Numbers 275. Report of Lieutenant Colonel William R. Holmes,
Second Georgia Infantry, of the action at Garnett's Farm and battle of Malvern Hill.
HDQRS. SECOND REGIMENT GEORGIA VOLUNTEERS, July 23, 1862.
SIR: Pursuant to orders received of this date I send you the reports of the actions and a correct list of the casualties which occurred in our regiment in the engagements of June 27 and July 1:
On June 27, while our regiment was on picket, five companies, being immediately on the outposts, with the rest as a reserve-composed of the following companies: Company F, Cherokee Brown Rifles; Company C, Semmes Guards; Company D, Burke Sharpshooters; Company H, Wright Infantry, and Company I, Buena Vista Guards-were ordered by Colonel Butt forward to the picket line, 200 yards beyond the Garnett house, to the left, to open fire upon the enemy's pickets. On arriving upon the line Colonel Butt gave me command of Company C, Semmes Guards, commanded by Captain Shepherd, and Company F, Cherokee Brown Rifles, Captain Shuford, and ordered me to take those two companies 60 yards to the right, and march them to the edge of the woods looking out upon the wheat field; when in that position to open fire upon the enemy. I did so. At the time I halted them a regiment of the enemy, stationed in line opposite us across the field, which I saw plainly, opened fire upon us. I ordered our men to lie down and fire deliberately at them, which order they obeyed handsomely. The fire then became general on the line opposite us and extended soon to our left and right, which placed us under an enfilade fire from two points. I occupied the position at the edge of the woods until nearly half of the men in the companies that I commanded were either killed or wounded. I then ordered the men to fall back six paces and get behind trees, which they did, and there they fought until the combat ceased.
The left companies-Company D, Burke Sharpshooters; Company I, Buena Vista Guards, and Company H, Wright Infantry-were commanded by Colonel Butt in person. Being to my left 60 yards, remained in their position, not being so exposed as they were on lower ground, which protected Companies D and H very much. Company I, being on the right of these companies nearest the right companies under my command, suffered more than the other two companies, owing [to] a part of it [being] stationed on rising ground.
Two of the companies of our regiment-Company K, Stewart Greys, and Company B, Jackson Blues, Company K under command of Lieutenant Rockwell, and Company B of Captain A. McC. Lewis-being on picket, collected their men on the post to the left of the road and entered the fight at the time the companies did on the right, which was composed of those companies on reserve and not on post that day. I did not see them or know they were in the fight until afterward.
We fought about a half or three-quarters of an hour against overwhelming numbers, said to have been nine regiments of the enemy, before the Fifteenth Georgia came to the support of our regiment. The companies I commanded were never re-enforced, and I did not know that the Fifteenth Georgia had been ordered in until after the fight, when, on going to where Colonel Butt was stationed, I learned that they were on the ground.
When the fight ceased, which was after night had set in, I had but