Report of Col. P. F. Stevens, Holcombe (South Carolina) Legion,
Commanding Evans' Brigade, of the Battles of Boonsborough and Sharpsburg.
SEPTEMBER 3-20, 1862.-The Maryland Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]
HDQRS. HOLCOMBE LEGION, SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Near Winchester, Va., October 13, 1862.
Capt. A. L. EVANS,
CAPTAIN: In obedience to an order from General Evans, I have the honor to submit the following report of the actions participated in by the troops under my command, first as colonel of my own regiment, and, secondly, as commanding officer of Evans' brigade:
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BATTLE OF FROG PASS (BOONSBOROUGH).
On Sunday, September 14, after marching from Hagerstown to the mountain pass (called, I believe, Frog Pass), I was told by General Longstreet to report with my brigade to General D. H. Hill, who would assign me my position. Turning to the left and east at the pass, I was led up the mountain by Major Fairfax to General Hill. This latter officer directed me to a hill some mile distant and still to the left, where I was to report to and support General Rodes. Having accomplished about half the distance, I received an order from General Evans to halt. You brought me this order. Almost at the same moment a messenger from General Rodes urged me forward. Sending back to General Evans for instructions and forward to General Rodes to tell him why I had halted, I found that the enemy were in the valley below on my right and were already threatening my position. Throwing out the legion as skirmishers to check the advance, I disposed the brigade according to my best judgment along the brow of the mountain side, my left very nearly joining Rodes' right. Before I could receive further instructions from General Evans, I was attacked. My skirmishers were soon driven back and the line opened fire. Being near the Seventeenth South Carolina, and seeing it doing well, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [F. W.] McMaster, I gave him general instructions and moved to the left. Here I found the Twenty-third and Twenty-second driven back, but rallied under Captains Durham and [M.] Hilton, respectively. Very soon the Eighteenth retired also, and from that time the fight was a retreating one until the enemy occupied the mountain and we were driven from it. General Rodes was at the same time forced back on my left. Captains Durham and Hilton and Adjutant DuBose were conspicuous in their efforts to stay the retreat, but I am constrained to say that after once falling back I cannot commend the behavior of the men. Some two or three bravely faced the foe, but a general lack of discipline and disregard for officers prevailed all around me. The Seventeenth and most of the legion were on the right and not with me. The brigade having reassembled on the turnpike, I threw out the legion on picket, deployed along the skirt of woods on the mountain we had just left, and reported to General D. R. Jones.
About 11 or 12 o'clock I received an order from General R. E. Lee to send a small detachment back to the ground where I had fought, and ascertain whether the enemy still occupied it or had retired. This duty I intrusted to Lieutenant DuBose, then on picket. Advancing to the battle-ground, or nearly to it, the lieutenant left his men and moved on alone. In a few moments a shot was fired and a cry was heard. Falling back some 100 yards, his men waited in vain for his return to them, and two or three of the enemy having been seen, they returned to report the loss of their beloved leader. Whether that single shot proved fatal or whether he is a prisoner I know not, but in him I have lost my right arm, and the service as noble, as pure-minded, as fearless an officer as ever battled for his country.
At the battle of Sharpsburg sickness, fatigue, and the casualties of battle had reduced the brigade to a mere skeleton. Placed in position just where the main road from Boonsborough enters the town on the north, it acted as a support for different batteries on either side of the road until Wednesday afternoon, when, the engagement having become general, by order of General Evans, it was deployed as skirmishers to meet those of the enemy. I was with the Twenty-third, Twenty-second, and Eighteenth South Carolina Regiments on the left of the road, and, seeing my men falling rapidly, while the enemy was still advancing, I was apprehensive of being flanked, and ordered them to fall back to a stone wall in our rear. Perceiving that my retreat had left unsupported a section of Boyce's artillery, which I had not before seen, I again resumed my position, and, bringing up Boyce's battery, opened fire with musketry and artillery upon a line of the enemy advancing on the right of the road. The line was broken and driven back. Colonel Walker, of Jenkins' brigade, having sent for artillery, I ordered Captain Boyce to his support. It was now late in the evening, and, my men having nearly exhausted their ammunition, I left general instructions and sought the ordnance officer. Before I could get more ammunition my men had fallen back, in accordance with instructions, and, finding them scattering in town, I marched to the rear and bivouacked for the night.
The next morning, by order of General Evans, we assumed our position in front of the town, acting as a support to Captain Page's artillery until 10 o'clock at night, when we withdrew, according to instructions, and crossed the Potomac. Two days after, General Evans took command of the brigade and I of my regiment
During the engagement at Sharpsburg my men behaved well, obeyed orders, and never gave back except at my command.
To this report you will please append my report on the case of Major Stewart, Twenty-second South Carolina Volunteers.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. F. STEVENS,
Colonel Holcombe Legion, South Carolina Volunteers.
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