come to the support of these forces the moment I was called upon.
I quickly rode off in search of my wagons that the men might prepare and cook their flour, as we were still without meat; unfortunately, the night was then far advanced, and although every effort was made in the darkness to get the wagons forward, dawn of the morning of the 17th broke upon us before many of the men had time to do more than prepare the dough.
Soon, thereafter, an officer of Lawton's staff dashed up to me, saying, ‘General Lawton sends his compliments, with the request that you come at once to his support.’
was instantly sounded, and quite a large number of my brave soldiers were again obliged to march to the front, leaving their uncooked rations in camp.
Not far distant in our front were drawn up, in close array, heavy columns of Federal infantry; not less than two corps were in sight to oppose my small command, numbering approximately two thousand effectives.
However, with the trusty Law on my right, in the edge of the wood, and the gallant Colonel Wafford in command of the Texas Brigade on the left, near the pike, we moved forward to the assault.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming odds of over ten to one against us, we drove the enemy from the wood and corn-field back upon his reserves, and forced him to abandon his guns on our left.
This most deadly combat raged till our last round of ammunition was expended.
The First Texas Regiment had lost in the corn-field fully two thirds of its number; and whole ranks of brave men, whose deeds were unrecorded save in the hearts of loved ones at home, were mowed down in heaps to the right and left.
Never before was I so continually troubled with fear that my horse would further injure some wounded fellowsoldier lying helpless upon the ground.
Our right flank, during this short but seemingly long space of time, was toward the main line of the Federals, and, after several ineffectual efforts to procure reenforcements and our last shot had been fired, I ordered my troops back to Dunkard church for the same reason which had previously compelled Lawton, Hays, and Trimble to retire (a want of cartridges). Upon the arrival of McLaw's division we marched to the rear, renewed our supply of ammunition, and returned to our position in the wood near the church, which ground we held till a late hour in the afternoon, when we moved somewhat farther to the right and bivouacked for the night.
With the close of this bloody day ceased the hardest-fought battle of the war.
The following account of Colonel Taylor
, in his Four Years with General Lee
, is more comprehensive, embracing the other forces besides Hood
On the afternoon of the 16th, General McClellan directed an attack by Hooker's corps on the Confederate left—Hood's two brigades—and during the whole of the 17th the battle was waged, with varying intensity, along the entire line.
When the issue was first joined, on the afternoon of the 16th, General Lee had with him less than eighteen thousand men, consisting of the commands of Longstreet and D. H. Hill, the two divisions of Jackson, and two brigades under Walker.
Couriers were sent to the rear to hurry up the divisions of A. P. Hill, Anderson, and McLaws, hastening from Harper's Ferry, and these several commands, as they reached the front at intervals during the day, on the 17th, were immediately deployed and put to work.
Every man was engaged.
We had no reserve.