150 years ago: the Battle of South Mountain

In honor of the Anniversary of the Battle of South Mountain, 150 years ago today, the following posts first appeared on the blog of Antietam Battlefield Guide candidate Tim Ware (Bloody Prelude: The Battle of South Mountain) on Sep. 1, 2012, and Sep. 11, 2012.

Men of the Phillip’s Legion

Listed here are a few photographs of men that would find themselves fighting for
their lives during the savage afternoon fighting that would swirl around the
Daniel Wise Cabin at Fox’s Gap.

Captain Hamilton, 1864

Captain Joseph E. Hamilton, Co. E: Born in April 1839, Captain Hamilton was only 23 when he lead his company into the maelstrom that was the afternoon fighting at Fox’s Gap. Commanding his company during the three regiment assault order by brigade commander Thomas F. Drayton, Hamilton would lead his company into the teeth of the massive Union 9th Corps. Under heavy musketry, the Hamilton would pull his men out of the fight but only after he was wounded and fortunately, he would be able to make his escape off the mountain. Hamilton would continue fighting until he was captured during the retreat to Appomattox.  He would survive being sent to a northern prison and would live until 1907.

Capt. Johnson, circa 1863

Captain James M. Johnson, Co. L:  A native North Carolinian, Captain Johnson would spend much of his life living in Georgia where he would attend the Georgia Military Institute. He would serve in the 14th Georgia Infantry before returning to Georgia after being discharge for disability in December 1861. Not wanting to miss out on the war, he enlisted in what would become Company L, Phillips’ Legion and was given command of the company as it’s captain. Leading his company at South Mountain, Hamilton would be wounded in the thigh and the nature of his wound would cause him to fall into the hands of Union forces. He would be paroled and returned to Richmond by October 1862. He would survive the fighting at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg but would fall, mortally wounded, during the attack on Fort Saunders near Knoxville, Tennessee in late 1863.

Lt. Jones, 1850s

1st Lieutenant Abraham Jones, Company D:  Initially serving as part of a Georgia State Brigade, Lieutenant Jones would find himself serving in Phillips’ Legion in August 1861. Jones would serve with the regiment in the western Virginia campaign in late 1861 before the legion was sent back to the deep south to protect coastal areas. By July 1862, Jones was back in Virginia with the Legion as part of the newly created brigade of Thomas Drayton. During the ensuing campaign and victory at Second Manassas, Jones would write home that he believed the army was about to cross the Potomac. With his belief a reality,
Jones would march on the roads of western Maryland eventually reaching Hagerstown on September 11. On September 14, Jones would find himself marching back towards South Mountain. Arriving on the mountain, Jones would find himself at Fox’s Gap advancing through farmer Daniel Wise’s South Field and into a woodlot. Suddenly firing breaks out and after a severe firefight, Phillips’ Legion is forced from the field. Tragically, Jones would not be among the survivors. At some point during the fight, he would fall and he would be listed as killed as a result of the fighting. He would be buried with his fellow soldiers in mass graves in the fields around Fox’s Gap. Here he would rest until
the mid-1870’s when the Confederate dead were recovered, if possible, and
re-interred in Hagerstown, Maryland. If his grave was found, he is likely listed
as an unknown among the over 2,000 Confederates buried in Hagerstown.

Chaplain George Gilman Smith

Chaplain George Gilman Smith:  Serving as the pastor of a small church in Georgia prior to the war, Chaplain Smith would find himself serving with the
Phillips Legion when war broke out. He would, to his disdain, receive the moniker “fighting chaplain”. Smith would find himself with the Legion’s battle
line as it advanced into Wise’s South Field at Fox’s Gap.  With the advance and
confusion of the coming fight, Smith served as a sort of courier for the Legion
to help avoid a friendly fire situation and also to warn General Drayton of a
Union column advancing up the Old Sharpsburg Road. After warning Drayton, Smith saw that the Confederates were under fire from three directions. Rushing to warn the commander of the Legion, he saw them retreating in utter confusion. At this point, Smith would be severely wounded in the throat with a bullet entering his throat and exiting near his spine, paralyzing an arm. Smith would be carried off the field by a group of soldiers who believe his wound was mortal. Smith would survive his wounds and live until 1913. He wrote an account of his experience on the mountain that can be read here.

