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[695] battery, in the battle of Sharpsburg, on the seventeenth of September, instant.

Moving forward by the flank in the direction of the enemy, before coming in view, two brigades were met retiring from the front, apparently badly cut up. An incessant current of wounded flowed to the rear, showing that the conflict had been severe and well contested. Coming in full view of the enemy's lines, Major-General McLaws, in person, ordered me to move forward in line to the support of Major-General Stuart, on our extreme left. Immediately the order was given, “By company into line,” followed by “Forward into line,” both of which movements were executed in the presence of the enemy, under a fire occasioning severe loss in killed and wounded. The brigade advanced steadily for two hundred yards under fire before the order was given to commence firing. This order was then given, at long range for most of our arms, for the purpose of encouraging our troops and disconcerting the enemy. The troops, it is true, needed little encouragement. Their officers had already inspired them with enthusiasm, and they continued to advance with vivacity. The effect on the enemy's fire, of the order to the regiments of the brigade that had formed in line, to commence firing, was distinctly visible in the diminished numbers of killed and wounded. The enemy at first met our advance by a corresponding one. Our troops continued to press steadily forward, pouring a deadly fire into his ranks, and he, after advancing an hundred yards, gave way, and we continued to drive him from position to position, through wood and field, for a mile, expending not less than forty rounds of ammunition. My brigade was thrown farther to the front than the troops on my right by about three hundred yards, and, for a time, was exposed to a terrible front and enfilading fire, inflicting great loss.

It gives me satisfaction to be enabled to state that my brigade fought under an inspiration of enthusiasm, which impelled the men forward with the confidence of victory. Had it been possible to have strengthened it by a supporting force of two or three thousand men, there was not then, nor is there now, a doubt in my mind but that the enemy's right, though in vastly superior numbers, would have been driven upon his centre, and both in confusion on his left, utterly routing him. The victory, though decisive, would thus have been rendered signal, and the enemy's lines broken and dispersed.

The loss in killed and wounded was, of the Fifty-third Georgia volunteers, thirty per cent., Thirty-second Virginia, forty-five per cent., Tenth Georgia, fifty-seven per cent., Fifteenth Virginia, fifty-eight per cent., detailed statements of which are herewith submitted. The disparity in the loss of some of the companies of the same regiment is very marked. Three of the four regimental commanders were wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Sloan, commanding Fifty-third Georgia, fell, it was then supposed, mortally wounded, while gallantly leading his regiment forward into line on the extreme left of the brigade. The regimental commanders displayed conspicuous gallantry, and, by their example, inspired their commands with the confidence of positive success. Troops never fought more persistently, intelligently, and with more valor.

My staff, Lieutenant Briggs, Aid-de-camp, and Lieutenants Redd and Cody, volunteer Aids, were present during the entire action, and were more exposed, if possible, than any of the troops — being often employed in bearing orders to different parts of my line, and to commanders of other troops in the vicinity, displaying coolness and gallantry of the highest order — and all escaping untouched except Lieutenant Redd, who received a slight wound on the body from a spent bullet. Calling for a staff officer to bear an order to the regiment on the left, none being at hand, Captain Henley, A. C. S., Thirty-second Virginia, who had been shot through the arm, but refused to quit the field, offered himself to become the bearer, which was declined on account of his wound. Whereupon, stating that his wound was slight, and that he was not disabled, he was allowed to proceed. While doing so, he fell, severely wounded, pierced with two bullets. This is only a prominent example of many acts of signal daring and valor displayed on that bloody and memorable field by officers and men of all the regiments.

After the enemy was thus driven back, and the fire of his small arms had for some time entirely ceased, the troops, having been under an incessant musketry and artillery fire for two hours and twenty minutes, were so thoroughly exhausted, and their ammunition so nearly expended, as to render necessary the order to retire for the purpose of re-forming and obtaining a fresh supply of ammunition. Remaining myself an hour longer in front, with Lieutenant Davis and six men of the Tenth Georgia volunteers, I then withdrew, and reported to Major-General McLaws, who ordered my brigade to be re-assembled in reserve. Thirty-six prisoners, including a Lieutenant-Colonel and First Lieutenant, were captured at a farmhouse, the most advanced position held by my brigade, which was some hundreds of yards in advance of the other portions of our line of battle.

The reports of regimental commanders are herewith submitted, to which reference is respectfully asked for further details.

Manly's battery was detached from my command during the battle. His report is herewith submitted.

I am, Major, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Paul J. Semmes, Brigadier-General.

headquarters Semmes's brigade, October 27, 1862.
Major J. M. Goggin, Assistant Adjutant-General:
Major: In answer to the inquiry, by Major-General Longstreet, as to the number of colors lost by our troops in the battles in Maryland, I have the honor to state that no colors were lost by the regiments of this brigade.

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