South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

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)

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