South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"I shall not be able to come home."

On a mid summer's day in 1861, Private Reuben Huntley of the 6th Wisconsin wrote a letter home to his wife about the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run. He tells her that he will not be able to come home, even though he is a 90 day enlistee. He knows that the war will last longer than the three months that everyone believed it would. Fast forward to September 1862, a corporal now, Huntley his moving forward with his unit into the fight at Turner's Gap. Through the din of battle, he can hear the sound of of lead punching through flesh. Suddenly he feels it, a sharp pain that forces him to the ground. His breathing has become difficult, he reaches for the spot where the pain originated from, he feels a wetness, looks at his hand and its covered in red, the color of blood. He knows the wound is serious, he begins to fade in and out of consciousness. He opens his eyes one last time to see comrades from Wisconsin pushing back the hard fighting rebels. He then lets out a loud exhale, closes his eyes, and goes to sleep.

Here is the letter from July 1861 that was written home by Reuben Huntley:

Camp Randall
Madison, July 23d,1861
My Dear Wife,
The disastrous results of the battle of Bulls Run has entirely altered our arrangements here. We are now under marching orders & shall leave this week. I shall not be able to come home. The Secretary of State has sent the blanks for the $500 bounty to Col. Culter for distribution, have John Y. see to the filling up . . . for you. I will send my wages as soon as received. You need not write to me until you hear from me again. God bless you and believe me the only thing that could distract me from my duties is the . . . of my family at home.
Good Bye
Your husband R. Huntley

Of the 11 men killed at Turner's Gap from the 6th Wisconsin, Reuben Huntley was one of them. It's a shame that if this was his last opportunity to see home before heading east, that he was not able to because of events elsewhere. He would lose his life fighting to save the Union in a field hundreds of miles from home. Maybe it's just me, but the one line in his letter forshadow's his eventual death on the battlefield. May he rest in peace.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Courage on the Mountain

While many of the men who fought at South Mountain when above and beyond their duty as a soldier, very few were recognized. On the Union side, 5 men were awarded the nations highest military medal, The Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor was initially established in December 1861 for the sole use in the Navy because the commander of the army, General Winfield Scott opposed such a medal for use in the army. Eventually, with Scott out of the picture, a Medal of Honor for the army was created in the Summer of 1862.

On the Confederate side, due to lack of medal to create medallions, the Roll of Honor was established by the Confederate Congress to put forth the names of those men who fought with unmatched valor and gallantry on the battlefield until a medallion could be struck for each man that earned the distinction.

Medal of Honor Recipients at South Mountain:

Brigadier General John Hatch: He was awarded the Medal of Honor for remaining in command of his division and leading one of his brigades after being severely wounded and having several horses killed underneath him during the Union assault just north of Turner's Gap. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His citation reads:

Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At South Mountain, Md., 14 September 1862. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Born: 9 January 1822, Oswego, N.Y. Date of issue: 28 October 1893. Citation: Was severely wounded while leading one of his brigades in the attack under a heavy fire from the enemy.

Private James Allen: This man's story is something out of a hollywood movie. Private Allen and another private from the 16th New York had become seperated from their regiment during the final Union attack at Crampton's Gap. They continued moving forward and came upon a line of Confederate infantry. The two union men charged the Confederates amazingly forcing the rebels out of their position. Allen's companion was wounded rather severely in the leg and Allen left him where he fell, making him as comfortable as possible. Allen continued on until he came under fire from the same Confederates that had just retreated. Allen waited for the rebel fire to slacken before he stood up and waved his arm as if he had an entire regiment with him and yelled at the top of his lungs. He jumps over the stonewall behind which the Confederates had taken up position and he calls for the rebels to drop there weapons. Again, the rebels give in throwing down their muskets and Allen positions himself between the large group of rebels and there muskets. Farther down the hill, a commanding officer sees Allen's predicament and immediately goes in search of help. Allen had captured several Confederates along with a regimental flag all on his own. He was promptly promoted to corporal practically on the spot. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here is his citation:

Rank and organization: Private, Company F, 16th New York Infantry. Place and date: At South Mountain, Md., 14 September 1862. Entered service at: Potsdam, N.Y. Born: 6 May 1843, Ireland. Date of issue: 11 September 1890. Citation: Single-handed and slightly wounded he accosted a squad of 14 Confederate soldiers bearing the colors of the 16th Georgia Infantry (C.S.A.). By an imaginary ruse he secured their surrender and kept them at bay when the regimental commander discovered him and rode away for assistance.

