South Mountain by Rick Reeve

South Mountain by Rick Reeve
South Mountain by Rick Reeve depicting the wounding of General Garland

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Robert Rodes: Defender of the Frostown Gap

In the early afternoon of September 14, Robert Rodes' brigade of Alabamians was ordered to defend and hold at all cost the vital Frostown Gap. If this gap was lost, the Confederate position at Turner's Gap could be turned and those forces defending Turner's could be destroyed. When the Union assault came, Rodes' brigade was stretched precariously thin but for nearly three hours, the tenacious Alabamians held until the weight of Union numbers became too much. Fortunately, reinforcements in the form of Longstreet's command, having completed a forced march from Hagerstown, were immediately thrown into line and bolstered the what was left of Rodes' brigade. The Alabamians under Rodes paid dearly for their resistance but they gained precious time for Longstreet to arrive and also helped their commanding general get noticed by superior officers.

Born on March 20, 1829 in Lynchburg, Virginia, Robert Emmet Rodes was destined to become a military man. His father, David Rodes, who served in he Virginia militia during the revolutionary period eventually attaining the rank of brigadier general. His mother, Martha (Yauncy) Rodes was the daughter of Major John Yauncey, who was a revolutionary war veteran from Bedford County, Virginia. In the fall of 1845, a young Rodes was enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After an up and down career at the institute, Rodes would graduated 10th out of 24 graduates in 1848. He would attempt to obtain a commission in the United States Army but with the army of a peace time footing, the needs of the officer corps were met by the army academy at West Point. Instead, Rodes would be appointed a professor of Philospophy,  Mathematics, and Tactics at VMI, subjects that he excelled in as a cadet. He would remain at VMI until 1850 when he resign his position and went to work as a railroad civil engineer. He would first work with the Southside Railroad connecting Peterburg, Virginia with Lynchburg. By 1854 this work was completed and he bounced around from various railroad companies in Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, and Alabama for the better part of the 1850's. He would marry Virginia Woodruff in September 1857.

In 1860, Rodes was elected to as the Professor of Applied Mechanics at VMI. Unfortunately, he would never serve in this capacity. Funding for the position was delayed and events of that winter thrust the country closer to civil war. While in Alabama, Rodes had joined a militia company, the "Warrior Guards" based out of Tuscaloosa, and was elected the captain of this company. In January 1861, the governor of Alabama ordered Rodes to report with his company to Fort Morgan, where it would assist in its capture. With this mission successful, Rodes returned with his company to Tuscaloosa where he would spent early 1861 drilling his men. In May, the company was ordered to Montgomery where a new regiment, the 5th Alabama, was being organized. Rodes would be elected colonel of this new regiment. Rodes would move his regiment to Pensecola where it would remain until it was ordered to Manassas to join General P.G.T. Beauregard's army . Rodes would miss out on the fighting of July 21st, but his discipline would garner him a promotion to Brigadier General in October 1861.

Rodes' new brigade consisted of his own 5th Alabama,  the 6th and 12th Alabama regiments, the 12th Mississippi, and a light artillery battery under Captain Thomas Carter. When George McClellan moved the massive Army of the Potomac to the Virginia Peninsula in an attempt to capture Richmond, Rodes moved with the Confederate Army. A heavy artillery battery would be added to his brigade. At the Battle of Williamsburg, Rodes would remain in reserve. When the two opposing armies reached the defences of Richmond in late May, General Joseph Johnston, commanding the Confederates, devised a plan that would destroy at least a portion of the Union army. Now attached to D.H. Hill's division, Rodes' brigade was deployed to the right of the Williamsburg Stage Road and within supporting distance of Samuel Garland's brigade. When the Confederate attack began, Rodes men easily drove in the Union Pickets and when the main Union line was reached, the brigade attacked. General Rodes was in the lead when his brigade swept the Union defenders away capturing several cannon. During the assault, General Rodes was wounded and evacuated to Richmond where he would spend the coming month recuperating. Rodes' brigade, numbering about 2,500 going into the battle, lost over 1,000 in the relentless assault.

By the end of June, the General was well enough to rejoin his command for the coming campaign. In his absence, the make up of his brigade changed. The 12th Mississippi was dropped and two Alabama regiments, the 3rd and 26th, were added. He would participate in the Battle of Gaines' Mill but the vigorous movements of the day caused the general's wound to reopen and he was escorted back to Richmond. The command of the brigade fell to Colonel John B. Gordon of the 6th Alabama. Rodes would remain in Richmond recuperating, missing the Second Manassas Campaign. When the beginning of September came, Rodes was restless and with his brigade marching northward to join Lee on the banks of the Potomac, he quietly left Richmond in pursuit of his men. Arriving in Frederick, Maryland on September 6, he took command of his brigade.

