Higgins is not out of the woods. Behind G.T. Anderson isMcLaws division who arrives at a run. Its four brigades are deployed in two lines: Christopher Sanders on the right, William Barksdale on the left, Joseph Kershaw and Paul Semmes, respectively, behind them. This time, McLaws enlists Hood's help in guiding him to the desired position. Despite this, the progression is not without a hitch. As the division marches towards the church, then oblique to the left to strike Sedgwick's flank, Sanders does not hear the corresponding order from McLaws and continues on its way with part of his brigade, which will thus join the DH division. Hill. The Semmes brigade, for its part, was almost immediately taken and sent to the far left in support of Stuart's batteries, facing Gorman.
A routed division
The maneuver is judicious, for Grigsby's men are breaking down - Leroy Stafford picking up a foot injury in the process - and Gorman's brigade is advancing through the A. Poffenberger farm. The two brigades march towards each other and engage each other, but the outcome of the fight will be decided elsewhere. The 34th New York, the 125th Pennsylvania and their supporters, the only Northern forces covering Sedgwick's left, are overwhelmed by Barksdale's arrival and are quick to flee. The Confederates launched in pursuitthen burst on the rear of the federal division, where their fire cuts down their enemies en masse and sows disorder. Napoleon Dana was shot in the left leg, and John Sedgwick received no less than three bullets to the wrist, leg and shoulder, but neither were immediately evacuated - they both survived . Dana tries to organize the defense of her left flank as best she can, but the Northern brigades are too close to each other and are in the way of maneuvering.
Gorman tries to remedy this on his own by shifting his brigade to the right, but in the uproar, only one of his regiments is ordered. Sumner, who gallops around to encourage his flanked soldiers, orally orders Oliver Howard to deal with the enemy attack by reorienting his brigade to the left. But then again, the clash of gunfire limits comprehension: the noise is so loud that Howard understood the gestures more than the spoken word. Misinterpreting Sumner's intentions, he leads his brigade to the right with his back to the Confederates, despite the opinion of Colonel Joshua Owen of 69th Pennsylvania, who suggests he face off the other way. In his report, Howard will tone down the scope of this movement by reducing it to a "position change "... Worsened by this false maneuver, the situation of the Northernersturns to debacle. Without Howard to cover his rear, Dana too has to retreat, under infernal fire from the Southerners. The Gorman brigade retreats immediately afterwards.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 9:30 am - 9:45 am.
1. McLaws' division finally arrives in the combat zone.
2. As the division turns left to strike Sedgwick's flank, Sanders mistakenly leads part of his brigade to the right.
3. At the same time, the Semmes brigade is sent to cover Stuart's artillery.
4. Attacked by Gorman, Grigsby retreats.
5. Semmes and Gorman meet and clash at the A. Poffenberger farm.
6. Overwhelmed, the meager forces covering Sedgwick's left crackle and flee.
7. Led by Barksdale, McLaws' division descends on Sedgwick's flank and rear.
8. Gorman attempts to shift to the right to allow the rest of Sedgwick's division to deploy to face the attacker, but only one of his regiments carries out his order.
9. Due to misunderstanding, Howard sends his brigade to the right, not the left, as Sumner ordered.
10. Unable to face McLaws, Sedgwick's division collapsed and fled to North Wood.
Despite the losses, the discipline of the soldiers remains impeccable, as Lieutenant-Colonel John Kimball of the 15th Massachusetts: "The order forbidding the transport of the wounded to the rear was followed scrupulously to the letter. While the regiments located furthest to the left flow back in disorder towards the north, those furthest to the right retain their cohesion andtry to cope. After having correctly replaced his 19th Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Edward Hinks ordered him to resist on the spot. 1er Minnesota, commanded by Alfred Sully, managed to hang on to his right. In their tracks, Early’s men suffered heavy losses while attacking the two Northern regiments head-on, and Early’s second, William Smith, received three wounds. The Confederates, however, received reinforcements - the Armistead Brigade, detached from R.H. Anderson's Division - and were quick to renew their pressure. Hinks is injured. Sully takes command of the two federal units, then withdraws them to the line held by Patrick's brigade, north of the West Wood, where they are joined by another regiment from Gorman, the 82th New York.
Those of the Goodrich brigade - the 60th and 78th New York - were swept away by the rout of Sedgwick's division, so the situation remains worrying for Sumner. The fierceness of the southern attack leads the latter to greatly overestimate the enemy, and he fears that the entire northern right is overwhelmed. In turn, he semaphore calls for reinforcements from McClellan, to which the commander of the Army of the Potomac responds by sending the last division of the II through the Antietam.th Body, as well as the available elements of VIth Body. At the same time, Sumner ordered the XIIth Corps to charge the enemy, to slow their progress and cover Sedgwick's retreat. The Williams division runs through the Miller cornfield, butthings go wrong. Already reduced by several detachments, Crawford's brigade was quickly trained by the routed Sedgwick soldiers, and Crawford himself was wounded in the right thigh while trying to rally it.
George H. Gordon, for his part, manages to preserve the cohesion of his forces, however themselves already reduced by two regiments too tested and left in support of batteries. However, regrouping the other three takes time and when his brigade reaches the western part of the cornfield, there is nothing more to support: Sedgwick's division has taken refuge in the North Wood and beyond, where its officers attempt to regroup their men with the help of what remains of the Ier Body. His attack nevertheless has the merit of relieving the pressure on the forces which, around Patrick's Brigade and Sully's men, still hold the approaches to Miller Farm. Forced to face, Barksdale leaves two of his regiments to his left and leads the other two to meet G.H. Gordon. With the help of G.T. Anderson, he eventually pushed him away andchases him through the cornfield, until threatening the northern advanced batteries. Gordon having taken the lead after Crawford's injury, he is replaced by Thomas Ruger, who himself was injured in the action.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 9.45 a.m. - 10 a.m., around the Miller cornfield.
1. The 19th Massachusetts and 1er Minnesota manage to form a line of defense in the West Woods and stop the Early Brigade.
2. Attacked again by the Armistead brigade, the two regiments fall back.
3. They reform on the line held by the Patrick brigade.
4. Williams' division is sent to support the retreating Sedgwick division, but Crawford's brigade is quickly routed.
5. To face Williams' division, Barksdale leads part of his brigade and that of G.T. Anderson to the right.
6. The Southerners confront G.H. Gordon in the cornfield and force him to back off.
7. An impromptu order brings G.T. Anderson back, forcing Barksdale to retreat from the cornfield.
8. Patrick and the three surviving regiments of Sedgwick's division repel two Confederate assaults.
9. They are finally flanked by two southern batteries (not shown on the map) and by the Semmes brigade.
10. The Federals fall back on the North Wood, held by the remains of the Doubleday division.
11. The Semmes brigade occupies the Miller farm, from which it will withdraw around 10:45 am.
The extreme violence of the fighting and their fluctuating character has been described, with a lyricism unusual for an administrative report, by G.H. Gordon himself: "From dawn to dusk the waves of battle surged and ebbed. The men clashed in lines of regiments, brigades and divisions, as these regiments, brigades and divisions melted under terrible fire, leaving long lines of the dead to mark the spot where the living had stood. Corn fields were trampled, forests cut down, huge branches were thrown to the ground, shot down by shells or cannonballs. The grapeshot mingled its whistling cries with this infernal carnival […]. The Confederate advance, however, eventually froze. Brigade G.T. Anderson is inexplicably withdrawn from combat and sent back to the other side of the battlefield, on the basis of misinformation, by an unidentified officer. Abruptly deprived of support on his right, uncertain of the outcome of the fighting around Miller Farm, and confronted by Northerner artillery in front of him, Barksdale is stopped and cautiously decides not to attempt anything further.
