their troops opposite our left, and toward evening endeavored to get into position to turn our left, bringing on quite a severe skirmish. Two howitzers of Rhett's battery took part in the skirmish, but it soon became too dark to continue the firing. It was now evident that the enemy would attack us in force on our left at daylight, compelling us to change our line and give him an opportunity to use his long-range batteries across the Antietam,, enfilading our new position.
The action commenced about 3 a.m. on the morning of the 17th, between the skirmishers. Woolfolk's,* Parker's, and Rhett's batteries were placed in position in front of the church, on the right of the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown pike, and opened on the enemy at daylight. These batteries were compelled to fire over our infantry, but fired with effect. A continuous fire was keep up until about 8.15 a.m., when the enemy gave way and our firing ceased as our infantry followed in pursuit. The batteries above mentioned while engaged were exposed to an enfilade fire of about twenty rifle guns from across the Antietam, two batteries in their front, and the fire of the infantry of the enemy, most of the time about 500 yards distant. They suffered very heavily and had exhausted most of their ammunition.
I should have mentioned that two guns of Jordan's battery, under Lieutenant Bower, were sent to an advance position under Captain John S. Taylor, but had to retire, owing to their exposed position and the fire of several batteries against them. About this time I ordered Rhett's battery to the rear for ammunition, and Parker's and Wooldfolk's batteries to move slightly to the rear to refit, many horses and men being killed. They could only move the pieces by leaving portions of the caissons, so many of the horses had been disabled.
About this time, 9 a.m., Moody's battery, which had been engaged near the center of our line, arrived and reported, and I placed it in position on the ground previously occupied by Parker's battery. General Hood's division, which followed the enemy when he gave way, not being supported, was compelled to fall back before their overwhelming numbers. The enemy having gained his rear and occupying a position almost between his retiring troops and Moody's battery, his troops fell back so sullenly, and were so near to the enemy, that it was impossible to use the battery. This being the case, I advanced two guns of Moody's battery some 300 yards into a plowed field, where I could use them. They remained in this position and did good service for about fifteen minutes, under Captain Moody and Lieutenant John B. Gorey. This section was exposed to a most galling infantry fire, and retained its position until the infantry on its right and left retired, when I ordered it to the rear. The gallant Lieutenant Gorey was killed, being shot in the head by a Minie-ball as he was sighting his piece for its last discharge. The section with which he was serving was not his own, but, seeing it was going to an exposed position, he asked permission to accompany it. A more gallant officer was not in our service.
Our troops having to fall back rapidly, my guns were, by direction of Major General D. H. Hill, retired to the ridge of hills across the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike, and between the church and Sharpsburg, and fired for a short time. General McLaws' division arriving at this time, and, going into action, I moved the battalion about a mile from the field, to refit. It was now about 10 a.m.
About 3 p.m., the batteries having refitted and replenished with ammunition, I again moved to the front with twelve guns, all that could