No. 102. Report of Major Charles S. Lovell, Tenth U. S. Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of action near Shepherdstown.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, SYKES' DIVISION, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 25, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the instructions of the general commanding division, I crossed the Potomac River on the morning of the 20th instant, in command of the Second Brigade, composed of the following four battalions: Second and Tenth Infantry, commanded by Captain J. S. Poland; First and Sixth Infantry, Captain L. C. Bootes; First Battalion Eleventh Infantry, Major De L. Floyd-Jones, and First Battalion Seventeenth Infantry, Major G. L. Andrews.
Soon after getting across, Lieutenant Ingham, aide-de-camp, told me the general's orders were for me to advance to the second belt of woods in front, which was about 1 1/2 miles distant. On arriving there, Major Floyd-Jones' battalion being in advance to act as skirmishers, a portion were deployed up to within 30 or 40 paces of the outer edge of the woods, when it was soon after discovered that the enemy were in force in our front and on the right. This fact was immediately communicated to the general, and I was directed to fall back to the crest of the river bluff.
To march down the road in column of fours would have subjected my command to great loss, if fired on. The leading battalion, Seventeenth (the brigade being left in front), was filed off to the right of the road to watch the movements of the enemy, while the other three battalions marched into the woods on the left in column by battalion, with intervals of 60 or 70 paces. Finding the enemy approaching in greatly superior numbers, the battalion were faced about, and retired slowly and in most excellent order until reaching the open ground on the hill near the river, when the enemy opened a heavy fire upon us, fortunately, but few shots taking effect. The Second and Sixth were then thrown into the woods on our left, by the orders of the general. Soon after the fire from our own batteries rendered it absolutely necessary to withdraw these two battalions from the woods, and they fell back to the crest of the hill, by my directions, in fine order.
The conduct of officers and men during the march back and while under the fire of the enemy was admirable. Lieutenant E. E. Sellers, Tenth Infantry, acting assistant adjutant-general, was very active in transmitting my orders to the different parts of the field. Assistant Surgeon Woodhull very kindly offered his services to act a side so long as his professional services were not required, and is entitled to my warmest thanks, as I had but one staff officer, Lieutenant Sellers. I inclose a list of casualties. The enemy's force, when I first discovered them advancing upon us, could not have been less than 3,000. My brigade numbered about 1,060.
CHAS S. LOVELL,
Major Tenth Infantry, Commanding Second Brigade.
Lieutenant HEYWARD CUTTING,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Sykes' Division.