Monterey Pass: It Was A Night To Remember

During the evening of July 3, 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his command staff met to determine how they would withdraw from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Studying maps, General Lee determined that his Confederate army would retreat using the road leading from Gettysburg, over South Mountain at Monterey Pass, to Williamsport, Maryland. General Lee’s plan called for Lieutenant General A. P. Hill’s infantry corps to lead the army, followed by Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps. Bringing up the rear would be Lieutenant General Richard Ewell’s Corps. 1

But before the Confederate infantry could retreat from Gettysburg, General Lee had to allow his supply wagons to move out of Pennsylvania first. Parked near Gettysburg and Cashtown were the supply wagons of Lt. Gen. Hill and Longstreet’s Corps. Strung out in a line, these two wagon trains were about 40 miles in length. Also included were Major General J. E. B. Stuart’s Cavalry Division wagon train that was about 10 miles in length, and the wagon train of wounded soldiers that stretched out for about 17 miles in length. This created upwards of almost 70 miles worth of wagons that were parked near Cashtown and Gettysburg. General Lee ordered the supply wagons to be commanded by their respective quartermaster officers, who were to proceed to the Potomac River as soon as they could get moving. After midnight, General Lee met with Brigadier General John Imboden and ordered that his cavalry brigade escort and oversee the Cashtown operations of the retreat, especially the wagon train of wounded. 2

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A Standard Quartermaster Train

Major John Harman, whose reserve wagon train was estimated to be about 20-22 miles in length, was located close to Cashtown. Major Harman was ordered to relocate the reserve wagon train to Fairfield, where the wagons of Lt. Gen. Ewell’s Corps were ordered to follow behind.  Lt. Gen. Ewell’s wagon train was estimated to be about 17-20 miles in length and were strung out to the north and northwest of Gettysburg. Escorting these two wagon trains, under the direction of Major Harman, were Brigadier Generals William Jones and Beverly Robertson, both being instructed to lead the wagons back into the safety of Virginia through Monterey Pass.  Infantry would be assigned to guard the wagon trains of Lt. Gen. Ewell’s Corps, while some of Hill’s wagons would also take this route to relieve some of the congestion at Cashtown. Intermixed with these wagons were several thousand head of livestock and several freed blacks that were being sent back to the south, all via Monterey Pass. 3

Robert-E-Lee
Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Why did General Lee choose Monterey Pass for the majority of the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg? The road that led through Monterey Pass was an established Pennsylvania highway that led directly to Williamsport, Maryland. During the mid 1700’s, this was one of two wagon roads that led to the south, into Appalachia. On a map, the Hagerstown Road, locally known as the Fairfield Road, was the shortest and most direct route to the safety of the Potomac River. At Monterey Pass, several roads converge, forming a hub, this hub was anchored by the tollgate house. No other South Mountain gap had this characteristic. Whoever controlled Monterey Pass controlled the flow of traffic whether it was to the north, east, south or west, and Gen. Lee desperately needed to control this area if he wished for his army to reach the safety of Virginia. 4

Around 9:00 a.m., Union signal corps reported the movements of wagons moving westward along Fairfield Road. The information was reported to the Union command. Major General Alfred Pleasonton, commanding the Army of the Potomac Cavalry Corps ordered out Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick’s Third Cavalry Division to locate and harass the retreating wagons. Leaving Gettysburg at around 10:00 a.m., Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick and the brigades of Brigadier General George A. Custer and Colonel Nathaniel Richmond moved south to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where they would be reinforced by Colonel Pennock Huey’s brigade of cavalry. 5

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Union Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick

While Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick was on the move, Brig. Gen. Jones’ command began picketing the network of roads leading past Fairfield to Monterey Pass, to the western base of South Mountain, near modern day Rouzerville. His command consisted of Brig. Gen. Robertson’s Brigade of the 4th and 5th North Carolina Cavalry that picketed Fairfield Gap; the 36th Virginia Cavalry of Brigadier General Albert Jenkins Brigade picketed the western base of South Mountain at Waterloo. The 1st Maryland Cavalry, minus Company A, of Brigadier General Fitz Lee’s Brigade picketed several areas, leaving Company B at Monterey Pass under Captain George Emack. Brigadier General Jones had two regiments from his own command, the 6th and 11th Virginia Cavalry to use at his disposal. Chew’s Battery and Mooreman’s Battery were the artillery support, along with one cannon from Captain William Tanner’s Battery. 6

As Captain Emack’s company of the 1st Maryland Cavalry picketed Monterey Pass, they quickly gathered up area citizens and housed them at the Monterey Inn. The Monterey Inn was established as an inn in 1820. The male civilians were allowed to move about, but had to check in every fifteen minutes with the Confederate cavalry, to ensure no escapes would be made. 7

