HDQRS. SECOND CORPS,
ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 23, 1863
General R. E. LEE.
GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to submit a report of the operations of my command from September 5 to 27, 1862, embracing the capture of Harper's Ferry, the engagement at Shepherdstown, and so much of the battle of Sharpsburg as was fought by the troops under my command:
My command comprised A. P. Hill's division, consisting of the brigades of Branch, Gregg, Field (Colonel Brockenbrough commanding), Pender, Archer, and Colonel Thomas, with the batteries of the division under Lieut. Col. R. L. Walker; Ewell's division, under Brigadier-General Lawton, consisting of the brigades of Early, Hays (Colonel Strong), Trimble (Colonel Walker), and Lawton (Colonel Douglass), with the artillery under Major [A. R.] Courtney, and Jackson's division, under Brigadier-General Starke, consisting of the brigades of Winder (Colonel Grigsby), Jones (Col. B. T. Johnson), Taliaferro (Colonel Warren), and Starke (Colonel Stafford), with the artillery under Major Shumaker, chief of artillery.
On September 5 my command crossed the Potomac at White's Ford, and bivouacked that night near the Three Springs, in the State of Maryland. Not having any cavalry with me except the Black Horse, under Captain Randolph, I directed him, after crossing the Potomac, to take part of his company and scout to the right, in order to avoid a surprise of the column from that direction. For the thorough and efficient manner in which this duty was discharged, and for the valuable service rendered generally while attached to my headquarters, I desire to make special mention of this company and its officers, Captain Randolph and Lieutenants Payne, Tyle, and Smith, who frequently transmitted orders in the absence of staff officers.
The next day we arrived in the vicinity of Frederick City. Jackson's division encamped near its suburbs, except the brigade of General Jones (Col. Bradley T. Johnson commanding), which was posted in the city as a provost guard. Ewell's and Hill's divisions occupied positions near the railroad bridge over the Monocacy, guarding the approaches from Washington City.
In obedience to instructions from the commanding general, and for the purpose of capturing the Federal forces and stores then at Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, my command left the vicinity of Frederick City on the 10th, and, passing rapidly through Middletown, Boons-borough, and Williamsport, recrossed the Potomac into Virginia, at Light's Ford, on the 11th. General Hill moved with his division on the turnpike direct from Williamsport to Martinsburg. The divisions of Jackson and Ewell proceeded toward the North Mountain Depot, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, about 7 miles northwest of Martinsburg. They bivouacked that night in the vicinity of the depot. In order to prevent the Federal forces then at Martinsburg from escaping westward unobserved, Major Myers, commanding the cavalry, sent part of his troops as far south as the Berkeley and Hampshire turnpike. Brigadier-General White, who was in command of the Federal forces at Martinsburg, becoming advised of our approach, evacuated the place on the night of the 11th and retreated to Harper's Ferry.
On the morning of the 12th our cavalry entered the town, as, in the course of the day, did the main body of my command. At this point, abandoned quartermaster's, commissary, and ordnance stores fell into our hands.
Proceeding thence toward Harper's Ferry, about 11 o'clock on the following morning (13th), the head of our column came in view of the enemy drawn up in force upon Bolivar Heights. General Hill, who was in the advance, went into camp near Halltown, about 2 miles from the enemy's position The two other divisions encamped near by.
The commanding general having directed Major-General McLaws to move, with his own and General R. H. Anderson's divisions, to take possession of the Maryland Heights, overlooking Harper's Ferry, and Brig. Gen. J. G. Walker, pursuing a different route, to cross the Potomac and move up that river on the Virginia side and occupy the Loudoun Heights, both for the purpose of co-operating with me, it became necessary, before making the attack, to ascertain whether they were in position. Failing to learn the fact by signals, a courier was dispatched to each of those points for the required information. During the night the courier to the Loudoun Heights returned with a message from General Walker that he was in position. In the mean time General McLaws had attacked the Federal force posted to defend the Maryland Heights; had routed it and taken possession of that commanding position. The Potomac River flowed between the positions respectively occupied by General McLaws and myself, and the Shenandoah separated me from General Walker, and it became advisable, as the speediest mode of communication, to resort to signals. Before the necessary orders were thus transmitted the day was far advanced. The enemy had, by fortifications, strengthened the naturally strong position which he occupied along Bolivar Heights, extending from near the Shenandoah to the Potomac. McLaws and Walker, being thus separated from the enemy by intervening rivers, could afford no assistance beyond the fire of their artillery and guarding certain avenues of escape to the enemy, and, from the reports received from them by signals, in consequence of the distance and range of their guns, not much could be expected from their artillery so long as the enemy retained his advanced position on Bolivar Heights.
