South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead"

On this Memorial Day weekend, I invite everyone to take a few moments to reflect on what it means to be free. On both our soil and foreign, our men and women have laid down their lives so that we may be able to enjoy the freedoms that today enjoy. I feel this way because just last month, I was on a class field trip and towards the end, we went on a tour of Civil War monuments within Arlington National Cemetery. AS we concluded, we headed over to the area where the dead of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried. While there, my class acted quite disrespectful to the point where my fiance and I decided against joining my classmates who were at the grave of a former Shepherd University student. While we were waiting for them to return, we noticed a marine walking among the headstones kneeling at one here and another there. It was a sight that broke my heart. He would kneel, spend a few moments, rise up and give one final salute to a fallen comrade. My fiance and I remained at a distance while he was moving about and after awhile of doing this, the marine turned to leave. As passed us, he looked over at us and the sadness on his face was quite difficult to bear. I wish I could have told him 'thank you' for his service and sacrifice because he was there honoring his fallen friends and I could not personally thank those that made, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, " their last full measure of devotion". Thank You to all you service men who are serving our country and to those of you above, thank you for giving your precious lifes blood so that I can sit here and type this up. I'll close with an excerpt from "The Bivouac of the Dead" by Theodore O'Hara.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From the front..

Remains of the National Colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry .
courtesy of the Ohio Historical Societies, "Fight for the Colors!" collection.

This is a letter that I ran across while doing some research up at the office, figured it'd be nice to share it. It was written by John M. Clugston of Company G, 23rd Ohio Infantry. His regiment was the first to come into contact with Confederates of Garland's Brigade and was instrumental in breaking Garland's line with three successive bayonet charges (a rarity in Civil War combat). In this entry, Clugston tells of the battle for Fox's Gap, the wound received by Lt. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, and information about Confederate losses as well as his own regiments. The charge of the 12th Ohio was actually made upon the 12th North Carolina, not the 12th Georgia as Mr. Clugston states.

Sunday Sept. 14

Took up lines of march at 7 a.m. continuing three miles at which point our cavalry spied enemy artillery planted. Gen. Cox ordered the 11th, 12th, and 23rd to the left. The 23rd took the extreme left two miles up the mountain. As we descended our skirmish came upon the enemy where a brisk fire was began. We drove the enemy out of the mountains through the cornfield taking position along the fence. We made a charge across and drove the enemy but they out-flanked us on our left and we had to fall back to the woods. The 12th reg. coming to our support. We advanced to the second field and lay in battle lines at the foot of the hill. The enemy was only ten rods from us but we were concealed by the hill. All was ready, the word given to charge. We moved on our hands and knees to the top and then went-in . . . . The enemy fled. Our regiment charged on the 23" N.C.
(North Carolina), the 12th on the 12th Georgia. Daniel Whissler, John . . ., Mark Slonaker, and William Kneppe fell as we drove the enemy through the cornfield. John Pinney was killed and Col. Hayes wounded in the arm. We completely routed the enemy. Gen. Reno was killed. The rebels one brigadier, one col. of the 3rd S.C. (South Carolina) Battalion, Col. James. The rebels loss was about four hundred killed. Our loss one hundred and seventy killed from our reg. thirty three killed and one hundred five wounded. . .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

“The most fearless man I ever knew.”

Samuel Garland (VMI Archives)
 These are the words use by Confederate General Daniel H. Hill to memorialize the fallen Samuel Garland, who lead his North Carolinian's during the early hours of the fight at Fox's Gap.

Samuel Garland was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on December 16, 1830 to Maurice Garland and Caroline M. Garland. Samuel enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute in October of 1846 and graduated third in a class of twenty-four in 1849. He studied law at the University of Virginia and upon graduating, he returned to Lynchburg and began practicing law which would be his profession until the outbreak of the Civil War. He married Elizabeth Campbell Meem in 1856. When news of John Brown's attempted slave uprising in Harper's Ferry reached Lynchburg, Samuel, now in his late twenties, organized a local militia company called the "Lynchburg Home Guard". He was elected the captain of the company and with Virginia's secession from the Union his militia company was mustered in as Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry and Garland was commissioned colonel of the newly formed regiment. It was not long after receiving his new commission , Garland's wife of nearly five years passed away in June 1861 and to add tragedy to heartache, his only son, also named Samuel, died in August of the same year.

