CAMP NEAR MARTINSBURG, VA.,
September 23, 1862.
Col. H. L. BENNING,
Commanding First Brigade, First Division.
DEAR SIR: I beg to submit to you the following report of my command, Seventeenth Georgia Volunteers, during the engagement near Sharpsburg, Md., on the Antietam, September 17, 1862:
My command, together with Fifteenth Georgia and five companies of the Eleventh Georgia Regiment, were posted as support to the Twentieth and Second Georgia Regiments, who were engaged at the Stone Bridge, and who distinguished themselves in the extreme in driving the enemy away, who attacked them with vastly superior numbers of infantry; also had batteries, which commanded the bridge. Still the gallant Twentieth and Second held the position until all their ammunition was exhausted. They then fell back. About this time we were relieved by a portion of General A. P. Hill's division, as I thought to go to the support of our own division and to rest a little, for we were worn almost down by fatiguing marches, but in the meantime the enemy were advancing on the left of the position which we had been holding. After the position was taken by those who relieved us we proceeded to go to the position where we were ordered, and while on the march toward the left we were notified that the enemy were advancing in strong force, and that our forces which were posted in their front had, after a very short resistance, given way and left one of our batteries exposed to the mercy of the enemy. Of course the gunners were then compelled to leave, and their condition was such that two or three pieces were left on the field. I received an order to bring my command up in double-quick time and engage the enemy, which I promptly obeyed. Never could men have acted more gallantly than those under my command, save a few, which I shall hereafter mention. When I reached the field I found the enemy's long lines in position in grand style. I took position and ordered my men to open fire upon them, at the same time to be cool and aim well, which they did. After a short but desperate struggle the enemy gave way, and we went forward. The battery was then safe. We engaged the enemy about 4 p. m., and it lasted until dark. We drove the enemy about three-quarters of a mile, and should have still pursued but for the prudence of yourself and General R. Toombs, who had discovered that the enemy had batteries on our left and were only waiting for our approach.
I must here thank Capt. H. L. French, acting lieutenant-colonel, and Lieut. W. M. Middlebrook, acting adjutant, for their aid to me in keeping the men in position and in encouraging them during the engagement. Lieut. J. B. Pickett acted very gallantly in encouraging his men. I must mention also that those men of Company A who went in acted gallantly, as they remained without a commander, Lieutenant Fentrall receiving a wound at the commencement of the fight. I must further mention the privates and non-commissioned officers who came under my immediate notice, and who deserve praise for their daring amid coolness, viz: J. H. Howell, private Company B; C. C. Fickling, J. McCullough, and W. J. Skinner, privates of Company C; Sergt. J. C. Haire and Corpl. C. H. Perry, Company D; G. W. Hall, private Company F; Daniel Duffy, of Company G; J. N. Hutchinson, Company H. In fact, it is hard to make any distinction, as all acted gallantly. I will here mention those spoken of above as reported to me by company commanders, viz: H. W. King, J. L. Darby, It. A. Bell, McFarland, and G. L. Matthews, privates of Company A, fell out and were not seen on the battle-field. B. Beeman, private Company B, failed to stand to the colors. John Key, private, Company C, fell out without permission in the face of the enemy. W. Emanuel and J. MeNair, privates Company D, not in the battle - absent without leave. A. H. Howell, private of Company F, detailed to bring water, not heard from since. McDonald and Cohen, privates Company F, fell out while going to the field and did not report until next day. H. Jackson and P. Head, privates Company G, failed to stand to the colors. Sergt. P. P. Truett, Corpl. J. W. Cline, and C. Chase, private Company H, fell out on the way to the field without permission. E. MeLeod and W. J. Wimberly, privates Company K, detailed to bring water, and did not return until after the fight.
JNO. A. McGREGOR
Captain, Commanding Seventeenth Regiment Georgia Volunteers.
1 US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Vol. 51/Part1 (Ser #107), pp. 167-168 [AotW citation 158]