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MGen William B Franklin's Official Reports

Reports of September & October 1862 of Crampton's Gap and Antietam

W. B. Franklin

[author biography]

[South Mountain, Crampton's Gap]

Camp near Bakersville, Md., September 30, 1862.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of the Corps under my command in the battle of the 14th instant, at Crampton's Pass:

In compliance with the instructions of the commanding general, the Corps advanced on the morning of the 14th instant from a point 3 miles east of Jefferson, in the direction of the Blue Ridge. At Jefferson a halt was ordered, to afford General Couch an opportunity of coming up. After a short delay, upon learning that this division was still some distance in the rear, I advanced to the vicinity of the village of Burkittsville. Upon ascertaining that the pass over the mountains at this point, which I was directed to secure and hold, was occupied by the enemy in force, I caused immediate preparations to be made for an attack. The enemy was strongly posted on both sides of the road, which made a steep ascent through a narrow defile, wooded on both sides, and offering great advantages of cover and position. Their advance was posted near the base of the mountain, in the rear of a stone wall, stretching to the right of the road at a point where the ascent was gradual, and for the most part over open fields. Eight guns had been stationed on the road, and at points on the sides and summit of the mountain to the left of the pass.

It was evident that the position could be carried only by infantry attack. Accordingly, I directed Major-General Slocum to advance his division through the village of Burkittsville, and commence the attack upon the right. Wolcott's First Maryland Battery was stationed on the left and to the rear of the village, and maintained a steady fire on the positions of the enemy until they were assailed and carried by our troops. Smith's division was placed in reserve on the east side of the village, and held in readiness to co-operate with General Slocum, or support his attack, as occasion might require. Captain Ayres' battery, of this division, was posted on commanding ground to the left of the reserves, and kept up an uninterrupted fire on the principal battery of the enemy until the latter was driven from its position.

The advance of General Slocum was made with admirable steadiness through a well-directed fire from the batteries on the mountain, the brigade of Colonel Bartlett taking the lead, followed at proper intervals by the brigades of General Newton and Colonel Torbert. Upon fully determining the enemy's position, the skirmishers were withdrawn, and Colonel Bartlett became engaged along his entire line. He maintained his ground steadily under a severe fire for some time at a manifest disadvantage, until re-enforced by two regiments of General Newton's brigade upon his right, and the brigade of Colonel Torbert and the two remaining regiments of Newton's on his left. The line of battle thus formed, an immediate charge was ordered, and most gallantly executed. The men swept forward, with a cheer, over the stone wall, dislodging the enemy, and pursuing him up the mountain side to the crest of the hill and down the opposite slope. This single charge, sustained as it was over a great distance, and on a rough ascent of unusual steepness, was decisive. The enemy was driven in the utmost confusion from a position of strength, and allowed no opportunity for even an attempt to rally until the pass was cleared and in the possession of our troops.

When the division under General Slocum first became actively engaged, I directed General Brooks' brigade, of Smith's division, to advance upon the left of the road, and dislodge the enemy from the woods upon Slocum's flank. The movements was promptly and steadily made, under a severe artillery fire. General Brooks occupied the woods after a slight resistance, and then advanced, simultaneously with General Slocum, rapidly and in good order, to the crest of the mountain. The victory was completed, and its achievement followed so rapidly upon the first attack that the enemy's reserves, although pushed forward at the double-quick, arrived but in time to participate in the flight, and add confusion to the rout. Four hundred prisoners from seventeen different organizations, 700 stand of arms, 1 piece of artillery, and 3 stand of colors were captured, while numberless articles of equipment, knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, &c., were abandoned by the enemy in their flight. The gallantry of the officers and the spirit and dash displayed by the troops are worthy of the highest praise, and I respectfully call attention to the recommendations made in the accompanying reports of Major-General Slocum and the commanders of brigades, and solicit for them the favorable notice of the commanding general. I also respectfully refer to the reports in question for a detailed account of the operations of the respective brigades, and for the names of such officers as have won honorable mention for their gallant bearing in the field. While fully concurring in the recommendation offered in behalf of Colonels Bartlett and Torbert, who have certainly earned promotion on this as on other occasions, I respectfully and earnestly request that Brigadier-General Newton may be promoted to the rank of major-general for his conspicuous gallantry and important services during the entire engagement.

The prompt and energetic action of Dr. White, the medical director of the corps; of Dr. Bradley, his assistant, and of the medical staff of the different organizations engaged in bringing off and caring for the wounded, is worthy of the highest praise.

