Rebel reports and narratives.
Charleston courier account.
September 17, 1862.With the first break of daylight the heavy pounding of the enemy's guns on their right announced the battle begun, and for an hour the sullen booming was uninterrupted by aught save their own echoes. McClellan had initiated the attack. Jackson and Lawton, (commanding Ewell's division,) always in time, had come rapidly forward during the night, and were in position on our extreme left. What a strange strength and confidence we all felt in the presence of the man, “Stonewall” Jackson. Between six and seven o'clock the Federals advanced a large body of skirmishers, and shortly after the main body of the enemy was hurled against the division of Gen. Lawton. The fire now became fearful and incessant. What were at first distinct notes, clear and consecutive, merged into a tumultuous chorus that made the earth tremble. The discharge of musketry sounded upon the ear like the rolling of a thousand distant drums, and ever and anon the peculiar yells of our boys told us of some advantage gained. We who were upon the centre could see little or nothing of this portion of the battle, but from the dense pall of smoke that hung above the scene, we knew too well that bloody work was going on. The Federals outnumbered us three to one. Their best troops were concentrated upon this single effort to turn our left, and for two hours and a half the tide of battle ebbed and flowed alternately for and against us. Still our boys fought desperately, perhaps as they never fought before. Whole brigades were swept away before the iron storm; the ground was covered with the wounded and dead. Ewell's old division, overpowered  by superior numbers, gave back. Hood with his Texans, the Eighteenth Georgia and the Hampton Legion rushed into the gap and retrieved the loss. Ewell's men rallying on this support, returned to the fight, and adding their, weight to that of the fresh enthusiastic troops, the enemy in turn were driven back. Reenforced, they made another desperate effort on the extreme left, and here again was a repetition of the scenes I have described. For a time they flanked us, and our men retired slowly, fighting over every inch of ground. It was a trying hour. The Federals saw their advantage, and pressed it with vigor. Eight batteries were in full play upon us, and the din of heavy guns, whistling and bursting of shells, and the roar of musketry were almost deafening. At this juncture, Lee ordered to the support of Jackson the division of Gen. McLaws, which had been held in reserve. And blessing never came more opportunely. Our men had fought until not only they but their ammunition were well-nigh exhausted, and discomfiture stared them in the face. But thus encouraged, every man rallied, and the fight was redoubled in its intensity. Splendidly handled, the reinforcements swept on like a wave, its billows falling thick and fast upon the audacious column that had so stubbornly forced their way to the position on which we originally commenced the battle. Half an hour later and the enemy were retreating. At one point we pursued for nearly a mile, and last night a portion of our troops on the left slept on Yankee ground. The success, though not decisive, as compared with our usual results, was complete as it was possible to make it, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the battle and the topography of the country. Certain it is that after the cessation of the fight at half-past 10 o'clock, the Yankees did not renew it again at this point during the day. They had been defeated, and all they could do thereafter was to prevent us from repeating in turn the experiment which they had attempted on our line. It was, beyond all doubt, the most hotly contested field on which a battle has taken place during the war. Soon after the cessation of the fight upon the left, the enemy made a strong demonstration upon our centre, in front of the division of Gen. D. H. Hill. Here, for a while, the contest was carried on mainly by artillery, with which both the enemy and ourselves were abundantly supplied. The only difference between the two, if any at all, was in the superiority of their metal and positions, and on our part the lack of sufficient ammunition. Battery after battery was sent to the rear exhausted, and our ordnance wagons, until late in the day, were on the opposite side of the Potomac, blocked up by the long commissary trains which had been ordered forward from Martinsburgh and Shepherdstown to relieve the necessities of the army. As indicated in the former part of this letter, our artillery was posted on the summits of the line of hills which ran from right to left in front of the town. That of the enemy, with one exception, was on the rising ground at the base of the Blue Ridge, and upon the various eminences this side. A single Federal battery was boldly thrown over the stone bridge on the turnpike, nine hundred or a thousand yards in our front, and held its position until disabled, with a hardihood worthy of a better cause. I cannot now name all the positions of the different batteries — only those which I saw. Altogether, we may have had playing at this time one hundred guns. The enemy having at least an equal number, you may imagine what a horrid concert filled the air, and how unremitting was the hail of heavy balls and shells, now