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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 1042 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA., Chapter XXXI.

on the extreme right, was nearest to the intersecting road, which was threatened. It was advanced into the field, sheltered in some degree by a fence which ran perpendicularly to its line. Next, in the field, under cover of the piles of stone, was the Twenty-third. Back on the ridge road, to the left and rear of the Twenty-third, was the Twentieth. This regiment could not be advanced with the others because of the exposed position, and because this would discover with the others because of the exposed position, and because this would discover to the enemy at once the vacuum in our line. Between this and the Thirteenth was the open space of 250 to 300 yards, which I had been so anxious to fill. The enemy, having now filed through the succession of ravines and formed in three line, approached under entire covered toward the brow of the plateau in our front, and, with a long-extended yell, burst upon our line, surrounding the Twentieth on both flanks, and passing to the rear of the Twenty-third. The distance was so short that no opportunity was given for more than a single fire, which was delivered full in the enemy's face, and with great effect, for his first line staggered and some of his forces retreated. A portion of the Twenty-third received his advance upon their bayonets, and men on both sides fell from bayonet wounds; but the enemy's strength was overpowering, and could not be resisted. The Twentieth and a portion of the Twenty-third, finding themselves surrounded, were compelled to retreat, and this they did, under a severe fire, down the mountain side. With the aid of Colonels Iverson and Christie, I rallied the men as soon as possible, and, obtaining a courier from Colonel Rosser, of the cavalry, I communicated with General Hill. At Colonel Rosser's request, I occupied an adjacent height, with remnants of the Twentieth and Twenty-third, to support a battery which he proposed to put in position. Colonel Christie reported to me that many of his men had fired off most of their ammunition, and having neither courier nor aide (for I did not see either Captains Halsey or Wood after the morning until late in the evening, though both endeavored to return), I had no means of communicating with the ordnance officer, whose locality was also unknown to me. Subsequently Lieutenant Haywood reported to me but his ammunition was at such a distance that it could not be reached before night.

About this time I received and order from General Hill to occupy the position I then held, which was done during the remainder of the day.

When I took command of the brigade, I placed the Fifth under the command of Captain Thomas M. Garrett. When the enemy charged upon the front and flank of the Twentieth and Twenty-third, this officer found his regiment, with the right of the Twenty-third, cut off, so that he was obliged to make his way out by moving off to the right and rear. This was done for a short space in some confusion, but Captain Garrett ordered his flag to be placed upon the ridge road, and was endeavoring to make a rally there, when his color-bearer was shot down, and he was compelled to fall back farther down the hill. He did, however, rally the regiment, and, passing out to the turnpike, reported to General Hill, when this regiment was assigned to a position, which it occupied the remainder of the day.

Notwithstanding the disadvantage of position, the absence of artillery support, and the injurious effect produced by the death of its general, who had possessed in the warmest degree the confidence and affection of the troops, and the great superiority of the enemy's numbers (a prisoner taken early reported the force in our front at sixteen regiment, naming many of them), this brigade maintained its ground for more than three hours, and inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, destroying his cannoneers, compelling him to abandon his guns, killing his general officer,


Page 1042 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA., Chapter XXXI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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