be made upon my position, which was the centre of our line. I sent several urgent messages to General Lee for reenforcements ; but before any arrived, a heavy force (since ascertained to be Franklin's corps) advanced in three parallel lines, with all the precision of a parade day, upon my two brigades. They met with a galling fire, however, recoiled and fell back, again advanced and again fell back, and finally lay down behind the crest of the hill, and kept up an irregular fire. I got a battery in position which partially enfiladed the Yankee line, and aided materially to check its advance. This battery was brought up by my Aid, Lieutenant J. A. Reid, who received a painful wound in the discharge of that duty. In the mean time, General R. H. Anderson reported to me with some three or four thousand men as reenforcements to my command. I directed him to form immediately behind my men. That gallant and accomplished officer was soon wounded, and the command devolved upon General Pryor. The Yankee fire had now nearly ceased, and but for an unfortunate blunder of Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot, Sixth Alabama, no farther advance would have been made by them. General Rodes had observed a regiment lying down in his rear, and not engaged. He says, as the fire was now desultory and slack, I went to the troops referred to, and found that they belonged to General Pryor's brigade. Their officers stated that they had been halted by somebody — not General Pryor. Finding General P. in a few minutes, and informing him as to their conduct, he immediately ordered them forward. Returning toward the brigade, I met Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot, Sixth Alabama, looking for me. Upon his telling me that the right wing of the regiment was exposed to a terrible enfilade fire, which the enemy was enabled to deliver by their gaining somewhat upon Anderson, (General G. B.,) I ordered him to hasten back, and to throw his right wing back, and out of the old road referred to. Instead of executing the order, he moved briskly to the rear of the regiment, and gave the command, “Sixth Alabama--about face; forward, march.” Major Hobson, of the Fifth, seeing this, asked him if the order was intended for the whole brigade; he said, “Yes;” and thereupon the Fifth and the other troops on their left retreated. I did not see their retrograde movement until it was too late for me to rally them; and for this reason: Just as I was moving on after Lightfoot, I heard a shot strike Lieutenant Bemey, (Aid,) who was immediately behind me. Wheeling around, I found him falling, and that he had been struck in the face. He found that he could walk after I raised him. I followed him a few paces, and watched him till he reached a barn, a short distance in the rear, where he first met some one to help him in case he needed it. As I turned toward the brigade, I was struck heavily by a piece of shell on my thigh. At first I thought that the wound was serious; but finding, upon examination, that it was slight, I turned toward the brigade, when I discovered it, without visible cause to me, retreating in confusion. I hastened to intercept it at the Hagerstown road. I found, though, that with the exception of a few men from the Twenty-sixth, Twelfth, and Third, and a few under Major Hobson, of the Fifth, not more than forty in all, the brigade had disappeared from this portion of the field. This small number, together with some Mississippians and North Carolinians, about one hundred and fifty in all, I rallied and stationed behind a small ridge leading from the Hagerstown road. General G. B. Anderson still nobly held his ground; but the Yankees began to pour through the gap made by the retreat of Rodes. Anderson himself was mortally wounded, and his brigade was totally routed. Colonel Bennett, of the Fourteenth, and Major Sillers, of the Thirtieth North Carolina regiments, rallied a portion of their men. There were no troops near to hold the centre, except a few hundred rallied from various brigades. The Yankees crossed the old road, which we had occupied in the morning, and occupied a cornfield and orchard in advance of it. They had now got within a few hundred yards of the hill, which commanded Sharpsburg and our rear. Affairs looked very critical. I found a battery concealed in a cornfield, and ordered it to move out and open upon the Yankee columns. This proved to be Bryce's South Carolina battery. It moved out most gallantly, although exposed to a terrible direct and reverse fire from the long-range Yankee artillery across the Antietam. A caisson exploded, but the battery was unlimbered, and, with grape and canister, drove the Yankees back. I was now satisfied that the Yankees were so demoralized that a single regiment of fresh men could drive the whole of them in our front across the Antietam. I got up about two hundred men, who said that they were willing to advance to the attack, if I would lead them. We met, however, with a warm reception, and the little command was broken and dispersed. Major Hobson and Lieutenant Gaff, of Fifth Alabama, acquitted themselves handsomely in this charge. Colonel Iverson, Twentieth North Carolina, Colonel Christie, Twenty-third North Carolina, Captain Garrett, Fifth North Carolina, Adjutant Taylor and Lieutenant Pierce, of the same regiment, had gathered up about two hundred men, and I sent them to the right to attack the Yankees in flank. They drove them back a short distance, but, in turn, were repulsed. These two attacks, however, had a most happy effect. The Yankees were completely deceived by their boldness, and induced to believe that there was a large force in our centre. They made no further attempt to pierce our centre, except on a small scale, hereafter to be mentioned. It was now about four P. M., and Burnside's corps was massing to attack on our right. A heavy column was advancing up the Boonsboroa pike, and I ordered up some two or three hundred men under command of Colonel G. T. Anderson, to the hill already described, commanding Sharpsburg. But they were exposed to an enfilade fire, from a battery near the church, on the Hagerstown pike, and compelled to retire to another
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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