head it must have before it can move to co-operate with Buell, whose forces now show themselves at Bowling Green.


(The same to Major-General Wright.)

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 16, Part 2, Pages 509-510

Confederate general Henry Heth had been sent with a small force to make a demonstration in front of Cincinnati.  With Kirby Smith and Bragg both operating in Kentucky, this caused no end of confusion and alarm.  Cincinnati was the sixth largest city in the United States and defended by over 20,000 U.S. troops and over 50,000 militia called "squirrel hunters".  In the face of such force the demonstration never became more than that.  But it did require Lincoln's attention at a time when his focus was on events in Maryland.  You get a sense of his frustrations when he asks Wright for a "rational answer" to give civilian authorities.