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LCol Thomas Ruffin, Jr's Official Report

Report of October 12, 1862 on Boonsborough

[author biography]


OCTOBER 12, 1862.

Lieut. J. M. TAYLOR,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

SIR: In obedience to the order calling for reports of the parts respectively taken by the several regiments of the brigade in the battles of the 14th and 17th ultimo, I have the honor to report the action of the Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment.

Owing to the dangerous illness and absence of Colonel Scales, I was in command on the 14th at South Mountain.

Early in the morning of the 14th we were ordered by General Garland to go, in company with the Twentieth North Carolina, commanded by Colonel Iverson, out by a road leading along the top of the mountain, and then to occupy a position on the left of the Old Sharpsburg road, which we did at about sunrise, and remained there about two hours. We were then ordered to move farther to the right to the support of the Fifth North Carolina Regiment, which we proceeded to do, and, being met by General Garland, were directed to take position in an open field upon the brow of a high hill. The enemy, we found, were posted upon a high hill densely wooded, and immediately facing the hill occupied by ourselves. There was also a regiment under cover of a rail fence upon our left. Not being able to see the enemy in our front, our whole fire was directed upon those upon the left, and, as our men were cool and fired with precision and effect, they soon drove that portion of the enemy entirely off the field. All this, while those in our front were firing constantly into us, and it was then that General Garland fell. Not deeming it prudent to advance down the hill in the face of an enemy so strongly posted, and whose force, though we could not see them, we judged, by their fire, to be very strong, the regiment was withdrawn about 50 yards from the brow of the hill. There I received an order from Colonel McRae, in person, he having succeeded to the command, to move by the left flank until our left was brought in contact with the right of General Anderson's brigade, which we did, and took our new position upon the road on the right of General Anderson, and supposed that our own brigade was extended in one continuous line on our right. The enemy advancing in our front, we became soon entirely engaged, and were evidently getting the advantage of him, but to our great surprise a heavy fire was opened upon us from the right, which we supposed to be occupied by our own brigade. Our adjutant was immediately dispatch to see what was the matter, and, returning, reported that the enemy had obtained the road on our right, and were coming down upon us from that direction. An order for a charge to the front was immediately given, and, the men obeying it with alacrity, we had the satisfaction to see the enemy give way. We pursued as far as it was thought to be prudent and, falling back, changed front so as to meet those on the right; charged them also and drove them back. While thus engaged, the enemy appeared upon our left, which position had been occupied by General Anderson's brigade, but which had been removed without our knowledge. Finding this to be so, our regiment about-faced and charged, and, as it turned out to be but a party of the enemy's skirmishers, there was no difficulty in repulsing them. It was then determined to get into position somewhere from which we could communicate with our commanding officer, and with this view the regiment was removed to the Sharpsburg road, where we found General Anderson's brigade. Not being able to find Colonel McRae, and, indeed, hearing that he and his command had been cut off, we reported to General Anderson, and asked to be taken under his command, to which he assented, and we remained with him the roast of the day. By him we were formed in line of battle in the old Sharpsburg road, our regiment being on the right of his brigade, and were moved up the side of the mountain. It is difficult to conceive a more arduous march than this was; but it was preformed in good time, and, when we reached the top of the mountain, we found a road, along which we moved to the left until we came to a dense corn-field, on the right of the road. In this field we found the enemy in strong force, with a battery in position, which we were ordered to charge, and attempted to do, in conjunction with the Second North Carolina Regiment, but were repulsed with great loss. It then being dark, we were ordered to retire.

I feel it to be due to those under my command, though so little was accomplished by their efforts, to say that they deserve high praise, both officers and men, for their conduct on this day. With a few exceptions they all acted well.

I noticed particularly the gallant bearing of Captain [J. H.] Hyman, acting as major; Captain [E. B] Withers, of Company A; Captain [L. H.] Hunt, of Company C; Captain [H. A.] Rogers, of Company D; Captain [G.] Foster, of Company F; Lieutenant [T. A.] Martin, commanding Company E, and Lieutenant [R. L.] Watt, commanding Company K. Lieutenant [J. C.] Joyce, commanding Company H, led his men into action bravely and coolly, but was killed by the very first fire. Captain Glenn, of Company I, led his company all day, through all the engagements, with great spirit, but was killed by the last shot fired at us. Lieutenant C. N. Civalier acted as adjutant to the regiment, and did all that a brave an patriotic soldier could do. He also was dangerously wounded in the last charge, and Lieutenant [H. B.] Fowler, of Company A, behaved with great coolness and courage. I hear the conduct of other officers spoken of in high terms, but I have mentioned only those whom I had the opportunity to observe.

Of the privates whose conduct came under my observation, I take occasion to mention particularly Frank Scales, of Company H, as the bravest man in battle I ever saw. I should have recommended him for promotion, but that, unfortunately, he was wounded and left on the field in the battle of the 17th. John R. Neland, of Company E, acted particularly well, and is respectfully mentioned as worthy of promotion, as is Sergeant Smith, of Company B.

I feel it to be just that I should acknowledge the fact that we were joined by a small party of the Twelfth North Carolina Regiment early in the morning, who continued with us throughout the day and rendered us very efficient aid. As to their names and other particulars, I refer to the commanding officer of that regiment, to whom I have reported in full the action of his men.

Owing to an accident, I was not able to command the regiment on the 17th, and, therefore, have the honor to call your attention to the accompanying report form Captain Hyman, who commanded on that day.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

T. RUFFIN, JR.,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 1045 - 1047

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