In the afternoon General Hill was ordered to move along the left bank of the Shenandoah, turn the enemy's left, and enter Harper's Ferry. General Lawton, commanding Ewell's division, was directed to move along the turnpike for the purpose of supporting General Hill and of otherwise operating against the enemy to his left. General J. R. Jones, commanding Jackson's division, was directed, with one of his brigades and a battery of artillery, to make a demonstration against the enemy's right, while the remaining part of his command, as a reserve, moved along the turnpike. Major [T. B.] Massie (Twelfth Virginia Cavalry), commanding the cavalry, was directed to keep upon our left flank, for the purpose of preventing the enemy from escaping. Brigadier-General Walker guarded against an escape across the Shenandoah River. Fearing lost the enemy should attempt to escape across the Potomac, by means of signals I called the attention of Major-General McLaws, commanding on Maryland Heights, to the propriety of guarding against such an attempt. The demonstration on the left against the enemy's right was made by Winder's brigade, Colonel Grigsby commanding. It was ordered to secure a commanding hill to the left of the heights near the Potomac. Promptly dispersing some cavalry, this eminence, from which the batteries of Poague and Carpenter subsequently did such admirable execution, was secured without difficulty. In execution of the orders given Major-General Hill, he moved obliquely to the right until he struck the Shenandoah River. Observing an eminence crowning the extreme left of the enemy's line occupied by infantry, but without artillery, and protected only by an abatis of fallen timber, Pender, Archer, and Brockenbrough were directed to gain the crest of that hill, while Branch and Gregg were directed to march along the river and during the night to take advantage of the ravines cutting the precipitous banks of the river and establish themselves on the plain to the left and rear of the enemy's works. Thomas followed as a reserve. The execution of the first movement was intrusted to Brigadier-General Pender, who accomplished it with slight resistance, and during the night Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, chief of artillery of Hill's division, brought up the batteries of Captains Pegram, Mcintosh, Davidson, Braxton, and Crenshaw, and established them upon the position thus gained. Branch and Gregg also gained the positions indicated for them, and day break found them in rear of the enemy's line of defense.
As directed, Brigadier-General Lawton, commanding Ewell's division, moved on the turnpike in three columns, one on the road and another on each side of it, until he reached Halltown, when he formed line of battle and advanced to the woods on School-House Hill. The division laid on their arms during the night, Lawton and Trimble being in line on the right of the road and Hays on the left, with Early immediately in his rear.
During the night, Colonel Crutchfield, my chief of artillery, crossed ten guns of Ewell's division over the Shenandoah and established them on its right bank, so as to enfilade the enemy's position on Bolivar Heights and take his nearest and most formidable fortifications in reverse. The other batteries of Ewell's division were placed in position on SchoolHouse Hill, on each side of the road.
At dawn, September 15, General Lawton advanced his division to the front of the woods. Lawton's brigade, Colonel Douglass commanding, moved by flank to the bottom between School-House Hill and Bolivar Heights, to support the advance of Major-General Hill. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker opened a rapid enfilade fire from all his batteries at about 1,000 yards range. The batteries on School-House Hill attacked the enemy's lines in front. In a short time the guns of Captains Brown. [A. W.] (Garber, Latimer, and Dement, under the direction of Colonel Crutch-field, opened from the rear. The batteries of Poague and Carpenter opened fire upon the enemy's right. The artillery upon the Loudoun Heights, of Brigadier-General [John G.] Walker's command, under Captain [Thomas B.] French, which had silenced the enemy's artillery near the superintendent's house on the preceding afternoon, again opened upon Harper's Ferry, and also some guns of Major-General McLaws from the Maryland Heights. In an hour the enemy's fire seemed to be silenced, and the batteries of General Hill were ordered to cease their fire, which was the signal for storming the works. General Pender had commenced his advance, when, the enemy again opening, Pegram and Crenshaw moved forward their batteries and poured a rapid fire into the enemy. The white flag was now displayed, and shortly afterward Brigadier-General White (the commanding officer, Col. D. S. Miles, having been mortally wounded), with a garrison of about 11,000 men, surrendered as prisoners of war. Under this capitulation we took possession of 73 pieces of artillery, some 13,000 small-arms, and other stores. Liberal terms were granted to General White and the officers under his command in the surrender, which, I regret to say, do not seem, from subsequent events, to have been properly appreciated by their Government. Leaving General Hill to receive the surrender of the Federal troops and take the requisite steps for securing the captured stores, I moved, in obedience to orders from the commanding general, to rejoin him in Maryland with the remaining divisions of my command. By a severe night's march we reached the vicinity of Sharpsburg on the morning of the 16th.
