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[588] turnpike; but they were soon undeceived. They were heroically met and bloodily repulsed by the Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth Georgia regiments, of Colquitt's brigade. The fight lasted for more than an hour after night, but gradually subsided as the Yankees retired. General Hood (who had gone in on the right with his two noble brigades) pushed forward his skirmishers, and drove back the Yankees. We retreated that night to Sharpsburg, having accomplished all that was required — the delay of the Yankee army until Harper's Ferry could not be relieved. Should the truth ever be known, the battle of South Mountain, as far as my division was concerned, will be regarded as one of the most remarkable and creditable of the war. The division had marched all the way from Richmond, and the straggling had been enormous in consequence of heavy marches, deficient commissariat, want of shoes, and inefficient officers. Owing to these combined causes, the division numbered less than five thousand men on the morning of the fourteenth September, and had five roads to guard, extending over a space of as many miles. This small force successfully resisted, without support, for eight hours, the whole Yankee army, and when its supports were beaten, still held the roads, so that our retreat was effected without the loss of a gun, a wagon, or an ambulance. Rodes's brigade had immortalized itself. Colquitt's had fought well, and the two regiments most closely pressed (Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth Georgia) had repulsed the foe. Garland's brigade had behaved nobly until demoralized by the fall of its gallant leader, and being outflanked by the Yankees. Anderson's brigade had shown its wonted gallantry. Ripley's brigade, for some cause, had not been engaged, and was used, with Hood's two brigades, to cover the retreat.

Had Longstreet's division been with mine at daylight in the morning, the Yankees would have been disastrously repulsed; but they had gained important positions before the arrival of reenforcements. These additional troops came up, after a long, hurried, and exhausting march, to defend localities of which they were ignorant, and to fight a foe flushed with partial success, and already holding key-points to farther advance. Had our forces never been separated, the battle of Sharpsburg never would have been fought, and the Yankees would not have even the shadow of consolation for the loss of Harper's Ferry.

We reached Sharpsburg about daylight on the morning of the fifteenth. The Yankees made their appearance that day, and some skirmishing and cannonading occurred. There was a great deal of artillery firing during the forenoon of the sixteenth; and late that afternoon the Yankees crossed the Antietam, opposite the centre of my line, and made for the Hagerstown turnpike. Had we been in a condition to attack them as they crossed, much damage might have been inflicted; but, as yet, there were but two weak divisions on the ground. Longstreet held the position south of the Boonsboroa turnpike, and I, that on the right. Hood's command was placed on my left to guard the Hagerstown pike. Just before sundown I got up a battery (Lane's) of Cutt's battalion to open upon the Yankee column, advancing toward that pike, while Colonel Stephen Lee brought up another farther on the right. These checked the Yankee advance, and enabled Jackson to take position on Hood's left, and covering any attempt to turn us in that direction. My ranks had been diminished by some additional straggling, and the morning of the seventeenth I had but three thousand infantry. I had, however, twenty-six pieces of artillery of my own, and near sixty pieces of Cutt's battalion, temporarily under my command. Positions were selected for as many of these guns as could be used; but all the ground in my front was completely commanded by the long-range artillery of the Yankees on the other side of the Antietam, which concentrated their fire upon every gun that opened, and soon disabled or silenced it.

At daylight a brisk skirmish began along Hood's front, and Colquitt, Ripley, and McRae, (commanding Garland's brigade,) were moved up to his support. Hood's men always fight well, and they were handsomely supported by Colquitt and Ripley. The first line of the Yankees were broken, and our men pushed vigorously forward, but to meet another and yet another line. Colquitt had gone in with ten field officers; four were killed, five badly wounded, and the tenth had been stunned by a shell. The men were beginning to fall back, and efforts were made to rally them in the bed of an old road, nearly at right angles to the Hagerstown pike, and which had been their position previous to the advance. These efforts, however, were only partially successful. Most of the brigade took no further part in the action. Garland's brigade (Colonel McRae commanding) had been much demoralized by the fight at South Mountain; but the men advanced with alacrity, secured a good position, and were fighting bravely, when Captain Thompson, Fifth North Carolina, cried out, “They are flanking us!” This cry spread like an electric shock along the ranks, bringing up vivid recollections of the flank fire at South Mountain. In a moment they broke up and fell to the rear. Colonel McRae, though wounded, remained on the field all day, and succeeded in gathering up some stragglers, and personally rendered much efficient service. The Twenty-third North Carolina regiment, of this brigade, was brought off by the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, and posted, by my order, in the old road already described.

Ripley's brigade had united with Walker's, and fallen back with it behind the ridge to the left of this road, and near to it. We had now lost all the ground wrested from the enemy, and were occupying the position held in the morning. But three of my brigades had been broken and much demoralized, and all of the artillery had been withdrawn from my front. Rodes and Anderson were in the old road, and some stragglers had been gathered up and placed upon their left. It was now apparent that the Yankees were massing in our front, and that their grand attack would


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