War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0863 Chapter XXXI. THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

which he was fired upon by a picket. Directing him to press forward and ascertain the force in front, he soon overcame the obstacle without further resistance. Leaving then the path, which at that point passed down the mountain to the right, we filed along the crags on the ridge. The natural obstacles were so great that we only reached a position about a mile from the point of the mountain at 6 o'clock p. m. Here an abatis was discovered, extending across the mountain, flanked on either side by a ledge of precipitous rocks. A sharp skirmish ensued, which satisfied me that the enemy occupied the position in force. I therefore directed Major Bradley to retire his skirmishers, and deployed my brigade in two lines, extending across the entire practicable ground on the summit of the mountain, the Eighth Regiment, Colonel Henagan, on the right, and the Seventh, Colonel Aiken, on the left, constituting the first line; the Third Regiment, Colonel Nance, in rear of the Eighth, and the Second Regiment, Colonel Kennedy, in rear of the Seventh, constituting the second line; General Barksdale's brigade immediately in rear. These dispositions being made, the approach of night prevented further operations; the commands rested on their arms in the position indicated until the morning of the 13th, when I moved forward my first line to the attack. Early in the advance, the Eighth Regiment encountered a ledge of rock which cut them off from further participation in the attack; but Colonel Aiken moved briskly forward, under a heavy fire of musketry, surmounted the difficult abatis, and drove the enemy from his position in about twenty minutes. The enemy is stated by prisoners to have been 1,200 strong at this point. They retired about 400 yards, to a much stronger position, a similar abatis, behind which was a breastwork of logs, extending across the mountain, flanked, as before, by precipitous ledges of rock.

I had, at the commencement of the attack, directed General Barksdale to form his brigade down the face of the mountain to my left, in prolongation of the two lines on the summit, it having appeared the night before that the enemy's skirmishers occupied a part of that face of the mountain. I now directed General Barksdale to advance his command, and attack the enemy in flank and rear, while I pressed him in front. Again I moved forward the Seventh and Eighth Regiments. Reaching the abatis, a most obstinate resistance was encountered, and a fierce fire kept up, at about 100 yards distance, for some time. Our loss was heavy, and I found it necessary to send in Colonel Nance's Third Regiment to support the attack. They, too, were stoutly resisted. General Barksdale then sent me word that he had, with great labor, overcome the difficulties of the route and had reached the desired position, but that he could not bring his men to the crest of the mountain without encountering our fire, as he was in rear of the enemy. I sent to direct our fire to cease, hoping that we might capture the whole force if General Barksdale could get up. Before this order was extended, the right company of Colonel Fiser's regiment, Barksdale's brigade, fired into a body of the enemy's sharpshooters lodged in the rocks above them, and their whole line broke into a perfect route, escaping down the mountain sides to their rear. This took place at 10.30 o'clock a. m. General Barksdale was directed to occupy the point of the mountain, which he did without encountering anything more than a picket of the enemy, which he soon disposed of. In their retreat the enemy abandoned and spiked three heavy guns, which were in position on the lower slope of the mountain toward Harper's Ferry, and left considerable commissary stores, ammunition, and a number of tents near the same place. The guns were left by me, as it was impossible to remove them without fur-