had been endeavoring to organize, and who were just then on the flank of that portion of the enemy engaged with Gordon, and for a few minutes they kept up a brisk enfilading fire upon the enemy; but finding his fire turning from Gordon's upon them, and that another body of Federal troops were advancing upon them, they speedily fell back. It was now so dark that it was difficult to distinguish objects at short musket range, and both parties ceased firing. Directing Colonel Gordon to move his regiment to his right and to the rear so as to cover the gap, I endeavored to gather up stragglers from the other regiments. Colonel Battle still held together a handful of his men. These, together with the remnant of the Twelfth, Fifth, and Twenty-sixth Alabama regiments, were assembled at the gap, and were speedily placed alongside of Gordon's regiment, which by this time had arrived in the road ascending the mountain from the gap, forming a line on the edge of the woods parallel to, and about two hundred yards from, the main road. The enemy did not advance beyond the top of the mountain; but to be prepared for them, skirmishers were thrown out in front of the line. This position we held until about eleven o'clock at night, when we were ordered to take the Sharpsburg road, and to stop at Keedarsville, which we did. We had rested about an hour, when I was ordered to proceed to Sharpsburg with all the force under my command, Colquitt's brigade and mine, to drive out a Federal cavalry force reported to be there. On the way Colonel Chilton, chief of General Lee's staff, met me with contrary orders, which required me to send only a part of my force. The Fifth and Sixth Alabama were sent. In a few minutes, however, we received orders from General Longstreet to go ahead, and did so. Found no cavalry. In this engagement my loss was as follows: killed, sixty-one; wounded, one hundred and fifty-seven; missing, two hundred and four; total, four hundred and twenty-two. The men and officers generally behaved well; but Colonel Gordon, Sixth Alabama, Major Hobson, Fifth Alabama, and Colonel Battle, Third Alabama, deserve especial mention for admirable conduct during the whole fight. We did not drive the enemy back, or whip him, but with twelve hundred men we held his whole division at bay, without assistance, during four hours and a half steady fighting, losing in that time not over a half a mile of ground. I was most ably and bravely served during the whole day by Captains Whiting and Peyton, and. Lieutenant John Berney, who composed my staff. On the fifteenth, after resting on the heights south of Sharpsburg long enough to get a scanty meal and to gather stragglers, we moved back through that place to the advanced position in the centre of the line of battle before the town. Here, subsisting on green corn, mainly, and under an occasional artillery fire, we lay until the morning of the seventeenth September, when began the engagement of that day. The fight opened early on the left, but my brigade was not engaged until late in the forenoon. About nine o'clock, I was ordered to move to the left and front, to assist Ripley, Colquitt, and McRae, who had already engaged the enemy, and I had hardly begun the movement before it was evident that the two latter had met with a reverse, and that the best service I could render them and the field generally, would be to form a line in rear of them, and endeavor to rally them before attacking or being attacked. Major-General Hill held the same view, for at this moment I received an order from him to halt and to form line of battle in the hollow of an old and narrow road, just beyond the orchard, and with my left about one hundred and fifty yards from and east of the Hagerstown road. In a short time a small portion of Colquitt's brigade formed on my left, and I assumed the command of it. This brought my left to the Hagerstown road. General Anderson's brigade, occupying the same road, had closed up on my right. A short time after my brigade assumed its new position, and whilst the men were busy improving their position by piling rails along their front, the enemy deployed in our front in three beautiful lines, all vastly outstretching ours, and commenced to advance steadily. Unfortunately, no artillery opposed them in their advance. Carter's battery had been sent to take position in rear by me when I abandoned my first position, because he was left without support, and because my own position had not then been fully determined. Three pieces, which occupied a fine position immediately on my front, abandoned it immediately after the enemy's skirmishers opened on them. The enemy came to the crest of the hill overlooking my position, and for five minutes bravely stood a galling fire at about eighty yards, which my whole brigade delivered; they then fell back a short distance, rallied, were driven back again and again, and finally lay down just back of the crest, keeping up a steady fire, however. In this position, receiving an order from General Longstreet to do so, I endeavored to charge them with my brigade, and that portion of Colquitt's which was on my immediate left; the charge failed, mainly because the Sixth Alabama regiment, not hearing the command, did not move forward with the others, and because Colquitt's men did not advance far enough; that part of the brigade which moved forward found themselves in an exposed position, and, being outnumbered and unsustained, fell back before I could, by personal effort, which was duly made, get the Sixth Alabama to move; hastening back to the left, I arrived just in time to prevent the men from falling back to the rear of the road we had just occupied. It became evident to me, then, that an attack by us must, to be successful, be made by the whole of Anderson's brigade, mine, Colquitt's, and any troops that had arrived on Anderson's right. My whole force at this moment did not amount to over seven hundred men, most probably not to that number. About this time, I noticed troops going in to the support of Anderson, or to his right, and that one regiment and a portion of
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.