The Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg: Union General George Stannard and the 2nd Vermont Brigade

By Anthony Buono

Originally published by America’s Civil War magazine.

Published Online: July 12, 1996

The third day of the Battle of Gettysburg was hot and humid. The battlefield, littered with thousands of dead and dying, bore grim testimony to the fierce fighting of the previous two days. The smell of decomposing corpses and gunpowder lingered in the air as the heaviest artillery bombardment of the Civil War ended. Then, in three lines of battle, 10,500 Confederates marched across the battlefield and surged up the gentle slope of Cemetery Ridge toward the waiting Federal troops.

On the left of the Federal line on the ridge, Brig. Gen. George Jerrison Stannard and three weary regiments of his inexperienced 2nd Vermont Brigade anxiously awaited the Confederate assault. The Rebels struck farther up the line, directly to the right of the Vermonters. Stannard, seeing this, wheeled two of his regiments around the Confederates’ exposed flank. From their forward position, the nearly 1,500 men of the 13th and 16th Vermont regiments poured devastating point-blank fire into the enemy ranks. Inflicting terrible casualties and ravaging the Confederate flank, the Vermonters helped turn the tide of the battle and of the war itself. Stannard’s performance that day was the high point of his distinguished career.

Stannard was born October 20, 1820, in the town of Georgia, Vermont. Educated in local schools, he worked on the family farm and taught school during winters. He later worked as a clerk and as manager of a local foundry before becoming joint proprietor in 1860. On September 26, 1850, Stannard married Emily Clark. They had four children.

Besides raising his family and working at the foundry, Stannard was a member of the state militia. He joined when he was only 16 and served as an orderly sergeant in 1837 when the Vermont militia was called out during the Canadian Insurrection. In 1857, Stannard was elected first lieutenant of a company he helped organize. A tall, bearded, slightly balding man, Stannard was a commanding character. He possessed a strong ability to lead, and was appointed colonel of the newly formed 4th Vermont Militia in 1858.

Stannard, the first Vermonter to volunteer for service in the Civil War, was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Vermont Infantry in May 1861. His regiment was sent to Washington, D.C., in June and was assigned to Colonel Oliver Otis Howard’s brigade. At the Battle of First Manassas, the brigade was held back until the closing stages of the contest, when it covered the retreat of the Federal Army.

Soon after Manassas, Stannard was offered command of the 3rd Vermont Infantry. He humbly declined the position, opting instead to remain with his regiment. On October 10, 1861, the 2nd Vermont was brigaded with its sister regiments, the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Vermont Infantry regiments, forming the famous Vermont Brigade.

Stannard and the Vermonters saw action in the Peninsula campaign in the spring of 1862. During that time, Stannard developed a reputation for courage and success. He was active in leading his regiment, as well as accompanying elements of other commands on scouting and skir-
mishing forays.

On May 21, 1862, Stannard was appointed colonel of the 9th Vermont Infantry and returned to Vermont to supervise recruitment of the unit. On July 15, the regiment began its trek south. The Vermonters arrived in Virginia a week later and were assigned to Fort Siegel, near Winchester. After the Federal defeat at the Battle of Second Manassas, the fort was threatened by a superior Confederate force and abandoned. Stannard took his men to Harpers Ferry, where they, along with 11,000 other Federal troops, were cut off when the Confederate army crossed the Potomac on September 5.

Stannard repeatedly urged the post commander, Colonel Dixon Miles, to move the garrison to a more defensible position or else attempt a breakout, but his requests were to no avail. On September 15, after two days of shelling, Miles ingloriously surrendered to Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson. Upon receiving word of Miles’ capitulation, Stannard attempted a breakout of his own with the 9th Vermont. He surrendered only when he was cut off as he tried to cross into Maryland. The 9th Vermont was among the last Federal troops to surrender.

The captured garrison was paroled immediately by Jackson, who was in a rush to link up with the Confederate main body. However, Stannard wished to slow down the Rebels and refused to sign his parole or that of his regiment. He made his Vermonters individually sign their paroles, thus delaying the Confederates for hours. Stannard and his men were sent to parole camp in Chicago, and were not formally exchanged until January 10, 1863. They were then assigned to guard Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas, Ill.

On March 11, 1863, Stannard was appointed to the rank of brigadier general and given command of the 2nd Vermont Brigade, which consisted of the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Vermont regiments–all nine-month volunteers. Mustered into service in the fall of 1862, the brigade had seen no action except for a minor skirmish in December.

Stannard assumed command on April 20 and was warmly received by the men and officers of the brigade, all of whom were aware of his outstanding reputation. They had been very dissatisfied with their last commander, Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton, who had been captured in a daring midnight raid on his headquarters by John S. Mosby and his Confederate raiders. During the spring of 1863, Stannard’s Vermonters protected the supply lines below Washington as well as the Orange & Alexandria Railroad from Bull Run to the Rappahannock River, maintaining 20 miles of picket lines and 30 miles of railroads.

On June 20, 1863, Stannard was ordered to take his brigade and join the northward-marching Army of the Potomac. Three days later, with less than a month remaining in their term of service, the Vermonters were assigned to the 3rd Division of I Corps. Stannard’s footsore men covered 120 miles in just six days, and gained a day’s march on the rest of the corps.

When the Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, Stannard was ordered to rush his brigade to reinforce the embattled I Corps, leaving behind the 12th and 15th Vermont to guard supply trains. The three remaining regiments of Stannard’s brigade arrived at Gettysburg in the evening, too late to see any action that day. The brigade was posted on Cemetery Ridge, with the 16th Vermont deployed as pickets and Stannard appointed as general field officer of the Federal left wing for the night.

The next morning Stannard was placed in command of the infantry support for the Union artillery batteries on the left of Cemetery Ridge. During an ensuing artillery duel, a shell burst knocked him down, but he was uninjured.

Stannard and his 2,200 men did little until late in the day, when III Corps was driven from the peach orchard by repeated Confederate assaults. The Vermonters were called upon to fill a major gap in the Union line and, with a determined charge, helped re-establish the line. The 13th Vermont then handily drove back a regiment of Confederates, saved the guns of the 5th U.S. Artillery and captured 80 Rebels. As night came, Stannard consolidated his brigade’s position on Cemetery Ridge and again placed the 16th Vermont on the picket line. The Vermonters, who had performed gallantly in their first major engagement, spent the night on the battlefield.

At 4 a.m. on July 3, the picket line of the 16th Vermont was probed by Confederate infantry, and heavy skirmishing continued throughout the morning. Later, a brief exchange of artillery fire inflicted a few casualties among the Vermonters, and enemy snipers took an interest in Stannard. Bullets pierced his coat and took off a piece of his hat. At about 11 a.m., almost all firing stopped. The Confederate attack on the Federal right had failed, and for two hours an uneasy lull settled over the field.

Then, at 1:07 p.m., two enemy guns fired, signaling the opening of the greatest artillery bombardment of the war. For the next hour and 45 minutes, the Vermonters clung to the ground behind their crude breastworks as Stannard paced up and down their lines. Shot and shell whizzed over their ranks, but most of the rounds harmlessly overshot the Vermonters. The artillery then stopped, and on a front almost a mile wide, 10,500 Confederate infantrymen advanced toward the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. In three lines of battle, with parade-ground order, the ensuing attack known as Pickett’s Charge was an awesome sight.

The skirmishers of the 16th Vermont fired a few shots, then hastily fell back and re-formed behind the 13th Vermont. As the Confederates advanced farther toward the Federal lines, their right wing appeared to be aimed at the 14th Vermont. But as the Vermonters rose to fire, the Confederates changed direction and moved across the regiment’s front to close a gap that had appeared in their line. The 14th Vermont opened fire at about 300 yards. The 13th Vermont soon added its rifles to the fire.

