War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0164 MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter XLIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

of range. Shortly after I was put in command by General Toombs, he informed me that we would be relieved by General Gregg's brigade, and that then I must carry the men, much exhausted by their late long and rapid march to the right of the general line for rest. At about 4 o'clock General Gregg brought his brigade down and took our place, and we commenced marching to the position assigned us. Before, however, we got half way there, an order was sent to me to hasten the march and carry the command some distance to the left of that position along the road running into Sharpsburg until we came opposite to the enemy advancing from the bridge. This point was distant, I suppose, half a mile.

Again and again was this order repeated, th the startling addition that the enemy had broken our line and were nearly up to the road with not a soldier of ours in their front. The pace was accelerated to a double-quick, which in a short time carried the head of the line beyond the corn-field and in sight of the enemy. A brigade of them was standing composedly in line of battle not 200 yards from the road, apparently waiting for the road, apparently waiting for the nearer approach of supports, and neither in their front nor far to their right (our left) was a man of ours to be seen, but three abandoned pieces of ours were conspicuous objects about midway between the road and the enemy's line. Major Little, with his battalion, was in advance. The Seventeenth, under Captain McGregor, was next, the Fifteenth, under Colonel Millican, was next, and a large part of the Twentieth, under Colonel Cumming, again ready for action, notwithstanding the severe work of the morning, brought up the rear. All, however, made but a short line. I carried the head of the line opposite to the right of the enemy, and ordered it to commence firing on the enemy without waiting for the rest of the line to come up. It did so with promptness and spirit. The rest of the line as it came up joined in the fire. The fire soon became general. It was hot and rapid. The enemy returned it with vigor, and showed a determination to hold their position stubbornly. In about ten of fifteen minutes a cannon or two opened on them, and their line, which had already shown signs of wavering, broke and fled down the hill and was soon out of sight, concealed by the crest of the hill. General Toombs ordered pursuit, and our whole line rapidly advanced after them. We could not see what was below the crest of the hill, but I knew a very large force of the enemy must be somewhere below it, for I had from our late position seen three or four successive long lines of them march out from the bridge. I therefore suggested to General Toombs the propriety of halting the line, as its numbers were so small and it had no supports behind it, just before it reached the crest of the hill, and sending to that crest only the men armed with long-range guns. Thus suggestion he adopted, and the men armed with those guns quickly advanced to the crest and opened on the retreating enemy. Their other forces under the hill soon commenced falling back also. After getting near the creek, however, a large portion of them halted and formed behind a fence. On discovering this General Toombs ordered down the greater part of the command to dislodge them, soon following himself. After a very hot fight, in which Colonel Millican fell mortally wounded, he succeeded in his object. But it is for him to relate what took place there, as I remained behind with the small reserve. Our loss in this part of the battle was in numbers light, considering the large force of the enemy and the short distance of the fire. Their loss was very heavy. The conduct of both officers and men was, as far as I could observe it, as good as it could be.