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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 1034 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

half a mile west of Boonsborough. Toward noon it was ordered to follow Ripley's brigade to the top of the South Mountain. Overtaking Ripley's brigade on the mountain, it was halted, and I immediately reported to major-General Hill. After looking over the field of battle, I was ordered by major-General Hill to take position on the ridge immediately to the left of the gap thought which the main road runs. Remaining there three=quarters of an hour, part of the time under artillery fire, and throwing out scouts and skirmishers to the left and front, I was then ordered to occupy another bare hill about three-quarters of a mile still farther to the left. The whole brigade wa moved to that hill, crossing, in doing so, a deep gorge which separated the hills. This movement left a wide interval between the right of my brigade, which in its last position rested in the gorge, and the balance of the division, which being reported to General Hill, together with the fact that no troops supported the battery on the first-mentioned ridge, by his order I sent back one of my regiments (the Twelfth Alabama) to support the battery. By this time the enemy's line of battle was pretty well developed and in full view. It became evident that he intended to attack with a line covering both ridges and the george before mentioned, and extending some half a mile to my left. I had, immediately after my arrival on the extreme left, discovered that the hill there was accessible to artillery, and that a good road, passing by the left of said hill from the enemy's line, continued immediately in my rear and entered the main road about half a mile west of the gap. Under these circumstances, I sent for artillery, and determined upon the only plan by which the enemy could be prevented from immediately obtaining possession of said road, and thus marching entirely in our rear without difficulty, and that was, to extend my line as far as I could to the left, to let the right rest in the gorge, still, and to send to my superiors for re-enforcements to continue the line from my right to the gap on the main road, an interval of three-quarters of a mile at least. Having thrown out skirmishers along the whole front and to the left, they very soon became engaged with the enemy's skirmishers.

This was about 3 p. m., and it was perfectly evident then that my force of about 1,200 muskets was opposed to one which outflanked mine on either side by at least half a division. In a short time the firing became steady along the whole line, the enemy advancing very slowly. The danger of his possessing the top of the left hill, and thus being in my rear, became so imminent that I had to cause my left regiment (the Sixth Alabama, under Colonel [J. B.] Gordon) to move along the brow of the hill, under fire, still farther to the left. He did so in good style, and, having a fair opportunity to do so with advantage, charged and drove the enemy back a short distance. By this time the enemy, though met gallantly by all four of the regiments with me, had penetrated between them, and had begun to swing their extreme right around toward my rear, making for the head of the gorge, up the bottom and sides of which the whole of my force, except the Sixth Alabama, had to retreat, if at all. I renewed again, and yet again, my application for re-enforcements, but none came. Some artillery, under Captain Carter, who was moving upon without orders, and some of Colonel Cutts', under a gallant lieutenant, whose name I do not now recollect, was reported be the last-named officer to be on its way to my relief; but at this time the enemy had command of the road in rear of the main mountain. The artillery could only have been used by being hauled up on the high peak, which arose upon the summit


Page 1034 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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