The Battle of Antietam

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 4, 1862

This site features all the original Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers are full of incredible illustrations and first hand stories of the War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular illustrated newspaper of the day.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

McClellan in Frederick, Maryland

McClellan in Frederick, Maryland

Abolition of Slavery

Abolition of Slavery

Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

General Franklin

General Franklin

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Battle of Antietam

Battle of Antietam

Battle of Iuka

Battle of Iuka, Mississippi

Market House, Cincinnati

The Market House, Cincinnati

Maryland Heights

Maryland Heights

Kentucky Battle Map

Kentucky Battle Map

Antietam

Antietam

Slave Cartoon

Slave Cartoon

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[OCTOBER 4, 1862.

634

THE CRIPPLE AT THE GATE.

LOOK! how the hoofs and wheels to-day

Scatter the dust on the broad highway,

Where Beauty, and Fashion, and Wealth, and Pride

On saddle and cushion serenely ride!

The very steeds have a conscious prance

Of pride in their elegant freight!

Love and laughter like jewels slip

From the sparkling eye and the merry lip:

You never would think that the Nation's life

Hung on the thread of a desperate strife,

Unless from these you should turn, by chance,

To the Cripple at the Gate.

Weary, and footsore, and ragged, and soiled, Through the summer glare he has slowly toiled Along the edge of the broad highway.

Since the early dawn of the westering day:

His rags are flecked with the dusty foam

That flew from the gilded bits

Of the champing steeds that passed him by;

And a haggard shadow is in his eye,

But it is not the gloom of an envious pain!

He has left a limb on the battle-plain,

And to win his way to his distant home

At my gate, a Beggar, he sits!

 

He tells me his tale in a simple way:

"I had nothing," he says, "except my pay,

And a wife and four little girls, and so

I sent all my money to them, you know!

When I lost my limb, Sir—but that I'm lame,

I do not complain, for, you see,

'Tis the fortune of war, and it might be worse;

And I'd lose the other to stop the curse

Of his terrible strife! But I meant to say,

When I left the hospital t'other day,

I did think I had a kind of a claim

To be sent to my village free.

 

"Don't you think it hard yourself, Sir? True,

There's a hundred dollars of bounty due

In three years, or when the war's ended; but how

Long may that be—can you tell me now?

I did not enlist for bounty, I trust

My conscience I never have sold;

But how does it look for a soldier to 'tramp,'

Begging his way like a vagabond scamp,

From the fields where he often risked his life,

To the home where he left his babes and wife,

In a uniform made of tatters and dust

Instead of the 'blue and gold?'

 

"Whose fault this is, Sir, I do not know,"

Said the wayworn man as he rose to go;

"But of this, alas: I am sure—the sight

Of a soldeer returning in such a plight

To the home whence, a few short months ago, He marched in a gallant band,

With music, and banners, and shining steel

Will dull more ears to the battle-peal,

And cause more bosoms with doubt to swell,

Than the secret traitor's deadliest spell.

Don't you see yourself, Sir, it must be so?"

And he sighed as I held out my hand.

 

Lofty carriage and low coupe

Still whirl the dust on the broad highway; Beauty, and Fashion, and Wealth, and Pride

Still through the roseate twilight ride,

With love, and laughter, and prancing steed,

As if Pleasure were all life's fate,

But I gaze no more on the joyous train,

For my eye is fixed with a steadfast strain

On the tattered soldier's halting stride,

Till his tall form sinks down the dark hill-side;

Then I cry, "Thank God! he hath now no need

To beg at the stranger's gate!"

THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM.

