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troops were placed in position, and bivouacked at night in line of battle. "The distribution of the forces was as follows:* On the crest of the hill, immediately in front of the bridge was Benjamin's battery of six 20-pounders with the remaining batteries in rear of the crest under partial cover. In rear of Benjamin's battery, on the extreme right, joining on to General Sykes's division was General Crook's brigade with General Sturgis's division in his rear. On the left and in rear of Benjamin's battery was General Rodman's division with Colonel Scammon's brigade in support. General Willcox's division was held in reserve." Nothing of especial moment occurred during the day in this part of our lines. The enemy dropped some shells in the midst of our troops at intervals, but did not succeed in doing much execution or causing much alarm. On the right the army was a little more busy, and there was considerable fighting before our formations were entirely completed.

As the enemy during the night of the 15th had contracted. his lines, General McClellan decided to throw a portion of his forces across the creek on the 16th, and occupy the opposite bank and the ground adjoining, threatening the enemy's left. The morning was spent in making preparations for the intended movement, and in the afternoon our right was advanced. About two o'clock General Hooker took his corps over the creek by the upper bridge and a ford in the immediate neighborhood. The command struck the enemy's left soon after crossing and a spirited skirmish ensued. The enemy gradually gave way, and General Hooker's troops rested on their arms upon the ground which they had occupied. During the night General Mansfield's corps following General Hookers', crossed the creek, and bivouacked about a mile in his rear.

On the morning of the 17th, the lines of our army were formed as follows: Across the creek beyond the upper bridge were the two corps of General Hooker and General Mansfield,

*Burnside's Report.

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the latter directly in rear of the former. On this side the creek, in support of the advanced line, was General Sumner's own corps*the second-ready to move over as soon as its services were required. General Fitz John Porter's corps occupied the centre, and was posted upon the main turnpike leading to Sharpsburg. General McClellan considered this as the vital point, as it was the main avenue of communication to the rear and to the position of our supply and ammunition trains. General Franklin's corps was now upon the march from Crampton's Gap, heading directly for the scene of the impending engagement. The left was occupied by General Burnside, with the Ninth Corps in the position which has already been described. The enemy's position was extremely well chosen, and his lines were formed as follows: Two divisions of General Jackson's command, (commanded respectively by Generals J. R. Jones and Lawton,) which had reached the enemy's position on the morning of the 16th, were on the left flank formed in two lines. General D.' H. Hill's corps occupied the centre; General Longstreet's the right. The batteries of Poague, Carpenter, Brockenbrough, Raine, Caskie and Wooding were posted on the left and centre. The divisions of Generals McLaws, R. H. Anderson and Walker came up on the morning of the 17th, and were posted in support of the centre and left. General Hood's command had been engaged on the previous evening with General Hooker's advance, and was relieved during the night by the brigades of Generals Lawton and Trimble, belonging to General Jackson's corps.† Hooker and Jackson were well matched in fighting qualities, and their troops now stood face to face ready for the impending death-struggle. The forces on either side were very nearly equal-not far from one hundred thousand men in each army being engaged during the day or within supporting distance.

General McClellan states that his plan of battle “ was to attack the enemy's left with the corps of Generals Hooker and

*General Sumner was in command of the right wing. Jackson's Report.

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Mansfield, supported by General Sumner's and, if necessary, by General Franklin's; and as soon as matters looked favorably there, to move the corps of General Burnside against the enemy's extreme right upon the ridge running to the south and rear of Sharpsburg, and having carried that position, to press along the crest towards our right."* Whenever either of these flank movements should be successful, our centre was to be advanced with all the forces then disposable. To accomplish the first object, General McClellan had a force of fifty-six thousand one hundred and ninety-five men. To accomplish the second, General Burnside had at his disposal thirteen thousand eight hundred and nineteen men. For the third, there were nearly, if not quite, twenty thousand men. The main attack, of course, was to be made upon the enemy's left, for which purpose twenty-five thousand men or to speak accurately, twenty-four thousand nine hundred and eighty-two-had already crossed the creek, and were eagerly awaiting, on the morning of the 17th, the signal to attack.

At daylight on Wednesday, September 17th, the great battle of Antietam was opened by the skirmishers of the Pennsylvania Reserves in General Meade's division of General Hooker's corps. From that time until the sun set and the darkness put an end to the conflict, the struggle went on with varying fortune. The opposing lines swayed to and fro in the writhings of the death-struggle. At the close of the day, the two armies occupied nearly the same position as in the morning, with the exception of the Ninth Corps, which had gallantly carried the bridge in its front, moved across the creek and occupied the heights beyond, securing, in spite of the enemy's most strenuous efforts, the most advanced position of any corps in the army. It was a desperate struggle, a bloody day. The two armies, whose blood had dyed the waters of the Chickahominy, again confronted each other along the banks of the Antietam, and fought with desperate valor another of those great battles

* McClellan's Report, p. 201.

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