South Mountain by Rick Reeve

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vermont's fallen

Yesterday, I posted about the Vermont Brigades fight at Crampton's Gap on September 14, 1862. Today, I post the reported casualties and the known casualties from the brigade.The brigade, according to returns in the Official Records, stated a loss of 1 man killed and 18 wounded. Listed here are 18 known casualties from the brigades fight.

Vermont Brigade, Brigadier General William T.H. Brooks commanding


Private Micheal F. Murray, Co. C, 4th Vermont (I believe he his buried in Grave No. 1807, Antietam National Cemetery. The only information available is the remains in this grave belong to a Micheal Murray and were removed from Burkittsville, Maryland.) (1)


Private Rinaldo N. Hescock, Co. C, 2nd Vermont
Private Oscar Johnson Matteson, Co. A, 2nd Vermont

Private Daniel Adams, Co. G, 4th Vermont (died of wounds September 27, 1862)
Private David Aldrich,  Co. B, 4th Vermont
Corporal Charles F. Badger, Co. G, 4th Vermont
Private Oliver M. Badger, Co. G, 4th Vermont
Private Rueben A. Brock, Co. B, 4th Vermont
Private John S. Holley, Co. H, 4th Vermont
Private Jason Johnson, Co. B, 4th Vermont
Private Marcellus Johnson, Co. G, 4th Vermont
Private Joseph Ladeau, Co. G, 4th Vermont
Private Leonard M. Mayott, Co. G, 4th Vermont
Private Samuel W. Rollins, Co. G, 4th Vermont
4th Sergeant Francis Seaver, Co. I, 4th Vermont
Private Henry Philetus Whitcomb, Co. K, 4th Vermont
Private Artemus C. Whitney, Co. G, 4th Vermont

Captain Elisha L. Barney, Co. K, 6th Vermont


1. Steven R. Stotelmyer. The Bivouacs of the Dead: The Story of Those Who Died at Antietam and South Mountain. Batltimore, MD: Toomey Press, 1992. pg. 128.

2.Vermont in the Civil War, 2nd Vermont Infantry Rosters

3. Ibid, 4th Vermont Infantry Rosters

4. Ibid, 6th Vermont Infantry Rosters

5. Library of Congress. Chronicling America: Historic Newspapers. "Vermont Phoenix, October 2 1862"  [Accessed Feb. 17, 2012]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Vermont Brigade assaults Crampton's Gap

While the brunt of the fighting at Crampton's Gap was put on the 6th Corps division of Major General Henry Slocum, the all Vermont brigade of Brigadier General William T.H. Brooks was ordered to support the stalled Union assault by creating a diversion that would ultimately turn into a flanking maneuver that would crush the Confederate right.

The regiments that would become the "Vermont Brigade" had lived a fairly quiet term of service within the defenses of Washington with the exception of the 2nd Vermont, which had participated in the Union debacle at the Battle of First Bull Run. The regiments themselves were no brigaded together until the arrival of the 6th Vermont in Washington in late October 1861. The first major campaign they would participate in would be the Peninsular Campaign where the brigade would participate in the Battle of Williamsburg, Siege of Yorktown, and the Seven Days' Battles. Following the failure of this campaign to capture Richmond and the movement of the Confederate army into northern Virginia to deal with the new Union Army of Virginia under John Pope and to threaten Washington, D.C., the brigade was ordered onto its transports and moved back to Alexandria, Virginia. Upon arrival, the brigade marched with the 6th Corps towards the sound of battle on the old Bull Run battlefield but it did not arrive until the fighting had ended and was pulled back towards Washington to cover the retreat of Pope's army.

With the victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Robert E. Lee pushed his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland  on September 4, 1862 and took possession of Frederick, Maryland and remained in and around the city for several days. After receiving word of the Confederate invasion, Major General George B. McClellan, now in command of the defenses of Washington, ordered several army corps to march towards western Maryland in pursuit of the Confederates. The 6th Corps, including the Vermonters, marched out of Washington on September 6th. Its route of march in pursuit of the rebels would keep it close to the Potomac River,anchoring the Army of the Potomac's left flank. As the army marched westward, the 6th Corps was to arrive in Buckeystown, Maryland within supporting distance of the army's advance on Frederick.