By direction of the commanding general, I advanced on the enemy, leaving Sharpsburg to the right, and took position to the left of General Longstreet, near a Dunkard church, Ewell's division (General Lawton commanding) forming the right, and Jackson's division (General J. R. Jones commanding) forming the left of my command. Major-General Stuart, with the cavalry, was on my left. Jackson's division (General Jones commanding) was formed partly in an open field and partly in the woods, with its right resting upon the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike; Winder's and Jones' brigades being in front, and Taliaferro's and Starke's brigades a short distance in their rear, and Poague's battery on a knoll in front. Ewell's division followed that of Jackson to the woods on the left of the road near the church. Early's brigade was then formed on the left of the line of Jackson's division, to guard its flank, and Hays' brigade was formed in its rear. Lawton's and Trimble's brigades remained during the evening with arms stacked near the church. A battery of the enemy, some 500 yards to the front of Jackson's division, opening fire upon a battery to the right, was silenced in twenty minutes by a rapid and well-directed fire from Poague's battery. Other batteries of the enemy opened soon after upon our lines, and the firing continued until after dark.
About 10 p.m. Lawton's and Trimble's brigades advanced to the front to relieve the command of Brigadier-General Hood, on the left of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, which had been more or less engaged during the evening. Trimble's brigade was posted on the right, next to Ripley's, of D. H. Hill's division, and Lawton's on the left.
The troops slept that night upon their arms, disturbed by the occasional fire of the pickets of the two armies, who were in close proximity to each other.
At the first dawn of day skirmishing commenced in front, and in a short time the Federal batteries, so posted on the opposite side of the Antietam as to enfilade my line, opened a severe and damaging fire. This was vigorously replied to by the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, Brockenbrough, Raine, Caskie, and Wooding.
About sunrise the Federal infantry advanced in heavy force to the edge of the wood on the eastern side of the turnpike, driving in our skirmishers. Batteries were opened in front from the wood with shell and canister, and our troops became exposed for near an hour to a terrific storm of shell, canister, and musketry. General Jones having been compelled to leave the field, the command of Jackson's division devolved upon General Starke. With heroic spirit our lines advanced to the conflict, and maintained their position, in the face of superior numbers, with stubborn resolution, sometimes driving the enemy before them and sometimes compelled to fall back before their well-sustained and destructive fire. Fresh troops from time to time relieved the enemy's ranks, and the carnage on both sides was terrific.
At this early hour General Starke was killed. Colonel Douglass, commanding Lawton's brigade, was also killed. General Lawton, commanding division, and Colonel Walker, commanding brigade, were severely wounded. More than half of the brigades of Lawton and Hays were either killed or wounded, and more than a third of Trimble's, and all the regimental commanders in those brigades, except two, were killed or wounded. Thinned in their ranks and exhausted of their ammunition, Jackson's division and the brigades of Lawton, Hays, and Trimble retired to the rear, and Hood, of Longstreet's command, again took the position from which he had been before relieved.
