returned, and remounted. The musketry-fire
from the point of woods was all the while ex
tremely hot. As he put his foot in the stirrup a
fresh volley of rifle-bullets came whizzing by.
The tall, soldierly figure of the General, the white
horse which he rode, the elevated place where he
was, all made him a most dangerously conspicu
ous mark. So he had been all daj^, riding often
without a staff-officer or an orderly near him
all sent off on urgent duty visible every where
on the field. The rebel bullets had followed him
all day, but they had not hit him, and he would
not regard them.
Remounting on this hill, he had not ridden
five steps when he was struck in the foot by a
ball. Three men were shot down at the same
moment by his side. The air was alive with
bullets. He kept on his horse a few minutes,
though the wound was severe and excessively
painful, and would not dismount till he had given
his last order to advance. He was himself in the
very front. Swaying unsteadily on his horse, he
turned in his seat to look about him. " There is
a regiment to the right. Order it forward ! Craw
ford and Gordon are coming up. Tell them to
carry those woods and hold them and it is our
fight ! "
It was found that the bullet had passed com
pletely through hi s foot. The surgeon who ex
amined it on the spot could give no opinion
whether bones were broken, but it was afterward
ascertained that though grazed they were not
fractured. Of course the severity of the wound
made it impossible for him to keep the field,
which he believed already won, so far as it be
longed to him to win it. If was nine o clock.
The fight had been furious since five. A large
part of his command was broken, but with his
right still untouched, and with Crawford s and
Gordon s brigades just up ; above all, with the
advance of the whole central line, which the men
had heard ordered with cheers, and with a regi
ment already on the edge of the woods he wanted,
he might well leave the field, thinking the battle
was won that his battle was won, for I am
writing only about the attack on the rebel left.
I see no reason why I should disguise my ad
miration of Gen. Hooker s bravery and soldierly
ability. Remaining nearly all the morning on the
right, I could not help seeing the sagacity and
promptness of his movements, how completely
his troops were kept in hand, how devotedly they
trusted him, how keen was his insight into the
battle, how every opportunity was seized and
every reverse was checked and turned into an
other success. I say this the more unreservedly,
because I have no personal relation whatever with
him, never saw him till the day before the fight,
and don t like his politics or opinions in general.
But what are politics in such a battle ?
Sumner arrived just as Hooker was leaving,
and assumed command. Crawford and Gordon
had gone into the woods, and were holding them
stoutly against heavy odds. As I rode over
toward the left I met Sumner at the head of his
column, advancing rapidly through the timber,
opposite where Crawford was fighting. The vet
eran General was riding alone in the forest, for
ahead of his leading brigade, his hat off, his gray
hair and beard and moustache strangely contrast
ing with the fire in his eyes and his martial air,
as he hurried on to where the bullets were thick
Sedgwick s division was in advance, moving
forward to support Crawford and Gordon. RebeJ
reinforcements were approaching also, and the
struggle for the roads was again to be renewed.
Sumner sent forward two divisions Richardson
and French on the left. Sedgwick, moving in
column of divisions through the woods in rear,
deployed and advanced in line over the corn-field]
There was a broad interval between him and tho
nearest division, and he saw that if the rebel line
were complete, his own division was in immediate
danger of being flanked. But his orders were to
advance, and those are the orders which a soldier
and Sedgwick is every inch a soldier loves
best to hear.
To extend his own front as far as possible, he
ordered the Thirty-fourth New- York to move by
the left flank. The manoeuvre was attempted
under a fire-of the greatest intensity, and the reg
iment broke. At the same moment the enemy,
perceiving their advantage, came round on that
flank. Crawford was obliged to give way on the
right, and his troops pouring in confusion "through
the ranks of Sedgwick s advance brigade, threw it
into disorder and back on the second and third
lines. The enemy advanced, their fire increas
Gen. Sedgwick was three times wounded, in
the shoulder, leg, and wrist, but he persisted in
remaining on the field so long as there was a
chance of saving it. His Adjutant-General, Major
Sedgwick, bravely rallying and trying to re-form
the troops, \vas shot through the body, the bullet
lodging in the spine, and fell from his horse. Se
vere as the wound is, it is probably not mortal.
