On the morning of the 16th we were awakened by
the roar of artillery in our front, occasionally solid shot dropping among
us. One of these came tearing down along our stacks of muskets, and
striking Corporal W. W. FARMER, of Co. D, then
acting as color bearer, literally cut him in two.
The Second Corps occupied nearly the same position
during the day, losing but few men, though the artillery fire in our front
was incessant. The rebel artillery was posted on a ridge in front of
Sharpsburg, while the ridge in front of us, and other advantageous.
positions at our right and left were covered with our own guns, which kept
up an unremitting fire. The men were kept down out of sight, the artillery
directing their fire mainly at each other. ,
Just in the dusk of the evening a most terrific
artillery duel opened. Some of us crept up the hill among our guns to
witness it, Nothing could be more grand. The red glare of flame along the
rebel line for more than a mile, the answering volumes of fire from our
batteries, the bright streams of light along the track of the shell, and
the livid clouds of smoke as the shell burst in the air, constituted a
spectacle brilliant beyond comparison.
This gradually died away, and the men laid down on
their arms again to quiet slumber—many, alas! for the last time. The night
was clear and beautiful, still and-awfully solemn. We thought of the
During the afternoon Gen. HOOKER
had moved around under cover of the hills, and taken up a position on the
extreme right. Gen. MANSFIELD, with his corps, had
taken up a position in support, Gen. SUMNER holding
the Second Corps in readiness to support these combined corps as soon as
the exigencies of the battle required.
During the night we had orders to call roll at three
o'clock in the morning, every officer and man to be in his place from that
hour. With daylight came the roar of artillery and the din of battle in
Hooker's front The Second Corps still remained in the old position, the
ranks being kept carefully closed, and ready to move at the note of the
FRENCH's division consisted of Gen. Max Weber's
brigade, which had seen some service, Col. DWIGHT;
MORRIS' brigade of raw, undrilled troops, and Gen. KIMBALL's brigade,
composed of the Fourteenth Indiana, Col. HARROW Seventh West Virginia,
Col. SNYDER One -Hundred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania, Col. OAKFORD;
and Eighth Ohio, Lieut. Col. SAWYER. Lieut. J. R. SWIGART, of the Eighth,
was at this time aid-decamp to Gen. KIMBALL, and during the day Lieut.
E. F. DICKINSON, Quartermaster of the Eighth, acted as a volunteer aid
on the field for Gen. KIMBALL. Lieut. DAVID
LEWIS, Co. C, acted as
Regimental Adjutant at this time.
A little after seven o'clock SEDGWICK's division , moved out,
ours—FRENCH's division—following next, and RICHARDSON's
next. We moved back to near Keedysville, and then filing to the left, passed
down over the bluff banks of Antietam Creek, arid forded the stream, then
nearly waist deep to the men. As we passed over the bluffs we came in
sight of the battle on HOOKER's left The enemy's batteries posted in the neighborhood of some farm buildings beyond ROULETT's farm opened on us, while the Federal batteries from the bluffs
replied savagely, and. as we dropped down the valley we could see grain
stacks and buildings on fire on HOOKER's left, and the battle, rapidly
closing in on that point.
Crossing the river we passed to the rear of a wood,-that shut out our view
of the battle. Our column halted to form its line of battle. SEDGWICK
was already in line, and moving gallantly to the front. Gen. FRENCH formed his
battle line rapidly, with Gen. MAX WEBER's. brigade in front, Col.
MORRIS' in the second line and Gen. KIMBALL's in the third.
already struck the enemy, as the roar of his artillery and rattle of
musketry plainly told. FRENCH ordered his line forward, on the left of SEDGWICK's position. "WEBER pushed out of the woods, driving the rebel
skirmishers before him, and engaging a strong force of the enemy in a
cornfield and under the cover of the buildings and orchards on ROULETT's
farm. Col. MORRIS following closely, was soon engaged also, but the rebels falling back, took post
along the crest of a hill back of the ROULETT buildings, and in a sunken
road on the same crest further to the left, and poured in such a deadly
fire that both these brigades gave way and sought cover. KIMBALL, in the
meantime, had kept his brigade well in hand, and moving with a well
dressed front some hundred or more yards in rear of MORRIS, Gen.
