O’Neal’s Alabama Brigade Losses at South Mountain on the Retreat from Gettysburg

Tom Elmore

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Every spare wagon in Robert E. Lee’s army was pressed into service to carry the wounded of his army away from Gettysburg on July 4. Many of these soldiers were expected to recover and fight again for the Confederacy, so it was of vital importance to return them safely to Virginia. However, the Federal cavalry under Judson Kilpatrick had other plans. On the night of July 4/5, Kilpatrick struck the Confederate wagon train of wounded at Monterey Pass. According to Kent Masterson Brown’s book, Retreat from Gettysburg, moving along the road at that point in time and place were the ambulance trains of Robert Rodes’ division. The Federal cavalrymen broke through the undermanned Confederate defenses and seized vehicle after vehicle. Proceeding westward toward the village of Waterloo, they eventually caught up with the quartermaster train of Edward O’Neal’s Alabama brigade, and captured a portion of it. The purpose of this thread is to examine the losses inflicted upon O’Neal’s brigade as a result of this raid.

Brown notes that ten of O’Neal’s wagons were captured, including a fine wagon used by the brigade’s quartermaster, Major James C. Bryan, which had in turn been taken from Robert Milroy’s command at Winchester just two weeks prior. Seven slaves were also captured, which is not surprising since they usually traveled with the wagon trains on the march. Although they are described as teamsters (hired out for this duty by their masters), I think it more likely they were personal servants (although some may have been capable of driving a wagon). For one thing, the four identified teamsters of the brigade were all soldiers. For another, two of the slaves known to have been taken that night were indeed personal servants – one belonged to Major Bryan and the other (Richmond) was a body servant to Sergeant Major (Elihu) Wesley Watson of the 6th Alabama.

Kilpatrick directed the captured wagons carrying wounded to the U.S. General Hospital at Frederick, Maryland, where they arrived on July 6. Now, excluding Bryan’s headquarters wagon, up to nine wagons might have been carrying O’Neal’s wounded. Based on other examples from the retreat, each wagon transported on average four to five wounded – 4.4 to be precise. So one might expect to see 40 or so wounded (4.4 times 9) from the brigade who were admitted to the General Hospital in Frederick. In addition, presumably ten teamsters were captured at the same time, although I have only been able to confirm two: Private F. M. Harper (I/5 AL) and Private Odum Finley Childress (G/26 AL).

By actual count extracted from the apparent meticulous records that were kept, the hospital admitted 42 wounded members of the brigade (listed below). It would appear to validate the accuracy of the above methodology, but perhaps not all nine wagons were filled with wounded - some may have been traveling in separate ambulances, which typically carried only two to three passengers apiece. The brigade also lost knapsacks containing spare clothes along with cooking utensils that could have filled a wagon or two. Unissued payroll funds were likewise confiscated, but that money must have been stored in Major Bryan’s headquarters wagon.

In any case, the raid cost the brigade 42 of their wounded, several teamsters and servants, a few quartermaster department personnel, and a sizable portion of their vehicle transport. All of which amounted to additional icing on the victory cake General Meade earned at Gettysburg.

Here’s a list of brigade wounded admitted to the U.S. General Hospital in Frederick, and their eventual fate, when known. In the final analysis, the loss was not so bad, since most of the men were sent to the parole camp at Annapolis, Maryland, and were exchanged (sooner or later) to serve the Confederacy (if not the brigade) again:

