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Col W Gibson's Official Report

Report of September 1862 for Wright's Brigade

W. Gibson

[author biography]


Major-General Richard Heron Anderson


GENERAL: The serious wounding of General Wright at the battle of Sharpsburg devolved on [me] the necessity of reporting to you the action of said brigade in the battle on the evening of September 16 about 6 o'clock p.m.

Said brigade received marching orders from Harper's Ferry to Sharpsburg; after a tedious and wearisome march of all night we reached the banks of the Potomac opposite Shepherdstown where we received orders to hurry forward all our available force, and by 7 o'clock a.m. we were near the battlefield in front and ordered immediately in.

After proceeding about one mile and a half under a severe cannonading of the enemy's guns, we met their infantry [in double our numbers] drawn up in line of battle. Yet, nothing daunted the brigade; [it] moved steadily forward under its gallant commander, General Wright, though many of their comrades were falling on the right and left killed and wounded. When in about 100 yards of the enemy's line, General A. R. Wright received a wound passing entirely through the muscle of his left leg below the knee, which entirely disabled him; the command then devolved on Colonel Jones of the Twenty-second Georgia Regiment, who soon received a gunshot through the body, entirely disabling him, when I assumed the command and at the insistence of General Wright (who was still lying on the field, and desired himself to be carried forward to give the command on a litter) advanced the brigade nearer the enemy at a charge bayonet; [the brigade] broke in confusion. Yet, seeing the weakness of the brigade and the strength of the enemy, the brigade then numbering under 200 with every field officer, the General and one of his aids wounded and lying on the field, I contented myself with holding our advanced position. The support on our right and left having been withdrawn, and none being in the rear that I knew of, with our cartridges exhausted, upon seeing a new formation of the enemy in our front, of a very large size, and a movement by our right flank, from which a brigade had long since retired, I withdrew the brigade, in order, to a stone fence in the rear, which position was held during the day, by several charges being made on the enemy when appeared in force on our front, and a gun which was lying in the road, seemingly abandoned, which Lieutenant Chamberlain, of the Sixth Virginia Regiment, fired with great accuracy into the advancing columns of the enemy three different times and drove them back. The gun seemed to surprise the enemy very much and drew upon our lines a severe shower of shot and shell for thirty minutes or more, which was kept up all the evening at intervals, occasionally wounding and killing a man.

That night we lay upon the lines and held our position, and by advancing our pickets to secure places before daylight, kept the most of the battlefield of the day before under the guns of our pickets, which caused the enemy the next evening to send in a flag of truce to get their wounded off the field, which General Pryor disposed of.

I cannot speak in too great terms of the daring gallantry and bravery of our commanding General A. R. Wright - both before and after he received his wound. Major-General Anderson, in following our brigade to the field, was also wounded long before reaching our advanced position. By the report of casualties heretofore sent, you will perceive that Colonel Derby, who alone as field officer commanded the Forty-fourth Alabama Regiment and was the only captain present, was here wounded and, I think, killed.

The Twenty-second Georgia Regiment had its colonel and major both seriously wounded and its only captain present; the Third Georgia had its commander and adjutant also wounded and, I fear, killed, but this I can say of Captain Nisbet, in command of the Third Georgia Regiment, a more gallant and brave commander never led men to action, and I saw him when he fell at the head of his regiment at our advanced position. The major of the Forty-eighth Georgia Regiment and the only captain present was also wounded. Of the gallantry and bravery of Wright's Brigade, let the advanced position they occupied, together with the casualties (in proportion to the number engaged) and the piles of dead Yankees or Irishmen and Dutch in our front, speak.

Very respectfully, I am, General, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Forth-eighth Georgia, commanding Wright's Brigade


Source: Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 1


1   Hewett, Janet B., editor, The Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 100 Volumes, Wilmington (NC): Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1994-2001, Vol. 3, pp. 568-570  [AotW citation 19744]


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