Side trip to Fox’s Gap

20 April 2008

There was still plenty of daylight left as I was returning from Sharpsburg last weekend, so I took a rare detour from Alt-40 over to Fox’s Gap.

Battle of South Mountain (Fox's Gap)
The glorious charge of the 23rd and 12th Ohio Volunteers …(1864, Library of Congress)

There are a pair of interpretive signs, two monuments, and a regimental tribute at the spot where the road crosses the Gap, noting the combat there on 14 September 1862. But that’s all there is to see as one arrives.

There was no one else there when I pulled up. It was blessedly quiet. I took a couple of snapshots to bring some of the place home with me.

The sad story of the officers and men of the 12th Virginia Infantry Regiment of late 1862 is typical for a number of the tattered units of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) who were at Sharpsburg that September.

The Crater (c. 1866, J. Elder)
The Crater (c. 1866, J. Elder)

The Fourth Battalion as it left Petersburg on the 20th of April, 1861, was made up of the flower of the manhood of the Cockade City. After four years of service it had been so decimated by disease, by death, by promotion, and by transfer that it showed scarcely more than a skeleton of the original body. It was the nucleus upon which was formed the famous Twelfth Virginia Regiment, whose banner bore the device of almost every field on which the Army of Northern Virginia grappled with the enemy, from Seven Pines to Appomattox, and whose flag, stained with the smoke of battle and shredded by ball and shell, was never surrendered, but torn into slips and buried in the bosoms, right over the hearts, of the veteran survivors.

New required reading

5 February 2008

Your assignment: catch up with some new and fascinating online work about the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Recent and ongoing now is an excellent discussion about who did what at Sharpsburg on TalkAntietam*. Beginning with fine-grain research Dean Essig is doing for his new wargame–with other genuine experts weighing in–the group is exploring the reality of the “numbers” of the battle. The unintentional but inescapable conclusion here may be that it’s impossible to acurately quantify the battle. See what you find …

from Harper's Weekly, 24 October 1863 (Son of the South)
from Harper’s Weekly, 24 October 1863 (Son of the South).

Be sure also to catch the two latest feature articles Larry Freiheit has contributed to AotW. At the top is his view of Military Intelligence in Maryland from both General’s perspectives. You’ll find a number of ‘hmmm’ moments in that piece. Larry’s also the author of an analysis of JEB Stuart’s cavalry at and before Sharpsburg, which was posted just before the anniversary last year. Mighty fine.

Also fresh is John David Hoptak’s masterful biographical sketch of Brigadier James Nagle. Ranger Hoptak is highly fluent on Nagle and the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, as you probably know from his blog. Thanks to the Save Historic Antietam Foundation for sharing that work online. When you see (or visit) next, ask John how you can help restore the General’s sword, too.

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* Anyone can read the messages on TalkAntietam, but you’ll have to join the group and be approved to contribute. But that’s easy, trust me. I know the group moderator really well; I can get you in :)