On the morning of the 20th instant I received from division headquarters the following order:
HEADQUARTERS DIVISION, September 20, 1862.
Commanding First Brigade:
COLONEL: In pursuance of orders from headquarters of the corps, the commanding general directs that you push your brigade across the river to Shepherdstown and vicinity, and report what is to be found there.
By command of Major-General Morell:
F. S. EARLE,
In obedience to this order, I crossed the river at Blackford's Ford at about 9 o'clock a. m., the brigade, consisting of the Eighteenth Massachusetts, Twenty-fifth New York, Thirteenth New York, One hundred and eighteenth Pennsylvania, First Michigan, Twenty-second Massachusetts, and Second Maine Regiments, numbering in all 1,711 men, including officers, some of the regiments having been very much reduced. As soon as the Eighteenth Massachusetts had crossed the ford, it was drawn up in order on the road running below the bluffs toward Shepherdstown, under the command of Major Hayes.
At this moment, and before the other regiments had crossed, Brigadier-General Sykes, who had previously crossed the river, and whose command consisted, as I was informed, of about 800 men, then in advance toward the west, came to me with the information that the enemy were in strong force about 2 miles in his front; that he had sent his aide forward to ascertain the facts in the case, and desired me to remain until his aide returned, in order to afford him support if the report should turn out to be true. I informed him that my orders required me to go to Shepherdstown, but that if he would give me an order to remain I would do so. He accordingly gave me the order for that purpose, and desired that Major Hayes, with the Eighteenth Massachusetts, then drawn up in the road, should take position near but below the top of the ridge, which ran in its general direction parallel to the road and on the left. Major Hayes immediately proceeded to occupy that position. The Twenty-fifth New York, colonel Johnson, and the Thirteenth New York, Colonel Marshall, having crossed and formed in the road, were directed to take a similar position on the right of Major Hayes, but to reach which it was necessary to pass beyond the ravine by which the Eighteenth Massachusetts had ascended to another ravine a few rods distant, the interval forming rocky bluff nearly perpendicular, up which it was impracticable to advance.
By this time the One hundred and eighteenth Pennsylvania, Colonel Provost, had crossed the ford and formed in the road. They were directed to follow the Thirteenth and Twenty-fifth New York, and to take a similar position below the top of the ridge and to their left. They accordingly followed those regiments, and came into line below the top of the ridge, as directed. The remaining regiments of the brigade namely, the First Michigan, Captain E. W. Belton commanding, the Twenty-second Massachusetts, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W. S. Tilton, and the Second Maine, Colonel C. W. Roberts, were directed to ascend the ravine by which the Eighteenth Massachusetts had ascended, and to form in a similar manner below the top of the ridge, the two former on the right and the latter on the left of Major Hayes, who was already posted there. These movements were all promptly executed, and in good order. The brigade being then in position, and suitably protected by the ground in front, skirmishers were advanced to the