September 14, 1862: South Mountain

Following up on his intelligence coup of learning of Lee’s plans from Special Order No. 191, read about it here, McClellan threw his Army of the Potomac against three passes on South Mountain in order to attack Lee’s scattered units.

The three mountain passes attacked were Turner’s Gap and Fox’s Gap in the North and Crampton Gap in the South.  McClellan organized his army into three wings.  Major General Ambrose Burnside commanding the Right Wing with two corps was sent to attack Turner and Fox.  Major General William B. Franklin, commanding the Left Wing consisting of a corps and a division was tasked with taking Crampton.  Major General Edwin Sumner, commanding the Center Wing with two corps was left in reserve.  (One of McClellan’s vices as a commander was always keeping far too large a reserve.)

Franklin seized Crampton Gap, after a very slow preparation for the assault, from a miniscule Confederate force.

D.H. Hill’s division of 5,000 men initially was the only Confederate force defending the two northern gaps.  Lee, reacting with his usual preternatural skill to new circumstances, hurried reinforcements to Hill and, after a very hard-fought day, the Confederates held the two gaps. (more…)

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Published in: on September 14, 2022 at 5:28 am  Comments Off on September 14, 1862: South Mountain  
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