Rodes would remain with his brigade in Frederick until September 10th when his brigade, as part of D.H. Hill's Division made up the rear guard of the Army of Northern Virginia as the main body marched towards Hagerstown to await Jackson's successful capture of Harper's Ferry. On the 13th, Rodes brigade would be in position along and near Beaver Creek watching the roads leading southward for any Union troops that may escape from Harper's Ferry in the direction of Boonsboro.

On the 14th, Rodes and his brigade was ordered to relieved George B. Anderson's brigade which was posted just west of Boonsboro. Around noon, the brigade was ordered to South Mountain to reinforce those confederates already engaged. Reporting to General Hill, Rodes recieved orders to go into position to the north of the gap covering the ridge line immediately to the left of the National Pike. Going into position under occasional artillery fire, Rodes deployed skirmishers to his front a left. After remaining there for nearly an hour, Rodes was ordered again to shift farther north, going into position along the ridgeline covering the Frostown Gap. Going into this last position, Rodes deployed his brigade facing east with the 6th Alabama on the left flank, with the 5th, 3rd, and 26th Alabama in the right-center, center, and left-center respectively, and the 12th Alabama made up the brigades left flank. As Rodes was placing his men, the Pennsylvania Reserve Division was in full view and he could see they were going into battlelines. In his report he wrote, " This was about 3 P.M. and it was perfectly evident that my force of about 1,200 muskets was opposed to one which outflanked mine on either side by at least a half a mile." Knowing he was outnumbered, Rodes knew that if he withdrew the Confederate positions at the mountain gaps to the south would become untenable and the result could be devastating.

As he stated in his report, at about three in the afternoon, the Union advance began and immediately, the skirmishers were engaged. The Confederate skirmish line fired several devastating volleys before withdrawing to the main line. Advancing cautiously, the Union advance finally reached the main confederate line and after a massive volley from the Confederates, the battle began in earnest. To the left of Rodes position was a prominent hill from which an artillery battery could rain fire down on either line. Repeatedly sending request for artillery, Rodes feared that this hill would be occupied by Union forces. He ordered the 6th Alabama to move farther to the left to occupy this hill. The movement was successfully done under fire and when Gordon saw the chance, he ordered his regiment to charge, repelling an enemy advance against the position. Despite this effort, Union troops would capture this hill and turn Rodes left flank.

After about 2 hours of desperate fighting, Rodes brigade was pushed to the breaking point. His regiments were taking heavy casualties and the Union force had slowly stretched Rodes men out in an attempt to turn the confederate left. With his brigade dwindling away, Rodes was in desperate need for some good news. This news came with word the reinforcements had arrived and were in the process of connecting to his right flank. Rodes, seeing that with this news and the casualties his brigade was taking, ordered his brigade to fall back to the southern slope of a gorge that his brigade had been straddling. This allowed him to meet the brunt of the assault coming against his left flank.

Up to this time he only had four regiments engaged heavily. The 12th Alabama was still supporting a battery that was posted on the mountain spur. When this regiment was relieved, the Alabamians went to the aid of their brethren and fell into Rodes line bolstering it with what few men were available. The final stand in this new position. Rodes brigade was hammered by the new assaults. One regiment was cut in two and the others were not in a connected line which left large gaps for the advancing Union troops to push through. By nightfall, Rodes brigade was in full retreat, with the exception of the 6th Alabama which was putting up a rather savage resistance. With one final volley, the fighting ended for the night with random flashes coming from the skirmish line. Around midnight, Rodes was ordered to retreat off the mountain leaving over 400 casualties behind.

Rodes led his battered brigade to Sharpsburg where they would hold the sunken road in a savage fight that took even more men from the firing line, over 200. When the brigade had entered Maryland, it numbered about 1,200 men, as it retreated across the Potomac, over 600 men and boys from Alabama remained in Maryland soaking the states soil with their lifes blood.

Rodes brigade would lick its wounds and recieve some new recruits as well as those that had recovered from sickness and wounds to help raise their numbers again. Rodes would lead his brigade at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 but it would not be heavily engaged. Rodes would be given the command of D.H. Hill's division when Hill was ordered to North Carolina. Rodes' Division would be the brunt of Stonewall Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and at Gettysburg, now a major general, Rodes would lead his division against the right flank of the Union 1st Corps in the Confederate drive to capture Gettysburg. After the heavy fight on the 1st day, Rodes division would remain idle the remainder of the battle.

