Final Attack Trail-Stop 8

Stop 8 - Artillery Ridge

This ridge line was used by the artillery of both sides. Early in the battle two Confederate batteries held this ground and used it to hold Burnside’s men at bay. Capt. Benjamin Franklin Eshleman’s and Capt. John Richardson’s batteries each had four smoothbore cannons and were both part of the famous Washington Artillery of New Orleans. Eshleman pulled out at noon to move south and cover Snavelys Ford. Richardson moved west to higher ground at 1:00 p.m. firing at the advancing 9th Corps and dueling with the Union artillery that then took position here.

After the bridge was taken and the Southern cannon left this ridge, two U.S. batteries would pull into the same position facing in the opposite direction. Four rifled cannons of Capt. Joseph Clark’s Battery E, 4th U.S. joined six rifled guns of Capt. George W. Durell, Independent Battery D, PA Light Artillery. West Point graduate Capt. Clark wrote how when taking position here, “my 1st Lt. was killed. My horse killed under me, and I was wounded by a bursting shell. I received four bullets—one through the bridle glove and left thumb, one above the knee joint, one through the thigh and one above the hip of my right leg.” Capt Clark would survive the war, but on September 17, command of the battery fell to Sergeant C. F. Merkel who fought the battery until dark.
Durrell’s battery in action at Antietam
Durrell’s battery in action at Antietam
At the other Union guns, Lt. Charles Cuffel of Durell’s battery remembered that “the cannonading was very heavy, each side appearing to employ all the guns at their command, and to use them with utmost vigor. The air seemed to be filled with shrieking missiles, and there was ocular evidence on every hand that somebody was getting hurt.” Such was the devastating barrage that emanated from and fell upon this ground.

From here the trail turns east. You are now headed back towards the Burnside Bridge.

Last updated: February 24, 2021

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