About Me

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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two young adult children who I love very much. I currently volunteer at Antietam and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. Since 2013 I have been conducting in depth research on the regular artillery companies of the Union Army and their leaders. I hope to turn this into a book on this subject in the future. My perspective comes from a 28-year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rocky Mountain Civil War Symposium “Lee Invades the North,”

Fellow Civil War blogger Nick Kurtz at Civil War Wanderings asked me to pass this on to everyone regarding The Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable's annual symposium which will be held on October 2-3, 2009 at the Community College of Aurora, Colorado. The theme is “Lee invades the North,” covering the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.

Speaking at the main event on Saturday, October 3rd, will be Russel Beatie, Stephen Recker, Bradley Gottfried, Lance Herdegen and Timothy B. Smith.

After the individual presentations there will be a panel discussion, followed by an author-signing event. The exhibit hall will have many of the presenters’ books for sale as well as Trailhead Graphics maps and an information booth from the Civil War Preservation Trust. There will also be a Friday night, October 2nd, social event. This extra event will be limited to about 25 people to keep the atmosphere casual and intimate.

Tickets for Saturday only are $50, while tickets for both events are $57.

To order tickets, please visit www.RockyMtnCivilWarRT.com/OrderTickets.htm. You can also reach the Round Table for tickets at 303-249-4336.

Russel H. Beatie will provide an overview of the two campaigns. Specifically he will focus on the corps commanders and how they performed in both campaigns. Beatie graduated from Princeton University and Columbia Law School, and has been a trial lawyer in New York City for more than three decades. His Civil War interest began at a young age when he read Douglas Southall Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants. A Kansas native and former lieutenant in the field artillery and infantry, Cap has lived in the New York City area most of his life. He has completed the third volume of his “Army of the Potomac” series, and is currently writing the fourth.

Books by Beatie include:
The Army of the Potomac: Birth of Command, November 1860-September 1861
Army of the Potomac, Volume II: McClellan Takes Command, September 1861-February 1862
Army of the Potomac: McClellan's First Campaign, March - May 1862

Stephen Recker will talk about the final phase of fighting at Antietam. He has titled his talk "IX Corps Final Attack: The Pickett's Charge of Antietam." Over the last 16 years Antietam National Battlefield has more than doubled in size due to the acquisition of properties such as the Otto Farm. The NPS continues to improve and interpret the south end of the battlefield which until recently was inaccessible to the public. On the afternoon of Sept 17, 1862 the final Union assault took place over this rolling terrain. The Federal IX Corps literally fought an uphill battle as they ascended 200 feet from the banks of Antietam Creek to the streets of Sharpsburg. They came within a hairsbreadth of cutting off Lee’s avenue of escape to the Potomac fords. The broken ground contributed greatly to the Confederate defense and allowed A.P. Hill’s arriving reinforcements to inflict a crushing flank attack, which stopped the Union advance. In his program, Stephen Recker will take you on a 'virtual' tour of that decisive ground using an early prototype of Virtual Antietam.

Recker left a twenty-year career as a professional guitarist to create Virtual Gettysburg, a critically acclaimed interactive Civil War battlefield tour, and its follow-up, Virtual Antietam, which will be released next year. An avid collector of early Antietam photography and relics, items from his collection can be seen in Civil War Times, America's Civil War, and on the new waysides at Antietam National Battlefield Park. He also gives tours for Antietam Battlefield Guides, a guide service he founded in partnership with Western Maryland Interpretive Association, the non-profit at Antietam. The program is modeled after the Gettysburg system of licensed battlefield guides. A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Recker was named a “Top 100 Producer” by AV Multimedia Producer Magazine, and recently produced a DVD about Little Bighorn.

There will be copies of Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg ($99), Antietam Artifacts - Postcards of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 ($19.95) and The Tipton Collection of Gettysburg Images ($19.95) available for sale at the symposium.

Bradley M. Gottfried will discuss the other invasion by Lee that culminated at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Gottfried is President of the College of Southern Maryland and has worked in higher education for more than three decades as a faculty member and administrator. As an avid Civil War Historian, Dr. Gottfried has authored many Gettysburg-related books and is currently working with Theodore P. Savas on a Gettysburg Campaign Encyclopedia.

Books by Gottfried include:
The Artillery of Gettysburg
Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg
The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign June 3 – July 13
The Maps of First Bull Run
Roads to Gettysburg: Lee's Invasion of the North, 1863
Kearny's Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade in the Civil War
Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade
The Battle of Gettysburg: A Guided Tour with Edward J. Stackpole, and Wilbur Sturtevant Nye.

