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BGen Marsena R Patrick's Official Reports

Reports of September 1862 on South Mountain and Antietam

M. R. Patrick

[author biography]

[South Mountain]

September 20, 1862.

Captain E. P. HALSTEAD,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Division Headquarters.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to the call from division headquarters, I have the honor to transmit the following report of the operations of this brigade on the 14th of September, in the affair on South Mountain:

The brigade marched with the division from the Monocacy at 6 o'clock a. m., and arrived at the Catoctin about 12.30 p. m., where the men made coffee, and about 2.30 p. m. resumed the march, under the orders of General Hatch, who had just relieved General King in command of the division. Striking off on a by-road to the right of the turnpike to avoid the fire of the enemy's batteries, we reached the stone church at the foot of the mountain at about 3.30 p. m., near which General Hooker and staff had halted. Under his direction, a regiment was ordered to ascend the ravine that partially divided the eastern slope of the mountain, throwing out skirmishers to the right and left.

Colonel Rogers, Twenty-first New York Volunteers, was assigned to this position, and went immediately forward. Subsequently General Hatch directed the other regiments forward to ascend the mountain in a line with the Twenty-first. Colonel Lord, commanding Thirty-fifth New York Volunteers, deployed his entire regiment to the left, which eventually overlooked the pike at the foot of the southern and western slopes. This regiment breasted the mountain with a rapid step. and without unslinging knapsacks; but, in consequence of the previous advance of the Twwenty-first, its left flank was lost sight of, and right of the Thirty-fifth failed to connect with it. Just before reaching the top of the mountain, the Twentieth New York State Militia (Eightieth New York Volunteers), Lieutenant-Colonel Gates commanding (Colonel G. W. Pratt having died of wounds received at Groveton), was thrown in to cover this opening until its extent could be ascertained by examination. The Twenty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, Colonel [Henry C.] Hoffman commanding, supported the Thirty-fifth on its left and center. The point of direction for the left wing was now changed farther to the right, and, while this was in progress, I went to the right and front to reconnoiter, for the purpose of connecting the skirmishers of the Thirty-fifth with the left of the Twenty-first, and while thus engaged drew the fire of the enemy, which revealed their position and enabled me to make the necessary preparations to meet them. A few minutes only were occupied in connecting the line of skirmishers, when Lieutenant-Colonel Gates with the Twentieth (Eightieth New York Volunteers) was ordered to join Colonel Rogers on the right and support him.

At this moment the head of General Hatch's brigade, Colonel Phelps commanding, arrived in support of my line, and the whole moved forward. The firing commenced within a few rods of this point, and appeared to be concentrated near the top of the mountain in front and on our right. The skirmishers of the Thirty-fifth and their supports of the Twenty-third were drawn in from the left, and merged in the general line of battle that was now moving steadily toward the summit of the mountain, under a most galling fire from the enemy above us, posted behind the trees and among the rocks. Before reaching the top of the hill, we were joined by Doubleday's brigade, and pushed to the summit, where the enemy were posted in force behind the fences, in the corn-field, and behind the rocky ledge.

On the right of my line Colonel Rogers, with the Twentieth (Eightieth New York Volunteers) and Twenty-first, had advanced cautiously until the enemy's position in the corn-field was discovered and a battery still higher up and farther to the right. Arrived within 30 paces of the top (eastern slope) of the mountain, Colonel Rogers pushed his command, in double-quick, up to the fence of the corn-field just in time to seize and hold it against a strong force of the enemy advancing to take possession of it. From this point the cannoneers of the battery were picked off so effectually as to silence it, and these two regiments participated in the general engagement that ensued all along the lines of Hatch, Meade, and Ricketts, resulting in a complete victory over the rebels and the possession of the open fields upon the mountain-top.

Darkness came on long before the firing had ceased, and it was impossible to rally, as a brigade, a line which had extended nearly 2 miles over an exceedingly rough and rocky mountain side and crest, covered sparsely in some places with oak and in others densely wooded with young pines. The Twentieth (Eightieth New York Volunteers) and Twenty-first remained during the night by the corn-field on the mountain, while the Twenty-third and Thirty-fifth, after the firing had ceased, retired to an open wood on the mountain side, where the Twenty-third had thrown off their knapsacks when ascending the heights.

On the morning of the 15th the brigade was reunited, and scarcely one man had failed to find and join his regiment during the night. The officers and men, although fatigued, pushed rapidly up the mountain, went into the engagement with spirit, and their conduct was such as to meet my entire approbation.

The casualties were as follows: [Nominal list, omitted, shows 3 killed, 19 wounded, and 1 missing.]

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 21, 1862.

Captain E. P. HALSTEAD,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Division Headquarters.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to the call from division headquarters for a report of the operations of the brigade under my command on the 17th instant, I have the honor to report the following statement:

The brigade, composed of the Twentieth New York State Militia [80th Volunteers], Twenty-first, Twenty-third, and Thirty-fifth New York Volunteers, leaving its position with the main body of the army near Keedysville toward evening on the 16th, crossed the ford of the Antietam, and marched nearly parallel with the other columns, my brigade leading the division commanded by General Doubleday. Arrived within three-quarters of a mile of the road from Sharpsburg to Williamsport, the Pennsylvania Reserves, General Meade commanding, became engaged on our left and in the woods with the enemy, whom they drove about half a mile. Meantime, and just as darkness was coming on, I was directed by a staff officer of General Hooker to place my brigade in and hold an open wood, skirting the Sharpsburg road. Although taking no part in the action, several of my men were wounded by the enemy's fire before and while taking position in the wood. I was then directed to connect my pickets with those of General Meade on my left, but owing to the darkness it was some time before this could be accomplished.