The Confederates advanced to within 20 yards of II Corps on Cemetery Ridge. After exchanging a few volleys, they charged with a Rebel yell. Striking the Union center hard, they charged and drove a Pennsylvania regiment from the soon-to-be-famous ‘Angle.

The Rebels were now concentrated to the right of the Vermonters’ position. Stannard saw the tremendous opportunity presented by the situation. Despite the risk of exposing his brigade’s left flank, he launched a flanking attack on the Confederates. Ordering the 13th Vermont to march right, closer to the point of the enemy attack, he directed the men to change front forward on first company. Swinging out at an oblique angle to the Union line, the regiment opened fire at half pistol range on the exposed flank of the Confederates.

As the 13th Vermont moved into position, Stannard ordered the 16th Vermont to join the 13th. After the 16th Vermont was in line next to the 13th, the two regiments advanced toward the Confederates while continuing to pour deadly fire into the now-shattered butternut ranks. The enfilading cross-fire ravaged the densely packed Rebels, driving them back and crowding them toward their center.

As the Vermonters began their flanking movement, Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock rode up to Stannard. He, too, saw the opportunity for a flank assault, but Stannard’s men already were in motion when he arrived. Moments later, Hancock was shot in the groin and caught by two of Stannard’s staff as he fell from his horse. Stannard used his handkerchief and revolver to make a tourniquet for the stricken general.

Meanwhile, the fighting in front of the Vermonters ended. They had devastated the Confederate right, inflicting heavy casualties and taking hundreds of prisoners as well as the colors of the 8th Virginia Infantry. Two additional Confederate brigades, sent to support Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s assault, now belatedly advanced directly toward the 14th Vermont. Again the Vermonters promptly opened fire as the Rebels came into range. Stannard, waving his sword and hat, promptly sent the 16th Vermont and four companies of the 14th charging into the Rebels, capturing many additional prisoners as well as the colors of the 2nd Florida Infantry.

The Vermonters fell back to their original positions as Confederate artillery resumed fire, covering the retreat of the defeated infantry. During the final artillery barrage, a piece of shrapnel struck Stannard in the right thigh and passed down three inches into the muscle. Though the wound was extremely painful, Stannard refused to leave the field until his wounded men had been cared for and his brigade relieved.

The 2nd Vermont Brigade performed as well as veteran troops at Gettysburg, but not without loss. Of its nearly 2,400 men engaged, 342 were killed, wounded or missing.

Stannard’s superiors realized the significance of his actions. Major General George Meade said, There was no individual body of men who rendered a greater service at a critical moment then the comparatively raw troops commanded by General Stannard. Major General Abner Doubleday said: It is to General Stannard…that the country is mainly indebted for the repulse of the enemy’s charge and the final victory of July 3. [His] brilliant flank movement… greatly contributed to if it did not completely insure our final success.

The 2nd Vermont Brigade mustered out of service after Gettysburg. Stannard convalesced for a short while, and in September he was placed in charge of the defenses of New York Harbor. In May 1864, he was given command of a brigade in XVIII Corps and was wounded at Cold Harbor. Two weeks later, he led the remnants of his brigade in the initial attack on Petersburg.

On June 20, 1864, Stannard was given command of the 1st Division of XVII Corps. His 3,000 men participated in the early stages of the siege of Petersburg, where he was accidentally shot in the hand by one of his own officers.

On September 29, Stannard led his division in a early morning assault on Fort Harrison, a formidable redan in Richmond’s outer defenses. Advancing over 1,400 yards of open terrain under murderous artillery fire, his men sustained heavy casualties but quickly captured the fort. Fighting for the surrounding positions continued until nightfall.

General Robert E. Lee personally supervised the preparation of the 10 brigades that counterattacked the next day. As the first wave was repelled, a wounded and captured Alabama colonel saw Stannard standing on a parapet. The Rebel officer yelled to him, Well, you had better get out of this, General, for General Lee is over there, and he says he will retake these works if it takes half his army. Stannard replied that he would be happy to see Lee whenever he chose to call, and continued to pace the parapet waving his hat and sword.

As the next wave was repelled, a Minié bullet struck Stannard’s right arm, shattering the bone and spinning him halfway around. As a result of his wound, Stannard’s right arm had to be amputated at the shoulder. A third wave of Confederates also was repulsed, and the fort remained in the possession of the beleaguered Federals. The two days of fighting cost the Confederates about 2,500 men, the Federals 2,272.

Stannard returned to Vermont to recover, and received a hero’s welcome. For his bravery at Fort Harrison, he was breveted major general on October 28. In December, he was appointed commander of the northern frontier of Vermont, and remained as such until the end of the war. He later served in the Freedmen’s Bureau and resigned from the military on June 28, 1866.

In 1868, Stannard was appointed collector of customs for Vermont. Later he served as a doorkeeper of the U.S. House of Representatives. He died of pneumonia in Washington on June 1, 1886, and was buried in Burlington, Vt., after a tremendous state funeral.

Stannard remains one of Vermont’s most distinguished soldiers of any war. The town of Stannard and Stannard Mountain are named after him. A courageous and selfless soldier who inspired his men with his coolness and presence, his actions at Gettysburg and Fort Harrison were critical to those two Federal successes and remain among the most significant contributions to the Union war effort by the brave soldiers of Vermont.

Nevertheless, the Georgians eventually were forced to yield after heavy losses. The Federals poured through the breach, but once again, a Gordon counterattack, aided by Doles’ remnant, restored the Confederate line. Losses in the 44th Georgia, which had borne the initial shock of the breakthrough, were horrendous–26 killed, 28 wounded and 182 captured. Company I lost 38 men out of 63.

The regiment, now reduced to a few squads, participated in the rest of the Spotsylvania campaign, but never regained true fighting strength. It stayed with the brigade until the end, suffering a steady hemorrhage of casualties throughout Early’s Shenandoah Valley campaign in the autumn of 1864. It was present at Fort Steadman on March 25, 1865, and in the final assault at Appomattox Court House, where a flag of truce halted further hostilities on April 9, 1865.

Two days later, when the remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia stacked arms, 62 survivors of the 44th Georgia were present for duty, out of the original 1,115 who had left home in 1862. As Captain John Harris remembered years later, The impartial historian, when he collects up the facts and figures, will show that the 44th Georgia Regiment suffered a greater casualty in killed and wounded, in proportion to the number carried into action, than any other regiment on the Southern side.

After struggling over the fence along the road, the men of the 35th Massachusetts wheezed and crawled part way up the hill toward the crest. Climbing over a split-rail fence on the hilltop east of Otto’s Farm, the regiment continued to advance to the right, in full view of Sharpsburg.

A shellburst from a Confederate battery in the field beyond plowed into the regiment, killing two. The regiment halted momentarily, then started to withdraw. At the same time, a Rebel battery on the heights along Boonsboro Pike also fired. Hudson, once again on an errand for Ferrero, sauntered across the bridge with an order for Hartranft when a shell exploded and sent fragments whizzing along the steep hill in front of him. Two more shells burst nearby.

The barrage caught Bell about 50 yards from the bridge. He had just slapped Private Hugh Brown on the shoulder as he passed, exclaiming, We did it this time, my boy! Barely two steps away, a ball from the second case shot glanced off his left temple. The impact whirled Bell around in a circle and slammed him on his side. Men rushed to his aid as he rolled down the creek bank into the regiment’s stacked muskets. Concerned, they asked if he was badly hurt.

Bell, the left side of his face quickly reddening with blood, put his hand to his temple and calmly replied, I don’t think it is dangerous. He paused. Boys, never say die, he added.

Hudson found the left wing of the 51st Pennsylvania sprawled along the creek bottom. He asked, Where is your lieutenant colonel?

There he is, sir, wounded.

Hudson’s gaze fell on a stretcher being borne toward the bridge. The officer being carried stared fixedly in Hudson’s direction as he was carried south. His dimming glance hurt Hudson badly. An ugly blue bruise was on Bell’s left temple. Bell, a newly made friend, was dying.

