Buford’s March to Fountaindale, Pennsylvania & the Bivouac There

As the day dawned on June 28th, 1863, General John Buford and his cavalry division had moved through Jefferson,Marylandand went into camp near Middletown. The troopers were to re-fit and re-shoe their mounts. This was done in preparations of following up the Confederate invasion that would eventually land Buford and the rest of the Army of thePotomacat Gettysburg. That same day, the Confederate command issued orders for their concentration at Gettysburg.

The next morning, Buford’s cavalry was ordered to screen the western base of South Mountain, while the First Corps and the Eleventh Corps marched northward to Emmitsburg. Buford was to march from Middletown to Cavetown, cross the Mason and Dixon Line, and recross South Mountainat Monterey Pass, and then encamp near Emmitsburg where General John Reynolds’s left wing would be located. The main assignment for Buford was to “cover and protect the front, and communicate all information rapidly and surely.”

Buford’s First Cavalry Division consisted of three brigades. The First Brigade, under the command of Colonel William, Gamble and the Second Brigade, under the command of Colonel Thomas Devin, were ordered northward following the western base of South Mountain to the Mason and Dixon Line. The Third brigade, known as the Reserve Brigade, under the command of General Wesley Merritt, was ordered to Mechanicstown, located seven miles south of Emmitsburg. Attached to Colonel William Gamble’s Brigade was Battery“A”, 2nd U.S. Artillery, under the command of Lieutenant John H. Calef.

The cavalrymen of Buford’s command wore a variety of the army regulation uniforms. They consisted of the preferred loose fitting fatigue blouse, and the mounted services jacket with yellow taping, which fitted much tighter on the body. Their headgear consisted of a forage cap, or slouch hat. While sky-blue kersey trousers were the norm, there are a few photographs taken before Gettysburg of the cavalrymen wearing dark-blue trousers. The blue uniforms, showing signs of wear, were caked with the same dust that choked the footman while he marched. Several accounts make mention that the dust was several inches thick.

The best description of a cavalryman during the Union advance toward Gettysburg was provided by Captain Charles F. Adams of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in General Gregg’s Cavalry Division. “My blue trousers are ragged from contact with the saddle and so covered with grease and dust that they would fry well. From frequently washing my flannel shirts are so shrunk about the throat that they utterly refuse to button and, so perforce, I follow Freedom with bosom bare. I wear a loose government blouse, like my mens’, and my waistcoat, once dark blue, is now a dusty brown.” The artillery experienced the same harsh elements.

Buford’s command was well armed. Many of the cavalrymen carried the Sharps carbine, however, several others carried a variety of small arms such as the Burnside carbine, Merrill Carbine, Smith Carbine, and the Gallager Carbine. A combination of Colt and Remington Revolvers complete the troopers’ weapons, excluding the saber. Lieutenant Calef’s battery was armed and equipped with six 3-inch rifles.

At9:00 am, General Buford’s command left Middletown and crossed South Mountain at Turner’s Gap. From there, his men trotted into Boonsboro and took the road toward Cavetown. Captain Newel Cheney of the 9thNew York recalled that near Mount Pleasant, near Boonsboro, a huge National flag was displayed to show their patriotism. As the cavalrymen continued, many accounts of civilians greeting them along the way were recorded.

Opon entering into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, late in the afternoon, General Buford’s command recalled the enthusiasm and cheering from his troopers with regards to once again being on northern soil. Abner Frank recalled seeing a mounted trooper from the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, “who stood with a streaming guidon, on the boundary line of the state, indicating our exit from Maryland into loyal Pennsylvania.”  

Once in Pennsylvania, the troopers began ascending South Mountain to Monterey Pass. Monterey Pass was a vital transportation hub. In addition to the numerous smaller roads leading to the pass, there were several main roads leading to Chambersburg, Emmitsburg, Fairfield, Smithsburg, and Waynesboro that converged at Monterey Pass. Monterey Pass had already seen a skirmish on June 22nd,  when a detachment of the 14th Virginia Cavalry attacked a few mounted Federal cavalry units. On June 28th, a detachment of Cole’s Cavalry Company “C” had traveled through Monterey Pass and skirmished with a Confederate foraging party at Fountaindale.

As Buford’s column continued its ascent, Newel Cheney, an officer from the 9th New York Cavalry recalled “An old man stood beside the road near Monterey Springs, with his hat off and tears streaming down his face. As the column passed the men cheered him heartily. At Monterey, some of the officers called and got a well served supper of bread, butter, ham, apple-butter and coffee.”