Maj. General Rodes grave
During 1864, Rodes would lead his division at the battles of The Wilderness, Spotslyvania, and Cold Harbor. His division would be apart of Jubal Early's movement into Maryland that reached the gates of Washington, D.C. During Early's retreat up the Shenandoah Valley, Rodes would find himself in the fight for his life outside of Winchester. Again, facing an overwhelming Union attack, he determined that his division would by time for the rest of Early's force to retreat. This would prove costly. Leading a counterattack, Rodes was mortally wounded by an exploding shell. He would die on the battlefield and his body would be transported in an ambulance to safety. He would be buried in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fighting Colonels: Lt. Colonel John W. Hofmann

Commanding the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry in Abner Doubleday's brigade of John Hatch's, Lt. Colonel John W. Hofmann would take his regiment numbering nearly 250 men into action late in the day on September 14, 1862. Hofmann began his regiments march from their encampment along the Monocacy River at about 6 A.M. and he states in his official report that the regiment had present for duty, "One field officer, 1 captain, 6 lieutenants, 239 Enliste men." Arriving on the battlefield, the regiment was quickly thrown into line and ordered forward to the relief of Colonel Walter Phelps, commanding John Hatch's brigade. Hoffman's Pennsylvanian's slammed into the Virginian's of General Richard Garnett's brigade. For the next hour and a half, the battle raged across a cornfield with Hofmann's men slowly pushing the Confederates back and repulsing any efforts by the enemy to recapture lost ground. Hofmann reported that with darkness falling, that "position of the enemy could only be ascertained only from the flashes of his fire." When the regiments ammunition began to run out, Doubleday ordered the regiment to fall back to replenish their supply and General James Rickett's division came forward to relieve them. The regiment slept on its arms that night and the following morning, the destructive nature of their fire was witnessed. Confederate dead and wounded littered the cornfield that was in their front. During the course of the action, General Doubleday was placed in command of the division as a result of General Hatch's wounding. The brigade command fell to Colonel William Wainwright, but he would also be wounded and Hofmann would take command of the brigade. He would write two reports on the Battle of South Mountain, one as a regimental commander and one as the brigade commander. He would lead this brigade at Antietam but would be mainly charged with supporting the artillery of the 1st corps.


The War of the Rebellion: a Compliation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Volume 19, Part 1. 234-239.

John M. Priestly. Before Antietam: The Battle of South Mountain. (White Mane Publishing Compan y, Inc. 1992). 253, 258

Thursday, March 24, 2011

South Mountain poem from Harper's Weekly

The following is a poem that appeared in the October 25, 1862 issue of Harper's Weekly, a newspaper based out of New York City. It is well known for its inclusion of illustrations showing distant battlefields to the public. This poem, the author is unknown, shows how a peaceful Sunday morning along South Mountain, with church bells ringing and sermons prepared, suddenly turned into a hellish brawl between two opposing armies. It tells of the Union victory and at the very end, it shows the tragic nature of how this war had turned American against American.

At South Mountain.

Like plates of brassy armor
The yellow plowed lands lay Upon the valley's bosom
For leagues and leagues away. Along them shines and shimmers
The lazy moving stream,
As o'er a child's soft bosom
The idle ribbons gleam.
The mountain's velvet helmet
Nods darkly on her crest,
As though some untold passion
Was trembling in her breast.
The green leaves chant together
A weird and mystic strain,
And the feathery tenants mingle
Their notes in the wild refrain.
The shadows sweep o'er the valley
Like an evanescent blot,
That seems like a holy feeling
Begrimed with an impure thought. —'Twas thus lay the quiet valley
And the sentry hills held sway,
Ere the bugle notes scared the song-birds,
Or the reveille woke the day.
And now was the smiling Sabbath,
And the sweet-tongued meeting bells
Rang out like an incense wafted
O'er listening hills and dells.
The soldiers catch the cadence
Borne out on the distant air,
And it comes to their weary spirits
Like the thought of an angel's prayer.
But vain the holy summons—
The prayer remains unsaid,
The singer's lips are silent,

The sermon lies unread;
While long and dusty columns
Of sun-browned troops file by,
Nerved by the rigid purpose
To win the day—or die!
Along the paths of the mountain
Moves up the dark-blue line,
The gun-wheels grind o'er the boulders,
The burnished bayonets shine.
Way up in the leafy covert
The curling smoke betrays
Where the foe throw down the gauntlet,
And the answering cannons blaze.
The crack of the Minie rifle,
The shriek of the crashing shell,
The ring of the flashing sabre,
Their tale of the conflict tell.
They tell of the dear lives lying,
War's food in Nature's lap,

Ere the Starry Flag in triumph
Waves through the Mountain Gap.
Night drops her pitying mantle
To hide the bloody scene—
Next morn a thousand dead men
Mark where the foe had been.
And where the fight was hottest
Two mangled corpses lay,
One clad in bright blue jacket,
And one in homespun gray.
Their hands are clasped together,
Their bloody bosoms show
Each fought with a dauntless purpose,
And fell 'neath each other's blow! They fell, and the crimson mingled,
And before the paling eye
Back rolled the storm of the conflict
To the peaceful days gone by.
Emit thought of the mystic token—
The talismanic sign;
Each recognized a Brother!
Two firm right hands entwine! The fire of the noble order
Touched not their hearts in vain.
All hate fades out, uniting
Two hearts with the triple chain!


