of his advance was resisted stubbornly by a numerous enemy, and besides, he had great natural obstacles to overcome, which impeded his advance but did not check it.
From its great elevation and the dense smoke which rose over the stop of the forest, the progress of the battle on this part of the field was watched with anxious interest for miles around, and while it elicited the applause of the spectators, they could not fail to admire the steadiness, resolution, and courage of the brave officers and men engaged.
At this moment word was received that the enemy were attempting to turn Meade's right, when Duryea's brigade, Ricketts' division, was dispatched to thwart it, and reached there in good time to render substantial aid in this, and also in assisting their comrades in crowning the summit with our arms. This was taken possession of in fine style between sundown and dark, and from that moment the battle was won. From here we threatened the retreat of the rebels posted between the main ridge and the spur of the mountain, while it commanded the turnpike on both sides of the mountain. On reaching the summit, Meade was ordered to hold it until further orders.
Meantime Hatch had pressed into the forest on the left, and, after driving in their advanced pickets, encountered a heavy fire from the enemy massed in his front. The struggle became violent and protracted, his troops displaying the finest courage and determination. An excellent brigade had been withdrawn from this division by the major-general commanding the right wing without my knowledge, and ordered to advance to the turnpike, but as no report of their operations has been rendered me by General Gibbon, I can only call your attention to their list of casualties; it speaks for itself. Hatch being outnumbered, sorely pressed, and almost out of ammunition, Christian's brigade, Ricketts' division, was ordered forward to strengthen him, and in this rendered good service. On this part of the field the resistance of the enemy was continued until after dark, and only subsided on his being driven from his position. It being very dark, our troops were directed to remain in position, and Hartsuff's brigade was brought up and formed a line across the valley, connecting with Meade's left and Hatch's right, and all were directed to sleep on their arms.
At dawn Hartsuff's skirmishers were thrown forward, supported by his brigade, to the Mountain House, a mounted picket of the enemy retreating as they advanced. The enemy had been re-enforced by twenty regiments of Longstreet's corps during the early part of the night, but between 12 and 1 o'clock commenced a hurried and confused retreat, leaving his dead on our hands and his wounded uncared for.
Notwithstanding we had remained in the undisturbed possession of every foot of ground we had fought on, driven them from one end of our line to the other, and taken upward of a thousand prisoners, with shameful effrontery this field was heralded from the rebels' capital as a victory.
When, the advantages of the enemy's position are considered, and his preponderating numbers, the forcing of the passage of South Mountain will be classed among the most brilliant and satisfactory achievements of this army, and its principal glory will be awarded to the First Corps.
I have omitted to mention that Brigadier-General Richardson had reported to me at the head of his splendid division at daylight on the morning of the 15th, and, as it was well in hand, he was directed to pursue the enemy in their hurried retreat, which was promptly executed by that distinguished officer.
The especial attention of the major-general commanding is called to the reports of division, brigade, regimental, and battery commanders,