“Boys, the command is no longer forward, but now it is follow me!”

by Phil Spaugy

Bachman

Lt. Colonel Alois O. Bachman was killed while leading the “Black Hats” of of the 19th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry on the morning of September 17, 1862. This is the story of his first day of regimental command and, tragically, the last day of his life.

A native of Madison Indiana, Bachman had previously served as a Captain in the 6th Indiana Volunteer Infantry (90 Days). He was commissioned Major of the 19th in late July 1861, receiving  his promotion to Lt. Colonel of the regiment the following February.  Due to injuries suffered at the Battle of Brawner Farm, and the physical and emotional toll of the campaign since that time, the Colonel of the 19th, Solomon Meredith, was unable to take the field; consequently, the 23-year-old Bachman became the commander of the regiment soon after the September 14th fight for Turners Gap.

Advancing with the other black-hatted “western” regiments of Brigadier General John Gibbon’s brigade, the 19th advanced through Farmer Miller’s soon-to-be infamous cornfield. Gibbon, in an attempt to stop the harassing fire of confederate troops on the right of the brigade ordered the 19th, along with the 7th Wisconsin, to cross the Hagerstown Pike. Moving rapidly by the flank to their right, the two black-hatted regiments crossed the pike and quickly cleared the rebel skirmishers out of the area finding, much as the enemy had, that the sloping ground provided excellent cover for them to pour a horrific flanking fire into exposed left and rear of both Starkes and Colonel James Jacksons Confederate brigades, who in turn were firing on the 6th Wisconsin’s position in the cornfield to the east of the pike.

Ordering his regiment to change front from column to the left, and holding his hat in one hand and his sword in the other, Alois shouted,  “Boys, the command is no longer forward, but now it is follow me!” as he led his “Swamp Hogs” up over the protective cover of a rock ledge and charged east across the Hagerstown Pike. Here they pitched into the unsuspecting troops of Hampton’s Legion, who had left their left flank dangling “in the air” while intently advancing on the exposed position of Battery B of the 4th U.S. Artillery. The fierce attack of the 19th spoiled the rebel attempt to capture Battery B;  however, the sheer momentum of their advance carried  the regiment to the crest of a small rise 150 yards east of the pike. Here, in a very exposed position, the Hoosiers were met by a withering fire of southern musketry. It was at this point in the contest that Lt. Colonel Bachman received his fatal wound. Immediately taking command of the regiment, 19-year-old Captain William Dudley rallied the 19th, and under severe fire from the northern edge of the West Woods was able to safely extradite them from their position on the hill. The regiment fell back west over the Hagerstown Pike and then north out of the fight.

Below you will find young Captain Dudley’s official report of the fight, which gives one some idea of the great intensity of both the advance and the short, but fierce, struggle east of the pike. Remember this report was written by a lad of 19 years.

CAMP, GIBBON’S BRIGADE,

September 21, 1862.

Lieutenant FRANK A. HASKELL,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Gibbon’s Brigade.

DEAR SIR:

I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers in the battle of the 17th instant:

Owing to the fall which Colonel Meredith received in the battle of the 28th of August, and the subsequent fatigue and exposure of the marches up to the 16th instant, he was unable to take command on our movement across the Antietam Creek. The command now fell upon Lieutenant-Colonel Bachman. Immediately on crossing the cheek we were advanced in line of battle up the hill in a plowed field which covered the brow of the hill. Lieutenant Colonel Bachman immediately deployed Company A, Sergeant Eager, forward as skirmishers through the corn-field, in order to protect our front and the crossing of our division, which, being accomplished, we were ordered to join the brigade and move farther up to the right. We stopped for the night, having closed column by division on first division, right in front.

Early on the morning of the 17th instant we were called up and prepared to go into action. We moved directly to the front, in column by division. Our first casualty occurred in a peach orchard near the destined battle-field.

