Across the Antietam: The Operation at Snavely’s Ford

Snavely sign

One of the facets of studying the life of Oliver Case that I enjoy most is attempting to recreate in my mind the emotion of the situation that Oliver and his fellow soldiers were dealing with at any given moment on the battlefield. This is particularly true when it comes to the events of September 17, 1862, the final day of young Private Case’s life. On a few occasions, I have taken some liberties by projecting emotions into Oliver’s mind based on what I’ve learned about him through his letters and my experience as a soldier. So, I go back periodically to the letters, reports and maps to see if I’ve missed something or if any new information is available to help me get a better sense of Oliver’s experience.

One of the phases of Oliver’s experience at the Battle of Antietam that has long held a great interest for me is the crossing operation by Rodman’s Division at Snavely’s Ford during the early afternoon of September 17, 1862. Recently, I discovered a small detail that caused me to revisit and enhance my view of the operation from Oliver’s perspective. This small detail led me to readdress the entire operation and attempt to piece together a clearer picture of events. A recounting of the events leading up to the crossing operation is helpful to appreciate the soldier’s state of mind at that point.

In the late morning of September 17, 1862, likely around 11:30, the two brigades of Rodman’s Division (Fairchild and Harland) began to move to their left and downstream away from the intense fighting of the morning at Rohrbach’s Bridge. In search of a ford which had been previously identified by an engineer from McClellan’s staff, the Union troops crossed the Rohrbach Road moving toward a large bend in the Antietam Creek.

Ezra Carmen recounts the events:

…Rodman moved from his position on the high ridge at 10.30 a.m., crossed the Rohrersville road about 1000 yards below the bridge, marched some 500 yards after crossing the road, and halted opposite the great bend in the Antietam, where the course of the stream changes from due south to west. Whiting’s five guns were put in position to shell the wooded bluff opposite the ford by which it was proposed to cross, and shelled the road and woods on the opposite side of the creek, driving the enemy from their positions. This fire of Whiting’s enfiladed the line of Georgians, at and below the bridge, and the annoyance it caused them is referred to in some of their reports.[1]

The division was accompanied by a Union battery; Company K of the 9th New York Infantry Regiment (Hawkins’ Zouaves) also known as Whiting’s Battery. The battery was organized in New York City and mustered into service in April of 1861 under the command of Captain James R. Whiting. Interestingly, it was one of only two batteries at Antietam, Union and Confederate, equipped with 12-pounder Dahlgren Boat Howitzers which, as the name implies, were intended primarily for use by the Navy. Whiting’s battery had a total of five guns with three smoothbores and two rifled pieces. The guns were outfitted with unique carriages constructed of wrought iron and highly prized by artillerists for their light weight.

12 lb Dahlgren Boat Howitzer

An example of the Dahlgren Boat Howitzer 12-pounder with wrought iron carriage.

While the work of the gunners seemed to be effective in causing the Georgia infantry to retire from its position on the high bluff across the creek, no soldier of Rodman’s Division would be crossing via this ford.

Meanwhile skirmishers had gone down to the creek and Rodman had come to the conclusion that this ford was not one that could be crossed and directed Colonel Harland to make further reconnaissance.[2]

General Rodman’s reconnaissance was likely to have been comprehensive since the opposing Confederate troops were driven off the hilltop and back toward the Harper’s Ferry Road. However, Oliver Case and most of the other infantry soldiers would have had very limited knowledge about this part of the operation. This is evidenced by the fact that little has been written about it in letters, diaries or even in official reports. It seems certain that Rodman had ordered his commanders to mask their movement to the maximum extent possible by using the hills near the creek as a shield. Only the artillerymen, skirmishers and leaders would have a good view of the creek and the far side.

One of the new nuggets I first stumbled onto came while reviewing (for the 20th time, I think) the battle report of Colonel Edward Harland, 2nd Brigade commander in Rodman’s Division and former commanding officer of the 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Harland recounts the situation as the brigade approached the ford on the south (east before the bend in the creek) bank of the Antietam Creek:

General-Rodman ordered me to detach one regiment for the support of the battery belonging to the Ninth New York Volunteers, and to send the remaining regiments of the brigade across the creek in rear of the First Brigade, and, when I had placed the regiment in proper position, to join the balance of the brigade. I found the battery on the hill just below the ford. I detached the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers placed it in what I considered the strongest position for the defense placed behind a stone wall, with orders from General Rodman to wait there for orders.[3]

In my previous reviews of this report, I had missed the significant phrase “placed behind a stone wall” referring to the position of the 8th Connecticut on the far bank. In this position, Oliver had an excellent view of the ford and John Snavely’s field and farm on the far side. Today, this is private property, but can be viewed from the National Park Service side of the ford where there is no apparent trace of a stone wall. From existing contemporary descriptions, the September woods were thinner than they appear today giving a clear view of the crossing site.

Hill across from Snavely_s Ford

Snavely’s Ford looking toward the south bank. From behind a stone wall on this hill, Oliver Case and the 8th Connecticut defended a Union battery covering the crossing site.

Sometime before 1 o’clock in the afternoon, the troops of Rodman’s division were prepared to cross the Antietam Creek and move toward the sound of battle around Sharpsburg that had rung in their ears for the entire day.

… [Rodman's reconnaissance] found a practicable ford, and the column, Fairchild’s Brigade in advance, marched down to it. Whiting’s Battery, supported by the 8th Connecticut, was put in position on a hill just below the ford to cover the crossing. Much time had been lost and it was nearly 1 o’clock… [4]

Carman’s comment about lost time is noteworthy since some might accuse Isaac Rodman with delaying the movement and crossing thereby causing more deaths in the repeated attempts to take the Rohrbach Bridge. However, the pace of Rodman’s movement down the Antietam is easily understood by considering the obstacles he faced. He had received indecisive orders for most of the morning and once he was ordered to shift downstream to the left of the Union line, Rodman without a doubt believed he would be crossing a known ford only a short distance away based on what should have been reliable information from one of General McClellan’s engineers who had allegedly conducted a reconnaissance the previous day. When the two brigades arrived at this supposed ford and prepared to cross, Rodman’s discovery that the ford was impracticable for crossing infantry soldiers caused the need to resume the movement toward Snavely’s Ford. This essentially became a reconnaissance in force, a very time-consuming activity for two brigades of infantry moving in unfamiliar territory.

