“Through God’s blessing, Harper’s Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered.” Thomas J. Jackson, September 15, 1862

Harpers Ferry

The volume of quotes for September 15, 1862 is large.  All the pieces are coming together.  Union soldiers survey the desolation on South Mountain.  Federal commanders organize their pursuit of the apparently defeated Confederates.  Harpers Ferry falls to Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee makes a decision.  Abraham Lincoln views developments from afar, and individual soldiers look for something to eat and speculate about what the days ahead will bring.  Hear to their voices here.

Voices from September 15, 1862

 

“Your dispatch of today received. God bless you and all with you. Destroy the Rebel army if possible.”

Abraham Lincoln Sep 15 1862 Telegram from Lincoln to McClellan. 2:45PM Sep 15 1862. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 181

 

“We attacked a large force of the enemy yesterday occupying a strong pass four miles west of Middletown. Our troops old and new regiments behaved most valiantly & gained a signal victory. R.E. Lee in command. The Rebels routed and retreating in disorder this morning. We are pursuing and taking many prisoners.”  George B. McClellan in a telegram to retired Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott.  September 15, 1862,  From The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan. Ed. Stephen W. Sears. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989 page 464.

 

“Through God’s blessing, Harper’s Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered.  As Hill’s troops have borne the heaviest part in the engagement, he will be left in command until the prisoners and public property shall be disposed of, unless you direct otherwise.  The other forces can move off this evening as soon as they get their rations.  To what point shall we move?” Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862

Jackson in a dispatch at 8AM on Sep 15.  Arrived at Lee’s HQ about noon advising of his success against Harpers Ferry on Sep 14. From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. page 424

 

“We will make our stand in these hills.” Robert E. Lee Sep 15 1862

Lee calling out to D.R. Jones men as they arrived at Sharpsburg on Sep 15 1862. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 305

 

“I will join you at Sharpsburg.”

Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862

Jackson to Lee. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 318

 

The Aftermath at South Mountain

 

“several of the generals had a consultation in what had been an old hotel.”

Ernest Linden Waite. Sep 15 1862. A historian of the 19th Mass recalls a meeting between the generals at Turner’s Gap. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 131

 

“lay thickly scattered, in some instances piled one upon another, over the field…Here lay a poor fellow with his head upon his arm, and his eyes closed as though in sleep; here another with gun clenched fast in his hand, and a determined look still upon his face; there, where the fire had been more deadly, lay several, the one across the other, as if the heat of battle had melted a battalion, and they had fallen….All animosity, at such a time, yields to the better impulses of our nature, and we wonder how it is that man can lift his hand to slay his brother”

A.P. Smith of the 76th New York reveals the scene of death upon the Frosttown Gap battlefield the next day. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 172

 

“In a trench a little above the log house…wrapped in their blankets we laid them tenderly away at he front of the hill they had helped to make immortal!! The enemy’s dead were also left for us to bury. The poor fellows lay where they fell, singly or piled up one across the other.”

Allen Albert

Sep 15 1862

Allen Albert of the 45th Pennsylvania describes burying the dead at Fox Gap. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 179

 

“It was a sickening sight to see them lying there just as they had fallen and my heart went out in sympathy for them and their dear ones they had left behind. We turned away in horror, thankful that we had been more fortunate than they in escaping the dangers of battle.”

Allen Albert Sep 15 1862 Allen Albert of the 45th Pennsylvania describes the aftermath at Fox Gap. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 172

 

“I awoke about five o’clock on the battlefield of yesterday and went out to see what war was without romance. I cannot describe my feelings, but I hope to God never to see the like again.”

Benjamin Hirst Sep 15, 1862

Sgt Hirst of the 14th Connecticut t looks out on the battlefield at South Mountain. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 127

 

“We passed several field hospital stations, where operations had been performed, and where had been left numerous arms and legs that had been amputated. These sights are not refreshing to advancing troops….it was a difficult task to gather their [Confederate] dead, as many of the killed had fallen into deep crevices between the huge boulders upon the mountain side.” Charles A. Fuller Sep 15, 1862

Lt Fuller of the 61st New York describes the collection of bodies on the South Mountain battlefield the following day.  From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 127

 

“There was abundant evidence of the rebel skedaddle down the mountain ahead of our troops in the way of blankets, knapsacks, and other impedimenta, evidently dropped or thrown away in flight.”

