distance to the rear for the purpose of reorganizing, and that they were probably not in a condition to go into the fight again. I despatched Major J. P. Wilson, a volunteer Aid, who had been with General Lawton, to find out where the brigades were, and to order them up. While looking for these brigades, I observed that our troops who were engaged on this part of the line were giving way before the enemy; and as soon as I had despatched Major Wilson, I rode to find General Jackson, and having done so, informed him of the condition of the division, and also that our troops were giving way, and that the enemy was advancing on the flank on which I had formed my brigade. He said that he would send for reenforcements, and directed me to keep the enemy in check until they arrived. I then returned to my brigade, and resumed command of it. I soon found that the enemy was moving up in considerable force toward the woods in which I was, and I sent Major Hale, my A. A. A. General, to let. General Jackson know that the danger was imminent; and he soon returned with the assurance that the reinforcements should be sent immediately. Just as Major Hale returned, a battery opened at the corner of the woods on the Hagerstown road, where the field spoken of joins the woods. This was not more than two hundred yards from my right flank, and was somewhat in rear of it. When this battery opened I took it for granted that it was one of ours; but Major Hale's attention was called to it by a soldier who happened to be standing upon the edge of the plateau, and discovered that it was one of the enemy's batteries. I was immediately informed of the fact by Major Hale; but I doubted it until I rode to the edge of the woods, and saw, beyond all dispute, that it was the enemy's battery, and was firing in the direction of the road toward Sharpsburg, and that it was supported by a very heavy column of infantry, which was also within two hundred yards of my right flank. This made me aware of the fact that our troops, which I had seen giving way, had fallen back, leaving the enemy entire possession of the field in front. It must be borne in mind that the direction of my line was perpendicular to the Hagerstown road, so that, had the enemy seen it, his battery could have raked my flank and rear. Fortunately, my troops were concealed from his view. My condition, however, was exceedingly critical, as another column was advancing in my front, and had reached the woods in which I was. I saw the vast importance of maintaining my ground, for had the enemy got possession of this woods, the heights immediately in rear, which commanded the rear of our whole line, would have fallen into his hands. I determined to wait for the reenforcements promised by General Jackson, hoping that they would arrive in time to meet the column on my right. I, however, threw my right flank back quietly under cover of the woods, so as not to have my rear exposed in the event of being discovered I kept an anxious eye on the column on my right, as well as on the one moving up in my front, and very soon I saw the column on my right move into the woods in the direction of the church. I looked to the rear for the reenforcements, and could not see them coming. I was thus cut off from the main body of our army on the right, and a column was moving against me from the left. There was no time to be lost, and I immediately ordered my brigade to move by the right flank parallel to the enemy, and directed Colonel Grigsby, who commanded the body of troops he and Colonel Stafford had tallied, to move his command back in line, so as to present front to the enemy, who were coming up on the flank. I moved back along the rear of the woods, until I caught up with the enemy, who had the start of me. I was, however, concealed from his view, and it was evident that my presence where I was was not suspected. Passing from behind a ridge that concaled my brigade from the enemy, we came in full view of his flankers, which, however, were made aware of my presence by a fire which I directed the leading regiment to pour into them. They immediately ran into the main body, which halted, and I continued to move by the flank until my whole force was disclosed. Just at this time, I observed the promised reenforcements coming up toward the woods at the farther end. I ordered the brigade to face to the front and open fire, which was done in handsome style, and responded to by the enemy. I did not intend to advance to the front, as I observed some of the troops which had come up to reinforce me preparing to advance into the woods from the direction of my right flank, and was afraid of exposing my brigade to their fire, and that the two movements would throw us into confusion, as they would have been at right angles; moreover, the other column was advancing on my flank, held in check, however, by Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, with their men, and by the Thirty-first Virginia regiment, which was on my left. The enemy in front, however, commenced giving way, and the brigade, which I have always found difficult to restrain, commenced pursuing, driving the enemy in front entirely out of the woods. Notwithstanding my efforts to stop the men, they advanced until my left flank and rear became exposed to a fire from the column on the left, which had advanced past my former position. I also discovered another body of the enemy moving across the plateau on my left flank in doublequick time to the same position, and I succeeded in arresting my command, and ordered it to retire, so that I might change front and advance upon this force. Just as I re-formed my line, Semmes's, Anderson's, and a part of Barksdale's brigades, of McLaws's division, came up, and the whole, including Grigsby's command, advanced upon this body of the enemy, driving it with great slaughter entirely from and beyond the woods, and leaving us in possession of my former position. As soon as this was accomplished, I caused the regiments of the brigade to be re-formed and placed in position as before. I take great pleasure in bearing testimony to the gallant conduct of Semmes's, Anderson's, and Barksdale's commands, whose timely arrival was of so much service to me.
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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