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E P Alexander was Robert E Lee’s Chief of Ordnance during the Antietam campaign. Here he talks about the effective use of Union artillery at the battle.

“A strong feature of our centre was that the Antietam cut in half the ground over which the enemy must manoeuvre, and would more or less embarrass any infantry attack upon it; but, per contra, there were two ugly features: (1) The country is a rolling one and the hills near the stream are often quite steep, thus giving the enemy fairly close approach under cover. (2) Our whole line except the cavalry on the left was within range of the enemy’s rifle-guns planted along the high ridges east of the Antietam, beyond the effective range of our guns. Thence, perfectly safe themselves, they practised upon us at leisure all day.”

Hunt, the Federal chief of artillery, describes the location of 10 heavy batteries of the reserve artillery, and says: —

“They overlooked the enemy and swept most of the ground between them and our troops. They were well served, especially the guns of Benjamin’s battery. Their field of fire was extensive, and they were usefully employed all day and so constantly that the supply of ammunition for the 20-pounders ran short.”

As to how our artillery fared in opposition, we may judge from a remark made to me two months later by Col. S. D. Lee, upon my being transferred to the artillery service: ‘Pray that you may never see another Sharpsburg. Sharpsburg was Artillery Hell.’

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Dead of Stephen D Lee’s battery

From “Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative” by  Edward Porter Alexander

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