Meanwhile, Patrick and Sully continue to hang on to the wall that borders the Miller Barn and its haystacks, in the middle of rocks that constitute so many natural entrenchments. The Northerners repelled a first attack against their left, then a second against their right. The Confederate losses were severe, and Lewis Armistead was wounded at the head of his brigade. In the end, it was the Semmes Brigade that managed to turn the northern right, with the support of two batteries that Stuart daringly advanced to Nicodemus Hill. Taken in a row, the northern line is untenable, and the blue tunics must be folded up to the North wood. The Confederatestake over the Miller farm and take a few dozen prisoners there. It is approximately 10 o'clock. Sedgwick's division was driven out of West Wood entirely and knocked out, with casualties and a crash, in barely half an hour. She left half of her staff there. Southerners will not push further. They, too, curved, will stay in their position for about three-quarters of an hour, but it is too exposed to the Northern artillery, and Lee will have them retreat into the West Wood for shelter.
Fight for a church
This movement leaves the cornfield in the hands of the Federals, the plot thus changing ownership for the ninth - and last - time. Nearby, the Confederates were not as successful as at Miller Farm. When McLaws' division smashed through the meager forces guarding Sedgwick's left flank, it itself faced the threat of Greene's division on its right flank. So McLaws turned the Kershaw Brigade in that direction, as well as the portion of Sanders' Brigade which remained in contact with the main force. Concurrently, Greene carries out Sumner's order to attack to relieve Sedgwick. He had only advanced a few yards when Kershaw's reinforced brigade emerged from the West Woods on either side of Dunker Church. After a brief shootout, the Northerner general decides to lure his opponent into a trap. He retreats his forces away from the terrain and is content to shell the Southerners with the artillery at his disposal,letting them come to him.
The maneuver is wise, as Kershaw is being reinforced by J.G. Walker's small division, with Robert Ransom's brigades on the left and Van Manning on the right. As reports from these units of the battle are sketchy, the precise course of the attack remains uncertain. It seems Manning deployed to Kershaw's right and Ransom remained in reserve behind him. The Southerners charged with impetuosity the battery that caps the height behind which shelters Greene's division. The Northerner guns gave them one, then two charges of grape, but they continued their momentum and approached about thirty yards, beginning to shoot down the artillerymen. The latter must take shelter. Greene then givesthe signal to retaliate : his two brigades - Tyndale on the right, Stainrook on the left - rise, advance a few meters, and discharge a deadly salvo at point blank range.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 9.45 a.m. - 10 a.m., around Dunker Church.
1. Greene attacks on Sumner's orders but immediately changes his mind to let the Confederates come.
2. J.G. Walker Division arrives in support of Kershaw.
3. The Confederates assault the height held by Greene, but are driven back by heavy fire at close range.
4. The Manning brigade breaks up: the 46th North Carolina joins forces with Kershaw ...
5. ... while Colonel Cooke rallies the 27th North Carolina and the 3th Arkansas...
6. and that the rest of the brigade flee.
The Northerner fire is all the more intense as in the meantime Greene's men have been able to be supplied with ammunition. Almost empty, the cartridges - which can carry 40 rounds - were refilled, as well as the pockets, in which the soldiers stuffed a surplus of twenty cartridges. The Confederates are slaughtered en masse: "So terrifying was our fire that the enemy fell like grass under the scythe »Wrote Major Orrin Crane of the 9th Ohio Regiment. In the Kershaw Brigade, the 7th South Carolina is wiped out, the flag handlers are all shot down, and the flag itself is lost because its shaft was shattered by bullets. The brigade is retreating. Manning's has afate even less enviable: the Northerners take it to task while it is crossing a barrier.It immediately falls apart under the density of enemy fire. Two of his regiments confuse and will not be rallied. Manning is wounded and passes command to Col. Edward Hall, of 46th North Carolina, who finds himself alone with his regiment and withdraws with Kershaw. The last two regiments - the 3th Arkansas and the 27th North Carolina - retreat in good order under the leadership of the latter's colonel, John R. Cooke, southwest. They take shelter there behind the fence of a large cornfield south of Dunker Church.
Greene does not pursue them in that direction. As soon as the enemy broke down, his division fired bayonets and started advancing west, towards the church. She soon attacks the edge of the West Wood, where Kershaw tries to rally his men.His resistance will be brief, as he finds no support there to come to his aid: it seems that by this time the Ransom Brigade has already been withdrawn for some unspecified reason - perhaps sent to the left to come to the aid. to units engaged around Miller Farm. Greenethus seizes all the eastern part of the western wood, then came to a halt, as its advance had left it excessively far ahead of the rest of the Southern positions. What is more, he had to leave part of his forces in support of the guns still lining his previous position, and Sumner, still concerned about the overall situation of the northern right wing, did not allow GH Gordon to send reinforcements to him. drop by drop: the 13thth New Jersey, 27th Indiana, and finally the Purnell Legion.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
1. Greene's division attacks and seizes the area around Dunker Church.
2. Sumner sends him three regiments as reinforcements.
3. Kershaw and the regiments which joined him fall back to the west of the wood.
4. The two brigades of Hood's division deploy in such a way as to gather as many fugitives as possible on the southern rear.
5. The rest of the Southern forces engaged against Sedgwick retreat to put themselves on the defensive.
On the southern side, there are hardly any reserves to throw forward in the hope of regaining lost ground. The brigades that fought in the West Woods and around Miller Farm were severely strained and their numbers shrank. Some are so thin that they can't even hold a continuous front. Only Ransom’s, it seems, has not been too hard engaged, but it alone is insufficient to mount a counterattack. The Confederates are therefore content to maintain a broken line, oriented generally towards the east, while awaiting hypothetical reinforcements that the future arrival of A.P. Hill, or developments in other parts of the battlefield, would allow the North Virginia Army to be sent to the left wing. In summary, neither side feels able to continue their attacks, so from 10:30 a.m.the situation in this sector is becoming stable for the first time in five hours of time.
This lull was to last almost two hours. While McClellan rushes in his reserves to bolster a right wing he believes, like Sumner, threatened by a massive and imminent attack from the enemy, Lee, who has no such option, has to resort to various expedients. The southern generaltries to regroup the isolated soldiers who, dispersed by the violence of the fighting, roam the rear of the battlefield. He is forced to ride with an aide-de-camp who holds the reins for him: three weeks earlier, he severely injured both hands in a fall caused by his favorite mount, an unpredictable gray horse namedTraveler. Lee orders Hood's division, left behind to reform, to deploy into a large rafter intended to "pick up" as many isolated as possible. By the afternoon, it will gather several thousand men who will be organized into a brigadead hoc.
