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6092Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: re Infantry support for Captain Millers battery in Piper Orchard

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  • G E Mayers
    Jan 14, 2010
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      Jake,

      Thank you for your comments. I am working on the chapter of the
      book that deals with the aftermath of the Federal cracking the
      Sunken Road line and I think I am trying to show how chaotic it
      really was. In reality, it was probably worse than chaotic.

      The maps are a feeble attempt to show what was happening when. It
      is almost an impossibility to accurate depict what units were
      from minute to minute.

      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: "joseph_pierro" <joseph_pierro@...>
      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:38 AM
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Re: re Infantry support for Captain
      Millers battery in Piper Orchard


      OK, I see it (p. 294 in my edition).

      As I said, it's a loose term. Picture the scene. The CS line in
      the Sunken Road has been cracked. Senior commanders are riding to
      the scene, rallying whatever men are within earshot (and willing
      to make a stand), and throwing the whole in a mass back at the
      Union attackers.

      As Carman explains, a portion of this mob is left behind to
      "support" Miller's Battery. (How well they would have served in
      the event of a direct Union assault on the battery is debatable.)

      Miller's Battery IS essentially unsupported through much of the
      fighting. This scratch infantry support is only hastily assembled
      for the counterattack.

      But to show the difficulty of trying to talk about specific CS
      units at this point, look at Carman's last sentence of the same
      para (quoting from p. 294 of mine again):

      "In a general sense D. H. Hill's Division was on the left, but
      when the charge had reached its limit some of his men were on the
      extreme right of R. H. Anderson's.

      In other words, it's such a thrown-together force that you can't
      even distinguish one DIVISION from another. At this point, you're
      dealing with what is essentially an undifferentiated body of men
      in gray.

      I've read accounts from Miller's Battery that mention infantry
      accreting to them after the line collapsed, and that speak of a
      particular body being left with them in the countertattack, but
      as to the unit(s) that comprised it? I doubt they came from ANY
      one or two specific units. I know I've never see an account from
      a soldier in a particular infantry regiment who said, "I was one
      of the men detailed to support the battery."

      Short of finding a document like that, I don't think their
      identity can ever be known.

      This thread brings up one of the "noble lies" that writers often
      have to commit when writing about battles -- particularly
      Antietam. To make a narrative intelligible to a reader, there
      needs to be some understandable sequence and structure within
      which the reader can orient himself.

      The realities of combat, however, are far more chaotic.

      There's much I love about Sears's Landscape Turned Red, but those
      beautifully geometric maps -- with their straight lines of
      advance and retreat to specific portions of the field, and the
      clean rectangles of brigades and divisions -- are a pipedream. A
      necessary one, to be sure, and it does in the broadest outlines
      match the truth of where MORE men than not from a given command
      tramped relative to another unit, but you have to take such
      things with a LARGE grain of salt.
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