1st Lieutenant George W. Hooker: Like Private Allen, Lieutenant Hooker would captured a sizeable group of Confederates on his own at Crampton's Gap. He was a part of Company E, 4th Vermont infantry that was part of the Union assault against the Confederate right. Hooker, being mounted on a horse, gained the crest of a small ridge ahead of his regiment where he awaited the rest of his regiment. The commander of the Vermont Brigade, General Brooks, came upon Hooker and order him to take what parts of the regiment he had and continue the advance. Hooker did so and his men quickly fell behind with Hooker being mounted. As Hooker pushed ahead, he came upon a company size contingent, 116 men, of the 16th Virginia. The Confederates were befuddled upon the sudden appearance of this officer in blue. Instead of turning and running, Hooker raised his sword and ordered the Confederates to surrender and warned that a large contingent of Union infantry was close behind him. Immediately the Confederates surrendered their battleflag, their commanding officers sword, and the whole bunch of them. Hooker had singlehandly captured these men by acting quickly and taking advantage of the surprised looks in the Confederate group. Lieutenant Hooker's medal is on display in the visitor center at Antietam National Battlefield. He his buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery, Brattleboro, Vermont. His citation reads:

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company E, 4th Vermont Infantry. Place and date: At South Mountain, Md., 14 September 1862. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Salem, N.Y. Date of issue: 17 September 1891. Citation: Rode alone, in advance of his regiment, into the enemy's lines, and before his own men came up received the surrender of the major of a Confederate regiment, together with the colors and 116 men.

Private Orlando Caruana: At Fox's Gap, Private Caruana would take part in a scouting mission to determine the position of the Confederates. While doing so, his party came under fire and three men that were with him were killed while he managed to make it back to safety. He was also awarded a Medal of Honor for saving the life of a color sergeant during the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina. He is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His Citation reads:

Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 51st New York Infantry. Place and date: At New Bern, N.C., 14 March 1862; at South Mountain, Md., 14 September 1862. Entered service at:------. Birth: Ca Valletta, Malta. Date of issue: 14 November 1890. Citation: At New Bern, N.C., brought off the wounded color sergeant and the colors under a heavy fire of the enemy. Was one of four soldiers who volunteered to determine the position of the enemy at South Mountain, Md. While so engaged was fired upon and his three companions killed, but he escaped and rejoined his command in safety.

Corporal Leonidas H. Inscho: Bearing the name of a famous Spartan king, it only seemed fitting that this young soldier of the 12th Ohio was to be a good fighter. At Fox's Gap, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing 5 Confederates, including an officer even with a severely wounded left hand. He is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark, Ohio. His citation reads:

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company E, 12th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At South Mountain, Md., 14 September 1862. Entered service at: Charleston, W. Va. Birth: Chatham, Ohio. Date of issue: 31 January 1894. Citation: Alone and unaided and with his left hand disabled, captured a Confederate captain and 4 men.

Confederate Roll of Honor:
When the Confederate government abandoned Richmond, many of the records kept by the Confederacy were destroyed or lost, the Roll of Honor included. There is one surviving roll from the Battle of South Mountain that I know of and here it is. It would be read at the first dress parade in front of the entire regiment following its receipt by the soldiers named. This list belongs to the 2nd Mississippi of Colonel Evander Law's brigade following its fight at Fox's Gap. The asterisk (*) denotes the soldier as being killed in action.