The Confederate wagon trains moved along Maria Furnace Road, onto the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike at the tollgate house, and then moved westward to Waterloo (modern day Rouzerville), crossing the Mason Dixon Line near Ringgold, MD.  The road continued until Confederate wagons moved onto the Leitersburg and Hagerstown Turnpike at the small town of Leitersburg, MD. From there, it was a straight road to Williamsport, MD. 8

Brigadier General Kilpatrick’s cavalry division entered Emmitsburg, MD at noon. There, Colonel Huey joined Kilpatrick’s command, bringing his division up to about 5,000 mounted soldiers and sixteen pieces of rifled artillery. By 3:00 p.m., Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick moved out of Emmitsburg, heading westward along the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike toward South Mountain. 9

During the late afternoon, dark clouds came in from the west and the peaceful landscape became a violent scene, as a severe thunderstorm swept through. The rain poured over the landscape, causing the mountain clay roads to become a muddy mess for the wagons and those animals pulling them. Many Confederate accounts state that the road leading to Monterey Pass quickly became a quagmire. 10

At Monterey Pass, a message was sent through the Confederate guards and made it’s way to Charles Buhrman, a local farmer whose farm was once located at the eastern base of South Mountain, along the turnpike. Once he received the message, he mounted his horse, dashed through a small Confederate picket line, and rode for help. Nearing Fountaindale, about five miles east of Monterey Pass, he came in contact with the advance of Brig. Gen. Custer’s brigade. The information containing the Confederate’s position was reported to Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick. 11

At Fountaindale, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Custer to send a detachment of the 5th Michigan Cavalry down Jacks Mountain Road to protect Kilpatrick’s right flank. Moving westward, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick found himself skirmishing with a few Confederate pickets near Buhrman’s farm, and knew it was only a matter of time until he came in contact with Confederate cavalry. 12

Arriving at the Buhrman Farm, Kilpatrick met seventeen year old Hetty Zeilinger, who informed him that at the top of the mountain the Confederates had a cannon, commanding the road. Brushing the warning off, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick continued to move up the narrow defile that led to Monterey Pass, finding himself surrounded by deep ravines on his left and a steep incline to his right. At about 9:00 p.m., with weather conditions worsening, Custer’s brigade led the advance to the top of the summit, when the Confederate cannon fired. 13

After the Confederate cannon fired, about two dozen Marylanders, under Captain Emack, charged the Union advance; Brigadier General Kilpatrick found what he was looking for. After a short skirmish, the Confederate cavalry fell back to the Monterey Inn, and waited for the Union cavalry to makes its next appearance. Brigadier General Kilpatrick will reorganize his force for the next attack, sending the majority of Custer’s brigade up the turnpike to hit the Confederate front and right flank. He will also order the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry to move along Furnace Road, and then head into the woods and hit the Confederate left flank. 14

By 10:00 p.m., the Union cavalry moved again. In between lightning strikes, Captain Emack sees the Union movements, and orders his company to fall back to Red Run, where reinforcements could easily be had. As Captain Tanner was withdrawing, the Pennsylvanians come out of the woods and captured the limber. The Confederate cannoneers managed to save the cannon and redeployed their gun to support the Confederate cavalry at Red Run. They would use ammunition from the wagon trains as they approached the Monterey tollgate house. 15

As Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick gained the eastern summit, he quickly studied the network of roads looking over a few area maps. He knew as the wagon train entered Monterey Pass, it would come off the mountain in the Cumberland Valley; therefore, he wanted to send a small force to get in front of it, preventing it from advancing any further. He also knew that the wagons were coming from the direction of Fairfield and would send a small detachment to block the gap and prevent their movements into Monterey Pass. Finally, he knew that if he sent a portion of his division to the actual pass of Monterey, he could cut the wagon train in half. After talking with locals, including Charles Buhrman, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick began dividing his cavalry. 16

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Battle of Monterey Pass, Britt Isenger

Near midnight, Charles Buhrman guided the 1st Vermont Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Addison Preston, into the Cumberland Valley via Raven Rock. This mountain pass was located to the south of Monterey Pass, where the small town of Smithsburg is located. Arriving at Smithsburg, the 1st Vermont Cavalry moved to Leitersburg, where the main road led directly into Hagerstown and Williamsport. 17

Arriving at Leitersburg at 5:00 a.m., the 1st Vermont Cavalry immediately began attacking a portion of the wagon train. The scene was wild as cattle, soldiers, horses, and wagons crowded the road. As soon as the revolvers and carbines cracked, several mules began running away with their wagons still attached. Most of these wagons contained wounded Confederate soldiers. One Union trooper recalled hearing the screams of those who were in pain. Several of the wagon drivers were shot by the Vermonters. 18

