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1 While at Sharpsburg on this occasion, I rode over the ground on which the battle of Sharpsburg or Antietam, as it is called by the enemy, was fought, and I was surprised to see how few traces of that great battle remained. In the woods at the famous Dunkard or Tunker Church, where, from personal observation at the battle, I expected to find the trees terribly broken and battered, a stranger would find diffi- culty in identifying the marks of the bullets and shells.I will take occasion here to say that the public, North or South, has never known how small was the force with which General Lee fought that battle. From personal observation and conversation with other officers engaged, including General Lee himself, I am satisfied that the latter was not able to carry 30,000 men into action. The exhaustion of our men, in the battles around Richmond, the subsequent battles near Manassas, and on the march to Maryland, when they were for days without anything to eat except green corn, was so great, that the straggling was frightful before we crossed the Potomac. As an instance of our weakness, and a reminiscence worthy of being recorded, which was brought forcibly to my mind while riding over the ground, I state the following facts; in the early part of the day, all of General Jackson's troops on the field except my brigade (A. P. Hill had not then arrived from Harper's Ferry) were driven from the field in great disorder, and Hood had taken their place with his division. My brigade, which was on the extreme left, supporting some artillery with which Stuart was operating, and had not been engaged, was sent for by General Jackson and posted in the left of the woods at the Dunkard Church. Hood was also forced back, and then the enemy advanced to this woods-Sumner's corps, which was fresh, advancing on our left flank. My brigade, then numbering about 1000 men for duty, with two or three hundred men of Jackson's own division, who had been rallied by Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, and with an interval of at least one-half a mile between us and any other part of our line, held Sumner-s corps in check for some time, until Green's division, of Mansfield's corps, penetrated into the in- terval in the woods between us and the rest of our line, and I was compelled to move by the flank and attack it. That division was driven out of the woods by my brigade, while Grigsby and Stafford skirmished with Sumner's advancing force, when we turned on it, and with the aid of three brigades — to wit: Anderson's, Semmes' and Barksdale's- which had just arrived to our assistance, drove it from the woods in great confusion and with heavy loss. So great was the disparity in the forces at this point that the wounded officers who were captured were greatly mortified, and commenced making excuses by stating that the troops in their front were raw troops who stampeded and pro- duced confusion in their ranks. McClellan, in his report, states that Sumner's corps and Green's division encountered in this woods “over- whelming numbers behind breastworks,” and he assigns the heavy losses and consequent demoralization in Sumner's corps as one of the reasons for not renewing the fight on the 18th. We had no breastworks or anything like them in that woods on the 17th, and, on our part, it was a stand up fight there altogether. The slight breastworks subsequently seen by McClellan were made on the 18th, when we were expecting a renewal of the battle.
2 For this act I, alone, am responsible, as the officers engaged in it were simply executing my orders, and had no discretion left them. Notwithstanding the lapse of time which has occurred and the result of the war, I see no reason to regret my conduct on this occasion.
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