September 27, 1862.
Maj. G. MOXLEY SORREL,
Assistant Adjutant General.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division, composed of two brigades--Fourth Alabama, Second and Eleventh Mississippi, and Sixth North Carolina, Col. E. M. Law commanding; my own brigade, First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas, Eighteenth Georgia, and Hampton Legion, and Reilly's, Bachman's, and Garden's batteries, Maj. B. W. Frobel commanding--in the engagements at Freeman's Ford, on the Rappahannock River, August 22; plains of Manassas, August 29 and 30; Boonsborough Gap, Md., September 14, and Sharpsburg, Md., September 16 and 17.
The next day [September 1], after burying the dead, the march was continued [from vicinity of Smiley Ford, Va.] to Sudley Ford, and from thence to Hagerstown, Md., via Frederick City, crossing the Potomac at White's Ford, near Leesburg.
On the morning of September 14, we marched back to Boonsborough Gap, a distance of some 13 miles. This division, arriving between 3 and 4 p.m., found the troops of General D. H. Hill engaged with a large force of the enemy. By direction of the general commanding, I took up my position immediately on the left of the pike. Soon, orders came to change over to the right, as our troops on that side were giving way to superior numbers. On the march to the right, I met General Drayton's brigade coming out, saying the enemy had succeeded in passing to their rear. I at once inclined more to the right over a very rugged country and succeeded in getting in a position to receive the enemy. I at once ordered the Texas Brigade, Col. W. T. Wofford commanding, and the Third Brigade, Col. E. M. Law commanding, to move forward with bayonets fixed, which they did with their usual gallantry, driving the enemy and regaining all of our lost ground, when night came on and further pursuit ceased. On this field, fell, mortally wounded, Lieut. Col. O. K. McLemore, of the Fourth Alabama, a most efficient, gallant, and valuable officer.
Soon after night, orders were received to withdraw and for this division to constitute the rear guard of the army. The march was accordingly taken up in the direction of Sharpsburg. Arriving on the heights across the Antietam River near the town, about 12 m. on the 15th instant, I was ordered to take position in line of battle on the right of the road leading to Boonsborough, but soon received orders to move to the extreme left, near Saint Mumma church, on the Hagerstown pike, remaining in this position, under fire of the shells from the enemy, until early sunset on the evening of the 16th. The enemy, having crossed higher up the Antietam, made an attack upon the left flank of our line of battle, the troops of this division being the only forces, on our side, engaged. We succeeded in checking and driving back the enemy a short distance, when night came on, and soon the firing ceased. During the engagement, the brave and efficient Col. P. F. Liddell, Eleventh Mississippi, fell, mortally wounded. The officers and men of my command having been without food for three days, except a half ration of beef for one day, and green corn, General Lawton, with two brigades, was directed to take my position, to enable my men to cook.
On the morning of the 17th instant, about 3 o'clock, the firing commenced along the line occupied by General Lawton. At 6 o'clock I received notice from him that he would require all the assistance I could give him. A few minutes after, a member of his staff reported to me that he was wounded and wished me to come forward as soon as possible. Being in readiness, I at once marched out on the field in line of battle and soon became engaged with an immense force of the enemy, consisting of not less than two corps of their army. It was here that I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms, by far, that has occurred during the war. The two little giant brigades of this division wrestled with this mighty force, losing hundreds of their gallant officers and men but driving the enemy from his position and forcing him to abandon his guns on our left. The battle raged with the greatest fury until about 9 o'clock, the enemy being driven from 400 to 500 yards. Fighting, as we were, at right angles with the general line of battle, and General Ripley's brigade being the extreme left of General D. H. Hill's forces and continuing to hold their ground, caused the enemy to pour in a heavy fire upon the rear and right flank of Colonel Law's brigade, rendering it necessary to move the division to the left and rear into the woods near the Saint Mumma church, which we continued to hold until 10 a.m., when General McLaws arrived with his command, which was at once formed in line and moved forward, engaging the enemy. My command was marched to the rear, ammunition replenished, and returned at 12 m., taking position, by direction of the general commanding, in rear of the church, with orders to hold it. About 4 p.m., by order, the division moved to the right, near the center, and remained there until the night of the 18th instant, when orders were received to recross the Potomac.
