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Maryland Campaign

 

On September 3, 1862, the 12th Georgia serving in Trimble’s brigade, with Brigadier-General Alexander R. Lawton as its division commander marched through Dranesville and camped outside Leesburg. Crossing the Potomac at White’s Ford into Maryland, they marched toward the railroad bridge over the Monocacy, staying there four days. Jackson then took his troops through Middletown, and on the September 11, passed through Boonsborough and crossed South Mountain at Turners Gap. Jackson would re-cross the Potomac at Williamsport and camp at Opeqon Creek on September 12. Arriving at Harpers Ferry late in the afternoon on September 14, the Confederates took up position on a hill facing Bolivar Heights. This position placed the town of Harper’s Ferry in easy range of the Southern artillery. At daylight, the Confederate batteries open fire and the brigades started their advance on the Federal garrison. Very soon after the action had begun, the Federals raised a white flag and the confrontation ended. The Battle of Harper’s Ferry was over before it really got started. More than 12,000 Union soldiers were captured.

 

Following the Federal surrender, Trimble’s and Lawton’s brigades received orders to move to Boetler’s Ford, and wait for the rest of the division that would be securing rations from Harper’s Ferry. On September 17, the division crossed the Potomac at Boetler’s Ford, where they camped about a mile and a half from Sharpsburg.

 

From its camp outside of Sharpsburg, where they stayed for only a few hours, the division was ordered to cover a bridge over the Antietam Creek. Later the division was directed to follow Jackson, and moved to the Dunkard Church. There, during the night, Trimble’s and Lawton’s brigades relieved some of General Hood’s division that had been engaged that evening. The next day the enemy artillery laid down a destructive enfilade (flanking) fire, as well as, shell and canister fire to the Confederates front. The 12th Georgia and the rest of Trimble’s brigade were exposed to a terrible barrage of deadly fire.

 

Colonel James A. Walker of the 13th Virginia Regiment, now commanding Trimble’s brigade, placed the 12th Georgia, supported by the 21st Georgia and 21st North Carolina, behind a low stone fence and succeeded in breaking the Federal line. With reports of companies out of ammunition from heavy skirmishing and prolonged fighting, the regiments were directed back to a designated point in the rear of the village of Sharpsburg to be re-supplied. Trimble’s brigade suffered terribly, losing 228 men out of 700, including 3 out of 4 regimental commanders. The 12th Georgia lost 13 killed and 45 wounded. Captain James G. Rogers, commanding the 12th Georgia Regiment was killed, and Colonel Walker and General Lawton were wounded during the fierce engagement. Brig. Gen. Jubal A. Early became the new division commander.

 

During the night of September 17, the Confederates held their position and waited for a Federal attack. No attack came. The next day Lee’s army crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown. After the Confederates had crossed the river, the Federals appeared on the opposite side in considerable force under the protection of their artillery. The Federals began crossing the Potomac in pursuit of the Confederates, and by the next morning a large body of the enemy was across the river.

 

The Confederate column now several miles from the river turned to confront the pursuing Union forces. While under severe shot and shell from enemy artillery, the gallant Confederates drove the Federals into the river inflicting appalling loses upon them. The Federals had snapped at the tail of the withdrawing Confederate column only to be savagely bitten when it turned on them. The Battle of Sharpsburg, ended for the 12th Georgia when on September 20, they march from Shepherdstown and camped near Martinsburg.

 

On November 14, with a newly reorganized Federal army under the command of General Burnside, the Federals once again began crossing the Potomac with the intent of attacking Richmond. General Robert E. Lee moved his army across the Blue Ridge Mountains and reached the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg in time to confront the advancing Federals.

 

On Monday, December 1, Jackson’s 2nd Corps arrived at an area south of Fredericksburg, following one of the hardest and longest marches his “foot cavalry” ever made. They had marched for two weeks through the adverse conditions of rain, snow, and freezing temperatures. By December 13, Jackson’s Corps was positioned on the right flank of Lee’s Army, with the right of Trimble’s Brigade, commanded by Colonel Robert F. Hoke, resting on the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad, at Hamilton’s Crossing. Over 35,000 soldiers stretched along a two mile front. After suffering numerous casualties due to heavy enemy cannonading, the men of Trimble’s brigade were ordered to move to support General Archer who had been driven from his position. The Confederates drove the Federals from the woods and trench line into their own reserves. As the courageous Southerners pressed the attack, 200 Federals were killed and hundreds of others were wounded. After the Federals were driven from the field, over a 100 men were captured along with several hundred stands of arms. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, Lieutenant-Colonel Thaddeus Scott, commanding the 12th Georgia, was killed while bravely leading his regiment.