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Col F W McMaster's Official Report

Report of October 20, 1862 on Boonsborough and Sharpsburg

F. W. McMaster

[author biography]

CAMP NEAR WINCHESTER, VA.,
October 20, 1862.

General N. G. EVANS.

SIR: In obedience to your orders to report the action of the Seventeenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, in the battles in which it has been engaged since it came to Virginia, I have the honor to report:

[Portion omitted here is in OR, Series I, Vol. 12, Part 2, pages 632-634.]

BOONSBOROUGH.

Sunday evening, September 14, about 4 o'clock, after a most fatiguing march, under which some of our men broke down, the brigade took position on the slope of a [South] mountain on the east side of the turnpike. Soon after we had halted, the enemy advanced upon us in overwhelming numbers. After fighting for about an hour, and after the other regiments of the brigade had broken and retired, and we were about being flanked by the enemy, I ordered my regiment to retire, firing. After we began the retreat, we were so unfortunate as to lose our gallant lieutenant-colonel (R. S. Menas), who was shot through the thigh. I detailed four men to bear him off, but the magnanimously refused to allow them to make the effort, as the enemy was in a short distance of him and still advancing.

I succeeded in forming a new line of battle, on a knoll about 300 yards in rear of the first line, but was soon flanked by the enemy and compelled to retire. I brought off with me 36 men, rank and file, in order. I was soon ordered by Major Sorrel to form on the left of General Jenkins' brigade; but before we were able to do so night overtook us, and, under the order of General Evans, we retired to the turnpike.

In this battle we had engaged-

Officers................................................. 10  
Rank and file and ambulance corps .......................131  
                                                       ______  
Total................................................... 141  
[The following were the casualties:]  
Number of killed ......................................... 7  
Number of severely wounded............................... 13  
Number of slightly wounded............................... 24  
Number of missing........................................ 17  
                                                      --------  
Total.................................................... 61  

SHARPSBURG.

Tuesday, September 16, we were subjected to a severe shelling at Sharpsburg, and lost 1 man killed and 6 wounded.

In the afternoon, by order of Colonel Stevens, I took my regiment and the Holcombe Legion, in all about 100 men, and moved forward about half a mile to support the skirmishers of Jenkins' brigade and of a Georgia regiment.

About 1 o'clock Wednesday, September 17, the skirmishers were driven in, and, with the assistance of Captain [H. D. D.] Twiggs (a most noble and gallant officer), of the First Georgia Regiment, I succeeded in rallying 40 or 50 of the skirmishers, and formed them on my left. In a short time I was informed by a Lieutenant of a Louisiana artillery company that a battery of the enemy had proved quite destructive to his battery, and that he would be forced to discontinue firing unless it was silenced. I immediately sent out about 25 volunteers, who silenced the battery of the enemy for some time.

About 3 p. m. a brigade of the enemy flanked my command on the right, and, after firing a few moments, the Holcombe Legion and few of the Seventeenth Regiment, in spite of my efforts, broke and ran. I then ordered the remainder of my command to retire to an apple orchard, about 200 yards in rear, where, with 40 or 50 men, made up mostly of my regiment and a few Georgians and Palmetto Sharpshooters, I fought the enemy for a half an hour or more. Being flanked on both sides, I retired to a stone house adjoining, which I converted into a fort, and fought for some time, until Drayton's brigade, on the right, and Jenkins' brigade, on the left, had completely abandoned the ground, and the enemy had almost entirely surrounded my little band. When resistance on our part was entirely futile, I gave the order to retreat, and the enemy entered the house and took Captain Twiggs and 10 of my men prisoners in three minutes after I left.

The number of men of the Seventeenth Regiment engaged on Wednesday was as follows:

Officers .................................................. 6  
Rank and file and ambulance corps......................... 53  
                                                        -------  
Total..................................................... 59  
[The following were the casualties:]  
Number of killed.......................................... 4  
Number of severely wounded................................ 4  
Number of slightly wounded................................ 8  
Number of missing......................................... 3  
                                                       --------  
Total (Tuesday and Wednesday)............................ 19  

After I retreated to Sharpsburg it was near night, and I could not assemble my men in sufficient numbers to do any good. As an evidence of the work we did this day, some of the men shot as high as 60 rounds.

Accompanying this report are exhibits giving the names of the men engaged in the battles of Manassas, Boonsborough, and Sharpsburg; also lists of the killed, wounded, and missing.

Respectfully submitted.

F. W. McMASTER,
Colonel Seventeenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 945 - 946

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