Report of Col. R. T. Bennett, Fourteenth North Carolina
Commanding Anderson's brigade, of the battle of Sharpsburg.
SEPTEMBER 3-20, 1862.-The Maryland Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]
DECEMBER 6, 1862.
Maj. J. W. RATCHFORD,
I have the honor of submitting the following report of the action of the Fourth Brigade in the engagement of September 17, at Sharpsburg:
The command of this brigade devolved upon me after the disabling and death of the ranking officers. The major-general commanding the division is perfectly cognizant of the position occupied by the command, he having led in person the head of the column to the ground retained until compelled to fall back by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. The enemy, soon after the road had been taken by Anderson's brigade, came into the field in front of us from the direction of the locality of Garland's brigade. Their advance was beautiful in the extreme, and great regularity marked their column. As the center was unmasked by the right and left flanks, this precision of movement was preserved by the lines until a space not exceeding 50 yards separated the combatants. Then it was that a well-directed fire sent them in disorder some 50 paces rearward. Recovering, however, they charged our position with same result as aforesaid, with the addendum of wild confusion. The bravery of a field officer apparently checked the spreading symptoms of panic, and once more their courage was brought to the test.
Poor return, indeed, they made for the gallantry of their leader. Confusion that seemed remediless followed. At this juncture the colonel commanding gave orders for bayonets to be fixed, preparatory to an advance of the line. However, two fresh columns of the enemy were seen double-quicking to the relief of the shattered ranks of the foe, and stern necessity bade us be satisfied with simple holding of our ground. During all this time the Fourth Brigade appeared perfectly self-possessed, so far as the observation of the colonel commanding extended. Shortly after the occurrences aforesaid, word came for the command to keep a lookout on the extreme right. While directing ourselves to that point, masses of Confederate troops in great confusion were seen, portions of Major-General Anderson's division as we then knew, for the Sixteenth Mississippi and Second Florida, of that command, coming to our succor, broke beyond the power of rallying after five minutes' stay. In this stampede, if we may so term it, the Fourth North Carolina State Troops and Thirtieth North Carolina Troops participated.
The hour of 1 p.m. had arrived. Anderson's division had gone to the rear. Two regiments (Fourth and Thirtieth) of our own brigade were missing. The dark lines of the enemy had swept around our right, and were gradually closing upon the ground of Rodes' brigade. They having gone to resist the lines in front was an easy task, to contend against front and rear attacks we were totally inadequate, and the bare alternative of retreat was presented. The command was ordered to make the retreat by the right-oblique, with frightful loss in some regiments, as the list of mortality will show. The task was achieved. The command was reformed at the road leading to Sharpsburg, and participated in all the skirmishes of the afternoon. About sunset the colonel commanding was taken from the field, disabled.
Here find list of casualties:
Command Killed Wounded Aggregate 2nd North Carolina State Troops 14 36 50 4th North Carolina State Troops 6 40 46 14th North Carolina Troops 27 112 139 30 North Carolina Troops 10 57 67 Total 57 245 305
I have the honor to be,
R. T. BENNETT,
Colonel, Comdg. Anderson's Brigade at Sharpsburg, Md.
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