Our total loss in killed and wounded is 530. Of these, 16 are officers, 5 of whom were killed. The total loss, killed, was 110; wounded, 420. The losses of the enemy are not accurately known. We buried 150 of their dead, and took charge of more than 300 of their wounded, who were left upon the field.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding Sixth Corps.


Camp near Bakersville, Md., October 7, 1862.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this corps, under my command,in the battle of Antietam, on the 17th ultimo:

For the preceding two days I had been encamped in rear of Rohrersville, in Pleasant Valley. During the night of the 16th I received orders to move toward Keedysville in the morning with two divisions, and to dispatch General Couch's division to occupy Maryland Heights. I started at 5.30 a.m. General Smith's division led the column, and its head arrived at the field of battle about 10 o'clock. The division was ordered to take post in a wood on the left of the stone bridge across the Antietam, and I was directed to place Slocum's division on the right of the same bridge. Before the arrival of Slocum's division, General Smith was ordered to go to the assistance of General Sumner, forming on his left. He at once obeyed this order, and arrived on the field at a most opportune moment. His first brigade (Hancock's) formed as the support of two of General Sumner's batteries, then severely pressed by the enemy, drove away his skirmishers, who had already advanced close to the batteries, and occupied some buildings and fences in front of his position. This brigade was the means of saving two batteries, and occupied its position during the remainder of the action, sometimes under very heavy cannonading.

The Second Brigade (General Brooks') was for a short time retained on General Sumner's right, by his orders, but just after my arrival on the field General French reported his ammunition exhausted, and General Brooks was ordered to re-enforce him. His brigade took position on the right of General French. It remained in this position during the action. General Brooks was slightly wounded in the face by a musket-ball.

The Third Brigade (Colonel Irwin's) was placed by General Smith between Generals Hancock's and Brooks' position, and was scarcely in line when it was ordered forward to meet a charge of the enemy. It drove the enemy handsomely as far as the wood which had already been so hotly contested, suffering severe loss. Its success insured the safety of that part of the field during the remainder of the day, as no other infantry attack was made there. This brigade was relieved early next morning by one of General Couch's.

Slocum's division arrived on the field about 11 o'clock. Immediately after its arrival two of his brigades (Newton's and Torbert's) were formed in column of attack, to carry the wood in the immediate vicinity of the white church. The other brigade (Bartlett's) had been ordered by General Sumner to keep near his right. As this brigade was to form the reserve for the column of attack, I waited for it to come up. About the same time General Sumner arrived on the spot, and directed the attack to be postponed, and the enemy at once proceeded to fill the wood with infantry, and planted a battery there, which opened a severe fire upon us. Shortly afterward the commanding general came to the position and decided that it would not be prudent to make the attack, our position on the right being then considerably in advance of what it had been in the morning. The division, therefore, held its place until it was finally removed on the 19th. On two occasions during the afternoon of the 17th the enemy opened upon us from the wood with artillery fire. In each case their fire was soon silenced, and, it appeared from an examination of the ground afterward, with heavy loss of artillery and men.

General Couch's division had been ordered by the commanding general to repair to the field after it had made a long march toward Maryland Heights, and accordingly arrived there early on the morning of the 18th. It was posted on the left of General Slocum's division, and one of his brigades (General Cochrane's) relieved Colonel Irwin's, of Smith's division.

In this position, suffering severe cannonading at intervals, which they bore like the veterans they are, my command remained without change until daylight on the 19th, when a general advance was made by the pickets, under orders from headquarters. This advance revealed the fact that the enemy had retreated during the night.

The batteries of the corps, under command of Captain Ayres and Lieutenant Upton, were splendidly served and did excellent execution.

I regret to announce the death of Surgeon White, medical director of the corps, who was killed while we were examining the point of woods which we expected to attack. He had been attached to my staff, and his loss will be severely felt by the medical corps. His place was taken by Assistant Surgeon Bradley, U. S. Army, who fulfilled the arduous duties brought on by the battle in the ablest and most efficient manner. A list of the other casualties has already been transmitted to headquarters. My staff was very efficient and behaved well. Without any previous knowledge of the field, and with a large extent of ground covered by my command, its duties were arduous in the extreme. The names of my staff officers who were present, all of whom I commend to the favorable notice of the commanding general, are: Lieutenant Colonel O. D. Greene, assistant adjutant-general and chief of staff; Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Platt, assistant inspector-general; Captain M. T. McMahon, aide-de-camp to commanding general; Captain J. P. Baker, aide-de-camp; Captain J. C. Jackson, aide-de-camp. Captain W. P. Sanders, Sixth Cavalry, was temporarily on my staff during the action, and rendered efficient service. I also commend him to the notice of the commanding general on account of the able manner in which the cavalry under his command guarded and watched the country on the left and front of Jefferson, and filled up the void left by the advance of the infantry column.