Harper's Weekly website by Son of the South

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Report of Colonel Wainwright, 76th New York

Col. Wainwright
Colonel William D. Wainwright's 76th New York Infantry went into battle late in the day on September 14, 1862. When Brigadier General John Hatch (commanding the 1st Division, 1st Corps) was wounded, Wainwright was elevated to command of the brigade when Abner Doubleday took command of the division. Wainwright would be wounded during the battle. The following is his report written while he was recuperating in a field hospital at the base of the mountain.

Near Mount Tabor, September 16, 1862.

Captain E. P. HALSTEAD,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Doubleday's Division.

SIR: I have the honor to report, for the information of General Doubleday, that on the afternoon of the 14th instant, after the battalions had been moved up to the edge of the wood, the Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers passed through a line of troops under the command of General Patrick. The regiment formed with perfect steadiness on the extreme left. They were well in hand during the whole engagement, always obeyed the orders to fire and to cease firing readily, and although not many cartridges were expended, the repulse of an attempt to turn our left, which, in conjunction with the left wing of the Seventh Indiana Regiment, was brilliantly accomplished, and the orderly manner in which they afterward passed the line of troops coming up to relieve them, showed that they are fast becoming veteran soldiers.

I would again (as in a note sent yesterday afternoon by Surgeon Metcalfe) call the general's attention to the weakened state of the regiment. They went into action on this occasion with only forty files. Their loss was, so far as ascertained, 2 killed and 13 wounded-of the latter, 2 mortally. I doubt whether they can now furnish more than thirty files, commanded by four lieutenants, in any line of battle that may be called for at present.

In the above action First Lieutenants Crandall and Goddard and Second Lieutenants Byram and Foster were the only officers present under me. They all conducted themselves admirably. I think it was Lieutenant Goddard who first called my attention to the enemy stealing through the corn in order to gain our flank.

Sergeant Stamp, just promoted for good conduct in a former battle, was shot through the head while gallantly carrying the national colors.

 Owing to a wound in the arm received during the action, I am unable to join the regiment. First Lieutenant Crandall is next in command.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel Seventy-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers.


The War of the Rebellion: a Compliation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Volume 19, Part 1. 227-238.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Bloody 50th: Georgia's sons are slaughtered at South Mountain

Assigned to the brigade of Thomas Drayton, the 50th Georgia Infantry held the Confederate left flank during the afternoon fighting at Fox's Gap. Unfortunately, this would end up putting them in the crosshairs of Union arms from three different directions. The Georgians were decimated by the Union musketry until over 80% of their number lay dead and wounded in the Old Sharpsburg Road. The following is a brief history of the regiment, its role in the 1862 Maryland Campaign, and a casualty list from its fight on the mountain.

What would become the 50th Georgia Infantry was organized and mustered into Confederate service in March 1862 at Savannah, Georgia. The various companies of the regiment were recruited in the south and southeastern parts of the state. The companies with county of origin:

Company A- Sastilla Rangers, Pierce County
Company B- Ware Volunteers, Ware County
Company C- Coffee County Guards, Coffee County
Company D- Valdosta Guards, Lowndes County
Company E- Thomas County Rangers, Thomas County
Company F- Decatur Infantry, Decatur County
Company G- Clinch Volunteers, Clinch and Echols Counties
Company H- Colquitt Marksman, Colquitt County
Company I- Berrian Light Infantry, Berrian County
Company K- Brooks Volunteers, Brooks County

The regiment was placed under the command of Colonel William R. Manning. During the first months of service the regiment was stationed in the defenses of Savannah. In July 1862, the 50th was transferred to the newly formed brigade under Brigadier General Thomas F. Drayton. It was brigaded with the 51st Georgia, 15th South Carolina, 3rd South Carolina Battalion, and the Phillips' Georgia Legion. The new brigade was ordered to report to Richmond to help make up for losses suffered during the recent battles on the Virginia Peninsula. The men of 50th Regiment left their native state on July 20, 1862 with orders to report to Richmond. Many of them would never set foot in Georgia again.