Buford stood at the opening of MontereyPassand saw in the distance, toward Greencastle, the dust being kicked up by General James Longstreet’s Corps as they marched to Chambersburg. It was at this time that Buford came to realize that a large battle would soon erupt.  As Buford’s soldiers traveled the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike, they came to the small hamlet of Fountaindale at approximately 10:00 pm. There, Buford ordered the majority of his cavalrymen to rest. Lieutenant Calef described the days’ march as being “very long and fatiguing, adding horses very much used up.” The troopers were amazed with the rich agriculture and produce they had seen in the surrounding countryside upon reaching Fountaindale, Pennsylvania. For many Pennsylvanians this was their first trip back home since enlisting in the military. This was especially so for the soldiers of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, many of whom were from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, located seven miles from Fountaindale.

The days’ march was exhausting for Buford’s men. Many troopers tied the reins to their wrist during the march, so as to rest while in the saddle. Upon reaching Fountaindale, and being ordered to bivouac, several of the troopers fell to the ground and slept where they had landed. Between 2:00 am and 3:00 am, the troops were back in the saddle heading toward Fairfield. After a brief skirmish, Buford made his way to Emmitsburg, where he arrived during the mid morning hours on June 30th.

Prickerill, William N., History of the 3rd Indiana Cavalry, Vol. 3, Aetna Printing Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1906, pg. 80-81. Also Buford mentions the refitting and reshoeing in his official report.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Official Records: Series 1, vol 27, Part 2 (Gettysburg Campaign) Report of Brig. Gen. John Buford, U.S. Army, commanding First Division.
Large, George, The Official History by the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission, Burd Street Press, 1999, pg. 305-307 “The Order of Battle for Buford was fromGettysburg.”
Cheney, Newel, History of the 9th Regiment,New York Volunteer Cavalry, War of 1861-1865,Poland Center,New York, 1901, pg. 101-102
Revised Regulations for the Army of theUnitedState, published in 1862
Winey, Michael, Union Army Uniforms of Gettysburg, Thomas Publications,Fairfield,PA, page 10 
Records of the Office and the Chief of Ordnance, Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in the Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations 1862-1867
Petruzzi, J. David, Six Weeks in the Saddle with Brig. Gen. John Buford. Originally published byAmerica’s Civil War magazine. Published Online:August 26, 2009

The Confederate Defense at Crampton’s Gap

On the morning of September 14th, 1862, the 2nd Virginia Cavalry and the 12th Virginia Cavalry under the command of Colonel Thomas Munford occupied the entrance to Crampton’s Gap, near Burkittsville. They were deployed along Mountain Church Road. General JEB Stuart who was en-route to Harper’s Ferry met with General Wade Hampton and Colonel Munford. Stuart took Hampton’s Brigade and left Colonel Munford at Crampton’s Gap. Closer to the actual gap was Chew’s Battery under the command of Captain Roger Chew. Munford’s total force was roughly around three hundred men.

Located in Pleasant Valley, north of Gapland, was the 10th Georgia Infantry detached from General Paul Semmes’ brigade, who were on picket duty. The brigades of General Lafayette McLaws and General Richard Anderson were scattered throughout Elk Ridge, Pleasant Valley, and south of Crampton’s Gap upon South Mountain in accordance to Special Orders Number 191. These two divisions were besieging Harper’s Ferry and protecting the back door that led to Harper’s Ferry.

General Paul Semmes was left to guard the rear of the two Confederate divisions located in Pleasant Valley and Maryland Heights, via Elk Ridge. General Semmes, looking at the situation, felt confident that if a Federal force emerged in the Catoctin Valley, east of his position, they would attack Brownsville Pass since it was the major mountain pass that led directly to Harper’s Ferry. General Semmes’ brigade consisting of the 53rd Georgia, 15th Virginia, and the 32nd Virginia had been located at Brownsville on the night of September 13th and the morning of the 14th. Brownsville is situated at the western base of South Mountain a few miles south of Crampton’s Gap. Semmes also had the 1st North Carolina Artillery, Richmond Fayette Artillery and the Magruder Light Artillery in reserve.

Before noon, Colonel Munford watched the landscape in the distance become filled by a blue tide marching and getting closer and closer to Burkittsville. General Semmes, who was at Brownsville Pass, also made the same observation and as a precaution, he ordered the 10th Georgia Infantry and Colonel William Parham’s brigade consisting of the 6th, 12th, and the 16th Virginia infantry regiments and two guns from the Portsmouth Light Artillery to Crampton’s Gap. Two other regiments from Parham’s Brigade were on picket duty. The 61st Virginia Infantry was posted at Soloman’s Gap and the 41st Virginia Infantry was posted at the crest of Crampton’s Gap. Parham’s total manpower for the on coming battle was roughly around 300 men. His brigade numbered no more than 600 men upon entering Maryland.

As noon approached, the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry led the advance of the Union Sixth Corps, and filed off the main road into the fields east of Burkittsville. Within minutes, skirmishers were deployed and they were hit with artillery fire from both Brownsville Pass and Crampton’s Gap. This forced the skirmishers back and then skirmishers from the 2nd Virginia Cavalry were deployed. Those Confederate soldiers were pushed back, fighting every inch of the way, and in some cases the fighting was from yard to yard in Burkittsville.