Whatever the reason for the slow movement, it was now time for the crossing operation to begin. The ford located on the property of farmer John Snavely presented the first practical site for this type of crossing downstream from the Rohrbach Bridge. Moving south and then west (after “the great bend”) from bridge, the opposing bank was essentially a high, continuous bluff which had provided the Confederate defenders an excellent command of the creek. This bluff ended at Snavely’s Ford and morphed into a plain several hundred yards wide and even with the creek bank following the run for about one-half mile to the Snavely farmhouse. A natural draw bordered by a farm road led away from the ford to the northwest toward the town of Sharpsburg. The Confederate commander responsible for defending the ford and the Rohrbach Bridge recognized the danger of failing to defend this position.

The old road, by the upper of the two fords referred to, led over a hill on my right and in my rear, which completely commanded my position and all ingress and egress to and from it below the bridge.[5]

In the mind of Robert Toombs, Snavely’s Ford may have held more tactical significance than the Rohrbach Bridge in the defense of the southern end of the field. A more thorough reconnaissance by Union forces on the day before the battle could have altered the operational plans of McClellan and Burnside and saved the lives of countless Union troops who died attempting to capture the bridge. As it was, the Confederate defense of the bridge collapsed at about the same time Rodman’s soldiers set foot in the cool waters of the Antietam. This situation may have saved Rodman from much stronger resistance by the Confederate defenders.

Snavely_s ford looking south

Modern photo of Snavely’s Ford looking downstream to the south. The trace of the old road used by Rodman’s troops can be seen running parallel to the creek.

Opposing the crossing at Snavely’s was one very thinly manned regiment of Georgia troops extensively bloodied by the Battle of South Mountain only three days before. The 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment had been under the command of General Toombs for only one day before Rodman’s Division appeared to their front across the creek. Toombs had a bleak assessment of the regiment that was now barely the size of a company, but he employed them as best he could.

you placed under my command the Fiftieth Georgia (Lieutenant-Colonel Kearse), numbering, I should suppose, scarcely 100 muskets. I ordered this regiment on the right of the Second Georgia, extending it in open order, so as to guard a blind plantation road leading to a ford between the lower ford before referred to and the right of the Second Georgia Volunteers.[6]

In fact, Lieutenant Colonel Kearse and General Toombs had recognized the strong points overlooking the ford and Snavely’s field. Kearse deployed his troops in what amounted to a skirmish line extending from the crest of the high bluff to the right on the ford (as viewed from the far side) to a point on a rise overlooking Snavely’s field with a clear view of the crossing site. To the right rear of the 50th Georgia, Kearse received supporting fire from an artillery battery emplaced just prior to the arrival of the Union troops at the ford.

During the forenoon the Washington Artillery was engaged with the enemy’s heavy Batteries on the opposite side of Antietam Creek…at noon the 4th Company, Eshleman, was moved farther to the right to guard the fords below the Burnside Bridge.[7]

This was one of the four batteries of the Washington (Louisiana) Artillery and was under the command of Captain Benjamin Franklin Eshleman. The 32-year old Confederate artilleryman was actually born into a Pennsylvania Mennonite family relocating to New Orleans only about ten years before the war. He joined the Washington Artillery in May of 1861 and suffered a wound during the First Battle of Bull Run. Eshleman, surviving the war and reaching the rank of Colonel, returned to New Orleans to become a successful and respected businessman for the next fifty years.[8]

BF Eshleman2

Captain B.F. Eshleman, Commanding Officer, 4th Battery, Washington (LA) Artillery, was sent to help check the Union crossing at Snavely’s Ford.

On September 17, 1862, his battery played a key role in opposing the crossing of Snavely’s Ford and the subsequent Union attack toward Sharpsburg. With his four cannon (2 – 6 pounder guns and 2 – 12 pounder howitzers), Eshleman could easily range all of the soldiers of Rodman’s division as they crossed the river.

The fourth, under Eshleman, was not idle during this eventful day, when the battalion was so actively and effectually employed. About noon on the 17th he was directed by General Jones, in front of whose position he was placed, to remove his battery to a position to guard the ford below the bridge held by General Toombs. The battery was placed in position between the Blackford House and the ford, and opened fire upon the enemy, who were crossing in force.[9]

The hilltop location of the battery is visible today to Antietam National Battlefield visitors traveling along Branch Avenue toward the intersection with the Harper’s Ferry Road. While the position was commanding, there were limitations for the Confederate artillerymen that would be revealed as the afternoon progressed.

Eshleman Battery location Snavely_s Ford crossing

Modern day photo taken from the Harper’s Ferry Road shows the exposed hilltop (now a cornfield) from where Eshleman directed fire on Union troops in Snavely’s field.

With the 8th Connecticut perched on the hill above the ford and taking cover behind a stone fence, Private Oliver Case had a panoramic view of the evolving action as the other regiments from Rodman’s Division began to cross the Antietam Creek at around 1 o’clock. Direct fire on the position of the 8th Connecticut was unlikely due to small number of Confederate infantry near the ford and the distance. The soldiers of the 50th Georgia were likely focused on the ford as the Union troops began to set foot in the waters of the Antietam. Fairchild’s Brigade was the first to navigate the ford with the 9th New York (Hawkins’ Zouves) in the lead. A lieutenant in the 9th New York described the action from the perspective of the first Union regiment to cross the ford:

Then came the crossing of the creek. We marched by the left flank down what appeared to be an old wood-road, and filed to the right at the edge of the stream. I do not remember how deep it was, but it was quite an effort to stem the current. When partly across we received the fire of a detachment which was stationed behind a wall at the head of a ravine which opened up from the water towards our left front. I judge there were about two companies of infantry of them. Their fire was not very heavy, rather scattering, and we did not answer it. One reason was that we would have to stop in the stream while firing, and any of our men who might be wounded would be in great danger of drowning, so we urged the men forward and passed the order not to fire. I had two men hit here.[10]

Lieutenant Graham and his fellow soldiers of the 9th New York hurriedly crossed the ford and immediately began to seek shelter from the musket fire of the 50th Georgia. The high bluff to their right gave them cover but presented a new problem with a relatively small area available to stack in the regiment with the only route of advance being up the steep bluff in front of them. While the commanders prepared their companies to ascend the hill, General Rodman joined the regiment to encourage them with this difficult movement.

