Today in History:

5 Series I Volume XIX-I Serial 27 - Antietam Part I


Creek, a few miles above its month, and took a position admirably suited for defense. Our army attacked him on the 16th, and a hotly contested battle was fought on that and the ensuing day, which resulted in the defeat of the rebel forces. On the night of the 17th our troops slept on the field which they had so bravely won. On the 18th neither party renewed the attack, and in the night of the 18th and 19th General Lee withdrew his army to the south side of the Potomac.

Our loss in the several battles on South Mountain and at Antietam was 1,742 killed, 8,066 wounded, and 913 missing, making a total of 10,721.* General McClellan estimates the enemy's loss at nearly 30,000, but their own accounts give their loss at about 14,000 in killed and wounded.

On the approach of the enemy to Harper's Ferry, the officer in command on Maryland Heights destroyed his artillery and abandoned his post, and on the 15th Colonel Miles surrendered Harper's Ferry with only a slight resistance and within hearing of the guns of General McClellan's army. As this whole matter has been investigated and reported upon by a military commission,+ it is unnecessary for me to discuss the disgraceful surrender of the post and army under Colonel Miles' command.

General McClellan's preliminary report of his operations in Maryland, including the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, is submitted herewith, marked Exhibit Numbers 4. ++ No reports of his subordinate officers have been submitted.

From the 17th of September till the 26th of October General McClel- lan's main army remained on the north bank of the Potomac, in the vicinity of Sharpsburg and Harper's Ferry. The long inactivity of so large an army in the face of a defeated foe, and during the most favorable season for rapid movements and a vigorous campaign, was a matter of great disappointment and regret. Your letter of the 27th and my reply of the 28th of October in regard to the alleged causes of this unfortunate delay, I submit herewith, marked exhibit Numbers 5.

In reply to the telegraphic order of the 6th of October, quoted in my letter of the 28th, above referred to, General McClellan disapproved of the plan of crossing the Potomac south of the Blue Ridge, and said that he would cross at Harper's Ferry and advance upon Winchester. He, however, did not begin to cross till the 26th of October, and then at Berlin. This passage occupied several days, and was completed about the 3rd of November. What caused him to change his views, or what his plan of campaign was, I ignorant, for about this time he ceased to communicate with,e in regard to his operations, sending his reports directly to the President.

On the 5th instant I received the written order of the President relieving General McClellan and placing General Burnside in command of the Potomac. This order was transmitted by a special messenger, who delivered it to General McClellan at Rectortown on the 7th# .

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It is seen from this brief summary of military operations during the last three or four months, that while our soldiers have generally fought

*But see revised, Maryland Campaign, pp. 183-204.

+See p. 549.

++See Numbers 2, report of October 15, 1862, p. 24.

#Portion here omitted relates to operations in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.