The following dispatch relates the Battle of Fox's Gap (the 2 pm battle on Saturday at the September Storm event):
Sept. 8th, 1862
In the camp of Gen'l Cox, IX Corps, Somewhere in Western Maryland
The enemy was said to be very close to this place, having marched through here some three days ago. They seemed intent upon following upon their recent victory at Bull Run. There was also concern that the enemy may have designs upon the Garrison of Harpers Ferry. Our men, however, seemed reinvigorated with the reappointment of Gen'l McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac.
Capt. Emerick of the 23rd Ohio, Co. E, stated that his men were eager for the fray. They did seem to be in very good spirits, although the fact that the PayMaster was in camp may have had something to do with their good spirits.
Lieutenant Watson of the 23rd Ohio, Co. I, agreed with Capt. Emerick.
On the other hand, the enlisted men complain of poor rations, of being docked in their pay for no good reason, and of being ill-clad. Corporal Gruber, 23rd Ohio, Co. A, was especially outspoken on these matters.
Another private soldier of the 23rd Ohio stated that the camps were being frequented by camp followers. Their numbers were greatly increased when the Army passed through Washington Town. The soldier did not state his feelings on the matter, merely relating the fact in passing.
Later that afternoon the camps came alive with the sound of drums. Orders had come down from Gen'l Cox. "Take Fox's Gap- at all costs!" The men quickly threw on their accoutrements and fell into ranks. Their officers moved up and down the lines, inspecting the men's weapons. The tension could be cut with a knife. The companies were formed into regiments, the regiments into brigades. The columns of four began pounding clouds of dust into the air. Men were already sweating copiously and the day promised to get hotter.
After a march of some distance a halt was called and the men were allowed to rest in the woods that crowded both sides of the road. It wasn't long, however, before the pickets called to their officers, telling them that enemy skirmishers were emerging from the woods on a hill above where the Army had halted. It was clear that the enemy was present at Fox's Gap and intended to contest the Army's advance over South Mountain.
Battlelines were quickly drawn up and, at the same time, the enemy's skirmishers began firing at our men. A few sharp volleys from our battleline soon put the impudent fellows to flight, however. As they withdrew to the safety of the woods their supporting lines began emerging from the treeline at the crest of the hill. They halted and a full-scale battle began! The air became filled with missiles of Death, and the alarming sounds of minie balls flying through the air and cannon shells exploding added to the Terror of the scene. The sickening thud of balls hitting men's flesh and the screams of wounded men added to the Cacophony of Battle. It became apparent, however, that the enemy was badly outnumbered. Our lines began marching uphill, into the Gap, and the enemy began edging back. With a loud Union "Hurrah!" our men charged bayonets and advanced at the doublequick. The enemy troops were soon out of sight, and our men continued their advance, cheering wildly! Victory was Ours!
But wait! Fresh lines of the enemy were seen advancing from the crest of the Gap and our men were seen to be falling back! The devilish yells of the enemy filled the air at the sight of our men retreating, but our men soon rallied on their Colors, and the Battle began anew, redoubled, if possible, in intensity of both Carnage and Sound. Death held High Carnival and the landscape itself seemed to turn red! On and on raged the fighting. Men were falling by the scores and some men were seen to drop their weapons and flee for their lives. Private Hill, of the 23rd Ohio, who was wounded and was walking back to seek treatment became so enraged at the sight of one of the faint hearts that he swung his musket at the rascal. His weakend condition caused him to miss his target, however, and the scamp ran on unmolested. Most of the men, however, stood bravely to their posts, loading and firing as quickly as possible, their begrimed faces taking on the appearance of Indian Braves. They were encouraged by leaders such as Captain Dewey of the 23rd Ohio who was seen walking up and down the line, steadying the men and directing their fire with no regard for his own safety.
Once again, the courage of our men and officers and the weight of their numbers began to tip the scale of Battle and our men once again seized the Golden Ring of Victory! Fox's Gap was theirs, and fairly won!
-Joseph Borden, Special Correspondent,
The Philadelphia Public Ledger