Numbers 57. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Richards McMichael, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, of the battle of Antietam.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTY-THIRD PENNSYLVANIA,
Camp of Richardson's Division, September 21, 1862
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of this regiment in the several engagements near this place:
On Monday, the 15th ultimo, we arrived in sight of the enemy near Antietam Creek. My command being on the left of the brigade. I was ordered by Colonel Brooke, commanding the brigade, to halt in a corn-field, being then in rear of the Fifty-seventh New York. We were considerably exposed to the shells from the enemy's batteries while in that position. Some time afterward I was ordered to march by the right flank and follow the Fifty-seventh New York. My command was then placed in the second line, in rear of the Sixty-ninth New York, of General Meagher's brigade. I remained in that position until the morning of the 17th ultimo, when I was ordered to march by the right flank on left of the brigade.
After crossing Antietam Creek, I was ordered to halt in front of the Fifty-seventh New York, and have my men load and prime their pieces. Shortly afterward we were again advancing in same order as before, until we came near the scene of action. I was then ordered to form in line of battle on the left of the Sixty-sixth New York, which was done speedily and in good order. We Were then in the second line. While in this position, General Caldwell's brigade passed through the line of this brigade on the right of my regiment. Shortly afterward we were ordered to advance to the front and take position on the left of that brigade. On arriving there, however, found the enemy, after repeated efforts, had succeeded in piercing the line of the division immediately on our right, leaving us in imminent danger of being flanked. Colonel Brooke at once saw that they must be held at bay at all hazards. Ordering the Fifty-third to file to the right, my regiment passed down the enemy's line to the right in perfect order, receiving their fire with entire composure. General Richardson ordered Colonel Brooke to send the Fifty-third Regiment forward, and hold in check the rebel brigade now on our right and in front; also to hold at all hazards the barn and orchard a short distance in front, the barn being used as a hospital. Steadily, under a shower of musketry, my regiment advanced to the orchard and gained the barn about 100 yards in front of the main line, and, still pressing onward, reached the crest of the hill and drove back the enemy. We moved forward until we formed a connection with General French's division, and held that position until ordered by Colonel Brooke to support a battery.
While in this position, First Lieutenant John D. Weaver, acting adjutant of the regiment, was mortally wounded when nobly cheering the men on to victory. It was here, also that First Lieutenant Philip H. Schreyer was wounded. We were exposed to a murderous fire from the enemy's batteries during the whole time we were in this position. After we had supported the battery for some time, I was ordered to move my regiment and occupy the ground vacated by the Fifth New Hampshire Regiment, in front line, on right of the brigade. I moved my regiment there under a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries, yet my men behaved splendidly and never once flinched. I sent out my left company (B), commanded by Captain Eicholtz, as skirmishers, to a corn-field