Lieut. Howe, of Gen. Sedgwick s staff, endeavored
vainly to rally the Thirty-fourth New- York. They
were badly cut up and would not stand. Half
their officers were killed or wounded, their colors
shot to pieces, the color-sergeant killed, every one
of the color-guard wounded. Only thirty-two
were afterward got together.
The Fifteenth Massachusetts went into action
with seventeen officers and nearly six hundred
men. Nine officers were killed or wounded, and
some of the latter are prisoners. Capt. Simons,
Capt. Saunders of the sharp-shooters, Lieut. Der
by, and Lieut. Berry are killed. Capt. Bardett
and Capt. Jocelyn, Lieut. Spurr, Lieut. Gale, and
Lieut. Bradley are wounded. One hundred and
thirty-four men were the only remains that could
be collected of this splendid regiment.
Gen. Dana was wounded. Gen. Howard, who
took command of the division after Gen. Sedg
wick was disabled, exerted himself to restore
order; but it could not be done there. Gen.
Surnner ordered the line to be re-formed. ^Tho
test was too severe for volunteer troops under
such a fire. Sumner himself attempted to arrest
the disorder, but to little purpose. Lieut-Col.
Revere and Capt. Audenried of his staff were
wounded severely, but not dangerously It was
REBELLION RECORD, 1862.
impossible to hold the position. Gen. Sumner
withdrew the division to the rear, and once more
the corn-field was abandoned to the enemy.
French sent word he could hold his ground.
Hichardson, while gallantly leading a regiment
under a heavy tire, was severely wounded in the
shoulder. Gen. Meagher was wounded at the
Lead of his brigade. The loss in general officers
was becoming frightful.
At one o clock affairs on the right had a gloomy
look. Hooker s troops were greatly exhausted,
and their General away from the field. Mans
field s were no better. Simmer s command had
lost heavily, but two of his divisions were still
comparatively fresh. Artillery was yet playing
vigorously in front, though the ammunition of
many of the batteries was entirely exhausted,
and they had been compelled to retire.
Doubleday held the right inflexibly. Simmer s
headquarters were now in the narrow field where
the night before Hooker had begun the fight.
All that had been gained in front had been lost !
The enemy s batteries, which if advanced and
served vigorously might have made sad work
with the closely-massed troops, were fortunately
either partially disabled or short of ammunition.
Sumner was confident that he could hold his
own, but another advance was out of the ques
tion. The enemy, on the other hand, seemed to
be too much exhausted to attack.
At this crisis Franklin came up with fresh troops
and formed on the left. Slocum, commanding one
division of the corps, was sent forward along the
slopes lying under the first ranges of the rebel
hills, while Smith with the other division was
ordered to retake the corn-fields and woods which
all day had been so hotly contested. It was done
in the handsomest style. Ilis Maine and Vermont
regiments and the rest went forward on the run,
and cheering as they went, swept like an ava
lanche through the corn-fields, fell upon the
woods, cleared them in ten minutes, and held
them. They were not again retaken.
The field and its ghastly harvest which the
Reaper had gathered in those fatal hours re
mained finally with us. Four times it had been
lost and won. The dead are strewn so thickly
that as you ride over it you cannot guide your
horse s steps too carefully. Pale and bloody
faces are every where upturned. They are sad
and terrible, but there is nothing which makes
one s heart beat so quickly as the imploring look
of sorely wounded men who beckon wearily for
help which you cannot stay to give.
Gen. Smith s attack, was so sudden that his
success was accomplished with no great loss. He
had gained a point, however, which compelled him
to expect every moment an attack, and to hold
which, if the enemy again brought up reserves,
would task his best energies and best troops.
But the long strife, the heavy losses, incessant
lighting over the same ground repeatedly lost and
won inch by inch, arid more than all, perhaps,
the fear of Burnside on the left and Porter in
front, held the enemy in check. For two or
three hours there was a lull even in the cannon
ade on the right, which hitherto had been inces
sant. McClellan had been over on the field after
Sumner s repulse, but had speedily returned to
his headquarters. Sumner again sent word that
he was able to hold his position, but could not
advance with his own corps.
