1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Burnside Bridge Assault

Discussion in 'Battle of Antietam / Sharpsburg' started by infomanpa, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. infomanpa

    infomanpa First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,292
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    This is a view that a defender from Toombs' brigade would have seen as he shot at the men of the Union's Ninth Corps as they tried to cross the Rohrbach (Burnside) bridge. It seems to me that men coming across that bridge would be easy pickings and have no chance of making it. Considering this almost impregnable defensive position, it appears to me that it was almost impossible to cross that bridge without the assistance of the flanking brigades who later crossed Antietam Creek at Snavely's Ford. If those flanking brigades had not arrived and the Rebels were able to resupply their ammunition, was it possible to take that bridge?
    20180912_152455.jpg
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 Captain Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    May 1, 2015
    Messages:
    5,899
    Location:
    Upstate N.Y.
    Looks peaceful enough in that view
     
    Yankeedave likes this.
  4. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    Can't miss at that range. Plus being dug in in little pits? Skip the bridge. Cross the creek at multiple points.
     
  5. BigMuddy

    BigMuddy Private

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Linn Creek MO
    I often wondered how so few (Toombs) defended against so many until my visit there last year. Standing where this great picture was taken I could then see how it was done... to a point. I still am amazed at how long the Confederates held that position. Courage and determination!

    Without the flankers, ammunition would have been the only other reason the Confederates would have had to pull back IMO.

    Dan
     
    Drew, infomanpa and Yankeedave like this.
  6. bankerpapaw

    bankerpapaw 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,294
    Location:
    Rome, Georgia
    Easy pickins'.
     
    Yankeedave likes this.
  7. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
  8. treebie2000

    treebie2000 Private

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2018
    Messages:
    35
    Location:
    Lima, OH
    I wondered when I visited there, how deep must the dead and wounded have been on the approaches to that bridge, and how difficult it had to have been for subsequent assaults to go through and over them while under fire.
    I can think of no comparable bottleneck taken under fire (maybe running the gauntlet at Vicksburg?).
     
    BigMuddy and Yankeedave like this.
  9. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    Had to edit my post.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  10. Carronade

    Carronade 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    3,974
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I expect the Yanks would need heavy suppressive fire, preferably artillery, to keep the Rebs from taking good aim.
     
    Yankeedave likes this.
  11. David Knight

    David Knight First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,016
    Location:
    Pontefract, Yorkshire.
    I have played this scenario on Scourge of War Antietam and I have never had to withdraw yet from frontal assault across the bridge. Reality is different from computer strategy games but it does appear to be virtually impregnable for a well supplied defender with adequate ammo and some artillery to suppress the attackers batteries.
     
  12. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    I wonder if that would change if a proper moral/experience is given to the ninth corps Burnside's removed. They are veteran troops.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2012
    Messages:
    7,231
    That's the thing, you have to stand there and see it. It was a turkey shoot from the Confederate position. I can't believe Burnside (and Cox) couldn't figure that out. Those poor Devils ordered to cross....
     
    BigMuddy, infomanpa and Yankeedave like this.
  14. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    9,153
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    First Attack
    11th Connecticut: 36 killed, 102 wounded

    Second Attack
    11th Ohio: 4 dead, 12 wounded, 5 missing
    28th Ohio: 2 dead, 19 wounded

    Third Attack
    2nd Maryland: 17 dead, 47 wounded, 3 missing
    6th New Hampshire: 4 dead, 13 wounded, 1 missing

    Fourth Attack
    51st New York: 19 dead, 68 wounded
    51st Pennsylvania: 21 dead, 99 wounded

    The 9th New Hampshire provided cover for several of these attacks. They suffered 10 dead, 49 wounded.

    Some of these casualties were suffered later in the day so that needs to be taken into account.

    Ryan
     
  15. Andy Cardinal

    Andy Cardinal Sergeant

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Messages:
    951
    Location:
    Ohio
    I've visited the bridge a few times. I believe the defense was virtually impregnable to a frontal assault and the only reason I believe the bridge was finally taken was that 1) the Georgians were running out of ammunition, and 2) Rodman's division had finally crossed at Snavely's Ford and the defenders were now outflanked. It seems unconscionable to me that no one wearing blue seemed to know about Snavely's Ford until after Rodman's division had already moved out.

    Also, it apparently took far longer for the two 51sts to take the bridge than I had previously imagined. This excerpt is from Fierce Glory, which I am currently reading:

    The crossing required twelve minutes, according to the 51st Pennsylvania’s regimental historian. Only then did the first Union soldiers emerge onto the west bank of the Antietam. They could claim the Rohrbach Bridge at last. [P 158, Kindle edition]
     
    infomanpa and Yankeedave like this.
  16. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    Long twelve minutes.
     
    Andy Cardinal likes this.
  17. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    Posting two maps. Wondering from which point the twelve minutes took?
    IMG_20181007_102356.jpg
    battlefield.org
    M-51st-PA-Map-4CApr03.jpg
    warfarehistorynetwork.com
     
    Andy Cardinal likes this.
  18. Andy Cardinal

    Andy Cardinal Sergeant

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Messages:
    951
    Location:
    Ohio
    Good question.... The text cites an old history of the 51st Pennsylvania. I'm hoping to locate a digital copy to look it up, unless somebody on this forum has assess to it and is willing to look it up. Fierce Glory implies from 1 end of the bridge to the other:

    The two 51sts entered the bridge. Legend holds that what happened next is this: standard bearers out front, regimental colors proudly flying side by side, the Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers raced in tandem across the bridge. No. The soldiers inched across in a state of disorder and high anxiety. The Rebs may have been low on ammo, but their opponents were drawing ever closer, rendering them easier and easier as targets. From the bluffs, the Georgians soon had the advantage of firing nearly straight down. At close range, they employed that vicious stinging combo, buck and ball. Bodies piled up, creating further impediment. The Federals edged along, returning fire as best they could.
     
    White Flint Bill and Yankeedave like this.
  19. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,498
    Location:
    Colorado
    I wondered if it didn't happen like that. :wink::thumbsup:
     
    Andy Cardinal likes this.
  20. Alaskazimm

    Alaskazimm Private

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    99
    Location:
    Western Alaska
    According to Sears, the Union engineers did know about Snavely's Ford but reported it in the wrong location to the IX Corps. Hence the extended delay in getting Rodman's division in place since they had to go find it again.
     
  21. Polloco

    Polloco Private

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2018
    Messages:
    81
    I had the opportunity to walk across that bridge 25 years ago. It was an experience. I read later that a large sycamore tree is just to the right of the bridge and that tree was a sapling during the battle. At the time I paid little attention to the trees. Had I known at the time. I would have paid more attention. This tree was a "witness". Anyone else heard that story?
     
    Andy Cardinal likes this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)