Realizing that the head of the wagon train was still moving toward Hagerstown, Lt. Col. Preston divided his regiment. He led the majority of his men toward Hagerstown to cut off the head of the opposing force before it got there. With Buhrman as their escort, the other detachment was ordered to meet back up with Kilpatrick at Ringgold, MD. The 1st Vermont Cavalry captured 100 Confederate soldiers, three miles of wagons, and a large herd of cattle. The Vermonters inventoried the wagons, removed all wounded men from inside, and either burned the wagons or busted the wooden spokes of the wheels in order to render them useless. 19

Meanwhile back at Monterey Pass, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick ordered a squadron of the 1st Michigan Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Peter Stagg, to Fairfield Gap in order to block the wagons entering Monterey Pass and possibly turn the Confederate right flank. This small gap is located one mile to the northeast of Monterey Pass. Using Hetty Zeilinger as their guide, they will proceed down Furnace Road, passing her farm house. As the wagons moved through Fairfield Gap, they traveled about one mile until Monterey Pass was reached, and the road turns onto the turnpike by the Monterey tollgate house. Brigadier General Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Custer to move his brigade forward to Monterey Pass in order to cut the wagon train in half. 20

Shortly after midnight, Lt. Col. Stagg comes into contact with Mooreman’s Battery and two companies of the 11th Virginia Cavalry, who were supported by the 5th North Carolina Cavalry. The Fairfield Gap attack is a failure, and within a few hours the remnants of the 1st Michigan squadron fell back to the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike. 21

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Union Brigadier General George A. Custer

Brigadier General Custer’s brigade was deployed mostly on the right of the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike. As they moved through the thick woods toward Red Run, fighting became fierce. With darkness and heavy rain, one had to be guided by sound and senses rather than sight. Both Union and Confederate cavalrymen who were dismounted in the woods literally had seconds to distinguish objects in their front after a flash of lightning or small arms fire illuminated the landscape. 22

By 3:30 a.m., after several hours of hard fighting, Colonel Russell Alger of the 5th Michigan cavalry, supported by artillery, led a charge across the bridge spanning Red Run. He quickly deploys, forming a makeshift battle line. The Confederate cavalry, now reinforced by additional units, began deploying at the Monterey tollgate house. Confederate reinforcements are arriving from Fairfield Gap, as well as from Waterloo. 23

Brigadier General Custer, after pleading for additional reinforcements, receives the 1st West Virginia Cavalry and Company A of the 1st Ohio Cavalry. Orders were soon given to charge the Confederate positions, and the two reinforcing units charged across the bridge and began taking on prisoners and seizing wagons. The people of Waynesboro saw the fires of the wagons stretching all of down the mountain moving into Maryland; it was a fourth of July spectacle they would never witness the likes of again. Confederate cavalry deploying on both sides of the turnpike tried to stop the charging Union cavalry with no success. 24

Brigadier General Kilpatrick’s cavalry reserves began moving up and deployed near the tollgate house.  They were supported by artillery. The Confederate provost guard deployed on Maria Furnace Road and began moving forward to retake the tollgate house. Not long afterward, Brigadier General Alfred Iverson’s North Carolina brigade reached Monterey Pass and deployed. Chew’s Battery also came up from Fairfield and deployed. A short distance behind was Brigadier General Ambrose Wright’s Georgia Brigade. Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick realized that even though he once outnumbered the Confederates, he, himself, is now outnumbered.  With his command scattered all along the Mason Dixon Line, Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick orders the remainder of his cavalry westward to Maryland. By dawn of July 5, the Union cavalry reaches Ringgold and halts. 25

In the wake of the Battle of Monterey Pass, about nine miles worth of wagons had been captured or destroyed. Upwards of 1,300 Confederate prisoners were taken, and several dozen were wounded and killed. For the Union cavalry, upwards of100 men were captured, wounded, or killed. 26

With the withdrawal of Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick’s cavalry, Monterey Pass is still in possession of the Confederate army. During that evening, the infantry corps of Lt. Gen. Hill and Longstreet bivouacs at Monterey Pass. The next morning, the Confederate army continues to march to Hagerstown, and Williamsport. Bringing up the rear was Lt. Gen. Ewell’s Corps, with the last Confederate soldier marching through Monterey Pass during the afternoon of July 6.  For the next several days, the Cumberland Valley will become one vast battlefield. Fighting occurred everyday up to July 14, when the Confederate army, after waiting for the waters of the Potomac River to recede, began making their way into West Virginia, and to the safety of Virginia. 27

Notes and Citations:

