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4174Re: ANVa Supply Trains

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  • joseph_pierro
    Feb 1, 2008

      Most of the trains and reserve artillery (one battalion excepted)
      were ordered by Lee to cross over to the Virginia side at
      Williamsport even before he decided to make his stand at Sharpsburg.

      from Carman:

      "When Robert E. Lee, after nightfall of September 14, realized
      that the action at Turner's Gap had gone against him, he abandoned
      (temporarily, at least) his idea of a further invasion of the North
      into Pennsylvania, or even of remaining in Maryland, and took
      immediate measures to reunite with McLaws and recross the Potomac
      into Virginia. Those who were with Lee say that he gave no sign of
      disappointment and depression that his campaign had ended in failure,
      but we can imagine it was with a swelling heart that, at 8:00 p.m.,
      he sent this dispatch to McLaws:
      "'The day has gone against us and this army will go by Sharpsburg
      and cross the river. It is necessary for you to abandon
      your position to-night. Send your trains not required on the road to
      cross the river. Your troops you must have well in hand to unite with
      this command, which will retire by Sharpsburg. Send forward officers
      to explore the way, ascertain the best crossing of the Potomac, and
      if you can find any between you and Shepherdstown leave Shepherdstown
      Ford for this command. Send an officer to report to me on the
      Sharpsburg road, where you are and what crossing you will take. You
      will of course bring Anderson's division with you.'
      "At about the same hour, he sent a dispatch to Jackson to march
      up from Harper's Ferry and cover his passage of the Potomac at
      Shepherdstown Ford. (These orders to McLaws and Jackson contemplated
      the abandonment of operations against Harper's Ferry, but these had
      so far progressed that the place was then, virtually, in the grasp of
      Jackson and McLaws.) Longstreet and D. H. Hill were directed to push
      such of their commands and trains as were at and near Hagerstown
      across the Potomac at Williamsport. The three reserve artillery
      battalions at Beaver Creek (four miles north of Boonsboro)
      were ordered to move—two battalions by Williamsport into Virginia,
      one battalion to Keedysville."

      It would appear that Lee then kept them on the Va shore afterwards
      for so long because the operational and tactical situation remained
      in such a state of flux for the next few days. (Would McClellan
      attack on the 15th? The 16th? Would Jackson arrive on the 16th? Would
      McLaws arrive on the 17th?) With only a single ford at his back, the
      last thing Lee wanted if his lines broke was his trains and reserve
      artillery clogging the only route of escape.

      Carman again:
      "Late at night [of the 14th] the commander of the reserve
      artillery, General Pendleton (who with three battalions had, late in
      the afternoon, taken position on the heights of Beaver Creek, four
      miles north of Boonsboro) was summoned to Lee's headquarters
      and directed to send S. D. Lee's Battalion to Keedysville and to move
      with the battalions of Brown and Nelson by the shortest route to
      Williamsport and across the Potomac to guard the fords of the river.
      Pendleton hastened back to his camp, moved promptly to the Boonsboro
      and Williamsport Road, and by sunrise reached Jones's Cross-Roads,
      where the Williamsport Road intersects the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg
      Turnpike. Here he was informed that a large force of Union cavalry
      was not far ahead of him, upon which he placed some guns in position
      commanding the road leading to Williamsport and the Hagerstown Pike
      on either flank, sent to Toombs (who had passed down to Sharpsburg)
      for a regiment or two of infantry, and set to work collecting a band
      of armed stragglers to support his guns. Meanwhile, he had sent out
      scouting parties. These soon returned with information that the road
      was clear for some two miles, upon which (without waiting for
      infantry from Toombs) he resumed the road to destroy the 'retiring
      invaders' with his artillery and protect the large wagon train
      proceeding by the Hagerstown Road through Williamsport. Colonel
      Davis's cavalry had passed on the road and attacked Longstreet's
      train, and Pendleton—without meeting an enemy or further delay—
      reached Williamsport and crossed the Potomac by Light's Ford into
      "Colonel Brown, with his battalion of five batteries, was ordered
      to guard Light's Ford and a ford two miles below. Major Nelson's
      battalion of five batteries went down the river road to
      Shepherdstown, which he reached on the sixteenth, and took
      position on the heights commanding Shepherdstown Ford a mile below

      In typical Pendleton fashion, once the battle was joined and the
      artillery needed, he failed to rise to the emergency. Carman yet

      "About mid-day [of the 17th] Lee had sent this message to
      Pendleton, commanding the reserve artillery at Shepherdstown Ford: 'If
      you have fifteen or twenty guns, suitable for our purpose, which you
      can spare, the general desires you to send them, with a sufficiency
      of ammunition. You must not take them from the fords if essential to
      their safety. Send up the stragglers. Take any cavalry about there
      and send up at the point of the sword. We want ammunition, guns, and
      provisions.' Pendleton could not collect the stragglers, he sent up
      but little ammunition, and it was not until the engagement had closed
      that one battery arrived at Sharpsburg."

      Hope some of that helps.

