Crampton's Gap

Andy Cardinal

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What if McClellan had made his main effort at Crampton's Gap instead of Turner's Gap on September 14?

I assume, if that were the case, Burnside's wing would still have advanced toward Turner's Gap and Sumner's forces (2nd & 12th corps) would have been directed south to the Crampton's Gap are along with Franklin. That would have put Sumner in charge of the operation, so I also assume McClellan woukd have retained control of that effort, leaving Burnside's in command to the north.
 
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I've pondered this question as part of my work on a manuscript about the Ninth Corps. I propose as one of those "what ifs" placing Burnside over Franklin at Crampton's, giving a two corps effort there. Most of McClellan's troops could still have gone after Turner's, but Burnside-Franklin at the southern gap should've been enough to carry the day there sooner. If McLaws was captured on the 14th, which would be a reasonable thing to expect, Harpers Ferry saved, no battle of Antietam. Even if only the Ninth Corps was at Crampton's, I would expect Burnside to make a better go of it than Franklin. Although Burnside had a rough campaign and was not at his best at Antietam, I'd take him over Franklin any day.
 

Andy Cardinal

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I've pondered this question as part of my work on a manuscript about the Ninth Corps. I propose as one of those "what ifs" placing Burnside over Franklin at Crampton's, giving a two corps effort there. Most of McClellan's troops could still have gone after Turner's, but Burnside-Franklin at the southern gap should've been enough to carry the day there sooner. If McLaws was captured on the 14th, which would be a reasonable thing to expect, Harpers Ferry saved, no battle of Antietam. Even if only the Ninth Corps was at Crampton's, I would expect Burnside to make a better go of it than Franklin. Although Burnside had a rough campaign and was not at his best at Antietam, I'd take him over Franklin any day.
I think Burnside did pretty well up to and including on September 14. Afterwards not as much.

Under any scenario, 2 or 3 corps bursting through Crampton's Gap on September 14th would have put Lee's army into a dangerous spot I think, even more dangerous than the historical situation on the morning of September 15.
 
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After finding two Lamar cousins KIA at Crampton's Gap, I have taken a lot of interest in that place. If you have been there you appreciate that the terrain leading to the Gap is very steep, offering a tough uphill place to fight. Imaging looking out over the valley floor at night expecting to see a hand full of camp fires and seeing hundreds upon hundreds of them. When this was reported to Lee the order came to defend the Gap "at all hazards". General Howell Cobb reported to General Hill that he had been ordered to "hold the gap if it cost the life of every man in my command". John Basil Lamar, Cobb's brother-in-law and Jefferson Mirabeau Lamar, both Colonels were killed in the action with many of Cobb' s troops who rushed in hoping to slow the Union advance.
Lee appreciated that he would be in danger if the Union broke through and of course we are only left to speculate what could have happened if the Union concentrated greater force on Crampton's Gap
 

lelliott19

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If McLaws was captured on the 14th, which would be a reasonable thing to expect, Harpers Ferry saved, no battle of Antietam.
Interesting to contemplate. While researching for a regimental on the 16th GA I too have taken a keen interest in Crampton's Gap. The sixth corps had plenty of force to accomplish the penetration through the gap. And like @tomlamarcooughlin said, the Confederates had too few troops committed to cover it. One of the problems was with Franklin. He was back at the Shafer house, drinking brandy and smoking cigars while Col. Joseph Bartlett was left to plan to the assault. If Franklin had taken a more active role in leadership, instead of delegating the plan to Joseph Bartlett, I don't think any additional force would have been necessary to press the advantage. I'm not criticizing Bartlett. He went on to be a fine General. But he had been a civilian and at the time was newly promoted to Colonel.
 

rpkennedy

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Interesting to contemplate. While researching for a regimental on the 16th GA I too have taken a keen interest in Crampton's Gap. The sixth corps had plenty of force to accomplish the penetration through the gap. And like @tomlamarcooughlin said, the Confederates had too few troops committed to cover it. One of the problems was with Franklin. He was back at the Shafer house, drinking brandy and smoking cigars while Col. Joseph Bartlett was left to plan to the assault. If Franklin had taken a more active role in leadership, instead of delegating the plan to Joseph Bartlett, I don't think any additional force would have been necessary to press the advantage. I'm not criticizing Bartlett. He went on to be a fine General. But he had been a civilian and at the time was newly promoted to Colonel.

