Monday, January 31, 2011
Crampton's Gap Historic District: consisting of Route 17, Gapland Road, Mountain Church Road, Brownsville Pass Road, Townsend Road, and areas in the vicinity of Burkittsville, Maryland.
Turner's and Fox's Gap Historic District: consisting of Alternate Route 40 (Old National Pike), Reno Monument Road, Dalghren Road, Frostown Road, Mount Tabor Road, Moser Road, and areas near Middletown, Maryland.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
1. Official Records of the War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 , Pages 898 - 899. (Hunton's official report)
2.Eppa Hunton. Officers page from Antietam on the Web by Brian Downey. (Hunton's photo)
3. William DeBevoise. Officers page from Antietam on the Web by Brian Downey (DeBevoise photo)
4. 14th Brooklyn. Living History website by Frank Ruiz and Co. E, 14th N.Y.S.M. living history association. (Adjutant General report from September 1862).
Monday, January 24, 2011
After six weeks furlough on account of my wound, I returned to my regiment, arriving the day before Hill's and McLaws divisions started on the march to the Patomic. We arrived on the field of the second Manassas battle two days after the battle had been fought. There had been no time to bury the enemies dead but they had been ordered collected conveniently for burial when men could be spared for the work. To that end, along the road upon which we marched so that without extravagence one could have walked a mile and a half stepping from one dead body to another without touching the ground. It was a horrible spectacle. Under the hot sultry August weather, they were in an advanced state of decomposition. Every single body had been demuded of its outer garments by negros and camp followeres and among them all I only saw one foot that was shod and that belonged to a poor wretch whose leg had been nearly severed above the knee by a cannon ball remaining attached to the body only by a small shred of flesh. The cavalry boot that was on it could not be taken off without taking the leg with it.
General D.H. Hill in his report of the battle of South Mountain stated his force to be 5,500 men under arms and to cover the front necessary to have some protection for his flanks his lines were extended into one rank with intervals from 150 yards to a quarter of a mile between his regiments. Our line of battle was formed on the summits that overlooked an extensive country and we could see the enemy's columns arrive and form line beyond musket shot, division after division.
It was a wonderful and impressive situation. With the exception of artillery firing the battle did not commence until about 10 o'clock in the morning. We could see the storm gathering that was soon to burst upon us. It was certain that for many of us it was the last day of life. The most . . . and ribald and profane among us could be heard groaning and praying aloud.
At last the enemy charged us three lines of battle deep. We resisted stubbornly retarding their progress in our front but being unopposed in the intervals between the regiments, they advanced more rapidly and got around both of our flanks and were about to completely surround us which compelled a hasty and precipate retreat with the sure alternative of death or capture.
As I pulled my trigger with careful aim, throwing a musket ball and three buck shot into them at no more than twenty yards distant, I could see dimly through the dense sulphurus battle smoke and the line from Shakespeare's Tempest flited across my brain:
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."
Before I could reload, our line broke on both sides of me and it was a sharp run until we had extracted ourselves from the flanking columns.
Just as our line broke Jimmie Gibson from Concord, one of General Hill's old Davidson students was shot down. Texas Dan Coleman so called to distinguish him from another Dan Coleman, who on account of his courage and great strength had been detailed to the ambulance corps, and Jimmie were great friends. Jimmie exclaimed, "Great god, Dan don't leave me." Dan ran back in face of the enemy's fire, took Jimmie on his shoulder the enemy's line being not 10 yards distant and ran out with him.
Coleman lost a leg at Geteysburg, fell into the hands of the enemy and died in a hospital in Washington.
My bayonet was fixed for hand to hand work and in running through the laurel bushes my bayonet cought in the bushes above my head, threw the butt of my gun between my feet and I fell sprawling. Just then the man next to me was shot through the head and fell across me. I had to roll his dead body off of me before I could get up.
