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Centennial Times - September 29,1861 - Enfield rifles win the day

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


September 29,1861

Federal Soldiers Win Spirited Skirmish Near Antietam Ford

Col. John W. Geary, commander of the Federal force in the Harper's Ferry area, has credited the efficiency and long range of the Enfield Rifles for the Federal victory in the skirmish at Pritchard's Mill, Va. near Antietam Ford, Sept. 15.

At 11 p. m. on Sept. 13, Geary, commander of the 28th Regiment of Pennsylvania Infantry, received information at his camp at Point of Rocks that about 2,200 Confederate troops were stationed in an “offensive attitude” between the Shenandoah River and Shepherdstown, on the Virginia shore of the Potomac River. At midnight, Geary proceeded from his camp with three companies of riflemen of his regiment, and a section of the New York Ninth Battery, with two rifled cannon, commanded by Lieut. J. W. Martin.

After a rapid and fatiguing march of 12 miles, the troops well covered, behind the embankments of the railroads and bushes, in houses, barns and lime quarries.

Geary stationed Company L, commanded by Capt. Barr, of his regiment upon the portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad below the abutment of the bunt bridge in the direction of Sandy Hook and instructed them to clear the Loudoun Heights and the road at the base. The Confederate troops quickly retired from Harper's Ferry.

He stationed a company and a half from the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded Maj. Gould, from Harpers Ferry bridge upward to the first lock on the canal, a distance of about one and a half miles. They were instructed to defend against attacks from the town and surrounding heights.

Geary placed Company B, commanded by Capt. Warden, of his regiment, above the lock where the right of Gould’s command rested and deployed it along the river about one mile. Geary then advanced with one piece of artillery and a detachment of 130 men and took possession of several dry basins along the canal and a point known as Maryland Ore Banks. Thus situated, a very spirited fire was maintained for over two hours until about 6 p.m. when the firing entirely ceased and the Confederates retired.

During this skirmish considerable damage was done to the mill, houses, and barns in which the Confederates had taken shelter that were within reach of the Federal cannon and rifles.

Geary reported that one man in his command was killed and three wounded. He said that the wounds all occurred from fragments detached from the bands around the James shell, discharged by “our own artillery.” He also reported that 18 Confederates were killed and 25 wounded.

In his official report of the fight, Geary said: “The efficiency and long range of our Enfield rifles has been fully proved in this affair, and I am pleased to state they have verified our fullest expectations. Their superior accuracy and length of range over those of the enemy account in part for the small number of casualties on our side.”
The Federal troops captured one prisoner, William S. Engles, second lieutenant of Company K, S. Engles, second lieutenant of Company K, Second Virginia Volunteers. Among the other articles captured were two iron cannon (12-pounders), two bay mules, two small brass mortars and one wagon.




Used with permission of the Herald-Mail

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 197-199, SEPTEMBER 15, 1861.--Skirmish at Pritchard’s Mill, Va., near Antietam Ford, Md. Report of Col. John W. Geary, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.


Collection Location:
Hagerstown, Maryland

Original Size:
59 x 33 cms

Washington County (Md.), history; Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862; Sharpsburg, Battle of, Md., 1862; Centennial celebrations, etc:

Washington County (Md.), 1860-1862

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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