tearing their way through the trees, now bursting and throwing their murderous fragments on every side, and again burying themselves amid a cloud of dust in the earth, always where they were least expected. This exchange of iron compliments had been kept up from early morning, but at eleven o'clock the fire began to concentrate and increase in severity. Columns of the enemy could be distinctly seen across the Antietam, on the open ground beyond, moving as if in preparation to advance. Others were so far in the distance that you could recognize them as troops only by the sunlight that gleamed upon their arms, while considerable numbers were within cannon-shot, defiantly flaunting their flags in our faces. At twelve o'clock the scene from the apex of the turnpike was truly magnificent, and the eye embraced a picture such as falls to the lot of few men to look upon in this age. From twenty different stand-points great volumes of smoke were every instant leaping from the muzzles of angry guns. The air was filled with the white fantastic shapes that floated away from bursted shells. Men were leaping to and fro, loading, firing, and handling the artillery, and now and then a hearty yell would reach the ear amid the tumult that spoke of death or disaster from some well-aimed ball. Before us were the enemy. A regiment or two had crossed the river, and, running in squads from the woods along its banks, were trying to form a line. Suddenly a shell falls among them, and another and another, until the thousands scatter like a swarm of flies, and disappear in the woods. A second time the effort is made, and there is a second failure. Then there is a diversion. The batteries of the Federals open afresh; their infantry try another point, and finally they succeed in effecting a lodgment on this side. Our troops, under D. H. Hill, meet them, and a fierce battle ensues in the centre. Backward, forward, surging and swaying like a ship in a storm, the various columns are seen in motion. It is a hot place for us, but is hotter still for the enemy. They are directly under our guns, and we mow them down like grass. The raw levies, sustained by the veterans behind, come up to the work well, and fight for a short time with an excitement incident to their novel experiences of a battle; but soon a portion of their line gives way in confusion. Their reserves come up, and endeavor to retrieve the fortunes  of the day. Our centre, however, stands as firm as adamant, and they fall back. Pursuit on our part is useless, for if we drove the enemy at all on the other side of the river, it would be against the side of the mountain, where one man, fighting for his life and liberty, disciplined or undisciplined, would be equal to a dozen. Meanwhile deadly work has been going on among our artillery. Whatever they may have made others suffer, nearly all the companies have suffered severely themselves. The great balls and shells of the enemy have been thrown with wonderful accuracy, and dead and wounded men, horses and disabled caissons are visible in every battery. The instructions from Gen. Lee are that there shall be no more artillery duels. Instead, therefore, of endeavoring to silence the enemy's guns, Col. Walton directs his artillery to receive the fire of their antagonists quietly, and deliver their own against the Federal infantry. The wisdom of the order is apparent at every shot, for with the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, they might have defeated us at the outset, but for the powerful and well-directed adjuncts we possessed in our heavy guns. Time and again did the Federals perseveringly press close up to our ranks, so near, indeed, that their supporting batteries had to cease firing lest they should kill their own men, but just as often were they driven back by the combined elements of destruction which we brought to bear upon them. It was an hour when every man was wanted. The sharp-shooters of the enemy were picking off our principal officers continually, and especially those who made themselves conspicuous in the batteries. In this manner the company of Captain Miller, of the Washington artillery, was nearly disabled, only two out of his four guns being fully manned. As it occupied a position directly under the eye of Gen. Longstreet, and he saw the valuable part it was performing in defending, the centre, that officer dismounted himself from his horse, and assisted by his Adjutant-General, Major Sorrel, Major Fairfax and General Drayton, worked one of the guns until the crisis was passed. To see a general officer wielding the destinies of a great fight, with its care and responsibilities upon his shoulders, performing the duty of a common soldier, in the thickest of the conflict, is a picture worthy the pencil of an artist. The result of this battle, though at one time doubtful, was finally decisive. The enemy were driven across the river with a slaughter that was terrible. A Federal officer who was wounded, and afterward taken prisoner, observed to one of our officers that he could count almost the whole of his regiment on the ground around him. I did not go over the field, but a gentleman who did, and who has been an actor in all our battles, informed me that he never, even upon the bloody field of Manassas, saw so many dead men before. The ground was black with them, and, according to his