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Maj George Cabell's Official Reports

Reports of October 1862 of Boonsborough and Sharpsburg

[author biography]


OCTOBER 14, 1862.


CAPTAIN: About 5 p. m. on Sunday, September 14, the Eighteenth Virginia Regiment, about 120 strong, under my command, after a rapid and fatiguing march from Hagerstown, was directed to a position a little north of the gap in South Mountain, near Boonsborough, Md. We were not fairly in position before the enemy's skirmishers were seen not far off and to their rear, their line of battle approaching. Fire was soon opened along the entire front of the Eighteenth Regiment, when the skirmishers retired, and soon the main body of the enemy fell back a short distance, sheltered themselves behind trees, rocks, &c., and opened a heavy fire upon us, which was replied to with spirit and vigor for some time.

After some three-quarters of an hour, word was brought that the regiments on our left had fallen back, and that the left of the Eighteenth was wavering. I at once repaired to the left of the regiment and aided in restoring comparatively good order, but soon after the order came along the lines to fall back, which was done, halting in a ravine about 100 yards to the rear of the position we had just left. Here the regiment was reformed. General Garnett did not approve of this last position, so he ordered the regiment to the edge of the wood and across a fence some 200 yards distant. In going to this position, the ground being uneven, and covered with bushes and briars, the regiment became a good deal scattered. As many of the regiment as could be, were collected, and, together with Captains Claiborne and Oliver, I marched them forward and took position on the left of Jenkins' brigade, which had just come up, and again engaged the enemy, the men fighting bravely. In some twenty-five or thirty minutes information was brought that General Garnett's brigade was ordered to retire. The men were then withdrawn, and, together with General Garnett, who was upon our left, retired from the field.

It is but just to say that the regiment was very much exhausted when it went into the fight, having marched in quick time from Hagerstown and around the mountain some 4 or 5 miles, and therefore fought under disadvantages. It nevertheless did good and effective fighting, and, had it been supported on the left, would have maintained its ground throughout the entire fight.

There were only seven officers besides myself with the regiment, and three of the companies were commanded by second sergeants.

The regiment lost 7 killed, 27 wounded, and 7 missing, a report of which has already been forwarded.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, Commanding Eighteenth Virginia Regiment.



OCTOBER 4, 1862.


CAPTAIN: Early on the morning of September 17, the Eighteenth Virginia Regiment, about 75 strong, under my command, was marched by the left flank into a position in rear of two batteries of the Washington Artillery, posted on a hill to the south and east of Sharpsburg, Md. The enemy were pouring a heavy fire of round and canister shot upon the hill when the brigade commanded by General Garnett was put in position, which was continued furiously during the day until about 3 p. m. Our position was changed two or three times during the morning, as circumstances required, moving alternately to the left and right, to shelter the men from a dreadful fire, to which it was impossible to reply with small-arms. The Eighteenth Regiment lost by this artillery fire alone 10 killed and wounded.

About 3 p. m. the enemy crossed the creek in heavy force and advanced upon us. My regiment, with the remainder of the brigade, was ordered to the summit of the hill, and fire was at once opened upon the enemy's skirmishers, who were soon driven back to their advancing line of battle, composed of two or three regiments, immediately in our front. The enemy came up rapidly, and we advanced a short distance to meet them. They, soon after receiving our first fire, fell back some little distance, and took shelter behind a rail fence, and opened a furious fire upon us. The fighting now became general along the line of the brigade, we gaining rather than losing ground, when the enemy was re-enforced by two or three regiments. These last regiments came up upon the left of the regiments already engaged with us, and extended their line perpendicularly to the rear, and opened a severe oblique fire, which was directed principally upon the Eighteenth and Eighth Virginia Regiments. We were compelled to change the front of several of our companies at this juncture, our fire never slackening. The enemy, though outnumbering us at least five to one, were held completely in check, and did not advance a pace.

About this time the brigades of Generals Kemper and Drayton fell back, and a large force opposed to them swung round toward Sharpsburg and were already getting in our rear, when General Garnett, from sheer necessity, ordered his brigade to retire. We had moved back some 50 yards when it was discovered that a battery ([A. S.] Cutts', I think) would be endangered by our falling back. I halted my little regiment, faced it about, and waited until the battery limbered up and moved off. The regiment was then drawn off with the remainder of the brigade.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the coolness and gallantry of my men. No man of the Eighteenth Regiment left his post until disabled, and all kept up a rapid and well-directed fire. The officers, too, acted with great gallantry.

Captains [T. D.] Claiborne, [J. A.] Holland, and [E. D.] Oliver; Lieuts. R. S. Jones, acting adjutant, and [W. H.] Smith, of Company K, and Sergeant Muses, Company G, were particularly active in the discharge of their duties.

The regiment lost in this fight 4 killed and 27 wounded, a report of which has been already forwarded. My entire color-guard was either killed or wounded.

I am, captain, very respectfully,

Major Eighteenth Virginia Regiment, Commanding.


Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 899 - 901


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