4174Re: ANVa Supply Trains
- Feb 1, 2008Dean:
Most of the trains and reserve artillery (one battalion excepted)
were ordered by Lee to cross over to the Virginia side at
Williamsport even before he decided to make his stand at Sharpsburg.
"When Robert E. Lee, after nightfall of September 14, realized
that the action at Turner's Gap had gone against him, he abandoned
(temporarily, at least) his idea of a further invasion of the North
into Pennsylvania, or even of remaining in Maryland, and took
immediate measures to reunite with McLaws and recross the Potomac
into Virginia. Those who were with Lee say that he gave no sign of
disappointment and depression that his campaign had ended in failure,
but we can imagine it was with a swelling heart that, at 8:00 p.m.,
he sent this dispatch to McLaws:
"'The day has gone against us and this army will go by Sharpsburg
and cross the river. It is necessary for you to abandon
your position to-night. Send your trains not required on the road to
cross the river. Your troops you must have well in hand to unite with
this command, which will retire by Sharpsburg. Send forward officers
to explore the way, ascertain the best crossing of the Potomac, and
if you can find any between you and Shepherdstown leave Shepherdstown
Ford for this command. Send an officer to report to me on the
Sharpsburg road, where you are and what crossing you will take. You
will of course bring Anderson's division with you.'
"At about the same hour, he sent a dispatch to Jackson to march
up from Harper's Ferry and cover his passage of the Potomac at
Shepherdstown Ford. (These orders to McLaws and Jackson contemplated
the abandonment of operations against Harper's Ferry, but these had
so far progressed that the place was then, virtually, in the grasp of
Jackson and McLaws.) Longstreet and D. H. Hill were directed to push
such of their commands and trains as were at and near Hagerstown
across the Potomac at Williamsport. The three reserve artillery
battalions at Beaver Creek (four miles north of Boonsboro)
were ordered to movetwo battalions by Williamsport into Virginia,
one battalion to Keedysville."
It would appear that Lee then kept them on the Va shore afterwards
for so long because the operational and tactical situation remained
in such a state of flux for the next few days. (Would McClellan
attack on the 15th? The 16th? Would Jackson arrive on the 16th? Would
McLaws arrive on the 17th?) With only a single ford at his back, the
last thing Lee wanted if his lines broke was his trains and reserve
artillery clogging the only route of escape.
"Late at night [of the 14th] the commander of the reserve
artillery, General Pendleton (who with three battalions had, late in
the afternoon, taken position on the heights of Beaver Creek, four
miles north of Boonsboro) was summoned to Lee's headquarters
and directed to send S. D. Lee's Battalion to Keedysville and to move
with the battalions of Brown and Nelson by the shortest route to
Williamsport and across the Potomac to guard the fords of the river.
Pendleton hastened back to his camp, moved promptly to the Boonsboro
and Williamsport Road, and by sunrise reached Jones's Cross-Roads,
where the Williamsport Road intersects the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg
Turnpike. Here he was informed that a large force of Union cavalry
was not far ahead of him, upon which he placed some guns in position
commanding the road leading to Williamsport and the Hagerstown Pike
on either flank, sent to Toombs (who had passed down to Sharpsburg)
for a regiment or two of infantry, and set to work collecting a band
of armed stragglers to support his guns. Meanwhile, he had sent out
scouting parties. These soon returned with information that the road
was clear for some two miles, upon which (without waiting for
infantry from Toombs) he resumed the road to destroy the 'retiring
invaders' with his artillery and protect the large wagon train
proceeding by the Hagerstown Road through Williamsport. Colonel
Davis's cavalry had passed on the road and attacked Longstreet's
train, and Pendletonwithout meeting an enemy or further delay
reached Williamsport and crossed the Potomac by Light's Ford into
"Colonel Brown, with his battalion of five batteries, was ordered
to guard Light's Ford and a ford two miles below. Major Nelson's
battalion of five batteries went down the river road to
Shepherdstown, which he reached on the sixteenth, and took
position on the heights commanding Shepherdstown Ford a mile below
In typical Pendleton fashion, once the battle was joined and the
artillery needed, he failed to rise to the emergency. Carman yet
"About mid-day [of the 17th] Lee had sent this message to
Pendleton, commanding the reserve artillery at Shepherdstown Ford: 'If
you have fifteen or twenty guns, suitable for our purpose, which you
can spare, the general desires you to send them, with a sufficiency
of ammunition. You must not take them from the fords if essential to
their safety. Send up the stragglers. Take any cavalry about there
and send up at the point of the sword. We want ammunition, guns, and
provisions.' Pendleton could not collect the stragglers, he sent up
but little ammunition, and it was not until the engagement had closed
that one battery arrived at Sharpsburg."
Hope some of that helps.
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "dean_essig" <dean_essig@...>
>various artillery units.
