War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0892 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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the commencement of this attack upon him. The enemy fled in confusion toward the river and bridge, making two or three efforts to rally, which were soon defeated by the vigorous charges of our troops, aided by Captain Richardson's battery, which I ordered up immediately upon the recovery of the heights, and which, with its accustomed promptness and courage, was rapidly placed in position and action. The enemy, to cover his retreating columns, brought over the bridge a battery and placed it in position. I ordered Richardson's battery to open upon it, and at the same time ordered the Fifteenth and Twentieth Georgia forward, who pursued the enemy so close to his guns as to bring them within range of musketry, which compelled his battery, after a few shots, to join his fleeing infantry and retreat across the bridge. I desired to pursue the enemy across the river, but being deficient in artillery to meet his heavy batteries on the other side, I sent my aide, Captain Troup, to General Lee for the purpose of supplying myself, who ordered Captain Squires to report to me immediately, which he was unable to do, from not receiving the order in time, until nearly night, when it was too late to risk the movement, and, therefore, I ordered him to hold himself in readiness for the movement in the morning, if the action should be renewed. I then determined to move my troops upon and occupy the position held by me on the river at the beginning of the action, but before the execution of this purpose I received your order to change my position and to occupy the heights on the opposite side of the road leading to the bridge from Sharpsburg, on the left of your command, which order was immediately executed and the troops bivouacked for the night.

I am happy to report that our loss in this last attack was unexpectedly small. Such was the heroic vigor and rapidity of the assault upon the enemy, he was panic-stricken; his fire was wild and comparatively harmless. Having been compelled to leave my command before official returns could be brought in, I am unable to sate it accurately. Colonel Benning has, doubtless, before this time furnished you with them.

Among the casualties of the day I have to deplore the loss of two commanders of regiments. Colonel Millican, of the Fifteenth Georgia, who greatly distinguished himself both at Manassas and in this action for personal gallantry and efficiency as a soldier and field officer, fell while gallantly leading his regiment in the final charge (and nearly its close), which swept the enemy from this part of the field of battle. Lieutenant-Colonel Holmes, who commanded the Second Georgia Volunteer Regiment, fell near the close of his heroic defense of the passage of the Antietam, and it is due to him to say that, in my judgment, he has not left in the armies of the republic a truer or braver soldier, and I have never known a cooler, more efficient, or more skillful field officer.

The conduct of the officers and men generally under my command in the battle of Sharpsburg was so strongly marked with the noble virtues of the patriot soldier that a narrative of this day's deeds performed by them, however simple and unadorned, if truthful, would seem like the language of extravagant and unmerited enology.

The reports of the regimental commanders will bring to your attention the meritorious conduct of officers and men which it may not have been my good fortune to witness, and, as I have not the benefit of their reports before me, I shall have to connect myself with bringing to your attention the most conspicuous cases of individual merit which fell under my personal observation. Every opportunity for conspicuous gallantry and valuable services which presented itself seemed to be eagerly embraced by those whose good fortune it was to fall in with it.