  1. Long, A. L. Memoirs of Robert E. Lee. Edison, NJ: Blue and Grey Press, 1983. 294-296., Longstreet, James. From Manassas to Appomattox. New York, NY: Mallard Press, 1991. 426-427.
  2. Large, George. Battle of Gettysburg, the Official History by the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission. Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1999. 282-283., Imboden, John. “The Retreat from Gettysburg.” Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Vol. 3. New York: Centaury, 1884. 420. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, vol. 27, part I, II and III (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1889). Cited OR
  3. Brown, Kent Masterson. Retreat from Gettysburg. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2005. 93, 95-97, 103.
  4. The old Wagon Road today would make up the following modern day roads. From Gettysburg, it was the Fairfield Road (Route 116) to Iron Springs Road, west of Fairfield into South Mountain to Gum Springs Road, through Fairfield Gap, onto Maria Furnace Road, and would have connected to Old Waynesboro Road. From there, it ran west of the mountain, sidestepping Waynesboro, continuing to Hagerstown, and ended at Williamsport. Many historians state that Iron Springs Road was used during the Confederate retreat, however, no road past the current intersection of modern day Gum Springs Road exists on any Civil War period maps. Iron Springs Road from Gum Springs Road that leads to Old Waynesboro Road today, was established in the late 1860’s when copper was discovered in the mountain. The earliest map that shows the Monterey Pass area and the Great Wagon Road was first surveyed in 1751 by Colonel Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson and was known as Nicholson Gap.
  5. Brown, Kent Masterson. Retreat from Gettysburg. 123-124
  6. This information is based off of the official Order of Battle from the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum archives.
  7. The Baer family recorded the actions of July 4, 1863. The manuscript states that all of the male civilians living on and near Monterey Pass were gathered up as prisoners and housed at the Monterey Hotel which was an inn during the battle. Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum archives.
  8. Stoner, Jacob. Historical Papers of Franklin County and the Cumberland Valley. Chambersburg, PA: The Craft Press, 1947. 456-457.
  9. Urwin, Gregory J. W. Custer Victorious. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska, 1983. 87.
  10. Hopkins, Luther. From Bull Run to Appomattox: A Boy’s View. Baltimore, MD: Fleet-McGinley, 1908. 104. Kidd, James Harvey. Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman with Custer’s Michigan Cavalry. Ionia, MI: Sentinel, Printing 1908. 166-168.
  11. Bates, Samuel. Fraise, Richard. History of Franklin County. Chicago IL: Warner, Beers & Co., 1975. 379.
  12. Ibid
  13. Ibid. Many other first hand accounts published in 1880-1900 by members of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry and 5th Michigan Cavalry mention the narrow road leading up to Monterey Pass. On their left was a steep ravine which is still visible today on Old Waynesboro Road, and to their right, a high mountain peak known as Monterey Peak.
  14. Rodenbough, Theophilus Francis, Grier Thomas J. History of the Eighteenth regiment of cavalry, Pennsylvania volunteers. New York, NY: 1909. 84.
  15. Manuscript, letter from Captain George Emack. Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum archives.
  16. Buhrman during the Battle of Monterey Pass. Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum Archives.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Bates, Samuel. Fraise, Richard. History of Franklin County. Chicago IL: Warner, Beers & Co., 1975. 379.
  20. Manuscript of letters from members of the 1st Michigan Cavalry to Hetty Zeilinger talk in detail about the movements to Fairfield Gap. Fairfield Gap is a misunderstood portion of the Battle of Monterey Pass and is often separated out from the Battle of Monterey Pass. Many historians claim that Fairfield Gap is located on Jacks Mountain. The problem is that many of those who fought at Monterey Pass also called it the Battle of Jacks Mountain or South Mountain. Other historians claimed that Fairfield Gap is on Iron Springs Road. Fairfield Gap is located on Furnace Road and it is where Maria Furnace Road forks from Furnace Road.
  21. OR. Series I, vol. 27, part 2. 763-764. Official report of Colonel L. L. Lomax, 11th Virginia Cavalry. O.R. Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 741. Official report of General George Custer.
  22. Kidd, James Harvey. Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman with Custer’s Michigan Cavalry. 168-171.
  23. Manuscript of Russell Alger during the Battle of Monterey Pass. Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum archives.
  24. Lesage, Joseph A. “NARROW ESCAPES.” Ironton Register 22 Dec. 1887, Manuscript ed., Interesting War Experiences NO. 58 sec. Print.
  25. OR. Series I, vol. 27, part I. 581. General Iverson’s account of his actions during the early dawn hours of July 5, as his brigade helps to push Kilpatrick’s cavalry out of Monterey Pass. Ibid. 625. General Ambrose Wright’s official account on July 4, 1863.
  26. At Monterey Pass, there is a state marker that states the Confederate casualties, including wounded, killed, or captured. It also states that nine miles of wagons were captured. Going through all of the Union regimental histories for those engaged at Monterey Pass, the names of almost 100 men have surfaced. Kilpatrick in his own O.R. stated his losses were about two dozen.
  27. Long, A. L. Memoirs of Robert E. Lee. Edison, NJ: Blue and Grey Press, 1983. 294-296., Longstreet, James. From Manassas to Appomattox. New York, NY: Mallard Press, 1991. 426-427.
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The Route of the Confederate Wagon Train Through Monterey Pass

