Today in History:

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


with a distance between the lines of some 70 paces. The division was then put in motion, and moved upon the field of battle under fire from the enemy's concealed batteries on the hill beyond the roads. Passing diagonally to the front across the open space, and to the front of the First Division of General William's corps, this latter division withdrew. Entering the woods on the west of the turnpike and driving the enemy before them, the first line was met by a heavy fire of musketry and shell from the enemy's breastworks and the batteries on the hill commanding the exit from the woods. Meantime a heavy column of the enemy had succeeded in drowning back the troops of General Greene's division, and appeared in rear of the left of Sedgwick's division. By command of General Sumner, General Howard faced the third line to the rear, preparatory to a change of front to meet the column advancing on the left; but this line, now suffering from a destructive fire both in front and on its left, which it was unable to return, gave way toward the right and rear in considerable confusion, and was soon followed by the first and second lines. General Gorman's brigade and one regiment of General Dana's soon rallied and checked the advance of the enemy on the right. The second and third lines now formed on the left of General Gorman's brigade, and poured a destructive fire upon the enemy.

During General Sumner's attack he ordered General Williams to support him. Brigadier-General Gordon with a portion of his brigade moved forward, but when he reached the woods the left of General Sedgwick's division had given way, and finding himself, as the smoke cleared up, opposed to the enemy in force with his small command, he withdrew to the rear of the batteries at the second line of woods. As General Gordon's troops unmasked our batteries on the left, they opened with canister, the batteries of Captain Cothran, First New York, and I, First Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Woodruff, doing good service. Unable to withstand this deadly fire in front and the musketry fire from the right, the enemy again sought shelter in the woods and rocks beyond the turnpike.

During this assault Generals Sedgwick and Dana were seriously wounded and taken from the field. General Sedgwick, though twice wounded and faint from loss of blood, retained command of his division for more than an hour after his first wound, animating his command by his presence.

About the time of General Sedgwick's advance, General Hooker, while urging on his command, was severely wounded in the foot and taken from the field, and General Meade was placed in command of his corps. General Howard assumed command after General Sedgwick retired.

The repulse of the enemy offered opportunity to rearrange the lines and reorganize the commands on the right, now more or less in confusion. The batteries of the Pennsylvania Reserve, on high ground near J. Poffenberger's house, opened fire, and checked several attempts of the enemy to establish batteries in front of our right, to turn that flank and enfilade the lines.

While the conflict was so obstinately raging on the right, General French was pushing his division against the enemy still farther to the left. This division crossed the Antietam at the same ford as General Sedgwick, and immediately in his rear. Passing over the stream in three columns, the division marched about a mile from the ford, then, facing to the left, moved in three lines towards the enemy; General Max Weber's brigade in front, Colonel Dwight Morris' brigade of raw troops, undrilled, and moving for the first time under fire, in the second,