Archive for Cavalry

Harry Gilmor

Colonel Harry Gilmor

Colonel Harry Gilmor.

The first Civil War burial that I discovered at Loudon Park was Confederate Col. Harry Gilmor. He was present at the Battle of Gettysburg as a Major in command of the 1st MD Cavalry Battalion (CSA) – part of Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade – though they did not participate in the action at the East Cavalry field.

After Gettysburg, he continued his service in the cavalry, serving most notably under Lt. General Jubal Early during his campaign through Maryland which culminated in the Battle of Monocacy in July of 1864. I actually found out about his burial in Loudon Park from the book I read about that campaign recently. He didn’t fight to the end of the war though; he was captured by Union troops in February of 1865 while on a raid in West Virginia.

After the war, he wrote a book about his experiences, and went on to serve as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner for 5 years.

Col. Gilmor is buried in the Confederate Hill section of Loudon Park. A very prominent headstone marks his gravesite:

Location of Confederate Hill

Location of Confederate Hill. Map by Apple Maps.

Harry Gilmor's Monument

Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail on the front of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail on the front of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the left side of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail of the left side of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the rear of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail of the rear of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the right Harry Gilmor's Monument, marking his wife's burial.

Detail of the right side of Harry Gilmor’s Monument, marking his wife’s burial. Photo by the author.

As you may guess (with a whole section named “Confederate Hill”) there are certainly a few more prominent leaders with Gettysburg connections buried at Loudon Park. In the next installment, we’ll show the grave of one of the infantry commanders from that battle.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 4:30pm – South Cavalry Field

After the failure of Pickett’s Charge, the Union cavalry decided to try their own flanking movement just about now, 150 years ago.

The brigades of newly-appointed Generals Elon Farnsworth and Wesley Merritt, under the over-all command of Brig. General Judson Kilpatrick, would probe to find the Confederate right flank.

Merritt’s men would be on the left of the advance, fighting dismounted up the Emmitsburg Road. Determined fighting from the Confederates of Law’s division, and sufficient reinforcements on their side, meant that this attack stalled.

On the right, Farnsworth’s men were in the woods on Bushman’s Hill. They would charge through the rocky forest on horseback – not the best choice. The attack would become disjointed, and the young Brig. General Farnsworth would pay for Kilpatrick’s poor plan with his life.

The Confederate flank would not be turned, and with no frontal assault coming from Cemetery Ridge, the Confederates were safe for the night.

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With the failure of this Union attack, the combat at Gettysburg was over. In 3 days, nearly 170,000 men had fought here, and 51,000 became casualties. It is the bloodiest battle ever fought by Americans in any war, and the largest and bloodiest ever to take place in the western hemisphere.

The massive numbers of dead (over 8,000) will lead to the creation of the first National Cemetery here in the coming months. On November 19, 1863, at the dedication ceremony for that cemetery, Abraham Lincoln will give one of the greatest speeches in American history. His “appropriate remarks” will bring meaning to the devastation, and a purpose to finishing the war.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 2:15pm – East Cavalry Field

When J.E.B. Stuart fired off those cannons to signal Lee, the alarm was instantly raised.

Brig. General David McMurtrie Gregg brought his men – two brigades under the command of Col. John McIntosh, and newly-appointed Brig. General George A. Custer – up the Low Dutch Road to meet the threat to the Union rear. By this time 150 years ago, they were in position to do something.

It began with an artillery duel. The well-trained Union gunners were able to overpower Stuart’s horse artillery. J.E.B. would need another trick to get past them.

He decided on a flanking movement, but he was blocked by troopers from the 5th Michigan Cavalry. Just as he had them breaking, the 7th Michigan counter-attacked, personally led by General Custer himself.

Fighting would swirl around these fields for less than an hour. Charge and counter-charge happened again, and again General Custer and his Michigan boys made the difference.

The struggle came to a head when Col. McIntosh’s brigade was able to flank the Confederates, wounding Confederate Brig. General Wade Hampton in the process. In mass confusion, and nearly surrounded, the Rebel horsemen had no choice but to retreat.

While relatively light on casualties for both sides, this little-mentioned action represented another step up for the Union cavalry, and another missed opportunity for J.E.B. Stuart and the Confederates. The tides were slowly turning.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 12:30pm – Confederate Cavalry in the East

While the fighting resumed on Culp’s Hill early in the morning, General Lee came up with his strategy for the day’s action.

Originally, he wanted to repeat the attacks on the left and right from yesterday, hoping that more ground could be gained this time. Lt. General Longstreet convinced him that the Union left was well-situated on the ridges south of town. Lee changed his strategy – he would launch an attack that would become famous against the center of the Union line, and his cavalry would have a part to play this time.

The Confederate artillery would break up the Union defenses, the infantry would push the Yankees off Cemetery Ridge, and the cavalry would be waiting to mop up the remains.

J.E.B. Stuart was to go around the Union right, probing for the rear of the enemy. Once he found it, he should signal General Lee to let him know that the cavalry was in position.