Hudson abruptly turned to meet Hartranft, who was coming down the road. Hudson asked why he had not advanced to support the 35th Massachusetts. I’ve no ammunition, Hartranft snapped.

The two frustrated officers stood there in the road, at a loss for words. They both had to answer to the moody Ferrero. Eventually, Hudson ventured, Shall I tell the colonel so?

If you please, said Hartranft.

Hudson jogged toward the bridge. He saw three men from his old company struggling with a very heavy man on a blanket. A quick glance at the hat and the way the men tried to tenderly treat the officer told him that the fellow was Lieutenant James Baldwin.

You must excuse me, Hudson called out. I’ve got something to do across the bridge. With that, he hurried to deliver his latest message to Ferrero.

Lieutenant Colonel Joshua K. Sigfried of the 48th Pennsylvania, upon crossing the bridge, immediately detached Captain Wren and his B Company as skirmishers, with orders to cover the quarry and the ridge to the right. The plucky captain and a couple of his people detoured slightly to check on the Confederate that Wren had shot. They found a dead man lying beside the same tree. Captain, one of the men chimed in, that is your man.

Wren’s men fanned out and began to scramble up the hill. As the ground widened, the captain sent back for more skirmishers. Brigadier General Sturgis personally sent more men to assist.

The skirmishers scrounged the far hillside for souvenirs as they proceeded. They discovered the remains of the 2nd Georgia in a slight entrenchment near the top of the hill. Over 40 Rebels had fallen as a unit in near-perfect formation. Lieutenant Colonel Holmes lay five paces behind his color guard, riddled with bullets.

Union soldiers set upon the colonel’s beautiful dress uniform; one stole Holme’s expensive gold watch, others cut the gilt buttons off his tunic. Captain Joseph A. Gilmour claimed a shoulder knot. Two men pulled the polished boots off his feet, then callously flipped a coin to see who would have the matched pair.

Corporal Dye Davis of Company B happened upon a dead Confederate whose haversack bulged with johnny cakes. Dye coldly jerked the haversack free from the dead man and poured its contents into his own sack. He started to munch a chunk of the captured cornbread as the company moved out. A friend reprimanded him, commenting that he could not eat anything that came from a corpse.

Damn ’em, man, Dye retorted through a mouthful of bread. The Johnny is dead, but the johnny cakes is no dead. He kept eating away.

The Federal regiments down by the creek, on the other hand, acted like vanquished troops. The stubborn Georgians, besides holding the entire corps at bay, inflicting severe casualties and causing the frustrated Yankees to needlessly expend an inordinate amount of ammunition upon inferior numbers, had scored an emotional victory. General Burnside had won his bridge–ever after to bear his name–but the crossing had been so delayed as to render his victory meaningless.

This article was written by Anthony Buono and originally appeared in America’s Civil War magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to America’s Civil War magazine today!

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He Was at Gettysburg

I am sure third cousin Joe will be interested in this one. These are raw notes I had kept a few years back.

Hello Vermont

My name Is Dan Hrlic and I am looking fo Info on a Peter Dubia and Laura Banes or Barney. Peter was my great-great-grandfather on mom’s side from Williston, Vermont and Westmister also Tiltion New Hamshire area.

Laura remarried a Joseph Roberts

Children of Peter and Laura

Born Died Married

Fredrick 4-01-1869 10-15-1869

Angie 6-19-1870 ? Jack Johnson

William Colby

Julia 4-16-1872 11-04-1886

Abraham 5-25-1874 Linda Brake change from Furige

Mathilda 9-27-1875 6-1954 Louis Lavigne

Freddie 3-19-1878 5-02-1960

John 7-29-1880 5-08-1959 Josephine Clairmount

Clara 6-05-1883 1972 Andy Olsen

Frank 8-21-1885 Laura Weeks

Lewis 12-09-1889 12-12-1889

Hellen 3-24-1891 1972 James Broughy

If any one has any info please me at dhrlic@yahoo.com (not working)

Thank you

Dan Hrlic

More raw notes…

Cemetery Database

Virtual Cemetery Dubia, Peter

MILITARY SERVICE:

Age: 25, credited to Williston, VT

Unit(s): 13th VT INF

Service: enl 9/10/62, m/i 10/10/62, Pvt, Co. F, 13th VT INF, m/o 7/21/63

See Legend below for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS:

Birth: 1837, Canada

Death: 1898

Burial: Saint Patricks Cemetery, Newport, NH

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Remarks: None

May include siblings or parent who were soldiers, location of death vs. burial, etc.

Pension?: Yes, widow Laura, minor

Photograph: Unknown

Gravestone Findagrave Memorial #: 0

Cenotaph Findagrave Memorial #: 0 If there is anything besides a zero (0) here, click on the number; there may be additional information available there (also, if we have a photo, there is not a dedicated effort to find/locate Memorials, if we don’t have one, please send it)

Marker/Plot: Not recorded

Gravestone researcher/photographer: Heidi McColgan

Cenotaph researcher/photographer:

DESCENDANTS

Great Grandfather of Brian Dubia, Franklin, NH

Great Granduncle of Judi Bough, Cortland, NY

Are you a descendant, but not listed? Register today.

Brian wrote his on a forum…

I thought that if there are any Dubias that may be connected to my Abram they might like to know that he had a son Pierre (Peter) who served in our Civil War. He enlisted on Sept 10 1862 with the 13th Vt co. E Inf. from Williston, Vt. He was at Gettysburg. He was born about 1835-37. My brother is a Civil War re-enactor who has a book all about the 13th and I have asked him to find out what other campaigns the 13th were at as we know he was wounded. He mustered out July 21 1863 at Brattleboro Vt.

You never know when raw notes might become handy on Our Ancestors. Peter Dubia was a household name on this blog along with his father Abraham and his mother Geneviève Ballard dit Latour.

This is what is so interesting about genealogy… it never stops. There is always something to feed your frenzy. I have gathered so much information about this family I feel like an adopted descendant.

Having found on Ancestry a photo of Peter Dubia that was shared in 2010 by Scott Lovely made my evening last night.

And I am not even related…

(Another) Canadien in the American Civil War: Cyprien Racine Becomes George Root

Reblogged from this blog.

Excerpt

In an earlier post I told the story of Philibert Racine alias Philip F. Root. Philibert was a Canadien veteran of the Civil War and the brother of two of my great-great-grandmothers. He served with the First Vermont Battery Light Artillery that saw action in the Red River campaign in Louisiana.

I mentioned in that post that Philibert reportedly had a brother who called himself George S. Root who served in this same unit in the Civil War. I surmised that “George” was an alias for Cyprien Racine, baptized May 30, 1843 at Saint-Damase-de-Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec. I believe that I can now confirm the theory that George S. Root was Cyprien.

A Canadien in the American Civil War

Reblogged from here…

Excerpt

Many Canadiens fought in both the Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. Estimates for the number of Canadiens who fought in the latter conflict range as high as 20,000. A love of adventure and the desire for employment seems to have been the main motives for these very young men who heard the calls to arms in the 1860s.

Philibert Racine, the brother of two of my great-great-grandmothers (my grandparents were second cousins) was among these Canadien veterans of the Civil War. Philibert was born on June 20, 1845, and baptized at Saint-Pie, Bagot County, Québec (known as “Lower Canada” at the time).  Following his father Prudent Racine’s involvement in the Patriotes War of 1837 (see previous post) the Racines lived briefly in Vermont before returning to the Eastern Townships region of Québec in the early 1850s where they settled eventually  at Roxton Falls.