Arriving in Richmond about a week later, the 50th and the rest of Drayton's brigade were placed into the division of General David R. Jones. After spending nearly 2 weeks in the defenses of Richmond, the regiment was on the road towards Gordonsville, Virginia and beyond with James Longstreet's command to meet the advancing Union army under John Pope. When word the Stonewall Jackson made contact with Pope's army near the old Bull Run battlefield, Longstreet's command picked up the pace of their march and eventually re-united with Jackson's men in the afternoon of August 28th. The coming fight would be the 50th's first taste of battle. Fortunately, the 50th was posted on the extreme right of the Confedrate line with the rest of Drayton's brigade after reports of a Union flanking movement. When the Confederate counterattack came in the afternoon of August 30th, Drayton's brigade was still posted on the extreme right. General Jones', seeing an advantage, pressed his division forward, with the exception of Drayton, who remained in his original position until it was too dark to do anything of consequence. Drayton did eventually get his brigade into line but did little fighting. The 50th Georgia was reported to have suffered only 9 men wounded.

The regiment then marched to the vicinity of Leesburg, Virginia where the Confederate high command planned the next move. It was decided that a movement into Maryland would be the most advantageous for the Confederate cause and immediately troops were put into motion and beginning on September 4th, Confederate troops were tramping across the Maryland countryside. The 50th Georgia was one of the last regiments to cross the Potomac, crossing on September 6th. By the 7th, the regiment was encamped outside of Frederick, Maryland. It was during this brief rest period that Special Orders 191, the infamous order that outlined the Confederate campaign in Maryland, was written. The order went into motion on September 10th, and after marching through Boonsboro, Funkstown, and Hagerstown, the regiment went back into camp to the south of Hagerstown on the road leading to Williamsport. On September 14th, the order of the day was there was to be a forced march from their encampment to Boonsborough where D.H. Hill's division was being heavily pressed by two Union Army corps. Setting out just before sunrise, the 50th, along with the rest of Longstreet's command, marched through suffocating heat and dust before finally reaching the bast of South Mountain early in the afternoon.

Drayton's brigade was ordered to Fox's Gap to bolster a planned Confederate attack that would sweep up over the mountain and into the Union 9th Corps' left flank. Drayton put his brigade into position in the Old Sharpsburg Road that crossed South Mountain at the gap. His brigade was deployed in an L-shaped line with the 50th Georgia forming the extreme right of the L, holding the line starting in the northeastern corner of  Daniel Wise's North Field. Between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, Drayton, inexplicably, ordered the three regiments in the road (Philips' Legion, 3rd South Carolina Battalion, and the 15th South Carolina) to advance into Wise's South Field. The 50th and 51st Regiment were to re-deployed into the road bed to cover the advance of these three regiments and then eventually they too would advance into the South Field.

Initially the advance was, believed, to be opposed by only the Ohioan's of the Kanawha Division in the immediate front of Drayton's men. The 50th Georgia, on the left of the 51st, now began to recieve fire from the left front. This startled the Georgian's and some tried to shift their fire to the left against this new threat. Those regiments in the open field recoiled against this deadly cross-fire and began to pull back. The Georgians in the road attempted to cover the withdrawal of their comrades. Now, a Union regiment suddenly appeared in the rear of the Old Sharpsburg Road. Now the 50th Georgia was taking fire from the front, left, and now rear. For the Union men, it was like shooting fish in a barrell. The Georgians attempted to hold their position for as long as possible but it was a futile resistance. The 51st Georgia evacuated the road and the 50th followed suit, with many men running through the gauntlet. The Confederate dead and wounded began to pile up in the road as the Confederates withdrew, making the withdrawal even more chaotic. After an hour of fighting, the 50th Georgia was a shadow of its former self. The regiment lost at least 51 killed, 116 wounded, and 36 captured or missing for a total of 205.

The fighting on the mountain ended around 10 o'clock that night and the remnants of the 50th Georgia regrouped and retreated with the rest of the Confederate forces in the immediate vicinity towards Sharpsburg on the night of the 14th. When word that Harper's Ferry would fall the next day reached the eyes of the dejected General Robert E.Lee, the commanding general decided to make a stand in Maryland in an attempt to salvage what was left of his Maryland Campaign. On the 15th, he massed what troops he had with him on the hills outside of Sharpsburg to await the arrival of Stonewall Jackson's command that was enveloping Harper's Ferry and the legions of Union infantry that were slowly pursuing the Confederates.

