HEADQUARTERS PICKETT'S BRIGADE,
October 25, 1862.
Brigadier General R. B. GARNETT.
SIR: I have the honor to submit to you the following report of the part taken by the Fifty-sixth Virginia Regiment, under my command, in the engagement on the South Mountain, near Boonsborough, Md., on Sunday, September 14:
Upon reaching the line of battle assigned to your brigade, I was ordered to the support of General J. L. Kemper, immediately on your left, and distant about 200 yards. I promptly repaired to General Kemper's right, and reported to Colonel Corse, of the Seventeenth Virginia, commanding at that point. He assigned me my place in line of battle in a corn-field, through which the enemy were reported to be advancing immediately in front. Here I remained for some time, when from the direction of the enemy's fire and the appearance of their standards, I found the attack was being made against you on my right, and that my whole flank would be exposed should your position prove untenable. With Colonel Corse's permission, I threw back my right wing, and prepared to meet the enemy from this direction. Dark now settled upon us, and, as it was impossible to see anything of the enemy, and the firing on my right, on your part, had ceased, and a portion of the Twenty-eighth Regiment, of your brigade, had retreated toward my position. I concluded that your position had proved untenable, and advised Colonel Corse again to fall back to the fence separating the cleared and cornfields some 20 yards in our rear. This was speedily effected, and the line formed, with the fence protecting us. From this point a brisk right oblique fire was kept up on the enemy for an hour or more, when, our ammunition becoming exhausted, recourse was had to the cartridge boxes of the dead and wounded around, and I sent a messenger to inform you that re-enforcements or ammunition should speedily be sent us. My messenger (Lieutenant [Ira a.] Miller) returned, having met the adjutant-general of General Kemper (Captain Fry), who informed him that Generals Kemper's and Garnett's brigades had been ordered from the field some time before, and to bear me such orders. Upon the receipt of this order, I informed Colonel Corse, and we agreed to leave the field together, which we did, bringing the men off in good order, after having expended every round of ammunition. I regretted not being able to bring off all of my wounded; but it was so dark that the ambulance corps were unable to find them.
Into the engagement I carried 80 muskets, of which number 40 were either killed or wounded and 5 missing.
I am indebted to Captain McPhail for gallant services on this occasion, who, although severely bruised by a shell, remained on the ground encouraging the men, until the engagement ceased. Sergeant Tucker, of Company K, and Sergeant Newton, of Company E, are deserving of honorable mention for their bravery.
In conclusion, I beg leave to report that the enemy ceased their firing before we did, and failed to make any advance on our position.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. D. STUART,
Colonel Fifty-sixth Virginia Regiment.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 902 - 903