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Col Oliver H Palmer's Official Report

Report of September 19, 1862

O. H. Palmer

[author biography]

Near Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862.

Colonel MORRIS,
Commanding Second Brigade, General French's Division.

I have the honor to report that on the 17th instant my command left camp near Keedysville about 6 o'clock in the morning, and, after marching about 2 miles, having formed into line of battle, entered into action on the crest of the hill on the left of the brigade in the front line of battle, and in front of the [Roulette] corn-field and rifle-pits [Sunken Road] occupied by the rebels. The action commenced about 7.30 o'clock in the morning. My command remained in line, and continued in position, firing with great rapidity and energy, in the face of a deadly fire of the enemy, who were stationed in the corn-field and rifle-pits, not more than 20 or 30 rods distant, until about 12.30 o'clock in the afternoon.

During the action a charge was made upon the rifle-pits, and we took 159 rebel privates and non-commissioned officers, 3 rebel captains, and 6 lieutenants, also one stand of regimental colors of the Fourteenth North Carolina Regiment. These colors were taken by Henry Niles, of Company K, of this regiment, but after taking the colors some officer of another regiment told him to give them up, stating that if he carried them he might be fired into by our own men. Not knowing any batter, he handed them to such officer. The prisoners were taken under guard by Captain E. P. Fuller, of Company H, of my regiment, and delivered to an officer of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, guarding at Boonsborough, Md., and a receipt taken, which has been delivered to General French. The prisoners were so taken and delivered by direction of an aide-decamp of General Sumner.

At about 12.30 p. m. of the 17th my command was relieved for a time by the Irish Brigade, by order of General Richardson. It was then ordered to fall back about 100 rods. It did so, and was then reformed upon the colors, but I was only able then to collect about 100 men. I was then ordered by General Richardson to again march into line to the front, to fill a gap in the line of battle farther to the left and in General Richardson's division, and my command was marched there accordingly, and remained there under a severe fire from the enemy's batteries until the close of the action, at dark.

By order of General Hancock my command was then placed on the front line of pickets to do picket duty, and remained in that position until 9 o'clock on the morning of the 18th, and until relieved by order of General French. During their picket duty a rebel prisoner was taken by a private in Company B, and delivered to General Caldwell.

During the action my officers and men conducted themselves with gratifying coolness and bravery. My loss has been severe, and I regret to report that early in the action my major, George B. Force, was instantly killed while in the fearless discharge of his duty. Lieutenant D. B. Tarbox, of Company B, and Lieutenant R. E. Holmes, of Company G, were also killed while leading their commands in action. Lieutenant W. W. Bloss, of Company A, bravely took the colors, and, while advancing in the face of the enemy, was severely wounded. Lieutenant Porter, of Company F, was shot through the foot while bravely discharging his duty. Twenty-three privates were killed and 122 non-commissioned officers and privates were wounded. Forty-seven privates are missing-whether killed or wounded I am unable to report. My total loss in killed, wounded, and missing is 196.

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

Colonel One hundred and eighth New York Volunteers.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 334 - 335


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