At this time Lieutenant-Colonel [J. William] Hofmann, of Doubleday's brigade, coming up with his command, was placed in the interval between the Reserves and my brigade. As Colonel Hofmann was directly exposed to the action of a battery in his front, he brought up in the night some guns, and placed them in position to meet the fire of the enemy. The whole command lay on arms during the night, and at daybreak next morning (17th) the enemy opened fire upon us with round-shot, shell, and canister, by which a few of our men were wounded. My brigade, having led the day before, was now ordered to follow and support Gibbon's brigade, which had remained over night at some distance on my left and rear.

Putting my brigade in motion, we marched across the open field and into the wood beyond, through the plowed field and orchard into a corn-field, where Gibbon's brigade lay, and where my own was placed in its support. We could not have remained here more than from five to seven minutes, when I received an order from General Doubleday to march my brigade rapidly across the road, and hold the woods at a little distance on the right of the road. This movement was rapidly executed, but while in progress an order from General Doubleday directed me to send a regiment to protect a battery in the corn-field near the straw-stack. The Twentieth Regiment New York State Militia, Lieutenant-Colonel Gates commanding, was instantly countermarched, and reported to General Gibbon, at Battery B, Fourth U. S. Artillery, where it remained until the battery was withdrawn, some hours after. The Seventh Wisconsin Regiment crossed the road at the same time with my brigade, and took position in the wood parallel with and in advance of the lines, on the other side of the road beyond the battery, where it joined the Nineteenth Indiana, which had preceded it by only a very few minutes.

Scarcely had my three regiments reached the woods when a body of the enemy was discovered filing off to our right and rear into a corn-field, where a small battery had already been placed, and, on reporting the fact to General Hooker, he directed that one of my regiments should be detached to watch and check the movement. Colonel Hoffman, with the Twenty-third Regiment, was dispatched to the right to head off the enemy in that direction, and the Twenty-first and Thirty-fifth moved forward into the wood, closing upon the two regiments of Gibbon's brigade, whose skirmishers were now at the brow of the little eminence above the low grounds, in front of which was a corn-field, from which came the enemy's fire.

The fire of the enemy up to this time was brisk, not heavy, but on reaching this point a most galling fire was poured in from the enemy, strongly posted behind the rocks on our left, and my two regiments, Twenty-first and Thirty-fifth, were thrown forward into the first line to meet it. The troops on the opposite side of the road and fields and along the edge of the woods were now being rapidly driven back, and to check this advantage of the enemy, as well as to protect Battery B, on my left, I threw my whole command, including the Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana, across the open space and under the rocky ledge, perpendicular to my former position and parallel to the road, when I was joined at double-quick by the Twenty-third, now relieved on the right by General Meade. We remained but a few minutes here before we had checked the enemy's advance sufficiently to push our lines up to the road, which we held firmly for some time, the Thirty-fifth Regiment capturing the colors of the rebel regiment advancing on our battery.

Rallying once more, the enemy drove us back to the rocky ledge, which we held until our ammunition being almost exhausted and the line attacked in flank and rear on the right, I directed my command to fall back to a line of rock at right angles to the road and about 15 rods from the woods, to hold there until ammunition and re-enforcements could be obtained. We remained here between the fires of our own and the enemy's batteries long enough for the men to make coffee, they having moved so early as to fail of breakfast. Meanwhile, re-enforcements having arrived, although without getting ammunition except by equalization, the brigade (except the Twentieth Regiment, which had retired with the battery) again moved into the wood, in support of the new troops that were coming in. These troops, which I understood belonged to General Williams' command, came in in succession and at considerable intervals. The first line (composed, I think, of the Sixtieth and Seventy-eighth New York) being first in, were informed of the nature of the ground and position of the enemy before advancing, which was done cautiously, but not without loss, Colonel Goodrich, commanding (brigade, I understood), being killed on the spot. The other regiments of General Williams filed in obliquely and in front of Colonel Goodrich's line with a rapid step, and under the impression that the enemy were being driven. The whole force now in the wood moved forward, when its advance was suddenly checked by a terrific fire on the left and front. As before, the lines of our troops were broken and thrown into confusion. All were retiring rapidly before the enemy along the same line as in the preceding engagement, and I once more threw my brigade under the ledge, partly to rally the retiring troops and partly to hold with our remaining cartridges until order could be restored. But few of the troops rallied, however, and after holding my command here until the enemy were close upon our right flank, the brigade was withdrawn in an unbroken line to the wood on the other side of the road, and took position to arrest the flight of stragglers. From this wood, after about three quarters of an hour, we retired to a position near to and supporting the batteries in the open field, where we were joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Gates, of the Twentieth, who had been serving with Campbell's battery and had captured the battle-flag of one of the rebel regiments.

The troops under my command behaved in the most satisfactory manner, being perfectly cool and obedient to every word of command. Here, as at South Mountain and Groveton, Captain Kimball and Lieutenant Beckwith, of my staff, were invaluable, making up by their activity and energy the loss of my aide, Lieutenant Bouvier, seriously wounded at Groveton.

The casualties are as follows: Killed, 20; wounded, 180; missing, 17. A list of names is hereto appended.

I am, captain, very respectfully, yours,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 241 - 245


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