Not long after the death of his wife, Colonel Garland and the 11th Virginia,was brigaded with the 5th North Carolina, 1st Virginia, and 17th Virginia under Brigadier General James Longstreet and took part in the battles of Blackford's Ford on July 18, 1861 and First Bull Run (Manassas) on July 21, 1861. During this battle, Garland's regiment was positioned to capture a Union battery that was bombarding the brigade for nearly 9 hours. Just as the order to advance was given to Garland and the rest of the brigade, the Union army had been routed. Longstreet put the 1st, 11th, and 17th Virginia infantry regiments in pursuit of the Federal's while the 5th North Carolina remained behind. After the pursuit, Garland and the 11th were ordered to police the battlefield and take an account of the brigades casualties.

After a period of relative inactivity, the 11th Virginia and Colonel Garland participated in the Battle of Dranesville, Virginia on December 20, 1861. The regiment held the right of the Confederate line when it was ordered to retreat before the overwhelming numbers that had been brought to bear by Federal forces, it held the line while other regiments retreated. Garland received the praises of Cavalry General James Ewell Brown Stuart for his coolness under fire despite his regiment not being in position to see significant fighting. The regiments loss for this battle was 6 killed and 15 wounded.

The 11th Virginia was moved to the Virginia Peninsula and placed in the brigade of Ambrose P. Hill where it participated in the Battles of Williamsburg. Garland showed his fearless nature in battle at Williamsburg when he lead a charge against a position that had been captured by Federal troops. He was wounded during the course of the battle, but refused to leave the field showing, according to A.P Hill, " his men how to win the victory". Garland was promoted to Brigadier General for his actions at Williamsburg.

 Confederates crossing the Potomac*
Garland's brigade consisted of the 2nd Florida, 2nd Mississippi, 5th North Carolina, 24th Virginia, 38th Virginia, and a battery of Alabama artillery. His first battle in command of a brigade would come less than a month following the battle at Williamsburg as General Joseph Johnston attempted to stall the Federal advance on Richmond at Seven Pines. Garland was given the honor of commanding the lead brigade for the assault against the Federals. Garland's division commander, Daniel Harvey Hill, had become impatient when the division of General Benjamin Huger did not begin the attack on schedule so he ordered his brigades under Garland and Robert Rodes, and George Anderson into battle. Garland and Rodes' brigades would move north on either side of the Williamsburg Road leading into Seven Pines with Anderson's brigade moving in support. As Garland lead his brigade forward, it stumbled into the prepared positions of the 106th Pennsylvania. Garland deployed his brigade and pushed the raw 106th back into the main lines of the Federals under General Silas Casey. Garland's men hammered the Federal position and eventually pushed the Federal's back to Seven Pines where Garland and supports held the Federal's in check. Garland would lose 740 men during the battle at Seven Pines. Later on that same summer, Garland would lead his brigade in the Seven Days' helping to push the Federal threat away from Richmond. At Glendale, his brigade charged at a critical moment into the flank of the Federal's forcing them to retreat and at Malvern Hill, his brigade suffered alongside others as the Confederates made futile attacks to dislodge the Federals. Garland again showed a tenacity and determination in combat that was becoming his trademark within the Army of Northern Virginia.

General Garland and his now all-North Carolina brigade, the 5th, 12th, 13th, 20th, and 23rd regiments, were not present at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) but with Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia suffering heavily in the campaign, Garland's brigade was called upon to reinforce Lee as he moved north in preparation for the invasion of Maryland. Garland's brigade crossed the Potomac on September 4, 1862 at Noland's Ferry as part of D.H. Hill's lead division. Garland's brigade would advance toward Frederick practically unopposed and within days, the entire Army of Northern Virginia was encamped outside the city. The Confederates were at Frederick until September 10, when Lee issued orders for them to move westward towards Hagerstown. D.H. Hill's division would be the armies rear-guard as it moved and divided with Stonewall Jackson, with practically a corps of infantry, moved to capture Federal garrisons at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, and General Lee moved to Hagerstown with James Longstreet's "Corps" to await  the development of Jackson's movement. ( The Corps concept would not be approved for the Confederate Army until October 1862). General D. H. Hill's Division, Garland's brigade included, was set as the rear-guard as the Army of Northern Virginia moved out.