Blog of David Vermette, dormant since 2012…

Four More Battles Before Alexander Bennett’s Desertion

3 May 1863, Marye’s Heights, Virginia

Confederate Artillerists on Marye’s Heights

The Sunken Road at Fredericksburg. Confederate troops from Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Caronlina held the road throughout December 13th, 1862. No Union soldiers touched the wall or made it into the road. Mac Wyckoff

The Battles for Marye’s Heights

Twice the focal point of major attacks by the Union army, Marye’s Heights ranks among the foremost landmarks in American military history. On December 13, 1862, during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside assailed the ridge with nine divisions totaling 30,000 men. Confederate William Miller Owen watched as line after line of Union soldiers surged toward the ridge. “What a magnificent sight it is!” he marveled.”We have never witnessed such a battle-array before; long lines following one another, of brigade front. It seemed like a huge blue serpent about to encompass and crush us in its folds. . . .” Miller’s fears were unfounded. Not a single Union soldier reached the heights, though 8,000 fell in the attempt.

Five months later, Union troops again stormed the heights. General Robert E. Lee had taken most of the Confederate army west to Chancellorsville, leaving only a skeleton force to hold the high ground behind Fredericksburg. In a brief but fierce struggle, Major General John Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps carried the heights on May 3, 1863, only to have the Confederates retake them the following day. Click Tour of 2nd Fredericksburg & Salem Church for a folder that provides more information on this fighting and describes a driving tour that includes a visit to Marye’s Heights.

4 May 1863, Salem Heights, Virginia 

The fighting at 2nd Fredericksburg and Salem Church comprises an important if often overlooked, phase of the Chancellorsville Campaign. Major General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Union army, began the campaign by splitting his forces. { Read General Hooker’s Report} While Major General John Sedgwick’s VI Corps crossed the Rappahannock River below Fredericksburg to hold the Confederates’ attention, Hooker sent three corps (later reinforced to six)across the river above Fredericksburg, turning the Confederate’ left flank. General Robert E. Lee responded by diving his army as well. {Read General Lee’s Report}While Lee led 45,000 men west to engage Hooker’s main force at Chancellorsville, Major General Jubal A. Early remained at Fredericksburg with 12,000 men to block Sedgwick. { Read General Early’s Report,} After two days of fighting, Hooker ordered Sedgwick to seize the heights behind Fredericksburg and march to his assistance at Chancellorsville.{ Read General Sedgwick’s Report}

Daybreak, May 3, 1863, found Sedgwick’s 25,000 troops facing Early’s 12,000 across a seven-mile front. Early concentrated his strength near Prospect Hill, where Union troops had enjoyed brief success during the Battle of Fredericksburg the previous year. Sedgwick, however, attacked Marye’s Heights, five miles further north. Although Marye’s Heights was a strong position, fewer than 1,000 men of the 18th and 21st Mississippi Infantry regiments of Barksdale’s brigade and seven guns of the Washington Artillery the ground defended it. { Read General Barksdale’s Report} 8,000 Confederates had successfully defended the previous December.

Despite the paucity of Confederate defenders, Sedgwick’s first two attacks against Marye’s Heights failed, recalling images of the December 1862 slaughter. During a truce to remove the wounded, Union soldiers discovered how few Southerners held the ridge. Confident of success, they renewed their attack and on the next try succeeded in capturing the heights. Early rallied his troops and retreated down the Telegraph Road (modern Lafayette Boulevard), thus blocking any direct advance by Sedgwick on Richmond.

Sedgwick instead headed for Chancellorsville. In his path were 10,000 Confederates led by Major General Lafayette McLaws and Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox. These Southern troops held Salem Church ridge, four miles west of town. The sun was low in the sky when Sedgwick reached Salem Church and deployed his corps for the attack. Utilizing just one of his three divisions (Brooks’), he made a costly and unsuccessful frontal assault against the center of the Confederate line. Nightfall put an end to what Sedgwick termed a “sharp and prolonged attack.”

On May 4 Lee took the offensive against Sedgwick. Jubal Early reoccupied Marye’s heights at dawn, cutting off the Union general’s escape via Fredericksburg.

Later in the day, Lee brought General Richard Anderson’s division from Chancellorsville to fill the gap between Early and McLaws. { Read General Anderson’s Report,} By sunset, Sedgwick found himself confronted by Confederates on three sides. When Lee attacked at 6 p.m., Sedgwick was forced to retire across Scott’s Ford. The following day, as Sedgwick’s soldiers returned to their winter camps, Lee hurried west to resume assaults on Hooker. Before he could attack, however, Hooker withdrew across the Rappahannock, bringing the campaign to an end.

The fighting at 2nd Fredericksburg and Salem Church prevented Sedgwick from striking the main Confederate army at Chancellorsville while it was engaged with Hooker. By forcing Lee to divert two divisions to Chancellorsville at a critical juncture of the battle, however, Sedgwick may have spared the Union army a much greater defeat.

Two more battles to go?

5 June 1863, Fredericksburg, Virginia

3 July 1863, Gettysburg, Pennylvania 

I think I am going to desert from my posts about the Civil War and the reason why Alexander Bennett deserted the Union Army after the riotings that took place in New York City in 1863.

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I think I got the message across. We don’t have to pass judgement on someone’s actions.

After all these battles I think I need a rest from Our Ancestors especially since I am looking for this man’s relatives.

journal10Lawrence Walton Montague

 I will let you do a little Google research… or you can click here and save yourself a lot of trouble. This is part one.

13 December 1862, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Christmas was just around the corner in 1862. I am sure Alexander Bennett  was thinking about his family in Vermont.

Photo1404Some of our ancestors will always remember that Christmas.

I visited Fredericksburg, Virginia, in September 2011.

I was going to visit a friend in North Carolina. It was like a stopover to cut travel time. I knew nothing about Fredericksburg or about the part it played in the Civil War.

Alexander Bennett was also a complete stranger and I did not know he was a private with Vermont Second Infantry.

I remembered going there and visiting Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center.

Photo1453

As usual I took a lot of fuzzy pictures with my cellphone (my camera battery was dead)… while trying to make sense of all this madness that occured around Christmas time in  December 1862.

Photo1407Why Fredericksburg?

Wikipedia has all the answers and I have a few fuzzy pictures to share.

The Bloodiest One Day Battle in American History

Antietam (click here for some pictures)

Alexander Bennett was part of this battle. It must have made a big impression on him.

In mid-September 1862, the Civil War was only a year and a half old, and many Americans in the North and the South still clung to the view that this war was a noble, glorious, even romantic undertaking. That notion was shattered forever when Alexander Gardner and his assistant James Gibson, working for photographer Mathew Brady’s firm, came to Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md.

Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac had collided there in a battle that was, and remains, the nation’s bloodiest day. It was called a Union victory, though the cost on both sides was enormous — 23,000 men killed or wounded.

Up until that time, war photography had primarily depicted only the landscape and individual commanders, long after the fighting was done. Gardner and Gibson arrived at the battlefield before all of the soldiers’ bodies had been buried, and they recorded a series of what they called “death studies” that, for the first time, showed the bloated, mutilated corpses that are the true aftermath of conflict.

The exhibition of those images, only a month after the battle, caused a sensation. A reporter for The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.”

This is a Website dedicated to Antietam.

This is most interesting.

For pictures click here.

The bravest of the braves.

How many casualties did 2nd Vermont Infantry Co. G sustained?

