The Battle of Shepherdstown, also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford, took place September 19–20, 1862, in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), at the end of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.
After the Battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia prepared to defend against a Federal assault that never came. After an improvised truce for both sides to recover and exchange their wounded, Lee's forces began withdrawing across the Potomac River on the evening of September 18 to return to Virginia. Lee left behind a rear guard of two infantry brigades and 45 guns under his chief of artillery, Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, to hold Boteler's Ford.
Shortly before dusk on September 19, Union Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin sent 2,000 infantry and sharpshooters from Maj. Gen. Fitz-John Porter's V Corps across the Potomac River at Boteler's Ford. They attacked the Pendleton's rearguard, capturing four artillery pieces before being recalled. Pendleton reported to Gen. Robert E. Lee that Federals were now on the Virginia side of the river, and that he had lost part of his artillery.
Early on September 20, Porter pushed elements of two divisions across the Potomac to establish a bridgehead. Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's "Light Division" marched 5 miles back towards Shepherdstown and counterattacked under fire from Union artillery across the river on the Maryland hills. Porter, receiving reports that his infantry on the Virginia side was badly outnumbered, ordered a withdrawal. However, the colonel of the inexperienced 118th Pennsylvania (the "Corn Exchange" Regiment) refused to retire until orders were received through the proper chain of command, and his regiment became isolated. As the Confederates approached, the Union regiment panicked, with men scrambling down the steep cliffs and crossing the ford and a nearby dam. Several men drowned in their attempt to reach safety, and the regiment reported 269 casualties out of 737 men.
Total Union casualties for the two days were 363, Confederate 261. The rearguard action at Shepherdstown discouraged any further significant Federal pursuit of Lee's retiring army, ending the Maryland Campaign.
- Kennedy, Frances H., ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Sears, Stephen W., Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, Houghton Mifflin, 1983, ISBN 0-89919-172-X.
- National Park Service battle description
- Kennedy, p. 121.
- Sears, p. 307.
de:Gefecht bei Shepherdstown ja:シェパーズタウンの戦い nl:Slag bij Shepherdstown pl:Bitwa pod Shepherdstown