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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 886 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

incorrect, I was directed to bring my brigades as rapidly as possible back to the main road and to the mountain top, and, under orders from General Longstreet, placed Kemper and Garnett, supported by Jenkins' brigade, in position on the ridge to the left of the road and above it. While taking position my troops were exposed to severe shelling, and shortly afterward to a heavy infantry attack in overwhelming numbers. Despite the odds, they held their ground till dark, when, the brigades on my left giving way, they were withdrawn in comparatively good order to the foot of the mountain. The enemy did not pursue his advantage, and our troops were marched to Sharpsburg, which we reached on the morning of the 15th. On this march Anderson's brigade was assigned to General Hood, to act as a rear guard, and General Toombs, with two regiments of his brigade, joined me, the balance of his brigade having been sent to Williamsport with wagons. My command took possession of the heights in front of and to the right of the town, being the extreme right of our whole line. I ordered General Toombs to defend the bridge over the Antietam Creek in front of me with the Second and Twentieth Georgia Regiments, re-enforced by half a company from Jenkins' brigade and the Fiftieth Georgia regiment, of Drayton's brigade. These re-enforcements took but small part in what ensued, from the nature of their position. The enemy appeared on the opposite side of the creek, and heavy artillery firing was kept up during the day, continuing also the 16th, with but little damage to my command.

Daylight of September 17 gave the signal for a terrific cannonade. The battle raged with intensity on the left and center, but the heavy masses in my front-repulsed again and again in their attempts to force the passage of the bridge by the two regiments before named, comprising 403 men, assisted by artillery I had placed in position on the heights-were unable to effect a crossing, and maneuvered as if about to cross below at some of the numerous fords. My command had been further reduced on the right by detaching Garnett's brigade to the front of the town, leaving me, for the defense of the right, with only Toombs' two regiments, Kemper's, Drayton's, and Walker's brigades.

When it is known that on that morning my entire command of six brigades comprised only 2,430 men, the enormous disparity of force with which I contended can be seen.

About this time the two regiments of Toombs' brigade (Seventeenth and Fifteenth Georgia), which had been left behind, accompanied by five companies of the Eleventh Georgia Regiment, Anderson's brigade, came upon the field, and were at once placed at General Toombs' disposal, to aid in the defense of the bridge, my force before having been too weak to aid him with a single man. Before, however, they could be made available for that purpose, the gallant Second and Twentieth, having repulsed five separate assaults and exhausted their last round of ammunition, fell back, leaving the bridge to the enemy. Meanwhile General A. P. Hill had come up on my right and was effecting a junction with my line, several of his batteries already in position assisting mine in firing on the enemy, now swarming over the bridge. Undeterred, except momentarily, by this fire, the enemy advanced in enormous masses to the assault of the heights. Sweeping up to the crest, they were mowed down by Brown's battery, the heroic commander of which had been wounded but a few moments before. They overcame the tough resistance offered by the feeble opposed to them, and gained the heights, capturing McIntosh's battery, of General Hill's command. Kemper and Drayton were drive back through the town. The Fifteenth South Carolina, Colonel De Saussure, fell back very slowly and in order, forming


Page 886 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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