FRENCH seeing the other brigades hesitate, and feeling the importance of
a strong diversion at this point/ in aid of SEDGWICK, whose line was giving way, ordered KIMBALL to
advance, pass Weber and Morris and carry the crest
of the hill at the point of the bayonet. KIMBALL at
once fixed bayonets and moved steadily forward, his right
wing, the Fourteenth Indiana and Eighth Ohio, passing the ROULETT
premises, and the left wing, composed of the
7th Virginia and 132d Pennsylvania passing over the
open plain in front of the sunken road, on the crest of the ridge. The
line moved up magnificently though under a terrible fire of shell and grape
and a continued
sheet of musketry. As soon as we had fairly cleared
the buildings and orchard KIMBALL ordered the charge,
and the line rushing forward at a double quick, delivered its volley and carried the ridge in front of the
The rebel line in front of the right wing retreated down the slope and
took post in the sunken road, which at this point lay in the valley. Here
it halted, being supported by a strong force in a cornfield on the
rising, ground beyond, and several batteries on the crest of the hills
towards Sharpsburg. The enemy was still struggling for the possesion of
the crest, along which was the sunken road, in front of the left wing, and
being reinforced by a heavy line, undertook to turn the left flank. The
7th and 132d made a partial change of front and drove back the line, the
Eighth at this time obliquing its fire to the left, helped hasten the
speed of the rebel retreat. In this maneuver Col. OAKFORD, 132d
Pennsylvania was killed. The fire in our front at this time was severe in
the extreme. The rebels in the cornfield had been reinforced, and the
men in the sunken road increased their wall of protection by piling up
fence-rails and also their dead in their front, were delivering a
murderous fire. This however, was returned with interest, for their pile
of dead increased rapidly and their support in the cornfield began to
run. Again a strong line was pushed forward from the Sharpsburg
heights. This, however, drew off towards the left wing. We looked in that
direction with the greatest anxiety, for the line seemed too weak to
resist a second assault. But it was entirely safe/ Gen. RICHARDSON was
rapidly pushing his division into position on our left. His artillery
opened, smashing through the rebel line with terrible havoc, and his
musketry soon completed their rout. In this encounter Gen. RICHARDSON was
The fire was still intense in our front, and the din of battle to our
right was almost deafening. What of the day ? No one knew. Nearly half the
officers and men of the Eighth were killed and wounded, and the loss in
the balance of the brigade was equally appalling. The men complained that
their guns were foul or their ammunition exhausted. The ground was
covered with arms along the field and the men were ordered to change their
pieces for these, and the officers at once went to picking up and
distributing ammunition, and in this way, and by cutting the cartridge
boxes from the dead, a good supply was soon obtained. Gren. KIMBALL and
his staff visited every portion of the line and greatly encouraged the
All at once a new danger opened upon us. SEDGWICK had been completely
driven from our right, and suddenly grapeshot and other missiles struck
us from the right and rear. This fire for a moment was excessively
galling. A fresh line also made its appearance in our front. It emerged
from the Sharpsburg heights, and moved down splendidly with its colors,
advanced and commanded by an officer mounted on a white charger. Our men
saw it and a lull in their fire showed that they
appreciated the situation. The rebel line came down about mid-way of the
cornfield when a volley from our men struck it. Its gallant leader with
his horse fell, the line reeled, broke and fled.
The fire from the sunken road grew faint, and occasionally a rag or white
handkerchief was waved feebly from among what appeared a mass of dead
The fire from our right was becoming severe and portentous. Adjutant BLINN of the 14th Indiana came to the writer and said we would be scooped up in
five minutes. We ran down to the right and at once saw the
danger. A section of artillery was in position giving us a raking fire,
and three lines of infantry were in motion, evidently with the intention
of turning our flank and getting possession of the ROULETT buildings
again. A change of front of the Eighth Ohio and Fourteenth Indiana was
ordered, left wing forward. This was quickly and handsomely executed,
though the enemy redoubled his fire as the movement was being executed.
The Rebel infantry broke at once on the delivery of our volley as the line
came to its new front, and fled into the woods, and a gun was run off with
several limping horses.
As the left wing of the Eighth moved round in this change of front,
the few Rebels who remained alive in the sunken road were taken
prisoners, and sent to the rear in charge of Captain MILLER of Co. H.,
between two and. three hundred being taken, many of them being wounded.
Gen. KIMBALL came on the field soon after, with the information that
troops from FRANKLIN's Corps' were coming to our relief. It was however
some time before they arrived. We were still suffering severely from shell
and from riflemen who were delivering their fire mainly from cover, no
considerable body of rebels now appearing in range of us.
Finally, between one and two o'clock we were relieved by fresh troops, and
our brigade withdrew and formed. under cover of the ridge and the ROULETT
buildings, having held our battle line, being nearly all the time under a
terrible fire for over four hours.
The battle had now mainly ceased on the right and in our front, and
BURNSIDE's operations on the left were beginning to engross the attention
of the enemy. Ammunition was rapidly issued to the men, and the brigade
was held in readiness for immediate duty should occasion require.