Casualties

Coolidge, John T., 20, Ludlow, VT; enl 10/1/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 12/19/62

Cooper, Edward S., 18, Rochester, VT; enl 9/9/61, m/i 9/21/61, Pvt, Co. E, 4th VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, tr to VRC 9/1/63, m/o 4/15/64

Crane, Cyrus R., 25, Bridport, VT; comn 1LT, Co. F, 5th VT INF, 9/4/61 (9/4/61), pr CPT 6/21/62 (6/21/62), wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, tr to Co. K, 1/24/63, dis/wds, 3/13/63

Dobson, William, 28, Richmond, VT; enl 6/26/61, 12th MA INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62 (gsw right leg), VRC

Drake, Oliver B., 21, Bristol, VT; enl 5/22/61, m/i 6/20/61, Pvt, Co. K, 2nd VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 4/19/63

Eggleston, George Dulton, 0, Cabot, VT; enl, 6/28/61, CORP, Co. E, 6th WI INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, wdd, Gettysburg, 7/1/63, wdd, Spotsylvania, 5/12/64, pr 2LT 1/14/65, m/o 6/9/65

Harris, Joseph Hartwell, 26, Woodstock, VT; enl, Lebanon, 4/27/61, m/i, Pvt, Co. K, 1st NH INF, 5/7/61, m/o 8/9/61; enl, Lebanon, 8/21/61, m/i, 1SGT, Co. C, 5th NH INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/dsb 6/8/63

Holbrook, Manlius, 17, Lemington, VT; enl 11/11/61, m/i 11/29/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, wdd, Gettysburg, 7/3/63, reen 12/21/63, pr CORP 1/7/64, pr SGT 1/1/ 1865, tr to Co. G, 4th VT INF, 2/25/65, m/o 7/13/65

Holcomb, Chester, 18, Windsor, VT; enl 8/31/61, m/i 9/21/61, Pvt, Co. K, 4th VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dsrtd 10/28/62

Howard, Silas W., 20, Royalton, VT; enl 12/16/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 3/5/63

LaClair, John E., 28, Highgate, VT; co. G, 13th MA INF, kia, Antietam, 9/17/62

Laythe, Gilman, 0, Newport, VT; enl, Clinton, 7/12/61, m/i, Pvt, Co. C, 15th MA INf, 7/12/61, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/dsb 1/6/63

Lewis, Luke Monroe, 22, Duxbury, VT; enl 10/30/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, m/o 11/9/64

Marks, Lorenzo J., 18, Shelburne, VT; enl 5/7/61, m/i 6/20/61, Pvt, Co. G, 2nd VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, wdd, 5/18/64, m/o 6/29/64; enl 1/25/65, Hancock’s 1st A.C., 7th Regt, Co. I, m/o 1/30/66

Martin, William Henry, 22, Williamstown, VT; enl 8/19/61, m/i 9/21/61, 1SGT, Co. B, 4th VT INF, comn 2LT, Co. A, 7/17/62 (9/29/62), wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, wdd, Funkstown, 7/10/63 (neck, slightly), mwia, Wilderness, 5/5/64, d/wds 5/8/64

McClallen, Byron, 18, Westford, VT; enl 11/2/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, kia, Antietam, 9/17/62

Mosher, Edward, 21, Alburgh, VT; enl 7/16/61, 13th MA INF, wdd, Bull Run, 8/30/62, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds 2/15/63

Pasha, Antoine, 21, Burlington, VT; enl 10/4/61, m/i 10/15/61, Pvt, Co. F, 6th VT INF, wdd, Lee’s Mill, 4/16/62, mwia, Antietam, 9/17/62, d/wds 5/18/63

Richardson, George A., 22, Jamaica, VT; enl 12/7/61, m/i 12/31/61, PVT, Co. H, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 12/4/62 (occupation: cooper, 6′ 4 1/4″, dark complexion, black eyes, dark hair)

Richardson, Israel Bush, 0, Fairfax, VT; USMA 36, 2LT, 3rd US INF 41, Bvt CPT and MAJ for gallant conduct in battles of the war with Mexico, CPT, 3rd US INF 51, resgd 55, COL 2nd MI INF, 4/61, B.G. USV, 5/17/61, commanded bgd at the first Bull Run, M.G. USV, 7/4/62, commanded 1st Div, 2nd AC, 62, mwia, Antietam, 9/17/62, d/wds 11/3/62  [College: USMA 36]

Rollins, Andrew J., 24, Greensboro, VT; 12th MA INF, occ. painter, enl, Boston, 6/61, PVT, Co. D, kia, Antietam, 9/17/62 (minnie ball in side)

Sanborn, Asa J., 18, Stowe, VT; enl 10/30/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, reen 12/31/63, wdd, 6/4/64, mwia, Antietam, 9/17/62, d/wds 6/21/64

Slade, George H., 21, Bennington, VT; enl 9/9/61, m/i 10/4/61, PVT, Co. F, 89th NY INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/dsb 6/5/63, Frederick, MD

Stanton, John, 20, Charleston, VT; enl 4/22/61, m/i 7/16/61, CORP, Co. D, 3rd VT INF, kia, Antietam, 9/17/62

Stockwell, Arthur E., 22, Stowe, VT; enl 10/28/61, m/i 11/9/61, Pvt, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, reen 12/21/63, wdd, Wilderness, 5/6/64, tr to Co. G, 4th VT INF, 2/25/65, pr CORP 5/1/65, m/o 7/13/65

Thompson, Samuel H., 36, Cabot, VT; enl 8/20/61, m/i 9/21/61, Pvt, Co. H, 4th VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, kia, Spotsylvania, 5/12/64

Tyler, George E., 22, Readsboro, VT; enl 5/27/61, m/i 6/20/61, Pvt, Co. A, 2nd VT INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 8/26/63

Vance, Lorin A., 18, Lowell, MA; enl, Lowell, MA, 10/14/61, m/i, Pvt, Co. K, 2nd MA INF, 10/23/61, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, reen 12/31/63, m/o 7/14/65

Whitman, John Norton, 33, Brighton, VT; enl 8/24/61, m/i 9/21/61, Pvt, Co. D, 4th VT INF, pr CORP, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 11/3/62

Whitman, Shepard B., 23, Newbury, VT; enl 11/5/61, m/i 11/9/61, PVT, Co. E, 2nd USSS, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/wds, 12/4/62

Williams, Silas Hudson, 27, Sheffield, VT; enl, Northbridge, 1/22/62, m/i, Pvt, Co. H, 15th MA INF, wdd, Antietam, 9/17/62, dis/dsb 1/24/63

Winship, David H., 19, Bradford, VT; 9th NH INF, mwia, Antietam, 9/17/62, d/wds, 11/14/62, Falmouth, VA

This is most interesting.

Seven More Battles to Go

14 September 1862, Crampton’s Gap, Maryland

17 September 1862, Antietam, Maryland

13 December 1862, Fredericksburg, Virginia

3 May 1863, Marye’s Heights, Virginia

4 May 1863, Salem Heights, Virginia

5 June 1863, Fredericksburg, Virginia

3 July 1863, Gettysburg, Pennylvania

I have to find the strength to go on with this story of a deserter of the Second Vermont Infantry and find the reasons why he deserted the Union army.

Crampton’s Gap, Maryland

cgow_waudhw

14 September 1862.

You can read about that battle here.

 

Author and historian Timothy Reese, a noted authority on the Battle of Crampton’s Gap, has consented to have AotW present here the principal content of his reference website, formerly hosted on Earthlink, now withdrawn from service. Mr Reese has long been an advocate for recognition of this action as separate from the fights at Turner’s and Fox’s Gaps on the same day—all three often being described together as the Battle of South Mountain. Mr Reese has also been arguing that public land at the site be renamed Crampton’s Gap Battlefield, but sees small hope of that occurring soon.

star See more about … Crampton’s Gap or South Mountain—Which is it?
star See … quotes on the significance of Crampton’s Gap
star See more about … the author’s published work on the Battle

This is an online resource for the Crampton’s Gap battlefield, September 14, 1862, embracing Gathland State Park, as well the village and farmlands of Burkittsville in the southwest corner of Frederick County, Maryland.

Often mistaken as a portion of the South Mountain battlefield six miles to the north, Crampton’s Gap is reemerging on its own merit as a significant element of the 1862 Maryland Campaign.

Due to the complexity, fluid nature, and vast region embraced by the 1862 Maryland Campaign, the Battle for Crampton’s Gap is frequently difficult to understand. Its strategic sense was paramount in the minds of both Lee and McClellan as attested by their words and actions.

Why did the armies come to South Mountain?

