Second Division, First Corps, Army of the Potomac

the following post first appeared on the blog of Antietam Battlefield Guide Jim Rosebrock (South From the North Woods) on Jul. 4, 2012.
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This division originally was formed in the Department of the Rappahannock in May of 1862. The first division commander was Brigadier General Edward O.C. Ord (USMA 1839). Ord previously had commanded the 3rdBrigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves division.  He assumed his new command on May 16, 1862.  Ord however soon left for
Brig. Gen. James Ricketts

the west to command a division in the Army of the Tennessee on June 10, 1862. James Ricketts (USMA 1839) moved up from brigade command to succeed Ord in command of the division. Ord and Rickets were classmates at West Point ranking 15th and 16th respectively in the Class of 1839.  Ricketts, an old regular, commanded Battery I, 1st U.S. Artillery at First Bull Run where he was severely wounded and captured. Released in December he was promoted to brigadier general U.S.V. effective back to July 21, 1861.  He held brigade command for only three weeks before moving up to division command.

The division initially had four brigades. Two were new brigades of troops recently joined to the Washington defenses.  Command of the first of the new brigades was given to Abram Duryee a militia officer from New York State. Duryee had significant pre-war militia training and had organized the 5thNew York Zouaves at the beginning of the war.

Brig. Gen. Abram Duryee

Previously commanding a brigade of garrison troops, Duryee received command of what became the 1st Brigade on April 16, 1862. James Ricketts (USMA 1839) assumed command of the other brigade of new troops that had also come out of the Washington defenses.  George Hartsuff commanded the third brigade. The core of this brigade was originally Abercrombie’s brigade. It had been part of Nathanial Bank’s division and operated in the Shenandoah Valley.  After Abercrombie was reassigned to a brigade in the Third Corps on the Peninsula, George Hartsuff, assumed command shortly before the brigade was assigned to the division.  Its regiments were some of the first 3-year regiments raised in the summer of 1861 but they had not yet seen serious combat.  The fourth brigade of the division would no longer a part of the Second division by the time of the Maryland Campaign.  Prior to assignment to the 2nd Division, it was a part of James Shield’s division for much of the spring of 1862.  Commanded by Colonel Samuel S. Carroll (USMA 1856), all but one regiment were transferred to the Washington defenses just prior to the Maryland campaign.  That regiment, the 7th Indiana was reassigned to Hofmann’s brigade in the 1st Division of the corps.

At the beginning of June, 1862 the command structure of the division was:
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Division Commander Brigadier General Edward O.C Ord (USMA 1839)
·      1st Brigade – Brigadier Generals Abram Duryee
·      2nd Brigade – Brigadier General James Ricketts (USMA 1839)
·      3rd Brigade – Brigadier General George Hartsuff (USMA 1852)
·      4th Brigade – Colonel Samuel S. Carroll (USMA 1856)
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On June 26, 1862 the division was designated as the Second Division, Third Corps, Army of Virginia.  With the reassignment of Ord to Tennessee and elevation of Ricketts to command the division, Brigadier General Zealous B. Tower (USMA 1841) assumed command of Rickett’s brigade.  The new brigade command structure would look like this:
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Division Commander Brigadier General James Ricketts (USMA 1839)
·      1st Brigade – Brigadier Generals Abram Duryee
·      2nd Brigade – Brigadier General Zealous B. Tower (USMA 1841)
·      3rd Brigade – Brigadier General George Hartsuff (USMA 1852)
·      4th Brigade – Colonel Samuel S. Carroll (USMA 1856)
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The division would participate in the Battle of Cedar Mountain but would not suffer serious casualties.  Total losses for the division would be 68 wounded.  It would suffer more severe casualties during the Second Battle of Bull Run.
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There it would suffer 1,812 casualties at the Battle of Second Bull Run. The 2nd Brigade had the largest number of casualties with 696 killed, wounded and missing.  Additionally General Tower was wounded and two regimental commanders were casualties as well (Lieutenant Colonel McLean of the 88th Pennsylvania killed, and Colonel Root of the 94th New York wounded.  Colonel Christian of the 26th New York would ascend to command of the brigade.  The 3rd Brigade had nearly as many casualties with 657 men falling.  The brigade lost Colonel Fletcher Webster of the 12th Massachusetts as well.  Duryee’s brigade lost 291 men to the action but with no loss in regimental commanders.  The four artillery batteries lost 54 men total.  The division lost a fair amount of its strength at the end of the Bull Run campaign when its 4th Brigade was added to the defenses of Washington DC.

Col. William Christian

Under West Point-trained George Hartsuff and with the longest amount of army service, the 3rd Brigade despite the heavy casualties at Second Bull Run was probably in the best condition.  It was chosen to lead the advance of the division on the day of battle at Antietam.  (The scheme of maneuver would change with the wounding of Hartsuff on the field.) Duryea’s brigade followed it into action.  The 2nd Brigade lost heavily in men and leaders at Second Bull Run and was now lead by the unproven William Christian.  (Unlike Walter Phelps in the 1st Division, Christian would not fare so well at Antietam).   That brigade would bring up the rear.

Brig. Gen. George Hartsuff

As the division entered the Maryland Campaign, it looked like this:
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Division Commander Brigadier General James Ricketts (USMA 1839)
·      1st Brigade – Brigadier Generals Abram Duryee
·      2nd Brigade – Colonel William Christian, 26th New York
·      3rd Brigade – Brigadier General George Hartsuff (USMA 1852)
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Rickett’s division was severely under strength in the artillery category.  While assigned four batteries, there were only two four-gun batteries present at Antietam and no designated artillery chief.  None of these units were regular army.  Captain Ezra Matthew’s Battery F, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery was a veteran battery raised at Philadelphia in August 1861. It had served so far in the Shenandoah Valley as part of Banks command and moved over to the new division with Hartsuff’s brigade.  Matthew’s battery contained four 3-inch ordnance rifles and around 76 gunners.  Captain James Thompson commanded Independent Battery C, another Pennsylvania unit.  It was organized at Pittsburgh in November of 1861 and been with the 2nd division since its creation.  Thompson had 3-inch ordnance rifles as well but only around 44 enlisted men.  They “recruited” at least some men from the 105th New York.  Two Maine batteries were missing at Antietam. The 2nd Maine battery of Captain James Hall was retained in the Washington defenses after the Second Bull Run campaign.  The 5th Maine battery was also ordered to Washington to refit.
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NOTE:  Information on the make up of the artillery batteries comes from Artillery Hell – The Employment of Artillery at Antietam by Curt Johnson and Richard C. Anderson (College Station Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1995).

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