@lelliott19, did the 16th Georgia lose their flag at Crampton's Gap?

Ryan
 

lelliott19

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@lelliott19, did the 16th Georgia lose their flag at Crampton's Gap?

Ryan
Joseph Bartlett said that three Confederate flags were captured. I've always assumed they were the flags of the 16th Virginia, 16th Georgia, and the flag of Cobb's Legion with its accompanying streamer reading "In the Name of the Lord."

In his after action report, Col. Henry Lutz Cake of the 96th PA said that Sgt Anderson of Co K shot the 16th GA color bearer (William Sealy McMillan B/16thGA) and the 16th GA flag was collected afterwards.

HDQRS. NINETY-SIXTH REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
Camp near Williamsport, Md., September 23, 1862.
"....I sent during the charge, 42 prisoners to the rear, including the captain of Company G, Sixteenth Georgia, [Augustus Columbus Thompson] wounded, and other officers and men most of them unhurt. Sergeant [Andrew L.?] Anderson, of Company K, shot the color-bearer of the Sixteenth Georgia, but did not stop to secure the colors, which were secured by some of our forces afterward."

It was 17 yo Irish immigrant, James Allen (F/16th NY) who was awarded the MoH for the capture of the flag of the 16th Georgia. Read the whole story here

Joseph Bartlett recalled it this way:
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If that is true, then that means that the flag of the 16th GA and the flag of Cobb's Legion were both captured by members of the 16th NY? I suppose it's possible that both accounts of the capture of the 16th GA flag are true? If Sgt. Anderson shot colorbearer McMillan and another member of the 16th GA picked up the flag, then James Allen could have retrieved the flag when he captured the group of prisoners? Or else Allen actually captured the Cobb's Legion flag and someone else picked up the 16th Georgia flag? I sure would like to know for sure.
 

rpkennedy

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Joseph Bartlett said that three Confederate flags were captured. I've always assumed they were the flags of the 16th Virginia, 16th Georgia, and the flag of Cobb's Legion with its accompanying streamer reading "In the Name of the Lord."

In his after action report, Col. Henry Lutz Cake of the 96th PA said that Sgt Anderson of Co K shot the 16th GA color bearer (William Sealy McMillan B/16thGA) and the 16th GA flag was collected afterwards.

HDQRS. NINETY-SIXTH REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
Camp near Williamsport, Md., September 23, 1862.
"....I sent during the charge, 42 prisoners to the rear, including the captain of Company G, Sixteenth Georgia, [Augustus Columbus Thompson] wounded, and other officers and men most of them unhurt. Sergeant [Andrew L.?] Anderson, of Company K, shot the color-bearer of the Sixteenth Georgia, but did not stop to secure the colors, which were secured by some of our forces afterward."

It was 17 yo Irish immigrant, James Allen (F/16th NY) who was awarded the MoH for the capture of the flag of the 16th Georgia. Read the whole story here

Joseph Bartlett recalled it this way:
View attachment 390359
If that is true, then that means that the flag of the 16th GA and the flag of Cobb's Legion were both captured by members of the 16th NY? I suppose it's possible that both accounts of the capture of the 16th GA flag are true? If Sgt. Anderson shot colorbearer McMillan and another member of the 16th GA picked up the flag, then James Allen could have retrieved the flag when he captured the group of prisoners? Or else Allen actually captured the Cobb's Legion flag and someone else picked up the 16th Georgia flag? I sure would like to know for sure.
I thought that the 16th New York was credited with the capture of the 16th Georgia's flag. I was not aware that they captured the colors of Cobb's Legion as well. Go 16th!

I had 3 ancestors in Company G.

Ryan
 

lelliott19

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I thought that the 16th New York was credited with the capture of the 16th Georgia's flag. I was not aware that they captured the colors of Cobb's Legion as well. Go 16th!

I had 3 ancestors in Company G.

Ryan
I'm not 100% convinced that both flags were taken by the 16th NY. I am convinced they captured at least one of the GA flags captured that day.