, Meantime where was Burnside, and what was
he doing ? On the right where I had spent the
day until two o clock, little was known of the
general fortunes of the field. We had heard Por
ter s guns in the centre, but nothing from Burn-
side on the left. The distance was, perhaps, too
great to distinguish the sound of his artillery from
Porter s. There was no immediate prospect of
more fighting on the right, and I left the field
which all day long had seen the most obstinate
contest of the war, and rode over to McClcllan s
headquarters. The different battle-fields were
shut out from each other s view, but all partially
visible from the central hill which Gen. McClellan
had occupied during the day. But I was more
than ever impressed, on returning, with the com
pletely deceitful appearance of the ground the
rebels had chosen, when viewed from the front.
Hooker s and Sumner s struggle had been car
ried on over an uneven and wooded surface, their
own line of battle extending in a semi-circle not
less than a mile and a half. Perhaps a better
notion of their position can be got by considering
their right, centre, and left as forming three sides
of a square. So long, therefore, as either wing-
was driven back, the centre became exposed to a
very dangerous enfilading fire, and the further the
centre was advanced the worse off it was, unless
the lines on its side and rear were firmly held.
This formation resulted originally from the efforts
of the enemy to turn both flanks. Hooker at the
very outset threw his column so far into the heart
of the rebel lines that they were compelled to
threaten him on the flank to secure their own
Nothing of all this was perceptible from the
hills in front. Some directions of the rebel lines
had been disclosed by the smoke of their guns,
but the whole interior formation of the country
beyond the hills was completely concealed .
When McClellan arranged his order of battle, it
must have been upon information, or have been
left to his corps and division commanders to dis
cover for themselves.
Up to three o clock Burnside had made little
progress. His attack on the bridge had been
successful, but the delay had been so great that
to the observer it appeared as if McClellan s plans
must have been seriously disarranged. It is im
possible not to suppose that the attacks on right
and left were meant in a measure to correspond,
for otherwise the enemy had only to repel Hooker
on the one hand, then transfer his troops, and
push them against Burnside.
Here was the difference between Smith and
Burnside. The former did his work at once, and
lost all his men at once that is, all whom he lost
at all; Burnside seems to have attacked cau
tiously in order to save his men, and sending
successively insufficient forces against a position
of strength, distributed his loss over a greater
period of time, but yet lost none the less in the
Finally, at four o clock, McClellan sent simul
taneous orders to Burnside and Franklin to the
former to advance and carry the batteries in his
front at all hazards and at any cost ; to the latter
to carry the woods next in front of him to the left,
which the rebels still held. The order to Frank
lin, however, was practically countermanded, in
consequence of a message from Gen. Sumnerthat
if Franklin went on and was repulsed, his own
corps was not yet sufficiently reorganized to be
depended on as a reserve. Franklin, thereupon,
was directed to run no risk of losing his present
position, and instead of sending his infantry into
the woods, contented himself with advancing his
batteries over the breadth of the fields in front,
supporting them with heavy columns of infantry,
and attacking with energy the rebel batteries im
mediately opposed to him. His movement was a
success, so far as it went, the batteries maintain
ing their new ground, and sensibly affecting the
steadiness of the rebel fire. That being once ac
complished, and all hazard of the right being
again forced back having been dispelled, the
movement of Burnside became at once the turn
ing-point of success, and the fate of the day de
pended on him.
How extraordinary the situation was may be
judged from a moment s consideration of the
facts. It is understood that from the outset
Burnside s attack was expected to be decisive, as
it certainly must have been if things went well
elsewhere, and if he succeeded in establishing
himself on the Sharpsburgh road in the rebel rear.
Yet Hooker and Sumner and Franklin and Mans
field were all sent to the right three miles away,
while Porter seems to have done double duty with
his single corps in front, both supporting the bat
teries and holding himself in reserve. With all
this immense force on the right, but sixteen thou
sand men were given to Burnside for the decisive
movement of the day.
