Re: The Orbats at Antietam
- --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, Dean Essig <d.essig@...> wrote:
>1. The Federal Wings
> On Feb 5, 2009, at 4:49 AM, Bryn Monnery wrote:
> > Any thoughts on Burnside still being a Wing Commander and why the idea
> > of him stubbornly refusing to yield the position came about? This is
> > the next thing I intend to research...
> Burnside had the other corps of his wing (1st) sent to the other end
> of the field. McClellan made no order stating the wings had ceased to
> function, Burnside merely assumed he was still the wing commander and
> that this dispersal was a temporary matter.
The reorg occurred earlier. The three wings marching out from South
Sumners' Left Wing: 1st, 2nd and 12th, with the Cavalry Division - 8
divisions on the 17th
Franklin's Centre Wing: 4th (1 Div) and 6th
Burnside's Right Wing: 5th (initially 1 Div) and 9th (plus the arty
reserve?) - 6 divisions on the 17th
Franklin was tasked with relieving Harper's Ferry, and turned in that
direction, leaving Sumner and Burnside marching on two parallel roads
towards Antietam Creek. Sumner had the macadamised National Road,
which may explain the weight being shifted to him, since you can move
more troops down that road.
Franklin was ordered to rejoin the other wings on the 16th, leaving a
division to mask Harper's Ferry. He left the 4th Corps Division and
marched north with his 2 6th Corps divisions.
The orders for Hooker to commence the attack are addressed by
McClellan to Sumner as wing commander, who then relays them to Hooker
(from Harsh's "Taken at the Flood"). Similarly, the order for 9th
Corps to attack is addressed to Burnside as WC, who is standing next
to Cox (9th Corps Commander) when he receives the message and simply
reads it and hands it over with a delay of about 30 seconds.
Thus it is certain on the morning of the 17th McClellan is fighting
his army as two wings (Franklin being absent). It is questionable how
much he intervenes down to Corps level. I'd be interested in any
accounts of Sumners' actions in the battle.
2. DH Hill commanding "2 down"
McRae, commanding Cobb's Division:
SEPTEMBER 23, 1862.
Brig. Gen. H. COBB,
Commanding Cobb's Brigade,
SIR: In compliance with your order, I herewith transmit a
statement of the action of your brigade in the battle of Sharpsburg,
of the 17th instant:
General McLaws' division, after marching all the previous
night, was ordered, about 8 a.m., to take position on the left, your
brigade, numbering 357 men, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Sanders,
Twenty-fourth Georgia, in front. In about half an hour we arrived in
from of the enemy and in range of his musketry, when the head of the
brigade was ordered to file right when the rear had filed. General
McLaws commanded us to march by the left flank. Colonel Sanders, being
in front, did not hear the order, but marched on and joined the left
of General Rodes' command. (I will here state that we were thus
separated from the division, and did not join it until the next
morning.) We baited and took position behind a fence, covered from the
enemy's musketry by a hill in front, but not protecting us from the
heavy shelling of his several batteries planted on the side of the
mountain on our right. For an hour we remained here inactive,
suffering considerably, when we were ordered forward; the men, eager
to meet the foe upon a more equal footing, gallantly pressed forward
with a cheer, the top of the hill gained amid a galling and
destructive shower of balls. There we remained, unfaltering, until
Colonel Sanders, finding himself unsupported, ordered us to fall back
behind the fence. The command was executed in admirable order. We
remained here until the force on our right gave way. To prevent
flanking, we changed front to the rear on the Fourth Battalion, and
took position behind a stone fence, our extreme left remaining
unchanged. We had scarcely executed the movement when General D.H.
Hill rode up and ordered us forward to check the advance of the enemy.
Colonel Sanders, though very unwell, had gallantly remained on the
field, cheering his men by words and example until this moment, when
he was too much exhausted to remain any longer. Being next in rank,
the command devolved upon me.
The brigade, numbering now about 250 men, moved eagerly and
un-falteringly forward to within about 100 yards, then opened a
destructive fire upon the enemy, largely outnumbering us. He made a
short stand, and then fell back behind the hill. Three times did he
try to advance, and was as often driven back by the galling fire of
our gallant little band. We held them in check (momentarily expecting
re.enforcements) until our ammunition was expended. Seeing no sign of
support, I was constrained to give the command to fall back. We left
the field with not more than 50 of the 250 men. We fell back about 300
yards and joined Colonel Cooke, of the Twenty-seventh North Carolina,
remaining with his shattered regiment until he was relieved about 3 p.m.
Where all so nobly did their duty I dislike to discriminate,
yet I feel it my duty at least to call your attention to Major [R. E.]
McMillan, Twenty-fourth Georgia; Lieut. F. L. Rogers, Company B,
Fifteenth North Carolina, and Private J. R. Doster, Company B,
Fifteenth North Carolina, who acted with conspicuous gallantry
throughout the day. There were numbers of others who deserve the
highest praises for their behavior.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Fifteenth North Carolina Troops.
What I find notable is the mention of Rodes' Command (since after
Ripley was hit, Rodes was senior brigadier and thus DC if DH Hill is
indeed a WC*), and of course DH Hill commanding a brigade outside of
his division, a breach of the chain of command unless he is still that
brigades WC (as he certainly was until the receipt of SO191 and may be
* Somebody has objected that DH Hill is only a DC. This is true, but
so are both Longstreet and Jackson until their promotion to Lt Gen.
They are following the old practice of detaching the senior commanders
from their commands and having them act up, with another officer
taking their place. The wing sequencing (1st Maj Gen with the Right,
2nd with the Left and 3rd with the Centre) also fits the traditional
practices of Europe and, by extension, the American states.
- Jackson has some real problems as a tactical commander, and he keeps making
the same mistakes, which suggests that he wasn't very introspective about
developing those skills. None of his battles really display a flair for tactics,
even Chancellorsville, where his choices of divisions in line instead of
column greatly complicated his own attack.
That said, he was quite effective at what we today would call the
In a message dated 2/11/2009 3:21:43 P.M. Central Standard Time,
Gary Echelbarger is also a great source on the Valley Campaign of
1862. Mildly said, Jackson got very lucky in the Valley in 1862..
the only Federal commander to beat him, and do so pretty soundly,
was James Shields. (Even there, actual field commander was Nathan
Kimball.) That said, Jackson had, after Shields, mediocre Federal
commanders to contend with....
Yr. Obt. Svt.
G E "Gerry" Mayers
**************Nothing says I love you like flowers! Find a florist near you
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