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Col Samuel McGowan's Official Report

Report of February 9, 1863 for Gregg's Brigade

S. McGowan

[author biography]

HDQRS. 2nd Brigade, A. P. HILL'S LIGHT DIV., 2nd A. C.,
Camp Gregg, Va., February 9, 1863.

Major R. C. MORGAN,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

MAJOR: In compliance with the request of Major-General Hill, to send in a report of all military operations in which this brigade was engaged from the time when General Lee took command at Gordonsville to the time when we left the valley, I have the honor to submit the following general statement, which has been delayed on account of the absence of two regiments on fatigue duty:

Not having been in command of the brigade, but only of one of its regiments (the Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers) during these operations, I have not been able to make such a detailed report of particular events as the subject deserved, but am obliged to content myself with a mere outline of operations the most important. Would that the lamented General Gregg, lately in command of the brigade, was here to make out the report of achievements in which he performed so large a part himself and which he could have recorded better than any one else. I understand that the call does not include the Cedar Run (or Slaughter Mountain) campaign, which this brigade, as part of your division, made under Major-General (now Lieutenant-General) Jackson.*

[Portions of report omitted here are in the OR, Series I, Vol. 12, Part 2, Pages 678-683]


The brigade left Ox Hill on September 3, and, marching through Dranesville and Leesburg, crossed the Potomac into Maryland at White's Ford on the 5th. They rested at Monocacy Junction, near Frederick City, until the 10th, when, in order to perform their part in the investment and capture of Harper's Ferry, they commenced a forced march, and making a large circuit by way of Boonsborough, Williamsport, and Martinsburg, reached the vicinity of Harper's Ferry from the Virginia side on the 13th.

Sunday, the 14th, the brigade moved down the Winchester Railroad, on the left bank of the Shenandoah, and were engaged during the night until 2 o'clock the next morning in getting into position on the plateau between the Shenandoah and Bolivar Heights, the latter place being held by a strong force of the enemy. Here morning dawned upon the command ready to storm the heights. The view was magnificent, presenting such a spectacle as is rarely seen. At early dawn the batteries of McIntosh and Davidson opened upon the left of our position, and soon after other batteries commenced firing upon the enemy from the Loudoun Heights beyond the Shenandoah. When everything was ready for the assault, a white flag was seen displayed by the enemy as evidence of surrender, and at 7.30 o'clock on the morning of September 15 Major General A. P. Hill entered the captured works. At 9 o'clock the brigade was marched up to the heights and employed in guarding prisoners, arms, &c. We sustained no loss in these brilliant operations.


At Harper's Ferry, during the 16th, heavy cannonading on the Maryland side was distinctly heard, and on Wednesday we made a forced march up the river, crossed the river at Boteler's Ford, a short distance below Shepherdstown, and arrived on the field of Sharpsburg in the afternoon, about 2 miles from the Potomac, reaching the actual presence of the enemy at 3.40 p.m., which was not a moment too soon for the fortunes of the day. The general line of our army seemed to be in front of the town of Sharpsburg, facing east, with its right flank stretching toward the Potomac. The enemy were in front along the line of the Antietam River. We came upon the field on the extreme right of our line, perhaps 2 miles from the Potomac. It was seen at once that a large force of the enemy (said to be Burnside's division) were in the act of sweeping down the Antietam and around our right, with the object, manifestly, of cutting off our Army from the Potomac.

The Light Division came from the proper direction and at the right moment to meet this column and drive it back across the Antietam. Gregg's brigade was placed in position on the right. The Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers (Lieutenant-Colonel Simpson) being the leading regiment, was not actively engaged. The First (Colonel Hamilton), Twelfth (Colonel Barnes), and Thirteenth South Carolina Volunteers (Colonel Edwards) formed in line of battle, and were directed to enter the field to the left of the Fourteenth and drive back the enemy. This line advanced to the top of a hill in a corn-field, and there engaged the enemy, who appeared advancing in force upon the opposite hill, and held a fence in the ravine between the hills. They checked at once the advance of the enemy. Colonel Edwards, on the left, took up a strong position behind a stone fence and held it. Colonel Barnes advanced down the hill, and with a charge gallantly drove the enemy from the fence in front. He was, however, in a few moments flanked by a large body on the right, and had to retire his regiment a short distance up the hill, the enemy immediately reoccupying the fence. Colonel Barnes soon returned to the attack, and upon the same ground charged with his fine regiment three times, and the last time drove them from the fence and up the hill beyond, with great slaughter.

In the mean time Colonel Hamilton, feeling a heavy pressure upon his right, obliqued his regiment in that direction and gallantly drove them, clearing the front and at the same time covering the right of Colonel Barnes. A heavy body now appeared on the right of Colonel Hamilton, and Captain Perrin, commanding Orr's Rifles, was sent out to sweep the field in that direction. He led his regiment up a hill, discovered the enemy in the hollow beyond, dispersed them at once, and held the position, which was somewhat in advance of the general line. Thus, the columns which were enveloping the right of our army were driven back at all points, and, at the last moment, Sharpsburg made a victory for the Confederate arms.