Still more unfortunate in its results was the
total failure of these separate attacks on the right
and left to sustain, or in any manner cooperate
with each other. Burnside hesitated for hours
in front of the bridge which should have been
carried at once by a coup de main. Meantime
Hooker had been" fighting for four hours with
various fortune, but final success. Sumner had
come up too late to join in the decisive attack
which his earlier arrival would probably have
converted into a complete success ; and Franklin
reached the scene only when Sumner had been
repulsed. Probably before his arrival the rebels
had transferred a considerable number of troops
to their right to meet the attack of Burnside, the
direction of which was then suspected or devel
Attacking first with one regiment, then with
two, and delaying both for artillery, Burnside
was not over the bridge before two o clock per
haps not till three. He advanced slowly up the
ilopes in his front, his batteries in rear covering,
to some extent, the movements of the infantry.
A desperate fight was going on in a deep ravine
on his right ; the rebel batteries were in full play
and 1 apparently very annoying and destructive,
while heavy columns of rebel troops were plainly
visible, advancing, as if careless of concealment,
along the road and over the hills in the direction
of Burnsidas forces. It was at this point of time
that McClellan sent him the order above given.
_ Burnside obeyed it most gallantly. Getting
his troops well in hand, and sending a portion
of his artillery to the front, he advanced with
rapidity and the most determined vigor straight
up the hill in front, on top of which the rebels
had maintained their most dangerous battery.
The movement was in plain view of McClellan s
position, and as Franklin on the other side sent
his batteries into the field about the same time,
the battle seemed to open in all directions with
greater activity than ever.
The fight in the ravine was in full progress,
the batteries in the centre were firing with new
vigor, Franklin was blazing away on the right,
and every hill-top, ridge and woods along the
whole line .was crested and veiled with white
clouds of smoke.* All day had been clear and
bright since the early cloudy morning, and now
this whole magnificent, unequalled scene shone
with the splendor of an afternoon September sun.
Four miles of battle, its glory all visible, its hor
rors all hidden, the fate of the Republic hanging
on the hour could any one be insensible of its
There are two hills on the left of the road, the
farthest the lowest. The rebels have batteries
on both. Burnside is ordered to carry the near
est to him, which is the farthest from the road.
His guns opening first from this new position in
front, soon entirely controlled and silenced the
enemy s artillery. The infantry came on at once,
advancing rapidly and steadily ; their long, dark
lines and broad masses plainly visible without a
glass as they moved over the green hill-side.
The next moment the road in which the rebel
battery was planted was canopied with clouds of
dust swiftly descending into the valley. Under
neath was a tumult of wagons, guns, horses, and
men, fl} r ing at speed down the road. Blue flashes
of smoke burst now and then among them, a
horse or a man or half a dozen went down, and
then the whirlwind swept on.
The hill was carried, but could it be held?
The rebel columns, before seen moving to the
left, increase their pace. The guns on the hill
above send an angry tempest of shell down among
Burnside s guns and men. He has formed his
columns apparently in the near angles of two
fields bordering the road high ground about
them every where except in rear.
In another moment a rebel battle-line appears
on the brow of the ridge above them, moves swift
ly down in the most perfect order, and though met
by incessant discharges of musketry, of which
we plainly see the flashes, docs not tire a gun.
White spaces show where men are falling, but
they close up instantly, and still the line advance*
REBELLION RECORD, 1862.
The brigades of Bufnside are in heavy column ;
they will not give way before a bayonet-charge
in line, and the rebels think twice before they
dash into those hostile masses.
There is a halt, the rebel left gives way and
scatters over the field, the rest stand fast and fire.
More infantry comes up ; Burnside is outnum
bered, flanked, compelled to yield the hill .he took
so bravely. His position is no longer one of at
tack ; he defends himself with unfaltering firm
ness, but he sends to McClellan for help.
McClellan s glass for the last half -hour has
seldom been turned away from the left. He
sees clearly enough that Burnside is pressed
needs no messenger to tell him that. His face
grows darker with anxious thought. Looking
down into the valley where fifteen thousand
troops are lying, he turns a half-questioning look
on Fitz-John Porter, who stands by his side,
gravely scanning the field. They are Porter s
troops below, are fresh and only impatient to
share in this fight. But Porter slowly shakes
his head, and one may believe that the same
thought is passing through the minds of both
generals. "They are the only reserves of the
army ; they cannot be spared."