Gen. Robert E. Lee moved his Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland for many reasons, paramount among them being the Confederacy’s long-standing desire for intervention by Great Britain and France, world powers of the day, to obtain foreign recognition and material aid against the far stronger Northern states waging war for its downfall. By invading Union soil, Lee also hoped to relieve Virginia from war’s cost, evoke sympathy from disaffected Northerners, impact upcoming mid-term Congressional elections, create panic in the stock market, and broadly startle the world at large as a nation worth noticing. With so much at stake, the climate would never be better for Southern independence.

To accomplish this Lee moved northward, intent on drawing Union forces after him, with the idea of confronting his adversary on ground of his choosing while threatening Pennsylvania, this after driving Union forces back onto Washington following the Second Battle of Manassas in late August. Gen. George B. McClellan was hastily given the task of reforming his Army of the Potomac, then ordered to pursue Lee and bring him to bay with little or no knowledge of where Lee had gone or what he intended.

What was the turning point?

Pausing at Frederick, Maryland to rest his troops, Lee penned his Special Orders No. 191 outlining campaign objectives. The Confederate army would march westward across South Mountain. Half the army under Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson would descend upon Federal garrisons at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, while the other half, under Gen. James Longstreet accompanied by Lee, would continue west to Hagerstown near to the Pennsylvania state line. Lee would leave a rearguard at South Mountain under Gen. D. H. Hill to watch for pursuit. In this fashion, Lee the gambler broke the cardinal military rule of never splitting one’s forces in the face of a superior enemy—with or without a mountain intervening.

A copy of Lee’s orders was unaccountably left behind at Frederick, falling into McClellan’s hands on Saturday, September 13, 1862. Armed with the “Lost Order,” McClellan devised surgical counter-strategy to compromise Lee’s movements in mid-stride and to perhaps close the war. During the postwar era, veterans and historians agreed that the finding of the Lost Orders was without doubt the turning point of the campaign, perhaps of the entire war due to the then favorable climate for foreign intervention.

To use a boxing metaphor, McClellan now struck at three road crossings on South Mountain where he could best threaten Lee. While his strong right wing powerfully smashed into Hill’s rearguard at Turner’s Gap, where the National Pike crossed—preceded by a quick right jab flank march at Fox’s Gap, one mile south—he ordered a left hook at Crampton’s Gap, six miles to the south, intent on driving a wedge between the widely separated halves of Lee’s army. His left could then relieve Harpers Ferry and drive westward to Sharpsburg, cutting off Lee. In this way, McClellan could confront Lee beyond South Mountain with startling numerical advantage. After vanquishing Longstreet’s half of the army, he could then descend on Jackson with still greater advantage, assuming the latter would stand his ground. Though his counter-strategy was sound, McClellan was not well served by his wing commanders, generals Ambrose Burnside and William Franklin.

South Mountain on horizon, Crampton's Gap center
South Mountain on horizon, Crampton’s Gap center (photo: T. Reese) Zoom Image Symbol

When and where did fighting occur? For how long?

Sunday, September 14, 1862. Assaults on Turner’s and Fox’s gaps were orchestrated by Burnside, overseen by McClellan at the former near the village of Bolivar. Fighting began at 9 A.M., what was planned as seizure of the mountain crest at Fox’s Gap by Reno’s Ninth Corps, followed by an advance along the ridge to flank Hill out of Turner’s Gap. Hill rushed Gen. Samuel Garland’s troops to Fox’s Gap to meet this threat, sparking a bloody standoff south of the crossroads during which Garland was mortally wounded. Fighting was renewed by the Ninth Corps around 2 P.M., and again at 4, continuing without success until nightfall. Though yielding ground, Confederate reinforcements stubbornly barred the way. Near nightfall Reno angrily rode to the summit to personally investigate the holdup and was killed by a Confederate sniper. Further disheartened by his death, Federal troops were unable to make headway toward Turner’s Gap as originally planned.

Meanwhile, Gen. Joseph Hooker’s First Corps had moved directly on Turner’s Gap via the National Pike and by another flank march through the area of Frosttown north of that gap. Marching out of Middletown, Hooker’s forces did not come to grips until about 4 P.M. As at Fox’s Gap, Confederate resistance was desperate and heroic. Outnumbered and hard pressed, Hill was reinforced late in the day by Longstreet’s brigades hurriedly counter-marched in mid-stride from Hagerstown. As darkness approached, Union troops were prevented from seizing the entire summit, forced to sleep on their arms. Confederates still clung to nearly a mile of the mountain ridge line.

To the south, Franklin’s Sixth Corps easily burst through Crampton’s Gap in total victory at about 6 P.M., after marching through Jefferson to Burkittsville. The attack however had been launched too late in the day to capitalize on its success before nightfall. Sixth Corps troops could still hear firing at the northern gaps after Crampton’s Gap had fallen.

How many troops were involved?

Union present-for-duty figures are reasonably dependable. Confederate reports however are far less accurate or do not exist. Estimates yield a broad ratio of 3 to 1 in favor of Union forces at Turner’s and Fox’s gaps. Crampton’s Gap figures are more clearly defined, yielding 6 to 1 odds in favor of Union troops. Overall figures for the three gaps on South Mountain reveal odds of 3.6 to 1 in favor of Union forces.

Union Strengths  Confederate Strengths
First Corps, Turner’s Gap 14,800 D. H. Hill’s Division (est.) 5,800
Ninth Corps, Fox’s Gap 13,000 Longstreet’s brigades (est. reinforce) 3,300
Sixth Corps, Crampton’s Gap 12,800 Crampton’s Gap 2,100
Total 40,600 Total 11,200
Total troops involved on South Mountain: 51,800

star See … the Orders of Battle—the units that fought at Crampton’s Gap
star See more about … some key units at Crampton’s Gap
star See more about … Medals of Honor awarded for action there

How many casualties were inflicted?

Union casualty reports are mostly reliable. Confederate casualties however are nearly impossible to determine due to poor or nonexistent after-action returns. Southern casualties were reported in total for the entire campaign, irrespective of a particular engagement. Totals are largely inseparable. The following figures were collected from all available returns and estimates (killed, wounded, missing, prisoner of war):

Union Losses  Confederate Losses
First Corps, Turner’s Gap 933 D. H. Hill’s Division (est.) unknown*
Ninth Corps, Fox’s Gap 858 Longstreet’s brigades (est. reinforce) unknown*
Sixth Corps, Crampton’s Gap 538 Crampton’s Gap 873
Total 2,329 Total (* 2,685 est. at Turner’s & Fox’s) 3,558
Total casualties inflicted on South Mountain: 5,887—5% of Union strength, 31% of Confederate strength

Who won? Who lost?

In calculating success or failure, we must examine South Mountain as two disconnected battles fought for wholly separate strategic objectives. They were so viewed by both Lee and McClellan. The Battle of South Mountain proper (i.e., Turner’s and Fox’s gaps) though styled a Union victory by McClellan, was in fact a tactical defeat for Union forces. The Ninth Corps flanking maneuver at Fox’s Gap was effectively blunted at great cost. McClellan’s main drive through Turner’s Gap also ground to a halt at day’s end. Confederate troops, though highly disordered by combat, still clung to portions of the summit and western slope when firing ceased.

Later that night Lee wisely, though reluctantly, evacuated this portion of the mountain after learning of the result at Crampton’s Gap. From the Confederate viewpoint, disaster had been narrowly averted. McClellan on the other hand had run head-on into an impenetrable wall at South Mountain, dramatically forestalling his coming to grips with Lee before the latter could reunite with Jackson. McClellan’s only tangible gain at South Mountain was the halting of Lee’s westward march. Therefore, South Mountain is properly defined as a strategic standoff for both armies, though it just barely qualifies as a tactical victory for Lee via D. H. Hill’s intrepid rearguard stand. Fighting at Turner’s Gap and Fox’s Gap can be fairly described as irresistible forces pitted against immovable objects.

