South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"His answer was, "Hold the ground at the point of the bayonet."

Captain John B. Callis took his 7th Wisconsin men into the fray on September 14, 1862 with orders to push up the National Pike and dislodge those Confederates holding Turner's Gap. The following is his report on the heavy fighting in which his regiment was engaged. Of the regiments that would gain eternal fame at South Mountain as the Iron Brigade, Callis and his regiment suffered the heaviest during the brigade's furious fight with Alfred Colquitt's Confederates. The regiment went into the battle with 400 officers and men, suffering 147 casualties.

Near Boonsborough, Md., September 15, 1862.

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,

Captain, Commanding seventh Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers.


1. Photo courtesy of

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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Union order of battle

As I stated a few weeks ago, here is the Union order of battle for South Mountain.

Army of the Potomac

Major General George B. McClellan

Left Wing

Major General Ambrose Burnside

1st Corps

Major General Joseph Hooker

1st Division

Brigadier General John Hatch

1st Brigade, Colonel Walter Phelps, Jr.

2nd US Sharpshooters,Colonel Henry A.V. Post

22nd New York, Lt. Colonel John McKie

24th New York, Captain John D. O'Brian

30th New York, Colonel William M. Searing

84th New York/14th Brooklyn, Major William H. DeBevoise

2nd Brigade, Brigadier General Abner Doubleday

7th Indiana, Major Ira G. Grover

56th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel John W. Hofmann

76th New York, Colonel William P. Wainwright

95th New York, Major Edward Pye

3rd Brigade, Brigadier General Marsena Patrick

21st New York, Colonel William F. Rodgers

23rd New York, Colonel Henry C. Hoffman

35th New York, Colonel Newton B. Lord

80th New York, Lt. Colonel Theodore B. Gates

4th Brigade, Brigadier General John Gibbon

2nd Wisconsin, Colonel Lucius Fairchild

6th Wisconsin, Lt. Colonel Edward S. Bragg

7th Wisconsin, Captain John Callis

19th Indiana, Colonel Solomon Meredith

1st Division Artillery, Captain J. Albert Moore

Battery B, 4th United States Light Artillery, Captain Joseph B. Campbell

2nd Division

Brigadier General James Ricketts

1st Brigade, Brigadier General Abram Duryea

97th New York, Major Charles Northrup

104th New York, Major Lewis C. Skinner

107th Pennsylvania, Captain James MacThomson

2nd Brigade, Colonel William Henry Christian

26th New York, Colonel Richard H. Richardson

88th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel George W. Gile

90th Pennsylvania, Colonel Peter Lyle

3rd Brigade, Brigadier General George L. Hartsuff

12th Massachusetts, Major Elisha Burbank

13th Massachusetts, Major J. Parker Gould

11th Pennsylvania, Colonel Richard Coulter

3rd Division

Brigadier General George G. Meade

1st Brigade, Brigadier General Truman Seymour

1st Pennslvania Reserves (30th P.V.I.), Colonel R. Biddle Roberts

2nd Pennsylvania Reserves (31st P.V.I.), Captain James Byrnes

5th Pennslvania Reserves (34th P.V.I.), Colonel Joseph W. Fisher

6th Pennsylvania Reserves (35th P.V.I.), Colonel William Sinclair

13th Pennsylvania Reserves (42nd P.V.I.), Colonel Hugh W. McNeil

2nd Brigade, Colonel Henry C. Bolinger

3rd Pennsylvania Reserve, Lt. Colonel John C. Clark

4th Pennsylvania Reserve, Major John Nyce

7th Pennsylvania Reserve, Colonel Henry C. Bollinger

8th Pennsylvania Reserve, Major Silas M. Baily

3rd Brigade, Colonel Thomas F. Gallagher

9th Pennsylvania Reserves, Lt. Colonel Robert Anderson

10th Pennsylvania Reserves, Lt. Colonel Adoniram J. Warner

11th Pennsylvania Reserves, Lt. Colonel Samuel M. Jackson

12th Pennsylvania Reserces, Captain Richard Gustin

9th Corps

Major General Jesse L. Reno

Kanawha Division

Major General Jacob Cox

1st Brigade, Colonel Eliakim Scammon

12th Ohio, Colonel Carr B. White

23rd Ohio, Lt. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes

30th Ohio, Colonel Hugh B. Ewing

Ohio Light Artillery, First Battery, Captain James R. McMullin

2nd Brigade, Colonel George Crook

11th Ohio, Lt. Colonel Augustus H. Coleman

28th Ohio, Lt. Colonel Gottfried Becker

36th Ohio, Lt. Colonel Melvin Clarke

Kentucky Light Artillery, Simmond's Battery, Captain Seth J. Simmonds

1st Division

Brigadier General Orlando B. Willcox

1st Brigade, Colonel Benjamin Christ

17th Michigan, Colonel William H. Withington

50th Pennsylvania, Major Edward Overton, Jr.

79th New York, Lt. Colonel David Morrison

2nd Brigade, Colonel Thomas Welch

8th Michigan, Lt. Colonel Frank Graves

45th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel John I. Curtin

46th New York, Lt. Colonel Joseph Gerhardt

100th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel David A. Leckey

1st Division Artllery, commander unknown

Massachusetts Light Artillery, 8th Battery, Captain Asa Cook

2nd Division

Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis

1st Brigade, Brigadier General James Nagle

2nd Maryland, Lt. Colonel J. Eugene Duryea

48th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel Joshua K. Sigfried

6th New Hampshire, Colonel Simon G. Griffin

9th New Hampshire, Colonel Enoch Q. Fellows

2nd Brigade, Brigadier General Edward Ferrero

21st Massachusetts, Colonel William S. Clark

35th Massachusetts, Colonel Edward A. Wild

51st New York, Colonel Robert Potter

51st Pennsylvania, Colonel John F. Hartranft

2nd Division Artillery, commander unknown

4th United States Artllery, Battery E, Captain Joseph Clark, Jr.

Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery D, Captain George Durell