The 20th quickly rallied after extracting itself from the cul de sac and bore its part in the battle until the end of the day. General Garland was killed early in the action and was succeeded in command of the brigade by Colonal Duncan K. McRae.
The Chaplain of one of our regimetns was conspicuous for a pair of bear skins leggings probably the only pair of their kind in either army, which he continuely wore in camp and on the march. The parson with a prescience born of more than mortal wisdom quickly discerned it was impossible for us to with stand the enemy's onslaught, insured his own saftely by flight. Those bear skin leggens could be seen bounding over the tops of the laural bushes like a kangaroo. McRae who was always fictetious exclamed in a voice that could be heard above the din of battle "Parson..Parson..God damn it, come back here. You have been praying all you life to get to heaven and now that you have a short cut you are running away from it".
Foard would survive the fighting at Fox's Gap and the war.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Now for my opinion of the battles that were fought in Maryland. I was in both battles- the battle of Boonsborough, on the 14th [and Sharpsburg on the 17th]. They were both hard fought battles, and never, I believe, was it more true that the ground was disputed inch by inch. Our brigade was marched from Hagerstown, a distance of 10 or 12 miles, to the scene of conflict, and were soon in the hottest of the fight. We were taken at once to a point to charge a batter of the enemy. While forming in line of battle, so as to be in position to make the assault, we were exposed to a most dreadful rifle and musket fire from the enemy. The 50th Georgia, who were on the extreme left towards the enemy, and the last to form on the right by file into line, were under the hottest fire. Our position was in a narrow road between an embankment eight feet in front as we were faced, and a stonewall on an embankment abot 4 feet high in the rear. The embankment in front of us gradually declined on the left, until it gave us no protection at all from the balls of the enemy.
Our company was the last that could takes its position in line, and this took some of our men entirely from under cover. It was painful to see our men shot down while takingtheir positions. O. Traqick, near me on the right of the company, was shot down when about to file into his place. He was shot in reach of me. The ball passed through his thigh breaking the bone. I mention him, as he was the first one of our company shot. Many others soon shared the same fate.
The enemy were posted behind a fence and trees, not over sixty or seventry yards from us, pouring their deadly volleys into us in comparitive security. Some of the bolder of the enemy would come out into the road and fire down it. Our boys acted nobly, loading and firing as fast as they could; but I am afraid, though they aimed when the enemy were concealed- very few of the bullets struck a Yankee. We had been exposed to this fire about twenty minutes, when a Yankee regiment made its appearance suddenly in our rear about 80 yardsdistance. (This would be the 17th Michigan Regiment). The command was given them to charge, and they came towards us at the charge bayonet about 20 or 30 yards and stopped. I directed my men to fire at them, which the few that were left did, with some effect, I know. About this time there was a general move out of the lane, and we followed. I carried into the action with me 38 men, and brought out 10. Nineteen we can count killed and wounded, the rest have never been heard from, and it is reasonable to suppose that they were killed or wounded. While we were standing this murderous fire, I asked Colonel Manning, who was not far from me, why we were left in such a place- that I thought we should either advance on the enemy or return; he said he could not understand it. This took place on the right. On the left a severe fight took place also. The enemy, by his overwhelming numbers, compelling us to fall back on the whole line a little. The battle ceased about 8 o'clock at night.
