General A. P. Hill, C. S. A.
The fighting along the Sharpsburg road might have resulted in a Confederate disaster had it not been for the timely arrival of the troops of General A. P. Hill.
His six brigades of Confederate veterans had been the last to leave Harper's Ferry, remaining behind Jackson's main body in order to attend to the details of the surrender.
Just as the Federal Ninth Corps was in the height of its advance, a cloud of dust on Harper's Ferry road cheered the Confederates to redoubled effort.
Out of the dust the brigades of Hill debouched upon the field.
Their fighting blood seemed to have but mounted more strongly during their march of eighteen miles. Without waiting for orders, Hill threw his men into the fight and the progress of the Ninth Corps was stopped.
Lee had counted on the arrival of Hill in time to prevent any successful attempt upon the Confederate right held by Longstreet's Corps, two-thirds of which had been detached in the thick of the fighting of the morning, when Lee's left and center suffered so severely.
Burnside's delay at the bridge could not have been more fortunate for Lee if he had fixed its duration himself.
Had the Confederate left been attacked at the time appointed, the outcome of Antietam could scarcely have been other than a decisive victory for the Federals.
Even at the time when Burnside's tardy advance began, it must have prevailed against the weakened and wearied Confederates had not the fresh troops of A. P. Hill averted the disaster. |