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[TalkAntietam] Re: Col. Benjamin Davis near Sharpsburg on 9/14

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  • Thomas Clemens
    I am familiar with Carman s account and the letters, reports, etc. he used to write that passage. Murfin used Carman as his source on this. I am also
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 2, 2008
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      I am familiar with Carman's account and the letters, reports, etc. he used to write that passage. Murfin used Carman as his source on this. I am also familiar with how far it is from Solomon's Gap to What is essentially today Sample's Manor and that is a hell of a distance to picket with 300 men. Given the reductions for picket reserves, those supporting Hart's guns and the signal detachment on Elk Ridge, it doesn't leave a lot of guys to stretch that distance. Dennis Frye, who knows the MD Campaign quite well and grew up in Pleasant Valley, finds this passage hard to accept. Yet Carman's sources say it happened, and he takes that as gospel. This passage really illustrates the difficulty and ambiguity of dealing with Carman.


      Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
      Professor of History
      Hagerstown Community College




      >>> "eighth_conn_inf" <eighth_conn_inf@...> 4/2/2008 2:39 PM >>>

      Steve,

      According to Carman there were pickets from Hampton's Brigade,
      Martin's regiment, the Jeff Davis Legion. Check out Carman (Pierro)
      pp. 124-5. Here is a brief summary:

      The Union column missed a more dangerous encounter with Rebel cavalry
      that morning. When Hampton's Brigade rode from Burkittsville near
      Crampton's Gap on the morning of 14 September, some of it went along
      the east foot of South Mountain to picket roads leading from
      Frederick and Berlin, while two regiments crossed into Pleasant
      Valley to the western side of South Mountain. One of these was the
      Jeff Davis Legion with six guns of Hart's Battery which took up a
      position at Solomon's Gap in Elk Ridge to the north of Harpers Ferry.
      Some of its pickets were those encountered by the Union column at the
      mouth of Antietam Creek near the Potomac about 10 pm that night. Col.
      Martin commanding the regiment decided to retreat to Hagerstown
      believing the McClellan's troops were between Harpers Ferry and
      points north and west. As he retreated, his scouts reported the Union
      column on a roughly parallel track but closer to the Potomac.
      Learning of the identity of the column he began pursuit seeing the
      smoke from the burning wagons in the Unionist's wake. Finding that he
      could not catch them, he turned and crossed into Williamsport. This
      was fortunate for Martin as his 300 troopers would not have been much
      of a match for the Union column.

      Larry

      --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "cowie_steve" <cowie_steve@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Hello, Forum.
      >
      > Murfin's GOB, page 153, describes Benjamin Davis's vanguard of
      escapees, the 12th Illinois,
      > as coming into contact with Confederate pickets near the edge of
      the Sharpsburg village
      > around 10:00 p.m. on the evening of 9/14. Murfin's source is
      William Luff of the 12th Illinois,
      > who claims to have been fired upon by CS artillery at this same
      time, as well.
      >
      > After giving Dr. Harsh's TAF a thorough read, I can find little
      evidence to support CS infantry,
      > cavalry or artillery from the day's mountain gap battles being near
      the edge of Sharpsburg at
      > 10:00 p.m. on 9/14.
      >
      > Could someone please shed some light on this matter?
      >
      > Thanks,
      >
      > Steve
      >




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • joseph_pierro
      Tom is correct regarding the distances involved in Carman s version of the event. It does give one pause. On the other hand, I ve yet to find any contemporary
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 4, 2008
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        Tom is correct regarding the distances involved in Carman's version
        of the event. It does give one pause. On the other hand, I've yet to
        find any contemporary evidence to contradict the claim.

        Also, the purpose of picketing, after all, is simply to give notice
        of an enemy's approach, not to attempt any appreciable resistance.
        And we're talking about picketing during the operational stage of a
        campaign (as opposed to the tactical phase, when the bulk of both
        armies are in close proximity, in their main battle lines). Given the
        distances over which the ANV was scattered at the time, the vast
        expanse of mileage over which potential threats could come, and the
        number of different avenues of approach from which the ANV had to
        guard against being attacked in detail, a distance as great as Carman
        records for those pickets is not entirely out of the realm of either
        possibility or military soundness.

        On the larger issue, one good thing to keep in mind whenever dealing
        with the Carman mss. is that the focus of his research overall was in
        furtherance of his official task: to mark the battlefield of Sept.
        17. That's where the bulk of his energies were directed -- on
        Antietam. Much of his focus on other aspects of the campaign -- South
        Mountain, for instance -- was undertaken primarily with regard to
        what the unit strengths would have been by the time they reached the
        field at Antietam. 9/17 was always uppermost.

        Of course, his manuscript covers the entire campaign, however. I
        don;t mean to suggest that it isn't of tremendous value OUTSIDE of
        9/17, but the area of Carman's greatest expertise was on the battle
        of Antietam. (Or, to put it more generously, he was on even FIRMER
        ground when discussing Antietam than he was on other aspects of the
        campaign.)

        I noticed in my work that, as he moves away from the battle itself,
        he tends to defer a bit more to his sources and is less willing to
        second-guess them.

        --jake

        --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > I am familiar with Carman's account and the letters, reports, etc.
        he used to write that passage. Murfin used Carman as his source on
        this. I am also familiar with how far it is from Solomon's Gap to
        What is essentially today Sample's Manor and that is a hell of a
        distance to picket with 300 men. Given the reductions for picket
        reserves, those supporting Hart's guns and the signal detachment on
        Elk Ridge, it doesn't leave a lot of guys to stretch that distance.
        Dennis Frye, who knows the MD Campaign quite well and grew up in
        Pleasant Valley, finds this passage hard to accept. Yet Carman's
        sources say it happened, and he takes that as gospel. This passage
        really illustrates the difficulty and ambiguity of dealing with
        Carman.
        >
        >
        > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
        > Professor of History
        > Hagerstown Community College
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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