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GEN. MANSFIELD KILLED.

191

stems the tide of rebel success. The two commands are massed together, and together resist the onslaughts of the enemy. There is as yet no fighting elsewhere. All the energy, skill and force of the respective commanders are, for the time being, centred on this point. Hither all eyes are turned. Ten o'clock finds the troops still fiercely engaged. Both Hooker and Mansfield are lost to them. Gen. McClellan soon arrives, inspiring the men by his presence. A few moments later Sumner comes up with his whole Corps to the relief of those who have been fighting for three hours.

His troops suffer severely. It was true he exposed .them—unnecessarily some thought—but no more than he exposed himself. Wherever the conflict waxed hottest, there he was to be seen riding to and fro, brandishing his sword and cheering forward his men, his head uncovered and his long silver locks streaming in the breeze. French, Richardson, Kimball and other brave spirits were with him, seconding his commands.

The gallant young Howard, who laid aside his ministerial robes to lose an arm at Fair Oaks Roads, leads Burn's old Brigade on a charge. Close by appears the intrepid Meagher, double-quicking his Irish braves through a field of corn, and the enemy, who have again commenced advancing, are checked. Our reserve artillery are now trained upon them, and

“ Like a plow in the fallow through them

Plow the Northern ball,” creating wide gaps and producing fearful carnage

192

A CRITICAL MOMENT.

in their ranks. But determined on breaking this part of our line, Gen. Lee continued to mass his forces here, and portions of Sumner's troops, weary and exhausted, began to recede.

It was now a most critical moment-Mansfield killed, Hooker wounded, Sedgwick, Richardson and Crawford carried bleeding from the field, — the enemy pressing on in overwhelming numbers,—our own troops giving way,—what should we have done had not Franklin arrived at this juncture from Pleasant Valley with two fresh Divisions ?

The force had left Pleasant Valley at daylight, and marched rapidly to the scene of action. The Third Brigade, with two others, immediately press-. ing forward, put the enemy to flight, and established the lines far in advance of where they had been at the opening of the fight. This brilliant success costus, however, many casualties. Fifty were killed and wounded in the Thirty-third alone; among the former was Sergeant-Major George W. Bassett, a brave and beloved officer. He was shot through the head, after bearing Lieut. Mix from the field, seriously wounded through the thigh. Captain Gifford and Lieutenant King were also wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Corning's horse was hit three times, and Major Platner's killed. The Thirty-third, and other Regiments of Franklin's Corps sent forward, held their position during the remainder of the contest. The fighting on the left did not commence until later in the day, and it was noon before the fire of musketry announced

m

GEN. BURNSIDE SENDS FOR REINFORCEMENTS. 193

that the infantry were engaged in that direction. The first advance was made down the stope of a hill, to a bridge which crossed the Antietam. Beyond the stream the enemy were so posted as to sweep the bridge with a severe musketry fire. After an hour or two of fighting for its possession, a charge was ordered, and the structure carried at the point of the bayonet.

Once across the creek, General Burnside found the rebels in a new position of great strength. Against this position he advanced at once, and Gens. Cox, Wilcox and Sturges soon occupied the hill. No sooner, however, had they appeared on the summit, than the opposing artillery rendered it untenable. They, therefore, relinquished it, but so planted their guns that the enemy could not reoccupy it.

The rebel infantry now appeared, as they had done earlier in the day, on the right, in overwhelming numbers, and attempted to drive back Burnside. Being sorely pressed he sent to Gen. McClellan for reinforcements. “Tell Burnside that I can furnish him no more troops.” (What was Porter doing all this time?) “But, General," answers the aid, “ Gen. Burnside is being crushed, and before I get back may be overpowered.” “Tell Gen. Burnside,” Gen. McClellan once more sternly replies, “ that he must maintain his position at all hazards and at whatever cost.” Lieut. French galloped back to his General with this verbal communication, and from that time the warm intimacy existing between McClellan and 194

.

WITHDRAWAL OF THE ENEMY.

Burnside—an intimacy which had sprung up when they were chums together in civil life—was ended. Gen. Burnside felt, and justly too, that some of the fresh and well trained troops belonging to Porter should have been sent to his assistance. He withstood the shock but a few moments, losing very heavily, and then withdrew from the extreme position which he had gained near Sharpsburg to one slightly in rear of it. He, however, held his bank of the river completely, and maintained much ground beyond it, which he had taken from the enemy.

Night closed upon the scene, preventing further operations, and our victorious troops slept on the battle-field.

A guard of three officers, nine Sergeants and thirty men from the Thirty-third were posted in front of the Regiment, and after dark moved forward to within a hundred yards of the enemy. Towards morning the officer of the guard informed Lieut. Col. Corning that the rebels were moving artillery back by hand. He immediately reported this to headquarters, and in the morning sent Lieut. Carter to Gen. Smith to announce to him in person that he had heard artillery moving to the rear, and perceived other indications of a retreat on the part of the

Burnside's position moving back to the river. The men were impatient to dash after them and end the war. Where was McClellan that he did not give orders to renew the conflict? No such orders came. About noon the Third Brigade was relieved by

GEN. M'CLELLAN CENSURED.

195

Cochrane’s of Couch's Division. The afternoon passed as had the forenoon, no offensive demonstrations being made by us. The rebels kept up a brisk fire from their skirmish line, which fact was, after our Peninsular experience, an additional evidence to us that they were retiring. About noon, on the following day (Friday), our skirmishers moved forward, and discovered that the enemy had all crossed to the Virginia side of the Potomac. The whole army was now put in motion and encamped near the bank of the river. Gen. McClellan has been severely censured for thus permitting the enemy to slip through his fingers, but he committed no

greater blunder than did Lee in afterwards allowing · Burnside to escape at Fredericksburg and Hooker

at Chancellorsville.

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