South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fighting Colonels: The Mountain Spur

Located between the Frostown Gap and Turner Gap is a very prominant mountain spur. It was along this northern face of this mountain spur that General John Hatch's Union division attacked practically unopposed, the only Confederate resistance coming from a determined artilleries battery under the command of Captains George Patterson and Hugh Ross. Only the timely arrival of Confederate brigades under the command of James Kemper and Richard Garnett kept Hatch's men from sweeping over the mountain.

Colonel Eppa Hunton, commanding 8th Virginia Infantry: As part of Brigadier General Richard Garnett's brigade, Eppa Hunton's 8th Virginia was encamped near Hagerstown on the morning of September 14. Enduring a forced 18 mile march from their encampment, Hunton's Virginians arrived at the mountain in the late afternoon, clearly hearing the rattle of musketry off to their left. For the next hour, the regiment was pointlessly marched around the mountainside obeying conflicting orders that marched them from one point to the other and back again. Once the regiment did get into position, it fell in behind a fenceline on the extreme right of Garnett's brigade. As it was going into line of battle, a Union battleline appeared and quickly unleashed a devastating volley on the Virginians. Hunton managed to get is regiment organized and in line of battle under this "galling fire of musketry" and his men eagerly began returning fire. Their initial volley's were so devastating the Union advance was first halted, then thrown back. Hunton kept his small regiment, he reported only 34 men in the ranks at the start of the fight, in position holding their hard fought ground until it was realized that the rest of the brigade had fallen back, leaving them exposed and unsupported. Hunton ordered the regiment to fall back to a new position where it was maintained until it was ordered to retreat off the mountain that night. Hunton reported a loss of 11 men killed and wounded, a 32% casualty rate.

Major William H. DeBevoise, commanding 84th New York Infantry/14th Brooklyn: Part of the First Brigade of John Hatch's division, Major DeBevoise lead his regiment in the attack on the mountain spur that could have cut off and surrounded the Confederates under Robert Rodes and flanked the position of Alfred Colquitt at Turner's Gap. The Brooklyn men attacked the Confederate skirmish line, located in a thick woodlot and cornfield and quickly drove it back. The main Confederate line held its fire, apparently out of fear of striking their own men. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Debevoise's men falled the enemy skirmishers so closely, they quickly punched a hole in the Confederate line and managed to gain a foothold on the crest of the mountain. They placed themselves within a hornet's nest, with the Confederates repeatedly and savagely attacking the New Yorkers in an attempt to drive them off. Each attack was beaten back and by nightfall, with their ammunition nearly exhausted, reinforcements arrived allowing the regiment to fall back for some rest. The next morning, the regiment was ordered to pursue the Confederates, crossing over the battlefield of the day before and seeing the carnage wrought. The regiment went into the fight without 130 men and suffered 9 killed and 22 wounded, a casualty rate of about 24%.


1. Official Records of the War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 , Pages 898 - 899. (Hunton's official report)

2.Eppa Hunton. Officers page from Antietam on the Web by Brian Downey. (Hunton's photo)

3. William DeBevoise. Officers page from Antietam on the Web by Brian Downey (DeBevoise photo)

4. 14th Brooklyn. Living History website by Frank Ruiz and Co. E, 14th N.Y.S.M. living history association. (Adjutant General report from September 1862).

No comments:

Post a Comment