McClellan remounts his hofse, and with Porter
and a dozen officers of his staff rides away to the
left in Burnside s direction. Sykes meets them
on the road a good soldier, whose opinion is
worth taking. The three Generals talk briefly
together. It is easy to see that the moment has
come when every thing may turn on one order
given or withheld, when the history of the battle
is only to be written in thoughts and purposes
and words of the General.
Burnside s messenger rides up. His message
is: "I want troops and guns. If you do not
send them, I cannot hold my position half an
hour." McClellan s only answer for the moment
is a glance at the western sky. Then he turns
and speaks very slowly: "Tell Gen. Burnside
this is the battle of the war. He must hold his
ground till dark at any cost. I will send him
Miller s battery. I can do nothing more. I have
no infantry." Then as the messenger was riding
away he called him back. "Tell him if he can
not hold his ground, then the bridge, to the last
man ! always the bridge ! If the bridge is lost,
all is lost."
The sun is already down ; not half an hour of
daylight is left. Till Burnside s message came it
had seemed plain to every one that the battle
could not be finished to-day. None suspected
how near was the peril of defeat, of sudden attack
on exhausted forces how vital to the safety of
the army and the nation were those fifteen thou
sand waiting troops of Fitz-John Porter in the
hollow. But the rebels halted instead of push
ing on ; their vindictive cannonade died away as
the light faded. Before it was quite dark the
buttle was over. Only a solitary gun of Burn-
side s thundered against the enemy, and present
ly this also ceased, and the field was still.
The peril came very near, but it has passed,
and in spite of the peril, at the close the day was
partly a success ; not a victory, but an advantage
had been gained. Hooker, Sumner, and Frank
lin held all the ground they had gained, and
Burnside still held the bridge and his position
beyond. Every thing was favorable for a renew
al of the fight in the morning. If the plan of thcs
battle is sound, there is every reason why McClel
lan should win it.
He may choose to postpone the battle to await
his reinforcements. The rebels may choose to
retire while it is possible. Fatigue on both sides
may delay the deciding battle, yet if the enemy
means to fight at all, he cannot afford to delay.
His reinforcements may be coming, but where are
his supplies ? His losses are enormous. His
troops have been massed in woods and hollows,
where artillery has had its most terrific effect.
Ours have been deployed and scattered. From
infantry fire there is less difference.
It is hard to estimate losses on a field of such
extent, but I think ours cannot be less than six
thousand killed and wounded it may be much
greater. Prisoners have been taken from the
enemy ; I hear of a regiment captured entire, but
I doubt it. All the prisoners whom I saw agreo
in saying that the whole army is there.
REBEL REPORTS AND NARRATIVES.
CHARLESTON "COURIER" ACCOUNT.
September IT, 1S02.
With the first break of daylight the heavy
pounding of the enemy s guns on their right an
nounced the battle begun, and for an hour the
sullen booming was uninterrupted by aught save
their own echoes. McClellan had initiated the at
tack. Jackson and Lawton, (commanding Ewell s
division,) always in time, had come rapidly for
ward during the night, and were in position on
our extreme left. What a strange strength and
confidence we all felt in the presence of the man,
"Stonewall" Jackson. Between six and seven
o clock the Federals advanced a large body of
skirmishers, and shortly after the main body of
the enemy was hurled against the division of
Gen. Lawton. The lire now became fearful and
incessant. What were at first distinct notes,
clear and consecutive, merged into a tumultuous
chorus that made the earth tremble. The dis
charge of musketry sounded upon the ear like
the rolling of a thousand distant drums, and
ever and anon the peculiar 3*ells of our bo} r s told
us of some advantage gained. We who were
upon the centre could see little or nothing of this
portion of the battle, but from the dense pall of
smoke that hung above the scene, we knew too
well that bloody work was going on.
The Federals outnumbered us three to one.
Their best troops were concentrated upon this
single effort to turn our left, and for two hours
and a half the tide of battle ebbed and flowed
alternately for and against us. Still our boys
fought desperately, perhaps as they never fought
before. Whole brigades were swept away before
the iron storm ; the ground was covered with the
wounded and dead. Ewell s old division, over-
powered by superior numbers, gave back. Hood
with his Tcxans, the Eighteenth Georgia, and the