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Col Eppa Hunton's Official Report

Report of 1862 of Boonsborough and Sharpsburg

E. Hunton

[author biography]

[Boonsborough]


1862.

Brigadier-General GARNETT,
Commanding Pickett's Brigade.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following, as the action of my regiment in the battles of Boonsborough and Sharpsburg:

On Sunday, September 14, the regiment, with the rest of the brigade, left Hagerstown and marched toward the gap of the mountain near Boonsborough. After arriving near the gap we were marched south several miles toward another gap. When about to reach this last gap, we were countermarched and carried to the top of the mountain, on the north side of the turnpike, under heavy fire of the enemy's batteries from the opposite side of the pike. The brigade was thrown into line of battle (the Eighth Virginia Regiment on the extreme right) in a wood. The regiment formed the line within 50 yards of the enemy, and under a galling fire of musketry, which opened on us while forming the line. The regiment, with great gallantry, returned the fire of the enemy, and drove the advance on the enemy back. We maintained our ground until the rest of the brigade on our left had fallen back, and, finding that my regiment, consisting of only 34 men, had no support on the right or left, and was opposed to a very large force of the enemy, I retired my regiment to the rear of the fence, and was preparing to make there a further stand, when orders came to retire the whole command. My command sustained a loss of 11 killed and wounded.

That night we took up the line of march toward Sharpsburg, which place we reached on the 15th, when we were formed in line of battle on the east of the town.

On Tuesday the enemy made his appearance in our front and opened upon our position with very heavy guns.

On Wednesday we changed our position a little to the north, and nearly all day were exposed to the most terrific fire of artillery I have ever seen. We were near the extreme right of the line of battle, Jenkins', Drayton's, and Kemper's brigades being the only forces on our right.

The early part of this day was consumed by the enemy in their galling artillery fire, under cover of which they endeavored to cross their infantry over the Antietam Creek. Late in the afternoon the enemy threw large forces over the creek and advanced upon us. The Eighth and Eighteenth first and then the whole brigade were thrown forward to a fence in our front to meet the column advancing upon our position, and nobly your little command stood the shock of battle from greatly superior numbers. Not a man of my command faltered; no one left the ranks except those who had been wounded. We kept the enemy back, and the efforts of the enemy's officers, plainly discernible, to force their men upon us, were all in vain. We could have held this position with ease if our right had been equally successful; but our right gave way-first Kemper's brigade, and then Drayton's. The enemy had gotten beyond our line, and we were flanked by a very large force in addition to that in front. then you gave the order to fall back, and my command retired with the rest of the brigade. The regiment numbered when it entered this fight 22 men, and came out with 11.

It gives me great pleasure to speak in terms of high commendation of the conduct of the regiment on these two occasions. It met my fullest approbation; all, officers and men, behaved very handsomely. The casualties have heretofore been specially reported.

I cannot close this report without mentioning the gallant conduct of our artillery, which fought near us-the Washington Artillery first and Colonel Lee's artillery afterward. I am unable to give the names of the different batteries. Captain Squires' battery twice drove back the advancing column of the enemy.

Respectfully reported.

EPPA HUNTON,
Colonel Eighth Virginia Regiment.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 898 - 899

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