Lee even had them come up in line at around 4 p.m., accompanying his order with encouragement reported by J.S. Johnston, a soldier in Law Brigade: "Gentlemen, I want you to come back in line and show that the stragglers of the Army of North Virginia are better than the best troops of the enemy!However, this "brigade of stragglers" will ultimately not be engaged because the epicenter of the fighting is now elsewhere and has been for several hours. Indeed, by the time Greene takes control of Dunker Church, the focal point of the Battle of Antietam is already moving several hundred meters to the southeast. The clash then entersits second major phase.
While Sedgwick's division was being flanked in West Wood, the Second Division of the IIth Corps, commanded by William French, arrived behind her. Made up of three brigades under the respective command of Max Weber, Dwight Morris and Nathan Kimball, its mission was to support the attack on Sedgwick and, if necessary, to exploit the breakthrough that would result. But when French arrives nearby, Sedgwick is already in disarray, and Sumner is too far ahead to pass French further instructions. The latter must therefore guide himself according to the information he has and what he sees. In this case, he has in front of him the Greene's division, then engaged in front of the Dunker Church, and believes these to be the troops he is tasked with supporting. He then oblique his division so as to place it on the left of Greene, thus inaugurating the fighting author of the second high place of the battle of Antietam, the "bloody road" orBloody lane.
Such a quiet path
Earlier, as Colquitt, Ripley and McRae's brigades confront the XIIth Corps in the Cornfield and East Woods, D.H. Hill sent Robert Rodes’s brigade of five Alabama regiments to their support. However, by the time Rodes begins his march towards the East Wood, the three aforementioned brigades are already in full retreat, and there is nothing he can do to rescue them except set upa good defensive position on which routed units can reform. However, Rodes has just such a position in front of him: it is a modest local road, bordered by fences, which runs from west to east - and therefore faces north - before bending slightly towards the south. east-south-east, then south - while marking several zigzags. This path connects the Hagerstown toll road, which it leaves south of Dunker Church, to Boonsboro, which it joins a short distance east of Sharpsburg, opposite the middle bridge.
A priori, the ground which extends in front of this path does not seem conducive to its defense, as it dominates it practically along its entire length. Approximately parallel to the path runs a roughly perpendicular valley over the Antietam, which climbs up a ridge through the cultivated land around the Roulette and Clipp farms. The summit, on the other hand, is formed by meadows which offer little cover. The position occupied by Rodes is located a few tens of meters after the ridge line, which narrows the range of the defenders and places them lower than the attackers. This disadvantage is however largely compensated by a peculiarity specific to this path. Used for decades, this simple dirt track has never been the subject of any real maintenance, and over time, the trolleys that have passed through it havedug. In 1862, this sunken road was on average more than a foot - thirty centimeters - below the level of the surrounding ground. It is even more so today, having continued to serve as a thoroughfare for nearly a century after the battle.
This configuration, combined with the barriers that flank it, make the sunken path a sort ofnatural trench, in front of which the attackers who emerge on the ridge line find themselves, in the open, dangerously close to their enemies. In addition, the embankment behind the path allows a second line of troops to be deployed, thus doubling the firepower of the defenders. Beyond, the land descends to form another valley. Behind the sunken lane extends a very long cornfield, flanked by an eminence at each of its two ends, then an orchard and a plowed field. It all depends on the farm of a certain Piper, whose buildings are about 400 meters south of the sunken lane. The battles that are about to be fought for possession of the latter will have nothing to envy that of the Miller cornfield. This intensity will earn him the nicknameBloody lane, the bloody path.
Rodes presumably moved there around 9 a.m., sending his skirmishers forward to the Roulette farm. His men immediately begin to dismantle the barriers that line the path to make an improvised embankment. Alfred Colquitt manages to rally the remains of his brigade on his left, leaning onBloody lane. With the arrival of R.H. Anderson's division underway, D.H. Hill may even consider forming a continuous line of defense there. He therefore posted his last brigade, commanded by George Burgwyn Anderson and which included four regiments from North Carolina, to the right of that of Rodes. At the same time, elements of Sanders 'Brigade which followed their leader and found themselves separated from the rest of McLaws' division placed themselves on the left of Colquitt, extending the southern battle line to the Hagerstown road, beyond which regroup the remains of Ripley's brigade. Just a few minutes later,the fights forBloody lane begin. They will last nearly four hours.
French stumbles onBloody lane
At around 9:30 a.m., the French division, like Sedgwick's, deployed in three successive battle lines, and began to climb the slope leading to the sunken lane. In the lead, Weber's brigade first drives out the southern pickets from the Roulette farm, then marches on a battery that the Confederates have deployed in front of the Rodes brigade and forces it to withdraw. Describing the battles that took place afterwards still remains today.a difficult exercise for the historian, because we are faced with a lack of sources. The high number of senior officers killed or injured significantly disrupted the chain of command, and many of them did not write a report after the battle. As a result, only one such document is available for Weber's Brigade, and in the opposing camp, only one report has remained for the entire R.H. Anderson Division. Specifying the action of these units during combat is therefore only possible in an uncertain manner, relying on the references made to them in other units, and these indirect sources are sometimes contradictory.
It is thus very difficult to determine when the RH Anderson division arrived in support of the men of DH.The fact that it was immediately following that of McLaws, engaged shortly after 9:30 am in the West Wood, suggests that it was reached the height ofBloody lane soon after, as French’s attack began, or within minutes. Some Confederate accounts, however, suggest a much later entry into action ... but this would not explain why the officers of the French division did indeed describe two southern infantry lines alongBloody lane. The only brigades of Rodes and GB Anderson probably did not have enough soldiers to double their line over a length of more than 500 meters, knowing that it takes four men per meter to form a battle line - and therefore eight if we double it. It is therefore reasonable to think that at the timeWeber launches his attack, a first brigade - undoubtedly that of Roger Pryor - has just arrived to place itself behind Rodes. Then Carnot Posey will come to do the same with G.B. Anderson, and Ambrose Wright will extend the southern line to the right. R.H. Anderson's other two brigades, commanded by William Parham and Alfred Cumming, will likely place themselves in reserve.
The uncertainty is also heightened by the large disparities in the times given - when they are. Once engaged in combat, a unit commander usually has better things to do than look at his watch,a fortiori to note the time. The latter is therefore most often estimated, with a fairly large margin of error. Especially since recent advances in cognitive psychology in general, and combat psychology in particular, tend to show that a person, caught or even actively engaged in a shootout - a stressful situation if there is one - sees himself affected by numerous perceptual and memory dysfunctions. These effects include in particularaltered perception of time, mainly in the sense of an overestimation of the elapsed times. Confusions, omissions and memory lapses can occur, and in some cases even false memories. We therefore understand all the better the divergences that may appear from one source to another, and the difficulty that there may be in attempting to draw from these accounts a clear course of events, a century and a half after the fact. . The following discussion cannot therefore claim to be exact, especially not down to the minute.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., facingBloody Lane.
1. The French division comes to stand to the left of the Greene division (not shown on the map, but engaged in the western wood around the Dunker church), and pushes back the southern skirmishers who hold the Roulette farm.
