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Colonel Moore, of the 30th Ohio, who led the charge. General Burnside's reception was especially enthusiastic. The people crowded around him, covered his horse and himself with flowers, saluted him with cheers and shouts of welcome and manifested their joy in every method of demonstration. General McClellan's reception, at a later hour, was equally cordial and demonstrative. The citizens of Frederick felt as though they had been delivered from a great affliction, and the Army of the Potomac had the opportunity of enjoying a new sensation. But there was little time for congratulations, and the army pressed forward upon the heels of the now retreating enemy.
General Lee, deciding not to defend the line of the Monocacy, retired through the passes of the South Mountain. But he had also determined, before quitting Maryland altogether, to strike a blow at Harper's Ferry. General McClellan's left flank had been drawn away from the river and was approaching the centre. General Lee, in leaving Frederick, after crossing the Kittoctan range, divided his army, sending General Jackson to Sharpsburg, across the Potomac to Martinsburg and thence to Harper's Ferry, General McLaws directly to Maryland Heights to attempt the capture of Harper's Ferry itself, and General Walker with a division across the Potomac to Loudon Heights. Generals Longstreet and D. H. Hill were halted at Boonesboro', and held that place and the passes of the South Mountain range in the vicinity. The portions detached were to return after accomplishing the tasks committed to them and join the main body in the neighborhood of Boonesboro', or, if that was impracticable, somewhere behind Antietam Creek. General Jackson, with his accustomed vigor, performed his allotted work so well as to compel the surrender of Harper's Ferry on the 15th, with its garrison, arms and stores.
Had Colonel Miles, in command at Harper's Ferry, been able to hold out a few hours longer, he would have been relieved by General Franklin, who with his corps supported by General Couch's division, had carried Crampton's Gap on the
14th, after a severe engagement, and bivouacked on the same night within six miles of the beleagured post. But on the next day, the enemy formed between General Franklin and the Potomac in line of battle, greatly outnumbering our forces and preventing any further progress in that direction. The loss of Harper's Ferry was very serious and effected considerable derangement in the movements of our troops. Whether the post could have been promptly relieved and saved is a question which it is not designed here to discuss. General McClellan wished Colonel Miles to evacuate the position as early as the 10th. But General Halleck thought otherwise and the post was held and lost. A large number of prisoners and a great amount of property were captured by the enemy.
While the left wing was thus making its way painfully and slowly to Burkettsville, the main body of the army, having closed up its centre and joined it with the right, moved on the line of the retreating enemy, and the advance under General Reno bivouacked at Middletown on the night of the 13th. The enemy, under General Longstreeet, was disposed to dispute the passage of the mountain, and General Pleasonton's cavalry, which had been skirmishing through the day on the 13th, found the enemy in force at Turner's Gap. It became evident that a severe engagement must be fought before our forces could cross the mountain. General Burnside with his two corps hurried to the scene of the impending action, and on the morning of the 14th prepared to deliver battle. The Ninth Corps was now large and in admirably fighting trim. It was organized in four divisions, under command respectively of Generals Willcox, Sturgis, Rodman and Cox. As General Reno was in command of the Corps, his division had been assigned to General Sturgis. General Stevens's death had placed General Willcox fn command. General Parke had been appointed Chief of Staff to General Burnside and his division was placed in charge of General Rodman-well remembered in the corps as the commander of the 4th Rhode Island regiment. He had taken the command at Fredericksburg about
the middle of August. General Cox's division, which had belonged to the Western Virginia army, had been in the campaign with General Pope, and was now assigned to the Ninth Corps. It was known in the army as the "Kanawha Division."