-Private John F. Beronjon, A/3 AL, released from Fort Delaware June 1865.
-Private Columbus Dunn, A/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private H. L. Lowman, A/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private Holly W. Hughes, B/3 AL, exchanged, killed at Spotsylvania Court House.
-Private Elijah H. Lethwaite, B/3 AL, exchanged.
-3rd Sergeant William B. Burdine, C/3 AL, released from Point Lookout February 1865.
-Private Micajah L. Stinson, D/3 AL, exchanged, wounded June 1864.
-Private James D. Martin, F/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private Joseph C. Oliver, F/3 AL, exchanged from Point Lookout March 1864.
-Private William L. Prescott, F/3 AL, exchanged from Point Lookout September 1864.
-Private Warren W. Crimm, G/3 AL, exchanged, surrendered at Appomattox.
-Sergeant Newman R. Ruffe, G/3 AL, exchanged, returned to company August 1863.
-Sergeant James A. Crocheron, H/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private Hugh W. Hardy, H/3 AL, exchanged, surrendered at Appomattox.
-Private James Goodson, I/3 AL, exchanged, returned to company September 1863.
-1st Sergeant Henry Donaldson, K/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private James H. Hoyt, K/3 AL, exchanged from Fort Delaware September 1864.
-Private James R. Walker, K/3 AL, exchanged.
-Private George Fouche, A/5 AL, exchanged from Point Lookout October 1864.
-Private Robert Ledbetter, B/5 AL, exchanged from Fort Delaware.
-3rd Sergeant John R. Colgin, E/5 AL, exchanged from Baltimore hospital September 1863.
-Private John W. Trainum, F/5 AL, exchanged, captured at Petersburg April 1865.
-Private Richard B. Anderson, I/5 AL, no further record.
-Private David M. Drury, I/5 AL, joined Federal service January 1864.
-Private Richard N. Henderson, I/5 AL, exchanged from Baltimore hospital September 1863.
-Private William Jones, B/6 AL, died at Fort Delaware October 1863.
-Private John B. Gregory, C/6 AL, exchanged.
-Private Johnson Suit, D/6 AL, died in hospital at Frederick on 28 August 1863.
-Corporal John M. Burnett, D/6 AL, exchanged.
-Private Columbus C. Botts, D/6 AL, exchanged, captured at Bird’s Mill, GA September 1863.
-Sergeant Lafayette Cobb, D/6 AL, released from Fort Delaware June 1865.
-Private Thomas B. Lewis, D/6 AL, died at Point Lookout November 1863.
-Private R. W. Bayjeants, E/6 AL, died at Fort Delaware September 1863.
-2nd Sergeant George C. Clisby, E/6 AL, exchanged.
-Private H. W. Dickey, E/6 AL, released from Fort Delaware June 1865.
-Private John W. A. Dickey, E/6 AL, released from Fort Delaware May 1865.
-Private J. S. Soles, E/6 AL, exchanged from Point Lookout February 1865.
-Sergeant Thaddeus C. Bowen, F/6 AL, exchanged, returned to company September 1863.
-Private John L. Shockley, G/6 AL, died Fort Delaware January 1864.
-Private William E. McKenzie, I/6 AL, exchanged.
-Private Robert S. Hulgin, E/12 AL, exchanged.
-Private James L. Robertson, H/26 AL, exchanged.

Main sources:
-Kent Masterson Brown, Retreat from Gettysburg, pp. 140, 445.
-Voices from Company D (5th Alabama), ed. by G. Ward Hubbs.
-Compiled Service Records (Fold3).
-Watson Family Papers, 6th Alabama.
-John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey, Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg.
-Diary of Robert Emory Park (Company F, 12th Alabama), Southern Historical Society Papers.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
This action is the one where my 3x great grandfathers brother Ceborne Farmer was captured.
The 4th North Carolina cavalry was serving as an escort to the wagon trains carrying the wounded
and it fought a delaying action trying to stop Kilpatrick's cavalry but was overpowered and several
of its men were taken prisoner among which was my ancestor.