The Kanawha Division of the 9th Corps, under Major General Jacob Cox, arrived in Frederick on September 12th and pushed the last remaining Confederates through the town and towards South Mountain. McClellan began massing the remainder of his army in the vicinity of Frederick and September 13th, a vital piece of intelligence was found in the fields outside of Frederick. The Lost Orders, Special Order 191, was rushed up the chain of command until it was in the hands of General McClellan. With the knowledge of Confederate movements and the division of the Confederate force in an movement to capture Harper's Ferry, McClellan's plans changed. Orders were rushed out to the various corps commanders after the orders were verified to be genuine. McClellan sent a dispatch to General William Franklin, commanding the 6th Corps. In it, General McClellan outlines what the Confederate plans are. He also tells Franklin that General Darius Couch's division of the 4th Corps will be attached to him for support. McClellan also changes his plans for the 6th Corps:

"Without waiting for the whole of that division (Couch) to join, you will move a daybreak in the morning, by Jefferson and Burkittsville, upon the road to Rohrersville. I have reliable information that the mountain pass by this road is practicable for artillery and wagons. If this pass is not occupied by the enemy in force, seize it as soon as practicable, and debouch upon Rohrersville, in order to cut the retreat of or destroy McLaws' command. If you find this pass held by the enemy in large force, make all your dispositions for the attack, and commence it about a half hour after you hear severe firing at the pass on the Hagerstown pike, where the main body will attack. Having gained the pass, your duty will be first to cut off, destroy, or capture McLaws command and relieve Colonel Miles." (1)

With this dispatch, the 6th Corps main focus was now to break through South Mountain and relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry. On the morning of September 14, Franklin puts his corps in motion towards Jefferson, Maryland where he halts to allow Couch's division to join him. The men of the Vermont Brigade surely knew something was brewing as the brigade arrived in Burkittsville, Maryland and after the lead elements of the 6th Corps passed through, Confederate artillery at Brownsville Pass opened up. General Franklin would allow his corps to go into bivouac while a plan of attack was decided upon.

The most direct route to Harper's Ferry from Burkittsville at the time of the Civil War was by way of the Brownsville Pass, located a mile south of Crampton's Gap. This is the way that Lafayette McLaws would take his division on its mission to capture Maryland Heights and cut off the escape routes out of Harper's Ferry. The use of this pass was on the mind of William Franklin as he arrived at Burkittsville about mid-day on the 14th. The artillery fire from the Brownsville Pass changed Franklin's mind quickly. He was convinced that a heavy Confederate force defended the gap (in actuality it was one brigade of infantry with artillery support). He put his focus on Crampton's Gap which was defended by a handful of cavalry and artillery. The main attack would come from the division of Henry Slocum and would be commanded by Colonel Joseph Bartlett. The division of William F. "Baldy" Smith would remain in reserve and support the attack when needed, the Vermont brigade was part of Smith's division.

The attack began at about 4 P.M. and immediately became bogged down. Confederate infantry had arrived to help bolster the thin Confederate line at the base of the mountain and its defensive position was improved by use of a stonewall. As Bartlett's attack stalled, Franklin ordered the Vermont Brigade forward to support Bartlett's left flank. Brigadier General Brooks marched his Vermonters into line as a heavy barrage of artillery rained down on the brigade. John Conline, a private in Company E, 4th Vermont, later remembered, "The Vermont troops . . . came to a large barnyard with a big barn and haystack in front in the direction of the enemy, and the 4th Vermont, being in the lead, came to a halt near the haystack until the rest of the brigade came up. . . . At the same instant the Confederates, whom we could not see opened a brisk infantry fire upon us. . ." (2)