We then faced to the left, which brought us by the rear rank into line, and marched, or rather climbed, directly up the bluff; the ground in front of my company was very rough and difficult and also very steep. Rodman appeared here again on foot and went up with the regiment.[11]  

The 9th New York was followed across the ford by the other two New York regiments of Fairchild’s Brigade, the 103rd and 89th. With Fairchild’s men clear of the ford, the two remaining regiments of Edward Harland’s Brigade marched along the wooded road leading up to the ford with the 4th Rhode Island Infantry in the advance.

… [the 4th] moved by the left flank to the creek at a ford under fire from the enemy’s skirmishers, who were sheltered behind a stone wall. The Fourth, after crossing the ford, filed to the left (the other brigade going to the right, and the rest of Harland’s brigade not yet having crossed)…[12]

Since a relatively small area existed on the right of the ford exit with three regiments traversing it, Harland’s Brigade was forced to move into Snavely’s open field on the left. This presented to the sparse group of Confederate defenders the opportunity to direct unobstructed musket fire into the ranks of the 4th Rhode Island and the 16th Connecticut, the next regiment crossing the ford. However, the small band of Georgians was no match for the Rhode Island infantry supported by the artillery battery on the far side.

Harland followed Fairchild and while the latter was making his difficult way up the bluff, on the right, the 4th Rhode Island crossed the creek under fire of the enemy behind the stone fence, filed to the left on open ground, then one company to the front and one to the left as skirmishers, and advancing drove the enemy from the stone fence and formed behind it, and almost immediately received a musketry fire from the left, which was almost immediately silenced by Whiting’s guns across the creek.[13]

Carman’s description of this segment of the action is confirmed by the report of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Curtis, the commanding officer of the Fourth Rhode Island Infantry.

…after throwing out Company H as skirmishers to cover the front, and Company K to the left, advanced in line toward the stone wall, the enemy retiring, but shortly after opening a fire of musketry on our left, which was soon silenced by the fire from our battery covering the ford.[14]

Snavely_s Farm and field

Modern photo showing John Snavely’s field briefly occupied by the 4th RI and 16th Connecticut after crossing the ford. A small force covered the field and ford from a stonewall no longer visable on the slope to the right in this photo.

With the first two regiments of Harland’s Brigade safely across the Antietam, only the 8th Connecticut remained on the far side of the creek. However, as the soldiers of the 8th left their defensive positions on the hill and the opposing troops of the 50th Georgia faded away from the stone wall north of Snavely’s field, a new problem presented itself for Colonel Harland.

Shortly after my [Harland] arrival opened an enfilading fire from a section of a battery which had been placed on our left flank. In order to protect the men, I moved the command more to the right behind the crest of a hill, and awaited in that position the orders of General Rodman. While in this position the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers rejoined the brigade, and I moved still more to the right, in the direction of the bridge, and halted in the woods, just under the brow of the hill.[15]

The highly exposed troops of the 4th Rhode Island and the 16th Connecticut were being rained on by Eshleman’s Confederate artillery battery to the northwest of Snavely’s field. Harland had no choice but to remove the troops from these positions and seek shelter in the draw leading away from the ford to the right of Snavely’s field. Eshleman’s battery was positioned on a spur pointing toward the ford to the southeast. Harland realized that moving his troops quickly to the right and up the ravine would shield them from the line of sight of the Confederate artillerymen.

Snavely Crossing graphics

This map depicts the positions and actions of both Confederate and Union units during the crossing operations at Snavely’s Ford on the afternoon of September 17, 1862.[16]

The commanding view from the hill where Eshleman’s four guns had been emplaced about one hour earlier offered a good fields of fire on Snavely’s field and the first hundred yards of the road leading away from the ford. However, Captain Eshleman’s guns were unable to acquire the troops of Rodman’s Division as they moved to the north under the cover of the same terrain feature that gave the Confederate gunners such an excellent view. Also, Whiting’s New York Battery was able to easily range Eshleman.

Oliver and his fellow Connecticut troopers had benefited by the distraction from the 4th RI and the 16th CT by quickly crossing the ford and moving up to join Harland in the ravine. The thicker stand of trees and the brow of the hill gave Colonel Harland the opportunity to reposition and reorganized his regiments in accordance with instructions from General Rodman prior to commencing the final attack against the Confederate troops now searching for fresh defensive positions closer to the Harper’s Ferry Road. The Confederate general charged with the defense of Snavely’s Ford tried to put a positive angle in his report after the battle.

The Fiftieth Georgia and the company from General Jenkins’ brigade were at the same time ordered to the same position, and were led back by their respective officers. This change of position was made to my entire satisfaction, and with but small loss, in the face of greatly superior numbers.[17]

Of course, Toombs was provided scant resources to stop an overwhelming force attempting to cross in two locations. Considering the size of his force (around 500 at best) versus the opposing Union forces (up to 5,000 or more), the Georgia political general had put up a significant resistance and served the important purpose of delaying Burnside’s corps long enough for A.P. Hill’s division to arrive on the field from Harper’s Ferry. According to Toombs’ battle report, he had recognized the importance of the position and requested reinforcements to stop the Union assaults.

…it was for this purpose that I so often and urgently asked the aid of a regiment on the day of the battle, not having another man available for that purpose. Not being able to get any re-enforcements for the defense of these two fords, and seeing that the enemy was moving upon them to cross, thus enabling him to attack my small force in front, right flank, and rear, and my two regiments having been constantly engaged from early in the morning up to 1 o’clock with a vastly superior force of the enemy, aided by three heavy batteries…the ammunition of both regiments being nearly exhausted, and Eubank’s battery having been withdrawn to the rear nearly two hours before, I deemed it my duty, in pursuance of your original order, to withdraw my command and place it in the position designated by you opposite the two lower fords, some half a mile to the right and front of your line of battle.[18]

For Oliver Case and the soldiers of the 8th Connecticut, they would no longer find themselves last in the line of battle for this day as they had been at Snavely’s Ford. As the attack began against Toombs and his reorganizing units near the Harper’s Ferry road, the 8th Connecticut would be the vanguard of the attack.

ENDNOTES:


[1] Carman, Ezra Ayres, Antietam Manuscript (unpublished), Chapter 21

[2] IBID.