In counterpoint, Crampton’s Gap was undeniably a Union victory, the sole undisputed success of the campaign, and in fact the first victory over any portion of Lee’s army thus far in the war. Confederate commands engaged there were badly demoralized and scattered into the night. Nothing remained to block Franklin’s way to Sharpsburg, excluding his mandate to relieve Harpers Ferry. For McClellan, Crampton’s Gap and South Mountain were one win and a tie.

How did Crampton’s Gap impact Union and Confederate campaign plans?

In the early, sleepless hours of Monday, September 15, Lee learned of the shocking Crampton’s Gap setback and hastily evacuated his remaining troops, still doggedly clinging to Turner’s and Fox’s gaps. Only then did he apprehend that McClellan was attempting to keep Longstreet and Jackson apart. Had Crampton’s Gap Confederates held on as at the other gaps, Lee would have been allowed time to reunite his forces and continue westward, perhaps offering McClellan battle farther to the northwest on ground of his own choosing as originally planned. In this event, the “Lost Order” would have merely reduced Lee’s safe distance from McClellan, underscoring the need for further rapid footwork.

Battle at the two northern gaps arrested Lee’s progress to Hagerstown. Defeat at Crampton’s Gap soundly impressed upon him the urgency of rejoining Jackson, still preoccupied with the siege of Harpers Ferry. Lee had to get Longstreet out of harm’s way before McClellan could corner him. He was therefore obliged to race to Sharpsburg where Jackson could join him via Shepherdstown Ford. Franklin declined to get between Longstreet and Jackson as ordered, even after the fall of Harpers Ferry, allowing Lee to reassemble unmolested. McClellan’s ìwedgeî had been abandoned, forcing his army to swing to the southwest through Boonsboro and Keedysville on Franklin’s rooted pivot. Lee in fact showed no desire to meet McClellan at Sharpsburg under the circumstances until he heard of Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry, freeing him to rejoin Lee. Only then did Lee decide to confront McClellan head-on at Antietam Creek in what became the bloodiest single day of the war, a stubborn gamble to salvage something of value from a campaign gone horribly awry.

On September 17, Antietam too became a fearful, tactical standoff at a place Lee never dreamed of fighting. In a very literal sense, Crampton’s Gap directly precipitated the Battle of Antietam, as well Lee’s ultimate return to Virginia. But it can be argued that Lee survived to fight another day because Lost Order advantages were not fully exploited. Modern historians have tended to blame McClellan exclusively for these lost opportunities, when it was his subordinates rather who had the “slows.”

How did Crampton’s Gap affect the war’s progress and outcome?

Crampton’s Gap conclusively halted Lee’s campaign into the North, nullifying multiple political benefits he hoped to derive. It forced him into a set-piece battle at Antietam, results of which cost him dearly, having just the opposite effect on Northern and foreign opinion he and his infant nation had so earnestly hoped to influence.

Fully cognizant of Confederate overtures for European aid, President Abraham Lincoln had long anticipated a Union victory that would facilitate a political design calculated to isolate the South. Though Antietam was a tactical standoff, Lee’s abandonment of Maryland lent the appearance of victory for Federal arms. From this tentative platform Lincoln issued his preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation just five days after Antietam, a document which shifted Union war aims onto political ground morally repugnant to Great Britain and France. Abolition of slavery had now become an objective equal in weight to restoration of the Union. As a result, a British or French referendum on Southern recognition was indefinitely postponed. Thus stigmatized, the Confederate States continued to search in vain for fading European sympathy and support. Lincoln’s canny maneuver adroitly deflected the most dangerous impediment to crushing the Confederacy. From that moment the North was free to wage punitive war, confident that the Confederate States would stand or fall alone, solely through their own inferior resources.

Lee’s 1863 campaign into Pennsylvania was a desperate replication of his Maryland exploits. This time he was not hindered by lost orders or a Federal garrison planted squarely astride his extended line of communication and supply. By then the impetus for campaigning in the North had passed, namely the quest for Northern disaffection and foreign recognition.

Where he only need seriously embarrass Federal forces for crucial diplomatic gain in 1862, at Gettysburg he was vitally tasked with destroying the Union army without hope of foreign intervention. Historians habitually characterize the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg as the “high-water mark” of the Confederacy, when in fact the events of 1862 predestined war’s outcome. Gettysburg was without question the military high-water mark of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. But the momentous 1862 Maryland Campaign, strategically pivoted on the Lost Order, Crampton’s Gap and Antietam, was the indisputable pinnacle of Confederate diplomatic achievement, as well any hope for independence, nationhood or sovereignty.

— Timothy Reese, Burkittsville, Maryland
AotW Member

© 2000, Tim Reese
published online previously as part of the website at http://home.earthlink.net/~tjreesecg/index.html

On the site we find more information about Second Vermont Infantry.

Federal Regiment

2nd Vermont Infantry

Organized: Burlington, Vermont; mustered in 6/20/1861
Disbanded/Mustered out: Burlington, VT 7/15/1865

Commanding Officer:
Maj. James H. Walbridge
Battlefield Tablets for this Unit:
Tablet #120: Army of the Potomac – 17 Sep, 5 AM to 17 Sep, 12 PM
Tablet #102: Sixth Army Corps – 17 Sep, 5 AM to 17 Sep, 4 PM
Tablet #72: Smith’s Division, Sixth Army Corps – 17 Sep, 5 AM to 19 Sep, 9 AM
Tablet #73: Brooks’ Brigade, Smith’s Division – 17 Sep, 6 AM to 19 Sep, 9 AMThis Regiment’s Chain of Command:
Army – Army of the Potomac
Corps – Sixth (VI) Army Corps
Division – 2nd Division, VI Corps
Brigade – 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, VI Corps
starstarHistory of the Unit:
The Second Regiment Vermont Volunteer Infantry was organized at Burlington, and was mustered into the United Sates service by Lieutenant-Colonel Rains, U. S. A., June 20, 1861, it being the first three years’ regiment raised in Vermont. It was composed of ten companies, selected from about sixty which offered their services for this organization. June 24, it left Burlington for Washington, where it arrived on the 26th. While in New York, on its way to the front, it was presented with a stand of State colors. On arriving at Washington, it went into camp on Capitol Hill, where it remained until July 10. On that day it moved into Virginia, over Long Bridge, and marched through Alexandria to Bush Hill, about five miles in the direction of Fairfax Court House. At Bush Hill it was, with the Third, Fourth and Fifth Maine, formed into a brigade under command of Col. O. O. Howard of the Third Maine. The brigade of Colonel (now Major-General) Howard was assigned to the Division of General Heintzleman. On the 16th, the regiment, with the rest of the Union Army under General McDowell, commenced its march to Centerville, and on Sunday, July 21, took part in the battle of Bull Run. After the defeat of the Union Army, the regiment returned to its old camp at Bush Hill. The loss of the regiment in this fight was as follows: Two men killed, one officer and 34 enlisted men wounded, and one officer and 30 men missing, making a total loss of 68 men.General Howard always spoke in the highest terms of praise for the Second.August 12, the regiment was detached from Howard’s brigade and ordered to Chain Bridge, some ten miles above Georgetown on the Potomac, and went into camp at the east end of the bridge, being brigaded with the Third Vermont, the Sixth Maine and the Thirty-third New York regiments. September 3, it was moved across the bridge into Virginia once more, and about a mile from the bridge went into camp, (Camp Advance). Here the regiment, together with the Third Vermont and Sixth Maine, built Forts Marcy and Ethan Allen. During the winter of 1861-2, the regiment did picket duty along the Leesburgh turnpike, varied occasionally with a little skirmishing with the enemy. During the month of September, the Fourth and Fifth Vermont regiments had arrived, and the famous “Old Vermont Brigade” was formed. The Brigade had moved about three miles farther out in the direction of Lewinsville, where the Sixth Vermont was added to it, the whole being under command of Gen. W. F. (Baldy) Smith. Soon after the formation of the Brigade, General Smith was assigned the command of the Division of which The Vermont Brigade was a part, it being the Second Brigade, Smith’s Division. Gen. W. T. H. Brooks took command, and from this time until the close of the war this regiment was identified with the Brigade, in all the battles in which the latter took part. It was a regiment in which all the officers of the Division and Corps had confidence. In a fight it would obey orders if within the limits of the possible so to do.March 10, 1862, the regiment moved from Camp Griffin, where it had remained during the winter doing picket duty and drilling, and took up the line of march to Centerville. On the arrival of the army at that place, only “quaker guns” frowned upon us, and a change of base was decided upon and the army moved to Alexandria. The regiment went into camp on the same grounds it had occupied while under General Howard, before the battle of Bull run, but only for a few days. March 23, together wit the other regiments of the Brigade, it took transports at Alexandria for Fortress Monroe. On the 24th, they landed near the Fortress and moved out to Newport News on the James River.April 2, 1862, the regiment moved with the army up the peninsula, taking part in the fights at Young’s Mills, Lee’s Mills and Williamsburg, beside some skirmishing with the enemy. April 13, it reached White House Landing, where the famous Sixth Corps was formed, and The Vermont Brigade was assigned to the Second Division as the Second Brigade, and retained that place during the remaining three years of the war. Leaving White House Landing May 19, the regiment reached the Chickahominy and went into camp on Golding’s Farm until the 25th. On the evening of that day, after the fighting was over, the army commenced its retreat, and the Second did its share of the fighting during the Seven Days’ fight. Again a change of base was decided upon, and August 22 the regiment took transports at Fortress Monroe and steamed up the Potomac to Alexandria.For reasons best known to the higher officers, the Sixth Corps, at the Second Battle of Bull Run, did not reach the enemy till the evening of the last day of the fighting, and was soon ordered back to Chantilly. General McClellan had previously been relieved by General Pope, Pope had been defeated and Lee’s army was in Maryland.

