this moment, they were either disabled or without ammunition.
It is said the order to advance the infantry at this stage was countermanded, because of a message from Gen. Sumner
, that if Franklin
went on and was repulsed, his own corps was not sufficiently organized to be depended upon as a reserve.
Nevertheless, at four o'clock our guns were still active; every ridge along the line was enveloped in clouds of smoke.
It is said that at this moment there were four miles of battle.
For an hour thenceforward there is artillery practice on the right.
As the sun went down we were in possession of the cornfield which had been four times lost and won. But what a harvest lay garnered there!
Literally winrows of dead,—the blue and the gray.
Like as the rows of bound sheaves before they are stacked may lie one line above another on a hillside, so lay the bodies in lines from the lower belt of woods on the north side, over the rise to the upper range of wood on the south.
Frightful indeed was the spectacle of those blackened corpses, already commencing to decompose under the influence of the hot sun. Now a head which a shell had crushed was seen deprived of its contents, like an empty case; here was a stark form, its hand clutching the strap of a canteen; there a headless body,—corpses piled upon corpses.
Independent of the frightful evidence of human slaughter which met the eye on every hand, the field itself suggested to one a recent visitation of a hell-storm; the cornstalks broken, blighted, bloody; the ground, torn, and stained; toward the west side lay a bull, which, maddened by the sound of his own bellowing or by the thunder of the battle, had rushed onto the field to be destroyed.
From General McClellan
's report we have the following account of the action during the day, upon the left:—
The effect of Burnside's movement on the enemy's right was to prevent his further massing of troops on his left, and we held what we had gained.
Burnside's corps, consisting of Wilcox's, Sturgis's, Rodman's and Cox's Kanawha division, was intrusted with the difficult task of carrying the bridge across the Antietam at Rohrback's Farm, and assaulting the enemy's right, the order having been communicated to him at ten o'clock, A. M. The valley of the Antietam, at and near the bridge, is narrow with high banks.
On the right of the