estimate, the Federals had lost eight to our one. Happily, though our casualties are very considerable, most of them are in wounds. There now ensued a silence of two hours, broken only by the occasional discharges of artillery. It was a sort of breathing time, when the panting combatants, exhausted by the battle, stood silently eyeing each other, and making ready — the one to strike, and the other to ward off, another staggering blow. It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon, but notwithstanding the strange lull in the storm, no one believed it would not be renewed before night. Intelligence has come from the rear that General A. P. Hill was advancing from Harper's Ferry with the force which Jackson had left behind, and every eye was turned anxiously in that direction. In a little while we saw some of his troops moving cautiously, under cover of the woods and hills, to the front, and in an hour more he was in position on the right. Here, about four o'clock, the enemy had made another bold demonstration. Fifteen thousand of their troops in one mass had charged our lines, and after vainly resisting them, we were slowly giving back before superior numbers. Our total force here was less than six thousand men; and had it not been for the admirably planted artillery, under command of Major Garnett, nothing, until the arrival of reenforcements, could have prevented an irretrievable defeat. I know less of this position of the field than any other, but from those who were engaged I heard glowing accounts of the excellent behavior of Jenkins's brigade, and the Second and Twentieth Georgia, the latter under the command of Col. Cummings. The last two regiments have been especial subjects of comment, because of the splendid manner in which they successively met and defeated seven regiments of the enemy, who advanced across a bridge, and were endeavoring to secure a position on this side of the river. They fought until they were cut to pieces, and then retreated only because they had fired their last round. It was at this juncture that the immense Yankee force crossed the river, and made the dash against our line which well-nigh proved a success. The timely arrival of Gen. A. P. Hill, however, with fresh troops, entirely changed the fortune of the day, and, after an obstinate contest, which lasted from five o'clock until dark, the enemy were driven into and across the river with great loss. During this fight the Federals had succeeded in flanking and capturing a battery belonging, as I learn, to the brigade of General Toombs. Instantly dismounting from his horse and placing himself at the head of his command, the General, in his effective way, briefly told them that the battery must be retaken if it cost the life of every man in his brigade, and then ordered them to follow him. Follow him they did into what seemed the very jaws of destruction, and after a short but fierce struggle they had the satisfaction of capturing the prize and restoring it to its original possessors. Throughout the day there occurred many instances of personal valor and heroic sacrifice, on the part of both officers and men; but, at this  early hour, it is impossible to gather, from crude statements, those truthful narratives which ought to adorn the page of history. The results of the battle may be briefly summed up. Judged by all the rules of warfare, it was a victory to our arms. If we failed to rout the enemy, it was only because the nature of the ground prevented him from running. Wherever we whipped him, we either drove him against his own masses on the right, left and centre, or into the mountains; and against the latter position it would have been impossible to operate successfully. Nowhere did he gain any permanent advantage over the confederates. Varying as may have been the successes of the day, they left us intact, unbroken, and equal masters of the field with our antagonist. Last night, we were inclined to believe it was a drawn battle, and the impression generally obtained among the men that, because they had not, in their usual style, got the enemy to running, they had gained no advantage; but to-day the real facts are coming to light, and we feel that we have indeed, achieved another victory. Twenty thousand additional men could not, under the circumstances, have made it more complete. We took a few prisoners, not more than six or seven hundred in all. The Federals fought well and were handled in a masterly manner, but their losses have been immense — probably not less than twenty thousand killed and wounded. They had the advantage, not only of numbers, but of a position from which they could assume an offensive or defensive attitude at will, besides which, their signal-stations on the Blue Ridge commanded a view of our every movement. We could not make a manoeuvre in front or rear that was not instantly revealed to their keen look-outs, and as soon as the intelligence could be communicated to their batteries below, shot and shell were launched against the moving columns. It was this information, conveyed by the little flags upon the mountain-top, that no doubt enabled the enemy to concentrate his force against our weakest points and counteract the effect of whatever similar movements may have been attempted by us. Our loss is variously estimated at from five to nine thousand.
Savannah Republican account.
