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Col Edward Harland's Official Report

Report of September 22, 1862

E. Harland
[author biography]

Mouth of Antietam Creek, Md., September 22, 1862.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements of the Second Brigade, of General Rodman's division of the Ninth Army Corps, during the engagement with the enemy on the 17th instant:

About sunset on the 16th brigade was placed in line of battle by order of General Rodman on the left of Colonel Scammon's division, supported on the left by the First Brigade, of General Rodman's division. The line was formed behind a range of hills running nearly parallel with Antietam Creek and about one-quarter of a mile directly back from the bridge across the creek. Strong pickets were placed at the distance of 300 yards in front of the line, and in this position we remained until morning. At daylight the enemy commenced shelling the position, and as they had obtained the exact range our loss was considerable.

About 7 o'clock, in accordance with an order received from General Rodman, I moved the brigade into a position to the rear and to the left of the one formerly occupied, facing to the left, the new line of battle forming nearly a right angle with the old one. In this position we remained between and two hours. Our next movement was a change of front formed on first battalion. This brought the line of battle in a position parallel to the one occupied at first, the right resting about 200 yards in the rear of the first position to the left. Shortly afterward I received orders from General Rodman to move the brigade, with the exception of the Eleventh Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, which was left to support a battery, to the left, forming a line of battle on the prolongation of the old line. I then sent out two companies of skirmishers from the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers to discover, if possible, a ford by which the creek could be crossed. After the ford was found, I followed in the rear of the First Brigade for the purpose of crossing the creek. I sent an aide-de-camp to bring the Eleventh Regiment Connecticut Volunteers to join the rest of the brigade, who reported that the regiment was not in the position in which it was left, and that he was unable to find it. I saw nothing more of the Eleventh Regiment Connecticut Volunteers until about sunset, when I met the remnant of the regiment near the bridge.

General-Rodman ordered me to detach one regiment for the support of the battery belonging to the Ninth New York Volunteers, and to send the remaining regiments of the brigade across the creek in rear of the First Brigade, and, when I had placed the regiment in proper position, to join the balance of the brigade. I found the battery on the hill just below the ford. I detached the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, placed it in what I considered the strongest position for the defense of the battery, and then crossed the ford. I found the rest of my command placed behind a stone wall, with orders from General Rodman to wait there for orders.

Shortly after my arrival the enemy opened an enfilading fire from a section of a battery which had been placed on our left flank. In order to protect the men, I moved the command more to the right, behind the crest of a hill, and awaited in that position the orders of General Rodman. While in this position the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers rejoined the brigade, and I moved still more to the right, in the direction of the bridge, and halted in the woods, just under the brow of the hill. From this point I was conducted by an aide of General Rodman, and placed in the rear of the First Brigade. Shortly after, General Rodman ordered me to form on the left of the First Brigade, ready for an advance on the enemy. Major Lion, acting aide-de-camp, who went to the left of the line to carry my orders, on his return reported a brigade of the enemy's infantry was forming on the left, which fact I reported to General Rodman. When the order was given by General Rodman to advance, the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, which was on the right of the line, started promptly. The Sixteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, and the Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers and the Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, both of which regiments were in a cornfield, apparently did not hear my order. I therefore sent an aide-de-camp to order them forward. This delay on the left placed the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers considerably in the advance of the rest of the brigade. I asked General Rodman if I should halt the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and wait for the rest of the brigade to come up. He ordered me to advance the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, and he would hurry up the Sixteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and the Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers. I advanced with the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and commenced firing. The Sixteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and the Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers not coming up, I turned to see if they were advancing, and saw some infantry belonging to the enemy advancing upon our left flank. Knowing that if they were not checked it would be impossible to hold this part of the field, without waiting for orders, I put the spurs to my horse to hasten the arrival of the Sixteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. My horse was almost immediately shot under me, which delayed my arrival. I found that the Sixteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers had changed their front, by order of General Rodman. The line was formed facing to the left, and was nearly a prolongation of the enemy's lines, except that they faced in opposite directions. I immediately ordered Colonel Beach to change his front, so as to attack the enemy on the right flank. This change was effected, though with some difficulty, owing to the fact that the regiment had been in service but three weeks, and the impossibility of seeing but a small portion of the line at once.

Almost as soon as the change was effected, the right of the enemy's lines, which was concealed in the edge of the corn-field, opened fire. Our men returned the fire and advanced, but were forced to fall back. Colonel Beach rallied them and returned to the attack, but they were again driven back, this time out of the corn-field, beyond the fence. Here they were again rallied, but as it was impossible to see the enemy; and the men were under fire for the first time, they could not be held. The Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, which had held their position until this time, now by order of Major Ward, commanding, moved more to the right, they were sheltered in a measure from the fire in front, and changed front, so as to reply to the enemy on the left. After a few rounds, as most of the men were out of ammunition, the order was given to fall back. On the road leading to the bridge I found part of the Eleventh Regiment Volunteers. At the bridge I collected the shattered remnants of the brigade, in hopes of making a stand, but owing to the large loss of officers and the failure of ammunition, it was impossible to render the men of any material service. I therefore conducted the brigade across the bridge, and bivouacked for the night in front the position held by a portion of General Sykes' command.

Battery A, Fifth Artillery, was assigned to my brigade. General Rodman, however, assumed the immediate command the night before the action, and the battery did not report to me again until after the battle.

The regimental reports not being in, it is impossible to give a more detailed account of the movements of the different regiments composing the command.

I append a list of casualties, with the strength of the brigade before going into action.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigadier, Third Div., Ninth Army Corps.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 452 - 454


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