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Further Accounts of the Great Battle.


September 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, September 19, 1862.






The Most Extensive Battle of the War.


More Fighting to be Done.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17.—Profound anxiety is felt for the details of the fighting believed to have been going on in Maryland between McClellan’s and Lee’s forces yesterday and to-day.  Very little is yet known here beyond the mere fact that severe fighting [has] been in progress.  As the movements are understood here, after Sunday’s fight the rebels continued the retreat toward the Potomac, Stonewall Jackson’s corps having previously left the main rebel army to attack and overpower Miles at Harper’s Ferry.  Lee with the main body of his army seems to have left the direct road between Frederick and Williamsport, which he had hitherto been pursuing, and turned more in a westerly direction, with the evident view of striking the Potomac at Sheppard’s Ferry, near Sharpsburg, and only eight or ten miles above Harper’s Ferry.

By Tuesday noon the advance of our pursuing column seems to have come up with them only a few miles from the Potomac, at a point where the road for Sheppard’s Ferry crosses the Antiontown [sic—Antietam] creek.  The rebels finding that our forces would be attacking their rear in a very short time, if they continued their march, halted here, and crossing their whole force to the west side of Antiontown creek, posted them in advantageous positions along the bank to await the attack of our advance.

As our forces came up, it became evident that a general engagement must ensue, and they took position on the east bank of the river.

Skirmishing only took place up to half-past five on Tuesday afternoon, when a large proportion of our troops having got up, we opened the attack along the line.  From that time until nine at night, it is believed that a heavy battle was raging.  At nine firing was nearly suspended, and both armies rested on their arms on the battlefield till daylight.

At dawn this morning the battle opened again, and is know to have continued several hours, with what result is not yet known, nor is it known whether fighting is or is not still going on.  Later advices are to be hoped for in the course of the night.

At an early hour yesterday morning Stonewall Jackson is understood to have left Harper’s Ferry with the main portion of his army corps, starting out on the road to Martinsburg.

There is a strong possibility, of course, that he turned off at Sheppard’s Ferry and crossed the Potomac into Maryland again, and hastened to reinforce Lee, there just beginning his Tuesday’s engagement with McClellan’s flanks, and that this maneuvering has compelled a change of front, and removed the battle field somewhat nearer Middletown.

These rumors, however, are not credited to any further extent at any rate than that Jackson has reinforced Lee.

It is stated that when Jackson marched from Harper’s Ferry he left A. P. Hill with small forces in command.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 18.—The following Western troops were under Col. Miles at Harper’s Ferry, and were surrendered by that officer to rebels, viz: The 87Th Ohio, 32d Ohio, 60th Ohio; one Indiana battery.  The 12th Illinois cavalry, also, belonged to Miles command, but is believed to have cut its way through the rebels to Chambersburg.

The 87th Ohio was a three months’ regiment, whose term of service had expired some weeks ago.  They had remained at the special request of the War Department.

All these were promptly liberated by the rebels, some of them not being even paroled, the rebels declaring they had no time to attend to it.  Those forbidden by their paroles to continue in service till exchanged, have returned to Frederick.  They are exceedingly bitter against Col. Miles, and declare the surrender was unnecessary.

It seems that Harper’s Ferry was under Gen. Wool’s command, notwithstanding McClellan’s troops were all around it.  Gen. Wool is said to have thought the garrison there competent to sustain its position against any force the rebels could bring against it.

Mr. Fulton, editor of the Baltimore American, writes from Frederick to his paper this morning:  “I can state but faintly the feeling of mortification, anger, and earnest denunciation which prevails in the ranks of the late garrison of Harper’s Ferry.  Whether there is substantial foundation for the charges made or not, I cannot say; but officers of every grade are equally unanimous on the subject, and it is even asserted that a proposition was made to retake Maryland Heights after they had been abandoned, but consent was refused and the place surrendered.”

The report of Gen. White, who took command and conducted the surrender after Col. Miles had been wounded, will be looked fro with interest.  He arrived in Frederick to-day with his staff, and proceeded directly to Washington.