Lieutenant Fleming would survive the fight at Fox's Gap, as well as the fight at Antietam. He would send this "report" to the Savannah Republican newspaper which would publish it in October 1862. A copy of this can be found in the M.J. Solomon Scrapbook at Duke University as well as at the South Mountain State battlefield office.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Oct. 8th, 1862
Your welcome letter of the 27th reached here yesterday. The note I wrote on the battlefield was wrote in great haste as a citizen from Hagerstown happened along the lines during the afternoon and offered to carry letters to the office. I judged by his appearance (wrongly it seems) tht the letters are as apt to go into Secepia as Wis. We are camped on the banks of the Potomac nine miles from Harper's Ferry. Have moved twice since the 17th for Sanitary reasons. Are yet in the immediate vicinity of the battlefield. Nothing of any special interest has occured since I wrote you last. We were reviewed last week by the President and Generals Halleck and McClellan and the Corps Division and Brigade commanders. Abraham looked wll and took especial interest in the Iron Brigade which was pointed out to him by Gen. Reynolds our corps commander. According to a recent field report there is at the time in this Army Corps thiry thousand men drawing pay. Of this number seven thousand only are reported for duty, this will give you a pretty good idea of the waste of war of these twenty-three thousand. A great many are slightly wounded and will return to duty in a short time. Others in two or three monthes. A large number of sick, or imagine they are, others feign sickness. And it is perfectly astonishing the war our surgeons allow themselves to be guilled by these hospital soldiers.
In regards to the inquiries sent by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence regarding William. I will just say that sometime about the first of June we marched from Fredericksburg to Catletts there expecting to take the cars to Front Royal to intercept Jackson. After waiting two days we marched for haymarket at Catletts. William was unable to march and was left there and did not rejoin the company until the beginning of August wheter he wrote during his absence from the company I am unable to say but immediately after his return he was engaged in writing letters to his parents and to his friends at Bladensburg. William often talked to me of his friends at home and frequently on the arrival of mail expressed surprise and regret that he failed to recieve letters from home. In the early part of August we again started on the march which was ever since til the battle of Sharpsburg been rapid and continuous and for weeks together under Pope's administration we were not allowed to write at all. You can tell Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence that William was to brave a boy to forget his Father and Mother.
In order that you will better understand the locality I will explain the whole affair to the best of my ability. The action was commenced in the cleared fields on either side of the turnpike, these fields were on the side of the mountain and were bordered by woods. The surface of the ground in these woods was very rocky and precipitous. The enemy having two regiments to our one soon flanked us on the right and poured and exploding fire into our ranks. We were then moved by the right flank into these woods to drive the rebels out. It was executing this maneuver that William was struck. He was in the center of the company and I was on the right and consequently knew nothing of this being hurt until after the Rebels fled. I then passed down the lines to ascertain who was hurt in Co. I when I found William. Sgt. Clarwater had helped him behind a tree and spread his blanket for him. He recognized me at once in the darkness and asked me for water which I gave him, procurred another blanket for his head and one to cover him, expressed himself satisfied but appeared advers to talking. I remained with him intending to accompany him to the hospital as soon as the stretchers which had been sent for camp up not thinking his wound was a mortal one (he died before the stretchers came, about two hours after he was struck) he told us that the shot came from a man directly in front in that case the wound would not have been a mortal one as he was struck from the right or glanced to the left after it struck his person. He was buried in the field on the very ground we contested with the enemy. There is five others of our regiment and on of the 16th Ill. Cavalry in the same grave. They lay sid by side head boards at the head of each on plainly stated the name, reg't, and co. of each of the occupants. Should his friends wish to disinter the body and in case the headboards are destroyed William lays second one from the left as you face the head of the grave, the first man on the left is the cavalryman, easily distinguishable by his short jacket. They are buried between two large boulders there is just sufficient room for the grave and one of the rocks is an inscription, Viz. Wisconsin Dead. This was made by one of out boys with a bayonet broken for the purpose. There would be no difficulty in finding the spot as it is forty rods on the right of the turnpike on the southern slope of South Mountain between Boonsborough and Middletown. Clarwater was left with a detail for this purpose and he tells me that William was buried in the best manner possible under the circumstances and I have the above details from C. as were we on the day following the fight in hot pursuit of the enemy.
The weather is spendid, the roads dry, everthing for active operations. we are constantly speculating on the cause of this inaction we are not so blood thirsty as we used to be that is we are not anxious for another fight, but want the ball kept in motion even if we have to take the brunt.
The health of the troops is excellent, mine was never better. My regards to all the friends.
