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LCol Benjamin F Carter's Official Report

Report of September 23, 1862

[author biography]


September 22, 1862.

Lieutenant A. H. PATTON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report the part taken by my regiment in the battle of the 17th instant near Sharpsburg, Md. Owing to the severe illness of Colonel Key, I was in command of the regiment during the day and succeeding night.

Soon after daylight the brigade formed line of battle in regular order, the Fifth Texas being on my right and First Texas on my left, and, about 7 a. m., were ordered to advance. I received no order as to which was the directing battalion, but, advancing diagonally to the right through the woods, we entered the open field on the right of the turnpike road. Here the fire upon us became severe, and, owing to our troops being in front of us and the dance smoke pervading, we were unable to return the fire or see the enemy clearly. Still advancing, I came directly behind the Eleventh Mississippi, when I received the order from Captain Sellers for the Texas Brigade to halt. Halting, I ordered the men to lie down. At the same moment the Eleventh Mississippi was ordered to advance, and a portion of two companies on my right, mistaking the order, advanced with them. After a moment I received an order from General Hood to move to the left until the left of my regiment rested on the crest, in advance, next to the turnpike road. Moving left-oblique in double-quick, I occupied the position indicated, and was then ordered by General Hood to move directly up the hill on the left of the troops then advancing. The enemy then occupied the hill in strong force, which receded before our steady advance. Arriving on the top of the hill, at the intersection of the corn-field with the turnpike, I found the enemy not only in heavy force in the corn-field in front, but occupying a ravine in the field on the left of the turnpike, from which position they poured a destructive fire upon us. I discovered at once that the position was untenable, but if I fell back the troops on my right who had entered the corn-field would be surrounded; so, wheeling my regiment to the left, I posted the men along the fence on either side of the turnpike, and replied as best we could to the tremendous fire of the enemy. We held this position for some time, until the troops in the corn-field on my right were falling back, when I ordered the regiment to move along the line of fence by the left flank. This movement, however, exposed us so much that we fell back directly under the hill. Here I ordered the regiment to halt and form, but at the same moment received an order from General Hood to move by the left flank into the woods. Forming here I advanced on the left of the turnpike up to the fence at the edge of the field, and rested in this position until I was ordered by Colonel Wofford to fall back to the point we started from in the morning, where the remnant of the brigade was formed. We moved about to various points during the day and succeeding night, but nothing worth reporting occurred.

Inclosed I forward you a list of the casualties in this regiment. I carried into action about 200 men, and you will see how heavy our loss was.

In our loss are embraced many valuable officers. Lieutenant [N. J.] Mills, of Company I, was severely wounded on the 15th instant. On the 17th, Lieutenants [L. P.] Hughes, commanding Company F; [A. J.] McKean and [H. M.] Marchant, of Company A; [J. T.] McLaurin, commanding Company B; [J. C.] Billingsley, commanding Company E; and [John] Roach (of Company G,) commanding Company H, were all wounded. Lieutenant Roach was left on the field, and I fear was mortally wounded. Color-bearer Parker, of Company H, was severely wounded and left on the field. At his fall Captain Darden, of Company A, seized and carried the colors until we fell back to the woods. Many who are reported missing I fear were killed, or so severely wounded as to be unable to leave the field.

To Captain E. H. Cunningham, acting field officer, and Adjut. F. L. Price I am indebted for the great assistance rendered me on the field. I cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of both officers and men of my command. Exposed to a tremendous fire from superior numbers, in a position which it was apparent to all we could not hold, they fought on without flinching until the order to fall back was given. These men, too, were half clad, many of them barefooted, and had been only half fed for days before. The courage, constancy, and patience of our men is beyond all praise.

Very respectfully,

B. F. CARTER,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 934 - 936

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