The loss in the brigade had been fearful. In this Eighth 162 officers and
men had been killed and wounded, or about half the number engaged. The
loss in other regiments was equally severe. But the brigade had achieved
undying renown. It had taken and held one of the most difficult and
important positions on the field, and had maintained an unwavering line
during the carnage, of a four hours' battle. Gen. SUMNER pronounced it
the "Gibraltar Brigade."
The ROULETT barn was used for an operating room and the ground about it
was covered with wounded and dying men. These were being attended to as
rapidly as possible and the wounded sent back to Boonsborough, where the
field hospitals were established.
Among our killed were Lieut. H. H. BILL, who was in command of Co, K, and
Lieut. J. LANTRY of Co. B ; Lieut. W. DELANEY of Co. B, and Lieut.
CHARLES W. Barnes of Co. D, were mortally wounded and died soon after.
Lieut. G. S. SMITH of Co.. A, and Lieut. CREIGHTON
THOMPSON of Co. G, were shockingly wounded, each losing an eye.
Lieutenants NICKERSON, CRAIG,
LOOMIS and WITHERELL, were
also severely wounded.
Among the enlisted men killed, were WILLIAM
P. RICHARDSON and DAVID ZOUKER, Co. A; JOHN SHEPARD
and W. CHAMPION, Co. B; FREDERICK
T. NICHOLS, JOSEPH LOGAN,
L. G. SNOWDEN, LOUIS YOUNGMAN,
Co. C; Sergeant JOHN BRIGGS,
W. W. FARMER, ALEX. MELVILLE,
WM. MOUNTAIN, Co. D ; FRANKLIN
TROUP, Co. E; LEWIS MATHEWS,
R. SMITHNEST, J. FISHER, MICHAEL HALDERMAN, Jonas BOSLER,
J. S. FIELDS, W. S. PALMETER, F. B, REYNOLDS,
J. K. REYNOLDS, Co. F ; O. B. COLE, J. KERAN,
Co. G ; Sergt. ALBERT G. WEST,
C. W. BOUGHTON, E. C. CHAPMAN,
Co. H; Sergt. E. L. YARNEY, NAHUM
HASTINGS, LEVI MANNING,
RICHARD SMITH, M. L. TORRENCE,
Co. I; C, F. CARPENTER, J. D. LOWE,
W. J. MARKS, Sergt. E. H. SAWTELL,
Co. K. A large number of the wounded died soon after. At the time of
making the charge the Adjutant's (Lieut. LEWIS)
horse .was killed, the writer's horse was wounded and fell, and the
Major's horse was also wounded, leaving us all unhorsed.
Of the officers at that time belonging to the regiment.
Capts. BUTTERFIELD and PIERCE
were absent sick, and .Capt. OGLE and Lieut. COOK,
becoming separated from their companies in the morning, did not come up
until after the battle. Lieut. JOHN G. REID
was serving as A, A. A. General, on .the staff of Col. CARROLL in another
part of the army.
Towards evening we sent for our sumpter horses., and
also had rations brought up for the men. Our striker," PHILIP
MICHAEL, brought up the sumpter horses to within a
few feet of where Gen. KIMBALL and staff and most of
the officers were seated on the grass, and while getting some provisions
out of the saddle pockets was struck and badly wounded by a piece of shell
which had exploded over our heads, but we secured our lunch, pipes and
tobacco, which we enjoyed as well as the surrounding circumstances would
We slept on oar arms in this position during the night.
In the morning we fell back a few hundred yards, the Second Corps being
united again, and formed in line of battle, where it remained during the
day behind its stacked arms. The same position was occupied during the
On the morning of the 19th a single rebel shot came
whizzing towards us and struck a few yards in our front. We were under
arms at once, but there was no further demonstration—that shot was the
parting salute of the rebels. They had made good their escape over the
Soon after the Second Corps was moved into the woods,
in which Sedgwick's division had fought so desperately, and, having
established our bivouac, the writer obtained leave, with other officers,
to visit the battle field. Our own dead had been mostly buried, those of
the Eighth in ROULETT's orchard, and their graves carefully marked.
The battle held still presented a ghastly appearance.
The rebel dead were unburied, and generally swollen and black. We visited
the sunken road, in the front of where our line fought. It was literally
filled with dead. One poor fellow who had attempted to escape over the
fence, in the rear, to the corn field, had fallen doubled over the fence,
face from us, and was said, to have been pierced with fifty-seven bullets.
We went over the corn field, covered with dead, among which was the
gallant officer whom we had observed daring the battle and his milk-white
steed, lying as they had fallen, pierced with numerous balls. We never
learned who he was, though much interested to know, for his cool bravery
had greatly excited our admiration.