Looking from south of Fairfield headed on modern day Iron Springs Road, the wagon train of General Richard Ewell's corps made its way through the South Mountain range.
Looking from south of Fairfield headed on modern day Iron Springs Road, the wagon train of General Richard Ewell’s corps made its way through the South Mountain range.
This is Gum Springs Road and it is the same roadway that the Confederate army used during the retreat.
This is Gum Springs Road and it is the same roadway that the Confederate army used during the retreat.
This is the approch to Fairfield Gap. This is where modern day Maria Furnace, Gum Springs and Furnace Road come together. The Confederate wagon train would have turned right onto Maria Furnace Road. This is also the area where portions of the 1st Michigan cavalry attacked portions of the 11th Virginia and 5th North Carolina cavalry. During the retreat, this is the same area where General Jubal Early's Division was fired on upon Union artillery.
This is the approch to Fairfield Gap. This is where modern day Maria Furnace, Gum Springs and Furnace Road come together. The Confederate wagon train would have turned right onto Maria Furnace Road. This is also the area where portions of the 1st Michigan cavalry attacked portions of the 11th Virginia and 5th North Carolina cavalry.
During the retreat, this is the same area where General Jubal Early’s Division was fired on upon Union artillery.
This is another photo showing where the Maria Furnace Road entered Fairfield Gap. Today this is a private driveway.
This is another photo showing where the Maria Furnace Road entered Fairfield Gap. Today this is a private driveway.
A portion of the Maria Furnace Road. This road connected Fairfield Gap to Monterey Pass and is about a mile and a half to two miles long. Many Confederate soldiers wrote about their experiences here during the retreat.
A portion of the Maria Furnace Road. This road connected Fairfield Gap to Monterey Pass and is about a mile and a half to two miles long. Many Confederate soldiers wrote about their experiences here during the retreat.
The brick building in the center of the photo is the toll house. The Confederate wagon trains entered the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike at this point. The Maria Furnace Road connected to the turnpike in front of the toll house. Mentzers Gap Road connect behind. This photo was taken from Pendersville Road which also was here during the battle. Over five roads connected to Monterey Pass during the battle.
The brick building in the center of the photo is the toll house. The Confederate wagon trains entered the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike at this point. The Maria Furnace Road connected to the turnpike in front of the toll house. Mentzers Gap Road connect behind. This photo was taken from Pendersville Road which also was here during the battle. Over five roads connected to Monterey Pass during the battle.
Just another photo showing the roadway as it ran along the mountain toward Rouzerville which was known as Pikesville during the battle. Buena Visita Road would be the marking point to the bottom of the mountain for many wagons that were overturned.
Just another photo showing the roadway as it ran along the mountain toward Rouzerville which was known as Pikesville during the battle. Buena Visita Road would be the marking point to the bottom of the mountain for many wagons that were overturned.
This is Pikesville or Rouzerville as it is called today. Waterloo is not far from here.
This is Pikesville or Rouzerville as it is called today. Waterloo is not far from here.
This is Waterloo along Waterloo Road. After coming off the mountain, the Confederate wagon train continued onward toward Maryland using Waterloo Road to what is now called Harbaugh Church Road.
This is Waterloo along Waterloo Road. After coming off the mountain, the Confederate wagon train continued onward toward Maryland using Waterloo Road to what is now called Harbaugh Church Road.
This is the Harbaugh Farm. Along this roadway, laid the ruins of wagons destroyed by the battle of Monterey Pass.
This is the Harbaugh Farm. Along this roadway, laid the ruins of wagons destroyed by the battle of Monterey Pass.
From Harbuagh Church Road, the Confederate wagon train turned onto modern day Midvale Road as it made its way into Maryland. Ringgold is less than two miles away.
From Harbuagh Church Road, the Confederate wagon train turned onto modern day Midvale Road as it made its way into Maryland. Ringgold is less than two miles away.
Looking from the square of Ringgold, hundreds of wagons would have been seen from this point. The mountain area in the distance is Monterey Pass.
Looking from the square of Ringgold, hundreds of wagons would have been seen from this point. The mountain area in the distance is Monterey Pass.
Looking toward Ringgold from near Leitersburg.
Looking toward Ringgold from near Leitersburg.
This is the sqaure of Leitersburg. It was here that the 1st Vermont Cavalry coming in from Smithsburg attacked. From here the wagon train continued onward toward Williamsport via Hagerstown.
This is the sqaure of Leitersburg. It was here that the 1st Vermont Cavalry coming in from Smithsburg attacked. From here the wagon train continued onward toward Williamsport via Hagerstown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round about directions:

Starting out in Fairfield, turn right onto Iron Springs Road and follow to Gum Springs Road.

Turn right onto Gum Springs Road and continue up the mountain. In Franklin County, Gum Springs Road turns into Furnace Road.

Follow Furnace Road until you get to Old Waynesboro/Charmian Road.

Verring right onto Charmian Road, continue until you get to Route 16.