Frederick L. Hitchcock

Sep 15 1862

Lt Hitchcock of 132nd PA describes the apparent panic of the Confederate retreat off of South Mountain. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 132

 

“Looking around the yard, I saw a Beautiful, plump arm laying, which drew my attention & in looking a little [at] it, and seeing another of the same kind, I picked them up & laid them together & found that they are a right [arm] & one a left arm, which convinced me that they were off the one man &you could see many legs laying in the yard with the shoes & stockings on-not taken off when amputated” James Wren Sep 15 1862

Capt James Wren of the 48th Pennsylvania describes a surgical hospital. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 178

 

“I have seen all of war ever wish to.  The thing is indescribable.  Oh, horrors.” Member of 9th NH Sep 15 1862. Recalling Fox Gap. From  “Who Would Not Be A Soldier?” by Scott D. Hartwig. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999.

page 156

 

“Looked over part of the battle-field, and oh, it was horrible beyond description.” Member of 9th NH Sep 15 1862 Recalling Fox Gap. From  “Who Would Not Be A Soldier?” by Scott D. Hartwig. The Antietam Campaign. Ed. Gary Gallagher  Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press,  1999. page 156

 

“The dead lay in heaps, the rebel killed far outnumbering ours.  The road, the field, and the woods were strewn with corpses.  The enemy’s killed lay, as I have said, in heaps-absolutely piled up, just as they fell.  In one group there were no fewer then nineteen dead bodies, one hanging upon a fence, the feet off the ground….The spectacle was dreadful.” Robert Davidson

Sep 15 1862. Davidson of the 79th New York recalling the scenes on the Fox Gap battlefield on the morning after the battle.  From “The 79th New York Highlanders in the Maryland Campaign.” The Maryland Campaign of 1862 and its Aftermath, Civil War Regiments Vol 6 No. 2. Campell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998. page 74

 

“the enemy had fled during the night leaving their dead unburied and their wounded uncared for. The ground in many places was thickly strewn with the dead and wounded of both armies….Thirty-four of the enemy’s dead were counted in one spot only a few yards square.” William Osborne. Sep 15, 1862.  A soldier from the 29th Mass recalls the conditions on the day after the South Mountain battle. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 127

 

“Behind and in front of us, but especially in the angles of the stone walls, the dead bodies of the enemy lay thick: near the gaps in the fences they were piled on top of each other like cord-wood dumped from a cart.” William Todd. Sep 15 1862 Corporal William Todd, historian of the 79th describes the Fox Gap battlefield the day afterward. From “The 79th New York Highlanders in the Maryland Campaign.” The Maryland Campaign of 1862 and its Aftermath, Civil War Regiments Vol 6 No. 2. Campell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998. page 74

 

“We moved off the field, and on our way we saw many more evidences of the battle.  At one angle of the stone walls, fourteen bodies of the enemy were counted lying in a heap, just as they had fallen, apparently….A curious sight presented itself in the body of a rebel straddling a stone wall: he must have been killed while in the act of climbing over, for with a leg on either side, the body was thrown slightly forward stiff in death.  We were glad to leave these scenes behind us.” William Todd Sep 15 1862

Corporal William Todd, historian of the 79th describes the Fox Gap battlefield the day afterward. From “The 79th New York Highlanders in the Maryland Campaign.” The Maryland Campaign of 1862 and its Aftermath, Civil War Regiments Vol 6 No. 2. Campell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998. page 75

 

“A member of Colonel Colgrove’s [sic] regiment found a paper purporting to be Rebel Order No. 119 [191], which conveyed the information that one portion of the army was to go to Hagerstown and hold that place; and another proceed to Harper’s Ferry and dislodge Miles; and the third proceed against General White; and the force afterwards to concentrate at Hagerstown.” Washington Star Sep 15 1862. A newspaper account of the finding of SO 191 printed two days after its discovery. From “The Lost Order and the Press.” by Scott Sherlock. The Maryland Campaign of 1862 and its Aftermath, Civil War Regiments Vol 6 No. 2. Campell CA:  Savas Publishing Company, 1998. page 176

 

Harpers Ferry

 

“General Hill, charge and give them the bayonet”

Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862 Jackson ordering the capture of Harpers Ferry. From General A. P. Hill – The Story of a Confederate Warrior by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Random House, 1987. page 137

 

“We have done our duty, but where can McClellan be?”

