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South Mountain, battle of

In 1862 the National army pursued the Confederates from Frederick, Md., in two columns over South Mountain into the valley of Antietam Creek. General Burnside led the right and centre by way of Turner's Gap; and the left, composed of Franklin's corps, went by the way of Crampton's Gap, on the same range, nearer Harper's Ferry. The division of D. H. Hill was the only Confederate force guarding Turner's Gap, and McLaws was guarding Crampton's Gap. The Confederates had no idea that the Nationals would make such a vigorous pursuit as they did; but on the morning of Sept. 14, a startling apparition met the eyes of the Confederates from the mountain heights. Pleasonton's cavalry was leading nearly the whole of the National army down the Kittoctan Hills and across the valley towards South Mountain. A portion of General Cox's division of Ohio troops reached the borders of the Gap early in the forenoon, and, under the cover of a portion of McMullin's battery, Cox pressed up the wooded and rocky acclivity. He was at first confronted by Garland's division, which was badly cut up and its commander killed in the severe action that ensued. The place of this division was soon filled by the troops of Anderson, supported by Rhodes and Ripley. These held the position for a long time, but finally gave way, and Cox gained the crest of the mountain. It was now noon.

Very soon the battle assumed far greater proportions, for two of Longstreet's brigades came to the aid of Hill. These were soon followed by Longstreet himself with seven brigades, making the Confederate force defending the Gap and the two crests about 30,000 strong. First the divisions of National troops of Wilcox, Rodman, and Sturgis came up, followed soon after by Hooker's troops, and a little later a general battle-line was formed [269]

Battle of South Mountain.

with Ricketts's, Reno's, and King's divisions. At 4 P. M. fighting was general all along the line, and at many points the ground was contested inch by inch. General Hatch, who commanded King's division, was wounded, when General Doubleday took his command, his own passing to the care of General Wainwright, who was soon disabled. At dusk Hooker had flanked and beaten the Confederate left. Reno's command, which had gained a foothold on the crest, fought desperately until dark. At about sunset their leader, at the head of the troops in an open field, was killed. He died almost at the moment of victory, and his command devolved on General Cox.

Meade, with his brigades, led by General Seymour and Colonels Magilton and Gallagher, fought on the right of Hatch's division. General Duryee, whose fine brigade of Ricketts's division had participated in the later struggles of Pope with Lee, was just coming up when the contest ceased at that point. Meanwhile the brigades of Gibbons and Hartsuff had pushed up the road along the Gap, fighting and winning steadily until about 9 P. M., when, having reached a point near the summit of the Gap, their ammunition was exhausted. But the victory for the Nationals was secured. During the night Lee withdrew his forces, and so ended the battle of South Mountain. Franklin meanwhile, confronted by Confederates led by Howell Cobb, had fought [270] and driven his enemies over the mountain into the valley at Crampton's Gap, and held a position in Pleasant Valley, within 6 miles of Harper's Ferry.

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