It's possible that Bartlett mis-remembered the exact events; his account is from 1889. Seems like the 16th NY was pretty far to the right to have taken a flag from the 16th GA and Cobb's Legion. The 16th NY was aligned behind the 96th PA, so it seems likely that James Allen and the 16th NY would have been in the perfect position to take the 16th GA flag in the aftermath -- after Sgt Anderson of the 96th PA shot the 16th GA's color bearer.

James Allen (16th NY) was promoted to Corporal that day and awarded the MoH in 1890.

But it seems they (16th NY) may have been too far to the right to get around the (Confederate) right flank of Cobb's Legion and take their flag too? Of course, the Legion fell back towards the gap and could have been intercepted by the 16th NY. I haven't ever been able to find anyone who was awarded the MoH for capture of the Cobb's Legion flag or any account of it being captured, other than Bartlett's 1889 recollections. Like you, I would like to know for sure.
 

lelliott19

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Interestingly, the regimental history of the 16th New York does not mention the capture of any flags.

Ryan
Hmmm. Curious and curiouser. I need to do some more looking for sure. It hasn't been that long ago that I found Bartlett's account and I haven't followed up on it yet. Bartlett clearly says that a member (unnamed) of the 16th NY brought him the flag of Cobb's Legion with the streamer inscribed "In the Name of the Lord." Well actually, what Bartlett said was only the "Lord" part was still attached by the time he saw it. But it originally said "In the Name of the Lord." If I find anything else, Ill be sure to let you know.
 

rpkennedy

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Colonel Alfred T.A. Torbert reported that the 4th New Jersey captured 2 flags during the attack.

Colonel Hiram Brown (3rd New Jersey) claimed that an officer from his regiment and a private from the 4th New Jersey captured the colors of Cobb's Legion but the officer gave up the flag to the private.

Colonel William Hatch of the 4th New Jersey reported capturing 2 flags and overrunning 2 more that were later picked up by an unnamed New York regiment.

Colonel Joseph Bartlett wrote that the 16th New York captured 1 flag.

Lt. Colonel Joel Seaver reported the incident with James Allen but does not say whose flag was taken.

Do we know how many colors were lost by the Confederate regiments at Crampton's Gap? I seem to see as many as 4 and as few as 1 in these reports.

Ryan
 
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lelliott19

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Colonel Alfred T.A. Torbert reported that the 4th New Jersey captured 2 flags during the attack.

Colonel Hiram Brown (3rd New Jersey) claimed that an officer from his regiment and a private from the 4th New Jersey captured the colors of Cobb's Legion but the officer gave up the flag to the private.

Colonel William Hatch of the 4th New Jersey reported capturing 2 flags and overrunning 2 more that were later picked up by an unnamed New York regiment.

Colonel Joseph Bartlett wrote that the 16th New York captured 1 flag.

Lt. Colonel Joel Seaver reported the incident with James Allen but does not say whose flag was taken.

Do we know how many colors were lost by the Confederate regiments at Crampton's Gap? I seem to see that as many as 4 and as few as 1 in these reports.

Ryan
In his 1889 reminiscences, Col. Bartlett said that 3 stands of colors were captured.

In 1863, in Leaves from the Diary of an Army Surgeon; Or, Incidents of Field, Camp, and Hospital Life, [pages 250 -252], Doctor Thomas T. Ellis wrote that the colors of Cobb's Legion and those of the 16th Virginia were captured. [He only mentions two - Cobb's Legion and the 16th VA.]

The Georgia archives flag collection says that Cobb's Legion lost two flags that day - "Both the Confederate “Stars & Bars” and the Georgia “state” flag were captured at the Battle of Crampton’s Pass on 14 September 1862. While the 1st national flag survives, the Georgia “state” flag and its accompanying streamer [inscribed with "In the Name of the Lord"] have disappeared, leaving its dimensions, the color of its field, and the placement of the Georgia coat-of-arms open to speculation."

Apparently, the First National flag of Cobb's Legion was recorded as captured by the 4th NJ.
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The Anderson Daily Intelligencer., May 29, 1914, Page 5.

And the capture of the flag of the 16th Virginia was also credited to the 4th New Jersey.
1612935405946.png

Evening Star., September 20, 1892, Page 6.