Second Regiment Mississippi Infantry:

Private R. L. Boone, Company A.
Sergt. T. B. McKay, Company B.
Sergt. Robert Harris, Company C.
Private W. B. Houston, Company D.
Private G. W. Monk, Company E.
Private T. G. N. Thompson, Company F.
*Private John Vanzant, Company G.
Private B. Weatherington, Company H.
Private E. Browning, Company I.
Private James L. Ackers, Company K.
*Private Jacob McCarty, Company L.


U.S. Army Center of Military History. Medal of Honor. (source of citations)

Micheal Brasher. 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Roll of Honor, 2nd Mississippi (Roll of honor)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Civil War Photos at the Library of Congress

Just a few days ago I recieved an email from a friend saying that there is a new civil war photo collection at the Library of Congress. I have looked at them and they are just amazing. It is the Liljenquist Family collection that has just been acquired by the library and there are over 700 photos of soldiers in it, including African Americans who enlisted in the Union Army. Currently there are about 380 up on the site right now. I just thought I'd share this lil tid bit with you. There are few photos of men who fought at South Mountain. Here is a link:

Here is an example from the collection. The soldier here is Lieutenant Horatio David. He enlisted as a private in Company B, 16th Georgia Infantry on July 17, 1861. At the Battle of South Mountain, he hold the rank of corporal fighting with the 16th in Howell Cobb's brigade at Crampton's Gap. He would be elected as the Jr. Second Lieutenant of the 16th in March of 1863 and would be wounded a couple months later at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. He would be wounded again, this time in the eye, on August 16, 1864 at Deep Bottom, Virginia resulting in loss of his eyesight. He would retire because of his wounds in February 1865. He would be captured and paroled on May 8th, 1865 at Athens, Georgia. He was born on December 4, 1842.

Information courtesy of A muster roll of Company B, 16th Georgia compiled by Virginia Crilley for the USGenWeb project.

Monday, October 4, 2010

10th Georgia at Crampton's Gap

The only regiment from Paul Semme's Brigade to see action at Crampton's Gap, the 10th Georgia infantry commanded by Major Willis C. Holt suffered heavily. The regiment was ordered by Semmes to move in support of Colonel Parham's infantry and Colonel Thomas Munford's Cavalry brigades at the eastern base of the mountain that were beginning to come under pressure from lead elements of the Union 6th Corps if they were needed. Not long after Holt recieves this order from Semme's, Munford sends word to Holt to bring his regiment up to reinforce his ragtag line. Holt goes into postion only to be order by Semmes to return to his original postition along the Rohersville Road in Pleasant Valley. Holt begins his return trip when Colonel Parham orders him to remain on the mountain and to move his regiment to his immediate left to extend the Confederate flank. Holt would send two companies back to his original position and take the remainder of the regiment to the front. Almost immediately, the Georgians would be underfire and by 6 o'clock that evening, they are in full retreat back into Pleasant Valley. Here is Major Holt's official report.

September 22, 1862.

Captain BRIGGS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

CAPTAIN: On the morning of the 14th instant I received an order from General Semmes to move up to a church on the Rohrersville road for picket duty. In the evening I received another order from General Semmes to go to the support of Colonel Parham, who was picketing at Crampton's Gap, should he send for me. In a short time I received an order from Colonel Munford to bring my command up, as the enemy were approaching in strong force. I moved to the gap, and was ordered by Colonel Parham to a position at the base of the mountain. Just as I had taken the position, I received an order from General Semmes, through Lieutenant Cody, to carry my command back to the church. I started, and, when I reached the summit of the mountain, was ordered by Colonel Parham to remain. Seeing a large force of the enemy in line of battle approaching, and he giving me peremptory orders to remain, I sent two companies to the junction of the roads, and, by his order, moved my command to position on the left of the line he had already formed, which position I maintained until the enemy forced back the regiments on my right and had passed my flank. They (the enemy) being then nearer the gap of the mountain than I was, I was forced to fall back, to prevent being captured, the enemy being checked by a support that had been sent to us by General Cobb. I halted my command, and was forming a line of battle, when I was struck with a spent ball just above the left eye. The blood flowed so profusely from the wound that I was compelled to turn the command over to Captain P. H. Loud and go to the rear. The loss in this battle was 3 killed, 21 wounded, and 37 missing. Captain Y. L. Wootton was wounded and left upon the field; Lieutenant Foster was wounded and borne to the rear, and Lieutenant Olmstead has not since been heard from; was probably wounded and in the hands of the enemy.

