Reports of Col. Joseph Walker, C.S.,Palmetto Sharpshooters,
Commanding Jenkins' brigade, of operations September 14-19
The Maryland Campaign
, September 3 - 20, 1862
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]

HEADQUARTERS JENKINS' BRIGADE,
Camp near Winchester, Va.,
October 24, 1862.

Col. ROBT. JOHNSTON.

       SIR: The division of General D. R. Jones, having, by a forced march from Hagerstown, reached Boonsborough, Md., near the South Mountain, about 4 o'clock Sunday evening, September 14, was immediately thrown forward to the support of the troops engaged with the enemy on the mountain. Passing through Boonsborough and crossing a branch, this brigade, in conjunction with General Garnett's, marched by the right flank to a church some mile and a half to the right and south of the turnpike, and then filed off to the left about 1 mile to the foot of the mountain. About the time we reached that position, the firing having pretty well ceased, the two brigades about-faced, marched back within a half mile of the turnpike, and filed off to the right and formed in line of battle midway up the mountain, with General Garnett's brigade on my left. Having thrown out skirmishers preparatory to an advance, I was ordered by General Jones to move the brigade along the mountain to the White House Hotel, on the turnpike at the summit of the pass. Upon reaching the hotel, I posted the brigade a little in advance of it and to the left of the turnpike. Some ten minutes afterward, by order of General Jones, I moved the brigade farther up the mountain and obliquely to the right, in the direction of Middleburg [Middletown], and formed it into line of battle at the foot of the hill, where a fierce fight was raging. The First Regiment South Carolina Volunteers (Lieut. Col. D. Livingston), the Sixth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers (Lieut. Col. J. M. Steedman), and the Fifth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers (Capt. T. C. Beckham, commanding), were advanced some 200 yards to the front behind a stone fence, where they engaged in a desultory fire with the enemy until dark, when the brigade was withdrawn to the hotel. Ordered by General Jones to cover the withdrawal of the troops from this portion of the field, I advanced the Second Rifle Regiment South Carolina Volunteers some distance down the turnpike toward Middleburg [Middletown ], and threw out a heavy force of skirmishers. This position was held by the brigade until about 4 a.m. September 15, when it was relieved by the cavalry brigade of General Fitzhugh Lee, and rejoined the command of General Jones at Sharpsburg.
       In this action the loss of the brigade was as follows:

Command Killed Wounded
Palmetto Sharpshooters ---- 2
1st Regiment South Carolina Volunteers 1 15
2nd Regiment Rifles South Carolina Volunteers ---- 1
5th Regiment South Carolina Volunteers ---- 6
6th Regiment South Carolina Volunteers 2 5
4th Battalion ---- ----
Total 3 29

       Although but partially engaged, I commend the conduct of the officers and privates of the brigade, with but one exception, which is as mortifying to the feelings of a Carolinian as it is unworthy of the flag they bear and the cause which they represent. Lieutenant-Colonel Livingston, of the First Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, reports that Company A did not enter the fight, shamefully deserting the regiment while marching through the gap. Why charges have not been preferred against officers and privates for cowardice has not been explained.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH WALKER,
Colonel, Commanding Jenkins' Brigade.

 


HEADQUARTERS JENKINS' BRIGADE,
Camp near Winchester, Va.,
October 24, 1862.

Col. ROBT. JOHNSTON.

       SIR: By a rapid march from Boonsborough, this brigade reached Sharpsburg, Md., about 11 a.m. on September 15, and took position in line of battle on an eminence in front of the town and to the right of the turnpike. By order of General Jones, it moved late in the evening across a ravine to the right, with Kemper's, Garnett's, and Drayton's brigades, where it remained under a heavy fire of shot and shell until 3 o'clock in the evening of the 17th, when it moved back, by order of General Jones, and occupied its first position in support of [G. V.] Moody's battery and a company of the Washington Artillery (Captain [C. W.] Squires'), both from Louisiana. Here the brigade endured a terrific fire of shot and shell for some half hour, when, the ammunition of the artillery having been exhausted, it advanced some 400 yards to an apple orchard, under a heavy fire of artillery and small-arms. Perceiving the enemy in force in several positions, from any of which we were assailable, I threw out the First, Fifth, and Sixth Regiments South Carolina Volunteers to oppose him on the left, and the Palmetto Sharpshooters and the Second Regiment Rifles South Carolina Volunteers to meet him in the center and on the right. From this position we continued to pour a destructive fire into the ranks of the enemy, at short range, until he recoiled and retreated out of sight among the timber on Antietam Creek.
       At this juncture, perceiving that the enemy had advanced three heavy columns some 400 yards in rear of the brigade and to the right across a ravine leading up from the creek, and was steadily driving back the brigades of Generals Kemper and Drayton, I moved this brigade into line parallel with the turnpike and ravine and near to the latter, and opened a destructive enfilade fire upon the enemy, which assisted materially in driving back his columns. Changing the front of the brigade again toward Antietam Creek, and at right angles to the turnpike and ravine, I threw forward a line of skirmishers to a fence near to the timber on the creek, and bivouacked for the night. This position the brigade, alone and unsupported, held during the 18th, burying the dead and caring for the wounded, the skirmishers the meanwhile keeping up a brisk fire upon the enemy.
       Just after dark on the 18th I received orders from General D. R. Jones to cover the retreat of his division. Strengthening my line of pickets, and extending it farther to the right and left, I held the position until nearly daylight on the morning of September 19, when I was relieved by the cavalry brigade of General Fitzhugh Lee, and withdrew the brigade across the Potomac, effecting the passage a little after sunrise, in perfect safety.
       The loss of the brigade in killed and wounded was heavy, in view of the number carried into action, and was as follows:

Command Killed Wounded
Palmetto Sharpshooters 8 57
1st Regiment South Carolina Volunteers 4 36
2nd Regiment Rifles South Carolina Volunteers 4 17
5th Regiment South Carolina Volunteers 6 27
6th Regiment South Carolina Volunteers 4 47
4th Battalion ---- ----
Total 26 184

       In this action Captains [J. E.] Lee and [N. W.] Harbin, of the Palmetto Sharpshooters, were killed. They were brave and promising officers. Lieutenant-Colonel Livingston, of the First Regiment; Captain [E. B.] Cantey, commanding Sixth Regiment; Lieutenant [J. C.] McFadden, of the Sixth, and Lieuts. W. N. Major and H. H. Thomson, of the Palmetto Sharpshooters, were seriously wounded.
       I commend to your favorable notice Captains Squires and Moody, who handled their guns with a skill, daring, and endurance seldom equaled and never surpassed.
       The officers and men of the several regiments are worthy of the highest praise for their coolness and daring in battle and their patient endurance of hunger and fatigue. I regret, however, to be called upon again to refer to the conduct of a large portion of the officers and privates of the First Regiment South Carolina Volunteers in this battle in terms of censure. The commanding officer reports that the regiment entered the fight with 106 men, rank and file, lost 40 men killed and wounded, and at the close of the day but 15 enlisted men and 1 commissioned officer answered to their names. Such officers are a disgrace to the service and unworthy to wear a sword, for I must believe that their desertions of their companies alone induced such conduct upon the part of their privates. If such conduct is not checked by exemplary punishment the efficiency of the regiment will be destroyed.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH WALKER,
Colonel, Commanding Jenkins' Brigade.

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