3rd Division

Brigadier General Issac Rodman

1st Brigade, Colonel Harrison Fairchild

9th New York, Lt. Colonel Edgar Kimball

89th New York, Major Edward Jardine

103rd New York, Major Benjamin Ringold

2nd Brigade, Colonel Edward Harland

4th Rhode Island, Colonel William H. P. Steere

11th Conneticutt, Colonel Henry Kingsbury

16th Conneticutt, Colonel Francis Beach

6th Corps

Major General William B. Franklin

1st Division

Major General Henry Slocum

1st Brigade, Colonel Alfred Torbert

1st New Jersey, Lt. Colonel Mark W. Coliet

2nd New Jersey, Colonel Samuel Buck

3rd New Jersey, Colonel Henry Brown

4th New Jersey, Colonel William B. Hatch

2nd Brigade, Colonel Joseph J. Bartlett

5th Maine, Colonel Nathaniel J. Jackson

16th New York, Lt. Colonel Joel Seaver

27th New York, Lt. Colonel Alexander D. Adams

121st New York, Colonel Richard H. Franchot

96th Pennsylvania, Colonel Henry L. Cake

3rd Brigade, Brigadier General John Newton

18th New York, Lt. Colonel George R. Myers

31st New York, Lt. Colonel Francis E. Pinto

32nd New York, Colonel Roderick N. Matheson

95th Pennsylvania, Lt. Colonel Gustavus W. Town

1st Division Artillery, Captain Emory Upton

Battery A, Maryland Light Artillery, Captain John W. Wolcott

1st Battery (A), Massachusetts Light Artillery, Captain Josiah Porter

1st Battery (A), New Jersey Light Artillery, Captain William Hexamer

Battery D, 2nd United States Artillery, Lt. Edward B. Williston

2nd Division

Major General William F. Smith

1st Brigade, Brigadier General Winfield S. Hancock

5th Wisconsin, Colonel Amasa Cobb

6th Maine, Colonel Hiram Burnham

43rd New York, Major John Wilson

137th Pennsylvania, Colonel Henry M. Bossert

2nd Brigade, Brigadier General William T.H. Brooks

2nd Vermont, Major James H. Walbridge

4th Vermont, Lt. Colonel Charles Stoughton

5th Vermont, Colonel Lewis A. Grant

6th Vermont, Major Oscar Tuttle

3rd Brigade, Colonel William Howard Irwin

7th Maine, Major Thomas Hyde

20th New York, Colonel Ernest Von Vegesack

33rd New York, Lt. Colonel Joseph W. Corning

49th New York, Lt. Colonel William C. Alberger

77th New York, Captain Nathan S. Babcock

2nd Division Artillery, Captain Romeyn M. Ayres

Battery B, Maryland Light Artillery, Lt. Theodore J. Vanneman

1st Independent Battery, New York Light Artillery, Captain Andrew Cowan

Battery F, 5th United States Artillery, Lt. Leonard Martin

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

State considering land purchase

Yesterday, I was browsing across the local newspapers website and I saw this article. This would be a heck of a purchase for the state as it can open up more opportunities for interpretation of the fighting around Fox's Gap. These parcels include Wise's South Field where General's Jesse Reno and Samuel Garland were mortally wounded and the Mahaffey Woods is in the area where Union troops were deployed before the final attack against Fox's Gap.

State considering purchase of two parcels of land

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fighting Colonels: Colonel Carr B. White

Commanding the 12th Ohio during the hellish fighting at Fox's Gap on the morning of September 14, Colonel Carr B. White help break the back of the Confederate defense.