Sharpsburgh, September 17, 9 P. M.A bloody battle has been fought to day. It commenced at daylight and lasted until eight o'clock at night--fourteen hours. The enemy made the attack, and gained some advantage early in the day on the left, and subsequently the right, but was finally repulsed with great slaughter. Our own losses have been heavy, including many officers of worth and position. For the present I can only mention the following: Killed: Brigadier-Generals Starke and Branch; Colonel Douglas, of the Thirteenth Georgia, commanding brigade; Colonel Homes, of the Second Georgia; Colonel Milligan, of the Fifteenth Georgia; Colonel S. B. Smith, of the Twenty-seventh Georgia; Colonel Newton, of the Sixth Georgia; Captain Nesbit, commanding Third Georgia, and Lieutenant-Colonel Barclay, of the Twenty-third Georgia, (reported killed;) Major T. S. McIntosh, of General McLaw's staff, and Lieutenant S. B. Parkman, of Read's Georgia battery. Also, Col. Strong, Captains Ritchie and Calloway, and Lieutenants Little and Lynne of the Sixth Louisiana, and Captain McFarland and Lieutenant Newman, of the Seventh Louisiana. Wounded: Major-General Anderson, of South-Carolina; Brigadier-General Anderson, of North-Carolina; General Lawton, of Georgia, in leg; General Wright, of Georgia, in leg; General Ripley, of South-Carolina, in throat; Colonel Duncan McRea, who succeeded Ripley in command, slightly; Colonel Magill, of Georgia regulars, lost an arm; Majors Sorrell and Walton, of Longstreet's staff; Colonel Gordon and Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot, of the Sixth Alabama, Captain Reedy, of the Third Alabama, (wounded and missing at Boonesboro Gap;) Colonel Alfred Cumming, of the Tenth Georgia; Major Tracy, badly, and Captain Watson, of the Sixth Georgia; Lieutenant-Colonel Sloan, of the Fifty-third Georgia; Colonel Jones, of the Twenty-second Georgia; Lieutenant-Colonel Crowder, badly, of the Thirty-first Georgia; Major Lewis, Captains Harney and St. Martin, and Lieutenants Murphy, Cook, Current, Dea, Montgomery, Bryant, Wren, Birdsall, and McJimsey, of the Eighth Louisiana; Colonel Penn, Captains Frank Clark and O'Connor, and Lieutenants Smith, Orr and Martin, of the Sixth Louisiana; Captains Herrin, Morgan and Harper, and Lieutenants Knox, Tarpey, Flower, Talbot, and Wells, of the Seventh Louisiana; Major Menger, Captain Hart and Lieut. Patterson, of the Fifth Louisiana; Colonel Hately, Lieutenant-Colonel T. B. Lamar, Sergeant-Major Anderson, of the Fifth Florida; Captain Gregory, and privates Hagin, Henry, Bryant, Parker, Strickland, Bateman, Yon, Barnett, Dillard and Martin, of company H, of the same regiment; S. B. Barnwell, Color-Sergeant of Oglethope light infantry, Fifth Georgia, about knee, and leg amputated; Captains Caracker and Carey, and Lieutenants Macon, Guy and Hubert, of Fourth Georgia; Major Randolph Whitehead, of Forty-eighth Georgia; Captain Charles Whitehead, of General Wright's staff; Major Harris, of Twentieth Georgia; and Colonel William Smith, (late Governor, and known as Extra Billy Smith,) of Virginia, badly. Gens. Lawton's and Wright's wounds, though severe, are not considered dangerous. The same may be said of Colonel Gordon's and Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot's of Sixth Alabama; Major-General Anderson's, Brigadier-General Anderson's, and Brigadier-General Ripley's. I have omitted to mention, in the proper place, that Major Robert S. Smith and Lieutenant Lewis Cobb, of the Fourth Georgia, were killed; also, Lieutenants Underwood and Cleveland, of the Eighteenth Georgia. Captains George Maddox and Crawford, Lieutenants Callahan and Williams,  and Sergeant McMurray, (the latter mortally,) of the same regiment, were wounded. Private Slade, of the Second Georgia, killed. This list imperfect, perhaps, limited as it is, and comprises only such names as I have been able to gather up during the progress of the fight. My arrangements have all been made to procure full, as far as possible, correct lists of the killed and wounded, provided the army should not move immediately. But I cannot say more at this time. This brief and hastily written note is designed to be the forerunner only of my account of the battle, and is sent now because an opportunity is offered to forward it to the post-office at Winchester. I will only add, that the timely appearance of McLaws on the left, about nine o'clock in the morning, saved the day on that part of the field, and that to Toombs we are indebted for saving it in the afternoon on the right. Both charges were brilliantly successful. A. P. Hill got up at two P. M., and went in at four, and contributed largely to the success of the day. Nearly all the troops behaved with great spirit. Again I say — and with this remark I conclude this note — the prospect is, we shall have to return to Virginia.
