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

brigade moved, left in front, until we had passed the town of Sharpsburg some half mile to the north, when it was formed into line by inversion, bringing the Forty-ninth on the right. The line was formed under a severe fire and in the presence of some of our troops who had been driven back. As soon as formed, the whole brigade was pushed rapidly forward, and, after passing some 200 yards, I received orders to form to the right and resist the enemy, who were in possession of a piece of woods. The change of direction was effected with three of the regiments-the Forty-ninth, Twenty-fifth, and Thirty-fifth-but the Twenty-fourth, on the extreme left, had come upon the enemy and opened fire, and continued in the first direction upon the left of General Barksdale's brigade. Upon reaching the woods, we met parts of Hood's and early's commands leaving them, and immediately encountered the enemy in strong force, flushed with a temporary success. A tremendous fire was poured into them, and, without a halt, the woods was cleared and the crest next the enemy occupied. At this time I determined to charge across a field in our front and to a woods beyond, which was held by the enemy, but he again approached, in force, to within 100 yards, when he was met by the same crushing fire which had driven him first from the position. I now went to recall the Twenty-fourth, which had passed on, and which had been directed, as I afterward learned, by General Stuart, to occupy a position near the extreme left, but, finding that it was so far away, returned. During my absence, the enemy again attempted to force the position, after subjecting us to a fearful storm of iron missile for thirty minutes. Colonel Ransom, commanding during my absence, repulsed him signally, and put an end to any further attempt, by infantry, to dislodge us. Immediately after this, fire from two large batteries was opened upon us and continued with occasional intermissions until nightfall.

About noon, General Longstreet sent me word to take the battery in our front, and the order to advance was given, when General McLaws arrived and ordered me to postpone the attempt. Again, about 2 or 3 o'clock, I received instructions to advance and take the batteries. Just at this time the enemy was observed to have massed a strong force about the batteries, and General Walker, having arrived, forbade the movement until he could communicate with General Jackson should have attacked him upon his right flank. This was not accomplished by General J[ackson], and the effort to capture the two large batteries, which had almost incessantly played upon us for eight hours, was not made.

I cannot too highly compliment the action of the men and officers for their gallant behavior during the entire day. They formed, under a galling fire, and, in presence of our retiring troops, pressed forward and drove back a far superior force, and, three times afterward, repulsed determined attacks of the enemy and in largely superior numbers to our own; but the highest credit is due for the perfect staunchness exhibited during an eight hours' exposure to an unparalleled cannonade and within canister range.

I will not close my report without bringing to the notice of the commanding general the conspicuous conduct of Colonel Ransom, of which the general can learn more by inquiry of Colonels Hall and Jenkins, Forty-sixth North Carolina. Major [J. A.] Flemming, too, of the Forty-ninth, evinced a cool daring and soldierly presence of mind eminently praiseworthy. Lieutenant and Adjutant Cooke, of the Twenty-fourth, was foremost in learning his regiment while under my eye, and I have had frequent occasions to observe qualities which mark him as second to


Page 920 Chapter XXXI. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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