South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"At this time, I received a gunshot wound near the knee-joint, which whirled me over...": Captain Abraham Hunter, 23rd Ohio Infantry

The following is a letter published in the Clevaland Morning Leader on October 1, 1862. Written by Captain Andrew Hunter,  commanding a company in the 23rd Ohio Infantry. Hunter had enlisted in the 23rd as a thirty-two year old first lieutenant in Company K in June 1861. In February 1862, he would be promoted to captain of Company D. Writing from Middletown, he would report back on the status of men from Company K and his experiences during the march in Maryland and the fighting at South Mountain. He would also write about the morale of the wounded in the hospital in Middletown where he was recuperating from a wound he received during the 23rd's charge at South Mountain. He also includes a list of casualties from Company K. Captain Hunter recover from his wound but tragically, he would be killed in action at the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain on May 9, 1864.

From the 23rd Ohio Regiment
Middleton, Md., Sept. 22d, 1862

Since I last wrote you from Flat Top Mountain, Va., our regiment, with four other Ohio regiments, composing General Cox's brigage, have seen some rough times. We left Western Virginia on the 14th of August, reached Washington on the 25th, proceeded immediately to Alexandria, from there to Upton's Hill, where we remained during the late battles at Manassas. Our reverses there did not discourage our men in the least. All they desired was to be led froward to meet the enemy, whose invasion of Maryland causes us to retrace our steps to Washington, through which we marched and joined General Burnside's division, which was en route toward Fredrick City, Maryland.

We reached Frederick on the 12th, our division being in advance; we had a skirmish with the enemy's rear guard, composed of artillery and cavalry. The rebels disputed our approach to the city for some time, but soon left us to take quite possession. On entering, our troops were loudly cheered, and at almost every window the ladies waved the stars and stripes. Such demonstrations of loyalty I never before witnessed, especially by the ladies. The next day we marched to the town, encamped for the night in sight of the enemy's camp on the South Mountain, three miles from here, where they made a stand.

At daybreak the next morning our bugles awoke us to prepare for the contest. Our division was in advance on the left, and our regiment, which was sent through the woods, coming suddenly upon a division of the enemy's right--was the first to commence the engagement. For three or four hours the struggle was severe; every foot of ground was disputed on both sides. At first we found it extremely difficult in the thick brush we were in to take sure aim, besides the enemy occupied a small eminence on which was a stone wall behind which they took shelter. I am unable to give you a correct idea of the position of our regiments during the day. The 12th and 30th were in a line with us on the right, and we had each of us enough to do to mind our own business. 

At last the order was given to form line at the base of the hill, which, when done, we lay on our arms, and gradually advanced on our hands and knees up the slope until within a short distance of the stone wall, when the order rand along the line, "Up and charge!" I have seen charges made before by old soldiers, but nothing could surpass the Ohio boys in this charge. Every man sprang to his feet, and with a while yell, rushed forward upon the foe. Bayonets clashed for a moment or two, when the rebels took to their heels in great disorder, leaving behind piles of dead and wounded, and some two hundred prisoners. 

At this time, I received a gunshot wound near the knee-joint, which whirled me over, and which prevented me from sharing with my brave comrades in the desperate fight on Wednesday, where they suffered severely. Our loss is heavy both in officers and men. Our loss is supposed to be 250 in killed, wounded, and missing, but I rejoice to know that the rebels have got a good thrashing for once, at least.

It is gratifying amid all these scenes of danger and suffering to observe with what spirits the men bear up. In the Hospital the other day, where the wounded were lying, one who is an expert performer on the banjo commenced playing and singing a comic song, which made his wounded companions, in spite of their sufferings, laugh heartily. His name is William Brown, son of respectable parents in Elyria. He is wounded severely in the side; and by the way, there is a young boy from Clevaland whom I observed behave with great coolness in the battle on Sunday. His name is Edward Brooks, son of Dr. Brooks, West Side. A ball had grazed his wrist, and by some means he had lost sight of his company at the time we were about to charge. He begged to be allowed to fall in along with our boys. The last I saw of him he was fighting his way manfully amid the thickest of the ranks. I believe he is well and uninjured. 

I have forwarded you a list of casualties in my company, so that the friends of Company K who live in the vicinity of Cleveland may know the fate of their relatives, knowing your paper to have a large circulation in Lorain, where Company K was raised:
Serg't Thomas G. Wells, killed; Serg't Jos. Wagner, killed; Corp'l H. Fitts, wounded; Corp'l E. Herrick, wounded; Corp'l. DeGrass Chapman, wounded, Corp'l B.F. Burns, missing; W.R. Terril, wounded; Seward Abel, wounded; Joseph Mitchell, wounded; E. Campbell, wounded; Jacob Bollinger, wounded; J. King, wounded; William Brown, wounded; Jacob Brown, wounded; F. Sammis, wounded; G. Schernes, wounded; J. Hill,wounded; J. Springer, wounded; Albert Squires, wounded; F. Squires, wounded; and among the wounded; is your correspondent, A.A. Hunter, Captain Co. K, 23 Reg't. O.V.I.


Captain Abraham Hunter. "From the 23d Ohio Regiment" Cleveland Morning Leader, October 1, 1862. Accessed October 14, 2012,

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