CAMP NEAR MARTINSBURG, W. VA.,
September 23, 1862.
Colonel W. T. WOFFORD,
Commanding Texas Brigade.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the infantry battalion of the Hampton Legion in the battle of the 17th at Sharpsburg, Md.:
The battle opened about day-break along the whole line. The legion was placed to the left of the brigade, the Eighteenth Georgia being to its right. We began to advance from under cover of [the West] woods in rear of a church, and engaged the enemy so soon as we emerged from them, the enemy being in line of battle near the edge of the corn-field immediately in our front. We advanced steadily upon them, under a heavy fire, and had not gone far when Herod Wilson, of Company F, the bearer of the colors, was shot down. They were raised by James Esters, of Company E, and he was shot down. They were then taken up by C. P. Poppenheim, of Company A, and he, too, was shot down. Major J. H. Dingle, Jr., then caught them and began to advance with them, exclaiming, "Legion, follow your colors!" The words had an inspiring effect, and the men rallied bravely under their flag, fighting desperately at every step. He bore the colors to the edge of the corn near the [Hagerstown] turnpike road, on our left, and, while bravely upholding them within 50 yards of the enemy and three Federal flags, was shot dead. I immediately raised the colors and again unfurled them amid the enemy's deadly fire, when Marion Walton, of Company B, volunteered to bear them. I resigned them into his hands, and he carried them gallantly and safely through the battle. Soon after the death of Major Dingle, I discovered, about 200 yards distant, a brigade of the enemy in line of battle, covering our entire left flank. I immediately ordered the men to fall back under the crest of the hill. I then rallied them and reformed them, and remained with the brigade the remainder of the day.
I have to record the death of many of my best officers. The brave, modest, and energetic Major J. H. Dingle, Jr., fell, among the foremost in battle, and died with the colors in his hands; Captain R. W. Tompkins, who was killed near where Major Dingle fell, and was conspicuous in the fight, for his gallantry and efficiency; Lieutenant J. J. Exum was killed near the same place, heroically leading his men; Captain H. J. Smith was mortally wounded, in the same charge, while bravely leading his men (he has since died); Lieutenant W. A. B. Davenport was wounded at the head of his company; Lieutenant W. E. O'Connor, acting adjutant, was wounded in the engagement the evening before. I have but to mention my four remaining officers-Captain T. M. Logan, Lieuts. B. E. Nicholson, J. H. M. James, and J. J. Cleveland-all of them in command of their companies, and bearing themselves with great bravery, having shared the same dangers of their less fortunate comrades. The number of the legion was reduced more than one-half by the numerous details for skirmishers, scouts, cooks, and men barefooted, unfit for duty.
The following is a list of the casualties. Strength of battalion in action, officers and men, 77.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
M. W. GARY,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Hampton's Legion.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 930 - 931