[Colonel R. BIDDLE ROBERTS,
Commanding First Brigade.]
HDQRS. 1ST RIFLES, PENNSYLVANIA RESERVE VOL. CORPS,
September 22, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that the First Rifles went into action on the 14th instant with about 275 men and 13 officers, under the command of Colonel Hugh W. McNeil. Six companies were deployed as skirmishers and the remaining four held as supports. We advanced but a short distance up the mountain before the enemy's skirmishers were discovered, when a brisk fire was encountered. The order was immediately given to advance at a double-quick, which order was promptly obeyed, driving the enemy before us, until we came upon his main body placed in a most advantageous position for offering a strong resistance to our farther advance. Our men now engaged the enemy with great spirit. At this moment our re-enforcements appeared, causing the enemy to waver and gradually retire up the mountain. The order to charge was now passed along the line, and we rapidly pushed forward, causing him finally to give way and beat a precipitate retreat down the western slope of the mountain, leaving us in possession of the field and position. Owing to the death of Colonel McNeil I am unable to give a more detailed account of the action of this day. Our loss during this engagement was 16 killed and 35 wounded; of the latter 6 are known to have since died. Among those who particularly distinguished themselves for gallantry on this occasion I have to mention the following: Captain Edward A. Irvin (severely wounded), Captain A. E. Niles, Adjt. William R. Hartshorne, Lieuts. James M. Welch, Lucius Truman, S. A. Mack, Jr. (wounded), N. B. Kinsey, David G. McNaughton., and Sergt. Major Roger Sherman. I felt great reluctance in singling out individuals, as the officers and men on this occasion behaved most gallantly.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, Commanding First Rifles
HDQRS. 1ST RIFLES, PENNSYLVANIA RESERVE
September 22, 1862.
COLONEL: I have to report that the First Rifles, under the command of Colonel Hugh W. McNeil, was, about 4 p. m. of the 16th instant, ordered by General Seymour to deploy as skirmishers and ascertain the enemy's position. Four companies were immediately deployed, the remaining six, under command of Lieutenant Welch, held in reserve. The whole advance moved forward steadily but cautiously for about three-quarters of a mile, when the enemy's pickets were discovered extending in a line across a plowed field in front of a large strip of woods, in which a large body were masked. They at once opened upon us a raking fire from the infantry, which was replied to, the reserve of our regiment being at once called to the support of our skirmishers. No sooner had we formed a line of battle than we were opened upon by two batteries, one upon our right, with grape and canister, the other on our left, throwing shell. After remaining in this position some fifteen minutes Colonel McNeil gave the order to charge and drive the enemy from the woods. Gallantly placing himself in the advance, he led the command to within a few paces of the woods, when he fell, pierced to the heart by a rifle-ball. Still we did not pause, but drove the enemy from the woods and maintained the position during the night, re-enforcements having come to our assistance. As soon as daylight appeared on the following morning (the 17th instant) the enemy again opened upon us. We remained in our position until our ammunition was expended, when, relieved by another regiment, we were ordered to fall back to supply ourselves afresh with ammunition. About 12 o'clock we were again ordered to the front, but were not brought into action. Our loss during this battle was 6 killed, among whom was Colonel McNeil and Lieutenant William Allison; 23 wounded, including 2 officers, Lieutenants Welch and Bell. We also lost in missing 10 men, of whom nothing has since been learned. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the officers and men on this occasion, and feel unwilling to make a distinction.
I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
Captain, Commanding First Rifles.
Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol LI, Part 1 (Supplements - Serial 107), Pages 155-156