War In Maryland

Detailed Account Of The Great Battle Of Sharpsburg.

Heroism and Desperation.

Volume Li - No. 108 Baltimore, Monday Morning, September 22, 1862 Price One Cent.

September 08, 2002

The correspondent of the New York Tribune gives a detailed account of the battle of Wednesday, the 17th, which he terms "the greatest fight since Waterloo, and contested all over the field, with an obstinacy equal even to Waterloo."

It appears, from his statement, that Tuesday was spent chiefly in deploying forces and gaining positions. After the day was over, Gen. Hooker remarked: "We are through for tonight, but tomorrow we will fight the battle that will decide the fate of the Republic."

Wednesday's Battle.

The battle on Wednesday began with the dawn. Morning found both armies just as they had slept, almost close enough to look into each other's eyes. The left of Meade's reserves and the right of Ricketts' line became engaged at nearly the same moment, one with artillery, the other with infantry. A battery was almost immediately pushed forward beyond the central woods, over a plowed field, near the top of the slope where the cornfield began.

On the open field, in the corn beyond and in the woods which stepped forward into the broad fields like a promontory into the ocean, was the hardest and deadliest struggle of the day.

For half an hour after the battle had grown to its full strength, the line of fire swayed neither way.

Hooker's men were fully up to their work. they saw their General everywhere in front, never away from the fire, and all the troops believed in their commander and fought with a will. Two-thirds of them were the same men who under McDowell had broken at Manassas.

The half hour passed, the rebels began to give way a little, only a little, but at the first indication of a receding fire, forward was the word, and on went our line with a cheer and a rush. Back across the cornfield, leaving dead and wounded behind them, over the fence, and across the road, and then back again into the dark woods which closed around them, went the retreating rebels.

Meade said his Pennsylvanians followed hard and fast - followed till they came within easy range of the woods, among which they saw their beaten enemy disappearing - followed still with another cheer, and flung themselves against the cover.

An Ambuscade.

But out of those gloomy woods came, suddenly and heavily, terrible volleys - volleys which smote, and bent, and broke, in a moment, that eager front, and hurled them swiftly back for half the distance they had won. Not swiftly, nor in panic, any further.

Closing up their shattered lines, they came slowly away - a regiment where a brigade had been; hardly a brigade where a whole division had been victorious. They had met from the woods the first volleys of musketry from fresh troops - had met them and returned them till their line had yielded and gone down before the weight of fire, and till their ammunition was exhausted.

In ten minutes the fortune of the day seemed to have changed - it was the rebels now who were advancing, pouring out of the woods in endless lines, sweeping through the cornfields from which their comrades just fled.

Hooker sent in his nearest brigade, and ordered Doubleday to forward his "best brigade."

The best brigade came down the hill to the right on the run, went through the timber in front through a storm of shot and bursting shell and crashing limbs, over the open field beyond, and straight into the cornfield, passing as they went the fragments of three brigades shattered by the rebel fire, and streaming to the rear.

They passed by Hooker, whose eyes lighted as he saw these veteran troops led by a soldier whom he knew he could trust. "I think they will hold it," he said.

Gen. Hartsuff took his troops very steadily, but now that they were under fire, not hurriedly, up the hill from which the cornfield begins to descend, and formed them on the crest. Not a man who was not in full view - not one who bent before the storm.

Firing at first in volleys, they fired them at will with wonderful rapidity and effect. The whole line crowned the hill and stood out darkly against the sky, but lighted and shrouded ever in flame and smoke.

There for half an hour they held the ridge unyielding in purpose, exhaustless in courage. There were gaps in the line, but it no where quailed.

Their general was wounded badly early in the fight, but they fought on. Their supports did not come - they determined to win without them. They began to go down the hill and into the corn; they did not stop to think that their ammunition was nearly gone - they were there to win that field and they won it. The rebel line for the second time fled through the corn and into the woods. I cannot tell how few of Hartsuff's brigade were left when the work was done, but it was done. There was no more gallant, determined, heroic fighting in all this desperate day. Gen. Hartsuff is very severely wounded but I do not believe he counts his success too dearly purchased.

A Crisis.

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