THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF 1862: Pt 14

THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF 1862: THROUGH ARKANSAS EYES

The division stayed in bivouac on September 11th and took up the march on the morning of the 12th. Colonel E. V. White, a Loudoun County native and commander of the 35th Virginia Battalion. had been sent, according to the orders in Special Order 191, by Gen. Jeb Stuart to guide Walker’s Division to Loudoun Heights. There has always been a question of why the division took such a circular route to their destination.

I offer two possible reasons: 1. Colonel White was unhappy with his assignment preferring to be with the rest of the army and having gotten into an altercation with Gen. Jeb Stuart in Fredericksburg and was ordered back to Virginia by Lee and given this specific assignment. His disposition might be to blame for the meandering route taken. 2. The roads taken were the only ones suitable for some of the unshod men and the artillery and wagons, which no doubt due to the extensive marching had deteriorated to the point that easier roads were required to keep the men and equipment intact. I prefer the later explanation.

The division traveled south to Hillsboro, VA and camped there on the night of Friday, September 12th. They were already a day behind their schedule. On Saturday the 13th of September they reached the eastern base of Loudoun Heights, a 1400 foot ridge on the eastern bank of the Shenandoah River and the southern bank of the Potomac River. The division’s main goals were to prevent escape of the Harper’s Ferry Union Forces into this part of northern Virginia and to provide artillery support for the siege of Harper’s Ferry.

The 27th North Carolina and the 30th Virginia under Col. Cook occupied the ridge and made passage for the guns to be placed on the ridge. The other regiments were placed around the face of the ridge from where Sweet Run empties into the Potomac to the old suspension bridge at the mouth of the Shenandoah.

After sunset on the 13th the Arkansas Boys were moving into position opposite the suspension bridge when they heard the clatter of hooves on the narrow road. The skirmish line yelled “Cavalry Charge”. There upon ensued a mad scramble for the fences on either side of the road. Several men were injured trying to clear the fences and others were injured when jammed against the fences by the stampede of men behind them. All of a sudden the enemy appeared which turned out to be a herd of dairy cattle that were stampeded by the skirmish line. It would be days before the incident was lived down. Many cat calls ensued of “Hey Arkansas where’s your cow?”

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About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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