2. R.H. Anderson's division arrives and deploys behind D.H. Hill's forces holding the sunken lane.
3. Weber attacks Rodes but on the 5thth Maryland flees.
4. The 14th Connecticut rises in line to plug the breach and renew the attack.
5. Morris's brigade advances but shoots Weber's men behind them.
6. The Weber Brigade launches at least two unsuccessful assaults.
The Weber Brigade was greeted by concentrated fire from Rodes and his supporters as soon as they crossed the ridge line, but they continued to advance within twenty yards of the enemy before opening fire. It charges immediately, but the intensity of the southern firesows confusion in its ranks. In its center, the 5th Maryland Regiment panics andflees, taking with him part of the 14th Connecticut, of the Morris Brigade, arriving behind him. Weber is seriously injured in the right arm while trying to rally his men. If he will not be amputated, he will have sufficient sequelae to be unable to exercise command in the field thereafter. Colonel John Andrews of 1er Delaware, then takes command of his brigade and manages to restore some semblance of order. At the same time, French decided to alter the organization of his forces: having little confidence in the Morris brigade, made up of three inexperienced regiments, he decided to leave it in reserve. The Kimball brigade, meanwhile, will overtake it to place itself in immediate support of Weber's.
This plan obviously did not work out as planned. Confronted with the breach opened in his line by the flight of the 5th Maryland, Andrews on his own initiative calls Morris for help. The latter sends him the 14th Connecticut, which his officers managed to rally. The rest of Morris's Brigade also advance, but the two remaining regiments stop just behind the ridge line and begin firing at Confederate positions from afar, firing behind Weber's men in the process. These, after a first moment of hesitation, begin to advance again, without however managing to eject the Confederates from their position. Accounts from both sides seem to agree that Andrews' forces - on the 14thth Connecticut and the two remaining regiments of the Weber Brigade, the 1er Delaware and 4th New York - thus launchedtwo assaults, maybe three. They suffer terribly from the shooting, Lt. Col. Sanford Perkins, of the 14th Connecticut, reporting that "Our flag is riddled with bullets and shells, and its shaft is broken. However, despite a few temporary sagging, the Northerners managed to pull themselves together each time, keeping the pressure on their opponents.
Faced with the relentlessness of Andrews and his soldiers, the Southerners are not standing still. Rodes, in the first place, tries first to take advantage of the confusion that the withdrawal of the 5th Maryland and Weber's injury caused in the federal ranks. He tries to organizea counterattack to overrun the right of the Northern Lines, which do not extend to the Hagerstown Toll Road. Rodes, however, struggles to gain support. To his left, Colquitt does not advance far enough, apparently content to cover the flank of the Rodes Brigade with a line of skirmishers. On his right, the 6th Alabama Regiment, commanded by John Brown Gordon - whom D.H. Hill calls "the army knight Bayard "Due to his propensity to display his bravery under enemy fire - was not ordered to attack. Finally, the Pryor Brigade behind him did not follow him.
There is a good reason for this. Minutes after notifying D.H. Hill that he was making his division available to him, R.H. Anderson was hit in the thigh by a shrapnel and had to be evacuated. With the next officer in the chain of command being Pryor, it seems likely that the latter was not with his brigade at the time of the attack on Rodes, having gone to take command of the division. Colonel John Hately, who succeeded him as head of the brigade, probably received no instructions other than to support the defenders ofBloody lane. Lack of support, therefore, and faced with the advance of the 14th Connecticut, Rodes is due sooninterrupt his maneuver and return to his starting position, closely followed by Andrews. It is even the Alabamians who find themselves in temporary difficulty, as their leader has difficulty keeping them in the sunken lane and must do his utmost to prevent them from retreating further. He will succeed.
To his right, G.B. Anderson will also try to flank the French division, this time from the left. But this attempt is not coordinated with that of Rodes, as if G.B. Anderson was fighting one battle, and Rodes another. So far, the North Carolina Brigade has been little engaged, except at a distance from Weber's left and, behind him, Morris's Brigade. Her leader throws her forward when, in all likelihood, Rodes has already been thrown back to his original position. French immediately countered it by sending the Kimball brigade to meet it. The two units confront each other on either side of a small ravine, almost perpendicular toBloody lane, in which runs the path that leads to the Roulette farm. Kimball cuts short in an attempt to outflank his left by extending his lines in that direction. There too,a merciless shooting sometimes takes place only a few meters away. After the battle, examining their flag, the men of 8th Ohio, one of Kimball's regiments, will find no less than seventeen bullet holes there. The 132th Pennsylvania, for its part, loses its colonel after a few minutes, and will leave half its men in the clash. Sumner would later compare the strength of the Kimball Brigade to the Rock of Gibraltar, earning it the nickname ofGibraltar Brigade.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
1. Rodes launches a counterattack against Weber.
2. Colquitt supports him weakly by deploying skirmishers on his left.
3. The 6th Alabama is not attacking and Pryor is not supporting Rodes.
4. Weber's brigade shifts to the right to face the Rodes attack.
5. Without support, Rodes must fall back.
6. Meanwhile, the rest of Morris's Brigade was pulled back.
7. G.B. Anderson in turn launched an attack, this time against French's left.
8. French countered this by enlisting the Kimball Brigade.
9. Anderson is injured and his brigade retreats.
10. Kimball chases the Southerners and attacks Bloody lanein turn.
11. Brigade G.B. Anderson launches a new counter-attack but it comes to nothing as reinforcements from the North approach.
Despite the losses, the Northerners have the upper hand as G.B. Anderson has no support from Wright on his right or Posey behind him. Eventually he pulls his brigade back into the sunken lane, where they can continue to fire on the Federals in the open. Although some sources suggest an hour later, it is arguably around this time thatG.B. Anderson has his ankle smashed by a bullet. Colonel Charles Tew, of the 2th North Carolina, succeeds him. The injury is not inherently fatal, but it will become infected during recovery. To avoid gangrene, G.B. Anderson will have to have his foot amputated. The cure turned out to be worse than the ailment, and he died on October 16 at his home in North Carolina from postoperative complications. As G.B. Anderson is evacuated, Kimball's men begin to falter. French orders them to hold out at all costs the elevated terrain that dominatesBloody lane in this location. Tew had his bayonet set in anticipation of a charge, and another southerner attack began.
On this occasion, the commanders of the two regiments furthest to the left of Kimball will reporta curious incident : Just before attacking, the Confederates waved a white flag, prompting the Northerners to suspend their fire for a few minutes. For Colonel Joseph Snider, from 7th West Virginia, this is a deliberate ruse; Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Wilcox, of 132th Pennsylvania, is not so sure. As the Confederate archives are completely silent on the event, it is not known whether this was a plan to take the Federals by surprise, an isolated unpremeditated incident, or a simple visual mistake on a field. battlefield drowned in smoke from hundreds of guns in action. Still, the attack did not succeed: the two northern regiments maneuvered to face it, thus avoiding being flanked. In addition, the Yankees are receiving support: new troops are advancing to their left. Tew immediately called off the attack and returned to defensive posture.
Between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., two additional long lines of northern infantry advance towardsBloody lane. The precision of their maneuvers and the impeccable order in which they progress, as with the French division a little earlier, will make a lasting impression on the Confederate officers who observe them - at least, those who live long enough to report it afterwards. Last component of IIth Body,the division of Israel Richardson crossed the Antietam on the upper deck and marched at the sound of the cannon, moving to French's left. The already famousIrish Brigade of Thomas Meagher on the right, with John C. Caldwell's brigade on the left. That of John R. Brooke, in the second line, forms a reserve. Interrupting Tew's maneuver against the Kimball Brigade with his arrival, Richardson promptly orders Meagher to relieve them and attack the enemy.
