History of the Laurel Brigade By William Naylor McDonald

COPYRIGHT. 1907. BY MRS. KATE S. McDONALD, pages 157-161

Next day, the 4th of July, Lee’s whole army began its march back to the Potomac. Jones’ brigade and Robertson’s were ordered to hold the passes of Jack Mountain and keep back Federal raiders from the wagon train.

In the evening it was reported that the enemy was advancing in force on the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro roads.

General Jones, fearing that Ewell’s train, then on its way to Williamsport, would be attacked, asked leave to go with his command to protect it. He was allowed the Sixth and Seventh regiments, and Chew’s battery, but the Seventh was afterwards ordered back and the Fourth North Carolina, under Colonel Fernbee, took its place.

It rained incessantly all night; the road was soon badly cut up; the ruts got deeper and deeper. At many points where mountain streams crossed the road the weaker teams would stall and block the way. Through the mud and darkness the artillery floundered along. Wagons with broken axles abandoned by their drivers had to be passed, and sometimes broken-down ambulances filled with wounded were encountered. «

It being wholly impracticable to push ahead the artillery, or even the cavalry, General Jones went forward with his staff.

Arriving at the junction of the Emmitsburg road with the one upon which the train was moving towards Williamsport, he found there Capt. G. M. Emack’s Company of Maryland, with one gun, opposed to a whole division of Federal cavalry with a full battery.

“He had already been driven back within a few hundred yards of the junction of the roads. Not half of the long train had passed.

“This little band of heroes was encouraged with the hope of speedy reinforcements, reminded of the importance of their trust, and exhorted to fight to the bitter end rather than yield. All my couriers and all others with firearms were ordered to the front, directed to lie on the ground, and be sparing with ammunition. The last charge of grape was expended and the piece sent to the rear.

“For more than two hours less than fifty men kept many thousands in check, and the wagons continued to pass along while the balls were whistling in their midst.”5

At last the Federals with a cavalry charge swept away resistance and got possession of the road.

General Jones in the darkness was separated from all his command and made his way through the woods to Williamsport. Here he found everything in confusion, and began to reorganize the stragglers for the defense of Lee’s army train.

The enemy was momentarily expected. But soon a force of Confederate cavalry and infantry arrived and General Imboden [Jones, not Imboden] took command.

‘Jones’ Report.

General Jones now made his way back through the enemy’s lines to his brigade on the night of the 5th. In the morning he rejoined his brigade at Leitersburg, and returned with it by way of Smithtown and Cavetown and the old Frederick Road, so as to participate in the attacks on General Kilpatrick at Hagerstown.

General Kilpatrick, who had pushed Jones and Emack aside at Monterey Gap, captured over 300 prisoners and forty wagons.


1st Battalion North Carolina Sharpshooters during the Battle of Monterey Pass


Major Rufus Wharton: Rufus Wharton was born on February 10, 1827 in North Carolina. He attended Davidson College, graduating there in 1849. From Greesboro, he had practiced law in Salem from 1850 until the advent of War in 1861. In that year he was Captain, Company E, 11th North Carolina Infantry until appointed Major of the new 1st Battalion in April 1862. Major Wharton commanded the Battalion until he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 67th North Carolina Infantry in 1864. The 67th served entirely in North Carolina until disbanded after the surrender of the ANV in April 1865. After the war, Wharton farmed cotton at Washington, North Carolina, and was active in the governance of Davidson College, from 1865 until his death on November 15, 1915 at Washington, NC.

1st Battalion North Carolina Sharpshooters Formation:


The Battalion [also sometimes called the 9th NC Battalion] was made up of Companies B and E of the 21st North Carolina Regiment, and was organized at Gordonsville (Va) in April 1862, commanded by Major Rufus Wharton.



Upon creation of the 1st North Carolina Battalion Sharpshooters, it was attach to the Department of Northern Virginia and then the Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia serving under Brigadier Isaac R. Trimble’s Brigade of Major General Richard Ewell’s Division where it remained. During the reorganization of the Confederate army from wings to Corps, the 1st Battalion NC Sharpshooters was attached to Brigadier General Robert Hoke’s Brigade of Major General Jubal Early’s Division of Lieutenant General Thomas Jackson’s Second Corps.

During reorganization of the Second Corps after the Battle of Chancellorsville, Major General Richard Ewell was given command of the corps and the 1st Battalion North Carolina Sharpshooters were made Provost Guards, reporting directly to Lt. Gen. Ewell.

Provost Guards:

Provost Guards were known to be the best in the military and were in charge of policing the army. Some of their duties included:

  1. Prevention of straggling on the march.
  2. Suppression of gambling-houses, drinking-houses, or bar-rooms, and brothels.
  3. Regulation of hotels, taverns, markets, and places of public amusement.
  4. Searches, seizures, and arrests. Execution of sentences of general courts-martial involving imprisonment or capital punishment. Enforcement of orders prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, whether by tradesmen or sutlers, and of orders respecting passes.
  5. Deserters from the enemy.
  6. Prisoners of war taken from the enemy.
  7. Countersigning safeguards.
  8. Passes to citizens within the lines and for purposes of trade.
  9. Complaints of citizens as to the conduct of the soldiers.

The Pennsylvania Campaign:

They marched through Chambersburg and moved up to Carlisle where Major Wharton was made Military Governor for a few days, before being ordered to Gettysburg. Nearing the town, the battalion was ordered to Cashtown to guard the wagon trains from Federal cavalry. After Picket’s Charge on July 3, the battalion was ordered to move toward Gettysburg where the wounded were being collected.

July 4, 1863:

Next morning, 4 July, General Ewell ordered the battalion to escort his train back to Williamsport, on the Potomac, and sent a company of Alabamians, commanded by a Lieutenant, and containing about thirty men, to reinforce it. The Alabamians were placed in front, and the battalion brought up the rear. The train contained more than a hundred wagons and ambulances, and when strung out on the road extended over several miles. Our route, after passing through a valley for several miles, led up a mountain side by a narrow, rough road to the Gettysburg and Hagerstown turnpike. Soon after we started an exceedingly heavy rain fell which rendered travel slow and difficult.

At the junction of our road with the pike a considerable force of our cavalry had been previously stationed, as an attack on that point by the enemy’s cavalry was apprehended.