One of the foremost authorities on the Iron Brigade is Lance J. Herdegen and he will explain its activities in the two campaigns in a program titled, "From The Cornfield to McPherson's Woods: The Iron Brigade at Antietam and Gettysburg." Herdegen is an award-winning author and journalist. He is presently a historical consultant at the Civil War Museum of the Upper Middle West and an adjunct lecturer in the Carroll University History Department. Herdegen had a long career with United Press International (UPI) news wire service where he covered civil rights and national politics. He has also appeared on the History Channel’s “Civil War Journal”. His latest work, "Those Damned Black Hats!" The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, recently won the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History.

Other books by Herdegen are:
The Men Stood Like Iron: How the Iron Brigade Won Its Name
Four Years with the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Journal of William Ray, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers with Sherry Murphy
In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg with William J.K. Beaudot

The final presenter, Timothy B. Smith, is primarily known as a Western theater historian but he also focuses on battlefield preservation. His talk, "Antietam and Gettysburg: Models of Battlefield Preservation," will compare the differing methods used to preserve Gettysburg and Antietam.

Smith received his BA and MA degrees in History from Ole Miss, which were followed by a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in 2001. A veteran of the National Park Service, he currently teaches history at University of Tennessee at Martin. His main area of interest and specialty, besides the Battle of Shiloh, is the history of battlefield preservation. Smith has been published in numerous journals and is currently working on a history of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park, which will be available for preorders at the symposium.

Smith’s other books are:
The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890's and the Establishment of America's First Five Military Parks
This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park
The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield
Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862
Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg
The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged by D. W. Reed (Reprint)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The "Other" Bridges Across the Antietam

There are actually five bridges that played a role in the Battle of Antietam. The Burnside Bridge is easily the most well known of the five but the others had important parts to play in this battle as well. Below is a brief history of each of these bridges and a photo that (with the exception of the Middle Bridge), was taken by me last Sunday, July 26th. According to Helen Ashe Hays in her book The Antietam and Its Bridges, (G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York and London 1910), a total of fourteen bridges were constructed by the commissioners of Washington County between the years of 1823 and 1863. All the bridges were made from the limestone deposits that are commonly found all over Washington County. Many of these limestone outcroppings are visible all around the Antietam Battlefield. Until 1830, the Commissioners of the Levy Court governed Washington County. They were responsible for the construction of the first five bridges. The first two bridges (Funkstown and the Leiterstown Road) were build in northern Washington County.

After the construction of these two bridges the commissioners contracted with Silas Harry to build the third bridge in the southern part of the county. This bridge was constructed for $1,800. It was located where the Boonsboro Pike crosses the Antietam near Sharpsburg at Major Christian Orndorff’s mill. Known originally as the bridge at Mumma’s Mill, and later as the Orndorff Bridge it is best remembered in Antietam history as the Middle Bridge. McClellan’s plan for the battle called for attacks against Lee’s flanks and at the right moment, the commitment of the Fifth Corps in a punch up the middle. In McClellan’s mind, this moment never came and the only action around this bridge during the battle, was skirmishing by Federal regular infantry battalions from Sykes Division and horse artillery from Pleasanton’s Cavalry Division against the Confederate forces of Nathan Shanks Evans brigade and the division of David R. Jones. The Middle Bridge is the only one of the five stone bridges near the battlefield that did not survive to the present. In 1889 after “forty days of rain” which precipitated the Johnston Pennsylvania flood farther north, the piers of the bridge weakened and it began to settle in the high waters. The bridge was condemned and torn down. An iron bridge replaced it before the modern overpass was built.

In 1829 an act was passed by the Levy Court that authorized the building of the next stone bridge near Samuel Hitt’s mill. This mill was later known as Pry’s Mill. The bridge was built by noted bridge builder John Weaver, constructor of 6 of the 14 Antietam bridges. Silas Harry, the builder of the Orndorff Bridge acted as John Weaver’s agent and was paid $1,413.66 for the work. The bridge was built on the point where the Keedysville road crosses the Antietam. This ford was the scene in 1755 where General Edward Braddock and colonial volunteer officer George Washington and their forces crossed the Antietam on their ill-fated journey to the west. This was the bridge also known as the Upper Bridge that was the crossing point for General Hooker’s First Corps on September 16th 1862.