Proceed straight onto Old Waynesboro Road and follow down the mountain.

The last curve veer left onto Waterloo Road. Follow Waterloo Road to the intersection of Harbaugh Road and Penmar Road. Proceed straight onto Harbaugh Church Road.

Follow Harbaugh Church to Midvale Road.

Turn left and cross into Maryland and follow to four way stop.

Proceed straight and turn follow Maryland Civil War trails sign to your left into Leitersburg.

 

Daily Life of a Brooklyn Soldier during the Pennsylvania Campaign

While researching for the 150th Commemoration of the Pennsylvania Campaign, I found a great diary detailing the role that the New York Militia had in protecting Pennsylvania from the invading Confederate army. The diary excerpts are from “Our Campaign Around Gettysburg” written by John Lockwood of the 23rd New York State National Guard. This small diary was published in 1864 to describe the events that took place prior, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg, as he experienced it.

This diary goes into a lot of detail about their camping exploits, as well as the daily life of a militiaman. You read accounts about the regulars and volunteers who served in the Army of the Potomac, but the role of the militia is more or less overlooked. This diary opens the door to a lesser known history of the Pennsylvania Campaign. Sometimes, the battle history overlooks the campaign as a whole, but I find that the human interest story is just as important as the battle that was being fought.

The 23rd New York State National Guard was called upon for Federal service on June 16th, 1863. The 23rd New York State National Guard was ordered to Pennsylvania by the governor of New York on Thursday, June 18th, 1863; just one day after the famous 7th New York Militia was called out. The 23rd New York Militia was comprised of ten companies commanded by Colonel William Everdell. They were attached to the Department of the Susquehanna under the command of General Darious Couch, and were part of General William Smith’s Division, as part of the 6th Brigade under the command of General Jesse Smith. The 6th Brigade consisted of the 23rd New York, 52nd New York, and 56th New York State National Guards.

After parading through Brooklyn in full uniform, with rations cooked, they made their way to a steamboat bound for Philadelphia. They would take the train to Harrisburg, reaching there just after day break on June 19th. Their final destination was Fort Washington, where they were assigned as part of the garrison there.

This is simular to what the 23rd wore during the Pennsylvania Capaign.
This is simular to what the 23rd wore during the Pennsylvania Capaign.

Upon their arrival in Pennsylvania, many Harrisburg residents were surprised to see the militiaman wearing the uniform that was similar to that of a Confederate soldier. Before their departure from Brooklyn, the 23rd New York received permission from the New York Quartermaster to wear their grey uniforms with black facings on the shoulder straps and scalloped cuff facings, very similar to that of the 7th New York Militia. The collar was taped out in black and so were the trouser legs. They wore the traditional French kepi with a black band piped in black trim with the numbers “23” placed on the front. Instead of being the traditional white webbing, the accoutrements were black leather. There is a possibility that the men cut out white Greek crosses and had sewn them on their shell jackets so they would not be mistaken as a Confederate soldier.

Seeing the tents already pitched by the earlier arrival of other New York units, the men of the 23rd New York Militia began working on earthworks as well as reconnaissance of the area. Drill and meals were also held at strict times during the day. During the evening, the men bunkered down in their tents.

Within a few days, the 23rdNew York was ordered to shift their camps to make room for the arrival of newer troops entering Fort Washington. According to Lockwood, “The first step was to clear tents. Before each door arms were stacked, and on a blanket spread on the ground were rapidly piled knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, boots and shoes, tinware, rough boxes, shelving, and an indescribable variety of loose matter; altogether an astonishing mass of tent furniture. Next was the order to strike tents.”

Once you tear down the camp, you need to establish a new area to encamp. The new camp had been established on a hill with a steep slope. The men would use pick, shovel and spade to level off the ground the best that they could. Lockwood explains in great detail how the soldiers of his command pitched their tents. “First, you must level off a rectangular plot some six feet by seven as a foundation for your structure. (This description refers to the “A” tent, ours being of that pattern.) Then you must set your tent-poles in such positions as that the tent, when pitched shall preserve nicely the rectilinearity of the street and its own equipoise. After that the canvas is stretched into proper position by means of pegs driven firmly into the ground on every side. Then follows carpentry work. Three of four joists, if you can procure them, are laid flat on the ground  and half imbedded in the soft earth, and across these is fitted a board flooring. A pole is next adjusted close under the ridge pole of the tent to accommodate a variety of furniture, whose shape or appendages suggest such disposition. And finally, a rack or framework is set up next the rear wall of the tent, for the support of the muskets of the mess.”

Once your tent has been erected, “Room must be found for four to six muskets, according to the number of the mess and as many knapsacks, haversacks, belts, blankets, rubber-cloths, canteens, sets of dishes (!), boots or shoes, a box to hold blacking and brushes, soap, candles, etc. Besides these, there is apt to be, an assortment of towels, handkerchiefs, stockings and other articles of apparel which the owners thereof have lately washed, or have gone through the motions of washing, and have hung up overhead to dry, where they are forever flapping in your face when you stand upright in the tent. The blankets and knapsacks are at night used to eke out the appointments for sleep, the first to soften the floor to the bones of the sleepers, the second to serve for pillows.”