During the afternoon we occasionally heard a few shots on top of the mountain, and as night approached the firing became frequent. We also learned from couriers who came down the mountain that a heavy force of Federal cavalry was threatening that position.

Confederate Prisoners:

With the battalion were a few Federal prisoners and also forty or fifty Confederates under arrest for various minor offences during the campaign. In addition to these were four Confederate under sentence of death for desertion, and were under a separate guard. Just before night I released and armed all the Confederate prisoners except the four under sentence, and ordered them to fall in with the battalion, telling them if they behaved well that night I would report the same in their behalf. After nightfall the firing on top of the mountain greatly increased.

The Battle of Monterey Pass:

Taking the battalion and the men who had just been released from arrest, I proceeded up the mountain, halting the train as I passed, to the assistance of our friends at the junction of our road with the pike. Before reaching the point the firing became very heavy for a few minutes and then ceased and was followed by the huzzas of the enemy. By this we knew the position had been captured by them and that they would break into that part of the train that had passed that point.

We went ahead as fast as we could and as we came near found the enemy had placed a cannon in the road by which we were approaching and were firing grape shot down the same every few minutes. Fortunately, the road made a sharp turn, about 100 yards from the gun and the shot did not sweep the road beyond that point. After a sharp engagement we captured the position together with fifteen or twenty prisoners. Among the prisoners was an elderly gentleman named Mitchell, who was army correspondent of the New York Herald.

We also captured the colored servant of General Kilpatrick and three of the general’s saddle horses. The enemy captured and carried off a few of our wagons and ambulances and doubtless, but for our timely arrival and attack, would have destroyed a large part of the train. The Confederates, that I had released and armed a few hours before, behaved well and a number of them, who belonged to the cavalry, mounted themselves on horses captured that night.

The Cowards of the 6th Virginia Cavalry:

A very remarkable thing occurred next morning in rear of the train. While the battalion was engaged in the fight, some Confederate cavalry that arrived at the point of attack at the same time as the battalion, stampeded and rushing down the mountain in great disorder completely dispersed the guards in charge of the prisoners in rear of the train. It was a very dark and rainy night. They were in a dense woods. It was impossible to recognize any one and no attempt was made to collect the prisoners until next morning.

Death Sentences Reduced:

After daylight three of the Confederate soldiers that were under sentence of death, reported to the officer of the guard and all the Federal prisoners were found near by. Of course after that the three Confederates were pardoned.

Charles Capehart Received the Medal of Honor For Bravery At The Battle of Monterey Pass

17203254_736687009828265_5582279057359834548_nCharles Capehart was born in 1833 at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he served out west with Generals John Fremont and U.S. Grant. His service record there is a bit sketchy, but appears he enlisted for the short term.

On June 30, 1862, he received a commission as Captain of Company A, 1st Virginia Cavalry, where he fought in several engagements in Virginia.  Captain Capehart’s reputation for bravery would be earned in the eastern theater of the war.

A year later, on June 6, 1863, Captain Capehart was promoted to Major of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. It would be the Pennsylvania Campaign or as many call it, the Gettysburg Campaign in which he would earn his reputation for bravery and courage under fire. Shortly after his promotion to Major, West Virginia was admitted into the Union as the 35th State on June 20, 1863.

During the Battle of Monterey Pass, Major Capehart commanded the 1st West Virginia Cavalry, while their commander, Colonel Nathaniel Richmond commanded the brigade. 24 year old Major Capehart, just after 3:30 a.m. on July 5 turned to his men and ordered a charge. The regiment charged the Confederate artillery piece, and then turned their attention to the wagon trains in front of them. Taking prisoners and destroying wagons as the charged down South Mountain.

By March of 1864, Major Capehart was recommended for promotion. His brother would take over command of a cavalry brigade leaving Lt. Col. Darr to command the regiment. On August 4, at Front Royal, VA,  Major Capehart mustered out of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry by reason of promotion. The next day,  Capehart received his commission of Lieutenant Colonel, officially replacing Lt. Colonel Joseph Darr who just resigned from the 1st West Virginia Cavalry.

For the remainder of the war, Lt. Col. Capehart commanded the 1st West Virginia Cavalry Regiment. They fought hard in the Shenandoah Valley and played a role during the Appomattox Campaign until the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered on April 9, 1865. Lt. Colonel Capehart and his 1st West Virginia Cavalry mustered out of military service on July 8, 1865 at Wheeling, WVA.

The Battle of Monterey Pass lived on with many of the West Virginians as they often wrote about their experiences for the newspapers. On April 7, 1898, Charles Capehart received a Medal of Honor for his actions and bravery that he displayed during the Battle of Monterey Pass. Charles Capehart died in 1911 in Washington D.C. and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major Charles E. Capehart, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 4 July 1863, while serving with 1st West Virginia Cavalry, in action at Monterey Mountain, Pennsylvania. While commanding the regiment, Major Capehart charged down the mountain side at midnight, in a heavy rain, upon the enemy’s fleeing wagon train. Many wagons were captured and destroyed and many prisoners taken.”
Date of Issue: April 7, 1898
Action Date: July 4, 1863

Confederate Gunner George Neese during the Retreat from Gettysburg to Monterey Pass

George Neese. Three years in the Confederate Horse Artillery, New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1911 Pg. 189-193

July 4 — It seems that the great battle is over and from all appearances our forces intend to strike out for Dixie’s fair land. The last reverberations of the deep booming thunder of the artillery that shook the hills around Gettysburg have died away, and the thick sulphury folds of the battle cloud that hung like a canopy over the battle-scarred plain and hugged the bloody crest of Cemetery Hill had dissolved in the soft summer air before General Lee’s army unwound itself from its deadly coil, and like a huge and dangerous serpent glided slowly and defiantly away toward the Potomac.

As soon as the Federal commander was thoroughly convinced that the Confederate forces were withdrawing from his front, he dispatched his cavalry on missions of destruction, to harass our rear and if possible destroy the immense trains of commissary and ordnance stores that were on the road toward the Potomac, by the way of Hagerstown valley.

Vast squadrons of the enemy’s horsemen soon swarmed and hung along our track like hungry vultures, ceaselessly watching for vulnerable points to attack and to seize booty, to the great terror and consternation of quartermasters, clerks, servants, cooks, and teamsters.