Garland's brigade moved out of Frederick towards Boonsboro, Maryland and encamped roughly two miles outside of town along Beaver Creek. From here they would take up positions keeping an eye on the mountain passes in South Mountain and any Federal troops that may escape from Harpers Ferry. On September 13, three men from a Federal regiment discovered orders from General Lee detailing his plan of campaign and it gave the Federal commander, George McClellan the much need opportunity to punish Lee's army. McClellan pushed forward his army with a quickness that shocked Lee and he ordered General Hill with his division to hold the gaps at South Mountain and buy the army time to regroup. Hill moved his division from Boonsboro to Turner's Gap, the main gap within the mountain because the National Pike crossed the mountain at this point. General Hill received word from J.E.B. Stuart that his cavalry was being forced back. Hill subsequently sent the brigades of Garland and Brigadier General Alfred Colquitt to help defend Turner's Gap.

On the morning of September 14, Hill moved up the National Pike to check the condition of his defences at Turner's Gap. Upon reaching the mountain top, he saw more that just a cavalry brigade, as stated by Stuart, but the campfires of the entire 9th Corps of the Union Army. Dismayed at the faulty intelligence, Hill reconnoitered along the old Wood Road, located at the crest of the mountain in the rear of his defensive position at Turner's. Moving down this road, Hill heard the sound of what possibly could have been a federal wagon train moving over Fox's Gap and into his rear area. Hill quickly returned to Turner's Gap where he found Garland's brigade and finally arrived after its march from Beaver Creek.

With scarcely 1,000 men within his ranks, Garland was ordered to hold Fox's Gap against the Kanawha Division under the command of General Jacob Cox of the IX Federal Army Corps. Upon arriving in the gap, Garland positioned his brigade along the Wood Road and astride the Old Sharpsburg Road. He positioned the 5th North Carolina as his right flank with the 12th North Carolina in support. The 23rd North Carolina was positioned behind a stonewall bordering the road and in position to the left of the 5th. Garland's two remaining regiments took up positions to the left of the 23rd, with the 20th North Carolina being to the immediate left of the 23rd and the 13th North Carolina to the left of the 20th. The regiments of the brigade were not in contact with each other due to the nature of the ground, with an example being the 13th regiment was over 200 yards from the left flank of the 20th. To support Garland, Hill had dispatched the 4-gun battery of Captain James Bondurant, which took up position just in front of the 12th North Carolina. On hand was also the 5th Virginia Cavalry under Colonel Thomas Rosser, and the 2 piece section of Stuart's Horse Artillery under Major John Pelham. Interestingly enough, this was what General Hill heard during his early morning reconnaissance towards Fox's Gap, Stuart had not told anyone he had dispatched this command to Fox's! The 5th VA and Pelham's battery took positions on Garland's extreme right covering a small farm lane.

The Battle for Fox's Gap began around 9 in the morning when skirmishers from the 5th North Carolina ran into skirmishers from the 23rd Ohio, under the command of future President Rutherford B. Hayes. The 13th and 20th North Carolina were attacked by the remainder of General Eliakim Scammon's brigade (consisted of the 23rd, 12th, and 30th Ohio Regiments). When Federal artillery entered the fight and began bombarding the North Carolinians, the 13th began to waver. General Garland moved to the regiment in an attempt to steady his men against the overpowering assault. The commanding officer of the 13th, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Ruffin, Jr., pleaded with Garland that the front was no place for him to be. Garland replied that it was just as dangerous for the colonel as it was for him. Not long after that, Ruffin had a minie ball smash into his hip, and he told Garland that there were no field officers available to command his regiment. Garland turned to an orderly, and just seconds later, a bullet plunged into General Garland's chest. Garland fell from his horse mortally wounded. His staff officers, out of sight of his men, moved the General to the porch of the Mountain House (today the South Mountain Inn), where he would die from his wound. Just over an hour into the fight, General Garland's brigade had been severely handled losing about 100 men in an hour of fierce combat and with the General falling, command fell upon Colonel Duncan McRae of the 5th North Carolina.

Garland's body was loaded into a wagon train for transport back to Lynchburg for burial. His body would end up being captured near Williamsport, Maryland by Federal Cavalry that had escaped from Harpers Ferry. Eventually the General's body was returned to his family and he was buried in Lynchburg, Virginia on September 19, 1862. It was said that his fearless nature in combat stemmed from hte loss of his wife and child with months of one another. Maybe he had a death wish but, with his death, a rising star within the Army of Northern Virginia was extinguished.

*Harper's Weekly, October 1862.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Info on Blog

Hi all,

This is the beginning of my blog about the battle of South Mountain. As I am working as a seasonal ranger at South Mountain this summer, I will attempt to tell the story of the battle and those men that fought it. So sit back and enjoy the ride. I hope you will find it enjoyable. Thanks.