The brigade held its position on the field all night, the next day, and until 3 o'clock in the morning of Friday, the 19th, when they joined the division and moved toward Boteler's Ford, on the Potomac, which was crossed without losing a man. In the critical operation of crossing the river in the face of so large a force, the Light Division (General A. P. Hill) was the rear guard, and Gregg's brigade was in rear of the division. Two companies of the Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers, under the command of Captain Brown, were thrown out by Lieutenant-Colonel [W. D.] Simpson as skirmishers, in a corn-field about a mile from the river, thus covering the passage of the army.

About 9 a.m., while the Light Division was crossing, Captain Brown's small detachment was attacked by cavalry, but, dispersing them by a single volley, they succeeded in reaching the river and crossing in safety.

The fighting at Sharpsburg was severe, and the loss considerable, being, in the aggregate, 165.

Among the killed were Col. Dixon Barnes, Captain F. A. Erwin, and Lieutenant [J. B.] Blackman, of the Twelfth South Carolina Volunteers, and Lieutenant G. A. [actually Archibald, not G. A. ] McIntyre, of the First South Carolina Volunteers.

Among the wounded were Captain M. P. Parker, of the First South Carolina Volunteers; Capts. J. L. Miller and H. C. Davis, Lieuts. R. M. Kerr, W. J. Stover, and S. Y. Roseborough, of the Twelfth South Carolina Volunteers, Captain J. M. Perrin, commanding Orr's Rifles, and Lieuts. J. M. Wheeler and W. L. Litzsey, of the Thirteenth.

Where all did so well it may not be unpardonable to declare that in this battle the palm was borne off by the intrepid Colonel Barnes, who nobly fell while leading the invincible Twelfth in their last victorious charge. Colonel Barnes was as amiable and generous in peace as he was gallant and irresistible in war. Having large wealth and high position at home, he left all to fall at the head of his beloved regiment, gallantly struggling for the independence of his country.

Statement of killed, wounded, and missing.

Command.              Killed    Wounded   Missing 	Aggregate
1st South Carolina       4        30         -         34
Orr's Rifles             3         9         -         12
12th South Carolina     20        82         2        104
13th South Carolina      1        14         -         15
Total                   28       135         2        165


After crossing the river into Virginia and marching about 5 miles, the brigade spent the night, and was ordered back next morning, the 20th, to Boteler's Ford, near Shepherdstown, to drive back the enemy, who was reported to be crossing at that point. General Gregg formed line of battle (Orr's Rifles deployed as skirmishers in front) and advanced in splendid style. The batteries of the enemy on the Maryland side poured upon them a terrible fire of grape, round shot, and shell. Their practice was remarkably fine, bursting shells in the ranks at every discharge. The Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers (Lieutenant-Colonel Simpson), from the nature of the ground over which it passed, was particularly exposed. When the artillery made gaps in their ranks, they closed up like veterans, and marched on without confusion or in the least losing distance. The Rifles went down near to the river and drove the enemy into the water, most of them being either killed or drowned. The brigade lay under a terrible fire of shells all day, and at dark returned to bivouac.

The loss of the brigade was 63 killed and wounded, mostly in the Fourteenth, among the killed being the brave, generous, and efficient Captain James H. Dunlap, of Laurens, S. C., who was blown to pieces by a shell, and among the wounded was Lieutenant D. H. Hamilton, Jr., adjutant of the First South Carolina Volunteers.

Statement of killed and wounded.

Command.                Killed     Wounded   Aggregate.
Orr's Rifles              -            1         1
1st South Carolina        -            4         4
12th South Carolina       -            1         1
13th South Carolina       -            2         2
14th South Carolina       10          45        55
Total                     10          53        63


On Sunday, November 2, occurred the affair the Castleman's Ford, near Snicker's Gap. Gregg's and Thomas' brigades, accompanied by a battery of artillery, were thrown forward as a sort of picket to secure that ford against any effort General McClellan (who was reported to be at Snickersville in force) might make to pass the mountains there. Gregg's brigade took position, and, under light fire of artillery, awaited the approach of the enemy, who never reached our side of the ford. In this affair the brigade lost 3 wounded, 1 mortally.

Statement of killed and wounded.

Command.                 Killed      Wounded    Aggregate
Orr's Rifles                1            -          1
12th South Carolina         -            2          2
Total                       1            2          3

The brigade remained in bivouac at different places in the lower valley until Saturday, November 22, when they moved with the Light Division from Jordan's Spring, on the Opequon, near Winchester. Marching up the Winchester and Staunton turnpike, we turned to the left at New Market, passed the Blue Ridge,at Milan's Gap, then covered with snow, and on the 27th left the beautiful valley of Virginia. Passing by Madison and Orange, we reached the Massaponax hills, near Fredericksburg, on Wednesday, December 3, having made a march of 175 miles in twelve days.

Again regretting much the many imperfections of this hasty sketch of operations, which must be historical, I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Second Brigade, Light Division.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 987 - 990


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