My love to the Family
Geo. D. McDill
Here is a link to Mr. Hoptak's announcement:
Monday, January 10, 2011
Colonel John B. Gordon, commanding 6th Alabama Infantry: Probably the most well known regiment of Robert Rodes' brigade during the Maryland Campaign, Colonel Gordon and his men were the first to engage the Pennsylvania Reserves during the fight at Frostown Gap. Positioned on the left flank of the brigade. Prior to the fighting, a comical exchange to place between Gordon and the Widow Main, a "spartan" of a woman who lived on what would soon become a battleground. Gordon warned the Widow that fighting would commence soon and asked for her to take herself and her children to the safety. The woman refused saying the she would rather die than leave her home at the hands of the rebels. With concealed laughter from his men and staff, Gordon left the woman as an embarrassed man. Gordon would throw out a strong skirmish line that would slow the advance of two regiments of Pennsylvanians. His main line was positioned behind a stonewall and in a tree line bordering an open field to their front. When the reserves pushed back the skirmish line, Gordon's main line unleashed a devastating volley the stunned the Union men and caused the advance to halt for a brief time. Events elsewhere would force Gordon to withdraw from his strong position back a gorge where Rodes' was attempting to rally his brigade and make a final desperate stand. The rock on which this final stand would rest would be Gordon's regiment, having remained intact and in the words of General Rodes was an "excellent regiment" and one which Gordon had "kept constantly in hand and had handled in a manner that I have never heard or seen equaled during this war." Gordon's men would hold the line while others crumbled and as they lay exhausted and low on ammunition, the "fresh" (having just completed a forced march from Hagerstown) brigades of James Kemper, Nathan Evans, and Richard Garnett. Gordon's men would hold the extreme left of the new Confederate line and would blast away several Union advances as they attempted to capture Turner's Gap from the north. John Gordon and his Alabamians nearly held off the Pennsylvania Reserves by themselves as the approached and turned the Confederate flank and John Gordon proved to superiors how cool he was under fire. The regiment would be tested again three days later at Antietam, but the fight at Frostown earned them a reputation as hard fighters.
Colonel Hugh W. McNeil, commanding 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (1st Rifles): Commanding the "Bucktails", Colonel McNeil's regiment would make the first contact with Confederate forces at Frostown Gap. Taking into battle about 300 man, the majority of his regiment is deployed as skirmishers to feel out for the Confederate forces and the remainder are in a supporting role. When skirmishing breaks out, McNeil pushes his men against the the southern skirmishers routing them. Upon advancing on the Confederate mainline, the battle turns into a slugfest with the 13th Reserves duking it out with Colonel Gordon's 6th Alabama. For nearly an hour, the two sides hammered each other with musketry. When reinforcements arrived to support McNeil and his men, the colonel gave the order to charge breaking the Confederate line and sweeping up the mountainside capturing several Confederate wounded and stragglers. Only nightfall kept McNeil's regiment and the remainder of the division from advancing any further. Expecting a renewed fight in the morning, McNeil's men would sleep on their arms that night. The next morning, a reconnaissance found the Confederates had retreated. McNeil and his regiment then were ordered forward in pursuit of the retreating rebels. Colonel McNeil would be killed in a sharp skirmish on the 16th, just hours before the bloody Battle of Antietam.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
"Tell my command that if not in body, I will be with them in spirit." : The 9th Corps remembers Major General Jesse Reno
The effort by survivors of the 9th Corps to memorialize their fallen commander at South Mountain began when the Society of the Burnside Expedition and 9th Army Corps set in place plans to erect a monument to Reno on the battlefield at Fox's Gap. At the meeting of the society in 1888, a resolution was put before the veterans and it was decided to erect a memorial to General Reno. Here is the resolution passed during this meeting:
"Resolved, That a committee consisting of a member from each organization in the 9th Corps participating in the Battle of South Mountain, September 14, 1862, be appointed, which committee is hereby authorized to solicit subscriptions to be used in the erection of of a suitable memorial - costing not over $1,000 - to designate the spot where our great soldier and commander, General Jesse L. Reno, was killed, the same to be in position by September 14, 1889, on which day it shall be dedicated by this society. The commitee are authorized to make all necessary arrangements."
