Burnside Bridge Assault

infomanpa

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
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Pennsylvania
#1
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
 

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Joined
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Linn Creek MO
#4
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
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2018
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Lima, OH
#7
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?).
 

David Knight

First Sergeant
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Feb 26, 2012
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Pontefract, Yorkshire.
#10
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.
 

Yankeedave

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Colorado
#11
I wonder if that would change if a proper moral/experience is given to the ninth corps Burnside's removed. They are veteran troops.
 

Drew

Captain
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Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,364
#12
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
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....
 
Joined
May 18, 2011
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9,226
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Carlisle, PA
#13
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?).
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
 

Andy Cardinal

First Sergeant
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Feb 27, 2017
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Location
Ohio
#14
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]
 

Yankeedave

1st Lieutenant
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#15
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]
Long twelve minutes.
 

Andy Cardinal

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
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Location
Ohio
#17
Posting two maps. Wondering from which point the twelve minutes took?
View attachment 206487
battlefield.org
View attachment 206488
warfarehistorynetwork.com
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.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Messages
101
Location
Western Alaska
#19
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]
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.
 

Polloco

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Messages
546
Location
South Texas
#20
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?
 

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