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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
Page 151 Chapter XXXI. GENERAL REPORTS.

which the corps of General Porter, which had not been engaged, now appeared to dispute our advance. Our troops were much exhausted and greatly reduced in numbers by fatigue and the casualties of battle.

Under these circumstances it was deemed injudicious to push our advantage further in the face of fresh troops of the enemy, much exceeding the number of our own. They were accordingly recalled and formed on the line originally held by General Jones. While the attack on our center was progressing, General Jackson had been directed to endeavor to turn the enemy's right, but found it extending nearly to the Potomac, and so strongly defended with artillery that the attempt had to be abandoned. The repulse on the right ended the engagement, and, after a protracted and sanguinary conflict, every effort of the enemy to dislodge us from our position had been defeated with severe loss.

The arduous service in which our troops had been engaged, their great privations of rest and food, and the long marches without shoes over mountain roads, had greatly reduced our ranks before the action began. These causes had compelled thousands of brave men to absent themselves, and many more had done so from unworthy motives. This great battle was fought by less than 40,000 men on our side, all of whom had undergone the greatest labors and hardships in the field and on the march. Nothing could surpass the determined valor witch they met the large army of the enemy, fully supplied and equipped, and the result reflects the highest credit on the officers and men engaged. Our artillery, though much inferior to that of the enemy in the number of guns and weight of metal, rendered most efficient and gallant service throughout the day, and contributed greatly to the repulse of the attacks on every part of the line. General Stuart, with the cavalry and horse artillery, performed the duty intrusted to him of guarding our left wing with great energy and courage, and rendered valuable assistance in defeating the attack on that part of our line.

On the 18th we occupied the position of the preceding day, except in the center, where our line was drawn in about 200 yards. Our ranks were increased by the arrival of a number of troops, who had not been engaged the day before, and, though still to weak to assume the offensive, we awaited without apprehension the renewal of the attack. The day passed without any demonstration on the part of the enemy, who, from the reports received, was expecting the arrival of re-enforcements. As we could not look for a material increase in strength, and the enemy's force could be largely and rapidly augmented, it was not thought prudent to wait until he should be ready again to offer battle. During the night of the 18th the army was accordingly withdrawn to the south side of the Potomac, crossing near Shepherdstown, without loss or molestation. The enemy advanced the next morning, but was held in check by General Fitzhugh Lee with his cavalry, who covered our movement with boldness and success. General Stuart, with the main body, crossed the Potomac above Shepherdstown and moved up the river. The next day he recrossed at Williamsport, and took position o operate upon the right and rear of the enemy should he attempt to follow us. After the army had safely reached the Virginia shore with such of the wounded as could be removed and all its trains, General Porter's corps, with a number of batteries and some cavalry, appeared on the opposite side. General Pendleton was left to guard the ford with the reserve artillery and about 600 infantry. That night the enemy crossed the river above General Pendleton's position, and his infantry support giving way, four of his guns were taken. A considerable force took position on the right bank, under cover of their artillery on the commanding hills on the oppo-


Page 151 Chapter XXXI. GENERAL REPORTS.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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