[TalkAntietam] Re: Col. Benjamin Davis near Sharpsburg on 9/14
- 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.
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "cowie_steve" <cowie_steve@...>
>escapees, the 12th Illinois,
> Hello, Forum.
> Murfin's GOB, page 153, describes Benjamin Davis's vanguard of
> as coming into contact with Confederate pickets near the edge ofthe Sharpsburg village
> around 10:00 p.m. on the evening of 9/14. Murfin's source isWilliam Luff of the 12th Illinois,
> who claims to have been fired upon by CS artillery at this sametime, as well.
>evidence to support CS infantry,
> After giving Dr. Harsh's TAF a thorough read, I can find little
> cavalry or artillery from the day's mountain gap battles being nearthe edge of Sharpsburg at
> 10:00 p.m. on 9/14.[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Could someone please shed some light on this matter?
- 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
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
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
>he used to write that passage. Murfin used Carman as his source on
> I am familiar with Carman's account and the letters, reports, etc.
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
> Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
> Professor of History
> Hagerstown Community College