Dixon Miles Sep 15 1862. Mortally wounded, Miles asks his aide this question. From Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. Lincoln: University of Nebraska 2007. page 221

 

“What the hell are you fellows cheering for?”  Because Harpers Ferry is gone up God] damm] you.”  “I thought that was it.” Sep 15 1862

Dialog between a federal and confederate on the line in Pleasant Valley upon hearing the cheering of Confederate troops at the surrender of Harpers Ferry. From Sealed With Their Lives The Battle for Crampton’s Gap by Timothy J. Reese.  Baltimore:  Butternut and Blue,  1998. page 176

 

“Boys, he’s not much for looks, but if we’d had him we wouldn’t be caught in this trap.” A captured Union soldier

Sep 15 1862 A captured Union soldier describing Stonewall Jackson

 

“in no respect to be distinguished from the mongrel barefooted crew who followed his fortunes.” a Union Soldier. Sep 15 1862.  A Union soldier captured at Harpers Ferry describing Jackson  Withrow Scrapbooks. From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997. page 605

 

“I would rather take the place twenty times than undertake to hold it once” A.P. Hill. Sep 15 1862. Hill in conversation with Union General White at surrender of Harper’s Ferry. From General A. P. Hill – The Story of a Confederate Warrior by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Random House, 1987.

page 138

 

“We got 11,000 prisoners and all their commissary and quartermaster stores, including wagons and teams.” J.E.B. Stuart

Sep 15 1862.  Stuart reporting the capture of Harpers Ferry to Lee at Sharpsburg as overheard by Ltc Samuel McD Tate, 6th North Carolina. From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. page 428

 

“General, did they have any shoes?  These good men are barefoot”

Robert E. Lee. Sep 15 1862.  Lee replying to Stuart’s report on the capture of Harpers Ferry.  as overheard by Ltc Samuel McD Tate, 6th North Carolina. From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. page 428

 

“Ah, this is all very well, Major, but we have much hard work before us”

Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862.  Jackson to JEB Stuart aide Heros Von Borcke upon capture of Harpers Ferry.  From Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997.

page 605

 

“We have fallen back to this place to enable you to more readily join us. You are desired to withdraw immediately from your position on Maryland Heights and join us here…The utmost dispatch is required.” Robert E. Lee

Sep 15 1862 Lee to McLaws directing that he march to Sharpsburg. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 174

 

 

The Union Approach to the Antietam

 

 

“General McClellan desired that you send a staff officer to Headquarters at daylight in the morning to let him know everything that has happened during the night, and that you send reconnoitering parties out at daylight to ascertain if there is any enemy in your front, his strength, etc. Send him a report of what is seen as early as possible and have your command in readiness to attack the enemy early in the morning should he be found in our front at that time.” Albert V. Coburn Sep 15 1862

Dispatch from McClellan (AAG Colburn) to Sumner on the evening of Sep 15 1862. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 139

 

 

“The enemy is drawn up in large force in front; their line it is said extending a mile. As we do not know the number of their lines, it is impossible to estimate their entire force. Shall I make the necessary dispositions to attack & shall I attack without further orders?” Edwin V. Sumner Sep 15 1862

Sumner in a dispatch to McClellan describing the situation on Sep 15. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 136

 

“We have come up with the enemy about 5 miles from Shepherdstown drawn up in line of battle. They have a position formed there but with tow or three more batteries it will be expedient to attack.  Will it be inconsistent with our orders to move up within easy supporting distance[?] They are drawn up in an open field but only thee brigades of infantry has [sic] yet arrived. If practicable, it is expedient to attack tonight as they will be certainly off in the morning.” Joseph Hooker Sep 15 1862

Hooker’s dispatch to Sumner describing his first contact with the enemy on Sep 15. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 136

 

“Being separated from you for the present by force of circumstances, he will during such separation, report direct to these headquarters.”