> Yes, I agree and have the infomation regarding the location of the
>side, but he hadn't ruled
> Not only was Lee still thinking about re-entering Md from the Va
> out an "attacking withdrawal" to the north, through the Union rightwing to Hagerstown.
>allowing the trains to
> Trying to do that with the trains in tow would be impossible, but
> shadow the army on the Va side of the river makes a lot of sense.fearless.
> Given the situation, this kind of decision making is breathtakingly
> --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@>
> >the river to protect his
> > I will look and see what else I can find. I think Lee was using
> trains preparatory to re-entering Maryland at Williamsport. Evenafter he retreated on the
> 18th/19th his intent was to re-cross the river there and movetowards Hagerstown.
> Giving the wagons a head start would open the roads for hisinfantry to move quickly. As
> you know, he had artillery detached to guard Shepherdstown Ford andLight's Ford, and
> Stuart did go to Williamsport on the 19th to lead the way.recall Reilly (who at least
> > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
> > Professor of History
> > Hagerstown Community College
> > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 2/1/2008 2:24 PM >>>
> > Tom it is... glad to meet you, sir!
> > Excellent information, that helps me spot the trains on the map.
> > The artillery problem is an issue I'll need to resolve. I don't
> > mentioned going back to look) or anyone else suggesting they hadto ford the Potomac
> tosuggests that what stocks
> > get a re-supply of artillery ammunition. So, this indirectly
> > had available were in the Md side trains.
> > Leaving me wondering what it was Lee was protecting across the
> >the rather mundane
> > Do you know of any other battery commanders recollections about
> > matters of ammunition resupply on that day?wrote:
> > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@>
> > >fine. I think you have
> > > Dean,
> > > I keep meaning to tell you, nobody calls me Thomas, Tom is just
> itas they were with the loss
> > correctly stated. Location of the Artillery Reserve trains, such
> ofthink some of it was
> > many near Williamsport, is likely across the river, however I
> forwardedresupply. Going from
> > on the 18th as Lee called for gathering stragglers and ammo
> > memory, but in Lee's comments about his HQ tent he describes itas 1 & 1/4 miles from
> > Cemetery Hill, (I think) making the two miles just about on Mt.Airy, the Grove family
> farm.of fields to park a
> > That would also be logical for there was access to water and lots
> > train there.
> > >
> > >
> > > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
> > > Professor of History
> > > Hagerstown Community College
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 2/1/2008 1:55 PM >>>
> > > Thomas,
> > >
> > > Reviewed the cited sections. All seems to be resolved but one
> > >there at various dates.
> > > What we know:
> > > 1) The non-Ammunition trains are in Shepherdstown. Getting
> > > Hood's were escorted to his division so the Texans could getsome food.
> > >positioned "2 miles to
> > > 2) Small arms ammuntion trains were ordered back into Md and
> > thereference as to rear of
> > > rear" (that distance is mentioned in several places, but w/o a
> > whatHarsh believes so.
> > > or who).
> > >
> > > The one thing (two parts) that we don't know is:
> > > 1a) Were the Army Reserve Ammunition trains still in Virgina?
> > >back into Md? This is
> > > 1b) Was there artillery ammunition in the trains that were sent
> > > interesting because it seems that Lee kept the Reserve Trainsacross the river to avoid
> > > losing artillery ammunition.unknowns?
> > >
> > > Am I off on any of the above and is there any answer to the
> > ><clemenst@> wrote:
> > > Dean
> > >
> > >
> > > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens"
> > > >the Flood, pp. 338-9
> > > > Dean,
> > > > The info on the trains is mentioned in Chapter 8 of Taken at
> > > footnotes 34 & 37 and also in Sounding the Shallows, pp. 193-4. Let me know if you
> > doif I can impose (and
> > > not have access to those books.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
> > > > Professor of History
> > > > Hagerstown Community College
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 01/30/08 11:18 AM >>>
> > > > Excellent info, Thomas!
> > > >
> > > > That would bring all the loose ends together (no mean feat),
> > whenexception.
> > > you
> > > > get a chance) please dig out some sources on the "but ammo"
> > > >time this project is
> > > > You may not have earned a free game yet, but you will by the
> donea copy of a product that
> > > :-)
> > > >
> > > > Doesn't matter if you don't have time to play it, you'll want
> > has<clemenst@> wrote:
> > > your
> > > > name in the research credits I would think. ;-)
> > > >
> > > > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens"
> > > > >understanding that all trains
> > > > > Dean,
> > > > > I am at work and away from sources, but it is my
> > exceptfood, had to go find his
> > > > ammo were sent across the river. Thus Hood, looking for
> andnear Sharpsburg.
> > > bring
> > > > them forward, while Reilly etc. looking for ammo found theirs
> > > Longstreet'of his trains.
> > > > loss was the Reserve Artillery ammo for his command, not all
> > > > > Hope this helps. Do I get a free copy of the game? :-)just kidding, I don't have
> > time
> > > to
> > > > play them.
> > > >
> > >
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