In 1830, the old Levy Court was abolished and the new Board of County Commissioners carried on the work of supervising the county roads. The first bridge (number six in the series), built by them in 1832, was the stone bridge near the mouth of the creek at the old Iron Works below Sharpsburg. It is the largest of the Antietam bridges and the only one to have four arches. John Weaver was the builder of this bridge. It carried the road from Sharpsburg to Harpers Ferry and is located at the site of a large iron works complex first known as the Frederick Forge and later as the Antietam Iron Works. Munford's cavalry screened this bridge along the extreme southern flank of Lee's lines on the day of the battle. On September 17th, it was screened by Munford’s Confederate cavalry. Later in the day, elements of A.P. Hills Light Division were sent to the area to provide furthr protection to Lee's southern flank.

In 1833, the County Commissioners appointed a committee for “viewing the site of a bridge over the Antietam on the Sharpsburg and Maple Swamp road”. The contract for building the ninth Antietam bridge went to John Weaver at a cost of $2300. It is the most well known of the Antietam bridges. Known at various times as the Rohrbach, or Lower Bridge, history now accords it the name Burnside Bridge. Along this beautiful stretch of the Antietam was a scene of desperate fighting on September 17th, 1862 between the divisions of Ambrose Burnside’s Ninth Corps and the brigade of Georgians under Robert Toombs. This is the only bridge of this group that is not part of the road system of the area. It is now owned and carefully maintained by the National Park Service.

Finally the last bridge is one that doesn’t cross the Antietam at all, but its tributary, the Little Antietam. Located not far from the Hitt Bridge is the Pry’s Mill Bridge. George Burgan built this two-arch bridge for $1,650 in 1858. Its cutwaters, the upstream pier bulwarks designed to divide the current and break up ice flows and log jams, are unique in that they are shaped like the prows of ships. Both grist and sawmills operated at nearby Samuel Pry’s Mill. The wings and parapet of the bridge were rebuilt in the twentieth century. Like the nearby Hitt Bridge, Hooker’s Corps also used this bridge to cross the Little Antietam on its way to the battlefield.

Monday, July 27, 2009

South Mountain Wreathed in Smoke? I wonder...

Driving home from Antietam National Battlefield on Sunday after another good day of volunteering, I had just passed over Crampton's Gap and driven through Burkittsville on my way home to Jefferson. Out of the rear view mirror, I caught this view of South Mountain. I have learned when journeying to and from the battlefield that it always pays to carry my camera along. In this case, my carefulness was rewarded with this truly grand view. The camera does little justice to the actual view, but to me, it was a reminder of what the Middletown Valley may have looked like at the end of the fighting for the mountain passes on September 14, 1862. It really looks like a pall of smoke hanging over the mountain. Of course in my case, this is not gun smoke but fog drifting down the valley after another one of our summer downpours. This is from the Union perspective, looking generally west and a little north. Crampton's Gap is to the south (left) and Lamb's Knoll is just rising to the north (right). On the other side of the mountain is Pleasant Valley protected on the west by Elk Ridge and on the east by the mountain you see here. Pleasant Valley is the main avenue between Boonsboro in the north and Harpers Ferry in the south. Further west and over Elk Ridge is the town of Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Joseph Poffenberger Barn Restoration

Visitors to Antietam National Battlefield this year are seeing the restoration of the historic Joseph Poffenberger barn on the northern part of the battlefield. The photos taken by me over the past six months, show the work at various stages of progress. This $400,000 effort is being supported by a $10,000 gift from the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. To learn more about the barn restoration, see the article at the SHAF website here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Great Post on George McClellan

Mannie Gentile just posted a terrific analysis on the historiography of George McClellan at the Battle of Antietam. Shown at the left is the Pry House where McClellan spent most of September 17, 1862. No matter what your stance is on McClellan, Mannie's post is a must see. Find it here

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sharpsburg's Confederate Generals at Gettysburg

We looked at the Army of the Potomac several days ago tracing the careers of the Antietam generals until the Battle of Gettysburg. Today we will do the same thing for the Confederate officers. With the Army of Northern Virginia, I also address the careers of the brigade commanders as well. Antietam veterans can be distinguished by their names in bold.

Robert E. Lee was in command of the Army of Northern Virginia for only about ten weeks when he initiated the Maryland campaign. As he launched the Gettysburg campaign Lee would be firmly in command after one year of nearly complete battlefield success. Prior to Antietam, he had defeated Federal armies at the bloody Seven Days and Second Manassas battles. After Antietam, Lee would achieve his most lop-sided victory over the Federal Army under Ambrose Burnside at the defensive Battle of Fredericksburg. Then during the first week of May 1863, he would seize the initiative and Joseph Hooker’s well designed offensive campaign would go down to crushing defeat at perhaps Lee’s greatest masterpiece, the Battle of Chancellorsville. As he moved into Pennsylvania, Lee’s star was at its apogee.

