At the first dawn of day skirmishing commenced in front, and in a short time the Federal batteries, so posted on the opposite side of the Antietam as to enfilade my line, opened a severe and damaging fire. This was vigorously replied to by the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, Brockenbrough, Raine, Caskie, and Wooding.
About sunrise the Federal infantry advanced in heavy force to the edge of the wood on the eastern side of the turnpike, driving in our skirmishers. Batteries were opened in front from the the wood with shell and canister, and our troops became exposed for near an hour to a terrific storm of shell, canister, and musketry. General Jones having been compelled to leave the field, the command of Jackson's division devolved upon General Starke. With heroic spirit our lines advanced to the conflict, and maintained their position, in the face of superior numbers, with stubborn resolution, sometimes driving the enemy before them and sometimes compelled to fall back before their well-sustained and destructive fire. Fresh troops from time to time relieved the enemy's ranks, and the carnage on both sides was terrific.
At this early hour General Starke was killed. Colonel Douglass, commanding Lawton's brigade, was also killed. General Lawton, commanding division, and Colonel Walker, commanding brigade, were severely wounded. More than half of the brigades of Lawton and Hays were either killed or wounded, and more than a third of Trimble's, and all the regimental commanders in those brigades, except two, were killed or wounded. Thinned in their ranks and exhausted of their ammunition, Jackson's division and the brigades of Lawton, Hays, and Trimble retired to the rear, and Hood, of Longstreet's command, again took the position from which he had been before relieved.
In the mean time General Stuart moved his artillery to a position nearer to the main command, and more in our rear. Early, being now directed, in consequence of the disability of General Lawton, to take command of Ewell's division, returned with his brigade (with the exception of the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, which remained with General Stuart) to the piece of wood where he had left the other brigades of his division when he was separated from them. Here he found that the enemy had advanced his infantry near the wood in which was the Dunkard church, and had planted a battery across the turnpike near the edge of the wood and an open field, and that the brigades of Lawton, Hays, and Trimble had fallen back some distance to the rear. Finding here Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, with a portion of Jackson's division, which formed on his left, he determined to maintain his position there if re-enforcements could be sent to his support, of which he was promptly assured. Colonel Grigsby, with his small command, kept in check the advance of the enemy on the left flank, while General Early attacked with great vigor and gallantry the column on his right and front. The force in front was giving way under this attack when another heavy column of Federal troops were seen moving across the plateau on his left flank. By this time the expected re-enforcements (consisting of Semmes' and Anderson's brigades and a part of Barksdale's, of McLaws' division) arrived, and the whole, including Grigsby's command, now united, charged upon the enemy, checking his advance, then driving him back with great slaughter entirely from and beyond the wood, and gaining possession of our original position. No further advance, beyond demonstrations, was made by the enemy on the left.
In the afternoon, in obedience to instructions from the commanding general, I moved to the left with a view of turning the Federal right, but I found his numerous artillery so judiciously established in their front and extending so near to the Potomac, which here makes a re-