The position which General Lee had determined to defend was naturally very strong, and he doubtless expected to hold General McClellan's army in check sufficiently long to enable his detachments to return and rejoin the main body. The South Mountain rises between the villages of Middletown and Boonesboro', and through Turner's Gap runs the turnpike road from Frederick to Hagerstown. Near the summit a road comes in upon the turnpike from the northerly side, called the "old Hagerstown road." Another road, called the "old Sharpsburg road," runs about half a mile distant from the turnpike on the left or southerly side, and nearly parallel to it as far as the crest, when it bends off to the left. They are both common country roads. On the turnpike, pleasantly situated near the crest of the mountain, stands a comfortable-looking inn, the Mountain House. The place is one of great natural beauty, and the view from the summit commands a wide and most picturesque landscape-the mountains of the Blue Ridge rising in graceful outline upon the western horizon. The road from Middletown winds up the mountain slope with a gentle ascent, and is commanded at several points on either side by the irregular summits of the mountain crest. Tracts of forest land, amid the trees of which companies of sharpshooters could find ready concealment, stretch along the sides of the mountain. Altogether it was a difficult place to carry. The enemy was in force on the three roads leading to the summit. But very little artillery could be brought into action for attack, and the contest must mainly be decided by infantry. General Burnside had marched over the mountain, while in command of the First Rhode Island regiment in the summer of 1861, and had then noted its military capabilities.
General Pleasonton, in his reconnaissance, succeeded early
in the morning of the 14th in placing Benjamin's battery of the Ninth corps in position on high ground left of the turnpike, and brought a well-directed fire to bear upon the enemy posted in the Gap. The first infantry to arrive on the field was General Cox's division, the first brigade of which reached the scene of action at nine o'clock, and marched up the old Sharpsburg road. It was immediately followed by the other brigade, the remainder of the corps, with the exception of General Sturgis's division, coming up early in the day. Of the Kanawha division Colonel Scammon's brigade, which had already done remarkably good service in the recent campaign, was in advance. It was deployed on the left side of the road among the brush, and, well covered by skirmishers, forced its way up the slope in despite of all obstacles. It first came into conflict with General Garland's brigade of the enemy's troops, whose commander was killed at the opening of the action. It gained the crest, notwithstanding the vigorous attempts of the enemy to check its career and the destructive fire of a battery which poured in canister and case shot upon its right flank.
General Crook's brigade followed in columns at supporting distance. A section of artillery was brought up with great difficulty, but was soon silenced by the enemy's infantry, with the loss of its commander Lieutenant Croome. Another section was brought up about two-thirds of the way and succeeded in maintaining its position. The troops of General Cox's division heroically maintained the position which they had won, and repeatedly repulsed the enemy, who endeavored to drive them away. General Willcox's division was sent up the same road and took a position upon its right commanding the turnpike. Two regiments were ordered up to the crest to support General Cox. A section of Cook's battery was brought into action near the turn of the road. But these dispositions were not made without great efforts on the part of the enemy to prevent them. At the moment of deploying the division, the enemy opened a very severe fire at short range enfilading the road, driving off Cook's cannoneers and throwing the line into
a temporary confusion. Two regiments, the 79th New York and the 17th Michigan — a new regiment scarcely three weeks in the service, under the command of Colonel William H. Withington-rallied, changed front under a galling fire, moved forward in the most gallant manner and saved the guns. Order and confidence were soon restored by this timely movement, and the division deployed on the right of General Cox's division. The 17th Michigan was especially conspicuous on that day and won for itself great renown, by its steadiness under fire and its daring in the charge. It came out of the battle with a loss of twenty-seven killed and one hundred and fourteen wounded a worthy attestation of its prowess. The 35th Massachusetts was also particularly distinguished for the bravery with which it entered into the battle and the steadiness with which it fought. It had but recently arrived at the seat of war and was thus early called to receive its baptism of blood. Its Colonel Edward A. Wild was very badly wounded, losing his right arm from the shoulder. The 45th Pennsylvania is mentioned by General Willcox in terms of high commendation, and the old regiments of Colonel Ferrero's brigade added new lustre to their well-won fame. The enemy was still stubbornly contesting our advance, but so fiercely was he pressed that he was obliged to draw reënforcements from the main body at Boonesboro'. General Longstreet came up and assisted General Hill in holding his position. Still our men were fighting bravely, and the entire aspect of affairs promised victory. The two divisions of Generals Cox and Willcox were promptly supported by Generals Rodman and Sturgis, with their entire commands with the exception of two regiments of the latterthe 2d Maryland and 6th New Hampshire - which were held in reserve upon or near the turnpike. General Rodman supported the extreme left with Colonel Fairchild's brigade, and with Colonel Harland's brigade held the extreme right of our line in this quarter. General Sturgis formed his division directly in the rear of General Willcox.
Up to one o'clock in the afternoon, the contest had been en