P. W. A.
Richmond Inquirer account.
Richmond, September 23.We have received authentic particulars of the sanguinary battle at Sharpsburgh alluded to elsewhere, and concerning which so many painful rumors were afloat on yesterday. We have the gratification of being able to announce that the battle resulted in one of the most complete victories that has yet immortalized the confederate arms. The ball was opened on Tuesday evening about six o'clock, all of our available force, about sixty thousand strong, commanded by General Robert E. Lee in person, and the enemy about one hundred and fifty thousand strong, commanded by Gen. McClellan in person, being engaged. The position of our army was upon a range of hills, forming a semi-circle, with the concave towards the enemy; the latter occupying a less commanding position opposite, their extreme right resting upon a height commanding our extreme left. The arrangement of our line was as follows: Gen. Jackson on the extreme left, Gen. Longstreet in the centre, and Gen. A. P. Hill on the extreme right. The fight on Tuesday evening was kept up until nine o'clock at night, when it subsided into spasmodic skirmishes along the line. Wednesday morning it was renewed by Gen. Jackson, and gradually became general. Both armies maintained their respective positions, and fought desperately throughout the entire day. During this battle Sharpsburgh was fired by the enemy's shells, and at one time the enemy obtained a position which enabled them to pour a flanking fire upon a portion of our left wing, causing it to waver. At this moment Gen. Stark, of Mississippi, who had command of Gen. Jackson's division, galloped to the front of his brigade, and seizing the standard, rallied them forward. No sooner did the gallant General thus throw himself in the van than four bullets pierced his body, and he fell dead amidst his men. The effect, instead of discouraging, fired them with determination and revenge, and they dashed forward, drove the enemy back, and kept them from the position during the rest of the day. It being evident that the “Young Napoleon,” finding he could not force his way through the invincible ranks of our army in that direction, had determined upon a flank movement towards Harper's Ferry, and thus obtain a position in our rear. General Lee, with steady foresight, anticipated the movement by drawing the main body of his army back on the south side of the Potomac, at Shepherdstown, Va., whence he will, of course, project the necessary combinations for again defeating his adversary. The enemy's artillery was served with disastrous effect upon our gallant troops; but they replied from musket, howitzer, and cannon with a rapidity and will that carried havoc amidst the opposing ranks. The battle was one of the most severe that has been fought since the opening of the war. Many of our brave men fell. At dark the firing ceased, and in the morning (Thursday) our army were ready to recommence the engagement, the enemy having been forced back the evening before, and the advantage of the battle being still on our side. Firing was consequently opened upon the new position supposed to be held by the enemy, but no reply was obtained, and it was then discovered that he had disappeared entirely from the field, leaving many of his dead and wounded in our hands, and about three hundred prisoners. The report current on yesterday that a truce occurred on Thursday for the burial of the dead was unfounded. The prisoners stated that their force was more than a hundred thousand strong, and that McClellan commanded the army in person. Our loss is estimated at five thousand in killed, wounded and missing. The prisoners state that their ranks were greatly decimated, and that the slaughter was terrible, from which we may infer that the enemy's loss was fully as great, if not greater, than our own. The following is a list of commanding officers killed and wounded in the engagement: Gen. Stark, of Mississippi, commanding Jackson's division, killed. Brig.-Gen. Branch, of North-Carolina, killed. Brig.-Gen. R. H. Anderson, wounded in hip, not dangerously. Brig.-Gen. Wright, of Georgia, flesh wounds in breast and leg. Brig.-Gen. Lawton, in leg. Brig.-Gen. Armistead, in the foot. Brig.-Gen. Ripley, in neck, not dangerously. Brig.-Gen. Ransome, of North-Carolina, slightly. Col. Alfred Cummings, in command of Wilcox's brigade, slightly.