The officers and men behaved with great gallantry, except a few who were too cowardly to go to the line of battle.

Major, Commanding Tenth Georgia Regiment.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 876 - 877

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"The men have stood like iron.."

Major Rufus Dawes wrote these words describing how the men fought during week of fighting that the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin and 19th Indiana infantry regiments had just experienced. While they earned their reputation at South Mountain and moved on to future fields, they left many behind on these bloody slopes.

4th Brigade (Brigadier General John Gibbon commanding)

Killed: 37
Wounded: 251
Captured/Missing: 30
Total: 318

2nd Wisconsin (Colonel Lucius Fairchild commanding)
(regiment suffered 6 killed , 19 wounded and 1 missing as stated in OR)

Company A:
Private Henry B. Rhoton

Company B:
Captain Wilson Colwell
Corporal Jacob Markle

Company C:
Unknown Casualties

Company D:
Private Andrew Bean
Private Ashael Gage
Private Stewart Martin
Private Bela W. Beebe
Private John N. Ehle

Company E:
Private George Nutter

Company F:
Captain William L. Parsons

Company G:
Private Theodore Fletcher

Company H:
Private Charles W. Eriksen

Company I:
Corporal Alpheus T. Budlong
Corporal William A. Nelson
Private George W. Williams
Private George Gilbert

Company K:
Private John Oswold
Private John Hacker
Private John Maislein

6th Wisconsin (Lt. Colonel Edward S. Bragg commanding)
(Regiment suffered 11 killed, 79 wounded, and 2 missing as stated in OR’s)

Company A:
Private Jacob C. Langhart
Private George C. Miles
Private George F. Rice
Private John C. Weldman
Sergeant Allison Fowler
Corporal Richard Atridge
Corporal Walter S. Durlin
Corporal Charles W. Farrington
Private Thomas Anderson
Private John Bracker
Private Thomas A. Butterfield
Private James Whilty

Company B:
Private Leonard Brown
Private Allen B. Wilson
1st Lieutenant Arthur C. Ellis
Sergeant Henry E. Smyser
Corporal Jeremiah Heath
Corporal John W. Winn
Private Henry Anderson
Private Alexander Frier
Private Anthony Olson
Private Charles H. Potter
Private William H. Pulver
Private John Sanderson

Company C:
1st Sergeant Edward A. Whaley
Sergeant George Fairfield

Company D:
Corporal Richard Montgomery
Corporal Avery M. Perkins
Private Frank Arnold
2nd Lieutenant Thomas Kerr
Sergeant John R. Lammey
1st Sergeant Hamilcar B. McIntosh
Sergeant Hugh Gallagher
Sergeant Matthew Keogh
Corporal Thomas Dunn
Private Francis Clark
Private John J. Costigan
Private Frank McKenie
Private Charles F. Meyers
Private Franz A. Siebenthall

Company E:
Corporal George T. Hall
Private Robert I. Campbell
Private John Flood
Private William Frazer
Private John Giesbers (Deserted also)
Private Amos Lefler
Private Nelson L. Rowe
Private Peter Steenis
Private Richard Woodland

Company F:
Private Franz Heinrich
Private Herman Kellner
Private John Kleinschrodt