I would respectfully state that in the morning about 4 a.m. I sent Major Blanton, aide-de-camp, to Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill to know if he could furnish any troops to assist in holding the left of our position. He replied that he could not; and the major-general commanding is aware of the number of messages received from me asking for re enforcements, which I felt were absolutely required after seeing the great strength of the enemy in my front, and I am thoroughly of the opinion had General McLaws arrived by 8.30 a.m. our victory on the left would have been as thorough, quick, and complete as upon the plains of Manassas on August 30.
During the engagement, Major [J. H.]Dingle, jr., of Hampton's Legion, gallantly bearing the colors of his regiment; Major [Matt.] Dale, First Texas, and Major [T. S.] Evans, Eleventh Mississippi, fell, while leading their brave comrades against ten times their numbers.
Colonel [J. M.] Stone, Lieutenant-Colonel [D. W.] Humphreys, and Major [J. A.] Blair, Second Mississippi; Lieutenant-Colonel [S. F.] Butler. Eleventh Mississippi; Captain [L. H.] Scruggs, Fourth Alabama, and Major [R. F.] Webb, Sixth North Carolina, also received severe wounds.
Conspicuous were Colonels Law and Wofford, commanding brigades. Lieutenant-Colonel Gary, commanding Hampton's Legion; Lieut. Col. P. A. Work, commanding First Texas; Lieut. Col. B. F. Carter, commanding Fourth Texas; Captain Turner, commanding Fifth Texas, although not wounded, deserve great credit for their skillful management and coolness during the battle.
It is but justice to Col. J. C. G. Key, Fourth Texas, to state that he was present at the battles of Boonsborough Gap and Sharpsburg, although unable to take command of his regiment, in consequence of a severe wound received at the battle of Gaines' Farm, June 27.
During this engagement and that of the battle of Manassas, Reilly's, Bachman's, and Garden's batteries were admirably handled by the battery commanders; Maj. B. W. Frobel commanding, acting with great coolness and judgment upon the field.
Too much cannot be said of the members of my staff, the chief, Maj. W. H. Sellers, having his horse shot while ably directing the Texas brigade at the battle of Manassas during the time of my being sent for by the general commanding to receive additional orders. He has proven himself competent to command a brigade under all circumstances. This distinguished officer, together with my two aides (Maj. B. H. Blanton and Lieut. James Hamilton), had their horses shot during the battle of Sharpsburg while most gallantly pushing forward the troops and transmitting orders. Major Blanton, Lieutenant Hamilton, Lieut. Joseph Phillips, C. S. Army, of General Magruder's staff, and Capt. C. S. Mills, assistant quartermaster First Texas Regiment, rendered most invaluable service during the battle of Manassas in bringing forward and placing in position additional brigades upon the long to be remembered heights around the Chinn House.
Lieut. D. L. Sublett, acting division ordnance officer, was prompt in bringing forward ammunition, and otherwise efficiently performed the duties pertaining to his department.
All praise is due Dr. [John T.] Darby, chief surgeon of this division, for his untiring efforts and skillful manner in caring for the numerous wounded.
Dr. [E. J.] Roach, senior surgeon Texas Brigade, and Dr. [H. H.] Hubbard, senior surgeon Law's brigade, Dr. Breckinridge, and all other surgeons and assistant surgeons of this command, have my heartfelt thanks for their able services.
I would be wrong in not acknowledging the valuable services rendered during the several engagements, in transmitting orders, of the following couriers of this command: M. M. Templeman, T. W. C. Lake, J.P. Mahoney, James Malone, W. E. Duncan, J. A. Mann, W. J. Barbee, W. G. Jesse, J. I. Haggerty, and J. H. Drake.
For additional particulars, reference is made to the reports of brigade and regimental commanders, herewith respectfully submitted.
Below will be found a report of casualties.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
|Boonsborough Gap, Md