site logo

Col Gustavus W. Town's Official Report

Report of September 25, 1862 of Crampton's Gap

[author biography]

Camp near Bakersville, Md., September 25, 1862.

Lieutenant WILLIAM RUSSELL, Jr.,
Aide-de-Camp and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report the movements of my regiment during the engagement with the enemy at Crampton's Pass on Sunday, the 14th instant:

About daylight of that day we left our camp, and, marching through Jefferson, halted in sight of the enemy near Burkittsville. During the earlier part of the engagement in compliance with orders, we took position in the second line, in rear of the Thirty-first Regiment New York Volunteers, and moved forward in column of divisions. Becoming a mark alike for the artillery and skirmishers of the foe, we deployed, and continued advancing in line of battle, and took up position a short distance in rear of the Thirty-first Regiment New York Volunteers, thus being enabled to act toward the left of front.

At this time the left of our position was held solely by a line of skirmishers most of whom were forced to retire before an attack of the enemy in force along the road leading to Burkittsville, many passing through our line and reforming in the rear. I was about changing front to resist this assault on the left, when a regiment, understood to be attached to Major-General Smith's division, advanced out the road from Burkittsville, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, making the contemplated movement unnecessary. Ascertaining from their movements that the force on the right of us had orders to charge, we moved forward and took position on the road at the base of the mountain from which the enemy had just retreated. We then received orders from Brigadier-General Newton in person to march by flank toward the right, and, under his direction, charged up the mountain, reaching the road near its crest. At this time we were on a line with the most advanced of our troops, and received orders to continue the charge out the main road across the mountain.

Advancing in line of battle, the wings extending to the right and left of the road, we were soon joined on the left by a portion of the First New Jersey Brigade, under command of Colonel Torbert. The enemy being here in line to oppose our farther progress, we attacked them immediately, driving them from their position and sending a number of prisoners to the rear. Continuing the pursuit close upon them, they made another stand, but were again driven from it. Halting for a few moments to reform line of battle, in connection with the New Jersey troops upon our left, we again advanced to attack the enemy, who were hoping to reform to protect their wagon train, then in sight of us. To assist this endeavor, they had placed a battery in position on the road, which opened upon our line with canister immediately upon our advancing. The line recoiled but for a moment, and then, with shouts, charged upon, it firing as it advanced, the shots being directed by the flash of the artillery, as it was now too dark to distinguish the gunners at that distance. Getting close upon them, the artillerymen, fearing the loss of their entire battery, fled, leaving one of their pieces on the road, merely disabling it temporarily by throwing off one wheel from the limber, which was left with the horses at hand. We learned that it had belonged to the Troup Artillery of Georgia, the piece being a 12-pounder howitzer, and marked "Jennie" on the axle each side of the gun. The infantry which supported the battery fled with it.

Here orders were brought to us by Colonel Bartlett in person to halt, it being then dark, and retire to the woods at the foot of the mountain, and take up position until further orders. At the same time Colonel Torbert retired up the road with his command. Although we had thus been subjected to a severe fire from artillery, at close range, with canister, as well as to that of the infantry, our loss was comparatively slight, accounted for by the extraordinary want of skill in the enemy in endeavoring to fire up hill, their fire passing continually over our heads, tearing and screeching through the trees, and showering the limbs upon us.

Upon taking up our new position, my regiment being some distance in advance, a picket was thrown out on the road, which remained there until ordered by General Newton to rejoin their regiment, General Brooks having in the mean time moved his brigade to the front, forming a connection with our left. Shortly afterward I received orders to remain in the position during the night. Such was the suddenness of their flight that the enemy had thrown away knapsacks, haversacks, and canteens, and everything which could impede it, and scattered along the road the ammunition of their artillery. From prisoners taken next morning we learned that they burned the wagon train which we had endeavored to seize, not knowing that we had ceased pursuit.

Casualties: 1 killed, 13 wounded, 1 missing; total, 15.

Very respectfully,

Colonel Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Source: OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Page 399 - 401


« to OR Index