Lt. Colonel Henry Fowler's
me, at this late day and in this apparently informal manner, to submit
the following report of the action and conduct of the Sixty-third
Regiment New York Volunteers in the late severe fight at Antietam on the
official list of killed and wounded has, I understand, already been
forwarded, but I deem it to be justice to the living and the dead that
mention should be made of their heroism and bravery upon that fearful
day. After the first advance from the meadow upon the plowed field, the
colonel not being present, as a necessity I, without orders, assumed
now a solace to my mind, while suffering from my wound, to testify how
gallantly and promptly each officer in his place and each company moved
forward and delivered their fire in the face of the most destructive
storm of leaden hail, that in an instant killed or wounded every officer
but one and more than one-half the rank and file of the right wing. For
a moment they staggered, but the scattered few quickly rallied upon the
left, closing on the colors, where they nobly fought, bled, and died,
protecting their own loved banner and their country's flag, until the
brigade was relieved.
the early part of the action Calpt. P. J. Condon and Lieut. Thomas W.
Cartwright, both of Company G, fell wounded while gallantly cheering on
their men bravely at their post, as also Capt. M. O'Sullivan, Company F,
while Lieut. P. W. Lydon, commanding Company D, Lieut. Cadwalader Smith,
Company C, and Lieutenant McConnell, of Company K, bravely rallying the
gallant remaining few, fell pierced by bullets, instantly fatal.
the right wing had fallen before me, I hastened to the left, where I
found the major Bentley close upon the line, and Capt. Joseph O'Neill,
Company A, whose company had all fallen around him on the right, now
assisting the major on the left. Here also was the stalwart Lieutenant
Gleason, Company H, raising and supporting the repeatedly falling
colors, with Lieut. John Sullivan commanding and pushing forward Company
K; and here lay the slender form of Captain Kavanagh, Company I, cold in
death; the brave and enthusiastic Lieut. R. P.
Company E, passing from right to left, boldly urging his men to stand
firm, and the gallant Lieut. George Lynch, second lieutenant Company G,
bravely pressing on until he too fell, mortally wounded. The killed died
as brave men, sword in hand, and amid the thickest of the fight. Major
Bentley was now wounded, and retired to have his wound dressed. Our
number now left was less than 50 men; our colors, although in ribbons,
and staff shot through, were still there, sustained at a bloody
sacrifice, 16 men having fallen while carrying them. I now received a
severe wound, and was compelled to retire just as the lines of the enemy
officers and men all acted with a coolness and heroism worthy of
honorable mention, yet I cannot close this meager report without
recommending to your special notice Maj. Richard C. Bentley and Capt. J.
O'Neill, whose cool and gallant conduct upon this trying and painful
occasion merits the warmest commendation.
conclusion, permit me to congratulate you that your gallant little
brigade has once more crowned itself with fresh laurels, and given
additional and bloody proofs of its devotion to the Constitution and the
flag of our beloved country.
Sixty-third Regiment, Irish Brigade.
Brig. Gen. THOMAS FRANCIS
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