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 morrow.
     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 bugle.
     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. SEDGWICK had 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
whole brigade.
     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 mortally wounded.
     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 men.
     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 men..
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 permit.
     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 night.
     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 river.
     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.




CLICK HERE to Return to

CLICK HERE to Return to

This Webpage has been created by Sharon Wick exclusively for Ohio Genealogy Express  ©2008
Submitters retain all copyrights