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[345] deprived of nearly all their commanders, grouped at random to resume from behind the trees a musketry fire against the enemy. The artillery, that arm for which the volunteers of the North always displayed a peculiar aptitude, sustained the battle with great stubbornness; there was a moment when a single battery was sufficient to cover the whole of Hooker's centre. On the left, however, Green had not quitted his hold, but maintained himself in the woods, which extend from that side as far as Dunker Church. But the exhausted combatants on both sides were waiting for reinforcements to resume the offensive, for it appeared that the fate of the battle was to be decided within this narrow space of ground.

On the side of the Federals, Sumner had crossed the river at daybreak, following Hooker, and was marching rapidly, directing his course by the sound of the cannon. Lee had only left two divisions of Longstreet's corps—that is to say, from nine to ten thousand men—to guard the entire line of the Antietam, and he could not detach another man. Fortunately for him, McLaws, having outstripped Franklin, came to join him, after having twice crossed the Potomac, and this timely reinforcement was immediately directed upon Dunker Church.

Sumner, however, reached the field of battle before him, and the presence of the Second corps was likely to restore victory to the Federals. It was nine o'clock; the opportunity was favorable for attacking in front the positions of the Confederates on the Antietam, which Lee had stripped for the purpose of sending a portion of their defenders to the left. Porter with Morrell's force rejoined Sykes' division, and thus formed the centre of the Federal line, while Burnside with the Ninth corps, thirteen thousand strong, occupied the left. McClellan, who from a commanding point overlooked the whole front of his army on both sides of the Antietam, had as early as eight o'clock, just as Hood had resumed the offensive, despatched an order to Burnside directing him to commence the assault, carry the bridge and attack Longstreet on the other side. Unfortunately, Burnside, instead of conforming to this order by making a general attack, contented himself with sending Crook's small brigade against the defenders of the bridge. This movement was only supported by two regiments

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