War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0029 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. [CHAP XXXI

Search Civil War Official Records

position that desperate fighting alone could drive them from the field, and all felt that a great and terrible battle was at hand.

In proceeding to the narrative of the events of this and the succeeding day, I must here repeat what I have observed in reporting upon the other subjects of this communication-that I attempt in this preliminary report nothing more than a sketch of the main features of this great engagement, reserving for my official report, based upon the reports of the corps commanders, that full description of details which shall place upon record the achievements of individuals and of particular bodies of troops.

The design was to make the main attack upon the enemy's left-at least to create a diversion in favor of the main attack, with the hope of something more by assailing the enemy's right-and, as soon as one or both of the flank movements were fully successful, to attack their center with any reserve I might then have on hand.

The morning of the 16th (during which there was considerable artillery firing) was spent in obtaining information as to the ground, rectifying the position of the troops, and perfecting the arrangements for the attack.

On the afternoon of the 16th, Hooker's corps, consisting of Ricketts' and Doubleday's division, and the Pennsylvania Reserves, under Meade, was sent across the Antietam Creek, by a ford and bridge to the right of Keedysville, with orders to attack, and, if possible, turn the enemy's left. Mansfield, with his corps, was sent in the evening to support Hooker. Arrived in position, Meade's division of the Pennsylvania Reserves, which was at the head of Hooker's corps, became engaged in a sharp contest with the enemy, which lasted until after dark, when it had succeeded in driving in a portion of the opposing line and held the ground. At daylight the contest was renewed between Hooker and the enemy in his front. Hooker's attack was successful for a time, but masses of the enemy, thrown upon his corps, checked it. Mansfield brought up his corps to Hooker's support, when the two corps drove the enemy back, the gallant and distinguished veteran Mansfield losing his life in the effort. General Hooker was, unhappily, about this time wounded and compelled to leave the field, where his services had been conspicuous and important. About an hour after this time, Sumner's corps, consisting of Sedgwick's, Richardson's, and French's divisions, arrived on the field-Richardson's some time after the other two, as he was unable to start as soon as they. Sedgwick, on the right, penetrated the woods in front of Hooker's and Mansfield's troops. French and Richardson were placed to the left of Sedgwick, thus attacking the enemy toward their left center. Crawford's and Sedgwick's lines, however yielded to a destructive fire of masses of the enemy in the woods, and, suffering greatly (General Sedgwick and Crawford being among the wounded), their troops fell back in disorder; they nevertheless rallied in the woods. The enemy's advance was, however, entirely checked by the destructive fire of our artillery. Franklin, who had been directed the day before to join the main army with two divisions, arrived on the field from Brownsville about an hour after, and Smith's division replaced Sedgwick's and Crawford's line. Advancing steadily, it swept over the ground just lost but now permanently retaken. The divisions of French and Richardson maintained with considerable loss the exposed positions which they had so gallantly gained, among the wounded being General Richardson.

The condition of things on the right the middle of the after-