On July 1st, the 23rdNew York was ordered out for campaign. Lockwood recalled “We were ordered to provide ourselves with two days’ cooked rations and to move completely equipped, with our packed knapsacks, blankets, and all the paraphernalia of a marching column. This included a square of canvas, two of which buttoned together, constitutes what is called a shelter-tent, for the accommodation of two men. This pointed plainly enough to a vigorous campaign, and every man was pleased with the prospect.”

As the men marched out on the Carlisle Road, cheering and singing was heard from the ranks. A few hours later, fatigue sat in. The weight of the equipment, the hot sun and road conditions took a toll on the men. Soon stronger men began to carry extra portions of the load, relieving the load of a fellow messmate. Officers began to dismount so that their horses could carry some of the knapsacks until the horses “sandwiched out.” One soldier managed to buy a wheel cart and pay a young boy to roll his baggage beside him. On average each man carried about forty-four pounds, but some men carried even more depending on how much personal items they had packed away in their knapsack.

By ten o’clock that night, the men were able to bivouac in a cloverfield. Many men slept on the ground where they halted. By three o’clock in the morning of July 2nd, the men arose and began marching. Near Carlisle, the sounds of the battle were heard. The men were confused as to why they were not moving. Were they to advance into Carlisle or were they ordered to backtrack toward Harrisburg? During the wait, several men did not prepare their rations as ordered or they had eaten their rations the day before.

Several hours had passed since the halt and many men stood with arms in hand. Soon shelter halves and rubber blankets began to appear along the road attached to fences for protection from the sun. Others made their way to the shade of the trees. By noon, just about every man in the 23rd New York Militia had taken to the shade.

Foraging parties that were sent out, returned reporting that a river was close by. The men took some time to relax until the officers called them back into the ranks because they were there to observe any Confederate activity that may be approaching Harrisburg.  Lockwood recalled coming to a farm house where a crowd had grown, “Among them a bevy of girls, healthy-looking, fair-skinned daughters of Pennsylvania farmers.” They had baked all kinds of goods for the New Yorkers, but by the time the 23rd New York Militia got to the farm house, the ladies had stopped baking and the men got nothing.

Taking a ferry across the river, the 23rd New York Militia began marching and soon came to another halt.  Lockwood recalled seeing all of the farms that dotted the landscape. “It would be interesting to know what farm house for miles around the central halting place was unvisited on that day by some representative of the New York or Brooklyn militia. We find our comrades seated decently at the table, positively eating with knives and forks, and drinking tea whitened with real cream! The turn of our crowd came soon. Fresh bread and butter, ham sweetmeats, pickles, tea and all without stint; and besides, clean white dishes to eat off!”

Shortly afternoon came and the men began marching back toward Harrisburg. The straggling became a problem, halts were made and men were stepping out of ranks to get into the shade. This was due to non disciplinary regulations from headquarters, something that General Couch will issue on July 3rd. The columns of infantry marched until sunset when they encamped near Orr’s Bridge.

The next day on July 3rd, the men were up at 3:30 in the morning.  By five o’clock, the men began marching. Soon wagons were brought forward and light marching orders were given to lighten the load that the soldiers carried. General Jesse Smith recalled “The weather was very warm, the men marched with their knapsacks packed, their blankets rolled, their haversacks supplied with two days’ ration, and their cartridge-boxes with 40 rounds. They suffered greatly from this first march, and were compelled to leave their knapsacks and many other things that were afterward much needed.” Knapsacks and blankets were loaded in the wagons reducing the amount of weight to thirty pounds that each soldier carried. The men were able to march in fine spirits without getting bogged down.

Before noon, they entered the small town of Kinston. After some “persuasive force,” the soldiers purchased bread, pies, butter and eggs from the town and surrounding farmers. Marching in the hot sun, the 23rd New York Militia finally entered Carlisle around sunset.

The next morning, on July 4th, the men were up and ready to begin their daily march. Passing through Carlisle the soldiers of the 23rd New York Militia turned to the east toward SouthMountain. They were marching toward Mount Holly Gap. At the mouth of the gap, the column continued to climb the mountain gap when it was halted.

As the afternoon came, the skies began to cloud and the sound of thunder was heard.  As sounds of the approaching weather were coming closer, the men began to look for shelter. Many unrolled their overcoats and pulled out their rubber blankets. As the men were encamped near a mountain stream, the rain set in, picking up in intensity.  Lockwood recalled “Over against the mountain wall before and above us there hung in mid-air a vast sheet of water which the howling wind flapped to and fro in the gorge terrifically; while the blinding lightning and crashing thunder seemed to issue together from the mountain itself.”

