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

about half-way between the river and Captain Richardson's battery and rendered efficient service as long as he remained in that position.

The enemy opened on my position with his artillery on Tuesday evening, and continued it until dark. The damage was but slight. My own skirmishers and the company from General Hood's brigade crossed the river, and were actively engaged with the enemy's skirmishers the most of this day.

On Tuesday night the enemy advanced his artillery and infantry much nearer my position, and on Wednesday morning threw forward his skirmishers and light infantry in greatly increased numbers, and before 8 o'clock drove in my pickets and advanced with heavy columns to the attack of my position on the bridge. This position was not strong. The ground descended gently to the margin of the river, covered with a narrow strip of woods, affording slight protection to the troops. Its chief strength lay in the fact that, from the nature of the ground on the other side, the enemy were compelled to approach mainly by the road which led up the river for near 300 paces, parallel with my line of battle, and distant therefrom from 50 to 150 feet, thus exposing his flank to a destructive fire the most of that distance.

At between 9 and 10 o'clock the enemy made his first attempt to carry the bridge by a rapid assault, and was repulsed with great slaughter, and at irregular intervals, up to about 1 o'clock, made four other attempts of the same kind, all of which were gallantly met and successfully repulsed by the Twentieth and Second Georgia. The Fiftieth Georgia and the half company from General Jenkins' brigade, before referred to, were on the right of the Second Georgia, rather below the main point of attack, and rendered little or no service in this fierce and bloody struggle. After these repeated disastrous repulses, the enemy, despairing of wresting the bridge from the grasp of its heroic defenders, and thus forcing his passage across the river at this point, turned his attention to the fords before referred to, and commenced moving fresh troops in that direction by his left flank. The old road, by the upper of the two fords referred to, led over a hill on my right and in my rear, which completely commanded my position and all ingress and egress to and from it below the bridge. My communication with the rear above the bridge were beset with other, but scarcely less, difficulties. This approach could have been very successfully defended by a comparatively small force, and it was for this purpose that I so often and urgently asked the aid of a regiment on the day of the battle, not having another man available for that purpose. Not being able to get any re-enforcements for the defense of these two fords, and seeing that the enemy was moving upon them to cross, thus enabling him to attack my small force in front, right flank, and rear, and my two regiments having been constantly engaged from early in the morning up to 1 o'clock with a vastly superior force of the enemy, aided by three heavy batteries, the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Holmes, of the Second, having been killed in the action, and the only remaining field officer, Major [Skidmore] Harris, being painfully wounded, and fully one half of this regiment being killed or wounded, and the Twentieth having also suffered severely in killed and wounded, and the ammunition of both regiments being nearly exhausted, and Eubank's battery having been withdrawn to the rear nearly two hours before, I deemed it my duty, in pursuance of your original order, to withdraw my command and place it in the position designated by you opposite the two lower fords, some half a mile to the right and front of your line of battle. In pursuance of this order, Colonel Benning, who had commanded the remnant of the


Page 890 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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