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Col Benjamin C Christ's Official Reports

Reports of September 1862 on South Mountain and Antietam

B. C. Christ
[author biography]


[ South Mountain ]



HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Antietam Creek, Md.

Captain HUTCHINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General

SIR: I respectfully submit the following report of the action of my command at the battle of South Mountain, on Sunday, September 14, 1862:

Leaving our encampment on the morning of the 14th, we proceeded along the Hagerstown road to a point near the base of the mountain, where we were considerably annoyed by the shot and shell of the enemy until we filed off on the road to the left that led us directly to the top of the mountain. Before reaching the summit, I was ordered to form in line of battle on the right of the road, but before this movement was completed the enemy opened a battery, which commanded this road. Cook's battery, which was just being placed in position at this time, received this fire directly in front, and from its great severity they were obliged to retire with their caissons, leaving two of their pieces in danger of being taken by the enemy. The Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers, Colonel Morrison, was immediately ordered to the front on the left of the road, and the Seventeenth Michigan, Colonel Withington, on the right of the road, to protect these pieces.

The enemy held their position for some considerable time, and fired their shot and shell with terrible effect until about 2 o'clock, when he commenced the attack with his infantry. From the previous disposition of my command, it was impossible for me to give my attention to the whole. I therefore led forward the Seventeenth Michigan on the right of the road, while Colonel Welsh advanced on the left with the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania and Forty-sixth New York Volunteers. Supported by the Seventy-ninth New York, the Seventeenth Michigan moved steadily forward until they arrived within good range, and then opened a fire on the enemy with terrible effect, piling the road and field with his dead and wounded, and finally completely routing him, driving him in the utmost confusion across the field into the woods, and capturing a number of prisoners.

Under any circumstances the conduct of both officers and men of this regiment was worthy of the highest commendation, but especially so when taking into consideration that they were mustered into service as late as the 21st of August, 1862, and that this was their first engagement. Later in take day the Seventy-ninth New York and Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers were ordered to the front, and assisted in repulsing the enemy in his second attempt to force our lines. The Fiftieth Pennsylvania and Eighth Michigan Volunteers were ordered in the early part of the afternoon to the position held by General Cox, where they contributed largely in maintaining that position, and twice assisted in repulsing the enemy.

With few exceptions, both officers and men discharged their whole duty. I append a list of casualties.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

B. C. CHRIST,
Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.

[ Antietam ]



HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Antietam Creek, Md., September 21, 1862.

Captain HUTCHINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General

SIR: I respectfully submit the following report of the part borne by my command in the engagement near Sharpsburg, on Wednesday, September 17, 1862:

About 10 o'clock a. m. I was ordered to support some batteries covering our advance near the stone bridge across Antietam Creek. During the afternoon I crossed the bridge and marched to the right, and parallel with the stream, for several hundred yards. I here deployed the Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers as skirmishers, supported by the Fiftieth Pennsylvania, Twenty-eight Massachusetts, and Seventeenth Michigan Volunteers, and then moved forward in front of the enemy's battery (heavily supported by infantry), in the rear of a corn-field, on the right of the road. On reaching the crest of a hill, about 350 yards in front of the battery, I discovered that my support on my left had not come up. Deeming my force alone inadequate for the attack on both artillery and infantry, I was obliged to halt until supported on my left.

While halting under cover from the enemy directly in front, he opened a battery on my left which commanded my whole line from left to right, and for thirty minutes we were under a most severe fire of round shot, shell, grape, and canister, and suffered severely. It was impossible to move forward for the reason before stated - no place in the neighborhood that afforded any cover - and the alternative presented itself either to retire from a good and only position from which to advance on the enemy in front, or to wait patiently until some demonstration on the left would compel him to change the direction of his fire. Again, I could not get under cover without retiring at least 250 yards, in full view of the enemy, and if there would have been the least confusion the men might have retreated in disorder, and exposed a largely increased the list of casualties. I chose the former, and was gratified by having my expectations realized.

A demonstration on the left compelled the enemy to change the direction of his fire, and my supports coming, we moved to the front, where we engaged the enemy on his left, and in about one hour succeeded in driving both his artillery and infantry from the position. I charged on the battery with the Seventeenth Michigan Regiment (this being the regiment immediately in front), supported by the Fiftieth Pennsylvania and Twenty-eight Massachusetts Volunteers, but when within 100 yards of his guns (and while he was covered by a hill which prevented my advance column from shooting either his horses or their riders), he limbered up his pieces and retired. I did not deem it prudent to advance after his artillery had retired, for the reason that the woods were lined with his sharpshooters, and I would only have exposed my command to their fire without gaining anything. I retired with my charging party to my line of battle, and maintained my position until ordered to take another farther down and near the bridge, where the men slept on their arms for the night.

In this engagement it is impossible to particularize regiments, officers, or men, for, from the moment we were brought under fire until ordered to retire near the bridge, all displayed the utmost coolness and courage, ready and prompt to move forward at the word of command, and both officers and men vying with each, other in the discharge of their duty. My especial acknowledgments are, however, due to my acting assistant not only during this but also during the engagement of the 14th.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

B. C. CHRIST,
Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 437 - 439

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