Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/283

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on which they moved, was there a halt. After pausing at this point i few minutes tin- column was set in motion again up the road on which we were posted. As yet no Federal skirmish line had been deployed, and only a few mounted men were visible. Infantry and artillery composed the heavy blue column. The foremost file of these troops had approached near enough almost to count the buttons on their coats, when our guns opened from the covert a rapid fire, and thus began the bloody battle of Sharpsburg. The Federal batteries were hurried forward rapidly, and our guns were soon withdrawn. In retiring we passed after dark through the valley on the farther side of which Hood's division rested on their arms. The Federals were now discharging a deafening fire of artillery, and a few guns on our side were answering them. As we moved through the valley the shells from two directions were passing over our heads, their burning fuses gleaming like meteors, and the whole making a comparatively harmless but brilliant spectacular performance.

If I learned at the time to what battery the guns belonged that fired these first shots at Sharpsburg, I have quite forgotten now. I hope some reader of the Dispatch, whose eye may fall on this article, may know. The information is earnestly sought by the Antietam Battlefield Board, of the War Department. General E. A. Carman, of that board, writes from Sharpsburg on June 5th:

" For some time I have been endeavoring to ascertain what force opposed Hooker's when he crossed the Antietam, on the afternoon of September i6th, and before he came in contact with Hood's di- vision, but have been unable to get anything satisfactory. He was opposed by artillery, yet I can get no trace of any artillery within a mile of where he was first fired at. I have come to the conclusion that the gun, or guns, opposing him, must have been one or more of Pelham's, but I cannot verify my conclusion, nor can I communicate with any survivors of that battery."


The cannonading at nightfall was of short continuance, and it soon became almost as quiet on the field of Sharpsburg, as though no armies were there confronting each other. The movement of the troops was made as noiselessly as possible. Our brigade was on the march for several hours, and through the mistake of a blundering guide, was led to a position very close to a line of Federal batteries. Here we slept unconscious of danger until nearly dawn. Before day-