to the stream, the turns of the roadway were covered by rifle-pits and breastworks made of rails and stone, all of which defences, as well as the woods which covered the slope, were filled with the enemy's infantry and sharp-shooters. Beside the infantry defences, batteries were placed to enfilade the bridge and all its approaches. The crest of the first hill above the bridge is curved toward the steam, forming a sort of natural tete de pont. The next ridge beyond rises somewhat higher, though with less regularity, the depression between the two being but slight, and the distance varying in places from three to seven hundred yards. In accordance with the order mentioned above, the Eleventh Connecticut advanced to the stream and warmly engaged the enemy across it. Crook's brigade in moving forward was brought under so lively an infantry fire as well as that of artillery, that it was forced to halt and open fire in return, and Sturgis's division passing by the rear came first to the bridge and was ordered to cross, under protection of the artillery-fire. General Sturgis ordered forward the Second Maryland and Sixth New-Hampshire, which charged at double-quick, with fixed bayonets; but the concentrated fire upon the bridge forced them to fall back. After repeated brave efforts these regiments were withdrawn and the Fifty-first New-York and Fifty-first Pennsylvania, from the same division, were ordered up. About the same time Col. Crook of the Second brigade, Kanawha division, succeeded in getting a section of Simmons's battery, supported by the Twenty-eighth Ohio infantry, in position to bear directly upon the enemy's position at the farthest end of the bridge, and, aided with these guns, the fresh troops charged with great enthusiasm, bearing down all opposition, and at one o'clock planted their banner on the opposite bank. In this desperate fight in the Valley, Col. Kingsbury, of the Eleventh Connecticut, fell, cheering his men on to their duty. Gen. Sturgis's division immediately marched over, deploying one brigade to the right and the other to the left of the bridge, and advanced up the slope, driving the enemy before them. This division was followed by Col. Crook's brigade, of the Kanawha division, which took position on the right. Meanwhile, Gen. Rodman's division and the First brigade of the Kanawha division, under Col. Scammon, had succeeded in crossing at the ford below, after a sharp engagement and under a heavy musketry and artillery-fire, and successfully took the position assigned, at the left of the line, of the crest above the bridge. The three divisions of the corps, at this. time on the right bank of the Antietam, occupied the exact positions assigned them before the commencement of the movement, except that on the right wing the division of Sturgis was in front, and Crook's brigade in support of it — the order being reversed by the causes before stated. The bitterly contested fight at the bridge having about exhausted the ammunition and greatly fatigued the troops engaged, I sent a request to Gen. Burnside that Wilcox's division, which had been held in reserve on the left bank, might be sent over and take its place on, the right front, putting Sturgis's division in reserve at the head of the bridge. This was immediately ordered by Gen. Burnside, and Gen. Wilcox came promptly forward with his command. During the interval the enemy kept up an incessant cannonade, and having the exact range of the valley and the ravines, his shells came in very fast, annoying us a good deal, causing numerous casualties, notwithstanding the men were kept lying on the ground near the crests of the hill, whilst the changes in the line and the partially new formation after the arrival of Wilcox's division were being made. At about three o'clock, the necessary changes in the line having been completed, the order to advance was received from Gen. Burnside, and the whole force, except Sturgis's division, was put in motion. Gen. Wilcox on the right — his whole division in line and supported by Col. Crook--was ordered to move on Sharpsburgh, which lay about a mile distant to the right of our front. Gen. Rodman, supported by Col. Scammon, was ordered to move in the same direction, first dislodging the enemy from his front, and then changing direction to his right, bringing his command in echelon on the left of Gen. Wilcox. The advance was partly covered by Simmons's, Muhlenberg's, Clark's and Cook's batteries, the other batteries of the corps being in part out of ammunition, and part being kept necessarily in position on the commanding ground on the left bank of the stream. The troops moved forward in perfect order, and with great enthusiasm. On the right, Gen. Wilcox and Col. Crook quickly repulsed the enemy and drove back their artillery, pushing victoriously forward nearly to the village. On the left, General Rodman and Col. Scammon likewise advanced rapidly, driving the rebels before them. The enemy, however, were manifestly in much greater force than ours, and massed their troops heavily on the extreme left. This necessarily made the line of march of our left wing diverge from the course intended, and open a gap between it and the right, which it was necessary to fill by the troops of the second line. Batteries were accumulated against us upon the semi-circular ridge in advance, and the advancing line was subject to a most trying and destructive cross-fire of artillery. The enemy now brought up more fresh forces upon the left, and whilst Gen. Rodman was making disposition to meet them by a change of front of part of his command, he fell desperately wounded by a ball through his chest. The loss of their Commander at a critical period caused confusion in part of the division on the extreme left. The Second brigade of his division, Col. Harlan commanding, was forced to retire after an obstinate contest in which they suffered terribly. Colonel Scammon, of the Kanawha division, being ordered to make disposition of the brigade with him to oppose the rebel force on the left, caused the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.