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Capt R. Boyce's Official Report

Report of October 20, 1862

[author biography]

CAMP NEAR WINCHESTER, VA.,
October 20, 1862.

Brigadier General N. G. EVANS.

GENERAL: In obedience to your order, I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by my battery in the action on September 17, at Sharpsburg, Md.:

Early on the morning of the 17th I was ordered by Colonel Walton, chief of artillery, to proceed with my battery beyond the road north of the town of Sharpsburg, to occupy a position to meet the enemy. On reaching the vicinity of the position I supposed I should occupy, I found no person to point it out to me. Colonel Stevens, of your brigade, placed me on the slope of the second hill from the road; but, finding my battery could be of no service in this position, I was posted farther down, in front of another battery. Here, discovering that I was still where I could not see the enemy, I moved my battery through a corn-field immediately in front, and, on reaching the farther side of this field, I found the whole line of battle, for at least a mile, extended before me. I placed my guns in battery in easy range of a portion of the line, but had to wait for an opportunity to fire, as our own troops, engaging the enemy, intervened. Shortly after taking this position, General Lee sent me an order to open fire on a battery which had formed on my left almost beyond the range of my pieces. I fired on the battery, and, having it enfiladed, soon forced it to slacken its fire and change its position. I then turned my guns upon a column of the enemy moving through a corn-field, just to the left of the enemy's battery. The range, however, was too great to do much execution. I received an order at this time to cease firing in that direction. After a protracted struggle immediately in front of me, our infantry abandoned the field to overwhelming numbers.

My battery was at this time thrown forward, by your order, into an open field 200 or 300 yards in advance of its original position. The enemy then advanced through a corn-field to the field in which my battery had taken its position, showing a front of several hundred yards in extent, plainly on the right and center, but partly concealed by the corn on the left. The whole line of the enemy here was within canister range, and I opened upon him a destructive fire, cutting down two of his flags at the second or third discharge of the guns. The right and center soon gave way and retired. The battery was then turned upon the left, which held its position more obstinately. This portion of the line took shelter in a ravine at the base of the hill from which I was firing, and it was only with one or two guns that they could be reached. Having no support of infantry, and no other battery assisting me in resisting this large body of the enemy, and being exposed the whole time to a galling fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, after firing 70 rounds of canister and some solid shot I was force to retire from this hazardous position. I retired, in order, to the corn-field from which I had advanced, changing my direction soon after entering, so as to avoid the fire of a battery just formed on the hill in rear of the enemy's lines. After resting and refreshing my men, and sending some disabled pieces to the rear and repacking my ammunition chests, I found I would only be able to manage two pieces on the field the remainder of the day.

About 5 p. m. a heavy fire of musketry began on my right and rear. I immediately order out my two pieces, crossed over to the slope of the hill lying in the direction of the town, and put my pieces in battery, commanding the crest of the two hills, to meet the enemy if he should compel our forces to retire. Colonel Stevens advanced, at this juncture, with a few skirmishers to the crest of the hill, and, finding the ground not occupied by the enemy immediately beyond, signaled me to advance. I went forward and placed my guns on the hill within canister range of the enemy. A few shots soon drove him beyond the reach of canister. I afterward used solid shot, cutting down his flag and driving him back. Having occupied this important position but a few minutes, an order came, from some source, for me to recross the road near the place occupied by me when I receive my first order in the morning to go into the battle. I crossed over the road, as ordered, but could find no one there to give me any information as to who gave the order or what was required. This was late in the afternoon, and the battle soon after ended.

I take great pleasure in remarking that my command, as a whole behaved with great coolness and gallantry.

My loss during the day was 2 killed (Sergt. Thomas E. Dawkins and Private James Rogers, who fell while at their posts faithfully performing their duty), Privates Burr Miller and E. Shirley, mortally wounded, and 15 others wounded, some severely and some slightly. Lieutenant H. F. Scaife was among the number wounded, and was compelled, through reluctantly, to leave the field, from the effect of his injuries. Sergt. B. T. Glenn continued to work his piece long after receiving a very severe and painful wound, and left, at last, with much mortification.

I lost 15 horses killed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. BOYCE,
Captain Light Battery, South Carolina Volunteers.

 

 

CAMP NEAR WINCHESTER, VA.,
October 20, 1862.

GENERAL: In all the battles in which my battery has been engaged, the officers under my command, viz, Lieuts. B. A. Jeter, S. W. Porter, H. F. Scaife, and William Munro, have done their duty promptly, bravely, and skillfully. The latter-named gentleman was dangerously wounded at Rappahannock Station, and has not been in any of battles since that time. The non-commissioned officers-Sergts. B. T. Glenn, William D. Humphries, James Bunch, and J. K. Young; Corporals Rutland, Byrd, Watts, and Schartle-and Privates C. T. Scaife, Charles Garner, Charles [A.] Hodges, Preston Shirley, John W. Simpson, E. [D.] Gondelock, Alexander Sim, L. H. Sims, Willis Willard, R. F. Peek, John Gossett, and R. M. Franklin have distinguished themselves for gallantry in the various engagements in which they have participated.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. BOYCE,
Captain Light Battery.

 

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 943 - 944

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