 

Remembering New Jersey’s Fallen

During the fighting that would take place at Crampton’s Gap, Alfred Torbert’s all-New Jersey brigade went into the fight at a critical moment. The  momentum of the Union assault stalled and the men of Joseph Bartlett’s brigade were running out of ammunition. Torbert was ordered to advance his brigade and after a sharp fight, he ordered a charge. “A cheer, and the men went forward at the double-quick…”, Torbert’s men broke the Confederate line and pushed up the Burkittsville Road slamming into the flank of Confederate reinforcements that were hastily thrown into the fight. Flushed with victory, the New Jersey men push on and with other 6th Corps soldiers, gain control of Crampton’s Gap. When the fighting was over, 174 men from New Jersey laid, killed or wounded, on the mountainside. Listed here are 58 of those men, 32% of those reported.
 
 
NJ Brigade monument at Crampton’s Gap, South Mountain
 
1st New Jersey (Lt. Colonel Mark W. Coliet commanding)
 Killed:
            Private James Cox, Co. C
            Private John Brown, Co. E
            Private Joseph E. Dilks, Co. E
            Corporal Julius Houriett, Co. I
            Private Patrick McGourty, Co. I
            Private Kiren Campbell, Co. I
            Private Ernest Leu, Co. K
Wounded:
            Private Charles Melman, Co. B (died of wounds 10/31/62)
            Private Charles Exner, Co. C (died of wounds 10/18/62)
            Private George S. Heany, Co. D
            Private Charles Mclaughlin, Co. E
 
2nd New Jersey  (Colonel Samuel Buck commanding)
Killed:
            Private William Callender, Co. A
            Private James P. Lyndon, Co. C
            Private John McMonigle, Co. C
            Private Jacob Windecker, Co. D
            Private Conrad Reis, Co. E
            Private Jerry Carroll, Co. F
            Private William Mcvay, Co. F
            Corporal George Somerville, Co. H
            Private Byron Lawton, Co. I
            Private William McCloud, Co. I
            Private Emanuel Boudiette, Co. K
            Private Andrew Hemberger, Co. K
Wounded:
            Private Jacob Smith, Co. B (Died of wounds 10/8/62)
            Private Thomas Kendall, Co. C (Died of wounds Sept. 1862)
            Private Samuel Mellor, Co. C (Died of wounds 11/1/62)
            Private Philip Tanner, Co. D (Died of wounds 10/7/62)
            Private William Kleine, Co. E
            Private Herman Jansen, Co. E (Died of wounds 10/1/62)
            Private Boles Taylor, Co. F
            Private David Burtchell, Co. H
            Private Jabez Fearey, Co. K
            Private Robert Grabeck, Co. K
            Private William A. Leibe, Co. K
            Private William Nalborough, Co. K (died of wounds 10/1/62)
3rd New Jersey (Colonel Henry Brown commanding)
Killed:
            Private James T. Caffery, Co. A
            Private Michael Donnell, Co. A
            Private William J. Ballenger, Co. C
            Private Charles H. Bacon, Co. F
            Private Thomas B. Keen, Co. F
            Sergeant Theodore McCoy, Co. G
            Corporal Thomas Alcott, Co. H
            Private Hugh Loughran, Co. H
            Private David Harrigan, Co. I
            Private Anthony H.  Perry, Co. I
            Private William Garry, Co. K
Wounded:
            Private James Hollingsworth, Co. B
            Private James Williams, Co. E (died of wounds 9/17/62)
 
4th New Jersey (Colonel William B. Hatch commanding)
Killed:
            Adjutant Josiah S. Studdiford, Regt.
            Private Samuel S. Hull, Co. B
            Sergeant George J. Pettit, Co. C
            Private Andrew Flash, Co. C
            Private Joseph E. Ware, Co. F
            Private Mitchell Walker, Co. I
            Private Daniel Dixon, Co. I
            Sergeant William W. Palmer, Co. K
            Private Robert C. Curry, Co. K
 
Wounded:
            Private Jesse G. Eastlack, Co. H (Died of wounds 03/27/63)
 
 Sources:
 New Jersey, Adjutant-General’s Office. RECORD OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF NEW JERSEY IN THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865.[Trenton, NJ, John L. Murphy, Steam Book and Job Printer, 1876.] Two volumes. “Published by authority of the Legislature.” William S. Stryker, Adjutant General. (found online at the New Jersey State Library)
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