The 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown
Troop Location September 19th
After retreating from the site of the Battle of Antietam and crossing the Potomac River at Boteler’s Ford,
General Robert E. Lee left the small brigades of Lawton and Armistead with MG Wm. Pendleton in charge to cover the retreat. In late afternoon, Sept. 19, 1862, an artillery battle ensued and the Confederates with only 600 infantry and outgunned by 2 to 1 retreated from the south bank as the Union troops crossed the river. Pendleton panicked and left the battlefield looking for help. After finding General Lee at midnight, Pendleton informed him that all was lost at the ford. Meanwhile, the Confederate troops saved most of their artillery and escaped the battlefield. The Union troops, after crossing the river and forcing the Confederate retreat, returned to the north bank.
Troop Location September 20th: 6AM-8AM
Early morning on Sept. 20, two Union Army units returned to the south bank to retrieve 4 artillery pieces
left by the Confederates. As these units returned to the north bank, BG Geo. Sykes crossed the river with his 2nd and 3rd Brigades followed by the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division, commanded by Col. James Barnes.
Troop Location September 20th: 8AM-10AM
The 3000 Union troops crossed the Potomac and the 2nd Brigade secured the bluffs near the ford while the 1st Brigade was ordered to seek out the enemy but go no further than the second tree line, approximately 1 ˝ miles south of the river.
At the same time, MG Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, with BG A.P. Hill’s Light Division, returned to the
river to stem the Union advance. The two armies clashed near Engle Molers Road at about 10:00AM.
At about this time, Barnes’s Brigade secured the bluffs above the dam.
Troop Movement September 20th: 10AM - 12PM
The Union army was out manned by about a 2 to 1 margin and was ordered to retreat. Hill’s Light Division
was deployed pushing the Union troops back toward the river. While the troops moved toward the river
the Union artillery continued to fire. For about two hours the two armies were engaged
as the Union troops made their way back to the river.
Troop Location September 20th: 12PM - 2PM
As most of the Union troops were retreating across the river, both armies suffered casualties because of the Union artillery fire.
The Union retreat used both the ford and the dam that was west of the ford.
Troop Location September 20th: 2PM - 3PM
Colonel Charles Prevost, Commander of the 118th PA Vol., known as the “Corn Exchange
Regiment”, did not comply with the order to retreat because it did not come through “proper”
channels. His regiment, having never been in action before and with many defective weapons, was decimated, suffering 40% casualties.
In total the battle involved about 9000 troops and resulted in 677 casualties, about equally divided between both armies. As a consequence of the battle, Lee changed his plan to resume “The Maryland Campaign” and rather than advance into Maryland at Williamsport, he ordered the Army of Northern Virginia to retreat toward Winchester.