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LCol Vincent M Wilcox's Official Report

Report of September 19, 1862

[author biography]

Battle-field, Nuger Spring, Md., September 19, 1862.

Brigadier General KIMBALL,
Commanding First Brigade, French's Division, Sumner's Corps.

DEAR SIR: I beg leave to submit to you the following account of the part which our regiment took in the great contest of the 17th instant:

We were ordered by you to take up the line of march about 6 o'clock a. m., and were formed in line of battle at 7 o'clock. We were brought under fire a little before 8 o'clock, and although ours was a new regiment, not yet organized a month and never before in sight of the enemy, still they behaved like veterans and well-disciplined troops. We brought into action 750 men, and brought out 364 men, exclusive of officers. Quite early in the action Colonel Richard A. Oakford fell, mortally wounded, and died in a few minutes. In this death the country has lost a noble, able, and experienced officer. The command then devolved upon me, and I cannot here too highly express my thanks and admiration for the assistance rendered me by Major Charles Albright and Adjt. F. L. Hitchcock. They never left the field for a moment, but by their coolness and bravery assisted me greatly in inspiring the men with that courage which it was necessary for men to possess under so severe a fire as that to which they were subjected.

Where all do so well it would be invidious to show distinctions or particularize names, and hence, in justice to the line officers, I must say that all performed their duty nobly and well, exhibiting the greatest firmness and bravery. Lieutenant Cranmer, Company C, advanced, with musket in hand, at the head of this company to the front, and fell, mortally wounded, while setting a splendid example of coolness and courage to his men. Captain Abbott, Company G, fell, dangerously wounded, while fighting most gallantly at the very front of the line.

General, you directed me to hold the eminence in front of the rifle-pit at all hazards, and not to fall back until ordered by you, and I am happy to say that it was done, although at a fearful sacrifice. The men were supplied with 60 rounds of ammunition, and exhausted their supply, and took the cartridges from the dead and wounded, and kept up the fire against the enemy. He tried upon several occasions to outflank us, but the sure and deadly aim of our men drove him back to his rifle-pits in disorder. At last he exhibited a white flag, but in violation of that flag kept up an incessant fire of shell and musketry, and quite a number were killed and wounded thereby. When our men were nearly exhausted of strength and ammunition, you directed me to fix bayonets and charge upon the rifle-pits, but at this moment the Irish Brigade came up and joined our men in the charge. They drove the enemy from their stronghold and captured some 300 prisoners, including a number of officers, among them Lieutenant-Colonel [Reuben B.] Nisbet, of Macon, Ga., all of whom were sent to the rear. We stood up in front of the enemy for nearly four and a half hours, and when re-enforcements came (which must have been at about 12 o'clock m.), the tide of battle had turned, and I considered the field ours. Our colors were planted in advance of any on the field, and were finally waved over the enemy's rifle-pits, and brought back, riddled by his balls, in triumph. The men under my command are entitled to honorable mention, which I trust they will receive at your hands. Below I append a list of my killed and wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 330 - 331


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