The skeleton of the 50th was posted on Cemetery Hill (present day location of AntietamNational Cemetery) on the 15th. When Drayton's brigade was again moved farther to the right, the 50th was detached and ordered to support Robert Toombs' brigade in holding the Rohrbach (Burnside's) Bridge. From General Toombs' report, the 50th numbered "scarcely 100 muskets." Positioned just below the bridge to cover the area between the bridge and Snavely's Ford. Avoiding the main Union thrust against the bridge, the 50th held the approaches from Snavely Ford. Just as Toombs's Georgians were forced out of their rifle pits, the Union infantry division of Issac Rodman's appeared opposite Snavely's Ford and the men of the 50th, with too few numbers, got off a few shots before withdrawing. The regiment would return to Drayton and resist the advance of Burnside's 9th Corps in the fields south of Sharpsburg. The weight in Union numbers was beginning to tell with Burnside's men advancing nearly into Sharpsburg. Fortunately, A.P. Hill's division of Confederate infantry arrived and slammed into the Union flank forcing a retreat back towards the Antietam by the 9th Corps.

On the night of September 18th, the 50th thankfully marched out of Maryland and to the safety of Virginia. When the Union 5th Corps pursued the Confederates to the river crossing at Shepherdstown, an artillery battle ensued on the 19th and when Union infantry crossed the Potomac, the outnumbered Confederates fled. On the 20th, a renewed Union advance ran into the division of A.P. Hill who had been ordered back to the crossing. The 50th Georgia was with Hill during this sharp skirmish that pushed Union forces back across the river.

The 50th Georgia would remain with the Army of Northern Virginia for the remainder of the war. In November 1862, the 50th Georgia was assigned to the brigade of Paul Semmes. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, the regiment was away from the firing line so few casualties were suffered. In 1863, the regiment would be engaged at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. When Longstreet's Corps was transferred to the western theatre, the 50th would participate in the Siege of Chattanooga, the Knoxville Campaign, and other operations in east Tennessee. In May 1864, the regiment again found itself in the East where it immediately went into combat when Ullysses S. Grant, the overall Union commander, ran into Lee's waiting Confederates in the Wilderness. The regiment would suffer heavily at the Wilderness, Spotslyvania, and in the early stages of the Petersburg Siege. The regiment would join Jubal Early during his campaign in the Shenandoah Valley during the late summer and fall of 1864. Here it would take part in the battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. With Confederate defenses weakening around Richmond and Petersburg,  those Confederates under Early were ordered back to Petersburg. The 50th would remain here until April when the Union breakthrough finally came. The regiment would surrender on April 9th at Appomattox.

The following is a list of casualties from the regiment's fight on South Mountain:

Private Benjamin Adkinson, Co. F
Private Samuel Altman, Co. A
Private David Bass, Co. G
Private Hezekiah Brown, Co. D
4th Sergeant James Brown, Co. H
Private John W. Bryant, Co. F
Private Seaborn Burns, Co. F
Private Jasper Castleberry, Co. H
Private Joseph Castleberry ,Co. H
Private Richard P. Connell, Co. I
2nd Lieutenant William G. Dekle, Co. F
Private William F. Eddy, Co. C
Private Samuel Gandy, Co. E
2nd Corporal Elijah T. Grantham, Co. F
Private William J. Guthery, Co. G
Private Harrison G. Hancock, Co. H
3rd Corporal James T. Hancock, Co. H
Private Matthew Handley, Co. I
Private Bythel Hardy, Co. D
Private William Hartly, Co. I
Private Elisha D. Herring, Co. F
Private Moses Hicks, Co. E
3rd Corporal James A. Hood, Co. H
Private John M. Horn, Co. F
Private George R. Mallard, Co. F
Private Lewis W. Marshall, Co. I
4th Corporal W.F. McConnell, Co. D
Sergeant John M. McCoy, Co. E
Private John M. McElhany, Co. A
Private Benjamin Merritt, Co. C
Private Elijah Nesmith, Co. F
Private Clayton Nix, Co. F
Private James O'Rourke, Co. E
Private Nathan Passmore, Co. C
Private James T. Peacock, Co. A
Private Joshua G. Phillips, Co. E
Private William J. Powell, Co. F
Private Andrew J. Purvis, Co. I
2nd Sergeant Russell R. Reneau, Co. E
Private Ivey Ricketson, Co. C
Private John Roberts, Co. G
Private Lyman A. Sirmans, Co. G
Private Benjamin Smith, Co. F
Private Henry Smith, Co. C
Private George R. Stone, Co. A
Private Stafford G. Thigpen, Co. C
Private James F. Thomas, Co. A
Private James Tison, Co. I
Private John Vann, Co. E
Private John Vickers, Co. D
Private Matthew Vickers, Co. D

