advance was partly covered by Simmonds', Muhlenberg's, Clark's, and Cook's batteries, the other batteries of the corps being in part out of ammunition, and part being necessarily kept in position on the commanding ground on the left bank of the stream. The troops moved forward in perfect order and with great enthusiasm. On the right, General Willcox and Colonel Crook quickly repulsed the enemy and drove back their artillery, pushing victoriously forward nearly to the village. On the left, General Rodman and Colonel Scammon likewise advanced rapidly, driving the rebels before them. The enemy, however, were manifestly in much greater force than ours, and massed their troops heavily on the extreme left. This necessarily made the line of march of our left wing diverge from the course intended, and opened a gap between it and the right, which it was necessary to fill up by the troops of the second line. Batteries were accumulated against us upon the semicircular ridge in advance, and the advancing line was subject to a most trying and destructive cross-fire of artillery. The enemy now brought up stillmore fresh troops upon the left, and while General Rodman was making disposition to meet them by a change of front of a part of his command, he fell, desperately wounded by a ball through his breast. The loss of their commander at a critical period caused confusion in a portion of the division on the extreme left.
The Second Brigade of his division, Colonel Harland commanding, was forced to retire after an obstinate contest, in which they suffered terribly.
Colonel Scammon, of the Kanawha Division, being ordered to make dispositions of the brigade with him to oppose the rebel force on the left, caused the Twelfth and Twenty-third Ohio Regiments to execute a perpendicular change of front, which was done with precision and success, the other regiment of the brigade (Thirtieth Ohio) maintaining its proper front. The whole line was now engaged, the supports being brought to the front, except the reserve division of General Strugis at the bridge. This was now ordered up, and came promptly, though much exhausted and weakened by its previous exertions during the day.
The mass of the enemy on the left still continued to increase; new batteries were constantly being opened upon us, and it was manifest the corps would, without re-enforcements, be unable to reach the village of Sharpsburg, since the movement could not be made to the right whilst the enemy exhibited such force in front of the extreme left, and the attack both to the right and left at once would necessarily separate the wings to such an extent as to imperil the whole movement unwarrantable.
The attack having already had the effect of a most powerful diversion in favor of the center and right of the army, which by this means had been able to make decided and successful advances, and no supports being at the time available for our exhausted corps, I ordered the troops withdrawn from the exposed ground in front to the cover of the curved hill above the bridge, which had been taken from the enemy earlier in the afternoon. This movement was effected shortly before dark, in perfect order and with admirable coolness and precision on the part of both officers and men.
The line as then constituted was formed by Strugis' division in front on the left, supported by Fairchild's brigade, of Rodman's division; the Kanawha Division, under Colonel Scammon, in the center, and Willcox's division on the right. The enemy did not venture an attack upon the position, but kept up a brisk artillery fire until night-fall.