I append a list of the reports of division and brigade commanders and chief of artillery, which are transmitted with this report.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding Sixth Corps.


Itinerary of the Sixth Army Corps, September 1-30, 1862.


September 1, left Centreville at sundown, and marched to Fairfax Court-House, Va.

September 2, marched to Seminary, near Alexandria.

September 6, marched, via Long Bridge, to Georgetown.

September 7, marched to Rabbit's farm, beyond Tennallytown, D. C.

September 8, marched to Muddy Run.

September 9, marched to Senecea Run, beyond Darnestown.

September 10, marched to Barnesville.

September 12, marched to near the Monocacy River, via Urbana.

September 13, marched to the foot of the Catoctin Mountains, near Jefferson.

September 14, marched across the mountains, and passed through Jefferson to Burkittsville, where we met the enemy's pickets at 3 p.m. Found the enemy strongly posted at Crampton's Pass, South Mountain. The division at once formed for attack, and after a severe engagement, carried the pass by storm, losing 114 men killed and 397 wounded, completely routing the enemy, and capturing 400 prisoners, 700 stand of arms, 4 stand of colors, 1 piece of artillery, &c.

September 17, left pass at daylight, and marched, via Rohresville and Keedysville, to the battle-field of Antietam, where we took position about noon, relieving a portion of General Sumner's corps. The division was not actively engaged, losing only 68 men killed and wounded.

September 19, moved to the Potomac, opposite Shepherdstown.

September 20, about midnight ordered to Williamsport.

September 23, moved to our present camp, near Bakersville.


The Third Brigade left Camp California, near Alexandria, Va., August 28, on the Fairfax and Alexandria turnpike. Arrived at Centreville the night of the 30th, where it encamped until the night of September 1. Tool up the march again, and encamped near Fairfax for the night. Reached Camp California, Va., again on September 2, and pitched tents and remained until September 6.

Marched across Long Bridge;encamped on September 7 near Georgetown, and marched through Tennalytown, Rockville, Barnesville, and Darnestown, to the right of Sugar Loaf Mountain, through Jefferson, towards the Catoctin Mountain. Marched through Burkittsville on the 15th, to support Brigadier General W. T. H. Brooks at Crampton's Pass. Remained here until Wednesday morning, the 17th. Moved with the division toward Sharpsburg, arrived at the battle-field of Antietam Creek about 10 a.m., went into action, and was under fire until 12 noon, the 18th, when relieved by Couch's division.

The total loss of the different regiments composing this brigade was as follows:

The Thirty-third New York Volunteers, 6 killed, 41 wounded; Forty-ninth New York Volunteers, 2 killed, 21 wounded; Seventh Maine, 12 killed, 63 wounded, and 20 missing; Seventy-seventh New York Volunteers, 6 killed, 26 wounded; Twentieth New York Volunteers, 38 killed, 96 wounded, and 11 missing. Total, 64 killed, 247 wounded, and 31 missing; in all, 342.

Remained near Sharpsburg until the 22d, and moved up near Bakersville, where the brigade is now encamped.


September 1, a.m., bivouacked between Alexandria and Centreville, moved to within 2 miles of Centreville, and returned to Germantown.

September 2, 5 p.m., brought up the rear of army on the retreat to Alexandria.

September 3, 2 a.m., bivouacked near Alexandria.

September 4, moved to vicinity of Chain Bridge, on the Virginia side.

September 5, 5 p.m., crossed Chain Bridge, and moved by river road 3 miles beyond Tenallytown.

September 6, reached Offutt's Cross-Roads.

September 9, moved to Seneca.

September 10, moved to Poolesville.

September 12, moved to Barnesville.

September 13, moved to Licksville.

September 14, moved to Jefferson, at 8 p.m., near Burkittsville, and joined General Franklin's corps.

September 15, moved to vicinity of Rohresville.

September 17, moved to Sandy Hook and back to vicinity of Sharpsburg.

September 18, in line of battle at Sharpsburg.

September 19, through Sharpsburg.

September 20, moved to cross-roads near Williamsport, skirmishing in front.

September 21, enemy retreated across the river from Williamsport.

September 23, moved to Downsville.

September 30, at Downsville.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 374 - 379


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