At the Battle of Antietam, the Army of Northern Virginia contained two corps level commands, and nine infantry divisions which contained 40 infantry brigades. At Gettysburg, there were three corps, nine infantry divisions, and 37 infantry brigades. The corps command level was not officially in place until shortly after Antietam. When the Confederate government authorized the creation of the corps command and the rank of lieutenant general, Lee immediately recommended James Longstreet and Thomas J. Jackson for promotion and assignment to command the I and II Corps respectively of the Army of Northern Virginia. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee created the III Corps, assigned Ambrose Powell Hill to command, and promoted Richard Ewell to replace the slain Stonewall Jackson in command of the II Corps.

Longstreet, who commanded the right wing at the Battle of Antietam, was promoted to Lieutenant General on October 9, 1862 to command the I Corps. He would still be with his corps as the Gettysburg Campaign began. Using Ezra Carmen’s order of battle, under Longstreet’s command at Antietam were five infantry divisions of 20 brigades and a separate infantry brigade. This included the divisions of Lafayette McLaws, John Bell Hood, David R. Jones, John G. Walker, and Richard Anderson, and the independent brigade commanded by Nathan “Shanks” Evans. At Gettysburg, Longstreet’ would command the divisions of McLaws, Hood, and Pickett with 11 brigades. We will cover all but Richard Anderson’s division immediately below and come back to him when we discuss the III Corps.

In terms of organizational structure and command changes, Lafayette McLaw’s division was among the most stable of the nine divisions between Antietam and Gettysburg. The division received a number of Georgia regiments when Thomas Drayton’s brigade of David Jones’s division was broken up, but three of the four Antietam brigade commanders, Joseph Kershaw, Paul Semmes, and William Barksdale were in their commands at Gettysburg. The lone new brigade commander was William Wofford, another Antietam veteran, moved from the Texas Brigade in Hood’s Division to replace Howell Cobb. Cobb was reassigned at his own request in October 1862 to the District of Middle Florida.

John Bell Hood would continue to command his division at Gettysburg. It was expanded from two to four brigades. The Texas Brigade would be commanded at Gettysburg by Jerome Robertson from the 5th Texas. Robertson was wounded at Second Manassas and missed Antietam. Evander Law was still in command of his brigade at Gettysburg. The brigades of Antietam veterans George T. Anderson and Henry Benning (who succeeded to command of Robert Toomb's brigade) from David Jones division were the two new brigades added to Hood’s command.

David R. Jones would not live to see the Gettysburg Campaign. Jones would die of heart disease on January 15, 1863. He was strongly affected by the death of his beloved brother-in-law, Colonel Henry Kingsbury of the 11th Connecticut, killed by Jones’s men at the Burnside Bridge. Some credit Jones’s collapse and early death in part to Kingsbury’s death. The brigades of Robert Garnett, James Kemper and Micah Jenkins would form George Pickett’s division. Jenkins Brigade would be detached during the Gettysburg campaign to protect the Richmond area. Pickett’s division would be rounded out by the addition of Lewis Armistead’s brigade from Richard Anderson’s division. Pickett was recovering from wounds suffered at Gaines Mill and did not see action at Antietam. As we noted, George T. Anderson and Henry Benning’s brigades went to Hood. Thomas Drayton would be sent to the Trans-Mississippi but his regiments would round out Paul Semmes and Joseph Kershaw’s brigades.

John Walker’s small division would not long survive the Battle of Antietam. Walker himself was promoted to major general and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi to command the Texas infantry division in the District of West Louisiana. His two veteran North Carolina brigades of Robert Ransom and Van Manning would likewise not see service with Lee during the Gettysburg campaign. Ransom would continue to command his brigade. Manning wounded while in temporary brigade command at Antietam, returned to the 3rd Arkansas in the Texas Brigade at Gettysburg. John Rogers Cooke of the 27th North Carolina afterward assumed command of this brigade. Both Ransom and Cooke were dispatched to North Carolina in early 1863 where they remained during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Rounding out Longstreet’s Antietam command was the independent brigade of South Carolina regiments commanded by Nathan “Shanks” Evans. In November, 1862, the brigade and its irascible commander were transferred to South Carolina and in late May, 1863 moved to Mississippi as part of French’s Division of the Army of Tennessee.