[3] Number 151. Report of Colonel Edward Harland, Eighth Connecticut Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, of the battle of Antietam. OR Series I Volume XIX Part I

[4] Carman.

[5] Number 234. Report of Brigadier General Robert Toombs, C. S. Army, commanding division (temporary), of the battle of Sharpsburg. O.R. Series I Volume XIX Part I

[6] IBID.

[7] From War Department Tablet No. 308 located west of Boonsboro Pike near intersection with Rodman Avenue, Antietam National Battlefield.

[8] Obituary of Benjamin Franklin Eshleman, accessed from “Find A Grave” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=66881495

[9] Number 217. Report of Colonel J. B. Walton, Washington (Louisiana) Artillery, of the battle of Sharpsburg. O.R. Series 1, Vol XIX, Part I

[10] Letter of Lieutenant Matthew J. Graham, formerly of 9th New York Infantry, September 27, 1894, extractedfrom “The Ninth Regiment New York Volunteers (Hawkins’ Zouaves): A History of the Regiment and Veteran Association from 1860 to 1900. Access from 1860 to 1900.

[11] IBID.

[12] Number 153. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Curtis, Fourth Rhode Island Infantry, of the battle of Antietam. Series I Volume XIX Part I

[13] Carman.

[14] Curtis.

[15] Harland.

[16] Map adapted from Antietam on the Web, http://www.aotw.org.

[17] Toombs.

[18] IBID.

An 8th Connecticut Thanksgiving with Private Oliver Case

Old Simon photo

152 Years Ago…Thanksgiving with the 8th Connecticut and Private Oliver Case:

Camp Burnside

Annapolis

Nov. 28th, 1861

Dear Sister,

Not having heard from you for over a week and thinking that your letters must either have been miscarried or that you were away from home or possibly sick, I have taken this opportunity of writing another letter hoping that the receipt of this may have the effect to induce same of you to write in reply. I received a letter from Alonzo last Friday and also received one from Ariel Thursday. I wrote to Ariel that Duane Brown and H.D. Sexton were sick at the hospital. I went to see them as soon as I heard of it, but could not get in where they were, but I looked in and saw their hall. I talked with one of Sexton’s friends who told me he was much better and expected to be around before long. The next day I succeeded in getting in where they were for a few moments. Brown is getting better also. Sexton was asleep. I heard from them Friday and presume by this time they are around. I should go to see them everyday but I am tired after patrolling the city eight hours a day besides keeping my gun clean. The camp is situated 1 ½ miles from our quarters and it is seldom that I can get into the hospital when I get there. I am particular in writing this because you hear such exaggerated accounts and reports about everything that happens here. We are fast filling up here with soldiers, 1200 cavalry and 800 zouaves having arrived within the last week. Part of Cavalry have left for Fortress Monroe and others are expecting to leave soon. We shall probably leave in the course of 2 weeks but may leave any day, or we may stay 6 weeks. We have comparatively quiet times on patrol. We take up but four or five daily and those are mostly sober. We have spilled several casks of liquor to say nothing of jugs, demijohns, and bottles, which we have thrown out. Major Hathaway arrived here yesterday from Washington. He left on the 3PM. train for the north. I saw him a short time before he started. He told me that our people were well, and that he was going to be at L.G. Goodrich’s for Thanksgiving. He says he shall be here again two weeks if we do not leave before that time; he thinks that Lucius may come with him. I wear my mittens every night and find them very comfortable too. Those gloves I received from Ariel, but he says I can thank you for them also, as father paid for them. I have not worn them yet but think that they will be very warm. It has been rumored that we shall spend the winter here but the last rumor is that the 51st N.Y. is the one to be left. If they stay, I guess the citizens will get enough of the soldiers before winter is over for they are the hardest set of boys that encamp here (not excepting the zouaves which are bad enough in a conscience[?]). Nine tenths of the arrests we make are of that 51st regiment. Our chaplain preached to us in our quarters this morning. He delivered an excellent discourse from John 18th [chapter] 38th [verse]. “What is truth”. He is a very talented man and is very familiar with the soldiers. He is liked very much by them all.

We are treated with much respect by the citizens and they often send in some shortcakes, gingersnaps, cookies etc; of course, only a bite for each but enough to know that we have their good will. If they found out that any of our number are complaining they will send in a cup of tea, biscuit and butter, and other little knickknacks to them. When we first came here they were very shy of us always avoiding us if possible, but now they are quite familiar with us at almost anytime. The soldiers that had been here before were a pretty rough set. It was reported that the people of this place had sent to Gen. Burnside requesting him to let us stay here this winter. I do not know whether it is true or not. We have been expecting to be paid off ever since we came from Jamaica but have not got it yet. The time now set is next Thursday when we may be paid and then again we may not. Where are you expecting to go to school this winter? I see by the Hartford papers that Joe R. Toy has gone into camp. Is it at Hartford or New Haven? I have forgotten. Alonzo says they got their corn all into the barn. I suppose you have all of your corn and other crops before this time, have you not? There is some corn out here but it is pretty much all gathered. The weather is quite cold so that it froze a little last night. We have much wet weather but thanks to our rubber blankets we keep dry. The general impression here is that the war will not last more than six months at fartherest; but I do not believe that it is to be finished so soon; perhaps it may not last more than a year or a year and a half but that is as soon as I expect it will be ended. Of course we do not care how soon we go south notwithstanding we have good quarters here and much more freedom than we shall have there. News is scarce here as you will see by reading my letter. Do you ever see Georgie and Elsworth? I hope they enjoy themselves north.

How is grandmother? Give her my best respects. I shall not write again until I get paid off as I shall have used up all the stamps you sent me in buying paper, writing letters and for a few other notions that I could not well do without; but we shall probably be paid off this week so that it will make no difference. I have just stopped writing to get some Ginger snaps that a negro woman is giving to the boys. They are excellent. Respects to all inquiring friends and [unreadable].

Your Brother, Oliver

Thoughts on the Gettysburg Address

20131118-114209.jpg

A Gettysburg Address article in this morning’s Frederick News Post caught my attention.

It’s written by an AP writer, Hillel Italie, who appears to be a somewhat partisan political writer for AP and other publications. That said, he does a decent job of covering some of the issues surrounding the speech and I believe the article is worth consideration.

