South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

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.

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