An image of Capt. Tidball. At Antietam, John C. Tidball was the Captain of Battery A, 2nd US Artillery. A West Point graduate from 1848, Tidball was an experienced officer whose actions at the battle helped to support infantry attacks on the Federal right and left. His guns were positioned on a ridge line just west of Antietam Creek, having a view of the center and southern end of the battlefield.
In his account of Antietam, Tidball writes that Union artillery units were not as well organized as were their Confederate counterparts. Confederate batteries were largely organized into battalions, allowing for greater concentration of firepower on certain parts of the field (think of the Stephen D. Lee Battalion in between the Dunker Church and the current site of the Visitor Center). Conversely, Federal batteries were largely on their own, attached to various brigades or divisions. This dispersed Federal firepower for field artillery west of the Antietam, limiting the ability of Union artillery to support infantry attacks with close range support.
Tidball's description of the fighting in the Cornfield and West Woods is critical of Hooker's use of his artillery. He suggests that Federal artillery was underutilized because of the lack of general coordination between various divisions and corps in their attacks. He also provides a chilling quote describing the fighting in that sector: "No other equal area upon the American continent has been so drenched with human blood."
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