Company G:
Private De Witt C. Burbanks

Company H:
Private Thomas Blake

Company I:
Sergeant William Lawrence
Private John F. Harding

Company K:
Private George E. Chamberlain
Private Reuben Huntley
Sergeant Charles A. Crawford
Sergeant James P. Sullivan
Sergeant Andrew R. Thompson
Corporal William J. Revels
Corporal Franklin Wilcox
Private Ephraim B. Cornish
Private Volney Holmes
Private Edward S. Simmons

7th Wisconsin (Captain John Callis commanding)
(Regiment suffered 11 killed, 116 wounded, and 20 missing as stated in OR’s)

Company A:
Private Micheal Burk
1st Sergeant Linus Bascom
Corporal Philander Phinney
Private Henry Byron
Private Edward J. Hurd
Private Hiram Pierce

Company B:
Corporal Charles E. Plummer
Sergeant William R. Ingalls
Sergeant Zebulon B. Russell
Sergeant Charles Walker
Corporal Alexander Hughes
Private John J. Blowers
Private James E. Brown
Private George L. Brown
Private Rufus R. Dye
Private Thomas Hand
Private James O. Hilliker
Private Warren L. Newell
Private Truman M. Newell
Private David Snow
Private Pope G. Briggs

Company C:
Private Wallace Holmes
Sergeant David C. Ashmore
Corporal William Beazley
Corporal William P. Durley
Corporal John C. Palmer
Corporal Jasper L. Rewey
Private William Bristol
Private William W. Davis
Private Harvey H. Edwards
Private Freeman Jones
Private William B. Newcomb
Private Esekiel Parker
Private Madison Ray
Private Theodore W. Smelker

Company D:
Corporal Albert C. Crofft
Corporal Benjamin P. Ordway
Private Isaac G. Bentley
Private Rollin Thompson
Private Isaac E. Wright

Company E:
Corporal John C. Casey
Corporal Alexander C. Webster
Private Daniel E. Casey
Private Joseph Eubanks
Private Henry Gathers
Private William H. Root

Company F:
Private James A. Clark
Private George W. Cooley
Private Henry A. Kaump
Private John L. Marks
2nd Lieutenant John W. McKenzie
Corporal George Atkinson
Corporal George F. Halbert
Corporal George H. Henderson
Corporal Fletcher S. Kidd
Corporal Peter J. Schlosser
Corporal William A. Smith
Private Henry Black
Private Milo Dexter
Private Jacob A. Drew
Private Alexander Lewis, Jr.
Private Richmond B. Pierce
Private Thomas Price
Private James W. Simpkins

Company G:
Private Thomas J. Lynn
Sergeant John M. Crocker
Corporal William J. Armstrong
Corporal William Richards
Corporal Edgar A. Tenant
Private Isaac Beadle
Private William N. Creasey
Private Clinton Eggleston
Private Henry Felix
Private James E. Ingraham
Private Martin Leeser
Private Michael Shortell
Private Daniel Wilcox
Private Sylvester Foster (Deserted)

Company H:
Private Benjamin Burton
Sergeant Joseph Heathcock
Corporal James H. Brunnemer
Corporal Jefferson Coates
Corporal William L. Jacobs
Corporal Newton B. Wood
Private John W. Andrews
Private Squire Burns
Private Isaac Coates
Private Henry Furderer
Private Stanbury Hitchcock
Private John B. Matthews
Private Samuel K. Potts
Private Luman Russell
Private Frederick Theiss
Private John Todd

Company I:
Corporal Henry Thorngate
Private Charles W. Smith
Private George O. Stratton

Company K:
Private Frederick J. Garner
Private William S. Wilson
Sergeant John M. Hoyt
Corporal John F. Foss
Corporal Andrew Streeter Jr.
Private William H. Beardsley
Private George W. Coville
Private Stone Severson
Private James A. Snyder

19th Indiana (Colonel Solomon Meredith commanding)
(Regiment suffered 9 killed, 37 wounded, and 7 missing as stated in OR’s)
Casualties Unknown (Rosters unavailable at this time)