One part that I focused on right away is concerning Lincoln’s evolving views on the war:

Lincoln’s reasons for fighting the Civil War were steadily evolving. By Gettysburg, the original goal of preserving the union had been displaced by the profound and politically risky statement that democracy itself rested upon “the proposition that all men are created equal.” Slavery and the doctrine of states’ rights would not hold in the “more perfect union” of Lincoln’s vision.

Rather than evolving reasons, I would say Lincoln was simply pragmatic in his approach to winning the war. As he clearly articulated early on in his presidency, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to win the war thus preserving the Union. He said he would free the slaves if it that will preserve the Union and he would not free the slaves if that will preserve the Union.

What had happened by September 1862 (the time of the battle of Antietam) is that Lincoln had come to the realization that he must consolidate his political power among the factions in the northern states which included those opposed to the war (Copperheads), abolitionists and supporters of Lincoln’s approach to the war. The first year of the war had gone very badly for the Union. In the eastern theater (Northern Virginia), the Union Army had lost almost every major battle. Support for the war was quickly eroding and the Copperheads were gaining momentum heading toward the mid-term elections of 1862. Abolitionists were angry that Lincoln did not move to free the slaves and make abolition one of the major war aims. Lincoln knew his only hope for breaking the growing power of the Copperheads was to bring the abolitionists into his camp.

Thus, by the summer of 1862, Lincoln already started a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. He then waited for a Union battlefield victory to issue the proclamation so it would not seem an act of desperation but a deliberate action to further clarify his war aims. The Emancipation Proclamation which became effective on January 1, 1863, only freed slaves in the states currently in rebellion and it would take the 13thAmendment, passed near the end of war, to totally abolish slavery in the United States. By the time of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3.1863), freeing the slaves had become a conduit to winning the war and preserving the Union.

The larger point that emerges in this article is “the doctrine of states’ rights” which Italie clearly identifies as a casualty of Lincoln’s war. While the Constitution never codified or endorsed slavery, it does, in a very purposeful manner, enshrine the concept of the limit power of the federal government. In my opinion, the most significant impact of Lincoln’s approach to the war was the manner in which he set aside parts of the Constitution in order to prosecute the war. Ironically, there is no mention in the Constitution of a method for a state to exit the Union, but there is also no prohibition for state to leave. Italie’s article addresses this issue:

“Up to the Civil War ‘the United States’ was invariably a plural noun: ‘The United States are a free country.’ After Gettysburg it became a singular: ‘The United States is a free country,’” Wills wrote. “This was a result of the whole mode of thinking that Lincoln expressed in his acts as well as his words, making union not a mystical hope but a constitutional reality.”
[Quoted from Garry Wills, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Lincoln at Gettysburg"]

At the beginning of his presidency, Lincoln approached the problem of states leaving the Union by declaring a constitutional prohibition against it. Yet, this was nothing more than a “mystical hope” ungrounded in the reality of the Constitution. Returning to the Gettysburg Address itself, the singular nature of the “United States” is clearly laid out in the last line of the speech.

… this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

The freeing of the slaves (…the proposition that all men are created equal.) was only a means to an end for Lincoln. This is not a commentary on Lincoln’s view of slavery as a moral issue but more of an ordering of priorities driven by the realities of secession. By the time of the Gettysburg Address in November of 1863, Lincoln plainly knew that he was guiding the United States toward a “new birth” that would forever change the governmental construct. The federal government had been created by the states which pre-existed the national government and remained supreme less those powers specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution. Only by changing this view of the United States as a nation, thus changing that balance of power, could Lincoln justify the war and make it, first and foremost, a struggle to preserve the Union.

In my opinion, the address remains an amazing literary example of taking a complex set of issues and weaving them into a concise and coherent message that would stand the test of time. Italie cities Willis again as an example of this:

Wills noted that the Gettysburg Address came at a time of great technological change, when communication was hastened by the rise of the telegraph, an innovation that demanded concise language…

Rather than being a dumb rail splitter as many of his opponents often dubbed him, Lincoln knew that the public would “little note nor long remember what we say here” if it was delivered as a two-hour speech such as the key note address given that day by Edward Everett. I believe he was a man ahead of his time with respect to the packaging and delivery of his message. Sadly, political leaders today run away from this style using either sound bites which fail to deliver a coherent message or long, boring policy speeches that ignore the need to be concise.

Just my thoughts on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address..

…and, with consideration to his writing style, I think Oliver Case would have been pleased with Mr. Lincoln’s speech!

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Lincoln to Burnside: “…any re-enforcements you can spare to General McClellan.”

A change in mission for the Burnside Expeditionary Force

By the end of May 1862, Ambrose Burnside and his expeditionary force had spent five difficult, but rewarding months conducting operations against the Confederates on the North Carolina coast. Combat success at Roanoke Island, Newbern and Fort Macon had battle hardened Burnside’s troops who now turned their attention to occupation duty as the Union high command contemplated their next mission. Oliver Case and his comrades in the 8th Connecticut where given various missions in and around the city of Newbern. In late June 1862, after enjoying an extended stay in what Oliver called “one of the pleasantest cities I ever saw for its streets are shaded by large trees which meet overhead which makes the streets pleasant,” the expeditionary force commander received an urgent telegram from the Secretary of War.

WASHINGTON CITY, June 28, 1862.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

New Berne, via Fort Monroe:

We have intelligence that General McClellan has been attacked in large force and compelled to fall back toward the James River. We are not advised of his exact condition; but the President directs that you shall send him all the re-enforcements from your command to the James River that you can safely do without abandoning your own position. Let it be infantry entirely, as he said yesterday that he had cavalry enough.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

newbern cw

View of the City of Newbern from across the Neuces River, 1862

Ambrose Burnside was now forced to change his focus from future offensive operations toward the inland of North Carolina and the monotony of occupation duty. His force had a new mission that would eventually bring them to northern Virginia to support the embattled forces of Union commander George B. McClellan. During the past four months, McClellan had deliberately marched his army from Fortress Monroe up the Virginia peninsula to the gates of the Confederate capital city. The Union army stalled outside of Richmond as its commander prepared for a long siege against an enemy force that he believed to be 2 to 3 times its actual size.

