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[632] position, the very key of the battle-field. His hopes, however, were not realized. True to their duty, for eight hours our brave men lay upon the ground, taking advantage of such undulations and shallow ravines as gave promise of partial shelter, while the fearful storm raged a few feet above their heads, tearing the trees asunder, lopping off huge branches, and filling the air with shrieks and explosions — realizing to the fullest the fearful sublimity of battle.

During this time, in the temporary absence of General Ransom from his brigade to post the Twenty-fourth North Carolina, which had gone too much to the left and beyond Barksdale's brigade, the enemy made a furious attack with heavy masses of infantry upon the position occupied by General Ransom. Colonel Ransom, of the Thirty-fifth North Carolina, in temporary command of the brigade, not only repulsed the enemy, but pursued him across the field as far as the post and rail fence, inflicting upon him so severe a punishment that no other attempt of infantry was made on the position during the day. While I was with General Ransom's command, about half past 4 o'clock in the afternoon, an order was brought from General Longstreet, directing General Ransom to advance and capture the enemy's batteries in his front. Having been previously instructed by General Jackson to hold my position in the woods until General Stuart could turn the enemy's right, and then to advance, I directed General Ransom to delay the execution of General Longstreet's order until I could see General Longstreet in person, and confer with him on the subject. Upon my representation to him, he approved what I had done; and while we were in conversation on the subject, General Jackson himself joined us, and informed us that General Stuart had made the attempt spoken of, but found it impracticable, as the enemy's right was securely posted on the Potomac, and protected by heavy batteries of his reserve artillery. It was then determined that the attempt to force the enemy's right with our fearfully thinned ranks, and in the exhausted condition of our men, was an effort above our strength. Toward five o'clock in the afternoon, I was directed by General Longstreet to move Ransom's brigade toward the right to reinforce our centre, where the enemy were making demonstrations as if for an advance upon our position. No attack was, however, made; but the enemy's artillery continued to play upon the woods, upon our batteries, and upon every position along our line, which they supposed to be occupied by our troops. Our own batteries replying but slowly for the want of ammunition. Gradually, as night approached, this fire died away, and darkness finally put an end to this long and bloody battle. My division rested until next morning where night overtook them, and upon the line occupied by them during the day.

The conduct of the division was generally excellent, and, in some instances, was brilliant in the extreme. I desire, particularly, to call attention to the admirable conduct of the Twenty-seventh North Carolina, commanded by Colonel John R. Cooke, and the Third Arkansas volunteers, commanded by its senior Captain, John W. Reedy.

The coolness and good conduct of Colonel Van H. Manning, commanding brigade, until wounded and carried from the field, is worthy all praise. Colonel Hall, of the Forty-sixth North Carolina troops, who, as next in rank, assumed command of the brigade, handled his regiment and the other portions of the brigade falling under his command, with skill and judgment.

To Brigadier-General Ransom's coolness, judgment, and skill, we are, in a great degree, indebted for the successful maintenance of our position on the left, which, to have been permanently gained by the enemy, would, in all probability, have been to us the loss of the battle.

General Ransom speaks in high terms of the conduct of Colonel Ransom, of the Thirty-fifth North Carolina, of Lieutenant-Colonel Bryson, of the Twenty-fifth, and Adjutant Cooke, of the Twenty-fourth North Carolina regiments, as having particularly distinguished themselves.

The light batteries of Captains French and Branch, the latter under command of Lieutenant R. G. Pegram, at different times during the day were engaged with the enemy, and did good service, especially French's, posted on the extreme left, and under the immediate orders of General Stuart.

Captain Wm. A. Smith, my Assistant Adjutant-General, and Lieutenant J. A. Galt, Aid-decamp, were with me upon the field, and rendered me valuable assistance in transmitting orders.

The division suffered heavily, particularly Manning's command, (Walker's brigade,) which, at one time, sustained almost the whole fire of the enemy's right wing. Going into the engagement, as it was necessary for us to do, to support the sorely pressed divisions of Hood and Early, it was, of course, impossible to make dispositions based upon a careful reconnoissance of the localities.

The post and rail fences stretching across the fields lying between us and the enemy's position, I regard as the fatal obstacle to our complete success on the left; and success there would, doubtless, have changed the fate of the day. Of the existence of these obstacles none of my division had any previous knowledge, and we learned it at the expense of many valuable lives.

I am, Major, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

J. G. Walker, Brigadier-General, commanding.


Report of Brigadier-General Hood, of operations of his division, from Freeman's Ford to battle of Sharpsburg.

division headquarters, September 27, 1862.
Major G. M. Sorrell, A. A. G.:
sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division, composed of two brigades, Fourth Alabama, Second and Eleventh Mississippi, and Sixth North Carolina,


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