South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

". . . the severe musketry of the enemy was returned with the cool deliberation and steady aim of experienced marksmen."

The following is the official report of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander D. Adams, the commanding officer of the 27th New York regiment during the fighting at Crampton's Gap.

Hdqrs, 27th N.Y. Vols- In the Field, Near
Williamsport, Md., Sept. 23, 1862.
Lieutenant:- I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the action of Crampton's Pass, September 14, 1862:

On leaving Jefferson, the Ninety-Sixth Pennsylvania was sent out in advance, as skirmishers; and soon after, the Sixteenth New York was assigned to support a battery ; so that the Twenty- seventh had the advance on approaching the pass. The presence  of the enemy having been discovered, the brigade was drawn into a ravine, in column by battalion, to avoid his artillery, and to prepare for storming the gap. Shortly after, the Ninty-sixth Pennsylvania having been recalled and placed in the column, the brigade moved, under cover as far as practicable, toward the pass, and at 3:30 the Twenty-seventh --still leading the column-- was ordered by Colonel Barlett, commanding brigade, to deploy as skirmishers, advance on the pass, and develop the enemy's position, --the center of the line, which was at least a mile long, being directed to the right of the pass. Almost as soon as the deployment was completed, and the flank companies had been thrown forward a little, bringing the line into the form of an arc, the skirmishers became briskly engaged, simultaneously on the right and left, with superior force of the enemy, posted at the base of the mountain, behind stone fences and houses.

The firing at once became general along the whole line, and was very rapid, and at close range. In ten or fifteen minutes the first line of attack of this brigade had advanced to the left of the center of the line of skirmishers, and opened a fierce fire on the enemy in the woods in front. After considerable interval, the musketry continuing fiercely, the Second Brigade, in column, Gen. Newton's, having been brought up to support the attack, and the skirmishers, as well as the first line of Col. Bartlett's brigade, having expended their ammunition, the colonel commanding directed  that the skirmishers should retire and rally on the center, for the purpose of re-forming the regiment. This was done in good order, though, owing to the extent of the line, it necessarily occupied some time, --the charge which carried the pass being made when but three or four companies had formed. As soon as the flank companies had come in, the regiment was placed in position previously indicated by Gen. Barlett, where it remained until the next morning. The action had terminated in the total rout of the enemy before this position was taken up. 

The conduct of this command, during the entire engagement, was most admirable. Though exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, while advancing over the open fields, there was no faltering or hesitation, and the severe musketry of the enemy was returned with the cool deliberation and steady aim of experienced marksmen. 

It is reported by prisoners, that the manner and steadiness of the advanced convinced the enemy that he had not raw troops to deal with. The great extent of the line rendered the transmission of orders difficult, and I am greatly indebted  to Major Bodine and Adjutant Thompson, for the aid which maintained the proper disposition and unbroken continuity of the line. All  the officers, save one, maintained and added to the reputation they had won in the previous history of the Twenty-seventh. 

It would not be proper to conclude this report without mentioning the efficient conduct of Surgeon Barnes, of this regiment, whose hospital was established nearest the field, and who was the first surgeon to visit the wounded, collected in the houses at the foot of the mountain, and on the field after the action was over. 

The casualties are: 6 killed and 27 wounded; among the latter at Lieuts. Seely and Christman, and Color-bearer Sergt. McMahon.
            I am, sir, very respectfully,
                                Alexander D. Adams.
                                      Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding. 


1. Fairchild, Charles Bryant. History of the 27th regiment N.Y. vols., being a record of its more than two years of service in the War for the Union, from May 21st, 1861, to May 31st, 1863. With a complete roster and short sketches of Commanding officers. Also, a record of experience and suffering of some of the comrades in Libby and other Rebel prisons. Compiled by C. B. Fairchild, of Company "D." Published under the direction of the following committee: Gen. H. W. Slocum [and] Capt. C. A. Wells. Binghamton, Carl & Matthews, printers [1888], 106-107.