War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0500 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 176. Report of Colonel George L. Andrews, Second Massachusetts Infantry, of the battle of Antietam.


Camp near Sandy Hook, Md., September 23, 1862.

SIR: I compliance with orders from division headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers in the battle of September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Md.:

The evening preceding, the regiment was ordered forward to a place near the battle-field, to be in readiness, with other forces, to support General Hooker. The men were here allowed a few hour's rest. At about 6 o'clock in the morning of the 17th regiment moved with the rest of the Third Brigade, in column, to a point still nearer the scene of action, which had already commenced. From this point, after a short interval, a part of the brigade, including this regiment, which was on the right, was marched forward in column by battalion, with deploying intervals. Having reached the farther edge of a wood in front, the enemy, who occupied a wood opposite the elect of the brigade and a corn-field in front of the center and right. This regiment, with the rest of the brigade, advanced, passing through one of our batteries, by which its movements were necessarily much impeded, and was halted in an orchard, some 75 yards in advance of the position taken by the other regiments of the brigade. I formed the regiment in a broken line; the left perpendicular and the right parallel to the line of the other regiments. In front of the right, about 50 yards distant, were two regiments lying down. From my position a fire was opened so directed as to cross that of the rest of the brigade, and which was delivered with perfect coolness, and evidently with great effect. I here witnessed the gallant manner in which the Third Wisconsin, under Colonel Ruger, sustained and replied to a destructive fire. The enemy was soon drive from his position, when our line was ordered to advance through the corn-field. The enemy fled from this part of the field, leaving it thickly strewn with his dead and wounded. The regiment was halted near one of our batteries, which was playing upon the enemy, receiving his fire in return. Up to this time the los in this regiment had been very small.

Soon after this the corps of General Summer passed us, advancing to attack the enemy in his near position, which was in a thick wood-his line being nearly at right angles with that of the Third Brigade when advancing to the attack. The front of the brigade was then changed so as to take a position in the woods from which the enemy had been driven, and which was directly opposite the wood above mentioned. At about 12 o'clock (m.) this regiment, with the rest of the brigade, was ordered forward to the support of General Sumner's corps. The regiment advanced in line, the Thirteenth New Jersey on its right, to a lane, fenced on both sides, which offered a partial cover, and which was about 100 yards from the wood held by the enemy. Here the regiment received a very heavy fire from a large body of the enemy posted in the woods. Our fire was opened in return; but the enemy having greatly the advantage, both in numbers and position his fire became very destructive.

Being unsupported, it was impossible to advance and a useless sacrifice of life to keep my position. The regiment was accordingly marched back in perfect order to the position from which it had advanced. This