Union artillery soon came up and began firing at the Confederate artillery, but several of the shots had fallen short of their target. Several accounts from Union soldiers stated that the artillery from atop Brownsville had shells dropping every which way. Chew talked about how his guns recoiled badly and that his own Blakeley Rifle became disabled, and was removed from the battlefield. Soon the two naval guns of the Portsmouth Artillery had arrived and were deployed by Chew’s Battery.

As the shots of the skirmish rang out, the 12,500 soldiers of General William Franklin’s Sixth Corps were ordered to bivouac and fix their rations. Earlier General Franklin had received strict orders to punch through Crampton’s Gap, cut off the Confederate forces in Pleasant Valley via Rohrersville, and if practical, relieve the garrison at Harper’s Ferry. Franklin needed time to study the situation beyond South Mountain and did so by communications with General George McClellan.

The Confederate battle line ran parallel with Mountain Church Road. The 2nd Virginia Cavalry and a portion of 16th Virginia Infantry took to the open fields opposite of the intersection of Gapland and Mountain Church Roads. The rest of the 16th Virginia Infantry, 12th Virginia Infantry, the 12th Virginia Cavalry, 6th Virginia Infantry and two companies of the 10th Georgia Infantry deployed along Mountain Church Road. Chew’s Battery and the two guns from the Portsmouth Artillery were deployed further up along Gapland Road, to the east of Crampton’s Gap.

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, Colonel Joseph Bartlett of Franklin’s Sixth Corps found himself planning the attack. Bartlett was the Second Brigade commander of the First Division. With skirmishers deployed, Bartlett had his own brigade deployed to the north of Burkittsville with General Newton following behind. To Bartlett’s left was the New Jersey Brigade commanded by Colonel Alfred Torbert. Deployed to the left of Torbert, and the main road leading into Burkittsville were two regiments of the Vermont Brigade commanded by General Brooks. At 5:30pm, all at once the Union lines moved forward.

Within minutes, the small Confederate force was no longer able to hold their positions along Mountain Church Road and began falling back toward Crampton’s Gap. Cobb’s Brigade, who had been ordered to Crampton’s Gap, arrived and the initial thought was that the Confederate force had pushed the Federals back into Burkittsville, but the scene would prove differently. With permission from General Howell Cobb, Colonel Munford ordered Cobb’s infantry regiments to deploy where he needed the reinforcements the most. Colonel Munford ordered the 15th North Carolina troops down Arnoldstown Road, where they took position along the stone wall overlooking Whipp’s Ravine. The 24th Georgia Infantry was ordered into Whipp’s Ravine, followed by Cobb’s Legion Infantry and bringing up the rear was the 16th Georgia Infantry.

As Cobb’s brigade was taking position, remnants of Parham’s command ran through the line of the Georgian soldiers. It then became reality that Parham’s line had just broke and the men were fleeing up South Mountain. Cobb’s men saw the advancement of Torbert’s men and quickly fired into them, but it was already too late. Torbert managed to get on the flank of Cobb’s men and Lieutenant Jefferson Lamar, commanding Cobb’s Legion Infantry Battalion knew he was surrounded on all sides but one. Within minutes, Lt. Colonel Lamar was wounded, and after ordering his men to fall back a bullet struck him in the chest.

The men of Cobb’s brigade fell back to Padgett’s Field and began to flee into Pleasant Valley. General Howell Cobb tried to prevent as many of his soldiers from fleeing and began to desperately rally his men to reform their line behind the stone wall. The 24th Georgia still held its position until the soldiers of the New Jersey Brigade came charging up Gapland Road. The Confederate right flank was in danger. Cobb, still holding the stone wall, was temporarily relieved with two guns that were coming up the mountain from Pleasant Valley.

As the main assault was at its climax, two guns from the Troup Artillery under the command of Lieutenant Henry Jennings deployed at the intersection. The twelve-pound howitzer named the “Jennie” was pointed down Arnoldstown Road while the other cannon, a six-pounder named the “Sallie Craig,” was pointed down Gapland Road towards Burkittsville. This was the last defensive position that stood between Franklin and Harper’s Ferry.

As the Federal forces were fired upon by a two gun section of the Troup Artillery, they quickly fell back, but only briefly. Soon Torbert’s New Jersey Brigade was again turning the Confederate right flank. Being hit from the right flank and also from the front, the Confederate defenders were being pushed and had no other option but to retreat off of South Mountain into Pleasant Valley. Here General McLaws had a defensive line drawn up from those brigades on Elk Ridge, including Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade. During the retreat, the howitzer named “Jennie” was shot up so badly that it was abandoned along Gapland Road. Franklin, satisfied with his gains for the day, ordered the Union soldiers to bivouac on the battlefield as dusk approached.