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Capt J Albert Monroe's Official Report

Report of September 26, 1862

J. A. Monroe

[author biography]

Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 26, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part the light batteries of this division took in the engagement of the 17th instant:
Early in the morning the enemy opened upon us an exceedingly brisk fire. In an extraordinarily short time all the division batteries except Company B, Fourth Artillery, were in position on the ridge upon which they had been during the night, and which ran nearly parallel with the position occupied by the enemy's guns, and about 800 or 1,000 yards from it. Before the enemy's batteries were silenced, which was done in about one hour and a quarter, Company L, First New York Artillery, was ordered through the wood at the left into the plowed land beyond, leaving in the position but Company D, Rhode Island Artillery, commanded by myself, and the First New Hampshire Battery, Lieutenant Edgell. But two batteries from another division came up and took position on the right.

Company B, Fourth Artillery, Captain J. B. Campbell, accompanied General Gibbon's brigade through the wood to the open ground beyond, where Lieutenant Stewart's section was detached from the battery, and ordered to a position near the turnpike, to shell the woods beyond. Here the section suffered severely in men and horses, but it did excellent service, throwing a body of the enemy, 400 or 500 strong, into considerable confusion, so that they partially broke and ran through a hollow, gaining the cover of some fence-rails.

About this time Captain Campbell placed his other four guns in position on the left of Lieutenant Stewart's section. In the mean time the enemy had crept into a corn-field near the battery and on the left of the turnpike, and opened a murderous fire, which was replied to with canister with good effect. Captain Campbell was here severely wounded in the shoulder, and the command of the company devolved upon Lieutenant Stewart. The battery was supported by General Gibbon's brigade and the Twentieth New York. Being very much weakened, General Gibbon directed Lieutenant Stewart to change position to the right, out of range of the enemy's musketry, and to shell the woods in front; but only one section went into position, on account of the great number of wounded men and horses in the other two sections. Company L, First New York Artillery, Captain J. A. Reynolds, after moving through the woods, was ordered to move forward into the plowed ground, where it took position and opened upon one of the enemy's batteries in the field beyond the turnpike, silencing it after a sharp fire of some time.

From this position Captain Reynolds was ordered by General Gibbon to move to the right and shell the woods in front. Company L and the section of Company B took this position about the same time, the section of Company B on the left of Company L. Soon after both of these batteries were ordered to the rear. Captain Reynolds went back to the ordnance train to obtain a supply of ammunition, and upon his return was ordered to the extreme right, where he had no opportunity to use his guns. Lieutenant Stewart retired to the rear of the wood through which he had advanced, removed his disabled horses, and regulated his men and horses throughout.

Shortly after the enemy's batteries upon the hill were silenced, and about the time Company B, Fourth Artillery, and Company L, New York Artillery, were ordered to the rear, Company D, Rhode Island Artillery, commanded by myself, was ordered through the wood, and immediately after the First Hampshire Battery, Lieutenant Edgell, was ordered to follow. General Hooker directed me to move forward beyond the second corn-field, if possible, and take position as near the wood as the ground would admit. I advanced, followed by Lieutenant Edgell, First New Hampshire Battery, and went into battery about 50 yards from the wood, the New Hampshire battery taking position, and about 100 yards to the rear.

A battery of the enemy here opened upon me, but no attention was paid to it, and its fire was perfectly ineffective; but the battery with one section opened upon a body of the enemy, who was seen retreating at the left of their front, and about 125 yards distant, throwing them into great confusion. The other four guns opened with canister and case upon a large force advancing through the woods in front, which were very open, and, with the assistance of the other section, which had accomplished its object by a few shots, and the First New Hampshire Battery, checked the enemy, and he retired out of sight.

While engaged forcing back the enemy in the wood, a body of sharpshooters had, unobserved, crept along under a little ridge that ran diagonally to the front of the Rhode Island battery, and opened a most unerring fire upon it, killing and disabling many horses and men. As quick as possible, a section was directed to open upon them with canister, which, though it caused them no injury, they lying down under the ridge, kept them almost silent, they firing but an occasional shot, but without effect.

While this section was keeping the sharpshooters silent, the other four guns, with the guns of Lieutenant Edgell, opened upon the battery that was still firing, and soon silenced it. I then ordered my battery to limber to the rear. The sharpshooters took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded, and opened most briskly, severely wounding a number of men and killing and disabling a large number of horses. My own horse was pierced by six bullets. All the horses but one lead horse of one piece were either killed, or disabled, and the piece had to be drawn away by hand by means of a prolong. The limber was left, but was subsequently recovered. The New Hampshire battery left its position at the same time, and went back to its original position.

After securing the piece that was drawn away by hand to its caisson, I moved my battery into the lot between the second corn-field and the plowed land beyond the first corn-field, and went into position with five guns, and shelled the woods beyond the turnpike. After firing a short time, I retired to my original position, when the disabled piece was sent to the rear. Soon after taking this position, the enemy's artillery opened from the same hill that it did in the early morning, but they were soon silenced by the New Hampshire and the Rhode Island batteries, with the assistance of the two other batteries that were still there. Lieutenant Stewart, after rearranging his horses, harness, and men, took position upon the same hill. There the batteries remained inactive until about 5 o'clock, when the enemy again opened a brisk fire upon the opposite hill, which was immediately replied to by all the guns we had in position on the hill, silencing the enemy in about ten minutes.

Lieutenant Stewart, Company B, Fourth Artillery, speaks with high praise of the following non-commissioned officers and privates of his company, and desires their names may be brought to the favorable notice of the general commanding: First Sergt. John Mitchell, Company B, Fourth Artillery; Sergt. Andrew McBride, Company B, Fourth Artillery; Sergt. William West, Company B, Fourth Artillery; Corp. Frederick A. Chapin, Company B, Fourth Artillery; Lance Corp. Alonzo Priest, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers; Lance Corp. Henry G. McDougal, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers; Privates Henry A. Childs, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers; James Cahoo, Company B, Fourth Artillery; William Kelly, Company B, Fourth Artillery; John B. Lackey, Company B, Fourth Artillery; William Green, Company B, Fourth Artillery; Jeremiah Murphy, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers; Charles Harris, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers; Elbridge E. Packard, Second Wisconsin Volunteers.

Very respectfully,

Captain, Commanding Artillery, First Div., First Army Corps.

Source: OR 1. The photograph from Battery A, 1st Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery Unit Association2 by kind permission of Gregg Mierka.


1   US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Vol. 19/Part1 (Ser #27), pp. 226 - 229  [AotW citation 65]

2   Mierka, Greg, webmaster, Battery A Rhode Island Unit Association History Page, Published c. 2001, first accessed 10 June 2005, <>, Source page: history  [AotW citation 66]


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