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Capt John B McPhail's Official Report

Report of October 25, 1862

[author biography]

CAMP NEAR WINCHESTER, VA.,
October 26, 1862.

General R. B. GARNETT,
Commanding Pickett's Brigade.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part the Fifty-sixth Virginia Regiment acted in the late battle near Sharpsburg, Md.:

In consequence of the severe illness of Colonel William D. Stuart, the command of this regiment devolved upon me at the close of the second day's fight.

On the morning of the 17th, the regiment was marched in your brigade to the support of the Washington Artillery. In this position it remained the greater part of the day, exposed to an enfilading and rarely well-directed artillery fire. In the afternoon, in obedience to orders, my regiment was deployed as skirmishers, to engage those of the enemy that were firing upon the gunners at our batteries. So soon as my skirmishers reached the position assigned them, they became hotly engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy, advancing a little in front of their line of battle. My men, exposed to a heavy musketry and terrific artillery fire, held their position for something less than an hour, when your other regiments were brought into action. My skirmishers were then rallied upon the left of your brigade, and fought with unflinching courage until the brigade was withdrawn. Though the regiment had been reduced to a handful in numbers, I am gratified to report that the casualties amounted to only 8 men wounded; only 40 were carried into action.

In recalling instances of individual courage, I cannot omit reporting the names of Lieutenant F. W. Nelson, commanding Company A; Lieutenant John W. Jones, commanding Company B, and Lieutenant Matthew Brown, commanding Company D. All three of these officers acted with conspicuous gallantry.

Very respectfully submitted.

JOHN B. McPHAIL,
Captain, Commanding Fifty-sixth Virginia Regiment.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 903 - 904

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