HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF POTOMAC,
THREE MILES BEYOND MIDDLETOWN,
H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
After a very severe engagement the corps of Gen. Hooker and Gen. Reno have carried the heights, commanding the Hagerstown road, by storm. The troops behaved magnificently. They never fought better. Gen. Franklin has been hotly engaged on the extreme left. I do not know the result, except that the firing indicates progress on his part. The action continued till after dark and terminated in leaving us in possession of the entire crest. It has been a glorious victory. I cannot tell whether the enemy will retreat during the night or appear in increased force in the morning. I regret to add that the gallant and able Gen. Reno is killed.
[Signed,] GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
HARRISBURG, Sept. 14. — There was a battle to-day in Middletown. Longstreet's division moving on the Boonesboro road, in the direction of Williamsport, with the intention, no doubt, of recrossing the Potomac at that point, was engaged by the federals. Nothing official has been received at headquarters of the battle up to this hour — midnight.
On the receipt of the news of the occupation of Frederick by Burnside and the advance of McClellan, the people became wild with enthusiasm. Telegraph offices were besieged with regard to the result. General confidence is now felt here as to the safety of the state capital. Troops are still arriving on foot and by railroad.
Thursday, 5 A. M. — The main body of the rebel army, consisting of a division under Jackson, a division under Longstreet, a division under D. H. Hill, and possibly a fourth division, which had been encamped at Urbana, commenced marching through Frederick towards Hagerstown. The movement commenced at 4 A. M. and lasted till 8 P. M. At the most liberal estimate the whole force is not more than 64,000 strong, including 8,000 negroes. Negroes were mixed in promiscuously with the whites. Many of them carried muskets, sabres, dirk or bowie knives. The vilest and wost looking person in the whole army — a contemptible, bloated blackguard — was Howell Cobb.
We have been doing a fine business to-day in chasing up rebels. About 500 prisoners have been taken in the skirmishes and are now arriving and being rapidly disposed of. The rear guard of the enemy is fighting obstinately, contesting every inch of ground.
Nearly all the Marylanders who enlisted in the rebel army while in this vicinity have been taken prisoners to-day.
In the skirmish to-day we have lost in killed and wounded but 25 or 30. The enemy is said to have suffered severely from cavalry charges.
Two privates of the 2d Mississippi battalion were captured this morning near Leesburg, and brought to headquarters. They came from Montgomery, Alabama, by rail to Gordonsville, thence on foot through Culpepper, Manassas and Fairfax. They intended to join their regiment in Maryland. They agree in saying that they were pressed into the rebel service, and expressed satisfaction at being prisoners. They report but few troops in Richmond, and say that city is but little else than a vast hospital. They further report that Charleston, S. C., has been practically evacuated by its citizens; many becoming fugitives, to distant cities, and many others having but encased themselves in hastily built huts beyond the limits of the corporation and the range of Yankee gunboats.
The Times correspondence, dated Sugar Loaf, Friday, says: Last evening a Union signal corps went up and occupied the crest of the mountain, and signals were kept up throughout the night.
There has been occasional skirmishing between Barnesville and the mountains; also in the neighborhood of Pyattstown, without material result.
It is stated that the enemy were yesterday moving in the direction of Point of Rocks.
The signal corps saw yesterday from Sugar Loaf a body of cavalry proceeding toward Frederick City.
The effective force of the rebels in the state is believed to be cavalry.
Franklin's corps moved from near Boonesville, over the mouth of the Monocacy, to watch against the advance of more rebel troops across the river, and to prevent them from recrossing to the Virginia side.
It is well known that large droves of cattle have been sent from Maryland to Virginia for subsistence, and that within three days our pickets reported the fact, and they were allowed to proceed without opposition. The fact was reported to me by an army officer while at Boonesville, yesterday.