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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
Page 816 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

CHAP. XXXI.]

South Carolina Cavalry, under Lieutenant Meighan, sent to support the batteries. The enemy soon appeared and opened fire on the cavalry, when, the squadrons at the bridge having rejoined him, General Hampton slowly retired to the city, sending his artillery on before to occupy a position commanding the ground between the city and the mountain. The enemy now pressed forward, and, planting a gun in the suburbs of the city, supported by a body of cavalry and a regiment and a half of infantry, opened fire upon the crowded thoroughfares of the place. To secure a safe retreat for the brigade, it was necessary to charge this force, which was gallantly done by the Second South Carolina Cavalry, Colonel Butler; Lieutenant Meighan leading his squadron in advance. The enemy were scattered in every direction, many of them killed and wounded, 10 prisoners taken, among them Colonel Moor, Twenty-eighth Ohio, and the gun captured. Unfortunately, five of the horses attached to the piece were killed, so that it could not be removed. The enemy's account, subsequently published, admits the repulse of their force and the capture of the gun. After this repulse the enemy made no further efforts to annoy to our rear. The brigade retired slowly, bringing off the prisoners captured, and bivouacked that night at Middletown, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin having been left, with his command and two pieces of artillery, to hold the Catoctin Mountain.

Munford was, in the meanwhile, ordered to occupy the gap in this range, near the town of Jefferson. The force under his command consisted at this time of only the Second and Twelfth Virginia Cavalry, the Sixth Virginia having been left at Centreville to collect arms, &c.; the Seventeenth Battalion detached before crossing the Potomac on an expedition into Berkeley, and the Seventh Virginia Cavalry having been ordered, a day or two before, to report to General Jackson for operations against Harper's Ferry.

Every means was taken to ascertain what the nature of the enemy's movement was; whether a reconnaissance feeling for our whereabouts, or an aggressive movement of the army. The enemy studiously avoided displaying any force, except a part of Burnside's corps, and built no camp-fires in their half at Frederick that night. The information was conveyed promptly to the commanding general through General D. H. Hill, now at Boonsborough, and it was suggested that the gap which I held this night was a very strong position for infantry and artillery. Friday, the day on which, by the calculation of the commanding general, Harper's Ferry would fall, had passed, and, as the garrison was not believed to be very strong at that point, I supposed the object already accomplished. I, nevertheless, felt it important to check the enemy as much as possible in order to develop his force. With a view to ascertain what the nature of this movement was, I had, before leaving Frederick, sent instructions to Brigadier General Fithzhugh Lee to gain the enemy's rear from his position on the left.

On the morning of the 13th, I moved forward all of Hampton's command to the support of Colonel Martin. Foiled in their attack on the preceding evening, the enemy appeared in front of Colonel Martin, at daylight on the 13th, and endeavored to force their way through the mountain. Their advance guard was driven back, when they posted artillery on the turnpike and opened fire on Colonel Martin, who held the mountain crest. This was responded to by a section of rifle guns under Captain Hart, whose fire was so effective that the enemy's battery was forced several times to change its position. The skirmishers on both sides had meanwhile become actively engaged, and the enemy was held in check until he had marched up to the attack two brigades


Page 816 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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