Private George W. Allen, Co. A 
Private Jackson A. Allred, Co. H
Private James Anderson, Co. B
Private William B. Bachelor, Co. F
2nd Corporal Thomas R. Bailey, Co. F
Private Archibald Bass, Co. G
Private William T. Boyett, Co. F
4th Sergeant Augustus Brack, Co. G
Private Daniel L. Bryant, Co. F
Private M.T. Buckland, Co. G
Private Joseph Bynum, Co. D
Sergeant William P. Brown, Co . E
Corporal James A. Carver, Co. C
Private James J. Carver, Co. C
Private William R. Cato, Co. C
Private James Clemons, Co. G
Private Peter M. Cloud, Co. F
Private George W. Collins, Co. A
Private Jesse Cooper, Co. E
Private Daniel G. Copeland, Co. D
Private Manning Corbitt, Co. G
Private Martin S. Corbitt, Co. G
3rd Corporal William Corbitt, Co. G
Private Paul M.J. Creed, Co. E
2nd Sergeant Charles W. Curry, Co. G
Private Aaron J. Donaldson, Co. E
1st Sergeant James Douglass, Co. G
Private William W. Douglass, Co. E
2nd Lieutenant Aaron Dowling, Co. A
Private Timothy S. Dunbar, Co. E
Private William B. Dunlap, Co. F
Private Seaborn Edwards, Co. K
2nd Lieutenant James B. Finch, Co. K
Private John W. Fletcher, Co. A
Private James B. Flowers, Co. H
Private Nathan O. Flowers, Co. H
Private Samuel Ford, Co. I
Private Nathanial Garland, Co. F
2nd Lieutenant Daniel D. Gaskins, Co. I
Private Lemuel Gaskins, Co. I
Private Matthew Gay, Co. H
Private David A. Giles, Co. H
Private William H. Gooding, Co. A
Private Christopher C. Hargraves, Co. C
Private James R. Hargraves, Co. G
Private Joseph M. Harrison, Co. F
Private George W. Herndon, Co. D
Private Newton Hicks, Co. F
3rd Sergeant Joseph L. Hill, Co. K
Private Elbert Hughes, Co. D
Corporal R. Perry Hughes, Co. D
4th Corporal Jacob Joiner, Co. C
Private Hardy Joiner, Sr., Co. C
Private W.F. Joiner, Co. K
Private Abner Jones, Co. G
Private Malachi F. Jones, Co. K
Private Zean W. Kirkland, Co. C
Private George Lee, Co. B
Private Butler W. Leverett, Co. K
Private Lewis Marshall, Co. I
Private William F. Maxwell, Co. F
4th Sergeant Wilson McCall, Co. K
Private Randall McMillan, Co. I
Private Wyatt H. McPherson, Co. E
Private John Mercer, Co. H
Private Benjamin F. Metcalf, Co. F
Private Music Mills, Co. B
2nd Lieutenant Francis Mobley, Co. I
1st Sergeant Edward H. Moore, Co. C
Private William J. Nelson, Sr., Co. D
Private Alexander Nettles, Co. C
Private John T. Nix, Co. F
Private Newton Nix, Co. F
Private Robert G. O'Berry, Co. A
Captain Joel R. Osteen, Co. G
Private A.J. Parrish, Co. I
Private S.F. Peters, Co. D
Private Gordon J. Phillips, Co. B
2nd Sergeant Noah Pittman, Co. B
Private Willis Price, Co. H
Private Thomas W. Rambo, Co. K
Private John T. Register, Co. G
Private James Revis, Co. C
Private Moses Roberts, Co. G
4th Corporal William T. Roberts, Co. G
Private Richard L. Rowland, Co. B
Private William N. Rowland, Co. B
Private Hiram Sears, Co. G
Private James Sears, Co. G
Private Simeon Sheffield, Co. E
Private Emanuel Shuman, Co. E
Private David Sloan, Co. F
Private William Smith, Co. C
Private Joseph J. Stanfill, Co. E
Private William H. Stone, Co. A
Private Matthew T. Strickland, Co. G
Private J.M. Summerall, Co. G
Private Jack Swilley. Co. D
Private Henry J. Tetson, Co. C
Private James Teston, Co. C
Private Colin Thomas, Co. G
Private Lewis R. Thomas, Co. A
Private James T. Tippans, Co. A
Private Issac Trawick, Co. F

Private Orthnald Trawick , Co. F
Private Charles Truelock, Co. F
Private Benjamin Waldron, Co. A
Private J. Walker, Co. D
3rd Corporal Joel Walker, Co. B
Private John F. Ward, Co. C
1st Corporal George W. White, Co. B
Private John T. Wilson, Co. A
Private William Wilson, Co. D

