- Feb 5, 2017
By sunrise on September 17, 1862, the Confederate guns waited on the left flank. Ordered to guard “Stonewall” Jackson’s flank and use the high ground advantage to blast Union atta…
“The Hand of a Master”: Confederate Artillery on the Left Flank at Antietam
Posted on September 17, 2019 by Sarah Kay Bierle
An artillery piece at Antietam National Battlefield
By sunrise on September 17, 1862, the Confederate guns waited on the left flank. Ordered to guard “Stonewall” Jackson’s flank and use the high ground advantage to blast Union attackers, the assembled cannons and crews prepared for battle. General J. E B. Stuart had been tasked with covering the flank, and Stuart and his horse artillery commander—Captain John Pelham—ably directed the guns since Jackson’s chief of artillery had remained behind in Harpers Ferry.
The artillery batteries pulled into line on Nicodemus Heights and Hauser Ridge had been gathered from other commands since some of Jackson’s own artillery had also been delayed at Harpers Ferry. Though a total of forty guns would play a role in the Confederate left flank and West Woods defense, the morning opened with about fifteen cannon on Nicodemus Heights directly under Pelham’s command, including the Stuart Horse Artillery, three cannon from the Staunton Artillery, the Alleghany Artillery, and a battery from Danville, Virginia. One of these cannons “opened” the battle, beginning a duel just as the sun’s light turned the morning darkness into a smoky gray.