ON pages 632 and 633 we publish illustrations of the great BATTLE OF ANTIETAM, which was fought on 17th September. We subjoin, by way of explanation to the pictures, the following extracts from the graphic letter of the Tribune correspondent:

The battle began with the dawn. Morning found both armies just as they had slept, almost close enough to look into each other's eyes. The left of Meade's reserves and the right of Ricketts's line became engaged at nearly the same moment, one with artillery, the other with infantry. A battery was almost immediately pushed forward beyond the central woods, over a plowed field, near the top of the slope where the corn-field began. On this open field, in the corn beyond, and in the woods, which stretched forward into the broad fields like a promontory into the ocean, were the hardest and deadliest struggles of the day.

For half an hour after the battle had grown to its full strength the line of fire swayed neither way. Hooker's men were fully up to their work. They saw their General every where in front, never away from the fire, and all the troops believed in their commander, and fought with a will. Two-thirds of them were the same men who, under McDowell, had broken at Manassas.

The half hour passed, the rebels began to give way a little, only a little, but at the first indication of a receding fire, Forward! was the word, and on went the line with a cheer and a rush. Back across the corn-field, leaving dead and wounded behind them, over the fence, and across the road, and then back again into the dark woods which closed around them, went the retreating rebels.

Meade and his Pennsylvanians followed hard and fast—followed till they came within easy range of the woods, among which they saw their beaten enemy disappearing—followed still, with another cheer, and flung themselves against the cover.

But out of those gloomy woods came suddenly and heavily terrible volleys—volleys which smote, and bent, and broke in a moment that eager front, and hurled them swiftly back for half the distance they had won. Not swiftly, nor in panic, any further. Closing up their shattered lines, they came slowly away—a regiment where a brigade had been, hardly a brigade where a whole division had been, victorious. They had met from the woods the first volleys of musketry from fresh troops—had met them and returned them till their line had yielded and gone down before the weight of fire, and till their ammunition was exhausted.

In ten minutes the fortune of the day seemed to have changed—it was the rebels now who were advancing, pouring out of the woods in endless lines, sweeping through the corn-field from which their comrades had just fled. Hooker sent in his nearest brigade to meet them, but it could not do the work. He called for another. There was nothing close enough, unless he took it from his right. His right might be in danger if it was weakened, but his centre was already threatened with annihilation. Not hesitating one moment, he sent to Doubleday, "Give me your best brigade instantly."

The best brigade came down the hill to the right on the run, went through the timber in front through a storm of shot and bursting shell and crashing limbs, over the open field beyond, and straight into the corn-field, passing as they went the fragments of three brigades shattered by the rebel fire, and streaming to the rear. They passed by Hooker, whose eyes lighted as he saw these veteran troops led by a soldier whom he knew he could trust. "I think they will hold it," he said.   .

General Hartsuff took his troops very steadily, but now that they were under fire, not hurriedly, up the hill, from

which the corn-field begins to descend, and formed them on the crest. Not a man who was not in full view—not one who bent before the storm. Firing at first in volleys, they fired them at will with wonderful rapidity and effect. The whole line crowned the hill and stood out darkly against the sky, but lighted and shrouded ever in flame and smoke. There were the Twelfth and Thirteenth Massachusetts, and another regiment which I can not remember—old troops all of them.

There for half an hour they held the ridge, unyielding in purpose, exhaustless in courage. There were gaps in the line, but it nowhere quailed. Their General was wounded badly early in the fight, but they fought on. Their supports did not come—they determined to win without them. They began to go down the hill and into the corn; they did not stop to think that their ammunition was nearly gone; they were there to win that field, and they won it. The rebel line for the second time fled through the corn and into the woods. I can not tell how few of Hartsuff's brigade were left when the work was done, but it was done. There was no more gallant, determined, heroic fighting in all this desperate day. General Hartsuff is very severely wounded, but I do not believe he counts his success too dearly purchased.

After describing the progress of the fight, the wounding of Hooker, the command devolving upon Sumner, the advance of Sedgwick, and finally the abandonment of the corn-field after a terrible struggle, he thus describes the

SUCCESSFUL ATTACK BY FRANKLIN.

