Confederate General Robert E Lee’s army of Northern Virginia waited after the Battle of Antietam for the Union to make another assault, when none came the two armies pulled together a truce so the wounded could be recovered. Lee began his trip back to Virginia on the night of September 18th 1862, leaving a rear guard under Brigadier General William N Pendleton to hold Boteler’s Ford.
In the early evening of September 19th 1862 Union Brigadier General Charles Griffin sent the 1st United States Sharpshooters and the 4th Michigan Infantry to Boteler’s Ford. The Union men attacked Pendleton’s troops, capturing four cannon before Griffin recalled them. Pendleton reported the incident to Lee, reporting that he lost all forty-four of his artillery pieces.
On September 20th 1862 the Union sent a reconnaissance force made up of Major Charles Lovell’s Brigade of United States Regulars. The Regulars crossed the Potomac entered Shepherdstown, Virginia and encountered Confederate Major General A P Hill’s division about a mile from the river. Hill’s men attacked under a heavy Union artillery fire. Two more Union brigades were ordered across the river. There was a clash along the heights along the river, which caused the Union to withdraw from the Virginia side of the river . The day wore on, ending with both the Union and Confederate troops on either side of the Potomac River in a tactical stalemate.
Following this battle Union General George McClellan settle his Army of the Potomac into a defensive position along the Maryland bank of the river. Casualties for both sides combined were about 700, of this number 269 casualties were from the Union 118th Pennsylvania Infantry; the “Corn Exchange Regiment”, for who this was their first battle.