In the mean time General Stuart moved his artillery to a position nearer to the main command, and more in our rear. Early, being now directed, in consequence of the disability of General Lawton, to take command of Ewell's division, returned with his brigade (with the exception of the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, which remained with General Stuart) to the piece of wood where he had left the other brigades of his division when he was separated from them. Here he found that the enemy had advanced his infantry near the wood in which was the Dunkard church, and had planted a battery across the turnpike near the edge of the wood and an open field, and that the brigades of Lawton, Hays, and Trimble had fallen back some distance to the rear. Finding here Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, with a portion of Jackson's division, which formed on his left, he determined to maintain his position there if re-enforcements could be sent to his support, of which he was promptly assured. Colonel Grigsby, with his small command, kept in check the advance of the enemy on the left flank, while General Early attacked with great vigor and gallantry the column on his right and front. The force in front was giving way under this attack when another heavy column of Federal troops were seen moving across the plateau on his left flank. By this time the expected re-enforcements (consisting of Semmes' and Anderson's brigades and a part of Barksdale's, of McLaws' division) arrived, and the whole, including Grigsby's command, now united, charged upon the enemy, checking his advance, then driving him back with great slaughter entirely from and beyond the wood, and gaining possession of our original position. No further advance, beyond demonstrations, was made by the enemy on the left.
In the afternoon, in obedience to instructions from the commanding general, I moved to the left with a view of turning the Federal right, but I found his numerous artillery so judiciously established in their front and extending so near to the Potomac, which here makes a remarkable bend, as will be seen by reference to the map herewith annexed, as to render it inexpedient to hazard the attempt.
In this movement Major-General Stuart had the advance and acted his part well. This officer rendered valuable service throughout the day. His bold use of artillery secured for us an important position, which, had the enemy possessed, might have commanded our left.
At the close of the day my troops held the ground which they had occupied in the morning. The next day we remained in position awaiting another attack. The enemy continued in heavy force west of the Antietam, on our left, but made no further movement to the attack.
I refer you to the report of Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill for the operations of his command in the battle of Sharpsburg. Arriving upon the battlefield from Harper's Ferry at 2.30 o'clock of the 17th, he reported to the commanding general, and was by him directed to take position on the right. I have not embraced the movements of his division nor his killed and wounded of that action in my report.
Early on the morning of the 19th we recrossed the Potomac River into Virginia near Shepherdstown. The promptitude and success with which this movement was effected reflects the highest credit upon the skill and energy of Major Harman, chief quartermaster. In the evening the command moved on the road leading to Martinsburg, except Lawton's (Colonel Lamar, of the Sixty-first Georgia, commanding), which was left on the Potomac Heights.
On the same day the enemy appeared in considerable force on the northern side of the Potomac, and commenced planting heavy batteries on its heights. In the evening the Federals commenced crossing under the protection of their guns, driving off Lawton's brigade and General Pendleton's artillery. By morning a considerable force had crossed over. Orders were dispatched to Generals Early and Hill, who had advanced some 4 miles on the Martinsburg road, to return and drive back the enemy. General Hill, who was in the advance, as he approached the town formed his line of battle in two lines, the first composed of the brigades of Pender, Gregg, and Thomas, under command of General Gregg, and the second of Lane's, Archer's, and Brockenbrough's brigades, under command of General Archer. General Early, with the brigades of Early, Trimble, and Hays, took position in the wood on the right and left of the road leading to the ford. The Federal infantry lined the high banks of the Virginia shore, while their artillery, formidable in numbers and weight of metal, crowned the opposite heights of the Potomac. General Hill's division advanced with great gallantry against the Federal infantry in the face of a continued discharge of shot and shell from their batteries. The Federals, massing in front of Pender, poured a heavy fire into his ranks, and then extended with a view to turn his left. Archer promptly formed on Pender's left, when a simultaneous charge was made, which drove the enemy into the river, followed by an appalling scene of the destruction of human life; 200 prisoners were taken. This position on the bank of the river we continued to hold that day, although exposed to the enemy's guns and within range of his sharpshooters, posted near the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Our infantry remained at the river until relieved by cavalry, under General Fitzhugh Lee.
On the evening of the 20th the command moved from Shepherdstown and encamped near the Opequon, in the vicinity of Martinsburg. We remained near Martinsburg until the 27th, when we moved to Bunker Hill, in the county of Berkeley.
The official lists of casualties of my command during the period embraced in this report will show that we sustained a loss of 38 officers killed, 171 wounded; of 313 non-commissioned officers and privates killed, 1,859 wounded, and 57 missing, making a total loss of 2,438 killed, wounded, and missing.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,