Col. Miles is doubtless dead.  His body is said to be on the way to Baltimore, under escort.

It is now believed that last night both armies rested on the battle field, the relative positions remained unchanged.  It is believed that the general result of the fighting on the whole, was in our favor; though it is now thought that up to this morning nothing of a decisive character had occurred.  To-day’s fighting must tell the tale, and the side that has been most heavily reinforced will doubtless win the day.

The weather is delightfully pleasant—warm but not hot.  In that respect nothing could be more favorable for our troops, and especially for our wounded.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 18.—Beside the Western troops already announced as having been in the garrison at Harper’s Ferry, the 60th Illinois, the 15th Indiana battery and an Ohio battery are said to have been there and included in the surrender.  A portion of the parolled prisoners from there arrived here to-day.  The suggestion in made to the government that these and all other paroled prisoners might be employed in Pope’s new department against the Indians.  Their parole only requires them not to bear arms against the Confederates until regularly exchanged.  The rebels would hardly claim that fighting the savages of the Northwest would be bearing arms against the Confederate States.  Plenty of our parolled prisoners are now in the North, who, if collected and armed, could put an end to the Indian war in a fortnight.

Private advices which I have just received from the field look very cheerful indeed.

Correspondents from Harper’s Ferry assign a large share of the blame for the surrender of that position to Colonel Tom Ford, of the 32d Ohio, late public printer, and former Lieut. Governor of Ohio, and best known for his anti-slavery speech in the Philadelphia Know Nothing Convention in 1856.  They say he abandoned Maryland Heights against Col. Miles’s positive orders, and when there was no occasion or necessity for it.  The Heights were defended by Capt. McGrath’s battery, composed of two eleven inch Dahlgren guns, one fifty pounder rifle gun, and two Napoleon howitzers.  Supporting this battery was Colonel Ford’s brigade, composed of his own regiment, the 32d Ohio, a battalion of the 1st Maryland Home Brigade, and some Rhode Island and Maryland cavalry; and during the progress of the fight, more troops were sent up.

All who are familiar with the locality, know that Maryland Heights commanded the whole position.  Eye-witnesses declare they were perfectly able to hold the Heights.

The correspondent of the Tribune says Colonel Ford ordered the evacuation, but for what reason then, he could not learn.  Captain McGrath, as true and brave a soldier as ever walked, upon receiving orders to spike his guns was so astonished that he refused to obey it, and not until he saw the infantry deserting him could he be induced to perform the disgraceful task.  He sat upon his guns and wept like a child, telling Col. Ford that no matter by whose order it was done, it was a piece of treachery.

This abandonment of the key to the whole position certainly requires the most careful investigation at the hands of the proper authorities.

Col. Ford had positive and written orders to hold the place to the last extremity.  Five thousand troops and all our batteries were to aid him.  Col. Ford had remarked that he had looked the hill all over and made up his mind to stay there; that not a man should come down until they had been whipped from it.  His subsequent action certainly gave the lie to his words.

Col. Miles, who was at the extreme left, upon [l]earning that the troops were leaving, rode hastily to the spot but met the men on their way up the hill, and learning that the guns were spiked did not order them back, as he intended doing.

As there was much talk as to whom belonged the responsibility of the evacuation of this position, your correspondent asked Col. Miles if it was done by his orders.  “No, sir, but in direct opposition to them,” was the unequivocal reply.  Officers and men were thunderstruck at the performance, and Col. D’Utassy’s company of the 1st brigade offered to retake and hold the position, but Col. Miles refused.  The evacuation received the merited condemnation of officers and men.  Every one saw that the way for the rebels was now open.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 18.—The special correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette, just returned from the field to Frederick, telegraphs the following:

“I was on Maryland Heights to-day.  The enemy is in possession, reports of their evacuation to the contrary notwithstanding.  His pickets extend down as far as Sandy Hook.