George B. McClellan Sep 15, 1862.  8 AM order of Sep 15 1862 separating Hooker from Burnside’s command. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

page 128

 

“The enemy is making for Shepherdstown in a perfect panic.”

George B. McClellan. Sep 15, 1862.  McClellan in an 8AM dispatch to Halleck the day after the battle of South Mountain. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 128.

 

 

“was promptly executed by that distinguished officer.”

Joseph Hooker. Sep 15 1862.  Hooker describing Richardson’s pursuit of the rebels on Sep 15 1862.  From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 130

 

The Confederates on the Antietam

 

“Put them all in, every gun you have long range and short range.”

James Longstreet Sep 15 1862. Longstreet to his gunners on Sep 15 ordering them to place them in positions where the Federals would see them around Sharpsburg. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999.

page 304

 

“[his men] had been sustaining life on green corn and what cattle as they could kill in the fields.” D.H. Hill Sep 15 1862. D.H. Hill on food situation. From “Dirty, Ragged, and Ill-Provided For.” by Keith S. Bohannon. The Antietam Campaign, Ed. Gary Gallagher Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. page 116

 

 

FRANKLIN IN PLEASANT VALLEY

 

“Thus far, our success is complete but let us follow up closely but warily.  Attack whenever you see a fair chance of success.”

George B. McClellan Sep 15 1862.  McClellan in orders to Franklin after the Battle of South Mountain.  From McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse.  Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2005.

page 303

 

“I have not the force to justify an attack on the force I see in front. I have had a very close view of it, an its position is very strong.” William Franklin

Sep 15 1862.An 11 AM dispatch from Franklin in response to McClellan’s order to march his corps to Sharpsburg to cut off the enemy ‘s retreat. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

page 137

 

“The troops have not been able to come up sufficiently to-day to enable us to attack the enemy, but a reconnaissance will be made at daylight, and if he is found to be in position, he will be attacked.” William Franklin Sep 15 1862.  9PM dispatch from Franklin to McClellan Sep 15. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

page 139

 

“It is his [McClellan’s] desire to concentrate everything this evening on the force at or near Sharpsburg, and he will be satisfied if you keep the enemy in your front without anything decisive until the Sharpsburg affair is settled.” Randolph Marcy Sep 15 1862. 4:30 PM dispatch from Marcy to Franklin on Sep 15. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.

page 138

 

 

Vignettes

 

“It was near a small farmhouse and barn. It gushed out from under a shelving rock, formed a deep reservoir, and then flowed off the hillside in a beautiful river of sparkling water, enough for each, enough for all, enough for evermore.” Louis N. Chapin Sep 15 1862

Historian of the 34th NY recalls a memorable spring near Keedysville. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 141

 

“two acts of extraordinary merit, namely in finding and capturing the bread, and second, bringing it into camp intact, the latter act being considered supremely self-sacrificing.” Frederick L. Hitchcock Sep 15 1862. Ltc Vincent M. Wilcox of the 132nd Pennsylvania earns the gratitude of his fellow officers by bringing into cam a fresh home-made loaf of bread on the night of Sep 15. From Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008. page 141

 

“If I was going to take Hell, I should want the 5th New Hampshire for skirmishers.” Israel B. Richardson. Sep 15, 1862.  Richardson talking about the 5th New Hampshire. From Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army by Jack Mason.  Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009. page 173

 

“the scene was at once weird and impressive.  Hundreds of campfires were blazing as far as the eye could reach.  Some of the men were cooking, some stretched upon the ground chatting cheerfully, while others were enjoying a few hours sleep that the rest afforded.” Charles B. Page

Sep 15 1862 Page of the 14th CT describes the scene around the Pry House the night of Sep 15. From Guide to the Antietam Farmsteads by Kevin A. Walker. Sharpsburg: WMIA, 2010. page 132

 

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