The charge of the Irish
The Meagher Brigade consists of four regiments, including three from New York State - 63th, 69th and 88th - are effectively constitutedIrish immigrants, unlike the fourth, temporarily attached to the brigade, on 29th Massachusetts. The northerners soldiers are hampered in their progress by a barrier, 300 meters in front ofBloody lane, where isolated southern snipers cause them losses. Once past the obstacle, the Federals advance up to fifty meters from the Confederate lines. Despite the ordeal that awaits them, their morale remains high. Meagher: "Arriving at this near and fatal contact with the enemy, the officers and soldiers of the brigade brandished their swords and kepis, uttering the most enthusiastic hurrahs for their general, George B. McClellan, and for the Army of the Potomac. ". The leader of theIrish Brigade orders him to bayonet the cannon, then fire two rounds before charging.
However, the assault will not go as planned, presumably because Meagher had his horse killed under him at the time. Violently thrown to the ground, the general is stunned in his fall. He has no serious injuries but has to be carried, unconscious, to the rear, while Colonel John Burke takes over. Northerners have already fired five or six shots each when Burkering the charge again. On his right, the 132th Pennsylvania receives orders from Kimball to support the attack, but the attack unfolds in confusion. The 29th Massachusetts did not advance at all, his men remaining in a position offering some semblance of shelter, from which they continued to fire on the Southerners. The 69th New York only walks a few yards before realizing he is isolated to the brigade's right, and Lt. Col. John Kelly is wounded in the face, leaving the unit without a leader. The inaction of 29th Massachusetts also left the right of the 63th New York in the open, and she gets caught in a row and massacred. The northern unit falters and also loses its commander. Totally deprived of support, the 88th New York eventually stopped too, just a few yards fromBloody lane and under hellfire.
Flickering for a few minutes, the brigade managed to regroup around 29th Massachusetts and especially 88th New York. The latter will win the admiration of Richardson who will tell them "Well done, the 88th, I will never forget you ", Igniting enthusiasm in its dramatically thinning ranks. The Northerners then continue to exchange salvo after salvo with their opponents, suffering enormous losses. TheIrish Brigade will lose 540 men in Antietam including 113 killed, or nearly 60% of its initial workforce. Northerners soldiers pass like thisalmost an hour exposed to enemy fire. Under such conditions, wearing an object as conspicuous and easy to adjust as a flag becomes the assurance of a drastic reduction in one's life expectancy. The 63th New York thus saw sixteen men succeeding one another in guard of its standard, all being shot down after a few minutes, or even a few seconds. However, the Federals held on, collecting - like the other combatants since the beginning of the battle - the cartridges of the dead and the wounded to continue firing.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 11 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
1. French consolidates his right by mixing elements of the Weber and Morris brigades.
2. Richardson's division kicks in, pushing the Confederate skirmishers back in front of them.
3. The Meagher Brigade attacks first.
4. She receives support from part of the Kimball Brigade.
5. The 29th Massachusetts prematurely stops its advance, dislocating the brigade.
6. Left without support, the 88th New York must stop its charge.
7. The Meagher brigade recovered and maintained the pressure, taking in particular the right of Rodes.
Despite the Confederate’s better position, northern fire was not ineffective. The problem is particularly acute at the junction of the Rodes and G.B. Anderson brigades, becauseBloody lane there forms a bend. Meagher's brigade confronting G.B. Anderson's men on a line parallel to theirs, meaning that the position heldpar Rodes is at an angle sufficient to expose his right to a side shot. The 6th Alabama, which occupies this location, is therefore particularly threatened even if the units on its right still cover it effectively. J.B. Gordon, the leader of the Alabamian regiment, has a bitter experience. He is just discussing the situation with Colonel Tew, who is inspecting the left of what is now his brigade, when Northerner fire descends on the two men. Tew was shot in the head, piercing his head from temple to temple, fatally injuring him. Colonel Risden Bennett succeeds him. Gordon's right calf was slightly injured, but this is only the first of hisfive wounds of the day.
Within minutes, the southern officer was punched higher on the same leg, then on the left arm and shoulder. Finally, a final projectile smashes into her face, entering through the left cheek and exiting through the jaw. Falling face down on the ground, he owes only to his cap, previously pierced by another bullet, not to drown in his own blood, which flows through the hole thus created. The southern colonel will survive - and will have a brilliant military career until the end of the conflict - but will remain disfigured. Hardly any of his later photographic portraits will show his left profile, the rare three-quarter-face shots hinting at a spectacular scar on the cheek where the northerner ball hit him. His soldiers, however, will resist this shooting, which eventually wanes in intensity. Even while searching the corpses, Meagher's men beginrunning out of cartridges. They've been engaged for almost an hour and have received no help from the rest of the division. Informed of the situation, Richardson orders that they be relieved by Caldwell's brigade, and that the attack on the rebel right be renewed.
Chronology of a turning point
Until then, the Caldwell Brigade has remained strangely inactive. Deployed to the left and slightly behind that of Meagher, on a line parallel to his own, it is nevertheless ideally placed to threaten the southern right and attempt to turn it. She does nothing, merely exchanging gunfire with enemy advanced snipers while theIrish Brigade attacked the Confederate position alone. His inaction is so surprising that Richardson ends up growing impatient. There is a rumor circulating on the battlefield that Caldwell has gone back "to hide behind a haystack ". The fact is still uncertain today. In his report on the battle, Caldwell describes the action of his brigade as if he had been present from start to finish, but goes into much more detail from a specific point in time - when the brigade has been engaged since some time. Moreover, a close examination of the various accounts of the Caldwell Brigade shows that clearly their actions owed much moreat the initiatives of some of its officers rather than at Caldwell's orders. It is reasonable to assume that Caldwell was absent at the start of the engagement, for some indeterminate cause not necessarily related to the rumor that arose about him, before joining his unit later.
Still, probably around 11:45 a.m., Caldwell's brigade relieved Meagher's by an impeccable maneuver: the first shifted to the right while maintaining its deployment and came to stand behind the second, which then took down. , company after company, "like at the parade - to use the expression used by an eyewitness.Immediately afterwards, the fresh Union troops advance and open fire in their turn. The story of the battle then becomes complex, as events, in the minutes that follow, accelerate dramatically - not only onBloody lane, but also in the West wood. The situation will change from minute to minute, andlocating one action in time in relation to another becomes practically impossible. The differences in testimonies are sometimes great, with General Greene, for example, placing the resumption of fighting around Dunker Church much later, around 1:30 p.m. However, the majority of reports agree that the two actions to come were simultaneous and delivered around noon. It is, moreover, more consistent with the durations indicated by Greene, who affirms to have held the surroundings of the church during "almost two hours ". But we're pretty sure he got hold of it shortly after 10 a.m.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., around Dunker Church.
