Question about Irish Brigade Assault
As the group has been woefully quiet of late, I am posting the
following question in attempt to get some discussion going:
Steve O'Neill and Joe Bilby, who have compiled the excellent
booklet on the Irish Brigade at Antietam, have several maps
showing the direction and location of the Irish Brigade assault
against the Confederate defense in the Sunken Road as occurring
around the general vicinity of the present day Observation Tower.
While I am inclined to agree with this viewpoint after having
been over the ground a few years ago with Steve and others at one
of the musters of the former Antietam Discussion Group, I
recently read the wonderful book about the wartime letters of
Col. F M Parker of the 30th North Carolina, one of the regiments
of Anderson's division of D H Hill's division. The 30th NC
basically anchored the right flank of George B. Anderson's
brigade in the Sunken Road.
Some maps and accounts differ as to whether the alignment of the
brigade in the Sunken Road was 2nd NC--14th NC--4th NC--30th NC
or 2nd NC--4th NC--14th NC--30th NC. The important point in all
this, however, is that other accounts (notably the Parker book,
Mike Priest's book "Antietam" The Soldier's Battle" and
especially the Cope-Carman maps of the early 1900's) place the
attack of the Irish Brigade as coming frontally on against
Anderson's Brigade in the lane.
Whilst thinking all this over, the recollection came to me that
Frassanito's book on the photographic legacy of Antietam seemed
to show Barlow's regiment breaking into the Sunken Road at
approximately the location of the junction between the 6th
Alabama and the 2nd NC. The Sunken Road makes a major bend and
descent downhill in about the middle of the 6th Alabama position.
My question is: Could this possibly be the location where the
Irish Brigade would have assaulted, as the road would make any
attacker to have to oblique his left and right wings accordingly.
Your humble servant,
Co. B, "Tom Green Rifles",
Fourth Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry
"I know of no fitter resting-place for a soldier than the field
on which he has nobly laid down his life." --General Robert
- Gerry wrote:
<< The Sunken Road makes a major bend and descent downhill in about the
middle of the 6th Alabama position. My question is: Could this possibly
be the location where the Irish Brigade would have assaulted, as the
road would make any attacker to have to oblique his left and right wings
Gerry, having walked over the area twice in the last two years trying to
pin down where "my" 132nd Pennsylvania attacked the Sunken Road, my
vision of French's division's positions, preceeding Richardson's, goes
Weber's brigade of French's division approached the Sunken Road from
Roulette's farm at the vicinity of the bend you mention with the road
from Roulette's farm on their left or to their East. Morris's brigade
followed to Weber's left rear, and Kimball's brigade followed at
Morris's left rear.
Weber then received "a terrible fire" from his right and the entire
division, according to French, was also threatened by a column of
Confederates attempting "to turn my left and rear."
"Without waiting for the new regiments to recover," French reported, "I
left them in reserve and ordered Kimball [l-to-r: 7WV, 132PA, 8OH, 14IN]
to charge to the front." Kimball's [French's only brigade with veteran
regiments -- three out of four] approached the Sunken Road straddling
Roulette's. The 14IN was to its West; the 8OH straddled it, and the
132PA and 7WV were to its East.
"General Kimball," French continues, "brought his veterans into action
and fought the enemy on the front and either flank [unitl] the arrival
of re-inforcements, which reached the field three hours after my
division had sustained the conflict." He refers here, almost certainly,
to the arrival of the Irish Brigade of Richardson's division.
Writes Kimball of this moment: "At this time a brigade of General
Richardson's division advanced to my relief on the left of my line,
securing that flank from further assaults."
And Frederick Hitchcock, adjutant of the 132PA, wrote in his memoirs:
"[T]he Irish Brigade came up, under command of General Thomas Francis
Meagher. They had been ordered to commplete our work by a charge.
IMHO, Gerry, this places the westernmost troops of the Irish Brigade
arouind midpoint between the bend in the Sunken Road and the current
PS - I'm away from my computer most of the time during these August days
and may not be able to reply right away. But please let's continue. -T