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[348] thick smoke which enveloped the combatants; but it soon found itself exposed to a concentric fire, and was obliged to retire in haste to avoid being captured. The retreating Federals crossed once more the large clearing, which had already been watered with so much blood. But McLaws, who wished to pursue them, was received by an artillery fire which compelled him to halt in turn.

In the mean while, the combat had extended along the line. In order to avert the disaster which menaced Sedgwick, Sumner had ordered his two other divisions to hurry on, to form upon his left, and to attack the enemy without delay. But these divisions were marching at great intervals. If French and Richardson had appeared on the field of battle at the same time as Sedgwick, they would have turned his first success into a decisive victory; now they could only prevent his defeat. French was marching in three columns, the left formed by Max Weber's brigade, the centre by Morris' new recruits, the right by Kimball's brigade. Having reached the cross-road leading to Dunker Church, near which Green had just been repulsed, he made each of them wheel to the left in line of battle; and thus formed in three lines, he passed round the extremity of the wood to the east to attack the right of McLaws. The first line advanced boldly; but while it was gaining ground the second was exposed to an enfilading fire, proceeding from the wood, which threw the inexperienced soldiers of Morris into confusion. Kimball proceeded past them and deployed on Weber's left. Richardson arrived immediately after French, and extended his line still more to the left with Meagher's Irish brigade, supported at a short distance by those of Caldwell and Brooks.

The ground upon which these two divisions were about to fight was interspersed with natural and artificial obstacles. It is intersected by the hollow way which, as we have already said, connected the cross-road coming from Dunker Church with the Sharpsburg and Keedysville road. To the north-east of this hollow way—that is to say, nearer the Federals—stood the Roulette farm, surrounded by cultivated fields; on the other side, within a few hundred metres of the Hagerstown pike, and nearer Sharpsburg than Dunker Church, was Doctor Piper's house. This house, strongly built, was situated on a commanding position,

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