Today in History:

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


field into the orchard beyond, under a heavy fire of musketry, and a fire of canister from two pieces of artillery in the orchard, and a battery farther to the right, throwing shell and case-shot. This advance gavels possession of Piper's house, the strong point contended for by the enemy at this part of the line, it being a defensible building several hundred yards in advance of the sunken road. The musketry fire at this point of the line now ceased. Holding Piper's house, General Richardson withdrew the line a little way to the crest of a hill, a more advantageous position. UP to this time the division was without artillery, and in the new position suffered severely from artillery fire, which could not be replied to. A section of Robertson's horse battery, commanded by Lieutenant Vincent, Second Artillery, now arrived on the ground and did excellent service. Subsequently a battery of brass guns, commanded by Captain Graham, First Artillery, arrived, and was posted on the crest of the hill, and soon silenced the two guns in the orchard. A heavy fire soon ensued between the battery farther to the right and our own. Captain Graham's battery was bravely and skillfully served, but, unable to reach the enemy, who had rifled guns of greater range than our smooth-bores, retired by order of General Richardson, to save it from useless sacrifice of men and horses. The brave general was himself mortally wounded while personally directing its fire.

General Hancock was placed in command of the division after the fall of General Richardson. General Meagher's brigade, now commanded by Colonel Burke, of the Sixty-third New York, having refilled their cartridge-boxes, was again ordered forward, and took position in the center of the line. The division now occupied one line in close proximity to the enemy, who had taken up a position in the rear of Piper's house. Col Dwight Morris, with the Fourteenth Connecticut and a detachment of the One hundred and eighth New York, of General French's division, was sent by General French to the support of General Richardson's division. This command was now placed in an interval in the line between General Caldwell's and the Irish Brigade.

The requirements of the extended line of battle had so engaged the artillery that the application of General Hancock for artillery for the division could not be complied with immediately by the chief of artillery or the corps commanders in his vicinity. Knowing the tried courage of the troops, General Hancock felt confident that he could hold his position, although suffering from the enemy's artillery, but was too weak to attack, as the great length of the line he was obliged to hold prevented him from forming more than one line of battle, and, from his advanced position, this line was already partly enfiladed by the batteries of the enemy on the right, which were protected from our batteries opposite them by the woods at the Dunker Church.

Seeing a body of the enemy advancing on some of our troops to the left of his position, General Hancock obtained Hexamer's battery from General Franklin's corps, which assisted materially in frustrating this attack. It also assisted the attack of the Seventh Maine, of Franklin's corps, which, without other aid, made an attack against the enemy's line and drove in skirmishers who were annoying our artillery and troops on the right. Lieutenant Woodruff, with Battery I, First Artillery, relieved Captain Hexamer, whose ammunition was expended. The enemy at one time seemed to be about making an attack in force upon this part of the line, and advanced a long column of infantry toward this division, but, on nearing the position, General Pleasonton opening on them with sixteen guns, they halted, gave a desultory fire, and retreated, closing the operations on this portion of the field.