ECW: Major Hilary Herberts Antietam After Action Report

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Feb 5, 2017

Maj. Hilary Herbert’s Antietam After-Action Report​

Posted on October 29, 2020 by Kevin Pawlak


Richard H. Anderson (courtesy of the National Park Service)

While the actions of Richard H. Anderson’s division on September 17, 1862 are generally known, pinning down specifics has always been difficult. Mostly, that is due to the fact that only one after-action report from the entire division (and it is not from Anderson himself) was reproduced in the Official Records. Robert K. Krick, in his essay about Confederates in the Sunken Road in Gary Gallagher’s The Antietam Campaign anthology illustrates the issue of determining the movements of Anderson’s division and its various brigades:

The disintegration of R. H. Anderson’s division can be seen distinctly from the official reports of its brigades: there are none. Not only did no official report for the division find its way into the published Official Records; there is also none for any of its six brigades, and only a report for one of the twenty-six regiments that made up those brigades. The report of Capt. Abram M. “Dode” Feltus, senior officer present with the 16th Mississippi, is the only one in that standard source out of a potential thirty-three documents. The lacuna frustrates historians; it also illustrates the paucity of command in the division on September 17 (and the haphazard way in which R. H. Anderson administered his division when he returned to its command).[1]

Volume Three of the Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published in 1994, contains a brief (and useless when it comes to Antietam) paragraph written by Col. William A. Parham, commanding Mahone’s brigade, and a report for Ambrose Wright’s brigade written by Col. William Gibson, third in charge of the brigade and its commander at the close of battle on September 17. These two sources bring the number of documents from Anderson’s division up to three out of the 33 Krick counted. Now, here is the fourth (Krick cites Herbert’s report but since it was written in 1864 likely does not count it as an after-action report). It has been cited before in other works but has been used sparingly in studies of the Maryland Campaign.

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