FRANK A. HASKELL,
Aide-de-Camp and Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, General Gibbon's Brigade
SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by the Seventh Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers in the action of the 14th of September, 1862, at South Mountain, Md.:
About 5 o'clock p. m. the Seventh Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers formed in line of battle on the north side of the turnpike. Skirmishers were thrown in advance of us, and soon encountered the skirmishers of the enemy. A sharp skirmish fire ensued. The regiment then broke by right of companies to the front, and advanced, keeping 100 paces in rear of the line of skirmishers. We advanced in this way through a corn-field for half a mile, and came out into an open field. Here the skirmishers met such a sharp fire from the sharpshooters of the enemy, that it was difficult for them to advance farther, the open field affording no shelter or protection against the sharp fire from the bank. The regiment then formed a line of battle, and advanced, our left touching the pike, our right extending north to the edge of the woods on the slope of the mountain. The enemy opened a destructive enfilading fire from a stone fence on our left, at a short range, which drew the fire from our regiment to the left. We kept advancing and firing until another enfilading fire from the woods on our right, and a direct fire from behind a stone fence in our front, shoed our close proximity to the enemy's line of battle. Our men returned the fire with great vigor. The Sixth Wisconsin Regiment was then in line in our rear some 50 paces. Colonel Bragg, seeing the destructive fire under which we were fighting, double-quicked the Sixth Wisconsin Regiment to our right and opened on the enemy, thereby drawing the enfilading fire hitherto received by us from the woods on our right.
Colonel Fairchild, of the Second Wisconsin Regiment, at this juncture was a little to rear and left of the pike, with the Second Wisconsin Regiment. He also seeing our perilous condition, brought his regiment forward on our left, and commenced a fire that relieved us from further annoyance from the left, thus leaving us to contend against a direst fire from behind a stone wall in our front. The firing was kept up without ceasing until about 9 o'clock at night, when our ammunition became exhausted. The fact was made known to General Gibbon. His answer was, "Hold the ground at the point of the bayonet." Our men were ordered to lie down; the cartridges were taken from the boxes of the dead and wounded, and distributed among the men who were destitute of ammunition. I then gave them orders to load, and reserve their fire for a close range. The enemy coming to know our condition, commenced advancing on us in line, whereupon I ordered the regiment to rise up, fix bayonets, and charge on the advancing column. Our regiment had not advanced farther than 20 feet when we fired. This broke the enemy's lines, and they retired in great confusion.
Our loss was heavy in killed and wounded. The aggregate of killed, wounded, and missing was about 147. The regiment went into the action with 375 muskets. The officers and men of the regiment all fought well, doing their whole duty. About 10.30 o'clock the regiment was relieved by part of General Gorman's brigade, the Fifteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers.
I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,
1. Photo courtesy of 7thwisconsin.org
2. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of of the records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Series 1, Volume 19 (part 1), pgs. 256-257.