“We had the biggest fight of all, yesterday, and a big victory for us.  There has been little or no firing to-day.

“The line of battle yesterday extended over a front of eight miles.  Jackson, holding the enemy left, was driven to the river, and the Potomac is too deep for him to ford.

“Major General Hooker and Brigadier General Hartsuff are wounded and disabled, also Major General Richardson.  The hotels and churches in Frederick have all been taken for hospitals, and the wounded coming back in large numbers.”

Nothing has yet been made public here, officially, concerning the result of the fighting either yesterday or the day before.  Nothing has, however, been learned that in any way tends to discredit the statement sent in previous dispatches that the result thus far has in the main been favorable.  It is believed here that the contest has again been renewed this morning, and it is thought that the government will give full details of its reliable advices as soon as the action is over and the result ascertained.


Washington, Sept. 18.—Our loss at Harper’s Ferry is stated in precise numbers at 11,583 prisoners, and forty-seven pieces of artillery, besides some that were so badly injured as not to be worth counting.

Among our losses in Generals, is General Joseph K. F. Mansfield of the regular army, who has been in the service since 1822.  He is a brother to the Hon. Edward Mansfield of Ohio, the present Commissioner of Statistics, and formerly editor of the Cincinnati Gazette, was mortally wounded on the field, and has since died.  His body is in charge of Eli Thayer, to be sent home to Cincinnati.

Brigadier General Hartsuff, also wounded, but not fatally, it is hoped, is from Michigan, and is a Major in the Regular army, and was very favorably known last year in Western Virginia, where, as Chief of Staff to Gen. Rosecrans, he displayed conspicuous gallantry at Carnifax Ferry, as well as throughout that campaign.

Though yesterday’s action is regarded as a brilliant success, it is unofficially stated here that while our right and centre gained ground, towards evening our left was forced back a short distance.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 11:15 P. M.—The continued absence of official dispatches from the battle field, coupled with the fact now generally believed, that there has been little or no fighting to-day, and that there has been little or no fighting to-day, and that therefore there has been nothing to prevent the transmission of reports, produces a somewhat more unsettled feeling than yesterday or this forenoon.

It is believed that no decisive result has yet been gained, but the balance of success is thought to incline, on the whole, to our side.  The day is believed to have been passed in burying the dead.

A letter to the Navy Department from Commodore Davis, dated off Helena, Ark., September 8th, 1862, says that on the 7th inst., Lieut. Egbert Thompson, commanding gunboat Pittsburg, learning through contrabands that a force of rebels, 200 or 300 strong, were encamped at Montgomery’s Point, near the mouth of the White river, where they were erecting batteries, dropped down the river opposite the point where the rebels were said to be encamped, and shelled them out, wounding and taking prisoners a number of them, and capturing eight horses, a number of saddles, arms, &c.  The rebels were at breakfast when the shells from the Pittsburg commenced falling among them.

The Pittsburg then proceeded as far as Venice, Arks., and captured a large wharf-boat which had been fitted up in a handsome style for use as a hotel at the termination of the Mississippi and Red River Railroad.  The boat was towed up to Helena, and is now occupied by Quartermaster’s Department of the Army at that point, under Gen. Steele.

A number of rebel cavalry were seen on the west bank of the Mississippi, off the town of Bolivar, in which vicinity the enemy was said to be encamped in considerable force.

Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher was severely wounded in yesterday’s battles.

Enormous stories are told of water running half blood in the vicinity of yesterday’s battle field.

An armed reconnaissance discloses the fact already given by deserters, that no considerable force of rebels remain in Virginia.  Even Gen. Hood’s brigade, referred to recently as remaining on the south side of the Potomac, has been sent forward to reinforce Lee.


[To the Associated Press.]

Interesting Synopsis of the Battle.


During the afternoon information was received at headquarters, showing that the enemy were recrossing the river and concentrating their forces on a ridge of hills outside the town of Sharpsburg, within three miles of the main body of our army.

