September 17, 1862

(Harper's Weekly- courtesy National Park Service)

(Harper’s Weekly- courtesy National Park Service)

53rd PVI Casualties

Killed Wounded Captured Total
Officers Enlisted Officers Enlisted Officers Enlisted
1 5 1 17 1 25

From the Official Records:

SEPTEMBER 3-20, 1862.-The Maryland Campaign. No. 52.–Report of Col. John R. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of the battle of Antietam.

On the Battle-field near Sharpsburg, Md., September 19, 1862.

SIR: On the morning of the 17th instant this brigade received orders to march. In a few moments we were on our way to the field of battle. Crossing the Antietam, we marched rapidly to the support of French, who was being hard pressed, and formed line of battle in a small valley in rear of Meagher’s Irish Brigade, which pressed forward at once and soon became engaged. General Richardson then ordered me to move forward, which was done with great precision under a terrific fire of shot and shell. Caldwell’s brigade having relieved the Irish Brigade on the front by a flank movement from the left, I here ordered the men to lie down. At this time the enemy charged and drove back the troops on our right, when the Fifty second New York and the Second Delaware, under Colonel Frank, changed front to meet this attack, and, by direction of General Richardson, I led the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York and Fifty-third Pennsylvania to the right, to check any attempt the enemy might make to reach our rear.

The enemy having taken post in a corn-field in rear of Roulette’s farm-house, I sent the Fifty-third Pennsylvania to dislodge them and hold the position, which was done with great gallantry. I then advanced the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York to relieve Caldwell’s lines, which were now fiercely assailed by fresh troops of the enemy. Passing his line with steadiness and regularity, the two gallant regiments, Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York, drove the enemy from the field in great confusion, capturing two colors and covering the ground with dead and wounded. It was here the gallant Lieutenant Colonel Parisen fell while bravely cheering on his men to victory.

Finding that the enemy made no attempt to regain the field, I sought for and obtained the permission of General Richardson to withdraw my line from the now untenable position, being exposed to a cross-fire of the enemy’s batteries. Taking post under the crest of the hill on the right of the battery, and throwing skirmishers to the front, I caused the ammunition to be replenished. It was at this time that the general commanding was dangerously wounded, while directing the fire of a battery on the left.

In a short time General Hancock arrived and took command. Nothing now occurred except an occasional interchange of shots on the line of pickets. It gives me pleasure to say that every man did his duty unflinchingly. About 2,000 stand of arms were captured, as also a great number of prisoners, who were sent through the ranks to the rear.

Of my staff, Lieut. Charles P. Hatch, acting assistant-adjutant general, did his duty bravely and well. Lieut. John T. Potts, aide-de-camp, was wounded in the thigh while in the performance of his duty. Lieut. J. M. Faville, adjutant Fifty-seventh New York Volunteers, after Lieutenant Potts was borne from the field, supplied his place with great gallantry. I would also mention the brave chaplain of the Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers, Mr. Dwight, who was constantly upon the field in the thickest of the fight. The lists of killed, wounded, and missing have been sent to your headquarters.(*)

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Fifty-third Pennsylvania, Commanding Brigade.

Lieut. W. G. MITCHELL,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

From the Official Records, Report of Lt. Col. Richards McMichael:

SEPTEMBER 3-20, 1862.-The Maryland Campaign. No. 57.–Report of Lieut. Col. Richards McMichael, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, of the battle of Antietam.

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 cornfield, 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 the 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 Lieut. 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 Lieut. 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 <ar27_305> some distance in the front. During the balance of the day my regiment was continually exposed to the destructive fire from the enemy’s batteries, yet I had not a man who left his post or went to the rear. My regiment remained in front line until the 19th ultimo, when I was ordered to be in readiness to march, the enemy having retreated.

My loss in killed is 6, including Acting Adjt. J. D. Weaver, who died on the 18th ultimo; wounded, 18; missing, 1. I cannot particularize any of my officers, from the fact that they all did nobly. Capt. S. O. Bull, acting major, ably assisted me during the whole engagement, as also did all the officers of the regiment.

Very respectfully,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Fifty-third Regt. Pa. Vols.

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Brigade


compiled by Scott Kunkle & Joel Peterson, 1999