HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., FIRST DIV., SIXTH CORPS,
--- --, 1862.
Major H. C. RODGERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division, Sixth Corps.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my brigade in the battle of Crampton's Pass, Sunday, September 14, 1862:
My command, after a march of nearly 10 miles, arrived opposite the village of Burkittsville and Crampton's Pass about 12 o'clock m., with the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Cake commanding, deployed as skirmishers. The enemy's pickets retired from the town and opened an artillery fire from two batteries upon my line of skirmishers. I was ordered by Major-General Slocum to halt until he could mass his troops and arrange the plan of the assault, as the appearance of the mountain pass convinced all that artillery was of no avail against it, and that nothing but a combined and vigorous charge of infantry would carry the mountain.
It being decided that the attack should be made on the right and flank of the road leading over the mountain, I was ordered to lead the column, under cover from artillery fire and as secretly as possible, to a large field near its base, where the column of attack was to be formed, each brigade in two lines, at 200 paces in rear. About 4 o'clock p.m. I ordered forward the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel A. D. Adams commanding, to deploy as skirmishers, and, upon their placing the interval ordered between the column of attack and their line, I advanced at quick time the Fifth Maine Volunteers, Colonel N. J. Jackson commanding, and Sixteenth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Seaver commanding. My line of skirmishers found the enemy at the base of the mountain, safely lodged behind a strong stone wall. Their entire line, being now developed, exhibited a large force. My first line advanced rapidly and steadily to the front under a severe fire of artillery from the heights above and musketry from behind the wall and the trees on the slope above it. Halting behind a rail-fence about 300 yards from the enemy, the skirmishers were withdrawn and the battle commenced.
By some unexplained and unaccountable mistake, more than 1,000 yards intervened between the head of the column of General Newton's brigade and my own line, and nothing but the most undaunted courage and steadiness on the part of the two regiments forming my line maintained the fight until the arrival of the rest of the attacking column. On their arrival, the Thirty-second New York Volunteers, Colonel Matheson commanding, and the Eighteenth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Myers commanding, were sent to report to me by order of General Newton, commanding Third Brigade. The Fifth Maine and Sixteenth New York Volunteers having expended their ammunition, I relieved them, and formed them 20 paces in rear.
The New Jersey brigade, Colonel Torbert commanding, now arrived on the left of the line, and commenced firing by its first line, and the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers having joined my command, and been positioned by me on the extreme right, it became apparent to all that nothing but a united charge would dislodge the enemy and win the battle. A moment's consultation with Colonel Torbert decided us to make the charge immediately at a double-quick, and the order was passed along the line to "Cease firing," the command given to "Charge," and our whole line advanced with cheers, rushing over the intervening space to the stone wall and routing the enemy. The charge was maintained to the top of the mountain, up an almost perpendicular steep, over rocks and ledges, through the underbrush and timber, until the crest overlooking the valley beyond was gained. The victory was decisive and complete, the routed enemy leaving arms, ammunition, knapsacks, haversacks, and blankets in heaps by the roadside.
The great natural strength of the enemy's position, supported by his well-served batteries, made it absolutely necessary that the first attempt should be successful or great confusion and slaughter must ensue. The success was fully and clearly established by the masterly arrangement of the column of attack by Major-General Slocum, and circumstances seemed to have been controlled by some master-hand to enable us to carry out the clear instructions received before the assault. All orders were carried out in detail. No more and no less was done than to execute the plan during the fiercely contested assault which was so clearly expressed in the bivouac.
I have the honor of reporting the capture of one battle-flag by the Sixteenth New York Volunteers.
The action of my own regiments, and of the Thirty-second and Eighteenth New York Volunteers, who were under my command, recommend them to the highest consideration of their general officers. There were no officers, field or line, who did not distinguish themselves upon this occasion, and the highest praise should be awarded the soldiers under their command.
It is with sorrow I have to report the death of Major Martin, Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who fell gallantly leading his wing of the regiment to the charge.
My warmest thanks are due to the brave, able, and gallant assistance rendered me on this as on all former occasions by Lieutenant R. P. Wilson, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant M. E. Richards, acting aide-de-camp. Among the surgeons of the several regiments, Surg. N. S. Barnes, Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, I wish particularly to mention for gallantry in following his regiment into battle, and establishing his field hospital close to the scene of action, thereby rendering immediate and invaluable assistance to the wounded.
I herewith annex an official list of the killed and wounded in my brigade.
JOS. J. BARTLETT,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 388 - 390