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LCol Nelson A Miles' Official Report

Report of September 19, 1862

N. A. Miles

[author biography]

Camp near Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862.

Assistant Adjutant-General, Caldwell's Brigade.

I have the honor to transmit the following report:

On the 17th instant, about 9 o'clock, the Sixty-first and Sixty-forth New York Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Barlow, were ordered to form on the left of the Irish Brigade while they were engaging the enemy. We remained there about twenty minutes, during which time we lost one captain and several men. We were then ordered to move by the right flank in rear of the Irish Brigade while until we came to their right. Here we came to the front, and moved up and over the hill under a heavy fire of musketry and a cross fire of artillery. We found the enemy lying in a road or ditch just under the brow of the hill. The regiment, however, steadily moved up and over the hill in the most determined manner and spirit, breaking the center of the enemy's line, and killing or wounding nearly all that left the ditch to make their escape through the corn-field. Then we improved the advantage we had gained by changing front forward on first company, thereby flanking the rest of their line. The colonel gave the command, "Cease firing", when I called out to them to surrender. They at once threw down their arms and came in. I think by this movement we captured 275 or 300 prisoners. I detailed one company to guard them, and turned them over to Lieutenant Alvord, of General Caldwell's staff, with two stand of colors.

The enemy were then out of sight in the front, but were discovered moving around our right. The colonel then gave the order, "Right shoulder shift arms," and moved to the right oblique to another hill, about 300 yards distant, and commenced firing to the right upon the enemy. He fired about 20 rounds here, when the enemy's line broke in perfect disorder and ran in every direction.

About this time a sharp musketry firing commenced on our left, or old front, it being evident they were advancing another line through the corn-field. As we were of no more use in our present position, we went to the assistance of the other regiments of our brigade. We had so much changed the front that we moved by the left flank and filed left, connecting our left on the right of the Seventh New York, and again moved down through the corn-field. We then pressed forward, driving the enemy before us, until the order was given to halt. I immediately deployed skirmishers forward through the field to an orchard. While moving through the corn-field the enemy opened fire with grape and canister from two brass guns on our front, and shell from a battery on our right. It was by this fire that Colonel Barlow fell, dangerously wounded. He was struck by a small piece of shell in the face and a grape-shot in the groin. Thus far he had handled the two regiments in the most brave and skillful manner.

As we had advanced farther than the other regiments on our right and left, I was ordered to let the skirmishers remain and form in the open field on a line with Colonel Brooke's regiment, which position we held until relieved by one of the regiments of that brigade, when I marched them to the left of the line and formed on a line with the Eighty-first Pennsylvania Regiment, and was not engaged again during the day.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the coolness and brave spirit with which both officers and men fought on that day. Colonel Barlow on this, as on other occasions, displayed qualities for handling troops under fire which are not often met. Captain Maze, Lieutenant W. Keech, Lieutenant Frederick W. Grannis, and Lieutenant T. W. Greig were noticed as behaving in the most excellent manner; also Dr. Tompkins, who followed the regiment upon the field and rendered prompt assistance to the wounded.

Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Sixty-First and Sixty-Fourth N. Y. Vols.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 291 - 292


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