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LCol Henry Fowler's Official Report

Undated Report

[author biography]


Brigadier General THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER,
Commanding Irish Brigade.

Permit me, at this late day and in this apparently informal manner, to submit the following report of the action and conduct of the Sixty-third Regiment New York Volunteers in the late severe fight at Antietam on the 17th instant:

The official list of killed and wounded has, I understand, already been forwarded, but I deem it to be justice to the living and the dead that mention should be made of their heroism and bravery upon that fearful day. After the first advance from the meadow upon the plowed field, the colonel not being present, as a necessity I, without orders, assumed command.

It is now a solace to my mind, while suffering from my wound, to testify how gallantly and promptly each officer in his place and each company moved forward and delivered their fire in the face of the most destructive storm of leaden hail, that in an instant killed or wounded every officer but one and more than one-half the rank and file of the right wing. For a moment they staggered, but the scattered few quickly rallied upon the left, closing on the colors, where they nobly fought, bled, and died, protecting their own loved banner and their country's flag, until the brigade was relieved.

In the early part of the action Captain P. J. Condon and Lieutenant Thomas W. Cartwright, both of Company G, fell wounded while gallantly cheering on their men bravely at their post, as also Captain M. O'Sullivan, Company F, while Lieutenant P. W. Lydon, commanding Company D, Lieutenant Cadwalader Smith, Company C, and Lieutenant McConnell, of Company K, bravely rallying the gallant remaining few, fell pierced by bullets, instantly fatal.

As the right wing had fallen before me, I hastened to the left, where I found the major (Bentley) close upon the line, and Captain Joseph O'Neill, Company A, whose company had all fallen around him on the right, now assisting the major on the left. Here also was the stalwart Lieutenant Gleason, Company H, raising and supporting the repeatedly falling colors, with Lieutenant John Sullivan commanding and pushing forward Company K; and here lay the slender form of Captain Kavanagh, Company I, cold in death; the brave and enthusiastic Lieutenant R. P. Moore, Company E, passing from right to left, boldly urging his men to stand firm, and the gallant Lieutenant George Lynch, second lieutenant Company G, bravely pressing on until he too fell, mortally wounded. The killed died as brave men, sword in hand, and amid the thickest of the fight. Major Bentley was now wounded, and retired to have his wound dressed. Our number now left was less than 50 men; our colors, although in ribbons, and staff shot through, were still there, sustained at a bloody sacrifice, 16 men having fallen while carrying them. I now received a severe wound, and was compelled to retire just as the lines of the enemy were breaking.

The officers and men all acted with a coolness and heroism worthy of honorable mention, yet I cannot close this meager report without recommending to your special notice Major Richard C. Bentley and Captain J. O'Neill, whose cool and gallant conduct upon this trying and painful occasion merits the warmest commendation.

In conclusion, permit me to congratulate you that your gallant little brigade has once more crowned itself with fresh laurels, and given additional and bloody proofs of its devotion to the Constitution and the flag of our beloved country.

Very respectfully,

HENRY FOWLER,
Lieutenant-Colonel Sixty-third Regiment, Irish Brigade.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 295 - 296

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