Sharpsburg, Maryland, on the sixteenth ultimo, where I reported to General Lee. In acordance with his instructions, at daylight the next morning I placed the division on the extreme right of our position, and about a mile and a half south of Sharpsburg, my line of battle extending from a wood on the right to a group of barns, stables, and outhouses on the left, in such way as to cover the ford over the Antietam Creek, and to be within supporting distance of the command of Brigadier-General Toombs, which lay in front of the bridge across the same stream. My batteries were placed on commanding heights in such way as to command the roads leading from the east, while a battalion of sharpshooters was posted along the wooded banks of the Antietam to hold the enemy in check, should he attempt to cross the stream at that point. While we were in this position the enemy made no attempt to cross the stream, and the only evidence of his being in our front was his artillery fire at long range, and the reply of General Toombs's batteries, about a half mile to my left. Soon after nine o'clock A. M., I received orders from General Lee, through Colonel Long, of his staff, to hasten to the extreme left, to the support of Major-General Jackson. Hastening forward as rapidly as possible along the rear of our entire line of battle, we arrived, soon after ten o'clock, near the woods which the commands of Generals Hood and Early were struggling heroically to hold, but gradually and sullenly yielding to the irresistible weight of overwhelming numbers. Here we at once formed line of battle, under a sharp artillery fire, and, leaving the Twenty-seventh North Carolina and Third Arkansas regiments to hold the open space between the woods and Longstreet's left, the division, with Ransom's brigade on the left, advanced in splendid style, firing and cheering as they went, and in a few minutes cleared the woods, strewing it with the enemy's dead and wounded. Colonel Manning, with the Forty-sixth and Forty-eighth North Carolina and Thirtieth Virginia, not content with the possession of the woods, dashed forward in gallant style, crossed the open fields beyond, driving the enemy before him like sheep, until, arriving at a long line of strong post and rail fence, behind which heavy masses of the enemy's infantry were lying, their advance was checked, and, it being impossible to climb over these fences under such a fire, these regiments, after suffering a heavy loss, were compelled to fall back to the woods, where the Forty-sixth and Forty-eighth North Carolina regiments were quickly re-formed; but the Thirtieth Virginia, owing to some unaccountable misunderstanding of orders, except Captain Hudgins's company, went entirely off the field, and, as a regiment, was not again engaged during the day. Captain Smith, of my staff, and myself succeeded in gathering up portions of it, which, acting with the Forty-sixth North Carolina, afterward did good service. Just before the falling back of these regiments, the gallant Colonel Manning was severely wounded, and was compelled to leave the field, relinquishing the command of the brigade to the next in rank, Colonel E. D. Hall, of the Forty-sixth North Carolina regiment. The Forty-eighth North Carolina regiment, Colonel R. C. Hill commanding, after re-forming, was sent by me, with French's and Branch's light batteries, to reenforce General Stuart on the extreme left, who was specially charged by General Jackson with the task of turning the enemy's right. The falling back of a portion of Manning's brigade enabled the enemy to temporarily re-occupy the point of woods near the position assigned to Colonel Cooke, commanding the Twenty-seventh North Carolina and the Third Arkansas regiments, upon whom the enemy opened a galling fire of musketry, which was replied to with spirit; but the enemy having the cover of the woods, while Colonel Cooke's command was on the open ground, this officer very properly drew them back to a cornfield, and behind a rail fence, which gave them partial protection. From this position they kept up an effective fire upon the enemy, driving his artillerists from a battery they were attempting to get into position to bear upon Colonel Cooke's command. They afterward succeeded in getting off with their guns, but abandoned two caissons filled with rifle ammunition, from which Captain French that night replenished his exhausted limber chests. Early in the afternoon, Major-General Longstreet directed Colonel Cooke, with his own regiment (Twenty-seventh North Carolina) and the Third Arkansas, to charge the enemy, who was threatening his front as if to pass through the opening between the point of timber held by Ransom's brigade and Longstreet's left. This order was promptly obeyed, in the face of such a fire as troops have seldom encountered without running away, and with a steadiness and unfaltering gallantry seldom equalled. Battery after battery, regiment after regiment, opened their fire upon them, hurling a torrent of missiles through their ranks; but nothing could arrest their progress, and three times the enemy broke and fled before their impetuous charge. Finally they reached the fatal picket fences, before alluded to. To climb over them, in the face of such a force and under such a fire, would have been sheer madness to attempt; and their ammunition being now almost exhausted, Colonel Cooke very properly gave the order to fall back, which was done in the most perfect order; after which, the regiments took up their former position, which they continued to hold until night. In the mean time, Brigadier-General Ransom, whose brigade was farther on the left, having driven the enemy through and from the woods with heavy loss, continued with his own brigade and Colonel Hall's, Forty-sixth regiment North Carolina, to hold it for the greater portion of the day, notwithstanding three determined infantry attacks, which each time was repulsed with great loss to the enemy, and against a most persistent and terrific artillery fire, by which the enemy hoped, doubtless, to drive us from our strong
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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