1. J.G. Walker attacks Greene with the support of Barksdale and Early.
2. Caught in a row, the 111th Pennsylvania is the first to crack.
3. The breach thus created causes the retreat of the entire Greene division.
4. Having exhausted their ammunition, the northern advance batteries also withdraw with their support.
5. The Northerners retreat towards the eastern wood, while their enemies threaten French's right.
At the end of the morning, James Longstreet is very worried about the general situation of the Confederate lines. These are very stretched due to Greene's presence around Dunker Church, and the Southern general fears that the Fed's advanced position in this area will allow them to breach in case they receive reinforcements. Having no depth, the Confederate device would certainly be irreparably sunk. Longstreet therefore decides to take the lead, although he has no fresh troops to entrust with this mission. Failing that, he instructs J.G. Walker, now sufficiently reorganized, toto dislodge Greene from West Wood. The Ransom brigade, which was quite a fewengaged until then, will join forces with the dissociated remnants of the Manning brigade - the 46th Colonel Hall's North Carolina, on the one hand, and the 3th Arkansas and 27th Colonel Cooke's North Carolina, on the other hand. Walker will get help from Barksdale's brigade and support from Early on his left.
Their task will be facilitated by the very deployment of the Greene division. Very advanced and deprived of infantry and artillery support, its two brigades always form a chevron to avoid being flanked, and form practically a right angle. Stainrook's faces south and is partly in the open, Tyndale's to the west, right in the middle of the woods. This angle constitutesa vulnerable point if properly attacked, as the two units cannot properly support each other. Constantly harassed by Confederate snipers sheltering behind the rocks of West Wood or adjusting them from the heights to the south, the Northerners are now assaulted in force. As Ransom strikes Tyndale head-on, the combined regiments of Hall and Cooke attack at the junction of the two Northern brigades. At the same time, Barksdale overflows the right of the federal division. Very quickly, the two wings of Tyndale's brigade cracked: the right retreated and on the left, the 28th Pennsylvania disbanded, resulting in its flight 111th regiment of the same state which forms the right of Stainrook. Tyndale sustains serious head and abdominal injuries, and Greene's division must completely abandon their position.
Threat on the northern flank
The "rebel cry" resounds once more as Federal soldiers retreat from West Wood, past Dunker Church. The Confederates then assaulted the height to the east of the latter, where Captain John Tompkins' guns and the 102th New York tries to slow them down by overwhelming them with lead. But the ammunition boxes are empty. The Tompkins battery fired its 1,050 projectiles of all types in just three hours, which impliesan almost continuous fire during this time - 175 rounds per piece in 180 minutes. After the battle, his 10-pound Parrott guns would be so ruined by heavy use that they would have to be scrapped, with the battery receiving new parts - 3-inch guns. Still, for lack of ammunition to continue fighting, the northern artillerymen had to evacuate the place, leaving on the ground nineteen men and ten horses killed or wounded. Of course, the 102th Supporting New York didn't linger, alone in the face of the gray tide.
Although not unworthy - it was one of the northern units the longest engaged in the battle - given the inexperience of the majority of its soldiers, the Greene division is this time out of action for good. . It takes refuge, more or less in good order, under the protection of other batteries located beyond the Mumma farm and on the edge of the eastern woods. The outcome of the southerly attack exceeds all of Longstreet's expectations. Not only is the Greene threat eliminated, but it is now the northern lines that presenta substantial breach. Carried away by their momentum, J.G. Walker's men and their supporters, joined by Sanders' brigade, rushed with enthusiasm, threatening to lead to the rear of the French division already engaged inBloody lane. As the advanced Confederate elements approach the Roulette farm dangerously, the entire northern center sees its situation compromised.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 12 p.m. - 12:15 p.m., around the Roulette farm.
1. Continuing its momentum, J.G. Walker threatens to overthrow the French division.
2. French sends the right wing of the Kimball Brigade to protect his right.
3. Colonel Frank leads two regiments, to which Richardson adds a third, to counter the southerly advance towards the Roulette farm.
4. Sanders Brigade supports J.G. Walker to his right.
5. French also sends elements of the Morris brigade to the Roulette farm.
6. The Northerners succeed in driving back the attackers.
7. At the same time, Irwin's brigade flanks Barksdale and Early and forces them to retreat.
8. Brooks' brigade is dispatched completely to the right, preventing W.F. Smith from exploiting Irwin's success.
9. Irwin must stop his progress at the level of the height which dominates the Dunker Church.
However, French and Richardson react immediately and will coordinate their efforts wonderfully. While French sends two of Kimball's regiments - the 14th Indiana and the 8th Ohio - covering his right and facing the enemy advance, Richardson sends part of Brooke's brigade to him. He was even preceded by Colonel Paul Frank, of the 52th New York, placed to the right of the brigade, and whichspontaneously decides to walk to meet the Southerners when he sees them approaching the Roulette farm. Training with him the 2th Delaware, Frank was joined shortly after by the 53th Pennsylvania, which Richardson sent to him in support. Bitter fighting takes place for control of the farm buildings, which mostly serve as makeshift hospitals for the Northern army. The Federals succeed in taking control of an eminence that dominates the small cornfield of Roulette, from where they slaughter Confederates hampered in their progress by barriers. The arrival of elements of the Morris Brigade, which French has rounded up to the rear, completes the decision, and J.G. Walker's Southerners are pushed back. The 14thth Connecticut will even take prisoners in one of the cellars of the farm, where they had taken refuge to escape the northern fire.
At the same time, other Federal troops arrive in time to plug the breach opened by Greene's withdrawal. William Farrar's division "Baldy »Smith, head of the VIth William Franklin’s Corps is now hard at work. While the first of its three brigades, that of Winfield Scott Hancock, has been dispatched to reinforce the Northern Right Wing and has seen its regiments dispersed in support of batteries, the other two are available for a counterattack. William Irwin’s brigade thus drives back Barksdale’s and Early’s troops,putting an end to the southern advance and pursuing the Confederates now in full retreat. Irwin thus passed the height east of Dunker Church, but did not go much further: he was caught in a row by a shot from the West Wood, where Lee had brought the scraps of Hood's division up in line. Much to Baldy Smith's fury, he cannot receive any support, as Sumner has taken without informing him William Brooks's brigade, which was coming up just behind, to reinforce a right wing he still believes in great danger. Engaged in front of him and attacked on his right, Irwin cannot advance any further and must interrupt his attack, bringing his forces back behind the ridge line. The other division of VIth Corps, that of Henry Slocum, arrives at forced march from Boonsboro but will not be available until the afternoon, so Baldy Smith has no further offensive reserves to count on.
Although short-lived, the alert represented by the entry into play of the Irwin Brigade was nevertheless a hot one for the Confederates. Longstreet, who no longer had any reservations to oppose him, anxiously watched the blue line advance south. Of the various southern units engaged in this sector, only the 27th North Carolina of Colonel Cooke - son of General Philip Cooke who remained loyal to the Union and, therefore, brother-in-law of J.E.B. Stuart - Withdrew fighting and in good order, but the Carolinians are almost out of ammunition. Longstreet also ran out of guns, as his gunners were also short of projectiles and suffered greatly from enemy counter-battery fire. While the Southern general and his staff observed the fighting from the hills immediately north of Sharpsburg, Longstreet notified Captain Carter's battery, whose caissons were still full, and ordered him toshoot as fast as possible on the Irwin Brigade.
