Reports of Brig. Gen. Robert Ransom, jr., C. S. Army,
Commanding Brigade, of the Battle of Sharpsburg.
SEPTEMBER 3-20, 1862.-The Maryland Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]
HEADQUARTERS RANSOM'S BRIGADE,
Camp near Martinsburg, W. Va., September 22, 1862.
Capt. W. A. SMITH,
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part per formed by my brigade in the battle near Sharpsburg, Md., on the 17th instant:
The regiments present were the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth, and Forty-ninth North Carolina troops, commanded, respectively, by Lieutenant-Colonel [John L.] Harris, Colonel [H. M.] Rutledge, Colonel [M. W.] Ransom, and Lieutenant-Colonel [L. M.] McAfee. The strength present was about 1,600 aggregate.
About 3 o'clock in the morning of the 17th instant, the brigade, followed by the other of the division, was moved to the extreme right of the position occupied by our troops and posted upon some hills which commanded an open country. Here it remained in line until about 9 a.m., when an order from General Lee directed the division to the left, where the enemy was pressing back our forces. From the first position the brigade moved, left in front, until we had passed the town of Sharpsburg some half mile to the north, when it was formed into line by inversion, bringing the Forty-ninth on the right. The line was formed under a severe fire and in the presence of some of our troops who had been driven back. As soon as formed, the whole brigade was pushed rapidly forward, and, after passing some 200 yards, I received orders to form to the right and resist the enemy, who were in possession of a piece of woods. The change of direction was effected with three of the regiments--the Forty-ninth, Twenty-fifth, and Thirty-fifth--but the Twenty-fourth, on the extreme left, had come upon the enemy and opened fire, and continued in the first direction upon the left of General Barksdale's brigade. Upon reaching the woods, we met parts of Hood's and Early's commands leaving them, and immediately encountered the enemy in strong force, flushed with a temporary success. A tremendous fire was poured into them, and, without a halt, the woods was cleared and the crest next the enemy occupied. At this time I determined to charge across a field in our front and to a woods beyond, which was held by the enemy, but he again approached, in force, to within 100 yards, when he was met by the same crushing fire which had driven him first from the position. I now went to recall the Twenty-fourth, which had passed on, and which had been directed, as I afterward learned, by General Stuart, to occupy a position near the extreme left, but, finding that it was so far away, returned. During my absence, the enemy again attempted to force the position, after subjecting us to a fearful storm of iron missile for thirty minutes. Colonel Ransom, commanding during my absence, repulsed him signally, and put an end to any further attempt, by infantry, to dislodge us. Immediately after this, fire from two large batteries was opened upon us and continued with occasional intermissions until nightfall.
About noon, General Longstreet sent me word to take the battery in our front, and the order to advance was given when General McLaws arrived and ordered me to postpone the attempt. Again, about 2 or 3 o'clock, I received instructions to advance and take the batteries. Just at this time the enemy was observed to have massed a strong force about the batteries, and General Walker, having arrived, forbade the movement until he could communicate with General Longstreet, in person. Shortly afterward, orders came to defer any attempt upon the enemy's position until General Jackson should have attacked him upon his right flank. This was not accomplished by General J[ackson], and the effort to capture the two large batteries, which had almost incessantly played upon us for eight hours, was not made.
I cannot too highly compliment the action of the men and officers for their gallant behavior during the entire day. They formed, under a galling fire, and, in presence of our retiring troops, pressed forward and drove back a far superior force, and, three times afterward, repulsed determined attacks of the enemy and in largely superior numbers to our own; but the highest credit is due for the perfect staunchness exhibited during an eight hours' exposure to an unparalleled cannonade and within canister range.
I will not close my report without bringing to the notice of the commanding general the conspicuous conduct of Colonel Ransom, of which the general can learn more by inquiry of Colonels Hall and Jenkins, Forty-sixth North Carolina. Major [J. A.] Flemming, too, of the Forty-ninth, evinced a cool daring and soldierly presence of mind eminently praiseworthy. Lieutenant and Adjutant Cooke, of the Twenty-fourth, was foremost in leading his regiment while under my eye, and I have had frequent occasions to observe qualities which mark him as second to none in courage and capacity. Lieutenant-Colonel Bryson, of the Twenty-fifth, was cool and gallant. I cannot further particularize.
To the members of my staff I owe much for their prompt and untiring assistance--Captain [Thomas] Rowland, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant [W. E.] Brodnax, aide-de-camp; Mr. Mason, volunteer aide, and Lieutenants Ashe and Thorne, the last my ordnance officer, who were ever in the right place. My orderlies (Privates Pierson and DeVane, of the Twenty-fourth) acted with unwonted intelligence and gallantry throughout the day in bearing messages under the hottest fire. The latter had his horse shot.
Though not a part of my brigade, I cannot properly close my report without mentioning the Forty-sixth North Carolina Volunteers, Colonel Hall commanding. About midday he reported to me, with his regiment, and was at once ordered into position on my right, which was unflinchingly maintained throughout. The conduct of the regiment was all it should have been, and the bearing of Colonel Hall and Lieutenant-Colonel [W. A.] Jenkins reflects the highest credit upon themselves and the service.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
R. RANSOM, JR.,
HEADQUARTERS RANSOM'S BRIGADE,
Camp near Martinsburg, September 25, 1862.
Col. R. H. CHILTON.
SIR: I have the honor to recommend that Lloyd's battery (North Carolina) be disbanded, and for the following reasons: Upon leaving Petersburg the battery was assigned to duty with my brigade. It consisted of two smooth-bore 6-pounders and two 12-pounder howitzers. Although it started with the wagon-train from Richmond, it did not overtake the command for a week after the train had arrived, and was then in so unserviceable a condition as to be left at Leesburg. It, however, did get across the Potomac into Maryland, but did not fire a gun and was not exposed to fire, but succeeded in losing one gun and two caissons.
Branch's battery is now attached to my brigade, and needs some 40 horses. I earnestly recommend that the men and horses of Lieutenant Lloyd's battery be transferred to Branch's and French's batteries. The service will be benefited, and a considerable expense saved.
I have taken the responsibility of ordering the battery to the rear, where it can get forage. Here it would be an incumbrance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. RANSOM, JR.,
HEADQUARTERS WALKER'S DIVISION,
September 25, 1862.
Respectfully forwarded, with the recommendation that Lloyd's battery be disbanded and the horses be distributed amongst the other batteries of the division, which stand in much need of them.
J. G. WALKER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
HEADQUARTERS RIGHT WING,
September 26, 1862.
Respectfully referred to Colonel Walton, chief of artillery, for inspection of this battery, and report of same, with recommendation as to its disposition.
By command of Major-General Longstreet:
G. MOXLEY SORREL,
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