Chapter 19: battle of Sharpsburg, or Antietam (continued).
- Closing events of the great struggle -- Burnside crosses the bridge he made famous -- Toombs made gallant defence, but was outnumbered and dislodged -- the Confederate brigades from Harper's Ferry under A. P. Hill in time for the final crisis -- Burnside's advance arrested by them -- the battle against Burnside “appeared to spring from the earth” --“Lee's old war horse” -- the killing of a kinsman at the bridge seriously affects General D. R. Jones -- the sharp fight at Shepherdstown -- Confederates retreat -- casualties of the battle -- Confederate losses in the campaign -- neither McClellan's plan nor execution was strong.
At one or two points near our centre were dead angles into which I rode from time to time for closer observation of the enemy when his active aggression was suspended. General Burnside was busy at his crossing, but no report of progress had been sent me. One of my rides towards the Dunker chapel revealed efforts of the enemy to renew his work on that part of the field. Our troops were ordered to be ready to receive it. Its non-aggression suggested an opportunity for the Confederates, and I ordered McLaws and Walker to prepare to assault. Hood was back in position with his brigades, and Jackson was reported on his way, all in full supply of ammunition. It seemed probable that by concealing our movements under cover of the wood from the massed batteries of Doubleday's artillery on the north, and the batteries of position on the east, we could draw our columns so near to the enemy in front before our move could be known that we would have but a few rods to march before we could mingle our ranks with those of the enemy; that our columns massed and in goodly numbers, pressing severely upon a single point, would give the enemy much trouble, and might cut him in two, and break up his battle arrangements at the  lower bridge; but just then General Jackson reported, with authority from General Lee, that he with the cavalry was ordered to march around and turn the entire position of the enemy by his right flank, and strike at his rear. He found that the march would be long and extremely hazardous, and abandoned his orders. So it appears that counsels were divided on both sides, General McClellan disapproving the attack proposed by Franklin, and General Lee preferring a flank move. Of the proposed attack from the Union side, General Franklin reported,--
Slocum's division arrived on the field about eleven o'clock. Immediately after its arrival two of his brigades (Newton's and Torbert's) were formed in column of attack to carry the wood in the immediate vicinity of the White Church. The other brigade (Bartlett's) had been ordered by General Sumner to keep near his right. As this brigade was to form the reserve for the column of attack, I waited until it came up. About the same time General Sumner arrived on the spot and directed the attack to be postponed, and the enemy at once proceeded to fill the wood with infantry, and planted a battery there which opened a severe fire upon us. Shortly afterwards the commanding general came to the position, and decided that it would not be prudent to make the attack, our position on the right being then considerably in advance of what it had been in the morning. 1General McClellan claimed that his batteries on the east side dispersed a column marching in the afternoon to reinforce against General Sumner. This was probably Jackson's command marching to their position on the line. The fire only hurried the march of the troops to the front, where they resumed their position. We left General Toombs defending the crossing at the Burnside Bridge, with the Second, Twentieth, and Fiftieth Georgia Regiments, and a company of Jenkins's brigade of South Carolina troops, against the Ninth Corps,  commanded by General J. D. Cox, General Burnside, the commander of the right wing present, commanding. Toombs had in his line of infantry five hundred and fifty men part way up the swell of Sharpsburg Heights. Behind him he posted Eubank's battery, and overlooking were J. B. Richardson's and Eshleman's to rake the bridge; others near. The road on the Union side leading to the bridge runs parallel to the river about three hundred yards before it reaches the bridge, and turns up-stream after crossing. On the parallel to this line of march on the Confederate side Toombs posted his infantry, the South Carolina company in a marginal woodland above the bridge. Above and near the bridge was a fording-place for infantry; a thousand yards below was a practicable ford for infantry and artillery, by a country road. Toombs's orders were, when dislodged, to retire south so as .to open the field of fire to all the troops on the heights behind him, the fire of his batteries to be concentrated upon the bridge, and his infantry arranged for a like converging fire. The ravines cutting the swells of the foot-hills gave him fair ground for retreat when he found his position no longer tenable. He was to so manoeuvre as to have a flank fire on the advancing columns, and gradually encircle so as to join his division after passing the crest. Early in the morning, General Burnside had been ordered to prepare the Ninth Corps for attack at the bridge, but to await further orders. At eight o'clock orders were sent to carry the bridge, gain possession of the heights, and to advance along their crest upon Sharpsburg and its rear. The order was repeated, and, finally, losing patience, General McClellan sent the inspector-general (Colonel Sackett)
To deliver to General Burnside my positive order to push forward his troops without a moment's delay, and if necessary to carry the bridge at the point of the bayonet, and I ordered  Colonel Sackett to remain with General Burnside and see that the order was promptly executed. 2Upon receipt of the first order General Burnside advanced his troops, General Crook's brigade, supported by General Sturgis's division, to the bridge and ford just above it. These were preceded by the Eleventh Connecticut Regiment as skirmishers under Colonel Kingsbury, who essayed crossing by the upper ford, but after severe skirmish Colonel Kingsbury was killed and the effort failed. The division under General Rodman supported by Scammon's brigade (commanded by Colonel Ewing) moved towards the lower ford. Colonel Scammon, commanding the Kanawha division, moved with this column. Wilcox's division was in rear of Sturgis, in reserve, and near the left of Benjamin's battery. Clark's and Durell's batteries were posted on the right. One section of Simmonds's battery was with Crook's brigade, the other with Benjamin's battery. Dahlgren's boat-howitzers covered the ford at Rodman's crossing. The last order was received at ten o'clock: The line of skirmishers advanced and engaged across the river. Crook's brigade marched for the bridge. After a severe engagement of some hours,