The arduous and responsible duty devolving on the Confederate cavalry during the retreat was to guard and defend the retiring trains of wagons and ambulances against all inroads and attempts that the Federal cavalry were liable to make for their capture or destruction, and more especially to strenuously oppose and foil all efforts of the enemy to make any advantageous interposition between General Lee’s army and the Potomac.

At sunrise this morning we moved to Fairfield and remained there until General Ewell’s wagons and ambulances passed, and then we followed them as a rear guard. It was nearly night when the last ambulances passed Fairfield, and at about six o’clock this evening we took up our line of march and followed them, the great caravan moving on the Hagerstown road.

At dark we struck the foot of the Blue Ridge. The road was muddy and slippery, the night dark; rainy, dreary, and dismal. The train moved very slowly, with halts and starts all night. Every time an ambulance wheel struck a rock I heard the pitiful groans of the wounded. Now and then an ominous and inauspicious boom of a Yankee cannon came rolling through the thick darkness from the top of the mountain, and apparently on the road we were on, which unmistakably indicated that the enemy was seriously interfering with the movements of our wagon train.

To-day while we were at Fairfield a drenching thunder-shower passed over, and we went in a stable for shelter during the rain. While we were in there some of our boys played marbles for amusement. Eventually one of the marbles rolled through a crack in the floor, and in order to get it we raised one of the boards in the floor, and under there we found a large store-box full of good, clean, nice bed-clothes, sheets, blankets, counterpanes as white as snow, and beautiful quilts, all of which had been recently hidden from the supposed desecrating hands of prejudged thieving Rebels. We left everything in the box and reported our find to the family that owned the stable, and told them to move their goods to the house and fear no danger of being molested. The family seemed to be astonished at our find and utterly surprised into coyish silence to learn that their goods were safe even when discovered by the dreaded Rebels.

I am almost convinced that a strong sentiment prevails throughout the whole North that the Southern army is composed of thieves and robbers mixed with barbarians and savages, and this malignant spirit is instilled into the populace and encouraged by irresponsible, mean lying newspapers that are published by men who have never been south of Mason and Dixon’s line.

Just yesterday, after the little fight with the Yankee cavalry near Fairfield, a young lady came to me and asked whether our men would allow her to take care of a wounded man that was lying in the road near her father’s bam. I told her to go and take care of as many wounded as she could find, and assured her that our men would not disturb her nor willingly interfere with her humane and laudable mission. I also told her that we did not come to Pennsylvania to make war on women.

July 5 — We were on the march nearly all last night, and most of the time we were mixed up in an ambulance train. Our march was very slow, and seemed more like a dead march than anything we have done in the marching business since the war. The surroundings were about as cheerful as a tomb.

The cannon we heard in the forepart of the night belonged to the Yanks, and they were shelling some of our wagon trains on top of the mountain. This morning just before day Colonel Thockmorton, commanding the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, came down the mountain with his regiment in a rather stirred-up condition, as if something wild and very dangerous had been seen in front. Captain Chew asked Colonel Thockmorton where he was going. He replied, ” Down the mountain. A Yankee battery fired canister into the head of my command, and I am not going up there again until daylight.” Captain Chew then remarked, ” Colonel, my battery was ordered up here to support your regiment, and if you go back, I will too.” Accordingly we went back down the mountain a short distance, fed our horses and waited for day. Immediately after daylight we renewed our march up the mountain, and when we arrived on top the Yankee destroyers had vanished from the scene of their last night’s destructive operations, and all was still and quiet on the mountain highlands. From all accounts and appearances the Yankee force that struck the wagon train on top of the mountain last night was considerable and overwhelming, as we had but few men to protect the train at that point in particular. It was not the train that we were guarding that was destroyed. The Yanks destroyed about ninety wagons, and they did their work well. Some of the wagons were chopped to pieces and others were burned. I saw the debris, such as skillets, frying pans, camp kettles, and all sorts of camp furniture scattered all along the road.

I made a little tour of inspection this morning where the Yankee raiders attacked the wagon train last night, merely to see whether I could find any evidence or trace of the resistance our few wagon train guards offered to the overwhelming force of Yankee cavalry that swept along the road. I found very few battle scars or marks on the trees and bushes, but behind a rock in a thick clump of trees lay one of our sharpshooters, still and silent in the bivouac of the dead, and no earthly reveille will ever wake him again. He was shot through the brain, and no doubt was killed by his adversary firing at the flash of the sharpshooter’s gun, which still lay by the dead body and pointed to the front.

After we were on the summit of the mountain about two hours we went down a mile on the Emmitsburg road on picket. We had about five hundred infantry of McLaw’s division with us for support. The infantrymen threw up breastworks along the front of our position. We remained on picket all day, and this evening we moved back a mile and camped at Monterey Springs on the summit of the Blue Ridge, sixteen miles, east of Hagerstown. General Longstreet’s infantry came up the Emmitsburg road this evening.



Jacob Hoke Writes About the Great Night Battle

Jacob Hoke. The Great Invasion of 1863; or General Lee in Pennsylvania, W. J. Shuey Publications Dayton OH, 1887. Pg. 451-453

On this same day (Saturday, 4th,) Kilpatrick’s cavalry division, reinforced by Huey’s brigade, of Gregg’s division, moved from Emmittsburg up to Monterey Pass, with the purpose of striking the enemy’s line. The following thrilling and graphic account of the terrific night attack by that bold and intrepid leader, has been furnished me by Dr. H. G. Chritzman, who was connected with Huey’s brigade. So far as I am aware no account of that affair has ever before been published. Dr. Chritzman, says:

“July 4th, we moved to Emmittsburg and reported to Kilpatrick; moved same evening to intercept Swell’s wagon-train which was reported to be near Monterey Springs. The brigade moved rapidly up the mountain road, striking Ewell’s wagon-train about three o’clock in the morning of July 5th, in the midst of a furious thunder storm, whilst on its retreat from Gettysburg.

‘At once there rose so wild a yell

Within that dark and narrow dell,

As if all the fiends from heaven that fell,

Had pealed the banner cry of hell.’