After the Confederate commander, Joseph Johnston was wounded by an artillery shell on June 1, 1862 during the fighting outside of Richmond, he was replaced by the more aggressive Robert E. Lee. Lee began to reinforce the defensive positions surrounding Richmond during a long lull in the fighting for most of the month of June. On June 25, 1862, Lee began a series of bold attacks known as the Seven Days Battles that caused McClellan to panic and began the withdrawal of his army back down the peninsula. The “large force” referred to in Secretary Stanton’s telegraph message to Burnside was a Confederate force of about 50,000 troops attacking a total Union force of over 100,000. McClellan’s proclivity for overestimating the enemy troop numbers and calling for reinforcements caused the Lincoln administration to recall Burnside from the coast of North Carolina.

The previous evening, McClellan had sent an urgent message to the Secretary of War creating the urgency to act on the part of the administration.

McCLELLAN’S HEADQUARTERS,

June 27, 1862-8 p.m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

Have had a terrible contest. Attacked by greatly superior number in all directions on this side; we still hold our own, though a very heavy fire is still kept up on the left bank of Chickahominy. The odds have been immense. We hold our own very nearly. I may be forced to give up my position during the night, but will not if it is possible to avoid it. Had I 20,000 fresh and good troops we would be sure of a splendid victory to-morrow.

My men have fought magnificently.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General.

However, Secretary Stanton and President Lincoln were unaware at the time of their first dispatch to Burnside that the overcautious McClellan had already contacted his friend and subordinate commander. Upon learning of McClellan’s earlier telegraph message to Burnside, Stanton quickly deferred the decision about moving Burnside’s forces to McClellan in a message that same evening.

WASHINGTON CITY,

June 28, 1862-6 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE, New Berne:

Since the dispatches of the President and myself to you of to-day we have seen a copy of one sent to you by General McClellan on the 25th, of which we were not aware.

Our directions were not designed to interfere with any instructions given you by General McClellan, but only to authorize you to render him any aid in your power.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

Interestingly, on the same day, President Lincoln had also sent a personal message to Burnside directing him to assist McClellan.

WASHINGTON CITY, June 28, 1862.

General BURNSIDE:

I think you had better go with any re-enforcements you can spare to General McClellan.

A. LINCOLN.

StantonLincolnMcClellan

Stanton, Lincoln and McClellan traded a flurry of messages regarding the situation of the Army of the Potomac in late June 1862

Lincoln and Stanton obviously believed the reports of the desperate situation that McClellan claimed to find himself trapped in. The commanding general of the Army of the Potomac was now constantly calling for reinforcements and his pleas even convinced President Lincoln to ask commanders in the western theater of operations about providing troops to McClellan. From contemporary communications, it is evident that Stanton (and likely Lincoln) envisioned a very rapid movement of at least part of Burnside’s force by water to the James River to relive McClellan. McClellan’s vision for Burnside was a bit different as expressed in the dispatch sent three days before Lincoln and Stanton communicated with him.

GENERAL McCLELLAN’S HEADQUARTERS,

June 25, 1862-7 p.m.

Major General AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE,

New Berne, N. C.:

Reports from contrabands and deserters to-day make it probable that Jackson’s forces are coming to Richmond and that a part of Beauregard’s force have arrived at Richmond. You will please advance on Goldsborough with all your available forces at the earliest practicable moment. I wish you to understand that every minute in this crisis is of great importance. You will therefore reach Goldsborough as soon as possible, destroying all the railroad communication in the direction of Richmond in your power.

If possible, destroy some of the bridges on the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad and threaten Raleigh.

GEO., B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General.

Ambrose-Burnside

Ambrose Burnside readied his forces to assist McClellan

 

This seems to be conflicting guidance from Major General McClellan warning that “every minute is a great crisis” while prescribing an overland route that could take up to two weeks for the troops of Burnside to cover. McClellan’s suggested route of march would take the three divisions initially to the northwest and then to the north crossing into Virginia approaching Petersburg from the south. It’s certainly possible that McClellan believed that Confederate intelligence reports of Burnside’s movement from the south could cause Lee to suspend offensive operations and focus on defending Richmond and Petersburg against this new threat.

Whatever McClellan’s logic, Burnside would not use the overland route. Within the week, the expeditionary force would begin loading ships for a trip to Virginia. On the 2nd of July, the 8th Connecticut and other regiments of Burnside’s Expeditionary Force were transported by rail to Morehead City, NC where they boarded the steamer “Admiral” and travel to Newport News, VA.

Croffut and Morris, historians of the Connecticut regiments described the movement and the soldiers’ new home at Newport News:

On July 2, the Eighth moved to Morehead City, and thence on the transport Admiral to Newport News, where a camp was set on an exposed sandy plain. The Eleventh followed closely. The beach of Hampton Roads, near at hand, protracted the delight of bathing. A few oysters were scattered along the clean bottom; and the boys felt out with their bare feet, dived down, and captured enough of the toothsome bivalves to break the monotony of salt pork and hard-tack.[1]

Another regimental historian of Burnside’s force offered a detailed view of Newport News:

At first view, Newport News had the appearance of a place where nothing new ever occurred or was likely to happen. A sandy plain, fifteen or twenty feet above the river, with a few old barracks, and some earthworks and ditches, constructed by General Butler’s troops; a gray sky, with spits of rain, made up the desolate picture. Beyond the plain was a swamp, with immense southern pitch-pines…[2]

Newport News 1861

View of Civil War Newport News from the James River

 

For the next month, Burnside’s troops would sit at Newport News and wait for the call that would never come to assist the embattled Army of the Potomac.

 

 

[1] The Military and Civil History of Connecticut: The War of 1861-1865, W.A. Croffut and John M. Morris, Ledyard Bill, New York, 1868

[2] History of the Thirty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862-1865; Mills, Knight and Company, Boston, 1884.

Connecticut Yankees at Antietam

John Banks Book

I am long overdue with a review/endorsement of John Banks’ book on Connecticut Soldiers at Antietam. It has been my privilege to get to know John over the past two years as he intensified his research on the over two hundred Connecticut soldiers killed at the Battle of Antietam. It has been my honor to “walk the field” outside Sharpsburg with him on numerous occasions developing a great appreciation for John’s dedication to tell the unknown or forgotten stories of these men. His research is impeccable and painstakingly detailed. John masterfully uses his research to inform his superb collection of stories about individual Soldiers fighting and dying during the bloodiest day in American history. He is a terrific storyteller and this book is a must read for anyone interested in the human dimension of war. No matter your level of interest in the Civil War or the Battle of Antietam, this is a wonderful book to gain an understanding of what it was like for the average soldier to experience the intensity of combat.