We now moved to the edge of a corn-field near a stone house, which was immediately used as a hospital. Here we lay down, while our skirmishers were scouring the corn-field in front. We were soon ordered to the right, to a piece of woods which skirted the battle-field on the right. Here we deployed column and formed our line of battle on the right of the Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bachman ordered Company B, then my command, to deploy forward as skirmishers. This being done, the regiment moved slowly forward till the right was through the wood, when we halted. It was at this time that the attempt was made to take Battery B, Fourth Artillery, which was stationed at the straw stacks near the stone house hospital. Upon seeing the advance of the enemy, Lieutenant-Colonel Bachman at once called in the skirmishers, and changed front forward on the tenth company, so as to front the left flank of the enemy.

As soon as it was practicable we opened fire on them, and we have every reason to believe that our fire was very effective in repulsing their attack on the battery. Soon we saw the enemy falling back in great disorder, and it was at this juncture that the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Bachman, yielding to the urgent appeals of the men, gave the order to charge, and, hat in hand and sword drawn, he gave the order “double-quick”, and bravely led on, the men following, cheering as they advanced. We charged across the pike and followed the retreating rebels to the brow of the hill, over which they had a strong reserve of infantry and three pieces of artillery, which pieces seemed to have been abandoned by horses and men. It was at this point that brave Lieutenant-Colonel Bachman fell, mortally wounded, and I took command immediately. As soon as we could carry his body to the rear, we fell back to the pike and rallied. Here we received an enfilading fire, the enemy having succeeded in approaching within 100 yards of our right, under cover of the woods. We again fell back to our old position, and remained there until relieved by one of General Patrick’s regiments. We then fell back in good order slowly about 30 rods into the open field.

In making the charge and retiring, our colors fell three times, the bearers severely wounded. When they fell the last time, they were picked up and carried off the field by Lieutenant D. S. Holloway, of Company D. One of our men captured a rebel flag and took it to the rear. In this charge Lieutenant William Orr, Company K, was severely wounded. At this time, about 2 o’clock p. m., we retired from the field in good order, and formed in a strip of woods to the rear of the battle-field with the other three regiments of our brigade, for the purpose of stopping stragglers.

Our loss was, killed, Lieutenant Colonel A. O. Bachman and 7 men; wounded, Lieutenant William Orr, Company K, and 70 men; missing, 26 men.

The officers all vied with each other in the performance of their duty, and too much praise cannot be awarded to the non-commissioned officers for their gallant conduct; and the men of this regiment are all brave men, if we except the few who found their way to the rear when danger approached.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM W. DUDLEY,

Captain Company B, Commanding Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers.

Marker describing the action of the regiment and the approximte location where LTC Bachman received his mortal wound.

Marker describing the action of the regiment and the approximate location where LTC Bachman received his mortal wound.

After the battle, Alois’ remains were returned home to Madison, Indiana, for burial in Springdale Cemetery. As reported below in the September 27th edition of the Madison Courier, his funeral procession was, to that date, the largest ever held in the town:


Madison Courier, September 27, 1862

The funeral of the late Lieut. Col. A.O. Bachman yesterday afternoon was more largely attended than anyone ever before held in this city. The cortege was almost entirely of a military character. Six companies of the guard force of this city, the 93rd Infantry, and two companies of the 4th Cavalry were in the procession, commanded respectively by Col. Saring of the Legion, and Col. Grey, of the 4th Cavalry. The music was furnished by the Madison Brass Band. The procession was of course very extended, and some difficulty was experienced in drawing the column up before the grave. The salutes fired by three companies of the 100th regiment. A large crowd had assembled in the Cemetery to witness the ceremonies, and when the body was lowered into the grave, and the solemn music of the band was wailing over the dead, a scene of solemnity was presented that is seldom witnessed, and over the grave of one whose gallantry, merit, early death, and bright hopes for the future have never been excelled.

Sources:

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam – Serial 27) , Pages 251 – 252

The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory, by Lance Herdegen, Savas Beatie, 2012.

“I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.

MadisonCourier.Com,  September 29th, 2012 edition.

 

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