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[252] from headquarters of the corps, I have the honor to report upon the part taken by my brigade — the Third of the First division of the Twelfth corps--in the recent battle of Antietam near Sharpsburgh, on the seventeenth instant.

The enemy, routed at passes of South-Mountain on the fourteenth, were rapidly pursued and brought to a stand near Sharpsburgh, on the westerly side of Antietam Creek, on the sixteenth instant.

Massed in rear of our forces, drawn up in line of battle under General McClellan, this corps remaining inactive during the day, was moved on the night of the sixteenth and morning of the seventeenth to the right of our line to strengthen General Hooker, who had, at noon of the sixteenth, crossed the creek and engaged the enemy's advance.

Just after the break of day, we were aroused from a brief slumber by sharp firing of musketry in front of General Hooker's position. The corps, then commanded by the lamented General Mansfield, was by that officer immediately put in motion. My brigade — formed in columns of battalions closed in mass — I directed toward a battery which I was ordered to support; but before reaching the same, I received a countermanding order to move forward, with all possible despatch, to the support of General Hooker, then severely pressed. I moved accordingly my ployed masses by the flank at double-quick, gradually gaining deployment distance; thus throwing forward on the right the Second Massachusetts infantry, Colonel Andrews; in the centre, the Third Wisconsin infantry, Colonel Ruger; and on the left, the Twenty-seventh Indiana infantry, Colonel Colgrove. The One Hundred and Seventh New-York infantry, Colonel Van Valkenburg, I held in reserve, throwing them into the edge of a piece of woods en the left, which I was informed by an aid of General Hooker who met me advancing, was to be held at all hazards. The only remaining regiment of my brigade, the Thirteenth New-Jersey, I had, by direction of General Mansfield, thrown into the edge of a piece of woods behind my first position as a reserve. This regiment remained as posted during the deployment of my line and the posting of the One Hundred and Seventh New-York. While moving forward the three regiments referred to, an aid of General Hooker hurrying rapidly toward my command, begged me to move forward. It was apparent from the steady approach of the sound of musketry, that the enemy was advancing; his shouts of exultation could be distinctly heard as the line of my deployed battalions, sustained on the right by Crawford's brigade, and on the left by Greene's division, both of the Twelfth corps, advanced to the front. Before the charge and fire of our line the enemy halted, wavered, fled in confusion, and sought shelter in the woods opposite, from whence he had emerged. I immediately ordered the One Hundred and Seventh New-York to support the movement of my advanced line, at the same time sending my aid, Captain Wheaton, to bring up the Thirteenth New-Jersey. We now held possession of the field, had driven the enemy into the concealment of the woods, and by a partial change of front forward on our left, were advancing toward the centre of the general line of battle. General Mansfield had been mortally wounded at the commencement of the action while making a bold reconnoissance of the woods through which we had just dashed. The command of the corps here devolved upon you.

My brigade was now drawn up in two lines, in the front the Second Massachusetts and One Hundred and Seventh New-York, in rear the Third Wisconsin and Twenty-seventh Indiana. These latter regiments had suffered considerably; in the others the casualties had been unusually light.

We were at this time reinforced by General Sumner's corps, who, coming with shouts to the field, pushed across into the woods containing the enemy, and engaged him with ardor. By your direction, I formed my brigade in line of battle on the edge of the woods through which we had charged. General Sumner's corps soon became warmly engaged. It was apparent the rebels had received very strong reinforcements. The tide of battle again turned; our forces were compelled to fall slowly back behind batteries posted in front of the woods the enemy had tried vainly to enter. More than driving our forces from the woods the enemy did not essay, or if he did, was foiled.

The next movement of my brigade I am called on to report was ordered by General Sumner through you. It was, to move up toward the woods in front, to support the troops there. The order, most urgent and imperative, furnished the only information I possessed that our forces had again entered those woods. I deemed it of the utmost importance that my command should move forward with the least possible delay. I therefore in person gave the order to the regiments nearest me, without awaiting the formation of the entire brigade, intending to bring up the other regiments to support or continue the line, as circumstances might require. The Second Massachusetts and the Thirteenth New-Jersey regiments were immediately put in motion. The Third Wisconsin and Twenty-seventh Indiana, having, as before stated, suffered seriously in a previous encounter with the enemy, were lying about two hundred yards in front, concealed from the view of the enemy by a slight ridge. The One Hundred and Seventh New-York was posted some distance to the left.

The Second Massachusetts and Thirteenth New-Jersey pushed forward with great alacrity sufficiently far to find that the troops to be supported had retired — that a large force of the enemy were concealed in the woods, while a not inconsiderable number showed themselves in the open fields beyond. These regiments were received with a galling fire, which they sustained and returned for a brief period, then fell back upon their supports. So strong was the enemy, that an addition of any force I could command would only have caused further sacrifice without gain.

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