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6008Re: [TalkAntietam] Coffin's Section, 8th MA Battery

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  • G E Mayers
    Dec 30, 2009
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      Dear Matt,

      I looked in the Carman battle manuscript for any mention of
      Coffin's section, Eighth Massachusetts. Here is what I found:

      "Welsh had a greater distance to move and over much more
      difficult ground. His brigade preceded by the 100th Pennsylvania
      as skirmishers and supported by Crook's Ohio brigade, went
      forward, the 45th Pennsylvania on the right, 46th New York in the
      center, and 8th Michigan on its left. The 45th Pennsylvania and
      46th New York, swept over the hill in their front, down into the
      ravine and then up the hill to the Otto buildings and apple
      orchard, the 45th Pennsylvania passing either side of the barn.
      On the left, the 8th Michigan, in starting, became involved with
      the 9th New York, a few files going with it, but, swinging to the
      right with its brigade the entire line after a short, sharp
      encounter, assisted by Crook, drove part of the 15th South
      Carolina of Drayton's Brigade, deployed as skirmishers, from a
      stone fence, beyond the ravine, and 130 yards from the Otto barn,
      and then descended into the ravine. Here the troops were somewhat
      crowded and the 45th Pennsylvania moved by the right flank out of
      the ravine, crossed the stone fence from which the 15th South
      Carolina skirmishers had been driven and the entire brigade
      became engaged with these and Jenkins' Brigade, which had taken
      position in the orchard on the slope of Cemetery hill, and with
      McMaster's command, which, driven back by Welsh and Poland had
      rallied in the orchard and occupied the stone house and stone
      mill on the road.

      "Meanwhile a section of Cook's Massachusetts battery under
      Lieutenant J.H. Coffin, was brought forward. The battery had
      crossed the Antietam with Willcox, four
      guns were halted in the road near the bridge, and two under
      Coffin, went forward up the road, Coffin says: "200 yards in
      advance of the column." He went from the
      road, to the left, up the Otto lane and taking position in the
      orchard, near the barn, opened with shell upon the artillery on
      Cemetery hill and upon Jenkins' Brigade and
      McMaster, in the orchard. As we have said in the preceding
      chapter, Squires' two rifled guns, after shelling Willcox's
      advance from the bridge, had been withdrawn,
      because out of ammunition, and Jenkins' Brigade, which was
      suffering (there?), then advanced "some 400 yards in an apple
      orchard, under a heavy fire of artillery and
      small arms." Colonel Joseph Walker, commanding the brigade, threw
      out the 1st, 5th and 6th South Carolina and engaged Christ on his
      left, and the Palmetto
      Sharpshooters and 2nd South Carolina Rifles in front and to the
      right to meet Welsh and "from this position," says Walker, "we
      continued to pour a destructive fire
      into the ranks of the enemy, a short range."

      "Garden's South Carolina battery of 12-pounders, which had been
      placed east of the road, just north of the stone house, in full
      view of the long range guns beyond the
      Antietam, came under their accurate and destructive fire that
      they could not return, but opened upon Willcox's infantry as it
      crossed the bridge and during its advance
      up the road, over the hill, and while ascending the elevation on
      which the battery was posted. Garden's ammunition had now run
      out; Lieutenant S.M. Pringle had been mortally wounded, several
      men wounded and many horses killed, one of his guns dismounted,
      the carriage being entirely destroyed, another rendered useless
      by the bursting of a shell, and the remaining guns were run down
      the hill by hand to a ravine in the rear, the disabled guns were
      then hauled off, the horses attached, and the entire battery
      entering the road, one gun with out wheels, but dragging the
      ground, went through Sharpsburg, barely escaping the men of
      Welsh's Brigade, who had now reached Avey's orchard, almost in
      its rear, and some of whom were running forward to the street
      down which it retired."

      From the above, it seems clear to me that Coffin's section was
      posted on the Otto farm not really anywhere near Cemetery Hill,
      but did open fire on Confederate artillery found there. From the
      above, it appears there is no tie in to the Fifteenth South
      Carolina contesting Coffin's advance or opposing it. It sounds to
      me as if the Fifteenth South Carolina, according to Carman, had
      already left that portion of the field when Coffin advanced his
      guns.

      I hope this helps?

      BTW, here is the relevant link to the Carman battle manuscript
      about the Sharpsburg fight:
      http://kperlotto3.home.comcast.net/~kperlotto3/carman/carman.html
      Just click on the link "Manuscript" in the left hand form of the
      webpage to download the pdf file of the Antietam Manuscript; you
      can then save to your computer as a pdf file.

      Yr. Obt. Svt.
      G E "Gerry" Mayers

      To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
      on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
      Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
      the Almighty God. --Anonymous
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Matt Reardon" <mreardon1862@...>
      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 7:51 PM
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Coffin's Section, 8th MA Battery


      In Coffin's report he said he was ordered "200 yards in advance
      of the column" during the IX Corps assault.

      Did he move ahead and begin firing at the Confederate batteries
      on Cemetery Hill all alone?

      Or was he supported by the skirmishers of the 100th Pennsylvania?

      Eventually they take up a position on the Otto Farm but the
      details are vague if he was alone or not.

      I know the 15th SC were there as skirmishers, did they move
      forward after the 15th SC had been driven back?

      Thanks for any help you can provide,
      Matt




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