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5817Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: Capture of Longstreet's ammunition train, 9/15

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  • Jim Rosebrock
    Sep 7, 2009
      Great description of that action Larry.

      Jim R

      From: eighth_conn_inf <eighth_conn_inf@...>
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, September 7, 2009 9:15:54 AM
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Re: Capture of Longstreet's ammunition train, 9/15

      The train was captured by the Harpers Ferry escape column which consisted of the following units:

      Twelfth Illinois Cavalry under Col. Arno Voss which arrived with White from Martinsburg, the Eighth New York Cavalry under Col. Benjamin F. "Grimes" Davis, a squadron of the First Maryland Cavalry commanded by Capt. Charles H. Russell, the Seventh Squadron of Rhode Island Cavalry (a three-month unit) under Maj. Augustus W. Corliss, a squadron of the First Maryland Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry (also known as "Cole's Cavalry") led by Maj. Henry A. Cole, and some 20 officers and men from the Loudoun Virginia Rangers commanded by Capt. Samuel C. Means.

      As dawn was breaking on 15 September, the column halted to rest the horses and tired troopers who had been in their saddles for more than eight hours; they chose a point near the Hagerstown-Williams port Turnpike about two and a half miles from Williamsport to reform. As the column again began its ride north, the sound of many wagon wheels was heard coming from the direction of Hagerstown. Scouts reported a large wagon train heading south and the commanders decided to capture it.

      The Eighth New York and the Twelfth Illinois were formed in line on north and south sides of the road respectively with the Maryland and Rhode Island cavalry in reserve. With most of the Union troopers hidden from view, Col. B. F. Davis with a small contingent of the Eighth captured the first wagon and sent it quickly over a dirt road to the Greencastle Turnpike, which ran from Williamsport to Greencastle, to the west and sent it speeding north. One wagon at a time suffered this fate until all were sent north or destroyed. The outnumbered Confederate cavalry escort from the First Virginia Cavalry harassed the rear of the retreating train but were not able to inflict any damage despite bringing up two guns due to the efficient screen the Union troopers provided. An articulate British-born Confederate artillery lieutenant with the wagon train described well its capture:

      "At about ten o'clock at night I started. It was intensely dark and the roads were rough. Towards morning I entered the Hagerstown and Williamsport Turnpike, where I found a cavalry picket. The officer in charge asked me to move the column as quickly as I could, and to keep the trains well closed up. I asked him if the enemy were on the road, and he told me that it was entirely clear, and that he had pickets out in every direction. It was only a few miles now to Williamsport, and I could see the camp-fires of our troops across the river…I was forty or fifty yards ahead of the column, when a voice from the roadside called out "halt!"…In a moment it was repeated. I quickly rode to the side of the road in the direction of the voice, and found myself at the entrance of a narrow lane, and there adown it were horses and men in a line that stretched out far beyond my vision…I said indignantly: "How dare you halt an officer in this manner." The reply was
      to the point: "Surrender, and dismount! You are my prisoner!"…I was place under guard on the roadside, and as the trains came up they were halted, and the men who were with them were quietly captured. In a short time the column moved off in the direction of the Pennsylvania line. I was allowed to ride my own horse. By the side of each team a Federal soldier rode, and, by dint of cursing the negro drivers and beating the mules with their swords, the cavalrymen contrived to get the jaded animals along at a gallop…I had a cavalryman on each side of me, and tried vainly to get an opportunity to slip off into the woods. Soon after daylight we reached the little village of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, where the citizens came out to look at the "Rebel" prisoners. They hurrahed for their own men and cursed at us. Even the women joined in the game. Several of them brought their children to the roadside and told them to shake their fists at the "d----d Rebels."
      Still there were some kind people in Greencastle. Three or four ladies came to us, and, without pretending to have any liking for Confederates, showed their chartable disposition by giving us some bread and a cup of cold water. My horse was taken from me at Greencastle and ridden off by a dirty-looking cavalryman. Then the Confederates, numbering a hundred or more, were packed into the cars, and sent by the railway to Chambersburg. "

      Included with the Rebel prisoners were six men from Company B of the 9th Virginia Cavalry who had been detached from Fitzhugh's Brigade at Highland on the 13th and, after missing the Brigade wagons, fell in with Longstreet's wagons.

      Before 10 A.M., the wagon train reached Greencastle, Pennsylvania, with ninety-seven wagons, 600 prisoners, and many beef cattle having burned about 45 wagons. The Confederate wagon train was Longstreet's ordnance train which had left Hagerstown that night on its way to Virginia.

      Larry F.

      --- In TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com, Robert Moore <cenantua@.. .> wrote:
      > Hello all!
      > Just wanted to see if anyone knows the particulars behind the capture of Longstreet's ammunition train on 9/15/62. I know that Cole's Cavalry (1st PHB/Maryland Vol. Cav.) was the unit involved in bagging the train.
      > Thanks!
      > Robert Moore
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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