Here’s a name that students of the Maryland Campaign should know: John Richard Simpson.

He was Captain of Company B, the “Gulf City Guards” of the 3rd Alabama Infantry. He led 3 or 4 companies of his regiment as skirmishers in advance of Rodes’ Brigade, and they were the first troops of the Army ordered to cross the Potomac River on the afternoon of 4 September 1862.

Captain Simpson is credited with being the first Confederate soldier to set foot in Maryland on the campaign, having waded the river at Cheek’s Ford sometime after 4pm on that Thursday evening.

Not quite two weeks later, Simpson was seriously wounded at Sharpsburg. He retired from field service as a result, and worked in the Substitute Department (Richmond?) from 1864 to the end of the War.

This photograph is probably of him, from long afterward, from the Alabama Department of Archives and History.


Thanks to Scott Hartwig for the pointer to the Captain in his lovely book To Antietam Creek (2012) .

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