The real precious & royal ones

Many folks have asked me about the Walt Whitman quote I’ve included in the header of this blog. So, I thought it might be useful to spend my “return from the posting drought” post talking about the quote, its author and how I came to include it on this blog.

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The great American poet Walt Whitman is closely associated with the Civil War through both his work as a volunteer nurse in the Washington hospitals and his writings about the war. Whitman, a staunch supporter of preserving the Union, decided to make his contribution to the war effort by serving in hospitals around Washington following a visit to see his brother, George Washington Whitman, who had been slightly wounded during the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. The younger Whitman was serving as a first lieutenant with the 51st New York Infantry Regiment at the time of the battle when he was injured by artillery shell fragments to his jaw. While his injuries were not serious, Walt rushed to Virginia to confirm the extent of his brother’s wounds and provide care for him if necessary. Finding his brother well, Whitman set about visiting the Union hospitals in and around Fredericksburg. What he experienced there moved him to action, ultimately causing Whitman to volunteer as a nurse in Washington upon his return.

Back in Washington, Walt was eventually able to secure a series of jobs with the federal government and spent much of his free time working in the military hospitals. A good deal of his volunteer work was done at Washington’s Armory Square Hospital where he labored numerous hours by visiting and providing morale boosting activities for the young soldiers who were sick and wounded. The poet read to the soldiers and even wrote letters for them to family members and friends. One of the soldiers Whitman encountered at Armory Square was a 21-year old member of the 141st New York Infantry named Erastus E. Haskell.

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Erastus Haskell was a carpenter from Elmira when he enlisted in the 141st New York on September 11, 1862. Much like Oliver Case, Haskell’s initial entry training was soon interrupted by illness as he contracted typhoid fever spending much of his first ten months with the regiment in field hospitals before finally being admitted to the Armory Square Hospital on July 11, 1863. By Whitman’s own account, the young soldier’s health began to progressively decline after his admission to the hospital. Whitman remained close to Haskell providing him comfort and even attempting to improve his medical care by imploring the attending physician to action. Even with Whitman’s intervention, Erastus Haskell’s condition soon grew critical and he succumbed to the fever on August 2, 1863.

Walt Whitman had come to view Erastus as a son and he was so moved by the struggle and suffering of this young man that he felt obligated to write a letter to his parents recounting their son’s last days. In the letter, Whitman also sought to pay tribute to Erastus Haskell and thousands of other soldiers like him virtually unknown to most of the citizens of the country. The most moving paragraph of the letter is the one from which I lifted the header quote:

I write to you this letter, because I would do something at least in his memory—his fate was a hard one, to die so—He is one of the thousands of our unknown American young men in the ranks about whom there is no record or fame, no fuss made about their dying so unknown, but I find in them the real precious & royal ones of this land, giving themselves up, aye even their young & precious lives, in their country’s cause—Poor dear son, though you were not my son, I felt to love you as a son, what short time I saw you sick & dying here—it is as well as it is, perhaps better—for who knows whether he is not better off, that patient & sweet young soul, to go, than we are to stay? So farewell, dear boy—it was my opportunity to be with you in your last rapid days of death—no chance as I have said to do any thing particular, for nothing [could be done—only you did not lay] here & die among strangers without having one at hand who loved you dearly, & to whom you gave your dying kiss—

You can read the entire Erastus Haskell letter – Walt Whitman here.

When I first read this letter several years ago, I was deeply moved by Whitman’s compassion for the parents and his willingness to express his emotional connection to their son. Moreover, I was particularly impressed by the tribute aspect of the letter. Whitman had seen so many soldiers come into the Washington hospitals…never to walk out. Most were not heroes of some great battle. In fact, many were just like young Haskell, never seeing the battlefield due to their own personal fight with one of a myriad of diseases lurking in the soldiers’ camps. As readers of this blog know, Oliver Case came very close to death (Death Comes Calling – Oliver Cromwell Case) as a victim of disease before he eventually died from a Confederate musket ball at the Battle of Antietam.

But, it is Whitman’s declaration that his soldier “is one of the thousands of our unknown” with “no record or fame, no fuss made about their dying” that gripped me. This was not only Erastus Haskell, the carpenter from Elmira, New York, but this was Oliver Cromwell Case, the farmer’s son from Simsbury, Connecticut. I knew that this was the quote to succinctly describe why I write about this seemingly unimportant Civil War soldier because I found in him “the real precious & royal ones of this land, giving themselves up, aye even their young & precious lives, in their country’s cause.”

 

Thanks, Walt Whitman.

 

 

A dauntless soldier…a renegade Virginian

On the evening of September 14, 1862 as the sounds of the day’s battle began to fade away and night spread its cloak of darkness across the eastern face of South Mountain, Oliver Case of the 8th Connecticut along with the other soldiers of IX Corps received disturbing news. In spite of lying in battle positions with the threat of Confederate sharpshooting from the summit, the word spread quickly about the death of the IX Corps’ commanding general, Jesse Lee Reno.  In command of the corps for just over two months since Ambrose Burnside had sent him with the corps to support John Pope’s failed campaign in northern Virginia, Reno had become respected and beloved by his troops.

Ironically, Jesse Reno was a Virginian by birth. The third of eight children of Lewis and Rebecca Reno, Jesse was born in Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia) on June 20, 1823. His family descended from French immigrants who arrived in the American colonies in 1770 and promptly changed their name from the French surname “Reynaud” to the more palatable Reno. When Jesse was only seven years old, the family left Virginia and moved to Franklin, Pennsylvania where he would spend his remaining childhood and attend school. Reno gained admission to the United States Military Academy in 1842 joining many other future Union and Confederate generals such as Pickett, A.P. Hill, McClellan, Stoneman, Couch and Thomas J. Jackson. During his years at West Point, Jesse and Thomas Jackson would become close friends.

Jesse Reno graduated number eight of 59 cadets in his class in 1846 with an appointment as a second lieutenant of ordnance. Like Jackson and many of his classmates, Reno would fight under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War in 1847 including the battles at Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Chumbusco and Vera Cruz. He was twice cited for bravery in battle receiving battlefield promotions at Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec. While in command of howitzer battery at the Battle of Chapultepec, Reno was severely wounded.