At 1 o'clock affairs on the right had a gloomy look. Hooker's troops were greatly exhausted, and their General away from the field. Mansfield's were no better. Sumner's command had lost heavily, but two of his divisions were still comparatively fresh. Artillery was yet playing vigorously in front, though the ammunition of many of the batteries was entirely exhausted, and they had been compelled to retire.

Doubleday held the right inflexibly. Sumner's head-quarters were now in the narrow field where, the night before, Hooker had begun the fight. All that had been gained in front had been lost! The enemy's batteries, which, if advanced and served vigorously, might have made sad work with the closely-massed troops, were fortunately either partially disabled or short of ammunition. Sumner was confident that he could hold his own, but another advance was out of the question. The enemy, on the other hand, seemed to be too much exhausted to attack.

At this crisis Franklin came up with fresh troops and formed on the left. Slocum, commanding one division of the corps, was sent forward along the slopes lying under the first ranges of rebel hills, while Smith, commanding the other division, was ordered to retake the corn-fields and woods which all day had been so hotly contested. It was done in the handsomest style. His Maine and Vermont regiments and the rest went forward on the run, and, cheering as they went, swept like an avalanche through the corn-fields, fell upon the woods, cleared them in ten minutes, and held them. They were not again retaken.

The field and its ghastly harvest which the reaper had gathered in those fatal hours remained finally with us. Four times it had been lost and won. The dead are strewn so thickly that as you ride over it you can not guide your horse's steps too carefully. Pale and bloody faces are every where upturned. They are sad and terrible, but there is nothing which makes one's heart beat so quickly as the imploring look of sorely wounded men who beckon wearily for help which you can not stay to give.

Our main picture represents

BURNSIDE HOLDING THE HILL.

This the Tribune correspondent thus describes:

At 4 o'clock, McClellan sent simultaneous orders to Burnside and Franklin; to the former to advance and carry the batteries in his front at all hazards and any cost; to the latter to carry the woods next in front of him to the right, which the rebels still held. The order to Franklin, however, was practically countermanded, in consequence of a message from General Sumner that if Franklin went on and was repulsed his own corps was not yet sufficiently reorganized to be depended on as a reserve.

Burnside obeyed the order most gallantly. Getting his troops well in hand, and sending a portion of his artillery to the front, he advanced them with rapidity and the most determined vigor, straight up the hill in front, on top of which the rebels had maintained their most dangerous battery. The movement was in plain view of McClellan's position, and as Franklin on the other side sent his batteries into the field about the same time, the battle seemed to open in all directions with greater activity than ever.

The fight in the ravine was in full progress, the batteries which Porter supported were firing with new vigor, Franklin was blazing away on the right, and every hill-top, ridge, and woods along the whole line was crested and veiled with white clouds of smoke. All day had been clear and bright since the early cloudy morning, and now this whole magnificent, unequaled scene shone with the splendor of an afternoon September sun. Four miles of battle, its glory all visible, its horrors all veiled, the fate of the Republic hanging on the hour—could any one be insensible of its grandeur?

There are two hills on the left of the road, the furthest the lowest. The rebels have batteries on both. Burnside is ordered to carry the nearest to him, which is the furthest from the road. His guns opening first from this new position in front, soon entirely controlled and silenced the enemy's artillery. The infantry came on at once, moving rapidly and steadily up, long dark lines, and broad dark masses, being plainly visible without a glass as they moved over the green hill-side.

The next moment the road in which the rebel battery was planted was canopied with clouds of dust swiftly descending into the valley. Underneath was a tumult of wagons, guns, horses, and men flying at speed down the road. Blue flashes of smoke burst now and then among them, a horse or a man or half dozen went down, and then the whirlwind swept on.

The hill was carried, but could it be held? The rebel columns, before seen moving to the left, increased their pace. The guns, on the hill above, sent an angry tempest of shell down among Burnside's guns and men. He had formed his columns apparently in the near angles of two fields bordering the road—high ground about them every where except in rear.