Thomas J. Jackson commanded the left wing at Antietam. According to Carmen, Jackson’s command included the four infantry divisions of John R. Jones, Alexander Lawton, D.H. Hill and A.P. Hill, a total of 19 infantry brigades. Officially elevated to corps command and the rank of lieutenant general on October 10, 1862, Jackson would be mortally wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863 and die eight days later on May 10. Richard Ewell who was Jackson’s principle subordinate during the Valley Campaign, Seven Days Battles and the Second Manassas Campaign would be elevated to command of the II Corps on May 23, 1863. Ewell recovering from the loss of his left leg at Second Manassas was not present at Antietam. At Gettysburg, Ewell’s Corps would include Jackson’s old division commanded by Edward “Allegheny” Johnson, Ewell’s division commanded by Jubal Early, and the division commanded at Antietam by D.H. Hill, now commanded by Robert Rodes. There were a total of 13 infantry brigades in the II Corps at Gettysburg.

The Stonewall Division commanded at Antietam by John R Jones would see a completely new leadership team by the Battle of Gettysburg. Jones was temporarily elevated to the command at the start of the Maryland Campaign with the wounding of William Taliaferro at Groveton on August 28, 1862. Pleading a supposed injury from an artillery concussion, Jones would leave the Antietam battlefield early on September 17th, and turn over command to William Starke. Starke would be killed within an hour and command of the now much reduced division would fall to Andrew Jackson Grigsby of the Stonewall Brigade. Jones would eventually return to his brigade but there would be an equally suspicious example of cowardice at Fredericksburg. He would be tried by court martial and acquitted on four counts of misbehavior in front of the enemy. Restored to brigade command, Jones would again leave the field at Chancellorsville complaining of an ulcerated leg. He would resign from the army shortly thereafter. Grigsby would also be long gone from the Army by Gettysburg. Enraged that Jackson did not offer him permanent command of the Stonewall Brigade, Grigsby would resign from the Army on November 19, 1862. At Gettysburg the very capable Edward “Allegheny” Johnson would command the division. Johnson did not hold a command in the Army of Northern Virginia at the time of the Battle of Antietam. He had been wounded earlier in the year at the Battle of McDowell on May 8, 1862. There would be four new brigade commanders. James Walker commanded Trimble’s brigade at Antietam and would be permanently in command of the Stonewall brigade at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg, Colonel Jesse Williams of the 2nd Louisiana would command the division’s Louisiana brigade that was commanded at Antietam by William Starke. John Robert Jones Brigade would be commanded by John Marshall “Rum” Jones at Gettysburg. Colonel James Jackson of the 47th Alabama commanded the fourth brigade at Antietam. George H. “Maryland” Steuart would command it at Gettysburg.

Richard Ewell’s division was commanded at Antietam by Alexander Lawton. Lawton was seriously wounded there and would never return to active field command. However by August 1863, he would recover enough from his wounds to be appointed Quartermaster General of the Confederate Army. Jubal Early assumed temporary command of the division upon the wounding of Lawton and by the time of Gettysburg was in permanent command. At Gettysburg, John Gordon of the 6th Alabama at Antietam commanded Lawton’s old brigade of Georgians. Colonel Marcellus Douglass commanded the brigade at Antietam and was killed there. Henry Hays remained in command of his Louisiana brigade. Early’s brigade went to William “Extra Billy” Smith. Colonel James A. Walker who was wounded early in the fighting commanded Trimble’s brigade at Antietam. At the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, this brigade had only one original Antietam regiment (the 21st North Carolina); the 15th Alabama going to Law, and the 12th and 21st Georgia going to Doles. At Gettysburg, Colonel Isaac Avery of the 6th North Carolina commanded the brigade.

D.H. Hill commanded the division at Antietam that would go to Robert Rodes at Gettysburg. Hill, an officer often critical of Robert E. Lee was reassigned after the Battle of Fredericksburg to the Department of South Virginia and North Carolina and was in that position during the Battle of Gettysburg. His feud with Lee over the dispatch of veteran reinforcements from North Carolina to Lee’s army prior to the Gettysburg campaign further widened the gulf between the men. Rodes was a brigade commander under Hill before assuming command of the division. At Gettysburg, Stephen D. Ramseur commanded Rodes old brigade. Ramseur, formerly of the 49th North Carolina was wounded at Malvern Hill and did not return to duty until November 1, 1862. At Gettysburg, George Dole commanded Roswell Ripley’s brigade. Dole, formerly commander of the 4th Georgia was wounded at Malvern and did not see action at Antietam. Ripley in early 1863 returned to South Carolina and was responsible for the Charleston defenses until late 1864. Alfred Iverson commanded Samuel Garland’s brigade at Gettysburg. Iverson, the commander of the 20th North Carolina, was wounded at Gaines Mill and did not see action at Antietam. He assumed command of the brigade on November 6, 1862. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, Albert Colquitt and his brigade (except for the 13th Alabama) was sent to Charleston where it served during the summer of 1863. The 13th Alabama went to Archer’s Brigade. Rounding out the division was a brand new fifth brigade of North Carolina regiments commanded by Junius Daniels that was added just before the Gettysburg campaign. Daniels commanded the 45th North Carolina and was wounded at Malvern Hill. He was recovering from his wounds during the Battle of Antietam.