In the post-war years, Reno served in various locations including Washington, West Point, Minnesota and Utah. In November 1853, he married Mary Blanes Cross of Boston at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. Their marriage would produce five children.

As the winds of war began to blow through the country, Reno received an assignment as the commanding officer of the Mount Vernon Arsenal in Mobile, Alabama in 1859. As the secession debate moved through the southern states, the governor of Alabama ordered the seizure of the arsenal on January 4, 1861. Reno’s detachment of only 18 soldiers was no match for the four companies of Alabama state militia sent to the arsenal by the governor. Captain Reno surrendered the post without bloodshed and led his soldiers back to the north. Reno was placed in charge of the Army’s arsenal at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas until December 1861 when his services would be requested elsewhere.

Jesse Reno was promoted to Brigadier General with an effective date of November 12, 1861 as requested by General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was gathering an expeditionary force at Annapolis, Maryland for operations along the southern coastline and appointed Reno as the commander of its 2nd Brigade which included among its regiments the 51st New York, 51st Pennsylvania, 21st Massachusetts, 9th New Jersey, and the 6th New Hampshire. After training and equipping his brigade, Reno led them in Burnside’s expeditionary operations in North Carolina at New Bern, Roanoke Island and Fort Macon. In these battles, Reno proved his skill and acumen as a battlefield commander by leading his brigade in difficult operational and logistical situations. His troops gained a great deal of respect for him as a leader who cared for his soldiers and inspired them to fight.

General Jesse Reno3

After Burnside received orders to relocate the bulk of his force to Virginia to support George McClellan’s faltering Peninsula Campaign, Reno was promoted to Major General on July 12, 1862. Placed in command of the newly formed IX Corps, by August Reno received orders to move the bulk of his corps to northern Virginia in order to support General John Pope. In late August, Jesse Reno and Thomas Jackson, close friends and West Point classmates, would meet on the field of battle at Manassas and Chantilly.

With Pope’s Army beaten and retreating into the Washington defenses, Reno and the IX Corps were again placed under the command and control of Ambrose Burnside along with the I Corps commanded by Joseph Hooker. On September 7, 1862 with George McClellan returned to command of the Army of the Potomac, IX Corps moved north out of Washington in pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia now on move into Maryland. The movement of his corps as part of the entire Army of the Potomac was a significant logistical challenge for Major General Reno.

A famous incident from the march illustrates one of the many challenges Reno faced. IX Corps had been reinforced by the addition of a fourth division; the Kanawha Division made up of western regiments and commanded by General Jacob Cox. These western regiments were often maligned by the eastern soldiers and viewed as somewhat undisciplined troops. One of those regiments, the 23rd Ohio, was commanded by a future President of the United States, Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes. As the columns halted for the evening, Hayes ordered his troops to remain in battle formation for the night versus forming en masse due to the advanced position of the regiment. As the soldiers began to prepare to bed down for the evening, they helped themselves to a local farmer’s haystacks to make more comfortable bedding.

About this time, General Reno arrived and sternly admonished Hayes on the conduct of his men reminding him that the army was in friendly territory and was forbidden from looting private property. In defense of his men, Colonel Hayes sharply responded to Reno, “I trust our generals will exhibit the same energy in dealing with our foes that they do in the treatment of their friends.” In a sure sign of his respect for Hayes’ determined support of his troops, Reno rode off from the scene and never mentioned the incident to General Cox, the division commander.

Arriving in Frederick, Maryland on September 12, 1862, Reno and the IX Corps troops were greeted as heroes. Their stay would be short-lived as the corps moved to Middletown the next day and onward to South Mountain the following day. After a day of intense day of fighting at Fox Gap (detailed in a previous post), General Reno rode forward to recon the lines and determine his next move.

Rather than go directly to the right flank, Reno chose to start at his left and ride along the entire front length of his line, commending his troops for their excellent progress and battle conduct. About halfway across the line and in an exposed position, Reno stopped to observe the enemy’s position with a telescope. Musket fire suddenly erupted from the confederate line and Reno was struck by a bullet that lodged in his chest.[1]

Reno was quickly evacuated from the lines and brought first to the location of one of his division commanders, Samuel Sturgis. He immediately spoke to Sturgis, “Hello Sam, I am dead!” Due to the strange nature of his comments, Sturgis believed it to be a joke and responded that he hoped it was not that bad. Reno replied, “Yes, yes. I’m dead. Goodbye.”

As he was being attended to by his surgeon, Calvin Cutter, Major General Jesse Reno uttered his last words, “Tell my command that if not in body, I will be with them in spirit.” He died with the love and concern for his soldiers on his mind.

The loss of Reno was a major blow to the IX Corps and the Union Army. He was memorialized by many:

The greatest loss of all was that of General Reno…In all the acts of his life his fine and generous qualities of character were made manifest…he was a thorough soldier, and fully deserved all that his superiors in command have said of him…He had a magnetic kind of enthusiasm, and when leading on his men, he seemed to inspire his followers and make them irresistible in action. A dauntless soldier, whose like we rarely see![2]

From his superior and friend, Ambrose Burnside:

By the death of this distinguished officer the country loses one of its most devoted patriots, the army one of its most thorough soldiers. In the long list of battles in which General Reno has fought in his country’s service, his name always appears with the brightest luster, and he has now bravely met a soldier’s death while gallantly leading his men at the battle of South Mountain. For his high character and the kindly qualities of his heart in private life, as well as for the military genius and personal daring which marked him as a soldier, his loss will be deplored by all who knew him, and the commanding general desires to add the tribute of a friend to the public mourning for the death of one of the country’s best defenders.[3]

And, a derisive comment from the Confederate commander who opposed him at Fox Gap on South Mountain, Major General D.H. Hill:

The Yankees on their side lost General Reno, a renegade Virginian, who was killed by a happy shot from the Twenty-third North Carolina.[4]

 

Reno Monument (2)

The Reno Monument at Fox Gap on South Mountain

 


[1] The Latin Library biography of Jesse Reno, accessed from http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/chron/civilwarnotes/reno.html

[2] Major General Ambrose E. Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps, Augustus Woodbury, Sidney S. Rider & Brother, Providence, 1867.

[3] General Order No. 17, Major General Ambrose Burnside.

[4] OR, Series I, Vol. XIX, Part I, Chap. XXXI.