With fire coming in on the 4th Vermont, General Brooks began to deploy his brigade as follows and to cover the deployment, he ordered skirmishers pushed out to help cover his deployment and to dislodge the Confederates but this had "little effect". Brooks in the meantime deployed the 4th Vermont ,under Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Stoughton, in his first line and the 2nd Vermont, under Major James Walbridge, in his second line.  The remaining three regiments were left in reserve on the edge of town. On the Union right, Bartlett's attack broke through the Confederate center and pushed up the mountain. At the same instant, Brooks order his two regiments to advance and after gaining the Confederate right, pushed up the mountain. 3

Private Conline remembers that attack of the 4th Vermont:

"All the companies of the 4th Vermont moved in succession to the south and west of the barn, which acted as a partial screen and protection, to the front, and formed line of battle, in a very large open field by the movement known as companies left front, into line. We did not let the grass grow under our feet in executing this maneuver for obvious reasons. In short, our line was formed with great rapidity, the direction being north and south parallel to a long, well built stonewall, from behind which the enemy kept blazing away at us. As the line formed, I had a fine opportunity to look over the battlefield before the charge. 

During the formation of this advance line, from the open spaces on the crest of South Mountain, the Confederate batteries opened on us with a very noisy shellfire, which so far as I could see, did us little harm. . . . The instant line the line was ready, we charged, with bayonets fixed, at double quick, across the open field to the stonewall where the enemy was posted. Before we got to the wall, the rebels began to run singly, then in little squads of three or four, and finally, as we were about to reach the wall, the all broke pell mell up the slightly inclined open plain, from the wall to the foot of the mountain about 400 yards distant. Many of them halted, turned, and fired at us. The wall reached, we opened fire upon the rapidly vanishing Confederates for two or three minutes; climbing over it, the line quickly advanced after the demoralized enemy, until we reached the trees at the foot of the mountain, when we were free from the artillery fire." At this point, the Confederates are clingling to what little ground they have at the gap itself and within the woods along the Burkittsville Road. (4)

Private Conline continues:

" We then began to climb the steep mountainside and arrived at the crest nearly out of breath, where we found a very narrow plateau with a road in the middle, running north and south along the crest. We moved to the right in column towards Crampton's Gap, capturing a brass mountain howitzer named the "Jennie", and a few prisoners, about seventy-five in all. In military parlance, the Vermont Brigade made a brilliant charge against the enemy in the open field and carried the crest and Crampton's Gap by storm." (5)

By the time the Vermonters reached the crest, the battle was, for all intent and purposes, was over. The 6th Corps had captured the gap and thrown the Confederates a major defeat. After reaching the crest, the 4th Vermont was ordered to the left to silence the batteries that had fired upon them as they advanced at the base of the mountain. As they advance, Lieutenant George Hooker of Company E, dashed forward and came upon a large group of Confederates, the 16th Virginia Infantry. Lieutenant Hooker stated that a large body of Union infantry were close behind him. The Confederate command, Major Francis Holliday, surrendered his sword, the regimental battle flag, and over 100 men to Hooker. Hooker would be remembered for his exploit when he was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 17, 1891. (6)

The 2nd Vermont, following close behind the 4th, reached the crest of the mountain and continued down the western slope, reaching the base before being recalled back to the gap. The other regiments of the brigade advanced up the Burkittsville Road rejoining the 2nd and 4th at the crest where the brigade went into bivouac for the night. The Vermont Brigade had helped decisively push the Confederates out of Crampton's Gap and threaten McLaws Division on Maryland Heights. The following day, the brigade would march in Pleasant Valley with the rest of the 6th Corps threatening to lift the garrison at Harper's Ferry but during the day, firing from the direction of Harper's Ferry had ceased and all knew that the town had fallen.