Battle for a path, quarrels between historians
Unfortunately, Carter is short of men to serve all of his pieces, so much so that Longstreet has to send his aides-de-camp to help him with this task while he himself holds their horses by the bridle. Knowing Longstreet's propensity to show off, the anecdote, which he recounts in his memoir, might have been apocryphal, but it is corroborated by other accounts, moreover contemporaneous with the events. That will not prevent him attributing to this action - and that of the 27th North Carolina, whose last bursts momentarily waver the Northerners - all the merit of having stopped the progression of Irwin, which is at best, as we have seen, only a partial vision - and, in this specific case, one-sided - from reality. It is, moreover,a constant in the reports of officers, the latter more readily justifying the withdrawal of their unit by the lack of ammunition or the absence of support than by the direct action of the enemy. In one camp as in the other, this kind of euphemism is, it will be said without a pun intended, fair play.
In any case, the shutdown of the Irwin brigade marks for good the end of the large-scale fighting around Dunker Church, the confrontation continuing there only in the form of an artillery bombardment whose Hood's men, settled on the edge of the western woods, will suffer greatly for the rest of the day. Yet, at the same time, a decisive change is occurring a little further east. Longstreet did not enjoy his relief for long: the Confederate position onBloody lane is collapsing, endangering the center of the entire Confederate army. Still today,two versions circulate on the cause of this collapse, their prevalence depending on the information accessible to the authors who disseminate them and their possible orientations and biases. The Northerner version asserts that it was Caldwell's brigade that properly broke the right of the opposing position. As for the southern version, it maintains thatBloody lane was firmly held by Confederate troops, and was only taken by the Federals because the southerners withdrew by mistake, following a misunderstood, misinterpreted and poorly executed order.
This last view of events is based mainly on D.H. Hill's report, itself based in substance on that of Robert Rodes. While the J.G. Walker division is engaged around the Roulette farm, Rodes is struck by bush shards. Fearing that he would be seriously hurt, he retired for treatment, but examination of his injuries revealed that they were in fact superficial. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel James Lightfoot, who succeeded John B. Gordon as the head of the 6th Alabama, is once again confronted with murderous fire from his right. In the absence of his direct superior, this young officer, barely 23 years old, asked DH Hill for permission to maneuver his regiment so that he would face the direction from which the shots came, and l 'gets. However, the order given to the soldiers by the officers was mistakenly understood "face about - "U-turn" - and the regiment begins to retreat instead of simply retreating. Interested by this unexpected movement, an officer from a neighboring regiment then asks Lightfoot if the order is valid for the whole brigade, and the latter - perhaps busy giving contrasts to correct the placement of his troops - responds with yes, so thatthe whole brigade starts to unhook. When Rodes returns to his men, the withdrawal has turned into a rout and there is nothing more that can be done to bring the brigade back to its original position.
1. Hood's division, sent to position itself around Dunker Church, takes Irwin's brigade in a row.
2. Served by the Longstreet staff, the Carter battery focuses its fire on Irwin.
3. The 27th North Carolina strikes back with its last cartridges. Overwhelmed and without support, Irwin's Brigade goes on the defensive.
4. Meanwhile, Caldwell's brigade attacks Bloody Lane.
5. The Wright brigade, the most exposed, is the first to crack.
6. Its withdrawal involves that of a part of the G.B. Anderson brigade, which fears being overwhelmed.
7. This recoil allows Barlow to position his two regiments so as to take the rest of the Confederate line in succession.
8. To face it, the 6th Alabama maneuvers, but the order is misunderstood and the entire Rodes brigade retreats.
9. The second line southerners tries to stop the retreat, but it is carried in its turn in the debacle.
10. Scattered units of the French Division support Caldwell's attack.
11. The Confederate position on Bloody lanecollapses, dragging the southern reserves with them. The Confederate elements which did not flee surrender to the Northerners.
Close examination of the reports, including Rodes's, shows that things did not quite turn out that way. More precisely, this version of the facts sin by omission. Indeed, Rodes himself writes that at the time of the false maneuver initiated by Lightfoot, the troops placed on his right - i.e. the G.B. Anderson brigade -were already falling back. This fact appears to be confirmed by Major William Sellers of the 30th North Carolina, who reports that the forces on his right fled first. However, the 30th forms the right end of the G.B. Anderson Brigade, implying that the first to break down are, in all likelihood, Ambrose Wright's men. This is all the more likely that the line they are holding is not completely based onBloody lane, which marks a very sharp turn to the south here. Although placed behind a fence which runs in the prolongation of the sunken lane, the Wright Brigade does not thus benefit from cover there as good as the two units placed on its left.
From then on, it becomes possible to determine a plausible chain of events. His less protected right hammered by northern fire, Wright was wounded and his men began to retreat. Their withdrawal discovers the right of G.B. Anderson which affects their position as much as their morale. Indeed, Captain Andrew Griffith, of the 14th North Carolina, reports having to retreat on information that the enemy was behind the Confederates. Anderson then begins to collapse, unevenly as some detachments - notably on the right of the brigade - continue to resist. Caldwell's brigade was quick to exploit this situation, taking advantage of the breaches thus opened. Colonel Francis Barlow, who exercises combined command of two New York State regiments - the 61th and the 64th - and therefore directs the right wing of the northern brigade, maneuvers his men on his own initiative, so as to take the enemy position in succession. The effect of its concentrated fire is almost immediate, transformingBloody lane indeath trap. Hitting sideways, the bullets which miss their target ricochet on the embankments of the sunken path and hit the target in second intention, shattering one leg, one ankle, one southern foot. It was without doubt wanting to face this lead storm that Lightfoot made his blunder.
Another cornfield, another carnage
Elements of the Pryor and Posey brigades are launched forward to plug the breaches in the southern line, but they do not last more than a few minutes in the face of the Northerners who shoot them at point blank range, and the more or less unreasonable fear of being turned - there is no indication that at this point Caldwell's men were already pursuing the fleeing Wright Brigade.Panic and confusion set in, the unexpected withdrawal of the Rodes Brigade only exacerbating the situation. Groups of Southern soldiers who try to resist are massacred, so much so that Barlow ends up ordering his two regiments to cease fire while his second, Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson Miles - unrelated to the vanquished of Harper's Ferry - summons the Confederates to surrender. The latter complied, leaving Barlow master ofBloody lane. The Northerners will take 400 prisoners on this occasion and seize two flags - meager symbolic consolations for the heavy losses they suffer. Their performance as Antietam will earn Barlow and Miles both a successful career as an officer, but for them the day is not yet over.
For his part, DH Hill tried to turn the tide by throwing his last reserves into battle - the brigades of William Parham and Alfred Cumming - but they were quickly drowned in the flood of crestfallen soldiers who flow back through the lands of the Piper farm and are unable to offer serious resistance. To make matters worse, his officers fell one after the other. Cumming is injured, as is John Hately who had replaced Roger Pryor at the head of his brigade, and Robert H. Jones who had taken over from Wright. It is approximately 12:30 p.m. and the obvious: the Confederate center isabout to be completely depressed. DH Hill's only hope lies in the ability of his officers and stringers to rally at least some of their forces along the path from the Hagerstown toll road to Piper Farm, where a small stone wall provides good protection. The Southern General, however, can count on Sanders’s Brigade, which clings to its position along the Hagerstown Road, and Miller Battery, which the Battalion of theWashington Artillery just sent him in close support.
Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), 12:15 p.m. - 1 p.m.
1. The French division regiments accompanying Caldwell halt, leaving the Northerners right vulnerable.
2. The Sanders Brigade was successful in maintaining its cohesion, keeping at bay the Brooke Brigade regiments commanded by Colonel Frank.
3. While the southern resistance recovered, the 7th New York panics momentarily before being rallied by Caldwell.
4. D.H. Hill tries to exploit the situation by flanking the Northerners with the remnants of the Rodes Brigade.
5. Colonel Barlow foils his attack, forcing him to withdraw.
6. Richardson hires the rest of Brooke's brigade to patch up the breach that Barlow's maneuver has opened in the northern line.
7. A southern attempt to flank the northern left is speeded up by Colonel Cross with two regiments.
8. Hill gathers his last strength in a frontal attack in the Piper Orchard, but Barlow faces it with support from Brooke.
9. Perhaps scalded by multiple enemy counterattacks, Richardson orders his forces to retreat to a more secure position. He was fatally injured shortly after.
After driving out the Southerners, Caldwell's brigade crossedBloody lane strewn with corpses and now walk into the Piper cornfield. Two of the regiments of the French division, the 132th Pennsylvania (Kimball Brigade) and the 108th New York (Morris Brigade), supported him for a moment on his right, but the rest of French's forces ran out of ammunition and had to fall back under the protection of the Irwin Brigade and the three regiments that Brooke had sent to his right. The intervention of the southern reserves was not without effect: on the 7thth New York, which holds the center of Caldwell's brigade, has been routed and retreated, but Caldwell arrives in person and manages to rally him to bring him back forward. Faced with the Northerner advance, D.H. Hill has hardly any cards left to play but, without losing his temper, he will ...bluff. Rodes having succeeded in rounding up a few stragglers of scattered units, hardly more than 200 men, D.H. Hill takes them personally on a counterattack intended to flank Caldwell from the right. He plans to take advantage of the cover provided by the height in the western part of the cornfield. Unfortunately for him, Barlow spotted him and, again on his own initiative, marched his regiments to the right. Their maneuver foiled, the Confederates had to fall back after a prolonged shootout.
With Barlow's action having breached the northern line, Richardson, who still closely follows the progress of his division, is quick to send his last reserves, in this case the 57th and 66th New York, from Brooke's Brigade. As the Northerners are about to leave the cornfield, their enemies unleash a new counterattack intended to flank them, this time from the left. The Southern forces, which included survivors of the G.B. Anderson and McRae Brigades, marched towards an elevation at the southeast corner of the Piper cornfield. Again, it was the initiative of a northerner officer who caught them off guard. Colonel Edward Cross, who commands the 5th New Hampshire and holds the left of Caldwell Brigade, detects enemy movement and reacts immediately. Training with them the 81th Pennsylvania, Cross and his mentake the Confederates at speed and reach the nipple before them. The Southerners are forced to retreat, but not before they have twice failed to storm the coveted position. Anderson loses a new commander, Risden Bennett being stunned by the blast of a northern shell.
Breakthrough without a future
The energetic but desperate counter-attacks developed by D.H. Hill on Caldwell's flanks were not, however, in vain. They allow the Confederate general to gain the time necessary to organize a new counter, this time in the center. G.T. Anderson's brigade, which Longstreet managed to send to him, will lead it with the help of Sanders' men and the remnants of Pryor Brigade. The Southerners charge through the Piper Orchard where the Miller Battery is deployed, whose bronze pieces spew double charges of grape-shot. Despite fatigue and danger, the soldiers in gray continue to fight fiercely. They are no less subject to a pressing physiological need, given the hour and the exhausting battles they wage:eat. Hill will bear witness to this: "Charging the Yankees through an apple orchard, even in the face of the immediate prospect of death in front of them, I noticed men greedily devouring apples.. »
Faced with this new threat, Barlow and his men change direction once again. Overwhelmed with grape-shot, they shelter as best they can behind the fruit trees. Barlow himself was hit by a small shard in the face and a grape shot in the lower abdomen. As Miles replaces him,his men are holding on. Richardson, who until then had received no close artillery support and had been frantically demanding for a long time, ended up getting some with Captain William Graham's battery. The latter settled into an exposed position, but managed to concentrate its fire, along with that of other Northerner units, on the Confederate battery. It was eventually silenced, the northern fire even exploding one of its ammunition boxes - an event spectacular enough to be noticed on much of the battlefield, so much so that its destruction was claimed by several batteries. northerners. Thus deprived of support, the southern attack was eventually repulsed. Nothing seems to prevent the Federals from seizing the buildings of the Piper Farm, which they are already approaching, and where the harshly crushed remains of the Confederate center hang on.
1. Richardson's division assumes a new position near Bloody Lane.L'Irish Brigaderelieves Caldwell's men while W.S. Hancock takes over the division.
2. To deter the Northerners from launching a new attack, D.H. Hill, who has a local advantage in artillery, keeps the pressure at bay.
3. To counteract the southern batteries, McClellan orders Pleasonton to bring his mounted artillery across the middle bridge, under the protection of his horsemen.
4. The northern batteries are threatened by the advance of the southern skirmishers.
5. To counter the threat, Porter sends detachments of regular infantry from Sykes' division to Pleasonton, who gain the advantage.
Yet D.H. Hill's repeated bluffingend up paying, it seems. The aggressiveness of the Southerners worries Richardson, who fears that the enemy still has reservations to oppose him when he himself has none. To make matters worse, it is Graham Battery that is now overwhelmed by Southern artillery. Caught under the crossfire of two batteries of Confederate rifled guns at long range, Graham had to oppose them only with bronze pieces, the range of which was insufficient to retaliate. Soon her fire weakened. Richardson again called for reinforcements in artillery from McClellan, and decided to push back Caldwell's reinforced brigade on a less exposed line, located just behindBloody lane. It was while joining Graham to order him to put his drums to safety that Richardson was hit by a shrapnel ball. At first glance, the injury is not fatal, but the Northerner general, like so many others, will suffer from an infection that will eventually lead to pneumonia. Transported to the house where McClellan established his headquarters, he died there on November 3.
Richardson's incapacitation puts an end to the fight that had started less than four hours earlier forBloody lane. As it seemed on the verge of relentless collapse, the center of the Confederate army was saved when the Northerners put themselves on the defensive. McClellan now thinks mostly ofconsolidate its modest gains in this sector of the battlefield, while conserving his strength for a massive counterattack from Lee, which he believes is imminent. Reporting to General Hancock of the command of his brigade, he entrusted him with the task of regaining control of Richardson's division. He is also trying to send him batteries as reinforcements, but the artillery reserve no longer has a single one at their disposal. To compensate for this lack, he orders Pleasonton to make cross the median bridge with his artillery on horseback, in order to subject the southern center to a constant bombardment. The maneuver was carried out carefully from 1 p.m., under the protection of the northern cavalry. The Confederates were hardly in a position to oppose it, except through the skirmishers of Nathan Evans's brigade. The rifles of the latter having the upper hand over the rifles of the federal cavalrymen, Pleasonton claims, and obtains the support of the Sykes division, of the Vth Corps, which sent several detachments of regular infantry to its aid.