where I first obtained reliable information that the enemy's object was to move upon Harper's Ferry and the Cumberland Valley, and out upon Baltimore, Washington, or Gettysburg.
In the absence of the full reports of corps commanders, a simple outline of the brilliant operations which resulted in the carrying of the two passes through the South Mountains is all that can at his time, with justice to the troops and commander engaged, be furnished.
The South Mountain range near Turner's Pass averages perhaps 1,000 feet in height, and forms a strong natural military barrier. The practicable passes are numerous and are readily defensible, the gaps abounding in fine positions. Turner's Pass is the more prominent, being that by which the National road crosses the mountains. It was necessarily indicated as the route of advance of our main army.
The carrying of Crampton's Pass, some 5 or 6 miles below, was also important to furnish the means of reaching the flank of the enemy, and having, as a lateral movement, direct relations to the attack on the principal pass, while it at the same time presented the most direct practicable route for the relief of Harper's Ferry.
Early in the morning of the 14th instant General Pleasonton, with a cavalry force, reconnoitered the position of the enemy, whom he discovered to occupy the crests of commanding hills in the gap on either side of the National road and upon advantageous ground in the center upon and near the road, with artillery bearing upon all the approaches to their position, whether by the main road or those by the country roads which led around up to the crest upon the right and left. At about 8 o'clock a. m. Cox's division of Reno's corps, a portion of Burnside's column, in co-operation with the reconnaissance, which by this time had become an attack, moved up the mountain by the old Sharpsburg road to the left of the main road, dividing, as they advanced, into two columns. These columns (Scammon's and Crook's) handsomely carried the enemy's position on the crest ;in their front, which gave us possession of an important point for further operations. Fresh bodies of the enemy now appearing Cox's position, though held stubbornly, became critical, and between 12 and 1 o'clock p. m. Willcox's divisions of Reno's corps was sent forward by General Burnside to support Cox; between 2 and 3 p. m. Sturgis' division was sent up.
The contest was maintained with perseverance until dark, the enemy having the advantage as to position and fighting with obstinacy, but the ground won was fully maintained. The loss in killed and wounded here was considerable on both sides, and it was here that Major-General Reno, who had gone forward to observe the operations of his corps and to give such directions as were necessary, fell, pierced with a musket ball. The loss of this brave and distinguished officer tempered with sadness the exaltations of triumph. A gallant soldier, an able general, endeared to his troops and associates, his death is felt as an irreparable misfortune.
About 3 o'clock p. m. Hooker's corps, of burnside's column, moved up to the right of the main road by a country road, which, bending to the right, then turning up to the left, circuitously wound its way beyond the crest of the pass crest of the pass to the Mountain House on the main road. General Hooker sent Meade, with the division of Pennsylvania Reserves, to attack the eminence to the right of this entrance to the gap, which was done most handsomely and successfully.
Patrick's brigade, of Hatch's division, was sent-one portion up around the road to turn the hill on the left, while the remainder advanced as skirmishers-up the hill, and occupied the crest, supported by Double