South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2nd Lieutenant William G. Dekle, Jr., Co. F, 50th Georgia Infantry. KIA Fox's Gap

This is a photograph of 2nd Lieutenant William Grissom Dekle, Jr. who served in Co. F, 50th Georgia Infantry. He enlisted in the 50th in the spring of 1862 and was elected 2nd lieutenant in June of 1862. Dekle would find himself crossing the Potomac into Maryland with Thomas F. Drayton's brigade in early September 1862 as Robert E. Lee moved his army northward for the first time in the war. On September 14th, the 50th would find itself marching to the aid of Daniel H. Hill's division, which had come under heavy pressure from Union forces advancing against the vital gaps on South Mountain. The 50th would march towards Fox's Gap and would constitute the  Confederate left during the afternoon fighting with  Co. F marking the extreme left.

At around 3 P.M., General Drayton ordered the Philip's (GA) Legion, the 3rd South Carolina Battalion, and the 15th South Carolina out of the Old Sharpsburg Road and into Daniel Wise's South Field. With this movement, the 50th moved from a position in Wise's North Field and into the road to support the advancing Confederate infantry. Suddenly, the roar of musketry broke the afternoon silence and the three regiments sent into Wise's South Field came under heavy attack to the front as well as their left. Lieutenant Dekle's Company F, along with the remainder of the 50th and the 51st Georgia, supported the exposed regiments the best they could. The company began to take fire from the left flank and rear as the fight reached a climax. The fire was coming from the 45th Pennsylvania and 46th New York from Thomas Welsh's Union brigade  and devastating volleys of musketry were coming from the 17th Michigan infantry (Benjamin Christ's brigade) that had gain the rear of the Confederate battle line. The devastating fire swept the 50th Georgia, especially Company F, leaving Confederate dead and wounded laying thick in the Old Sharpsburg Road. When the fighting had ended, Company F had lost 12 killed, 17 wounded, and 7 missing, the number of men from Company F escaping unscathed can be counted on one hand. Among the dead was Lieutenant Dekle. He would be buried in an unmarked grave beside the dozens of Confederate dead that littered the fields around Fox's Gap.  Dekle's remains would remain at Fox's Gap until after the war when in the 1870's an effort was begun to re-inter the Confederate dead from South Mountain and Antietam in on cemetery. Dekle is now buried, as an unknown, along side over 2,000 Confederate soldiers in the Washington Confederate Cemetery at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland. To note, Dekle's wife, Susan, upon her passing in 1911, requested to be buried in an unmarked grave as her husband was in 1862.

Sources:

1. Thomas County Historical Society and Museum of History.

2. Photo

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