Events leading up to the battles at South Mountain and Antietam

Antietam : A Remembrance

September 16, 2001|By Andrew D. Faith | Andrew D. Faith,SUN STAFF

One thing missing from next weekend's re-enactment at Boonsboro of the 1862 Civil War Battle of South Mountain will be the prelude of widespread cavalry skirmishing that accompanied Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of Maryland. These deadly clashes, and the men who fought in them, are all but forgotten by history.

South Mountain is generally considered to be the opening phase of the Battle of Antietam, but it was a serious engagement in its own right and the climax of weeks of small-scale battles throughout Central Maryland.

Here is a chronology of 1862 events leading up to South Mountain:

Sept. 3: Gen. Robert E. Lee moved north from Manassas, Va., crossing the Potomac at White's Ford. 1st Potomac Home Brigade was driven away from Edwards Ferry. Union forces evacuated Frederick.

Sept. 5: Confederate cavalry drove Union troops out of Poolesville and moved on to New Market. In this skirmish, the 5th Virginia Cavalry engaged the1st Massachusetts Cavalry. The 5th Virginia reported three men killed and four wounded. Losses of the 1st Massachusetts were put at 48 men captured, nine of whom were wounded.

Sept. 6: Skirmishing developed on Sugar Loaf Mountain, first between a squad of the U.S. Signal Corps and a squad of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, then between units of the 1st New York Cavalry and the 9th Virginia Cavalry. No casualties were reported.

Sept. 7: Lee reached Frederick; Union cavalry counterattacked at Poolesville, driving out the Confederate force. In the opening fighting at Poolesville, the 3rd Indiana Cavalry and the 8th Illinois Cavalry attacked the 7th Virginia Cavalry, killing two Virginia troopers. Later, the 2nd U.S. Horse Artillery entered the fray on the Union side and the 12th Virginia Cavalry and a Virginia artillery battery entered on the Confederate side. In this phase of the action, the 3rd Indiana reported one killed and 11 wounded; the 8th Illinois reported one wounded; the 7th Virginia reported two wounded; and the 12th Virginia reported two killed and six wounded.

The Union advance toward Frederick began.

Sept. 8: Lee issued an unsuccessful appeal for support from the people of Maryland; Monocacy railroad bridge destroyed.

The 2nd Virginia Cavalry skirmished with the 8th Illinois Cavalry at Monocacy Church; one trooper of the 8th Illinois was wounded.

The 1st Maryland Cavalry encountered the 1st Virginia Cavalry at Braddock Heights. The Virginians lost 14 men captured.

At Hyattstown, the 1st New York Cavalry encountered pickets of Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton's cavalry brigade, capturing three men.

Sept. 9: Lee issued Special Orders No. 191, directing Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to capture Harper's Ferry. At Hyattstown, the 1st New York Cavalry captured a Confederate infantry squad. At Monocacy Church, units of the 8th Illinois Cavalry encountered a 12th Virginia Cavalry patrol, killing two and capturing seven.

At Barnesville, the 3rd Indiana Cavalry, 8th Illinois Cavalry and a section of the 4th Maine Artillery got into a firefight with the 9th Virginia Cavalry. The Virginians reported three killed, five wounded and 19 captured in the action.

Sept. 10: Jackson set up his headquarters near Boonsboro.

Union cavalry skirmished with Confederates at a Sugar Loaf Mountain signal station and eventually drove them away. The 4th Maine Artillery, 6th U.S. Cavalry, 3rd Indiana Cavalry and 8th Illinois Cavalry got into a fight with the 2nd, 9th and 12th Virginia Cavalry regiments. The 6th U.S. Cavalry reported one killed and one wounded.

At Boonsboro, the 1st Maryland Cavalry skirmished with the 4th Virginia Cavalry and members of Jackson's staff. Jackson, walking his horse near his headquarters, was nearly a participant in this skirmish. The Marylanders reported one killed and four wounded, three of whom were captured.

Sept. 11: Lee arrived in Hagerstown.

At Sugar Loaf Mountain, the 4th Maine Artillery, 6th U.S. Cavalry, 3rd Indiana Cavalry, 8th Illinois Cavalry and 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry encountered the 2nd Virginia Cavalry and the 12th Virginia Cavalry. No casualties were reported. At Hyattstown, the 1st New York Cavalry and the 1st U.S. Cavalry encountered the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, the 12th Virginia Cavalry and a section of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's horse artillery.

Sept. 12: Union troops entered Frederick; Confederate attack on Harper's Ferry began.

In Frederick, Illinois Dragoons, Union Virginia Cavalry and a section of Kentucky artillery encountered a patrol of Hampton's brigade. The Dragoons reported three killed, 12 wounded and four captured; the Union Virginia Cavalry reported one killed; seven wounded and four captured. Hampton's Confederates reported two killed and five wounded or captured.

Sept. 13: In a cavalry skirmish at Middletown, the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, 8th Illinois Cavalry, 3rd Indiana Cavalry, 2nd and 3rd U.S. Horse Artillery engaged the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, wounding eight and capturing three Southern troopers.

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