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Col Silas Colgrove's Official Report

Report of September 22, 1862

S. Colgrove

[author biography]

September 22, 1862.

Comdg. 3rd Brig., 1st Div., Bank's Corps, Army of the Potomac.

SIR: I beg leave to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment (Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers) in the action of the 17th instant, near Sharpsburg, Md.:

About sunrise in the morning I received orders to get my regiment under arms. I immediately formed my regiment in column by battalions closed in mass, right in front. The brigade was promptly moved to the front, the Second Massachusetts occupying the right, the Third Wisconsin second, my regiment third, the One hundred and seventh New York fourth, and the Thirteenth New Jersey the left or rear. In this position the brigade was moved forward, I should judge, a distance of two-thirds of a mile. At this point, as by this time the action had become general and severe on our left, under your direction, the brigade was moved immediately to the left. The Second Massachusetts, Third Wisconsin, and Twenty-seventh Indiana Regiments moved to a point designated by you, and formed their line of battle on a swell of ground immediately in front of a corn-field, in which the battle had been raging for some time. Our troops in the corn-field, a part of General Hooker's division, had been badly cut up, and were slowly retreating. When we first gained our position, the corn-field, or nearly all of it, was occupied by the enemy. This field was on a low piece of ground, the corn very heavy and serving to some extent to screen the enemy from view, yet the colors and battle-flags of several regiments appearing above the corn clearly indicated the advance of the enemy in force. Immediately in front or beyond the corn-field, upon open ground at a distance of about 400 yards, were three regiments in line of battle and farther to the right, on a high ridge of ground, was still another regiment in line diagonally to our line. When we first took our position it was impossible to immediately open fire upon the enemy without firing into our own troops, who were retreating out of the corn-field. As soon as these troops had filed past my left, I immediately ordered my regiment to fire, which was done in good order. The firing was very heavy on both sides, and must have continued for more than two hours without any change of position on either side. It was very evident from the firing that the enemy was greatly superior in numbers at this point. The only force during this time at this place engaged was the three old regiments of your brigade. At one time during this part of the engagement the fire of the enemy was so terribly destructive it seemed that our little force would be entirely annihilated.

After the fight had raged for about two hours without any perceptible advantage to either side, some of our forces (I have never learned whose) came up on our left in a piece of woods on the left of the corn field, and opened an enfilanding fire upon the enemy. This fire and ours in their front soon proved too hard for them. They broke and fled, in utter confusion, into a piece of woods on the right. We were then ordered to fix bayonets and advance, which was promptly done. Advancing through the corn-field, we changed front to the right by throwing our left forward. We had advanced over the larger portion of the ground when we were ordered to halt. I soon discovered that General Summer's corps had arrived and were fresh, not yet having been in the action, and the work of dislodging the enemy from the woods, designed for your shattered brigade, had been assigned to them.

At a later hour in the day my regiment and the Third Wisconsin were ordered to advance nearly over the same ground to the support of the Second Massachusetts, Thirteenth New Jersey, and One hundred and seventh New York who had been posted in or near the woods held by the rebels, to the rear of the corn-field. We promptly advanced nearly to the woods, but before we could get there our forces had been cut up and had fallen back. The two regiments held their position until the enemy had been driven back by a well-directed shower of grape and canister from one of our batteries, after which we took up a position in rear and in support of the batteries. The Twenty-seventh Regiment, as well as the balance of your brigade, was under arms from before sunrise until after dark, and although the main part of the fighting they were engaged in occurred in the fore part of the day, yet during the whole day they were frequently exposed to heavy fire from the enemy's artillery. At night I was temporarily, by you, placed in command of the brigade, and the whole brigade marched to the front nearest the enemy in support of our batteries in front. Although our men had gone into the fight without breakfast and had fought all day, they performed this arduous duty at night, not only without grumbling but with cheerfulness.

Subsequent events of the day have disclosed to us that the troops your brigade so bravely fought and conquered at the battle of Antietam were the same troops you fought at Winchester on the 25th of May last - Ewell's old division, eight regiments - Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina regiments. I am proud to be able to report to you that I believe every officer and man of my regiment who went into the fight with me did his whole duty. I saw no man or officer who took a backward step during the whole day unless ordered to do so.

I went into the fight with 443, rank and file. My loss in action was, in killed 17, in wounded, 192. Most of the wounds are slight, many, however, severe, and mortal. Quite a number of amputations have been necessary. Twelve deaths among the wounded have been reported to me. A list of killed and wounded is herewith submitted.

Your obedient servant,

Colonel Twenty-seventh Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 498 - 499


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