During the evening, the men started to see the creek cresting and knapsacks began floating down stream. “The calm mountain brook had become a raging torrent, threatening the whole gorge with overflow, carrying angrily down stream of knapsacks, officer’s valises, etc.” Soon orders were given to move forward and the men marched in good humor to get out of harms way. As the soldier began to move, halts were again called and as the mountain streams kept rising they were thankful when orders of forward were again given. General Jesse Smith in his report recalled: “The road led through the SouthMountain, and was very narrow and muddy. The men marched through mud and water, oftentimes knee deep. The Twenty-third Regiment, having had some of its men nearly drowned while fording a stream, had to stop for the night.”

By five o’clock in the evening, the men were able to start fires, cook coffee and try to dry their clothes as best as they could near a mill on SouthMountain. Orders were soon given and the men found themselves marching along roads that had turned into clay, sucking off their shoes and forcing men to fall. Once the men were away from the mountain streams, the saw other New York militiamen who had began to straggle. After marching seventeen miles, night came and rubber blankets were laid on the ground where the men went to sleep.

The next day, the militiamen who had rested near Laurel Forge marched to Pine Grove. With orders to move onto Newman’s Cut, the march proved difficult following the up and down movements of the mountain ridge. The recent rains had made the mountain roads a muddy mess.

By July 6th, the militiamen came out to the crossroads following the ridge of South Mountain to Cashtown where they bivouacked. The New Yorkers were ordered to harass Confederate General John Imboden’s wagon train of wounded soldiers, as he retreated from Cashtown to Williamsport, Maryland. The New Yorkers had arrived a day too late.

This is the Mont Alto Camp Site near the Antietam Creek
This is the Mont Alto Camp Site near the Antietam Creek

On July 7th, the militiamen awoke and began breaking down their bivouac. The soldiers filed onto the Chambersburg Pike to Greenwood, then turning left onto the road leading to Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. At four o’clock in the afternoon, the soldiers had made their way into MountAlto (Altodale/Funktown). There, several men placed their feet into the little Antietam Creek and some even bathed in its water. Several of the men heard of the nearby site where Captain Cook was arrested in 1859 for his role in John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry.

On July 8th, the New Yorkers marched through MountAlto and Quincy. They arrived in Waynesboro where they went into camp on the Hagerstown Pike, west of town. At Waynesboro, the men pitched their tents and rested all the next day. After the morning report was given, many soldiers received passes to go into Waynesboro. Many others enjoyed the cool water of the Antietam Creek near Iron Bridges.

This is the camp site for the 23rd New York Militia during their stay near Waynesboro.
This is the camp site for the 23rd New York Militia during their stay near Waynesboro.

On July 10th, the 23rd New York and 71stNew York went on reconnaissance on the Waynesboro Road where Lockwood recalled standing on a hillside about two miles from Waynesboro and roasting in the sun. This area is the small rise along Forge Road. Toward evening, the soldiers marched back to camp.

The following afternoon, there was a general movement toward Leitersburg, Maryland. The men could hear cannonading in the distance in the direction of Funkstown. By July 12th, the soldiers had made their way to Cavetown and were overtaken again by a severe thunderstorm.

The next morning, the militiamen marched toward Boonsboro. Several of the men had thought that maybe, perhaps, they would receive an order to head to Frederick where they would board a train and head back to New York, but such an order was yet to be given.

On July 14th, the Confederate army had escaped into West Virginia at Falling Waters. Several of the officers and men had found out through the Baltimore paper that New York was in a riot over the drafts. The next day, the militiamen were given orders to move to Frederick City where they were to board the train that would take them to New York via Baltimore and Philadelphia. They would arrive back in New York on July 19th, 1863. The New Yorkers had covered more than one hundred and forty-five miles from their arrival in Harrisburg to Frederick, Maryland. On July 22nd, the soldiers of the 23rd New York Militia were officially mustered out of service.

Resources:

Lockwood, John. Our campaign around Gettysburg: being a memorial of what was endured, suffered, and accomplished by the Twenty-third regiment (N.Y.S.N.G.) and other regiments associated with them, in their Pennsylvania and Maryland campaign, during the rebel invasion of the loyal states in June-July, 1863. Brooklyn : A.H. Rome, 1864.
Official Records (OR hereinafter), Series 1, vol 27, Part 2 (Gettysburg Campaign) Page 225-226, No. 407. Report of Brig. General William F. Smith, U. S. Army, commanding First Division (New York Militia)
OR, Series 1, vol 27, Part 2, Page 242-247
OR, Series 1, vol 27, Part 2, Page 261-264
OR, Series 1, vol 27, Part 3, Page 593-596
Phisterer, Frederick. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
Winey, Michael. Union Army Uniforms at Gettysburg, Thomas Publications, Fairfield, PA. 1998.