In another moment a rebel battle-line appears on the brow of the ridge above them, moves swiftly down in the most perfect order, and though met by incessant discharges of musketry, of which we plainly see the flashes, does not fire a gun. White spaces show where men are falling, but they close up instantly, and still the line advances. The brigades of Burnside are in heavy column; they will not give way before a bayonet charge in line. The rebels think twice before they dash into these hostile masses.

There is a halt; the rebel left gives way and scatters over the field; the rest stand fast and fire. More infantry comes up; Burnside is outnumbered, flanked, compelled to yield the hill he took so bravely. His position is no longer one of attack; he defends himself with unfaltering firmness, but he sends to McClellan for help. McClellan's glass for the last half hour has seldom been turned away from the left.

He sees clearly enough that Burnside is pressed—needs no messenger to tell him that. His face grows darker with anxious thought. Looking down into the valley where 15,000 troops are lying, he turns a half-questioning look on Fitz John Porter, who stands by his side, gravely scanning the field. They are Porter's troops below, are fresh, and only impatient to share in this fight. But Porter slowly shakes his head, and one may believe that the same thought is passing through the minds of both generals: "They are the only reserves of the army; they can not be spared."

McCLELLAN TO THE RESCUE.

McClellan remounts his horse, and with Porter and a dozen officers of his staff rides away to the left in Burnside's direction. Sykes meets them on the road—a good
soldier, whose opinion is worth taking. The three Generals talk briefly together. It is easy to see that the moment has come when every thing may turn on one order

given or withheld, when the history of the battle is only to be written in thoughts and purposes and words of the General.

Burnside's messenger rides up. His message is, "I want troops and guns. If you do not send them I can not hold my position for half an hour." McClellan's only answer for the moment is a glance at the western sky. Then he turns and speaks very slowly: "Tell General Burnside that this is the battle of the war. He must hold his ground till dark at any cost. I will send him Miller's battery. I can do nothing more. I have no infantry." Then, as the messenger was riding away, he called him back, " Tell him if he can not hold his ground, then the bridge, to the last man!—always the bridge! If the bridge is lost all is lost."

The sun is already down; not half an hour of daylight is left. Till Burnside's message came it had seemed plain to every one that the battle could not be finished today. None suspected how near was the peril of defeat, of sudden attack on exhausted forces—how vital to the safety of the army and the nation were those fifteen thousand waiting troops of Fitz John Porter in the hollow. But the rebels halted instead of pushing on; their vindictive cannonade died away as the light faded. Before it was quite dark the battle was over. Only a solitary gun of Burnside's thundered against the enemy, and presently this also ceased, and the field was still.

THE LATE GENERAL RENO.

WE publish on page 629 a portrait of the late GENERAL RENO, who was killed at the Battle of South Mountain, on 14th September. The portrait is from a photograph by Brady.

Jesse L. Reno was born in Virginia, in 1825. His family removed to Pennsylvania when he was a boy, and from that State he was appointed to West Point in 1842. He graduated in 1845, ranking seventh in a class which included Stonewall Jackson and many gallant officers of the Union army, and was appointed Brevet Second Lieutenant of Ordnance.

During the war with Mexico, 1846-'7, he commanded a howitzer battery, and for "gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Cerro Gordo" was brevetted First Lieutenant April 18, 1847. For bravery on the battle-field of Chapultepec, where he was wounded, he was brevetted Captain September 13, 1847. When hostilities ceased he was appointed Assistant Professor of Mathematics at West Point for six months, and was then appointed Secretary of the Board of Artillery—a position he held about eighteen months, during which he was engaged in testing the relative merits of heavy ordnance and compiling a work on heavy artillery tactics. He was subsequently connected with the Coast Survey service, and upon withdrawing went out West with a corps of Topographical Engineers, and assisted in the construction of a military road from Big Sioux to St. Paul. He was engaged in this work some twelve months, and on the 3d of March, 1853, he was promoted to a full First Lieutenancy of Ordnance. He was next (in 1854) stationed at the Frankfort Arsenal, where he remained about three years, and then accompanied General Johnston in the expedition to Utah as ordnance officer. Returning in 1859, he was ordered to the Mount Vernon Arsenal in Alabama, and recently was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On the 1st of July, 1860, he was promoted to a Captaincy of Ordnance, having been Senior First Lieutenant of that department for some time. He was appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers November 12, 1861, and was subsequently ordered to report to General Burnside at Annapolis, Maryland, preparatory to taking a command in the expedition to North Carolina.