Jackson left Harper’s Ferry this morning, his troops beginning to arrive in the afternoon, his troops beginning to arrive in the afternoon, when it become evident that Lee was disposed to engage our forces in battle at this point.  Gen. McClellan sent for Franklin’s corps and Couch’s division, who were seven miles distant on the other side of Elk Ridge.  There was considerable artillery firing during the day on both sides, resulting in a loss to us of forty killed and wounded.

The disposition of the troops for the impending battle was as follows:  Sumner’s corps with Banks’s Division, occupying the centre.  Hooker’s corps, with the Pennsylvania reserves and Franklin’s corps on the right.  Porter and Burnside on the extreme left, with the view of turning the enemy’s right flank.  Pleasonton supported the centre with 2,400 cavalry and four batteries.

General Hooker in the afternoon crossed Antietam creek, and took up a position on the hills facing Sharpsburg, three miles to the right.  His troops got into action at dusk.  The battle lasted two hours, during which the enemy were driven half a mile with considerable loss.  The Pennsylvania reserves suffered much.

The night was occupied in getting the troops into their respective positions, while the ammunition trains and ambulances were forwarded to the different commands.

Sept. 17—This has been an eventful day in the history of the rebellion.  A battle has taken place in which the army of the Potomac was again victorious, and which exceeds in extent any battle heretofore fought on this continent.

At daylight the battle was renewed on the center and right by Hooker and Sumner, who after a sharp contest of two hours, drove the enemy a mile.  The rebels rallied shortly, but with terrible loss, and regained most of the ground.  At this time Gen. Hooker received a shot in the ankle, and was carried from the field.

The command of his troops now devolved upon Sumner, Richardson, commanding the division, being severely wounded.  Gen. Sumner determined to retake the lost ground, ordered the troops to advance, which they did, driving the enemy before them with great slaughter.  They not only retook the lost ground, but drove the rebels a quarter of a mile beyond.

In this action Mansfield was shot through the lung and died soon after.  During this time Burnside and Porter had not been idle.  They drove the rebels from the line of Antietam creek on the main road to Sharpsburg, built a bridge, the old one having been destroyed, and occupied the opposite bank.  The loss here was considerable.

Our troops now held both banks of the creek. To get possession of a ridge of hills on the right and left hand sides of the road, from which the rebels were thundering away with artillery, was a task not easily accomplished.  Gen. Sykes’s brigade, with the assistance of Sumner, carried the right hand side after considerable loss, the rebels running in all directions.

It is now 5 o’clock and all thee enemy’s positions have been carried, except on the left hand side of the road.  To do this duty,

Burnside was assigned.  His artillery opened and the infantry advanced to carry it at a charge but we were forced to retire before a superior force.  Knowing if they lost this ridge, a complete rout of the army would be the result, they fought with great desperation.

Darkness now overlooked the two armies, and hostilities ceased by mutual consent.  The battle lasted from 5 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock at night, without a moment’s cessation.  The conduct of the troops was without exception excellent.

It is impossible now to form a correct idea of the loss on either side, but it is a heavy on both.  Our loss will probably reach 10,000; that of the enemy will not exceed it.

The enemy’s dead nearly all fell into our hands, and were thickly strewn over the fields, many places lying in heaps.  Our wounded were immediately carried from the field.

When Hooker fell McClellan immediately passed t the right, and was enthusiastically received.  His presence added much to our success in recovering the ground lost.

He was in the centre and on the left anxiously watching the progress of the battle, and giving directions as to the manner of the attack.  He is in his tent to-night for the first time since leaving Frederick.

We took 15,000 prisoners during the day, the enemy obtaining but a few.

The following officers are among the killed and wounded:  Hartsuff, Duryea, Sedgwick.  Capt. Andenrud, aid to General Sumner, wounded.  Major Sedgwick, killed; Col. McNeil and Lieut. Allen, of the Bucktails, killed; Col. Polk, of the 2d U. S. Sharpshooters, wounded.  Several other prominent officers are reported killed and wounded, but nothing is positively known concerning them.