HDQRS. SEVENTH MAINE VOLS., SECOND DIVISION,
Near Sharpsburg, Md., September 19, 1862.
Major CHARLES MUNDEE,
SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 17th instant, about 5 o'clock p. m., I was ordered by Colonel Irwin, commanding the Third Brigade of this division, to send a company to dislodge some of the enemy, who were annoying one of our batteries. Hardly was the company detached from the regiment when Colonel Irwin rode along and exclaimed in near these words: "That is not enough, sir; go yourself; take your regiment and drive them from those trees and buildings." I asked him to repeat his order and point out the ground again. He did so, quite emphatically, in near the same words, and added with an oath, "Those are your orders, sir." He repeated the order several times.
I took the regiment in front of the skirmishers of the brigade next on our left, formed them behind a fence, sent out my skirmishers, who drove the rebel skirmishers in fine style from the edge of the corn-field and the hollow lying on this side of the timber I was ordered to clear. I ordered the battalion forward, and as they opened fire on us from front and left flank I ordered a charge. With fixed bayonets the men dashed forward in line with a cheer, advancing nearly a quarter of a mile at the double-quick. The body of the enemy in the orchard to our left being flanked, broke and ran. Those directly in front, behind haystacks and outbuildings, also broke, and their colors having fallen, we dashed on up the hill to secure them, when a rebel regiment rose suddenly from behind a stone wall on our right, poured in a volley, and at the same time I saw them double-quicking around to the left to cut off our retreat. Those in front, seeing our small numbers, had rallied.
Looking back and seeing no support, to escape being surrounded I marched the regiment by the left flank, formed them on a crest in the orchard, poured a volley into those who were endeavoring to cut off our retreat, and faced those in front. Here we received a severe fire from three directions, and the enemy advanced in force. I saw four battle-flags. A battery opened on us with grape. Here we met a heavy loss, but were shielded some by the trees of the orchard. Having disposed of most of our cartridges, we retreated through the orchard, gave them another volley as they attempted to follow, which drove them back, and, closing up on the colors, I marched the regiment back in good order to their old position on the left of the Third Brigade.
The affair lasted perhaps thirty minutes. The color-sergeant was killed, and all the guard shot but one, who brought off our flag riddled with balls. Fifteen officers and 166 men went into the fight, and our loss was as follows: Enlisted men known to be killed, 12; wounded and brought off, 60; fate still unknown, 16. Lieutenants Brown and Goodwin and Sergeant-Major Parsons, killed; Captains Jones, Cochrane, and Cook and Adjutant Haskell, wounded and missing; Lieutenants Shorey, Benson, and Emery, wounded.
But one officer, Lieutenant Nickerson, escaped untouched in clothes or person, and but very few men. Captain Channing and Lieutenant Webber had each three bullets through their clothes. The adjutant and myself both had our horses shot under us.
The troops of the enemy engaged were the Seventh Georgia, First Texas, Second Mississippi Battalion, and a fragment of a Louisiana regiment. Their loss I find, on visiting the field, to be much heavier than ours.
I drove the enemy from the trees and buildings Colonel Irwin ordered me to clear, but for want of support was unable either to push on after his line was pierced or to hold the position that was gained.
I cannot make exception for special mention. Where all behaved so nobly, and obeyed orders so readily, distinction would be invidious.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS W. HYDE,
Major, Commanding Seventh Maine Volunteers.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 412 - 413