Not a dumb question at all, and one I have pondered off and on for a while.
Because Union commanders did not know until morning that Nicodemus Hts was occupied it was not in the original plan of attack. Of course they didn't know Lee's left was refused until the night before, so Hooker's objective shifted from his order to hold thethe creek with his left and sweep the ridge with his right, to a attack the refused left flank of the army and take the plateau by the Dunker Church. From there if he could place his artillery he could sweep the CS Cemetery Hill position and open the turnpike for Sumner and Porter to advance unopposed. The extemporized reaction to Nicodemus Hts was to hold Hoffmann's brigade as a check in case a Confederate advance from there was launched, and to direct the fire of the batteries behind the Joseph Poffenberger house to drive the CS guns off the Hts. They accomplished this very early in the fight, Stuart retreating southward to Hauser's ridge. Because the Hts was still farther west from the creek I THINK Hooker was reluctant to detach himself even more from supporting troops by moving in that direction.
A tantalyzing "what if" that is again pure conjecture, but fun. Hooker had chosen Charles Wainwright as his Chief of Artillery and he was enrouteto the army, arriving on the 18th. Had he been there on the 17th he MIGHT have pointed out to Hooker the obvious Union advantages that wouls accrue from possessing the Hts, and ordered an adance. Or NOT.
For what it's worth,
] On Behalf Of Dave
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:05 PM
Subject: [TalkAntietam] Nicodemus Heights
Probably another dumb question: Was there any early morning attempt to
drive Stuart off Nicodemus Hts with infantry during the morning? If
not, has anyone found a reason given as to why it wasn't attempted?
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