      --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "dean_essig" <dean_essig@...>
      > Yes, I agree and have the infomation regarding the location of the
      various artillery units.
      > Not only was Lee still thinking about re-entering Md from the Va
      side, but he hadn't ruled
      > out an "attacking withdrawal" to the north, through the Union right
      wing to Hagerstown.
      > Trying to do that with the trains in tow would be impossible, but
      allowing the trains to
      > shadow the army on the Va side of the river makes a lot of sense.
      > Given the situation, this kind of decision making is breathtakingly
      > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@>
      > >
      > > I will look and see what else I can find. I think Lee was using
      the river to protect his
      > trains preparatory to re-entering Maryland at Williamsport. Even
      after he retreated on the
      > 18th/19th his intent was to re-cross the river there and move
      towards Hagerstown.
      > Giving the wagons a head start would open the roads for his
      infantry to move quickly. As
      > you know, he had artillery detached to guard Shepherdstown Ford and
      Light's Ford, and
      > Stuart did go to Williamsport on the 19th to lead the way.
      > >
      > >
      > > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
      > > Professor of History
      > > Hagerstown Community College
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 2/1/2008 2:24 PM >>>
      > > Tom it is... glad to meet you, sir!
      > >
      > > Excellent information, that helps me spot the trains on the map.
      > >
      > > The artillery problem is an issue I'll need to resolve. I don't
      recall Reilly (who at least
      > > mentioned going back to look) or anyone else suggesting they had
      to ford the Potomac
      > to
      > > get a re-supply of artillery ammunition. So, this indirectly
      suggests that what stocks
      > they
      > > had available were in the Md side trains.
      > >
      > > Leaving me wondering what it was Lee was protecting across the
      > >
      > > Do you know of any other battery commanders recollections about
      the rather mundane
      > > matters of ammunition resupply on that day?
      > >
      > > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@>
      > > >
      > > > Dean,
      > > > I keep meaning to tell you, nobody calls me Thomas, Tom is just
      fine. I think you have
      > it
      > > correctly stated. Location of the Artillery Reserve trains, such
      as they were with the loss
      > of
      > > many near Williamsport, is likely across the river, however I
      think some of it was
      > forwarded
      > > on the 18th as Lee called for gathering stragglers and ammo
      resupply. Going from
      > > memory, but in Lee's comments about his HQ tent he describes it
      as 1 & 1/4 miles from
      > > Cemetery Hill, (I think) making the two miles just about on Mt.
      Airy, the Grove family
      > farm.
      > > That would also be logical for there was access to water and lots
      of fields to park a
      > wagon
      > > train there.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
      > > > Professor of History
      > > > Hagerstown Community College
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 2/1/2008 1:55 PM >>>
      > > > Thomas,
      > > >
      > > > Reviewed the cited sections. All seems to be resolved but one
      > > >
      > > > What we know:
      > > > 1) The non-Ammunition trains are in Shepherdstown. Getting
      there at various dates.
      > > > Hood's were escorted to his division so the Texans could get
      some food.
      > > >
      > > > 2) Small arms ammuntion trains were ordered back into Md and
      positioned "2 miles to
      > > the
      > > > rear" (that distance is mentioned in several places, but w/o a
      reference as to rear of
      > > what
      > > > or who).
      > > >
      > > > The one thing (two parts) that we don't know is:
      > > > 1a) Were the Army Reserve Ammunition trains still in Virgina?
      Harsh believes so.
      > > >
      > > > 1b) Was there artillery ammunition in the trains that were sent
      back into Md? This is
      > > > interesting because it seems that Lee kept the Reserve Trains
      across the river to avoid
      > > > losing artillery ammunition.
      > > >
      > > > Am I off on any of the above and is there any answer to the
      > > >
      > > > Dean
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens"
      <clemenst@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > Dean,
      > > > > The info on the trains is mentioned in Chapter 8 of Taken at
      the Flood, pp. 338-9
      > > > footnotes 34 & 37 and also in Sounding the Shallows, pp. 193-
      4. Let me know if you
      > > do
      > > > not have access to those books.
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
      > > > > Professor of History
      > > > > Hagerstown Community College
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > >>> "dean_essig" <dean_essig@> 01/30/08 11:18 AM >>>
      > > > > Excellent info, Thomas!
      > > > >
      > > > > That would bring all the loose ends together (no mean feat),
      if I can impose (and
      > > when
      > > > you
      > > > > get a chance) please dig out some sources on the "but ammo"
      > > > >
      > > > > You may not have earned a free game yet, but you will by the
      time this project is
      > done
      > > > :-)
      > > > >
      > > > > Doesn't matter if you don't have time to play it, you'll want
      a copy of a product that
      > > has
      > > > your
      > > > > name in the research credits I would think. ;-)
      > > > >
      > > > > --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens"
      <clemenst@> wrote:
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Dean,
      > > > > > I am at work and away from sources, but it is my
      understanding that all trains
      > > except
      > > > > ammo were sent across the river. Thus Hood, looking for
      food, had to go find his
      > and
      > > > bring
      > > > > them forward, while Reilly etc. looking for ammo found theirs
      near Sharpsburg.
      > > > Longstreet'
      > > > > loss was the Reserve Artillery ammo for his command, not all
      of his trains.
      > > > > > Hope this helps. Do I get a free copy of the game? :-)
      just kidding, I don't have
      > > time
      > > > to
      > > > > play them.
      > > > >
      > > >
      > >
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