Private William R. Wiley, Co. F
Private Joel W. Wooten, Co. C
1st Corporal Riley Wright, Co. C

Private William Alderman, Co. K
Private Jasper S. Altman, Co. A
Private Martin L. Cloud, Co. F
Private Bernard Coleman, Co. D
Private Manning Cowart, Co. G
Private Daniel Dailey, Co. K
Private Gideon C. Davidson, Co. F
2nd Corporal John A. Dent, Co. C
3rd Corporal William M. Dent, Co. C
Private Jimpsey Finch, Co. K
Private Thomas Gill, Co. E
Private Hardin Hancock, Co. H
Private Jesse A. Hardee, Co. D
Private John Hardin, Co. E
Private D. Harding, Co. K
Private James Hecks, Co. E
Private Jacob Kinard, Co. H
Private H. Kirktona, Co. C
Private David M. Lastinger, Co. G
Private Dominic McCafferty, Co. C
Private John McGlynn, Co. E
Private Wryan Minchew, Co. A
Private Issac Morgan, Co. B
Private Elijah Nesmith, Co. F
Private Andrew Newman, Co. D
Private Jesse H. Powell, Co. F
Private Henry G. Radney, Co. E
Private James Ricks, Co. F
Private J.N. Taylor, Co. E
Private John W. Taylor, Co. D
Private William Vickering, Co. K
Private James Vining, Co. G
Private Jasper H. Vining, Co. G
Private John Walters, Co. F
Private William H. Williams, Co. F
Private Thomas Wilson, Co. I

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting Colonels: Lt. Colonel J.M. Lamar

Lt.Colonel Lamar
Lt. Colonel Jefferson Mirabeau Lamar, commanding Cobb's (GA) Legion Infantry Battalion: Assigned to Brigadier General Howell Cobb's brigade, the Cobb's Legion Infantry came to the support of the beleaguered Confederate defenders at Crampton's Gap just as the main defensive line at the base of the mountain disintegrated under the heavy pressure of the Union 6th Corps. Brigadier General Howell Cobb was unaware that the Confederate line had broken. With the believe that the flanks were in danger of being turned, he ordered two of his regiments down the Arnoldstown Road to bolster the left flank and two regiments down the Burkittsville Road to strenghten the Confederate right. Lt. Colonel Lamar was ordered down the Burkittsville Road but upon hearing firing and shouts coming from the direction of the Confederate center, Lamar ordered his battalion to march off the road and into the woods. Running into fugitives scrambling up the mountainside away from devasted Confederate center, Lamar ordered his men to double-quick down the mountainside to stem the Union onslaught. It was during this movement that Lamar's horse stumbled to the ground, throwing the rider off. Lamar quickly sprung to his feet, drew his sword and continued on with this battalion. When the first shades of the blue tide were seen through the woods, Lamar ordered his battalion to fire, temporarily halting the Union advance. Lamar was buying time for those survivors from the center to rally. The 16th Georgia Infantry was supporting Lamar's men on the battalions left. Unfortunately for the Confederates the position was exposed to a flank attack up the Burkittsville Road.  This attack came in the form of Alfred Torbert's New Jersey Brigade who slammed into the flank of Lamar's position. Knowing that an order to retreat would cause the situation to deteriorate beyond repair, Lamar decided to remain and hold at all costs to allow General Cobb to rally a defensive position at the gap. Lamar refused, or bent back, his right flank to meet this new threat. It was during this time the Lamar would be wounded, hit by a minie ball in the leg. Remaining in command, Lamar refused to order the retreat, despite the pleas from his subordinates. Finally, seeing the his men were being slaughtered and his avenues of retreat slowly being choked off, Lamar said if someone would help him to his feet he would order the retreat. He was promptly help and just after giving the order to retreat, he was wounded a second time, this time mortally, with a minie ball slamming into his chest. The withdrawal was disorderly and chaotic. What remained of the legion scrambled up the mountainside leaving behind dead and wounded comrades, including their commander. Lamar would be captured by Union forces and carried down the mountain to Burkittsville where he would expire the following day. He was buried in  Burkittsville in the cemetery behind the Reformed Church until family members exhumed his body and took him home to be buried in Athens, Georgia.


Timothy Reese, Sealed with the Lives: The Battle for Crampton's Gap. Butternut & Blue: Baltimore, Md. 1998

Brian Downey and Aotw members. Lt. Colonel Jefferson Mirabeau Lamar

Report of Brigadier General Howell Cobb. The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 19 (Part I). US War Department: Washington, D.C. 1887. 870-871