With this resolution, the men who fought under Reno took their commanders last words to heart. The commanding general may not be there in body, but his spirit was. The society appointed General John Hartranft to head the memorial committee and the President of the society would appoint other members to the committee. Also during this meeting, several of the regiments represented pledged on the spot to contribute $100 to the effort.
For the next year, Hartranft and his committee raised funds and looked into locating the site of Reno's wounding and purchasing the property. When the next meeting came about in June 1889, General Hartranft reported that funding was being raised at a suitable rate but the form of the monument, the commitee had decided, was to be placed before the society for suggestions. With this report, it appeared the monument would not be ready by September. A motion was made to delay the dedication for one year, but was quickly withdrawn after heated discussions. In the end, the society decided to leave the design and arrangements up to those members serving on the memorial committee.
With this vote, the committee set about designing the monument and finding a suitable location. With little time left before the monument would be dedicated, the location of General Reno's wounding was determined and the rights to the land were purchased for erection of the memorial. The design of the memorial would be a short, granite column with crowned at the top with a Maryland Cross on each side to commerate the 1862 Maryland Campaign. On each side would be an inscription dedicated to General Reno. On the North face (front) would be, from top to bottom: 9th Corps September 14, 1862 Reno. The Ninth Corps insignia would also appear on this side. On the West facing side the inscription reads: This monument marks the spot where Gen. Jesse Lee Reno, commanding 9th Army Corps U.S. Vol's, was killed in battle Sept. 14, 1862. On the South side is a listing of Reno's battles during his career: Battles. Vera Cruz; Cerro Gordo; Cantretras; Churubusco; Chapultepec; Roanoke Island; New Berne; Camden; Bull Run; Chantilly and South Mountain. On the east side is the dedication inscription: Erected by the survivors of the 9th Army Corp to their Commander and Comrade September 14, 1889.
With the monument completed and placed, all was set to go on September 14, 1889. The day dawned cold and wet but nevertheless, nearly 1,000 people gathered for the ceremony. The dedication speech was read by one of Reno's division commanders, Orlando Willcox. A photo of the dedication ceremony appears in William F. McConnell's Remember Reno: A Biography of Major General Jesse Lee Reno attesting to the size of the crowd that gathered.
Following the dedication, the society appropriated the remaining funds from the memorial to construction of a stonewall around the monument. The society raised $1,009 and the memorial cost just over $688 to construct and place. A fund was also established to pay a local caretaker to tend to the monument in the absence of society members. The society also ordered 500 copies to be made outlining the dedication ceremony proceedings along with a photo of Reno and of the memorial. The little booklets were entitled Reno Memorial South Mountain, MD: Unveiled September 14, 1889, Its Inception, Erection, and Dedication. The monument is a testement to the love a general's soldiers have for the commander, nearly 30 years after he was killed in battle. Today, the monument is cared for by the National Park Service.
The Society of the Army of the Potomac. Report of the 19th Annual Re-Union at Gettysburg, PA July 1st, 2d, & 3d, 1888. (New York: Macgowan & Slipper, 1888). Pg. 59-60
The Society of the Army of the Potomac. Report of the 20th Annual Re-Union at Orange, New Jersey, June 12th & 13th, 1889. (New York: MacGowan & Slipper, 1889), 90-91.
The Society of the Army of the Potomac. Report of the 21st Annual Re-Union at Portland, ME July 3d & 4th, 1890. (New York: MacGowan & Slipper, 1890). Pg. 80-81.
William F. McConnell. Remember Reno: A Biography of Major General Jesse Lee Reno. (Shippensburg,Pa: White Mane Publishing,1996).