He commanded the second brigade in Burnside's army, and led the attack upon Fort Barlow, on Roanoke Island. He subsequently displayed good generalship and gallantry in the fight at Newbern. In July he was ordered to Newport News to reinforce the army of the Potomac; and subsequently to Fredericksburg. He was soon attached to the army of Virginia, and took part in the series of actions which terminated at Manassas on 1st September. When General McDowell was granted leave of absence he was appointed to his command, with the rank of Major-General, and led his corps against the rebels in Maryland. On the 14th inst. the rebels were attacked in their position on South Mountain, and just at the close of the fight, when the victory was won, he was killed by a sharp-shooter. The Herald correspondent thus describes the manner of his death:

General Reno had been most active all day, fearing no danger and appearing to be every where at the same time. Safe up to seven o'clock, no one dreamed of such a disaster as was to happen. He, with his staff, was standing a little back of the wood on a field, the rebel forces being directly in front. A body of his troops were just before him, and at this point the fire of the rebels was directed. A Minie-ball struck him and went through his body. He fell, and, from the first, appeared to have a knowledge that he could not survive the wound that he had received. He was instantly carried with the greatest care to the rear, followed by a number of the officers, and attended by the division surgeon, Dr. Cutter. At the foot of the hill he was laid under a tree, and after a few moments the surgeon said he could not live, and he died without the least movement a few minutes after. Grief at any time is heart-rending; but such grief as was manifested by the staff officers and those about him it has never before been my lot to witness. The old soldier, just come from the scene of carnage with death staring him in the face on every side, here knelt and wept like a child. No eye was dry among those present, and many a silent and spoken resolution was made that moment that Reno's death should be amply avenged. Thus died one of the bravest generals that was in the service of his country; one of the bright gems in the crown of Burnside, and a man whom all respected and loved. The country can ill afford to lose at this trying hour such men as Kearney, Stevens, and Reno. The intelligence of his death was received by all with the greatest sorrow, as it was well known that but few could take his place. The command of the corps devolved upon General Cox, who, from that time, directed the movements of the army.

He was, indeed, one of the bravest of the brave, and one of the ablest of our generals.

BRIGADIER-GENERAL HOOKER.

WE publish on page 629, from a photograph by Brady, a portrait of GENERAL HOOKER, who was wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg on 17th.

Brigadier-General Joseph Hooker was born in Massachusetts about the year 1817, and is consequently about 45 years of age. He entered West Point in 1833, and graduated in 1837, standing No.

28 in a class which included Generals Benham, Williams, Sedgwick, etc., of the Union army, and Generals Bragg, Mackall, and Early of the rebel forces. At the outbreak of the war with Mexico he accompanied Brigadier-General Hamer as Aid-de-camp, and was brevetted Captain for gallant conduct in several conflicts at Monterey. In March, 1847, he was appointed Assistant Adjutant-General, with the rank of Captain. At the National Bridge he distinguished himself, and was brevetted Major; and at Chapultepec he again attracted attention by his gallant and meritorious conduct, and was brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel.

