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[321] obstacle between the two lines of heights. Two roads, one to the north of the defile, called the Hagerstown road, the other south of it, known as the Sharpsburg road, ascend the eastern ridge in successive echelons, winding among rocky acclivities, wooded eminences, large pasture clearings, and thus allow the first section of the gorge to be avoided. But the key to the whole position is the hill situated at the north, for it commands equally both ridges, while any attack from the south renders it necessary to carry each in succession.

It was, however, from this side that the Federals, not being well informed, approached the enemy. General Cox's division, composed of Ohio troops, and called the Kanawha division, as coming from West Virginia, reached the ground between nine and ten o'clock. It was the head of Reno's corps. Hill's right, which defended the ridge south of the pass, only consisted of Garland's brigade; its numerical inferiority, however, was fully compensated by the defensive advantages of the ground it occupied. After a long and fruitless cannonade, Cox made a vigorous attack, trying his utmost to flank its right. The Federals climbed the bare acclivities under a sharp fire, and sustained severe losses. They reached the summit of the ridge on the Sharpsburg road, first on the left, then at the centre. Garland returned to the charge, disputing its possession with them. But he was killed, and his soldiers were driven in disorder into the valley which separates the two ridges. The second was then at the mercy of the Federals, for Hill had but very few troops to defend it; and if they had been able to follow up their success, the pass would then have fallen into their hands. But Cox was still alone upon the ground; his troops had suffered cruelly, and he paused to wait for reinforcements. He thus enabled Garland's soldiers to reform on the opposite ridge, allowing a portion of Longstreet's corps, which was coming up at a quick pace, time to reinforce Hill's division. The Confederates soon resumed the offensive; but their efforts against Cox proved unavailing.

About two o'clock, Reno, with his second division, under Wilcox, reached the field of battle. Hooker's corps followed closely; McClellan and Burnside directed the movements of their troops in person. Reno placed Wilcox on Cox's right, at the extremity

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