This, combined with the Plutonic darkness made it one of the nights long to be remembered. When we came up with the wagon – train, Federal and Confederate cavalry, wagons, ambulances, drivers and mules became a confused mass of pursued and pursuing demons whose shouts and carbine shots, mingled with the lightning’s red glare and the thunder’s crash, made it appear as if we were in the infernal regions. Especially so as the cries of the wounded often rose high above the din of the conflicting forces.

“Frequently a driver would be shot or leave his mule team, when the unrestrained animals would rush wildly down the narrow road, and in many instances the wagons with the mules attached would be found at daylight at the bottom of some deep ravine crushed to pieces, with the mules dead or dying. It was a fearful ride suiting well the fearless intrepidity of our daring commander. A Confederate brigade, then a long train of wagons and ambulances, then our brigade in the center, with Ewell’s corps in our rear, going down that narrow mountain road upon the principle of the devil take the hindmost,—you have Kilpatrick’s dash across Monterey Pass.

Captain James Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry

Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman with Custer’s Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the Civil War, By J.H. Kidd, Ionia, Michigan, Sentinel Printing Company, 1908 p 167-171


Captain James Harvey Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry

Well, on the morning of the Fourth, General Kilpatrick sent an order to regimental commanders to draw three days’ rations and be prepared for a protracted absence from the army, as we were to go to the right and rear of Lee to try and intercept his trains, and in every way to harass his retreating columns as much as possible. We were all proud of our new commanders, for it was evident that they were fighting men, and that while they would lead us into danger, if we survived it there would be left the consciousness of having done our duty, and the credit of accomplishing something for the cause.


It must also be said that a strong feeling of “pride in the corps” had taken root. Men were proud that they belonged to Kilpatrick’s division and to Custer’s brigade, for it must not be supposed that the above estimate of the former is based upon what we knew of him at that time. We were under him for a long time after that. This was the first day that we felt the influence of his immediate presence.

When it was known that Kilpatrick was to lead a movement to the enemy’s rear all felt that the chances were excellent for the country to hear a good deal about our exploits within the next few days, and nobody regretted it.

But before the start it began to rain in torrents. It has been said that a great battle always produces rain. My recollection is not clear as to the other battles, but I know that the day after Gettysburg the flood-gates of heaven were opened, and as the column of cavalry took its way towards Emmittsburg it was deluged. It seemed as if the firmament were an immense tank, the contents of which were spilled all at once. Such a drenching as we had! Even heavy gum coats and horsehide boots were hardly proof against it. It poured and poured, the water running in streams off the horses’ backs, making of every rivulet a river and of every river and mountain stream a raging flood.

But Lee was in retreat and, rain or shine, it was our duty to reach his rear, so all day long we plodded and plashed along the muddy roads towards the passes in the Catoctin and South mountains. It was a tedious ride for men already worn out with incessant marching and the fatigues of many days. It hardly occurred to the tired trooper that it was the anniversary of the nation’s natal day. There were no fireworks, and enthusiasm was quenched not by the weather only but by the knowledge that the confederate army, though repulsed, was not captured. The news of Grant’s glorious victory in the west filled every heart with joy, of course, but the prospect of going back into Virginia to fight the war over again was not alluring, but possibly that might not be our fate.

Vigorous pursuit might intercept Lee on this side of the Potomac. Every trooper felt that he could endure wet and brave the storm to aid in such strategy, and all set their faces to the weather and rode, if not cheerfully, at least patiently forward in the rain.

I have said that on that memorable Fourth of July there were no fireworks. That was a mistake. The pyrotechnic display was postponed until a late hour, but it was an interesting and exciting exhibition, as all who witnessed it will testify. It was in the night and darkness lent intensity to the scene.

Toward evening the flood subsided somewhat, though the sky was overcast with wet-looking clouds, and the swollen and muddy streams that ran along and across our pathway fretted and frothed like impatient coursers under curb and rein. Their banks could hardly hold them.

During the afternoon and evening the column was climbing the South Mountain. A big confederate wagon train was going through the gap ahead of us. If we could capture that, it would be making reprisal for some of Stuart’s recent work in Maryland.

Toward midnight we were nearing the top, marching along the narrow defile, the mountain towering to the right, and sloping off abruptly to the left, when the boom of a cannon announced that the advance guard had encountered the enemy. The piece of artillery was planted in the road, at the summit, near the Monterey house, and was supported by the confederate rearguard, which at once opened fire with their carbines. It was too dark to distinguish objects at any distance, the enemy was across the front and no one could tell how large a force it might be. The First Michigan had been sent to the right, early in the evening, to attack a body of the enemy, hovering on the right flank in the direction of Fairfield, and had a hard fight, in which Captain Elliott and Lieutenant McElhenny, two brave officers, were killed. The Fifth and Sixth were leading and at once dismounted and deployed as skirmishers. Generals Kilpatrick and Custer rode to the place where the line was forming, and superintended the movement. The Sixth, under Colonel Gray, was on the right of the line, the road to its left. At least the portion of the regiment to which my troop belonged was in that position. I think, perhaps, a part of the regiment was across the road. The Fifth formed on the left; the First and Seventh in reserve, mounted. There is a good deal of guess work about it, for in the darkness one could not tell what happened except in his immediate neighborhood.

The order “Forward,” finally came, and the line of skirmishers advanced up the slope, a column of mounted men following in the road, ready to charge when opportunity offered. Soon we encountered the confederate skirmishers, but could locate them only by the flashes of their guns. The darkness was intense and in a few moments we had plunged into a dense thicket, full of undergrowth, interlaced with vines and briars, so thick that it was difficult to make headway at all. More than once a trailing vine tripped me up, and I fell headlong. To keep up an alignment was out of the question. One had to be guided by sound and not by sight. The force in front did not appear to be formidable in numbers, but had the advantage of position, and was on the defensive in a narrow mountain pass where numbers were of little avail. We had a large force, but it was strung out in a long column for miles back, and it was possible to bring only a few men into actual contact with the enemy, whatever he might be. This last was a matter of conjecture and Kilpatrick doubtless felt the necessity of moving cautiously, feeling his way until he developed what was in his front. To the right of the road, had it not been for the noise and the flashing of the enemy’s fire we should have wandered away in the darkness and been lost.

The confederate skirmishers were driven back across a swollen stream spanned by a bridge. The crossing at this point was contested fiercely, but portions of the Fifth and Sixth finally forced it and then the whole command crossed over.