Along with the casualties of O'Neal's Alabama brigade mentioned above, the captured portion of
these wagon trains contained wounded from at least two more Confederate brigades of which one
had massive casualties on the first day at Gettysburg. Iverson's North Carolina brigade lost many
of its wounded that had survived its disastrous assault and Daniel's North Carolina brigade lost
many of its wounded including the colonel of the 43rd NC Infantry, Thomas Kenan, and several
of its officers. At least 1,000 men including wounded, teamsters, escorting guard and slaves were
captured at what was known as the battle of Monterey Pass
 
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Miles Krisman

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 15, 2012
O’Neal’s Brigade, the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 12th, and 26th Alabama Infantry Regiments, lost 41.2% of their effective strength with 90 killed, 422 wounded, and 184 missing or captured. The 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment had moved toward Gettysburg with 380 men, but due to the extreme heat, 80 of these men did not make it to the battlefield. Of the 300 men that entered the Battle of Gettysburg, approximately 83% would be lost. Twenty-one men were killed on the field; fourteen other men were mortally wounded. One hundred and twenty-six would survive their wounds; however, sixty-four of these men were captured by Federal troops. An additional ninety-five men were also captured. Listed amongst the killed, wounded, or captured were twenty-one Regimental Officers of the 5th Alabama Infantry. There were only about seventy-five men fit for duty after the battle.

In addition to Captain John White (Assistant Quartermaster) from the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment, the following is a list of other members of the 5th Alabama that are known to have been captured on July 5, 1863. (29 men).

Name: Rank: Company
McColun Bell Sergeant A *
Kilby T. Spence Corporal A *
William Reynolds Private A
Samuel Thomas Strickland Corporal B *
Robert Ledbetter Private B *
David Riddle Private B *
Beverly Ripley Private B
John Jacob Sparks Private B
Thomas B. Rowland Private D
William M. Stokes Private D *
John R. Colgin Sergeant E *
William Bishop Private E *
Wilburn Pierson Private E *
Joshua Rutledge Private E *
J. M. Thomas Private E *
Charles B. Sturdevant Sergeant Major F *
Albert H. Odell Private F *
H. C. Swann Private F *
John W. Trainum Private F *
Augustus Burgin Sergeant H *
S. L. Willis Private H *
John T. Daugherty Private I
F. M. Harper Private I
Richard N. Henderson Private I *
William R. Osbornd Private I
James A. Spinks Private I *
William Thomas M. Light Private K *
Richard S. Savage Private K *
George W. Sessions Private K *

*These men were wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. (Information sourced primarily from the Regimental Records of the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment - Films M-311 - National Archives.)

The entire payroll of O’Neal’s Brigade[1] in the amount of $11,235[2] was captured with the wagons on July 5, 1863.



[1] “Retreat from Gettysburg” by Kent Masterson Brown, page 140

[2] “Shock Troops of the Confederacy” by Fred L. Ray, page 73
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
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Jan 16, 2015
Miles, all or nearly all the additional names on your list (excepting Quartermaster Captain White who was taken at South Mountain) appear to be those who were left behind in field hospitals in the vicinity of Gettysburg and taken captive when the Federals recovered that ground on July 5.

Gideon G. Wescott of Company I, 5th Alabama, serving as a clerk to Commissary (ACS) officer (Major?) Daniel T. Webster was reportedly also captured at South Mountain. Webster had been ACS for the 5th Alabama and may have been the acting brigade Commissary officer at Gettysburg, in which case Wescott could have been riding in Major Bryan's wagon.
 
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Miles Krisman

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 15, 2012
Miles, all or nearly all the additional names on your list (excepting Quartermaster Captain White who was taken at South Mountain) appear to be those who were left behind in field hospitals in the vicinity of Gettysburg and taken captive when the Federals recovered that ground on July 5.

Gideon G. Wescott of Company I, 5th Alabama, serving as a clerk to Commissary (ACS) officer (Major?) Daniel T. Webster was reportedly also captured at South Mountain. Webster had been ACS for the 5th Alabama and may have been the acting brigade Commissary officer at Gettysburg, in which case Wescott could have been riding in Major Bryan's wagon.

Unfortunately, most of the records simply indicate "Captured on July 5, 1863" without giving a location.

I also missed one man of the 5th Alabama Infantry that was captured on July 5, 1863, at Waterloo - Robert H. Lake -Quarter Master Sergeant. He would died in captivity.
 
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