Slike strani

subsequent career, and the nature of his services to the date of his death, have been made sufficiently familiar to the reader of these pages. In all the acts of his life his fine and generous qualities of character were made manifest. He was quick and hasty in temper, thought, speech and act, and of great daring. Possibly he may have sometimes been impatient of results, and so may have exposed himself to unnecessary danger, thinking that his personal example might stimulate others to a more prompt and vigorous performance of duty. But he was always just, always ready to recognize and reward merit, if equally ready to condemn unfaithfulness. Warm-hearted, cordial, fearless, he was a thorough soldier, and fully deserved all that his superiors in command have said of him. General Pope's testimony in his behalf has already been adduced. "The loss of this brave and distinguished officer," says General McClellan, "tempered with sadness the exultations of triumph. An able general, endeared to his troops and associates, his death is felt to be an irreparable misfortune. He was a skilful soldier, a brave and honest man.' "I will not attempt, in a public report,” says General Burnside in his report of the operations of his command in Maryland, "to express the deep sorrow which the death of the gallant Reno caused me. A long and intimate acquaintance, an extended service in the same field, and an intimate knowledge of his high and noble character had endeared him to me as well as to all with whom he had served. No more valuable life than his has been lost during this contest for our country's preservation." A brave and gallant gentleman, indeed, who knew no fear and suffered no reproach!

The officers of our army recognized his sterling qualities of head and heart. Even strangers and casual acquaintances perceived his worth, and felt the impression which the sense of his manliness and honor made upon them. The public journals throughout the loyal States bore witness to his fine nobility of character, and it was universally agreed that the

[ocr errors]

* McClellan's Report, p. 197.

loyal cause had lost one of its best, bravest and most trustworthy defenders. His remains were taken from the field where he fell, were carried to Boston, Massachusetts, where his family then resided, and were carefully and tenderly consigned to the earth. In person, General Reno was of middle stature, stout, well knit and compact in frame. His forehead was high and broad, his face wore a genial expression, his eye beamed upon his friends with rare and quick intelligence, or, kindled in the excitement of conflict, flashed out in brave defiance of the foe. He had a magnetic kind of enthusiasm, and when leading on his men, he seemed to inspire his followers and make them irresistible in action. A dauntless soldier, whose like we rarely see!

[blocks in formation]


NOR the battle of South Mountain, which General Burnside fought,* General McClellan received the hearty thanks of the President. Mr. Lincoln, immediately upon hearing the gratifying intelligence of the victory, sent the following kind message: "God bless you and all with you; destroy the rebel army if possible." General McClellan, during the fight on the 14th, had massed his entire army, with the exception of General Franklin's command, in Middletown and its immediate vicinity. At early dawn on the 15th, the advance of the pickets revealed the fact that the enemy had retired during the night from the mountain and its neighborhood. General Mansfield had arrived at headquarters early in the morning after the battle, and immediately assumed command of the twelfth corps. That Corps, with those of Generals Sumner and Hooker, the latter of which had been detached from General Burnside's command, and General Pleasonton's cavalry, were ordered to pursue the enemy on the main road through Boonesboro'. General Franklin was ordered to move into Pleasant Valley, and occupy Rohrersville. General Burnside with the Ninth Corps, now under command of General Cox who had succeeded General Reno, and General Sykes's division, was directed to march by the old Sharpsburg road. But little occurred during the day, except a severe skirmish with the enemy's cavalry in the village of Boonesboro', which resulted in killing and wounding a number and capturing two guns and two hundred and

*General McClellan in his first dispatch transmitting intelligence of this battle made no mention whatever of General Burnside.

fifty prisoners from the retreating foe. The infantry followed promptly on the heels of General Lee's rear guard, but could not bring on an engagement. The enemy carefully retired, and passing throngh Boonesboro' and Keedysville, crossed Antietam Creek and took up a strong position upon the heights beyond. General Richardson's division of General Sumner's corps was in the advance on this road, and immediately upon approaching the enemy's position deployed between the turnpike and the old Sharpsburg road. General Sykes's division, which was in the advance of General Burnside's pursuit, reaching a point contiguous to General Richardson's position, deployed upon the left of the Sharpsburg road. The remaining troops occupied the two roads in columns. General McClellan states that he was desirous of engaging the enemy on the 15th. But the relative positions of the two armies forbade any such enterprise, and the commanding general was only able to post his batteries and mass his troops near and on both sides of the Sharpsburg road. The Ninth Corps occupied the extreme left close to the hills on the southeast side of the valley of the Antietam.*

Antietam creek at this point is a sluggish stream, with but few fords and those difficult of crossing. Above in the neighborhood of Funkstown, there are high banks, and the scenery up and down the river is quite picturesque. The battle, however, was confined to the region adjacent to the lower part of the stream. Here the creek is spanned by four substantial stone bridges, the upper one on the Keedysville and Williamsport road; the second about two miles and a half below on the Keedysville and Sharpsburg turnpike; the third about a mile. below the second on the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg road; and the fourth near the mouth of the creek, three miles below. the third. Our army lay along the eastern bank of the creek not quite down to the bridges, but with the right wing commanding the two upper bridges and the roads towards Funks

* Cox's Report. McClellan's Report, p. 200.

[ocr errors]

town beyond. General Burnside-now in command upon the extreme left was posted opposite the bridge upon the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg road, but at some distance from it. The enemy showed evident signs of standing to his defence. General Lee had carried his troops across the creek, had stationed them in a commanding position between that and the Potomac river, and was thus within easy communication with his detachments on the Virginia side near Harper's Ferry, and manifested every sign of making a severe fight. His campaign in Maryland had thus far been entirely fruitless with the exception of the capture of Harper's Ferry, and he could not endure to retire across the Potomac without making some endeavors to retrieve his ill-fortune. During the night of the 15th he changed his position and threw up some slight intrenchments. Through the same night General McClellan's army was occupied in getting into position on the hither side of the creek. General Franklin remained in camp near Crampton's Gap and did not come up till the day of the main battle. Two divisions of General Fitz John Porter's corps, to which General Sykes's division belonged, were on the way from Boonesboro' and Frederick, but were making slow progress on account of the crowded state of the roads. Supplies of provision and ammunition were not abundant, as the troops in advance had hurried forward with great celerity, leaving their baggage train to follow more leisurely. On the morning of the 16th General McClellan was not ready for offensive operations, and the enemy showed a decidedly threatening front.

The bridge in front of the Ninth Corps was a substantial structure difficult of approach on either side, when well guarded by a resolute enemy. Our line had been formed at some distance from the bridge, and it was thought best on the morning of the 16th that it should be moved to a nearer position, from which an assault could be made with greater assurance of success. General Burnside accordingly advanced his command to the immediate vicinity of the bridge, and proceeded to reconnoitre the approaches from his front. During the day his

« PrejšnjaNaprej »