In the meantime the rumbling of wagon wheels could be heard in the road leading down the mountain. It was evident we were being detained by a small force striving to hold us there while the train made its escape. A regiment was ordered up mounted to make a charge. I heard the colonel giving his orders. “Men,” he said, “use the saber only; I will cut down any man who fires a shot.” This was to prevent shooting our own men in the melee, and in the darkness. Inquiring, I learned it was the First (West) Virginia cavalry. This regiment which belonged in the First brigade had been ordered to report to Custer. At the word, the gallant regiment rushed like the wind down the mountain road, “yelling like troopers,” as they were, and good ones too, capturing everything in their way.

This charge ended the fighting for that night. It was one of the most exciting engagements we ever had, for while the actual number engaged was small, and the casualties were not great, the time, the place, the circumstances, the darkness, the uncertainty, all combined to make “the midnight fight at Monterey” one of unique interest . General Custer had his horse shot under him which, it was said and I have reason to believe, was the seventh horse killed under him in that campaign. The force that resisted us did its duty gallantly, though it had everything in its favor. They knew what they had in their front, we did not. Still, they failed of their object, which was to save the train. That we captured after all. The Michigan men brushed the rear guard out of the way, the First Virginia gave the affair the finishing touch.

The fight over, men succumbed to fatigue and drowsiness. I had barely touched the saddle before I was fast asleep, and did not awake until daylight, and then looking around, could not see a man that I recognized as belonging to my own troop. As far as the eye could reach, both front and rear, was a moving mass of horses with motionless riders all wrapped in slumber. The horses were moving along with drooping heads and eyes half-closed. Some walked faster than others and, as a consequence, would gradually pull away from their companions through the column in front; others would fall back. So it came to pass that few men found themselves in the same society in the morning with which they started at midnight. As for myself, I awoke to wonder where I was and what had become of my men. Not one of them could I see. My horse was a fast walker, and I soon satisfied myself that I was in advance of my troop and, when the place designated for the division to bivouac was reached, dismounted and awaited their arrival. Some of them did not come up for an hour, and they were scattered about among other commands, in squads, a few in a place. It was seven o’clock before we were all together once more.

Then we had breakfast, and the men had a chance to look the captures over and quiz the prisoners. The wagons were soon despoiled of their contents and such stuff as was not valuable or could not be transported was burned. Among the prisoners was Colonel Davis, of the Tenth Virginia cavalry, who claimed that he led the charge against our position on the third. He expressed himself very freely as having had enough, and said, “This useless war ought to be ended at once.”

6th Virginia Cavalry at Monterey Pass

6th VA

Luther Hopkins

From Bull Run to Appomattox; A Boy’s View, Luther Hopkins of Genl. J. E. B. Stuart’s Cavalry, 6th Virginia Regiment, C. S. A. Baltimore, MD, 1908. Pg. 104-107.


The battle is over and Gettysburg has passed into history.

The moon and the stars come out, and the surgeons with their attendants appear with their knives and saws, and when morning came there were stacks of legs and arms standing in the fields like shocks of corn.

The two armies confronted each other all next day, but not a shot was fired. Up to noon that day, I think I can safely say there was not a man in either army, from the commanders-in-chief to the humblest private in the ranks, that knew how the battle had gone save one, and that one was Gen. Robert E. Lee.

About 4 o’clock in the afternoon, while the cavalrymen were grazing their horses in the rear of the infantry, a low, rumbling sound was heard resembling distant thunder, except that it was continuous. A private (one of my company) standing near me stood up and pointing toward the battlefield said, “Look at that, will you?” A number of us rose to our feet and saw a long line of wagons with their white covers moving toward us along the road leading to Chambersburg.

Then he used this strange expression: “That looks like a mice.” A slang phrase often used at that time. He meant nothing more nor less than this: “We are beaten and our army is retreating.”

The wagons going back over the same road that had brought us to Gettysburg told the story, and soon the whole army knew the fact. This is the first time Lee’s army had ever met defeat.

It is said that the loss of the two armies was about 50,000. This probably included the prisoners; but there were not many prisoners taken on either side. The major portion of the losses was in killed and wounded.

The badly wounded were left on the field to be cared for by the enemy. Those who could walk, and those who were able to ride and could find places in the wagons followed the retreating army.

The wagon train was miles and miles long. It did not follow the road to Chambersburg very far, but turned off and took a shorter cut through a mountainous district toward the point where the army had crossed the river into Maryland. This wagon train was guarded by a large body of cavalry, including my command.

Just as the sun was going down, dark ominous clouds came trooping up from the west with thunder and lightning, and it was not long before the whole heavens were covered and rain was falling in torrents.

I am not familiar with the topography of the country through which we retreated, but all night long we seemed to be in a narrow road, with steep hills or mountains on either side. We had with us a good many cattle with which to feed the army. These got loose in the mountains and hills covered with timber, and between their constant bellowing and the flashes of lightning and crashing thunder the night was hideous in the extreme. Wagons were breaking down, others getting stalled, and, to make matters worse, about midnight we were attacked by the Union cavalry.

This mountainous road came out on a wide turnpike, and just at this point Kilpatrick (commanding the Union cavalry) had cut our wagon train in two and planted a battery of artillery with the guns pointing toward the point from which we were advancing.

The cavalry which was stretched along the wagon train was ordered to the front. It was with great difficulty that we could get past the wagons in the darkness, and hence our progress was slow, but we finally worked our way up to the front and were dismounted and formed in line as best we could on either side of the road among the rocks and trees and then moved forward in an effort to drive the battery away from its position so we could resume our march. The only light we had to guide us was from the lightning in the heavens and the vivid flashes that came from the enemy’s cannon. Their firing did not do much execution, as they failed to get a proper range. Besides, we were so close to them they were firing over our heads, but the booming of the guns that hour of night, with the roar of the thunder, was terrifying indeed, and beyond description. We would wait for a lightning flash and advance a few steps and halt, and then for a light from the batteries and again advance.

In the meantime day was breaking, and the light from the sun was coming in, and at this point our enemy disappeared and the march was resumed. We were afraid that the two hundred wagons that had already passed out on the open turnpike had been captured, but such was not the case.