As far as the 16th GA, in the primary sources I have reviewed, none mention the loss of their flag that day.
There are four times when the regiment was in a position to have their flag captured:

1. Crampton's Gap as mentioned above. The regiment was overrun and and the casualties were extremely high - the highest of any battle they were in. McLaws said the regiment took 27 officers and 341 enlisted men into the fight = 368 engaged. In the casualty figures sent back to the newspaper, they reported 167 killed wounded and captured. But I have scoured the records and my list includes 216 names - meaning that, if my list is accurate, only 158 men escaped. So they certainly could have lost a flag.

2. One flag [Assigned capture #115] was taken in the ditch in the aftermath of the assault on Fort Sanders Knoxville November 29, 1863 resulting in the MoH for Joseph Manning K/29th MA who took it from the color bearer who was attempting to secret it in his shirt.

3. They were in a position to lose their flag at Guard Hill in the Shenandoah Valley on Aug 16, 1864. If a flag was captured from the 16th GA that day, it would have been taken by Custer and the 1st MI Cav. Sheridan reported the capture of two flags but they routed the cavalry first and then overran Wofford's brigade in Crooked Run, cutting them off and killing, wounding, and capturing a great many men of the 16th GA. So those two captured stands could have been captured from the cavalry and/or flags of other regiments in Wofford's brigade, but they sure could have lost a flag that day.

4. And then Sailor's Creek they were certainly in position to have their flag captured. Almost the entire regiment (or what was left of it) was killed, wounded, or captured. I believe their flag was captured there. It was listed as another regiment's flag but still resulted in a MoH for the member of the 1st WVa Cav who captured it. The flag [assigned capture #294] is included in the Georgia flag collection, attributed to the 16thGA. I believe it is their flag and the regimental designation was just mis-transcribed.

There's one more flag on record as being captured that could be one of the 16th GA. It is described as a "Confederate flag, stars and bars, Georgia coat of arms. No history." It could be the flag of any Georgia regiment and could have been captured anywhere.
 
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Colonel Alfred T.A. Torbert reported that the 4th New Jersey captured 2 flags during the attack.

Colonel Hiram Brown (3rd New Jersey) claimed that an officer from his regiment and a private from the 4th New Jersey captured the colors of Cobb's Legion but the officer gave up the flag to the private.

Colonel William Hatch of the 4th New Jersey reported capturing 2 flags and overrunning 2 more that were later picked up by an unnamed New York regiment.

Colonel Joseph Bartlett wrote that the 16th New York captured 1 flag.

Lt. Colonel Joel Seaver reported the incident with James Allen but does not say whose flag was taken.

Do we know how many colors were lost by the Confederate regiments at Crampton's Gap? I seem to see as many as 4 and as few as 1 in these reports.

Ryan
The First New Jersey Brigade had a fine day !
 

Rebelsoul

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The book I have " Sealed with their lives the battle of Cramptons gap" by Timothy J Reese states the circumstances of the 16th Georgia's loss of the flag during the fight. He gives the name and regiment of the men who captured it. One was wounded in the leg and died a few days later. A very hard to find book at a good price. Very expensive on Amazon, I got lucky and found one
for relatively cheap ! I think it had a limited printing that's why it's hard to come by. Very detailed and probably the best you'll find about the battle there.
 

rpkennedy

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The book I have " Sealed with their lives the battle of Cramptons gap" by Timothy J Reese states the circumstances of the 16th Georgia's loss of the flag during the fight. He gives the name and regiment of the men who captured it. One was wounded in the leg and died a few days later. A very hard to find book at a good price. Very expensive on Amazon, I got lucky and found one
for relatively cheap ! I think it had a limited printing that's why it's hard to come by. Very detailed and probably the best you'll find about the battle there.
The comrade that stood with James Allen was Private James W. Richards of Malone, New York. He was wounded besides Allen and died of his injury on September 20.

Ryan
 

Andy Cardinal

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The book I have " Sealed with their lives the battle of Cramptons gap" by Timothy J Reese states the circumstances of the 16th Georgia's loss of the flag during the fight. He gives the name and regiment of the men who captured it. One was wounded in the leg and died a few days later. A very hard to find book at a good price. Very expensive on Amazon, I got lucky and found one
for relatively cheap ! I think it had a limited printing that's why it's hard to come by. Very detailed and probably the best you'll find about the battle there.
I've been looking to get that one if I can ever find it at an affordable price.
 
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