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[473] by superior numbers, gave back. Hood with his Texans, the Eighteenth Georgia and the Hampton Legion rushed into the gap and retrieved the loss. Ewell's men rallying on this support, returned to the fight, and adding their, weight to that of the fresh enthusiastic troops, the enemy in turn were driven back. Reenforced, they made another desperate effort on the extreme left, and here again was a repetition of the scenes I have described. For a time they flanked us, and our men retired slowly, fighting over every inch of ground. It was a trying hour. The Federals saw their advantage, and pressed it with vigor. Eight batteries were in full play upon us, and the din of heavy guns, whistling and bursting of shells, and the roar of musketry were almost deafening.

At this juncture, Lee ordered to the support of Jackson the division of Gen. McLaws, which had been held in reserve. And blessing never came more opportunely. Our men had fought until not only they but their ammunition were well-nigh exhausted, and discomfiture stared them in the face. But thus encouraged, every man rallied, and the fight was redoubled in its intensity. Splendidly handled, the reinforcements swept on like a wave, its billows falling thick and fast upon the audacious column that had so stubbornly forced their way to the position on which we originally commenced the battle. Half an hour later and the enemy were retreating. At one point we pursued for nearly a mile, and last night a portion of our troops on the left slept on Yankee ground. The success, though not decisive, as compared with our usual results, was complete as it was possible to make it, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the battle and the topography of the country. Certain it is that after the cessation of the fight at half-past 10 o'clock, the Yankees did not renew it again at this point during the day. They had been defeated, and all they could do thereafter was to prevent us from repeating in turn the experiment which they had attempted on our line. It was, beyond all doubt, the most hotly contested field on which a battle has taken place during the war.

Soon after the cessation of the fight upon the left, the enemy made a strong demonstration upon our centre, in front of the division of Gen. D. H. Hill. Here, for a while, the contest was carried on mainly by artillery, with which both the enemy and ourselves were abundantly supplied. The only difference between the two, if any at all, was in the superiority of their metal and positions, and on our part the lack of sufficient ammunition. Battery after battery was sent to the rear exhausted, and our ordnance wagons, until late in the day, were on the opposite side of the Potomac, blocked up by the long commissary trains which had been ordered forward from Martinsburgh and Shepherdstown to relieve the necessities of the army.

As indicated in the former part of this letter, our artillery was posted on the summits of the line of hills which ran from right to left in front of the town. That of the enemy, with one exception, was on the rising ground at the base of the Blue Ridge, and upon the various eminences this side. A single Federal battery was boldly thrown over the stone bridge on the turnpike, nine hundred or a thousand yards in our front, and held its position until disabled, with a hardihood worthy of a better cause. I cannot now name all the positions of the different batteries — only those which I saw. Altogether, we may have had playing at this time one hundred guns. The enemy having at least an equal number, you may imagine what a horrid concert filled the air, and how unremitting was the hail of heavy balls and shells, now tearing their way through the trees, now bursting and throwing their murderous fragments on every side, and again burying themselves amid a cloud of dust in the earth, always where they were least expected.

This exchange of iron compliments had been kept up from early morning, but at eleven o'clock the fire began to concentrate and increase in severity. Columns of the enemy could be distinctly seen across the Antietam, on the open ground beyond, moving as if in preparation to advance. Others were so far in the distance that you could recognize them as troops only by the sunlight that gleamed upon their arms, while considerable numbers were within cannon-shot, defiantly flaunting their flags in our faces. At twelve o'clock the scene from the apex of the turnpike was truly magnificent, and the eye embraced a picture such as falls to the lot of few men to look upon in this age.

From twenty different stand-points great volumes of smoke were every instant leaping from the muzzles of angry guns. The air was filled with the white fantastic shapes that floated away from bursted shells. Men were leaping to and fro, loading, firing, and handling the artillery, and now and then a hearty yell would reach the ear amid the tumult that spoke of death or disaster from some well-aimed ball. Before us were the enemy. A regiment or two had crossed the river, and, running in squads from the woods along its banks, were trying to form a line. Suddenly a shell falls among them, and another and another, until the thousands scatter like a swarm of flies, and disappear in the woods. A second time the effort is made, and there is a second failure. Then there is a diversion. The batteries of the Federals open afresh; their infantry try another point, and finally they succeed in effecting a lodgment on this side. Our troops, under D. H. Hill, meet them, and a fierce battle ensues in the centre. Backward, forward, surging and swaying like a ship in a storm, the various columns are seen in motion. It is a hot place for us, but is hotter still for the enemy. They are directly under our guns, and we mow them down like grass. The raw levies, sustained by the veterans behind, come up to the work well, and fight for a short time with an excitement incident to their novel experiences of a battle; but soon a portion of their line gives way in confusion. Their reserves come up, and endeavor to retrieve the fortunes

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