With these wagons was our brigadier commander, Gen. Wm. E. Jones, and two regiments of cavalry. We got so mixed up with the enemy’s cavalry that night that it was almost impossible to distinguish friend from foe. Our general was a unique character, and many are the jokes that are told on him. While this fighting was going on those about him would address him as general. He rebuked them for this and said, “Call me Bill.” The explanation was that the enemy was so close to them (in fact, mingled with them) that he did not want them to know that there was a general in the crowd.

Two days afterwards we got hold of one of the county papers, which, in giving the account of this attack, stated that the rebel, Gen. Wm. E. Jones, was captured. Perhaps but for the shrewdness of Gen. Wm. E. Jones in having his men call him “Bill” instead of “General,” it might have been true. The firing among the horses attached to the wagons that had gone out on the open pike frightened them to such an extent that they were stampeded, and we saw the next morning as we rode along that some of the wagons had tumbled over the precipice on the right, carrying with them the horses; also the wounded soldiers that were riding in the wagons.

The retreat was continued all the next day, the enemy’s cavalry attacking us whenever they could, but without effect.

Experiences of Confederate Soldier Edward Moore at Monterey Pass

edward mooreStory of a Cannoneer Under Stonewall Jackson, By Edward Moore of the Rockbridge Artillery, J. P. Bell Company, Inc., Lynchburg, VA, 1910. Pg. 201-205

About nine o’clock that evening, and before we had moved from our position, I received a message, through Captain Graham, from some of the wounded of our company, to go to them at their field-hospital. Following the messenger, I found them in charge of our surgeon, Dr. Herndon, occupying a neat brick cottage a mile in the rear, from which the owners had fled, leaving a well-stocked larder, and from it we refreshed ourselves most gratefully. Toward midnight orders came to move. The ambulances were driven to the door and, after the wounded, some eight or ten in number, had been assisted into them, I added from the stores in the house a bucket of lard, a crock of butter, a jar of apple-butter, a ham, a middling of bacon, and a side of sole-leather. All for the wounded!

Feeling assured that we would not tarry much longer in Pennsylvania, and expecting to reach the battery before my services would be needed, I set out with the ambulances. We moved on until daylight and joined the wounded of the other batteries of our battalion, and soon after left, at a house by the wayside, a member of the Richmond Howitzers who was dying. Our course was along a by-road in the direction of Hagerstown. In the afternoon, after joining the wagon-train, I found “Joe,” the colored cook of my mess, in possession of a supernumerary battery-horse, which I appropriated and mounted. Our column now consisted of ambulances loaded with wounded men, wounded men on foot, cows, bulls, quartermasters, portable forges, surgeons, cooks, and camp-followers in general, all plodding gloomily along through the falling rain.

We arrived at the base of the mountain about five p. M. and began ascending by a narrow road, leading obliquely to the left. Before proceeding farther some description of the horse I was riding is appropriate, as he proved an important factor in my experiences before the night was over. He was the tallest horse I ever saw outside of a show, with a very short back and exceedingly long legs, which he handled peculiarly, going several gaits at one time. Many a cannoneer had sought rest on his back on the march, but none had ventured on so high a perch when going into battle. When halfway up the mountain we heard to our left oblique the distant mutter of a cannon, then in a few moments the sound was repeated, but we thought it was safely out of our course and felt correspondingly comfortable. At intervals the report of that gun was heard again and again. About dusk we reached the top of the mountain, after many, many halts, and the sound of that cannon became more emphatic.

After descending a few hundred yards there came from a bridle-path on our left, just as I passed it, three cavalry horses with empty saddles. This was rather ominous. The halts in the mixed column were now frequent, darkness having set in, and we had but little to say. That cannon had moved more to our front, and our road bore still more to where it was thundering. We were now almost at the foot of the mountain, and to the left, nearer our front, were scattering musket-shots. Our halts were still short and frequent, and in the deep shadow of the mountain it was pitch-dark. All of this time I had not a particle of confidence in my horse. I could not tell what was before me in the dense darkness, whether friend or foe, but suddenly, after pausing an instant, he dashed forward. For fifty or seventyfive yards every other sound was drowned by a roaring waterfall on my right; then, emerging from its noise, I was carried at a fearful rate close by dismounted men who were firing from behind trees along the roadside, the flashes of their guns, “whose speedy gleams the darkness swallowed,” revealing me on my tall horse with his head up. He must see safety ahead, and I let him fly.

A hundred yards farther on our road joined the main pike at an acute angle, and entering it he swept on. Then, just behind me, a Federal cannon was discharged. The charge of canister tore through the brush on either side, and over and ,under me, and at the same instant my steed’s hind leg gave way, and my heart sank with it. If struck at all, he immediately rallied and outran himself as well as his competitors. After getting out of the range of the firing and the shadow of the mountain, I saw indistinctly our cavalrymen along the side of the road, and we bantered each other as I passed.

Farther on, at a toll-gate, I heard the voice of Tom Williamson. His ambulance had broken down and he was being assisted toward the house. I drew rein, but thought, “How can I help him? This horse must be well-nigh done for,” and rode on. Since reaching the foot of the mountain the way had been open and everything on it moving for life. But again the road was full, and approaching clatter, with the sharp reports of pistols, brought on another rush, and away we went—wagons, wounded men, negroes, forges, ambulances, cavalry—everything.

This in time subsided and, feeling ashamed, I turned back to look after my wounded, my horse as reluctant as myself, and expecting every moment the sound of the coming foe. A sudden snort and the timid step of my nervous steed warned me of breakers ahead. Peering through the darkness I saw coming toward me, noisless and swift as the wind, an object white as the driven snow. “What,”

I asked myself, “are ghosts abroad, and in such a place? Is Gettysburg giving up her dead so soon?” But, as the thing met me, a voice cried out, “It that you, Ned? Is that you? Take me on your horse. Let me get in the saddle and you behind.” For a moment I was dumb, and wished it wasn’t I. The voice was the voice of Lieutenant Brown, the same whom I had seen undermined by the shell at Gettysburg, and who had not put a foot to the ground until now. Barefooted, bareheaded; nothing on but drawers and shirt—white as a shroud! The prospect that now confronted me instantly flashed through my mind. First, “Can this horse carry two?” Then I pictured myself with such a looking object in my embrace, and with nothing with which to conceal him. There were settlements ahead, daylight was approaching, and what a figure we would cut! It was too much for me, and I said, “No, get on behind,” feeling that the specter might retard the pursuing foe. But my tall horse solved the difficulty. Withdrawing my foot from the stirrup, Brown would put his in and try to climb up, when suddenly the horse would “swap ends,” and down he’d go. Again he would try and almost make it, and the horse not wheeling quickly enough I would give him the hint with my “off” heel. My relief can be imagined when an ambulance arrived and took Brown in. I accompanied him for a short distance, then quickened my pace and overtook the train. Presently another clatter behind and the popping of pistols. Riding at my side was a horseman, and by the flash of his pistol I saw it pointing to the ground at our horses’ feet.

