History of Antietam National Cemetery (Bradford - page 40)
The battle of the 17th opened at the dawn of day on the spot where the skirmish of the previous evening had closed; each side seemed to have looked to this point as the one to be particularly strengthened, and as though anticipating the tremendous struggle of which it was to be the centre. General Mansfield's corps, composed of the two divisions of Generals Green and Williams, had crossed over in the night and taken post a mile to the rear of General Hooker; whilst on the Confederate side, General Jackson had brought one of his divisions to the front, and substituting two of his brigades for those of Hood, that had suffered from the engagement of the previous evening, placed the other—the old Stonewall division—in reserve in the woods on the west of the Hagerstown road.
In the whole history of the battle-fields of the rebellion, it would be perhaps difficult to find a spot which for an entire day was assailed and defended with such persevering, obstinate and concentrated valor as the one to which I now refer, embracing the ground on both sides the road just mentioned, and in close proximity to yonder little church that nestles now so quietly in the margin of the woods.
From early dawn till dark the conflict surged and swelled across it in one continual tide, advancing and receding as reinforcements from the one side or the other came to the support of their comrades. It was opened on our side with the three divisions of Generals Meade, Double-day and Ricketts, forming General Hooker's corps, who, after an hour of fearful carnage, succeeded in driving back Jackson's advanced line. Before, however, their exulting cheers had fairly ceased, they were themselves compelled to retire before his veteran reserves that now come to his relief, supported by Hill's division and Hood's refreshed brigades. The corps of General Mansfield coming next to our support, reinforced the shattered command of Hooker, and recovering the ground that had been lost, swept onward again to the road and seized a corner of the woods beyond.
Again, however, our tenure was but temporary; both our Corps Commanders had fallen—the veteran Mansfield and the intrepid Hooker— the one mortally, the other very painfully wounded, and their commands fearfully thinned, were again forced to fall back, when, just as they were retiring, two divisions of General Summer's Corps coming fresh upon the field, hurled back once more the Rebel line, and held for a time definite possession of the woods about the little church. The divisions of Generals Richardson and French falling in about this time to the support of Sumner, rushed valiantly to the front, and the tide of battle was once more flooding in our favor, when, just as victory seemed within our grasp, two fresh Confederate divisions, under McLaws and Walker, the one just arrived from Harper's Ferry, and the other detached from their right
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.