During the assault on Crampton's Gap, the 6th Corps lost over 500 men killed and wounded. The Vermont brigade, according to returns in the Official Records, 1 killed and 18 wounded during its dash up the mountain. The brigade would not find itself heavily engaged three days later along the banks of the Antietam. (7)


1.  United States Government. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901 ,Volume 19, Part 1. pg. 45.

2. John Conline, Recollections of the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign

3. War of the Rebellion, Volume 19, Part 1. pg. 407

4. Conline, (see link on source 2).

5. Ibid.

6. Brian Downey, Crampton's Gap, Medal of Honor

7. War of the Rebellion, Volume 19, Part 1. pg. 183.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lieutenant Colonel Owen K. McLemore, 4th Alabama

This is a sketch from a photo of Lt. Colonel Owen McLemore who commanded the 4th Alabama Infantry in the brigade of Colonel Evander Law. A West Point Graduate, McLemore resigned his commission in April 1861 just days before the firing on Fort Sumter. He would travel home to Alabama where he would help raise the 14th Alabama Infantry and was appointed the regiment's major.

Following the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas, the heavy casualties suffered by the 4th Alabama left the regiment without any field officers to lead it. By order of the Confederate Congress, McLemore was re-assigned to the 4th Alabama where he drilled and lead the regiment in the fighting that occurred on the Virginia Peninsula in May, June, and July of 1862. He would lead the regiment at the Battle of Second Bull Run/Manassas and on into Maryland in September 1862. Leading his regiment in the forced march from Hagerstown on September 14th, McLemore leads his regiment up the mountain and down the Woods Road, as survivors from Drayton's Brigade filter back towards Turner's Gap, and into line. With bayonet's fixed, the 4th advanced along with the rest of John Bell Hood's Division. The counterattack was successful in ending the Union threat. It was during this attack the McLemore would receive a mortal wound. He would be carried off the mountain and transported to Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia for treatment.

After the Maryland Campaign ended, he would be taken to Winchester, Virginia where he would succumb to his wounds. He was 27. His body would be taken home to Alabama and he is buried in the Lafayette Cemetery in Lafayette, Alabama under a simple headstone.


Brian Downey, Owen Kenan McLemore,
Photo, Owen McLemore,

Grave photo,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"We advanced but a short distance . . . when a brisk fire was encountered."

The following is the report given by Captain Dennis McGee, commanding the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (1st Rifles). Captain McGee is reporting because the regiments commander, Colonel Hugh McNeil was mortally wounded during the sharp skirmish in the East Woods. The regiment went into the battle with 248 men and officers and would lose 16 killed and 35 wounded during their fight, a casualty rate of 20%. Known casualties can be seen here and account for 49% of the casualties reported.

Colonel R. Biddle Roberts
Commanding First Brigade

Headquarters, 1st Rifles, Pennsylvania Reserve Vol. Corps
September 22, 1862

Colonel: I have the honor to report that the First Rifles went into action on the 14th instant with about 235 men and 13 officers, under the command of Colonel Hugh W. McNeil. Six companies were deployed as skirmishers and the remaining four held as supports. We advanced but a short distance up the mountain before the enemy's skirmishers were discovered, when a brisk fire was encountered. The order was immediately given to advance at double-quick, which order was promptly obeyed, driving the enemy before us, until we came upon his main body placed in a most advantageous position for offering a stong resistance to our further advance. Our men now engaged the enemy with great spirit. At this moment our reinforcements appeared, causing the enemy to waver and gradually retire up the mountain. The order to charge was now passed along the line, and we rapidly pushed forward, causing him to finally give way and beat a precipitate retreat down the western slope of the mountain, leaving us in possession of the field and position. Owing to the death of Colonel McNeil I am unable to give a more detailed account of the action of this day. Our loss during this engagement was 16 killed and 35 wounded; of the latter 6 are known to have since died. Among those who particularly distinguished themselves for gallantry on this occasion I have to mention the following: Captain Edward A. Irvin (severely wounded), Captain A. E. Niles, Adjt. William R. Hartsthorne, Lieuts. James W. Welch, Lucius Truman, S.A. Mack, Jr. (wounded), N.B. Kinsey, David G. McNaughton, and Sergt. Major Roger Sherman. I felt great reluctance in singling out individuals, as the officers and men on this occasion behaved most gallantly. 
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Dennis McGee,
Captain, Commanding First Rifles

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of of the records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Series 1,Volume 51 (Part 1), pgs. 155-156