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Lt Peter Hains' Official Report

Report of September 26, 1862

[author biography]

September 26, 1862.

Captain A. J. COHEN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Pleasonton's Cavalry Division.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit the following report of the operations of Horse Battery M, Second Artillery, during the recent engagements with the enemy.

The battery was attached to General Pleasonton's cavalry division September 5, 1862. It was complete with six pieces, 3-inch caliber. We left Tennallytown on the evening of 5th of September, and proceeded with the cavalry on the advance, without any occurrence of importance till we arrived at Dawsonville. By General Pleasonton's order a section under Lieutenant Chapin was detached and sent forward with Colonel Farnsworth's cavalry to Poolesville (Lieutenant Chapin's report is annexed).* Lieutenant Chapin rejoined the battery at Barnesville on the 9th instant. On the morning of the 10th, by General Pleasonton's order, his section was sent to report to Colonel McReynolds. On the 11th instant the rest of the battery moved forward with the cavalry, and overtook the enemy on the morning of the 13th, posted on the crest of the hills commanding the road to Middletown.

The enemy opened fire on us as we approached, and at about 6 a. m. I brought forward the leading section and placed it in action on the right of the road. The other section was held in reserve. Captain Robertson took position on my left and somewhat nearer the enemy. The firing was thus kept up for some time. Being under Captain Robertson's orders, I received orders from him to bring forward my reserved section and open fire. This section I placed in an orchard about 1,400 yards from the enemy. The other section was moved up closer on the right. The whole battery then opened a fire of case-shot and percussion-shell on the enemy, and after a sharp cannonade of several hours the enemy retired. Notwithstanding the inequality of position of our battery and that of the enemy, we drove them from their position with the loss of only two horses. Upon their retiring, we followed with alacrity, and overtook them again near Middletown. A few rounds from a section of my battery, and from Captain Gibson's battery on my right, sufficed to silence them again, this time without loss on our part. That night one section was placed in a commanding position, covering the road to Boonsborough, and supported by three squadrons of the First Massachusetts Cavalry.

The battery did not engage the enemy again until the battle of Sharpsburg, on the 17th instant. On the morning of the 17th orders were received to move forward, which I did, supported by Colonel Childs' cavalry. We crossed the bridge at the Antietam Creek, moved forward, and immediately engaged the enemy. One section, under command of Lieutenant Hamilton, was placed in position on the right of the road, the other, under Sergeant Reilly, on the left, placed there by Captain Robertson. The enemy were in considerable force in front of us, and concentrated a heavy artillery fire on the right section. Sharpshooters sent forward by the enemy, and posting themselves behind a stone wall, annoyed us some, they being in good rifle range. After several hours' hard fighting, the enemy were either driven from their guns or compelled to retire. About this time I received orders to retire my battery, which not being immediately obeyed was repeated. I then retired the right section one piece at a time. As soon as the right section was fairly on the road I retired the other.

Our loss in the whole engagement was, with the exception of one single horse, confined wholly to Lieutenant Hamilton's section. In that section I lost Lance Corporal Frain, wounded, 2 privates killed, 2 wounded, and 2 horses wounded. In the other section our loss was 1 horse killed. One of the ammunition chests had a shot put through it. The projectiles principally used were case-shot and percussion shell. At about 5 p. m. I took position on the same hill, but on the right of the road, and engaged the enemy again. The fire this time was directed against their infantry entirely. The column of the enemy that moved against our right wing suffered severely from our fire, both on their advance and on being driven back. At dark I received orders to retire to my former camping ground.

I am gratified to bring to your notice the gallant conduct of Lieutenant Hamilton, chief of the right section, who had to act as gunner at one of his pieces under a galling fire, which had disabled the gunner of it and wounded and killed four of its cannoneers. First Sergeant Reilly, who commanded the left section, performed his duties with remarkable coolness. Sergeants Pfeffer and Flood and Corporal Hasenzahl and Lance Corporal Frain (who was wounded) all deserve special notice. All the men of the company behaved with their accustomed coolness and courage with one exception, Private Litten, who was not at all remarkable for coolness or courage.

On the morning of the 18th instant the battery started with Colonel McReynolds' cavalry toward Williamsport. Lieutenant Chapin was detached with his section to go with a battalion of the First New York Cavalry on the Sharpsburg road. His annexed report will show the part taken by the section in the encounter that ensued.* On the morning of the 19th we entered Williamsport and remained there till the 22nd instant, when I was relieved in command of the company by Lieutenant Pennington, Second Artillery.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

First Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers.

* These reports were not located by the compilers of the Official Records.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS; Series 1, Volume 51, Part I (Supplements - Serial 107), Pages 137 - 139


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