A Mexican War veteran and a pre-war physician, Carr Bailey White enlisted in the 12th Ohio with the rank of major in May 1861. A month later he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the regiment. Following the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, White was promoted to command of the regiment, with the rank of colonel, due to the death of Colonel John Lowe at Carnifex Ferry. He would lead the regiment in the campaigns in the western Virginia theatre of the war until the Kanawha Division was rushed east to augment the newly formed Army of Virginia under John Pope in preperation for the campaign that would culminate in the Union defeat at the Battle of 2nd Manassas/Bull Run. Carr would lead his regiment into Washington where a "new" Army of the Potomac was being formed to beat back the Confederate threat that was entering into Maryland. Leaving the defenses of Washington, the regiment was with the 9th Corps under Jesse Reno and was part of the vanguard of the army. Carr lead his regiment in Frederick on September 12th and by the 14th, the regiment was encamped near Middletown.

Colonel Eliakim Scammon deployed his brigade in a line that stretched about a mile south of the Old Sharpsburg Road and Colonel White's Ohioans were deployed in the center and when firing broke out to their left, White advanced his regiment until it was hotly engaged elements of the 12th, 20th, and 23rd North Carolina regiments. The regiments battle line was more of a heavy skirmish line than an actual battle line as noted in Colonel Scammon's report on his brigade, "The Twelfth regiment being in the center, was moved directly to the front, and briskly engaged the enemy. Its first advance, deployed as skirmishers, told upon the enemy with marked effect. It was more like a charge than an advance of skirmishers." 

Colonel White continued pushing his regiment until they had broken the Confederate line. White stopped his advance at about mid-morning to allow the 23rd Ohio to link up with his left and the 30th Ohio with reinforcement from the 11th Ohio of George Crook's Brigade, to link up on the right. During this lull, a section of McMullin's Battery under Lieutenant George Crome came up and deployed in the immediate front of the regiment and began raining shot and canister on the  Confederates still holding on. To the horror of the infantry, Crome's men were being systematically picked off until Crome himself was mortally wounded while loading one of his pieces. With Crome's guns silent, they were open for the taking. Confederates from Alfred Iverson's 20th North Carolina advanced to capture the guns but were turned back by the fire of White's men. Around 11 A.M., a general advance was ordered and White's regiment leapt up and charged forward sweeping the field, only the stand of the 13th North Carolina and the arrival of the 2nd and 4th North Carolina regiments under Colonel C.C. Tew stopped the Union wave from capturing the gap and advancing any farther.

White's men would rest for the for the better part of the afternoon before another general advance, this time by the whole 9th Corps, broke the back of the Confederate defense at Fox's Gap. For the day, Colonel White kept his men in the battle line for the better part of the day and these men experienced the heaviest fighting they had up to that point in the war. They would suffer 35 killed, 100 wounded, and 30 missing while capturing 200 Confederates and 3 battle battle flags. White would lead his regiment at Antietam and for the rest of the war, he would serve in the Department of West Virginia where he would be brevetted a brigadier general for his actions at the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain.