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Lt John S. Poland's Official Reports

Reports of Sepember 22 & 24, 1862 of Antietam and Shepherdstown

[author biography]


September 22, 1862.

Second Lieutenant E. E. SELLERS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade Regulars.

SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by the battalion of Second and Tenth Infantry in the engagement on the 17th instant at Sharpsburg, Md.

My command consisted of nine companies Second Infantry, commanded as follows: Company A, First Sergt. Thomas Byrne; Company B, First Lieutenant William F. Drum, Second Infantry; Company C, Second Lieutenant Abraham Grafius, Second Infantry; Company D, First Lieutenant George H. McLoughlin, Second Infantry; Company E, First Lieutenant Charles M. Freeman; Company G, Second Lieutenant Claude S. Robertson, Tenth Infantry; Company F, First Lieutenant J. W. Gray, Eleventh Infantry; Company I, First Lieutenant S. A. McKee, Second Infantry; Company K, Second Lieutenant Robert G. Wells, Tenth Infantry, and three companies Tenth Infantry, united under command of First Lieutenant George S. Lauman, Tenth Infantry.

By order of Major Lovell, Tenth Infantry, commanding Second Brigade Regulars, I moved across Antietam Creek by the turnpike [Middle] bridge to support Captain Tidball's battery, then hard pressed by the enemy's sharpshooters. On arriving near the battery on left of the turnpike I halted the command, being ordered to report to General Pleasonton for further instructions. While seeking him, I received his order through Lieutenant Cutting, acting assistant adjutant-general to Brigadier-General Sykes, to throw forward a line of skirmishers to drive back the enemy. Captain Tidball, who was relieved by Captain Robertson's battery, then retired. Four companies from the left deployed as skirmishers, when Captain Robertson withdrew his battery. A lieutenant-colonel of cavalry desired me to relieve a party of his command with my infantry, which I did. Captain Randol, First Artillery, brought up his battery of Napoleon guns, and occupied the position formerly occupied by Captains Tidball and Robertson. My skirmishers were advanced in front of this position from 300 to 400 yards. Five companies were held as reserve, and for any disposition that might be required. Captain Randol, finding his battery could effect nothing, withdrew it, and advanced Lieutenant Van Reed's battery to the right of the turnpike.

I then sent a note to Major Lovell explaining my position. Captain Dryer, Fourth Infantry, came up, stating he had an order to take command of all the skirmishers. By his direction I deployed the force held in reserve, and advanced them on the line occupied; then threw forward the whole line to a fence along a road running perpendicularly to the turnpike and to the left. Lieutenant McKee, commanding Companies I and A, Second Infantry, while deploying to the front, was severely wounded and compelled to leave the field. The command of these companies devolved on First Sergt. Francis E. Lacey, Company I, Second Infantry, who handled them well. In advancing to the fence, at which our line was to rest, the skirmishers were obliged to pass over a ridge completely commanded by the enemy's sharpshooters and battery posted to the left of the corn-field in front of the right of my line. When we appeared above its crest of the enemy opened with a heavy fire of case-shot and canister. The line did not waver, but rapidly moved to the fence. The right advanced beyond, however, before I could convey the order to them to halt at the fence, and by a well-directed fire compelled the enemy's cannoneers to leave their guns. At this juncture the fire from our own batteries compelled them to fall back to the fence, as their shells fell short. Lieutenant McLoughlin and Sergeant Lacey commanded the companies on the right. Sergeant Lacey was soon after wounded, and unwillingly compelled to leave the field. Our position was held until all the ammunition had been expended on the left and nearly all on the right. I reported our wants to Captain Dryer, and after the Seventeenth Michigan Regiment Volunteers arrived on our line, by his direction I assembled the battalion on the center files. The Fourteenth Infantry, First Battalion, came up on the right. I next quietly withdrew a short distance, halted the battalion under shelter to await a supply of ammunition. Before assembling the command, the enemy advanced a regiment to protect the withdrawal of their guns from the hill directly in front of our left. This regiment was driven back, but their object had been effected. About dusk I received an order to fall back to the bridge. On the way received another order to return to camp, which I did.

I must express my indebtedness to First Lieuts. J. W. Gray, Eleventh Infantry; A. W. Kroutinger, adjutant, Second Infantry; George S. Lauman, Tenth Infantry; Williams F. Drum and George H. McLoughlin, Second Infantry, for important assistance in handling successfully a very extended line of skirmishers. I would again bring to your notice First Sergt. F. E. Lacey as worthy a recommendation for a commission; also Sergt. Major William Fouck [Falck], Second Infantry. Those who most distinguished themselves for excellent behavior are First Sergt. Francis E. Lacey, Company I; First Sergt. Thomas Byrne, Company A; First Sergt. James Butler, Company C; Sergt. William Mitchell, Company D; First Sergt. Daniel W. Burke, Company B; First Sergt. Michael Dolan, Company E; First Sergt. John Trueman, Company F; Sergts. Martin Walsh and Timothy Hays, Company A. Private De Witt C. Burke, Company C, was crippled slightly by a wound in the foot, but remained with the regiment until the close of the action. He is a brave soldier. Musician George Miller, Company G, seized a musket on the field and used it with good effect during the hottest part of the engagement.

Respectfully submitted.

First Lieutenant 2nd Infantry, Commanding Batt.2nd and 10th Infantry.


Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 24, 1862.

Second Lieutenant E. E. SELLERS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade Regulars.

SIR: As directed, I reported that I marched my regiment with the Second Brigade Regulars, Major C. S. Lovell commanding, across the Potomac river at the ford below Shepherdstown, W. Va., and about a mile beyond the river, when the enemy was discovered in force. A halt was ordered. The enemy advanced upon us. Our brigade retired in good order to an open space bordering the river, then halted. The enemy's skirmishers continued to advance. The Sixth and Second Regiments U. S. Infantry were formed on the left of our position, the Second occupying the extreme left and the edge of a heavy wood, with ordered to hold the position at all hazards. The strength of the enemy forbade our remaining in this position. Timely orders from Major Lovell were received to fall back near the river and take position as well as I could under cover of the hill, which I obeyed promptly and in good order. I then threw out skirmishers on the flanks to keep the enemy's skirmishers at bay. This position was held but a short time, when we were ordered to recross the river. This was accomplished in admirable order.

I append a list of casualties; also certificate of First Lieutenant Wm. F. Drum, Second Infantry, of the gallant conduct of First Sergt. D. W. Burke, Company B, Second Infantry. I would call the attention of the brigade commander to this paper particularly.

Respectfully submitted.

Captain Second Infantry, Commanding Second and Tenth Infantry.


Captain J. S. POLAND,
Second Infantry, Commanding Battalion.

September 25, 1862.

SIR: I respectfully call to the notice of the officer commanding the gallant conduct of First Sergt. Daniel W. Burke, Company B, Second Infantry, on the 20th instant. When our troops were falling back across the Potomac, on hearing that a piece of artillery had been left unspiked, he volunteered to go back and do it, and, on getting permission, did go back and assist in spiking said gun in the face of the enemy's sharpshooters.

Hoping that the case will be noticed as it deserves, I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

First Lieutenant Second Infantry, Commanding Company B.


Respectfully forwarded. This non-commissioned officer has been mentioned before for good conduct in face of the enemy.

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 362 - 364


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