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Col Montgomery D. Corse's Official Report

Report of September 23, 1862 on Boonsborough and Sharpsburg

M.D. Corse

[author biography]


My regiment was placed in line of battle about 4 p. m., in a field to the right of the road leading to the summit of the mountain and to the left of Crampton's Gap. In the act of taking that position the regiment was subjected to a very fierce shelling from a battery of the enemy about 600 or 800 yards on our right, which enfiladed our line. Fortunately however, we suffered very little loss from that, having but 2 men slightly wounded. I moved the regiment forward about 100 yards, by your orders, toward a woods in our front, and ordered Lieutenant [F. W.] Lehew, with his company, to deploy forward as skirmishers into the woods and to engage the enemy, which were supposed to be there. Very soon I heard shots from our skirmishers. Your aide, Captain Beckham, at this time delivered me an order to move my regiment by the left flank and to connect my line with the Eleventh, occupying a corn-field, which order was obeyed, when Colonel [William D.] Stuart's regiment (Fifty-sixth Virginia), of Pickett's brigade, joined my right. Immediately the brigade on our right became hotly engaged. We reserved our fire, no enemy appearing in our front. After the fire had continued about fifteen minutes, Colonel Stuart reported to me that the troops on his right had fallen back. I observed that they had abandoned the left of the Eleventh. I communicated my intention to Colonel Stuart and Major Clement, of the Eleventh, to fall back about 10 or 15 steps behind a fence, which was simultaneously done by the three regiments in good order. We held this position until long after dark, under a severe fire of musketry obliquely on our right flank and in front, until nearly every cartridge was exhausted.

Shortly after the enemy had ceased firing (about 7.30 p. m.), I received your order to withdraw my regiment, which was done in good order, and halted to rest on the Boonsborough and Fredericktown road, with the other regiments of your brigade.

In this engagement I was particularly struck with the determined courage of officers and men. They held their ground manfully against a largely superior number, as far as I could judge from the heavy fire of the enemy upon our right and front Those who deserve particular mention for distinguished gallantry and activity were Captain J. T. Burke, of Company D; Lieutenant Thomas Perry, of Company A; Lieutenant [S. S.] Turner, of Company B, and Lieutenants Athey and [F. B.] Littleton, of Company C; and Color-Corporals Murphy and W. Harper, of Company E, won my highest admiration for their cool bravery.


About 4 p. m. the enemy was reported to be advancing. We moved forward with the First and Eleventh Regiments (the Seventh and Twenty-fourth being detached to operate on some other part of the field) of the brigade to the top of the hill to a fence, and immediately engaged the enemy at a distance of 50 or 60 yards, at the same time under fire from their batteries on the hills beyond. My regiment, being the extreme right on the line there engaging the enemy, came directly opposite the colors of the regiment to which it was opposed, consequently being overlapped by them, as far as I could judge, at least 100 yards. Regardless of the great odds against them, the men courageously stood their ground until, overwhelmed by superior numbers, they were forced to retire.

I have to state here, general, that we put into the fight but 46 enlisted men and 9 officers. Out of this number, 7 officers and 24 men were killed and wounded and 10 taken prisoners.

It was here that Captain J. T. Burke and Lieutenant Littleton fell-two of the bravest and most valuable officers of my command. Color-Corporal Harper also fell, fighting heroically, at his post. These brave men, I think, deserve particular mention.

I received a wound in the foot, which prevented me from retiring with our line, and was left in the hands of the enemy for a short time, but was soon rescued by General Toombs' brigade and a portion of yours, which drove the enemy back beyond the line we had occupied in the morning.

I saw Major Herbert come up with a portion of the men of the First, Eleventh, and Seventeenth Regiments of your brigade, on the left of General Toombs' line, cheering the men on with his accustomed cool and determined valor.

Lieutenant W. W. Athey, Company C, captured a regimental color of the One hundred and third New York Regiment, presented to them by the city council of New York City, which I herewith forward to you.

My wound being painful, I rode to the surgeon to have it examined, leaving the command to Major Herbert.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 904 - 905


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