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[322] of the ridge, whence he commanded the depths of the defile, whilst, at the same time, McClellan ordered Hooker to proceed north of the road and attack with one of his divisions the enemy's left, which occupied the Hagerstown road, and the hill commanding the whole field of battle. But before the troops had time to take their positions the enemy renewed the conflict and violently attacked Wilcox's division, which was in the act of deploying. He opened fire at one hundred and fifty metres in so unexpected a manner that the Federal line was for a moment thrown into great disorder, and several of their guns were even abandoned by the gunners. But when the Confederates advanced to seize these guns, the Seventy-ninth New York and Seventeenth Michigan returned to the charge and overwhelmed them. This return movement was the more creditable to these two regiments, because the second was composed of soldiers who had only seen one month's service. Under favor of this success, Wilcox re-formed his division, and occupied the disputed ground, not without paying dear for its possession. In the mean time, Hooker had led Meade's division (formerly Reynolds') to meet the enemy; Hatch's division (formerly King's) formed on his left; that of Ricketts, which followed at a distance, would extend, if necessary, to the extreme right. It was four o'clock. McClellan gave the signal for a general attack. The whole line was put in motion, but it met with a vigorous resistance, for Longstreet had arrived with a portion of his army corps, and was determined at all hazards to prevent the assailants from debouching to the west of South Mountain before Harper's Ferry should surrender, and before Lee should have time to unite his divided army. The Federals, however, being more numerous, full of ardor and skilfully handled, were soon successful at every point. On the left the main effort was made by Wilcox's division, which carried the slopes above the turnpike; it was supported by the division of Sturgis, and later by that of Rodman, both belonging to Reno's corps. The success of the Unionists on this side, however, was not decisive, for they were not yet masters of the second ridge, at the foot of which they were still fighting at the approach of night. But the ground they had gained north of the battle-field had given them control of the pass. In fact, Meade on the right and Hatch on

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