Reaching the foot of a hill, my horse stumbled and fell as if to rise no more. I expected to be instantly trampled out of sight. I heard a groan, but not where the horse’s head should have been. Resting my feet on the ground, thus relieving him of my weight, he got his head from under him and floundered forward, then to his feet and away. Farther on, a swift horse without a rider was dashing by me. I seized what I supposed to be his bridlerein, but it proved to be the strap on the saddle-bow, and the pull I gave came near unhorsing me.

The pursuit continued no farther. Not having slept for two days and nights, I could not keep awake, and my game old horse, now wearied out, would stagger heedlessly against the wheels of moving wagons. Just at dawn of day, in company with a few horsemen of our battalion, I rode through the quiet streets of Hagerstown, thence seven miles to Williamsport.

David Miller Jr’s Account of the Battle of Monterey Pass

Clermont, Penn., November 23, 1886.
Prof. J. Fraise Richard,

Dear Sir — In answer to your letter concerning the capture of Lee s wagon train by Gen. Kilpatrick on the night of July 4, and morning of the 5th, 1863, I beg to say I remember it very distinctly.

My father rented Monterey Springs from Mr. Samuel Buhrman and kept the house from April, 1861, to April, 1866. Monterey being on the turnpike, at the top of South Mountain, is the main crossing in the southeastern part of Franklin County, Penn., and was resorted to in times of rebel invasions by not only many persons of Washington and Antrim Townships of this county, but by many from Washington County, Maryland, and the Valley of Virginia. At this place, in times of danger, pickets were always placed from the Monterey House to the western side of the mountain to give notice if the rebels were approaching.

At the time of the battle of Gettysburg a large number of people were here anxiously awaiting news from the field of carnage, which could be seen from the adjacent hills. On the afternoon of July 4, a company of rebel cavalry came to Monterey from the tollgate, about half a mile on the western side, where the old Furnace road intersects the turnpike, over which roads the train was passing. After staying an hour or longer they left, and soon a rebel battery came from the same direction and placed a cannon on the turnpike between the house and barn.

Another party was stationed farther east where the Clermont house now is and the pike commences to descend the mountain. They kept all the persons at the Monterev as prisoners, placing a guard over them at the house. They gave my nephew, Willie Waddell, and myself privilege to go wherever we wished, to look after things, but required us to report every fifteen minutes to Sergt. Grabill, who was stationed at the front door of the house. About dusk I saw a great deal of commotion among them and asked some of the soldiers what was going on. “Oh  nothing! Just you report to Sergt. Grabill,” was the reply. I came to the house and asked Willie Waddell whether he knew what was going on. ” Yes, ” said he, ” I just came down from the observatory on the lop of the house and could hear the Union troops coming up the mountain.”

Very soon the cannonadins commenced, but did not last long. The rebels hitched
horses to their cannon and went toward the tollgate on a run, Sergt. Grabill not waiting for any one to report to him. One of the first men I met after the arrival of the Union troops was Gen. Custer, who. after questioning me, called Gen. Kilpatrick standing near. Gen. Kilpatrick asked me the distance to the foot of the mountain on the western side and whether troops could march on both sides of the turnpike. I told him they could as far as the tollgate. He immediately ordered a cannon to be placed in front of the Monterey house to throw shells after the retreating rebels. At the same time he ordered a regiment to march after them. The officer in command said he could not go “while they were throwing shell in the rear of his men. Kilpatrick said, “Yes you can,” and at the same directed the officer in charge of the cannon to throw his shells high so that there would be no danger to the Union troops. The rebels returned the fire for a time from the neighborhood of the tollgate, but when the Union troops approached they

Kilpatrick inquired of me whether there was any other road by which he could get to the foot of the mountain. I informed him of the Mount Zion road to Smithsburg and Leitersburg, the distance to the former place being eight miles, to the latter eleven. He then asked me whether I knew of any one acquainted with the road who would go as a guide. I had seen Mr. C. H. Buhrman with the soldiers when they came to Monterey. I said, “Mr. Buhrman is the man for you.” Mr. Buhrman being called up. Gen. Kilpatrick asked him whether he knew the Mount Zion road to Smithsburg and Leitersburg, and whether he could find it such a dark night; if so, whether he would go as a guide for a regiment. Mr. Buhrman said he knew the road well, could find it no matter how dark the night, and would go as a guide.

Calling Col. Preston, Gen. Kilpatrick informed him that Mr. Buhrman would act as
his guide. Soon the tramping of horses began through mud and rain in one of the darkest nights I ever knew. As soon as Col. Preston had started. Gen. Kilpatrick ordered a lieutenant, with James McCulloh as guide, to go past the Benchoff farm to the old Furnace road to cut off that portion of the train between the Gum Spring and the turnpike, which added one and a half miles more to the part already attacked, and from which they brought from seventy-five to one hundred prisoners to Monterey. The cannonading continued for several hours as our troops were descending the western side of the mountain. By daylight on Sunday morning, July 5. Gen. Kilpatrick, with all his troops and prisoners except a few who were too badly wounded to be moved, had left Monterey. One of these wounded
died soon after.

I never knew any one to direct movements so rapidly as Gen. Kilpatrick did that
night, nor men so eager to follow as were the Union soldiers. There never was a greater victory under such adverse circumstances with the loss of so small a number of men.

Respectfully yours, David Miller.

