A Union artillery officer once said, “the value of the light artillery in the army as a factor in the suppression of the Rebellion, has never been accorded that credit to which it is entitled.” We intend to remedy this in our study of the regular artillery at the Battle of Antietam.
This 3-hour tour focuses on a number of regular army artillery batteries that played a key role in the Battle of Antietam. We will visit the location of these batteries, learn a little of their history and interesting soldiers and discuss the key role they played in the battle. At each stop, we also cover their Confederate artillery opponents.
- We start with a short artillery overview at the Visitors Center that includes a discussion of the role of newly appointed Union Chief of Artillery Henry Hunt. From there we drive to the Miller Farm and walk out to Battery C, 5thS. Artillery. There are no guns [yet] but Captain Dunbar Ransom’s artillerymen played a decisive role in halting a succession of rebel attacks including those of Hood’s division and Roswell Ripley’s brigade of D.H. Hill’s division.
- We then travel to the Smoketown Road near the Mumma Farm Lane and examine Battery A&C Fourth Artillery. This battery, commanded by 19-year-old Evan Thomas and including future Medal of Honor awardee Cushing, played a key role in slowing the momentum of Confederate attacks into the Sunken Road.
- Our next stop is the Sunken Road and a visit Battery K, First US Artillery. In an area with little Federal artillery, Graham’s men took the brunt of heavy Confederate fire trying to support the Union advance beyond the Sunken Road. General Richardson is mortally wounded in this battery. [Note that this position may not be accessible at certain times of the year due to crops planted in the surrounding fields.
- We drive to the Newcomer House and hike the Tidball Trail. At its summit we inspect a line of guns sent forward at the Middle Bridge to support the advance of a Union regular infantry brigade, a Union offensive often ignored by some scholars. This is the legendary Union Horse Artillery, here led by Captain John Tidball. These elite gunners accompanied the cavalry and are just beginning to earn a well-earned reputation for daring and skill.
- For our last stop, we park at the Burnside Bridge and pick up the Union Final Attack Trail for a walk to Battery E, Fourth U.S. Artillery. Captain Joseph Clark’s battery is pushed across the bridge to support the final offensive of the Ninth Corps. Learn what happens when the battery comes under intense Confederate artillery fire and the noncommissioned officers take over when both of the officers are shot down.
This hike involves some hiking. We hike the Tidball Trail and parts of the Final Attack trail as part of this tour. Guests should be in relatively good physical condition to participate on this tour.
Jim Rosebrock is an NPS certified guide at Antietam and is the author of an upcoming book on Union artillery at Antietam.