At the close of the war with Mexico he withdrew from the service, and soon afterward emigrated to California. The outbreak of the rebellion found him there, and he was one of the first of the old West Pointers who offered his services to the Government. He was one of the first batch of Brigadier-Generals of Volunteers appointed by President Lincoln on 17th May, 1861; and was, on his arrival, placed in command of a brigade of the army of the Potomac, and subsequently of a division. From July, 1861, to February, 1862, he was stationed in Southern Maryland, on the north shore of the Potomac, his duty being to prevent the rebels crossing the river, and to amuse them with their river blockade while McClellan was getting his army into trim. This difficult duty he performed admirably.

When the army of the Potomac moved to the Peninsula, Hooker accompanied them in charge of a division. In the contest at Williamsburg his division bravely stood the brunt of the battle, the men of the Excelsior Brigade actually being mowed down as they stood up in line. At Fair Oaks the men again showed their valor, and the General his fighting qualities. In the various minor contests Hooker took his part and bravely went through with his share of the seven days' fights. When McClellan's army was placed under the command of General Pope, we find the names of "Fighting Joe Hooker" and the late General Kearney mentioned together in the thickest of the struggle; and now again at South Mountain and Sharpsburg he seems to have been second to no one. At the latter fight he was shot through the foot and obliged to leave the field; but for this accident, he thinks he would have driven the rebels into the Potomac.

KATE'S SOLDIER.

"IF I were only a man!"

Kate Barclay's eyes flashed with a splendid resolve, a fine blaze of courage.

"If you were, would you not do just the same as now—sit still and wish something else?"

"Why do you judge me so unkindly, Major Ross?"

The lips began to pout now, a little temper to blend with the courage in the fine eyes.

"Because you do not do what you can, even now. If you were not my cousin, I suppose I should not speak to you so plainly. As it is, it vexes me when I hear you wishing, morning, noon, and night, to be and do the impossible; and yet never trying to do what is ready to your hand. Do you think there is no better use for the money you are wasting so carelessly in satins and laces? How much was Madame Ferarra's bill last quarter?"

"Money won't fight, and Government pays the soldiers—better, I heard you say so yesterday, than any army is paid in Europe."

"Yet, by giving a little more than Government gives, I think you could hire some one, who would not go otherwise, to fight for you."

"A man whom a little more money would induce! A man who would go for money, and would not go without it? Why, such a cowardly soul would get drummed out of the ranks after the first battle!"

Major Ross smiled, a calm, meaning smile—such as always provoked his cousin, for it seemed to her like an assertion of superiority.

"You just look at one side of your question, Kate, and then jump at your conclusion. I know a man who told me yesterday that he would go to war if he could afford it; a man who is neither cold nor cowardly. He has a sister, a girl of fifteen. The two are orphans, and his mother's dying breath gave her to his care. They were well born, but they had fallen into poverty, and he resolved that his sister should have the education of a lady. She is at school now. If he had the means to leave her provided for he would enlist; but what if he should die, and that poor, pretty, undisciplined child should be left alone in the wide world, with no means of support, no protector, no friend? Could he answer it to his mother when he met her in the country which souls people?"

Kate had listened with breathless interest.

"Would he fight well?" she asked, musingly.

"No man better. There is not a drop of coward blood in his veins. He is the very one I would choose to stand beside me in the front of the fray."

"If he were sure his sister would be provided for in the event of his death you think he would go?"

"I know it. His whole heart is in the fight now. If he were sure that she could be secured from future privation, or friendlessness, his name would be enrolled to-morrow."

Kate's face glowed with eager resolve.

"He shall be sure. I can not give my life to my country. I ought not to shrink front giving every thing else. That girl is an orphan like me. She shall be my sister. I will undertake her expenses while her brother is away, and, if he dies, she shall share dollar for dollar with me all that I possess."

Major Ross looked at his young cousin almost reverently. He was just beginning to see below the happy, careless surface of her nature. But he made no comment on her resolve.

"Wait here," he said, simply. "I will bring you your soldier."

In half an hour he returned. He brought with him a man, tall, athletic, strong, with a face brave and masterful rather than handsome.


 

 

  

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