On May 24, 1863, Lee promoted Ambrose Powell Hill to command the new III Corps. Hill led the Light Division on its immortal march from Harpers Ferry at the Battle of Antietam. The new corps included Richard Anderson’s division, and the divisions of Dorsey Pender and Henry Heth, created from the six brigades of A.P. Hill’s Light Division and two new brigades from North Carolina. There were a total of 13 infantry brigades in the III Corps.

Richard Anderson would retain command of his division at the battle of Gettysburg. As part of the reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia prior to the Gettysburg campaign, Anderson’s division was moved to A.P. Hill’s new III Corps. The changes in his command are among the most complicated to follow. Of his six brigade commanders, only three (the brigades of Ambrose Wright, Roger Pryor, and Lewis Armistead) were at Antietam. The other brigades (Cadmus Wilcox, William Featherston and William Mahone,) had acting commanders for various reasons at Antietam. Ambrose Wright, wounded at Antietam would return in time for the Gettysburg campaign. Roger Pryor’s brigade consisting largely of Florida troops would be commanded at Gettysburg by Colonel David Lang. Lang, wounded at Antietam was commander of Company C, 8th Florida in that battle. Pryor would be gone by the time of the Gettysburg campaign. Militarily inept, he left the Army of Northern Virginia in December 1862 and held no official assignment with the Confederate Army during the Gettysburg campaign. Pryor resigned his commission on August 18, 1863 but would appear later in the war as a courier, spy, and finally in November 1864 as a private in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. As I mentioned, Lee moved Lewis Armistead’s brigade out of Anderson’s Division to help create George Pickett’s new division. Anderson’s three other of brigade commanders were absent at Antietam. Cadmus Wilcox, according to one source (Joseph Harsh in Sounding the Shallows) was too ill to command at Antietam but would be back with his brigade at Gettysburg. Colonel Alfred Cumming of the 10th Georgia commanded Wilcox’s brigade at Antietam. Also plagued by illness was William Featherston, commander of a brigade of Mississippi regiments. He would relinquish command at Antietam to Carnot Posey of the 16th Mississippi. At Gettysburg, Posey would have permanent command of this brigade. Featherston meanwhile was transferred west, and would command a brigade in the Army of the Mississippi during the Gettysburg campaign. The third absent brigade commander was William “Little Billy” Mahone. Wounded at Second Manassas, his brigade would be commanded at Antietam by William Parham. Mahone would be back in command at Gettysburg.

Dorsey Pender assumed command of the bulk of the Light Division. This included the four Antietam brigades of Pender, Lawrence Branch, Maxey Gregg, and Edward Thomas. Three of the four brigades would have different commanders at Gettysburg. When Dorsey Pender moved up to command the division, Alfred Scales of the 13th North Carolina took command of his brigade. Scales, wounded at Malvern Hill was not present at Antietam and did not return to the Army until after the Battle of Fredericksburg. James H. Lane commander of the 28th North Carolina replaced Branch upon his death at Antietam. Lane would continue to command the brigade through the Gettysburg campaign. Maxey Gregg was killed leading his brigade at Fredericksburg. His successor Samuel McGowan was wounded at Chancellorsville and Hill selected Antietam veteran Colonel Abner Perrin of the 14th South Carolina to take command of the brigade. Edward Thomas commanded the brigade ordered by Hill to remain at Harpers Ferry when the remainder of the division marched to Sharpsburg on September 17th. He was still in command at Gettysburg.

Henry Heth commanded the third division of the III Corps. Heth had not previously served with the Army of Northern Virginia. His division contained the two other brigades of the Light Division, commanded at Antietam by John M.Brockenbrough and James Archer. Both these officers remained in command of their brigades at Gettysburg. The other two brigades were new to the Army of Northern Virginia. Joseph Davis, formerly a military aide to his uncle, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, commanded one of the new brigades. Johnston Pettigrew commanded the other brigade. Pettigrew, a commander of several different regiments early in the war, was wounded and captured at Fair Oaks on May 31, 1862. He was exchanged on August 15, 1862 and served for a time in the Department of South Virginia and North Carolina before assignment to his brigade on May 5, 1863.