Charles Buhrman’s Account of the Battle of Monterey Pass

Rouzerville, Penn., October 12, 1886.
Mr. J. Fraise Richard,

Bear Sir: Your favor of the 11th inst. received, and questions answered as far as I
can remember. I lived at that time at Fountain Dale, Adams Co., Penn., two miles east of Monterey Springs, on the turnpike leading to Emmittsburg. I found out through a man by the name of James Embley, who came to my place and told me that Lee’s wagon train was retreating by way of the Furnace road, a mountain road leading from Fairfield to the turnpike, coming on the pike at the toll-gate near Monterey Springs. That was on Saturday afternoon, about 2 o’clock, July 4, 1863, as near as I can remember.

When I found out that Lee’s wagon train was retreating, I mounted a horse and
started to inform our cavalry, which I supposed would be at Emmittsburg. But two
miles below my place I came to the Yankee pickets, and with them was one of Kilpatrick’s scouts that I was well acquainted with. I told him of the wagon train retreating: he sent me to Gen. Custer, and Custer sent me to Gen. Kilpatrick. At that time they were just planting a cannon to shell the rebels on McMullin’s Hill. When I informed Gen. Kilpatrick he ordered an advance at once to Monterey. I rode with the General as far as my farm, two miles east of Monterey. Just before getting to my place we met a little girl that had just left Monterey. She knew me, and told me to tell the soldiers not to go to Monterey, as the rebels had planted the pike full of cannons in front of Monterey and would kill all the soldiers when they got there. Kilpatrick laughed and remarked that they kept no account of cannons, as they just rode over them. When 1 got to the gate that goes into my farm I told the General I lived there, and would stop; but he requested me to go with them to Monterey and see the fun; so I went with him. We ran against the rebel pickets at Clermont, a quarter of a mile east of Monterey. It was then getting dark in the evening. After passing Clermont about 150 yards the rebels fired three or four shots with grape and canister, and then pulled up their battery and retreated. I don’t think they killed any of Kilpatrick’s men with the battery, as they fired too soon, and the grape and canister went over our men’s heads; but it made some of our men retreat, and caused a great deal of confusion. I told Kilpatrick if he would dismount a regiment and go down through the edge of the woods, he could flank them and capture the battery. He did so. but they had retreated by the time our men got to Monterey.

Kilpatrick asked me which way I thought the wagon train was going, and where I supposed they would strike the river. I told him they could go by Smithsburg and
Boonsboro, and cross the river at Sharpsburg, or go by Leitersburg and Hagerstown and cross at Williamsport. He asked me if there was any road that I knew of that I could take a regiment and head off that wagon train. I told him there was. That I could take them by Mount Zion and then down the Raven Rock Hollow and strike Smithsburg, and if they had not taken that road, we could cross to Leitersburg and there we would strike them for certain. It was the 1st Vermont regiment, commanded by Colonel Preston that I was with. When we got to Smithsburg we found everything quiet, as the Rebels had taken the Leitersburg road. The Colonel asked me what was to be done now, as there were no Rebels there. I told him we would find plenty of them before daylight, as we must strike them at Leitersburg. We got to Leitersburg about daybreak on Sunday morning, finding the road crowded with Rebels, cattle, horses, wagons, etc.

The regiment I was with captured a great many prisoners, cattle, horses, etc., and
destroyed the wagon train from Leitersburg back to Ringgold. There they met the remainder of Kilpatrick’s cavalry. They had destroyed the wagon train from Monterey to Ringgold, a distance of six miles, and from Ringgold to Leitersburg, a distance of three miles more, making nine miles of wagon train captured or burned or destroyed by cutting off wagon tongues and cutting spokes in wheels. I am not able to say how much, if any, of the wagon train was destroyed between Leitersburg and Hagerstown, as I went only as far as Leitersburg with the 1st Vermont regiment, when it divided, part going toward Hagerstown, and part toward Ringgold. I weut with the part that went toward Ringgold, as that was on my way home. I left them about 8 o’clock on Sunday morning, and started home by way of Ringgold.

Before I got to Ringgold I was taken by Kilpatrick’s pickets. They took me for a Rebel, and all I could say would not change their opinion, as they would not believe anything I said. They took me to the schoolhouse at Ringgold, where the officers had their headquarters; but as soon as the officers saw me they recognized me, having seen me with Kilpatrick the evening before. After leaving Ringgold on my way home, on going up a hill near the farm of George Harbaugh, when I got to the top of the hill the Rebels were coming up the other side. I saw them when I was about 100 yards from them; turned my horse and rode slowly until I got down the hill far enough that they could not see me.

Then I ran my horse to the foot of the hill and left the road and got in the woods and got away from them. I kept the woods until I came to the Germantown road, near the Germantown schoolhouse; then took a near cut through the swamp and came out on the Sabillasville road, near Monterey,’ but the Rebel pickets were stationed near Monterey at a turn in the lane. They saw me first, and had dismounted and gone around the turn of the lane I could not see them for a very large cherry tree that stood at the corner of the lane. They let me ride up within about sixty yards of them, when four of them stepped around the turn of the lane and told me to halt. There was an orchard on the left side of the road and a high post fence on each side. I knew my horse could not, jump the fence, and I did not dare to turn him and go back, as it was a straight lane for a quarter of a mile and they would have easily hit me if I had made the attempt. One of them called to me to dismount, and, as I was near the orchard fence, I “dismounted” over the fence’and did some good running from that to the Pine Swamp, about one-fourth
of a mile. They shot four times at me, but missed me. I heard the balls whistle over
my head, as it was down hill and they shot over me. I lost my horse, saddle and bridle.

I was in the swamp only a few minutes until they were there; but as the bushes were very thick. I soon got away from them and kept the woods until I got home, two miles from there. It was then two or three o’clock on Sunday afternoon. I was at home only a few minutes when I saw the Rebel cavalry coming to my house. They took a near cut from Clermont, and came down the old road. They saw me at the same time I saw them. I passed in my front door and out my back door.

My orchard runs right back of my house, and one of my horses was standing under an apple tree near the house. I mounted the horse and got to the mountain before they were aware that I was not in the house. They searched the house from garret to cellar, and told my wife if they found me they would hang me to the first tree they came to.

When I got to the mountain I made a halter out of hickory bark, and saved the horse in that way, as they did not find him. I kept myself hid until after the retreat of Lee’s army, but lost three horses and nine head of cattle by being away. I have given you the facts as near as I can remember.

Yours very respectfully,