150 years ago right now, four cannons fired off on Cress Ridge near the Rummel Farm – one blast in each compass direction. This was the signal. Unfortunately for Maj. General Stuart, his commander wasn’t the only person to hear it.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 12:30pm – J.E.B. Stuart Finally Arrives

His long misadventure finally at a close, J.E.B. Stuart arrived at General Lee’s headquarters outside Gettysburg 150 years ago right now.

Though there had been cavalry with Lee during the entire campaign, Stuart took the best of the Confederate cavalrymen with him, leaving the Army of Northern Virginia in a precarious position. He would be chastised by Lee in private, but neither man left a record of the details of the conversation, so we don’t know how stern the talking-to was.

It must not have been too bad, because Stuart maintained his command, though he and his men would be of little use for the rest of the battle.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 1:00am – J.E.B. Stuart Leaves Carlisle

After a few hours of shelling the town of Carlisle, J.E.B. Stuart got word from General Lee that the main body of the Confederate army was in Gettysburg and had already started fighting.

150 years ago right now, Stuart finally knew where he had to go and got his men on the road toward Gettysburg.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 6:00pm – J.E.B. Stuart at Carlisle

While the main battle has raging all day, Confederate cavalry commander, J.E.B. Stuart kept finding ways to distract himself from the task at hand, namely, finding the rest of the Confederate army.

When he reached the outskirts of York, he found out that, while Lt. General Ewell’s men had been there, they weren’t any longer. They had been ordered to the west, to join up with the rest of the army. Stuart got back on the road to look for them.

Just about now, 150 years ago, the Confederate cavalry arrived at Carlisle expecting to find Ewell’s Corps, but once again, Stuart just missed them. Instead, he found Union militia troops under the command of Brig. General William “Baldy” Smith. Unlike some of the other militia commanders, Smith was determined to defend the town.

Stuart sent a messenger into town demanding surrender. Smith refused. After an hour or so of back-and-forth, Stuart had had enough. He brought up his artillery and shelled Carlisle, causing few injuries and starting several fires in the process.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 9:30am – Union Infantry Arrives

For 4 hours, Buford’s men have fought a drawn-out holding action against skirmishers from Archer’s infantry brigade. The Confederates didn’t expect much resistance, so they had not fully deployed in a battle formation. Doing so would take a lot of time.

General Heth started to realize that this was not (as he had assumed) a group of militia men that he could just brush aside. He ordered Brig. General Archer to deploy his whole brigade, and just a little later, ordered Brig. General Davis to bring his men into line as well. That should be enough to dislodge the Federals, he thought.

Little did he know that more Union troops were on the way, and 150 years ago right now, the first of those men began to arrive on McPherson’s Ridge west of Gettysburg. A brigade of Union infantry and some artillery under the command of Brig. General Lysander Cutler fell in next to Buford’s men and prepared to repulse the advancing Confederates.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 5:30am – The First Shot

150 years ago right now, on a ridge overlooking Marsh Creek, Lt. Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois Cavalry borrows a carbine from one of his men, rests it on a fence rail, and fires a shot at a column of approaching Confederates.

With that single act, the bloodiest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere had begun.

Gettysburg Live 150 – 11:00am – Buford Arrives at Gettysburg

150 years ago right now, Union Brig. General John Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division arrives in Gettysburg.

The folks in town are very happy to see him. Only a few minutes before, a Confederate scouting force – a brigade of infantry under the command of Brig. General J. Johnston Pettigrew – came near the town in search of supplies. He is told that they moved to the west along the Chambersburg Pike, toward Cashtown – back the way they came. Buford decides to go have a look.

Pettigrew left in a hurry because he saw the Union cavalry coming. His orders were to scout, not to start a battle, so he decided to go back to headquarters to let his superiors, Maj. General Henry Heth and Lt. General A.P. Hill, know what was going on. The Union army was north of the Potomac, and closing in on the rebels.

Neither Heth nor Hill believed Pettigrew’s story. You see, Pettigrew was not a West Point-trained, professional soldier like they were; he was a college professor from North Carolina who had spent most of the war in coastal defense duties, not in battle. How could he know the difference between the Army of the Potomac and the inexperienced local militia that General Early’s men had brushed aside a few days before? These had to be those same troops back for more punishment. Heth, new to his division command and looking to gather glory to his name, asked for and received permission from A.P. Hill to take his full division to Gettysburg the next day to rough-up these home guards.

By mid-afternoon, General Buford had a feeling that Pettigrew’s “retreat” was not for real. Though his subordinates disagreed, Buford knew the rebels would be back in force. Gettysburg had a superb road network, and good high ground all around the town. If a battle was to be fought, this would be a good place to do it. Buford wanted to retain control of this excellent position, so he dug in for a defense. He sent word of his plan to General Reynolds, commanding the western sector of the advance, in the hope that he could bring the 3 corps of infantry that were with him down in Emmitsburg, up to Gettysburg by morning.