South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Our boys acted nobly. . ."

The fighting in the afternoon at Fox's Gap was quite possibly the most severe and desperate fighting to occur during the Maryland Campaign. In a timespan of no more than two hours, a Confederate brigade was wiped off the face of the earth and nearly 1,000 men fell. This is that view of Lieutenant William Fleming from Company F, 50th Georgia Infantry on how he saw the fighting that day.

Now for my opinion of the battles that were fought in Maryland. I was in both battles- the battle of Boonsborough, on the 14th [and Sharpsburg on the 17th]. They were both hard fought battles, and never, I believe, was it more true that the ground was disputed inch by inch. Our brigade was marched from Hagerstown, a distance of 10 or 12 miles, to the scene of conflict, and were soon in the hottest of the fight. We were taken at once to a point to charge a batter of the enemy. While forming in line of battle, so as to be in position to make the assault, we were exposed to a most dreadful rifle and musket fire from the enemy. The 50th Georgia, who were on the extreme left towards the enemy, and the last to form on the right by file into line, were under the hottest fire. Our position was in a narrow road between an embankment eight feet in front as we were faced, and a stonewall on an embankment abot 4 feet high in the rear. The embankment in front of us gradually declined on the left, until it gave us no protection at all from the balls of the enemy.

Our company was the last that could takes its position in line, and this took some of our men entirely from under cover. It was painful to see our men shot down while takingtheir positions. O. Traqick, near me on the right of the company, was shot down when about to file into his place. He was shot in reach of me. The ball passed through his thigh breaking the bone. I mention him, as he was the first one of our company shot. Many others soon shared the same fate.

The enemy were posted behind a fence and trees, not over sixty or seventry yards from us, pouring their deadly volleys into us in comparitive security. Some of the bolder of the enemy would come out into the road and fire down it. Our boys acted nobly, loading and firing as fast as they could; but I am afraid, though they aimed when the enemy were concealed- very few of the bullets struck a Yankee. We had been exposed to this fire about twenty minutes, when a Yankee regiment made its appearance suddenly in our rear about 80 yardsdistance. (This would be the 17th Michigan Regiment). The command was given them to charge, and they came towards us at the charge bayonet about 20 or 30 yards and stopped. I directed my men to fire at them, which the few that were left did, with some effect, I know. About this time there was a general move out of the lane, and we followed. I carried into the action with me 38 men, and brought out 10. Nineteen we can count killed and wounded, the rest have never been heard from, and it is reasonable to suppose that they were killed or wounded. While we were standing this murderous fire, I asked Colonel Manning, who was not far from me, why we were left in such a place- that I thought we should either advance on the enemy or return; he said he could not understand it. This took place on the right. On the left a severe fight took place also. The enemy, by his overwhelming numbers, compelling us to fall back on the whole line a little. The battle ceased about 8 o'clock at night.

Lieutenant Fleming would survive the fight at Fox's Gap, as well as the fight at Antietam. He would send this "report" to the Savannah Republican newspaper which would publish it in October 1862. A copy of this can be found in the M.J. Solomon Scrapbook at Duke University as well as at the South Mountain State battlefield office.

No comments:

Post a Comment