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Col Lucius Fairchild's Official Report

Report of September 20, 1862 on South Mountain

L. Fairchild

[author biography]

Near Sharpsburg, Md., September 20, 1862.

Lieutenant and A. D. C., Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Gibbon's Brigade.

SIR: I have the honor to report the following as the part taken by the Second Wisconsin Volunteers, under my command, in the battle of South Mountain, Maryland, on Sunday, September 14, 1862:

Soon after a large portion of Hooker's corps were in line, and advancing up the mountain on the right of the turnpike, Gibbon's brigade advanced on the pike to the foot of the mountain. On arriving there, the Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers and my regiment filed into the field on the left. Companies B and E of my regiment were deployed as skirmishers, and ordered to advance, their right resting on the pike. The Nineteenth Indiana followed, with my regiment in their rear about 200 yards. By order of General Gibbon, we moved thus in double column until well within the gap. While lying down in that position, a shell from the enemy struck and exploded in the ranks of the second division of the Second Regiment, killing 4 and badly wounding 3. Soon after, I deployed my column, the skirmishers being briskly engaged, and, when the Nineteenth Indiana opened fire, I moved forward to their right, the right of my regiment resting on the turnpike, and opened fire. After expending some 20 rounds of ammunition, I discovered the enemy had entirely disappeared from our front. Then I ordered the men to fire by the right-oblique, on a line of the enemy who were firing on the Seventh Wisconsin. After a short time I ceased firing, and, the better to get at the enemy, changed direction with the right wing of my regiment. In that position good execution was done until their ammunition was all expended, when they were withdrawn to the line, and the left wing took their place. After the left wing had expended their ammunition and had been withdrawn, the Nineteenth took the same position, by wings. All were then ordered to lie down. The fire from the enemy ceased and all was quiet.

I ordered Company A to deploy as skirmishers to the extreme left of the Nineteenth Indiana, and sent a few men to the front a short distance, to prevent a surprise. Thus we lay until nearly midnight, when part of General Gorman's brigade took our ground, while we fell back a short distance for ammunition. The action was not resumed after my regiment left the front line.

Fortunately the Second suffered lightly in comparison with other regiments of the brigade, as the list of killed and wounded, heretofore forwarded, will show.

As usual, the officers and men behaved well. Captain Colwell, of Company B, was killed while in command of the line of skirmishers. His place can hardly be filled. He was a fine officer and beloved by the whole regiment.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Second Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 252 - 253


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