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[284]

On the 18th our forces occupied the position of the preceding day, except in the center, where our line was drawn in about two hundred yards. Our ranks were increased by the arrival of a number of troops who had not been engaged the day before, and, though still too weak to assume the offensive, Lee waited without apprehension a renewal of the attack. The day passed without any hostile demonstration. During the night of the 18th our army was withdrawn to the south side of the Potomac, crossing near Shepardstown, without loss or molestation. The enemy advanced on the next morning, but was held in check by General Fitzhugh Lee with his cavalry. The condition of our troops now demanded repose, and the army marched to the Opequon, near Martinsburg, where it remained several days, and then moved to the vicinity of Bunker Hill and Winchester. General McClellan seemed to be concentrating in and near Harpers Ferry, but made no forward movement.

The contest on our left in this battle was the most violent. This and the deprivation of our men are very forcibly shown in the following account of Major General Hood:1

On the morning of the 15th my forces were again in motion. My troops at this period were sorely in need of shoes, clothing, and food. We had had issued to us no meat for several days, and little or no bread; the men had been forced to subsist principally on green corn and green apples. Nevertheless, they were in high spirits and defiant as we contended with the advanced guard of McClellan on the 15th and forenoon of the 16th. During the afternoon of this day I was ordered, after great fatigue and hunger endured by my soldiers, to take position near the Hagerstown turnpike, in open field in front of the Dunkard church. General Hooker's corps crossed the Antietam, swung round with its front on the pike, and about an hour before sunset encountered my division. I had stationed one or two batteries on a hillock in a meadow, near the edge of a corn-field, and just by the pike. The Texas Brigade had been disposed on the left, and that of Law on the right. We opened fire, and a spirited action ensued, which lasted till a late hour in the night. When the firing had in a great measure ceased, we were so close to the enemy that we could distinctly hear him massing his heavy bodies in our immediate front.

The extreme suffering of my troops for want of food induced me to ride back to General Lee, and request him to send two or more brigades to our relief, at least for the night, in order that the soldiers might have a chance to cook their meager rations. He said that he would cheerfully do so, but he knew of no command that could be spared for the purpose; he, however, suggested that I should see General Jackson, and endeavor to obtain assistance from him. After riding a long time in search of the latter, I finally discovered him alone, lying upon the ground asleep by the root of a tree. I aroused him, and made known the halfstarved condition of my troops; he immediately ordered Lawton's, Trimble's, and Hays's brigade to our relief. He exacted of me, however, a promise that I would

1 Advance and Retreat, by J. B. Hood, p. 41.

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