We spent the following day, the 16th of September, on South Mountain
, and we had some further opportunity to examine on this Tuesday the character of the surface and soil of the lower slope of the ridge in this vicinity.
This we found to be cultivated here and there; we particularly recollect a field of sweet potatoes, the vines being thrifty, and the roots three fourths matured.
There is excellent water here, if one is only habituated to the use of it. The rock formation on which the soil rests, through which the water percolates, is limestone, or magnesian rock traversed by limestone; this region, therefore, and that on the other side of the mountain, is especially adapted to grain-growing.
's, or South Mountain Pass, is several miles north of Crampton's Gap.
There, on the 14th, Hooker
were hotly engaged with a portion of Lee
's army, which disputed the passage of the Federals
at that point.
The enemy was dislodged, driven from the pass, and fell back to Boonesboro
, which lies at the base of the mountain on the west side of the pass; the next day they moved toward Williamsport
on the Potomac
But the victory was purchased with the lives of the gallant Reno
and several hundred brave men. There were wounded, here and at Crampton's Gap, eighteen hundred and six, and the Federal
dead on both fields numbered four hundred and forty-three.
The enemy, in retreating from South Mountain
, crossed Antietam Creek
and retired to Sharpsburg
, from a point near Boonesboro
, runs nearly parallel with the South Mountain
, five or six miles from it; there is a bridge over it, west of Boonesboro
, on the Hagerstown
road which comes over the mountain; there is another near Keedysville
, which is situated as to Crampton's Gap relatively the same as Boonesboro
is to Turner
's or South Mountain Pass.
By this latter bridge and a ford near it, Hooker
's corps crossed on the afternoon of the 16th in pursuit of Lee
's orders were to attack, and, if possible, turn the enemy's left.
Arrived in position on the high ground southwest of Keedysville
and north of Sharpsburg
, the Pennsylvania Reserves, the head of Hooker
's corps, became engaged in a sharp contest with the enemy, which lasted until dark, when it had succeeded in driving in a portion of the opposing line, and had held its ground.
's corps was sent in the evening to support Hooker
At daylight the contest was renewed.
's attack was