October 21, 1862.
Brig. Gen. ALPHEUS S. WILLIAMS,
Comdg. Twelfth Corps, Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL: The condition of my health, consequent upon the wound I received at the battle of Antietam on the 17th of September last, has prevented the transmission of an earlier report of the part taken my command in that action. Upon the assignment of General Mansfield to the command of the corps (Twelfth), on the 14th of September, I resumed the command of the First Brigade, of your division (First). My command consisted of the following regiments: Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, Colonel J. F. Knipe; Tenth Maine, Colonel G. L. Beal; Fifth Connecticut, Captain H. W. Daboll; Twenty-eighty New York, Captain W. H. H. Mapes commanding; One hundred and twenty-fourth Pennsylvania, Colonel J. W. Hawley commanding; One hundred and twenty-fifth Pennsylvania, Colonel J. Higgins; One hundred and twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel S. Croasdale. The last three mentioned regiments were new organizations from the nine months' levy, and had seen no field service whatever. The Fifth Connecticut was not in action.
On the night of the 16yh of September, while lying massed with the army on the Antietam, orders were received to proceed by the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg road toward the position occupied by the corps of Major-General Hooker, which had been engaged with the enemy. My brigade led the march of the corps, when, leaving the main road, before daylight we took up a position on Poffenberger's farm, to the rear and left of General Hooker's force. At early dawn on the 17th my command was moved forward in column of companies still leading the corps. Passing through strips of woods, and open ground and cornfields, we were suddenly halted, and a deployment ordered without delay. While in the act of executing the order I received orders from General Mansfield, in person, to suspend the deployment and again to mass my command, although the command was then exposed to an artillery fire. A third order to again deploy was brought to me by one of officers of the division staff, and I at once deployed, my command being on the right of the line, which rested on a turnpike, and moved forward thought the woods and open space, driving before us a thin line of the enemy's skirmishers. The new regiments from Pennsylvania (One hundred and twenty-fourth, One hundred and twenty-fifth, and One hundred and twenty-eighth) moved with great promptness and with the coolness of old troops, although they had not before been under fire. During this movement the One hundred and twenty-fourth Pennsylvania, Colonel Hawley, was detached from my brigade by some superior order unknown to me, and sent in advance through the woods on our right to Miller's farm, to hold that position.
The struggle for the skirt of the woods to which the enemy clung, and the open space and corn-fields opposite and along the turnpike on the right, was long and determined. Finally the enemy was driven out of the woods across the fields, and into the opposite woods beyond the rocky ridges, to his supports. There he rallied, and bringing up fresh troops, our lines were exposed not only to a severe fire of his infantry, but also to an effective of his artillery on our right. While engaged in the struggle for the corn-field, Colonel Croasdale, of the One hundred and twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, was killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hammersley, of the same regiment, severely wounded. The One hundred and twenty-fifth Pennsylvania, Colonel Higgins, in the general movement had pushed on into the woods beyond our lines, and had become seriously engaged with the enemy while much exposed, but returned in good order with great loss to our lines.
Shortly before our movement, Major-General Hooker had come to examine my position, and I received orders from him to hold the woods (Miller's) at all hazards, as otherwise the right of the army would be seriously imperiled. General Mansfield, the corps commander, had been mortally wounded, and was borne past my position to the rear. Shortly afterward I received an order from a staff officer of Brigadier-General Williams to assume command of the First Division, he having assumed command of the corps. Sending orders to Colonel Knipe, of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, the senior colonel of my brigade, to assume command at once of the brigade, I rode forward to find the Third Brigade (Gordon's) which had moved into action on the center of our line, and had been gallantly pushing the enemy before it. Our line had driven the enemy from Miller's woods across the wheat-fields into the woods beyond the Dunkard Church and Hagerstown road. A line wooden fence which skirted the road had proved a very serious obstacle to our farther advance. The regiments of the Third Brigade had become separated. In the absence of the brigade commander, I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews, commanding the Second Massachusetts, to maintain his position until the line could be formed.
It was nearly 9 o'clock. The enemy had brought up his reserves, and was contesting the possession of the woods around the Dunkard Church and the Hagerstown road, when Major-General Summer arrived on the field with his corps. Immediately the division of General Sedgwick was deployed, and I received orders to withdraw the troops of my division to the woods held in the morning, to rest my troops and replenish their exhausted ammunition. Meantime Sedgwick's division moved forward promptly upon the enemy's position, but, unable to dislodge the enemy gave way under the attack and were falling back, when I received orders from Brigadier-General Williams to move forward all my available troops to the support of our troops under Sedgwick. The Third Brigade had received direct orders from the corps commander, and had moved gallantly forward, but under the severe fire had been compelled to fall back. While endeavoring to rally part of this command, I received a gunshot wound in the right thigh, but I did not at the time consider it sufficiently severe to leave my command, and I remained until night.
Our whole line now retired to the position occupied in the morning and my exhausted command held the woods known as the "Miller woods," the Third Brigade in the rear and left. A section of a battery under Lieutenant Thomas, and also Knap's Pennsylvania battery, were stationed at the point of these woods upon a road running across toward the Dunkard Church. The enemy continued his fire upon the woods, and at noon advanced his infantry to take possession of them. Being present with the batteries mentioned, I assumed the control, and sent back a staff officer (Captain d'Hauteville) to hasten to their support any infantry he might find. Major General Franklin arriving with his corps, I indicated to him the position and movement of the enemy, when, by the prompt movement of Major-General Smith's command, and the effective fire of the batteries, the enemy was repulsed and driven back to his lines, and made no further attempt on the right of our line. In obedience to the orders of the corps commander I directed Brigadier General Gordon, commanding Third Brigade, to proceed with his command to the support of Major-General Franklin.
It was now night; the action had ceased; when, exhausted from the loss of blood and the state of my wound, I reported to the general commanding the corps, and left the field. The regiments composing my command did their duty nobly, but it is my duty to call the special attention of the corps commander to the bearing and conduct of the new regiments that had so recently joined the command. Their service in the field were most valuable, and, considering the fact that they were for the first time under fire, their conduct merits the warmest commendation. In my absence the subordinate reports will be made to my successor, and officers and men who have distinguished themselves will be specified, doubtless, by their commanding officers. Brigadier-General Gordon, commanding Third Brigade, was active and efficient during the whole day, and his brigade rendered important service. Colonel Knipe, of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, who commanded my brigade after I had assumed command of the division, will undoubtedly report to you the services of the First Brigade after I left it. Of my staff officers, I desire to mention Captain Frederick d'Hauteville, my assistant adjutant-general, who was indefatigable in rendering me the most important services on the field; also to Captain Livingston, aide de-camp; to Lieutenant Witman, aide-de-camp, who conveyed my orders most intelligently, and often under circumstances of great personal exposure, from first to last. Our casualties were 1,076 killed, wounded, and missing.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. CRAWFORD,
Brig. Gen. U. S. V., late Comdg. 1st Div., 12th Corps, Army of Va.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 484 - 486