What effect if any did the presence of Antietam veterans have on the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg? The I Corps had at 87%, the greatest percentage of commanders at or above the brigade level who were Antietam commanders. James Longstreet, two of his three division commanders, and ten of eleven brigade commanders were Antietam veterans. Perhaps a reason for the very high percentage of Antietam commanders was because the I Corps did not fight at the bloody battle of Chancellorsville. Conversely, the II Corps at 24% had the smallest percentage of Antietam veterans and was fully engaged. Though Richard Ewell was not at Antietam, two of three division commanders, and two of thirteen brigade commanders were Antietam veterans. In the III Corps, 64% of brigade commanders and above were Antietam veterans. A.P. Hill, two of three division commanders, and eight of thirteen brigade commanders were Antietam. Overall 57%, or 2 of 3 corps commanders, 6 of 9 division commanders, and 20 of 37 brigade commanders were Antietam veterans.

NOTE: Command assignments and biographical information were verified in Civil War High Commands edited by John H. and David J. Eicher (Stanford University Press, 2001), and in Confederate Colonels – A Biographical Register by Bruce S. Allardice (University of Missouri Press, 2008).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Union Generals Nine Months After Antietam...

At Antietam, I talk to many folks who are either on their way to or from Gettysburg when they visit us. I am frequently asked if the generals that I discuss in my talks about Antietam were also at Gettysburg. That line of questioning got me to thinking. While this is ostensibly an Antietam blog, I thought that in honor of the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, I would move the clock forward nine months or so and say a little about the generals of Antietam and where they were when Lee’s army again swept north toward the town of Gettysburg. Today, we will talk about the Army of the Potomac. Many were still in the Army, often promoted to higher positions. Some had died or were recovering from their wounds. Others had been reassigned or were gone from the Army, victims of politics or their own scheming.

George McClellan
, commander of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam was relieved of his command on November 7, 1862. In late June of 1863, McClellan then living in New York City travelled to Albany and assisted Governor Seymour in organizing New York militia that were being sent to Pennsylvania.

First Corps commander, Joseph Hooker, wounded at the Battle of Antietam was commanding the Army of the Potomac when Lee began his invasion in June of 1863. Defeated at Chancellorsville a month earlier, Hooker was damaged goods by this time. Not given the freedom of action by Halleck to use the Harpers Ferry garrison in his plans, Hooker requested to be relieved of command. His request was granted and on June 28th, just three days before the Battle of Gettysburg. George Meade, who commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves in the First Corps under Hooker at Antietam, was elevated to command of the Army of the Potomac. At Gettysburg, John Reynolds would command the First Corps. During the Maryland campaign, Reynolds, against the will of George McClellan, was detached from the Army of the Potomac to organize the Pennsylvania militia He is the only Union Corps Commander at Gettysburg who was not present at Antietam on September 17, 1862. Of the other two Antietam division commanders in the First Corps, Abner Doubleday would command another First Corps division at the start of the battle of Gettysburg, and assume command of the Corps upon the death of Reynolds. James Ricketts who was seriously wounded at Antietam would not return to an active command until March of 1864 when he would command a division of Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps. In the meantime, Ricketts served on the court martial of Fitz John Porter and performed other light duty.

Second Corps commander, Edwin Vose Sumner would not live to see the Battle of Gettysburg. Elevated to Grand Division commander when Burnside assumed command of the Army after McClellan’s relief, Sumner had no desire to serve under Joseph Hooker when the latter assumed command of the Army of the Potomac in January of 1863. Assigned to the Department of the Missouri, Sumner was on his way to St. Louis when he died of a heart attack on March 21, 1863 in his hometown of Syracuse New York. At Gettysburg, Winfield Scott Hancock commanded the Second Corps. He would begin his association with the Second Corps on September 17, 1862 when he assumed command of Israel Richardson’s division when the latter was mortally wounded. Before this, Hancock was a brigade commander in Smith’s Division of Franklin’s Sixth Corps. Of the other Antietam division commanders, John Sedgwick would recover from his wounds and command the Sixth Corps at Gettysburg. William French would be later reassigned to command of the Harpers Ferry garrison at the beginning of the Gettysburg campaign.

