South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

South Mountain's Union commanders at Gettysburg

Several Union commanders that lead their troops to victory at South Mountain played important roles in the fight at Gettysburg the following summer. Here are a few.

Brigadier General George Meade: At South Mountain, General Meade commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves division that assaulted Frostown Gap about a mile north of Turner's Gap. His soldiers would eventually break the line of Robert Rodes' Confederates before the terrain and nightfall slowed his advance across the ridge. He would be promoted to Major General and given command of the 5th Corps prior to Chancellorsville. As Lee invaded the North in the Summer of '63, the command of the Army of the Potomac was thrust upon Meade following the resignation of Joseph Hooker from command. Meade would arrive in Gettysburg on the night of July 1st and for the next two days he would outwit Robert E. Lee's attempts to turn his flanks and break through his center. He would be critized for his slow pursuit of Lee during the retreat from Gettysburg but he would retain command of the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war.

Brigadier General John Gibbon: Late in the day of the 14th, Gibbon would lead his brigade against the Confederate defences at Turner's Gap along the National Pike. His brigade would earn its immortal "Iron Brigade" nickname for its fight at Turner's Gap but, his men would not gain possession of gap that night. Gibbon would be promoted and given command of a division in the 2nd Corps, which he would command at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He temporarily commanded the 2nd Corps while General Hancock was elevated to command of the Union forces until the arrival of General Meade. On July 3rd, he would command the defense of Cemetery Ridge against Pickett's Charge during which time he would be wounded. He would eventually command a corps in the Army of the James.

Colonel Solomon Meredith: During the fight for Turner's Gap, Colonel Meredith commanded the 19th Indiana in Gibbon's "Iron Brigade". After his advance was stopped cold by two Confederate regiments, he send on company around the Confederate flank to fire upon their flank as he advanced his main line. The attack was successful and it forced the two Confederate regiments to retreat back up the mountain. He would be promoted to command of the Iron Brigade in October and he would lead it into Confederate onslaught on the first day of Gettysburg. His brigade would hold the line and pay a dear price for it in killed and wounded. During the fight, he would also be wounded.

Major General Henry Slocum: At South Mountain, he commanded a division within William Franklin's 6th Corps. His division would be the spearhead of the assault on Crampton's Gap. After a short fight with Confederates, his division charged up the mountain routing the Confederate defenders and capturing the gap. In October, he would be given command of the XII Corps, replacing Joseph K. Mansfield who had been killed at Antietam. He would commanded the corps in the Battle of Fredericksburg and at Chancellorsville he would command the right wing of Hooker's Army which included his corps and the two corps of General's Meade and Hooker. At Gettysburg, he would arrive with his corps at Gettysburg in the evening of July 1st and take up positions on the Union right flank. When Longstreet's assault crashed into the Union left flank and began pushing it back, Meade ordered Slocum to send his entire corps to reinforce the left. Slocum kept one brigade back, that of George S. Greene, and sent the remainder of the corps to the left. Greene's brigade would turn back Ewell's assault on Culp's Hill that night. His corps would return and reoccupy its position on July 3rd pushing out any remaining Confederates.

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