In the Antietam Campaign:
Now Pope was superseded by McClellan, and then came the campaign in Maryland and the fights at Crampton Pass and Antietam. At Crampton Pass the Second Regiment charged the heights to the left of the road, and carried its colors to and over the crest, brushing away the rebel line as though it had been a cobweb. It was on the skirmish line at the battle of Antietam, when Lee’s army withdrew from that bloody field.

References, Sources, and other Notes:
Unit history of the regiment (1892) from Peck1 as transcribed on Vermont in the Civil War.

For additional reading see George G. Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers and Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5, Burlington (VT): Free Press Association, 1886-1888, Vol. I, pp. 62-125.

Sometimes You Are Missing the Forest

While looking for some trees in a forest, sometimes you are missing the forest.

This is what happened with Alexander Bennett’s next battle after Golding’s Farm on 26 June 1862. There were two more battles that he was in three days later. 

Savage’s Station on the 29th and White Oak Swamp on the 30th.  Soldiers must have been elated to fight again…

This is a Website that sums up the Seven Days Battles.

June 29

On June 29 Confederates south of the Chickahominy River found the Union trenches empty and started their pursuit. Longstreet and A. P. Hill marched twenty miles in the heat to be in position. But Huger received conflicting orders and spent his day marching. Jackson believed he was to stay north of the Chickahominy instead of crossing the river and heading south and east as Lee had intended. Magruder alternated between aggression and worry that Union troops would attack him, in part causing Huger’s back-and-forth marching.

Eventually Magruder attacked the Union rear guard at Savage’s Station, formerly McClellan’s advance base. Union general Samuel Heintzelman continued his retreat, leaving behind Union general Edwin V. Sumner’s Second Corps and another division—more than enough troops to stop Magruder despite an initial Confederate success. The rest of McClellan’s army and the trains continued toward the James during the day, and the rear guard followed that night.

June 30

June 30 was the culmination of Lee’s pursuit plan. Despite the disorder of June 29, his pieces were in place for a glorious victory. McClellan kept more than half of his army near the Glendale crossroads, which was vital to the retreat because most of the major roads from the Richmond area to the James River converged there. Jackson and D. H. Hill would, by their presence, force the Union troops guarding White Oak Swamp Bridge to remain north of Glendale, attacking them if possible. Huger would do the same on the Charles City Road. Longstreet and A. P. Hill, joined by Magruder if the latter could move quickly enough, would then drive toward the Willis Church Road south of Glendale to cut McClellan’s retreat route.

Once again Longstreet and A. P. Hill performed well while the other generals struggled. Jackson contented himself with a bombardment at White Oak Swamp Bridge, allowing thousands of Union troops to reinforce the Glendale lines. Huger’s failure was on a smaller scale but just as complete. Magruder spent June 30 as Huger had spent June 29, marching to no effect. So Longstreet and Hill attacked unsupported, and broke the Union line initially before Union reinforcements made possible by Jackson’s and Huger’s failures pushed them back. While the exhausted Confederates rested, the victorious Union troops joined the remainder of the army on the relatively safe high ground at Malvern Hill.

More info on this site.

Savage’s Station   

Other Names: None

Location: Henrico County

Campaign: Peninsula Campaign (March-September 1862)

Date(s): June 29, 1862

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Edwin Sumner [US]; Maj. Gen. John Magruder [CS]

Forces Engaged: Divisions

Estimated Casualties:   4,700 total (US 2,500 wounded were captured)

Description: Fourth of the Seven Days’ Battles. On June 29, the main body of the Union army began a general withdrawal toward the James River.  Magruder pursued along the railroad and the Williamsburg Road and struck Sumner’s Corps (the Union rearguard) with three brigades near Savage’s Station.  Confederate Brig. Gen. Richard Giffith was mortally wounded during the fight.  Jackson’s divisions were stalled north of the Chickahominy. Union forces continued to withdraw across White Oak Swamp, abandoning supplies and more than 2,500 wounded soldiers in a field hospital.

Result(s): Inconclusive

CWSAC Reference #: VA019

source

Estimated Casualties:   4,700 total (US 2,500 wounded were captured)

Inconclusive!

Glendale/White Oak Swamp   

Other Names: Nelson’s Farm, Frayser’s Farm, Charles City Crossroads, White Oak Swamp, New Market Road, Riddell’s Shop

Location: Henrico County

Campaign: Peninsula Campaign (March-September 1862)

Date(s): June 30, 1862

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. William Franklin, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson [CS]

Forces Engaged: Armies

Estimated Casualties: 7000 total

Description:

Glendale – This is the fifth of the Seven Days’ Battles. On June 30, Huger’s, Longstreet’s, and A.P. Hill’s divisions converged on the retreating Union army in the vicinity of Glendale or Frayser’s Farm.  Longstreet’s and Hill’s attacks penetrated the Union defense near Willis Church, routing McCall’s division. McCall was captured.  Union counterattacks by Hooker’s and Kearny’s divisions sealed the break and saved their line of retreat along the Willis Church Road. Huger’s advance was stopped on the Charles City Road.   “Stonewall”  Jackson’s divisions were delayed by Franklin at White Oak Swamp. Confederate Maj. Gen. T.H. Holmes made a feeble attempt to turn the Union left flank at Turkey Bridge but was driven back by Federal gunboats in James River. Union generals Meade and Sumner and Confederate generals Anderson, Pender, and Featherston were wounded. This was Lee’s best chance to cut off the Union army from the James River. That night, McClellan established a strong position on Malvern Hill.

White Oak Swamp – The Union rearguard under Maj. Gen. William Franklin stopped Jackson’s divisions at the White Oak Bridge crossing, resulting in an artillery duel, while the main battle raged two miles farther south at Glendale or Frayser’s Farm.

Result(s): Inconclusive

CWSAC Reference #: VA020

source

Estimated Casualties: 7000 total

Inconclusive!