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[209] the batteries of Gen. D. R. Jones, on Longstreet's right wing. Several feeble attempts to execute this order having been successively repulsed, Burnside was further ordered to carry not only the bridge but the heights beyond, and advance along their crest upon Sharpsburg; but it was not till 1 P. M. that the bridge was actually taken, by a charge of the 51st New York and the 51st Pennsylvania; the enemy making no serious resistance, and retreating to the heights as our troops came over in force. More hours passed idly; and it was after 3 P. M. before Burnside, under peremptory orders, charged up the heights, carrying them handsomely; some of his troops reaching even the outskirts of Sharpsburg.

It was an easy but a short-lived triumph ; for, thus far, Lee had been able to spare but about 3,000 men, under D. R. Jones, to hold this flank of his position. Had this success been obtained hours earlier, it might have proved decisive. The Rebel forces throughout the greater part of the day had abundant occupation on our right, so that Lee was unable to spare sufficient troops to resist a determined advance by our left; but now, just as victory seemed to smile upon our arms, A. P. Hill's division — which had only been ordered from Harper's Ferry that morning, and started at 7 1/2 o'clock--came on the ground, and, covered by a heavy fire of artillery, charged our extreme left, when disordered by charging and fighting, and drove it back in still greater confusion. Gen. Rodman, who commanded it, was mortally wounded; and the enemy, rallying with spirit and redoubling the fire of his artillery, charged in front and flank, and drove our men in confusion down the hill toward the Antietam, pursuing until checked by the fire of our batteries across the river. Gen. L. O'B. Branch, of N. C., was killed in this charge. Our reserves on the left bank now advancing, while our batteries redoubled their fire, the Rebels wisely desisted, without attempting to carry the bridge, and retired to their lines on the heights, as darkness put an end to the fray.

Jackson, during the afternoon, had been ordered by Lee to turn our right and attack it in flank and rear; but, on reconnoitering for this purpose, he found our line extended nearly to the Potomac, and so strongly defended with artillery that to carry it was impossible; so he declined to make the attempt.

So closed, indecisively, the bloodiest day that America ever saw.

Gen. McClellan states his strength — no doubt truly — in this battle at 87,164, including 4,320 cavalry, which was of small account on such ground and in such a struggle. General Couch's division, 5,000 strong, had been sent away toward Harper's Ferry — evidently through some misapprehension — and only arrived at a late hour next morning;1 as did Humphrey's division of raw recruits, which had left Frederick--23 miles distant--at 4 1/2 P. M. of the sanguinary 17th.

McClellan estimates Lee's strength at 97,445, including 6,000 artillery (400 guns), 6,400 cavalry, and making Jackson's corps number 24,778--all far too high. Lee says he had “under 40,000 men;” which probably includes neither cavalry nor A. P. Hill's division; and perhaps not

1 Sept. 18.

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