General R. H. Anderson's division came to Hill's support, and formed in rear of his line. At this time, by a mistake of orders, General Rodes's brigade was withdrawn from its position during the temporary absence of that officer at another part of the field. The enemy immediately pressed through the gap thus created, and G. B. Anderson's brigade was broken, and retired--General Anderson himself being mortally wounded. Major-General R. H. Anderson and Brigadier-General Wright were also wounded and borne from the field. The heavy masses of the enemy again moved forward, being opposed only by four pieces of artillery, supported by a few hundreds of men, belonging to different brigades, rallied by General D. H. Hill and other officers, and parts of Walker's and R. H. Anderson's commands--Colonel Cooke, with the Twenty-seventh North-Carolina regiment, of Walker's brigade, standing boldly in line without a cartridge. The firm front presented by this small force, and the well-directed fire of the artillery, under Captain Miller of the Washington artillery, and Captain Boyce's South-Carolina battery, checked the progress of the enemy, and in about an hour and a half he retired. Another attack was made soon afterward, a little further to the right, but was repulsed by Miller's guns, which continued to hold the ground until the close of the engagement, supported by a part of R. H. Anderson's troops. While the attack on the centre and left was in progress, the enemy made repeated efforts to force the passage of the bridge over the Antietam, opposite the right wing of General Longstreet, commanded by Brigadier-General D. R. Jones. This bridge was defended by General Toombs with two regiments of his brigade, the Second and Twentieth Georgia, and the batteries of General Jones. General Toombs's small command repulsed five different assaults, made by a greatly superior force, and maintained its position with distinguished gallantry. In the afternoon, the enemy began to extend his line as if to cross the Antietam below the bridge, and at four P. M., Toombs's regiments retired from the position they had so bravely held. The enemy immediately crossed the bridge in large numbers and advanced against General Jones, who held the crest with less than two thousand men. After a determined and brave resistance, he was forced to give way, and the enemy gained the summit. General A. P. Hill had arrived from Harper's Ferry, having left that place at half-past 7 A. M. He was now ordered to reenforce General Jones and moved to his support with the brigades of Archer, Branch, Gregg, and Pender, the last of whom was placed on the right of the line, and the other three advanced and attacked the enemy, now flushed with success. Hill's batteries were thrown forward and united their fire with those of General Jones, and one of D. H. Hill's also opened, with good effect, from the left of the Boonesboro road. The progress of the enemy was immediately arrested, and his line began to waver. At this moment General Jones ordered Toombs to charge the flank, while Archer, supported by Branch and Gregg, moved upon the front of the Federal line. The enemy made a brief resistance, then broke and retreated in confusion toward the Antietam, pursued by the troops of Hill and Jones, until he reached the protection of the batteries on the opposite side of the river. In this attack, the brave and lamented Brigadier-General L. O'B. Branch was killed, gallantly leading his brigade. It was now nearly dark, and the enemy had massed a number of batteries to sweep the approaches to the Antietam, on the opposite side of which the corps of General Porter, which had not been engaged, now appeared to dispute our advance. Our troops were much exhausted and greatly reduced in numbers by fatigue and the casualties of battle. Under these circumstances, it was deemed injudicious to push our advantage further, in the face of fresh troops of the enemy much exceeding the number of our own. They were accordingly recalled and formed on the line originally held by General Jones. While the attack on our centre was progressing, General Jackson had been directed to endeavor to turn the enemy's right, but found it extending nearly to the Potomac and so strongly defended with artillery that the attempt had to be abandoned. The repulse on the right ended the engagement, and, after a protracted and sanguinary conflict, every effort of the enemy to dislodge us from our position had been defeated with severe loss. The arduous service in which our troops had been engaged, their great privations of rest and food, and the long marches, without shoes, over mountain roads, had greatly reduced our ranks before the action began. These causes had compelled thousands of brave men to absent themselves, and many more had done so from unworthy motives. This great battle was fought by less than forty thousand men on our side, all of whom had undergone the greatest labors and hardships in the field and on the march. Nothing could surpass the determined valor with which they met the large army of the enemy, fully supplied and equipped, and the result reflects the highest credit on the officers and men engaged. Our artillery, though much inferior to that of the enemy in the number of guns and weight of metal, rendered most efficient and gallant service throughout the day, and contributed greatly to the repulse of the attacks on every part of the line. General Stuart, with the cavalry and horse artillery, performed the duty intrusted to him, of guarding our left wing, with great energy and courage, and rendered valuable assistance in defeating the attack on that part of our line. On the eighteenth, we occupied the position of the preceding day, except in the centre, where our line was drawn in about two hundred yards. Our ranks were increased by the arrival of a number of troops, who had not been engaged the day before, and, though still too weak to assume the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.