Fitz-John Porter, commander of the Fifth Corps, was essentially under indictment throughout the Maryland Campaign for his supposed disobedience of John Pope’s orders to attack in the Second Battle of Manassas. McClellan persuaded Lincoln to retain Porter until after the battle but he was relieved of his command and arrested on November 25, 1862. Porter was found guilty of disobedience and misconduct in a speedy court martial on January 10, 1863. He was dismissed from the Army on January 21, 1863. George Sykes, who at Antietam commanded the division of regulars would move up to command the Fifth Corps during at the battle of Gettysburg. The other division commander at Antietam was George Morell. He was closely identified with Fitz-John Porter and testified on Porter’s behalf at his court martial. This would cost him dearly and as a result, Morell would lose his command in December of 1862. He would receive no other important assignment for the duration of the war.

William Franklin, commander of the Sixth Corps at Antietam, would be elevated to the command of a Grand Division during the Fredericksburg campaign. Franklin would scheme with other officers against Burnside after the battle. Burnside would blame him for the failure of the attack at Fredericksburg, and succeed in having him relieved of command. During the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, Franklin was home in York, Pennsylvania, and assisted state authorities in developing plans for the defense of the region against an expected enemy attack. John Sedgwick would assume command of the Sixth Corps after recovering from his Antietam wounds and from Chancellorsville on, lead the corps until his death on May 9, 1864 at Spotsylvania Court House. Division commanders Henry Slocum, and William F. Smith would have very different careers from each other. During the Maryland Campaign, Slocum commanded the division of the Sixth Corps that captured Crampton’s Gap on September 14th 1862. He would go on to command the Twelfth Corps at Gettysburg. Smith would be promoted to command the Sixth Corps during the Fredericksburg campaign, but his penchant for intrigue and plotting against Burnside after the battle would cost him. Relieved of corps command and reverting to the rank of brigadier general, Smith commanded a division-sized force of militia within the Department of the Susquehanna during the critical days of the Gettysburg Campaign.

The Ninth Corps and its commander Ambrose Burnside would not see action at Gettysburg. Burnside, elevated to command of the Army of the Potomac after the Battle of Antietam would himself be relieved of command after the Battle of Fredericksburg. He would be assigned to command the Department of Ohio, an area that included Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. Burnside would be serving there during the Gettysburg campaign. In the summer of 1863, the Ninth Corps under the command of Major General John G. Parke participated in the investment and capture of the city of Vicksburg. Parke served as Burnside’s chief of staff at Antietam. Of the four Antietam division commanders Isaac P. Rodman was wounded there and died on September 30, 1862. The other Ninth Corp’s division commanders would head west but none would serve with the Ninth Corps at Vicksburg. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Samuel Sturgis would command a division in the Army of the Ohio. Orlando Willcox and Jacob Cox would command military districts in Burnside’s Department the Ohio. Willcox would command the District of Indiana and Michigan. Cox would command the District of Ohio.

For much of the spring and summer of 1862, Nathaniel Banks commanded the Twelfth Corps. In early September, McClellan placed Banks in command of the Washington defenses and assigned command of the Twelfth Corps to fellow West Pointer Major General Joseph Mansfield on September 15, 1862. Mansfield, in command for just two days was mortally wounded within minutes of arriving on the battlefield. His senior division commander Alpheus Williams succeeded him. Williams had led the corps in the interim between the relief of Banks and the arrival of Mansfield on September 15th and would hold the command again until October 20, 1862 when Henry Slocum assumed command. At Gettysburg, Slocum would be temporarily elevated to command of the “right wing” of the Army of the Potomac and Williams would find himself again in temporary command of the Twelfth Corps. George Greene, the other division commander at Antietam would revert to command of his brigade. His heroic stand at Culp’s Hill during the battle of Gettysburg would contribute significantly to Union success there.

The Third and Eleventh Corps were not present at the Battle of Antietam. McClellan left them in the fortifications around Washington during the Maryland Campaign but both fought at Gettysburg. There, the commander of the Eleventh Corps was Oliver Otis Howard. At Antietam, Howard commanded the Philadelphia Brigade in Sedgwick’s Division of Sumner’s Corps. Other Potomac officers at Antietam would see their stars continue to rise. Brigade commanders John Gibbon, John Caldwell, and Samuel Crawford would command divisions at Gettysburg. Regimental commanders would move up to brigade command. Countless other Union officers and men, survivors and veterans of not just the Maryland Campaign, but of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville as well would make another stand at the small Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg. Another invasion. Another battle.

NOTE: Command assignments were verified in Civil War High Commands edited by John H. and David J. Eicher (Stanford University Press, 2001)