BOYS OF DIAMOND HILL
150 Years Ago Today – 7th SC Embarks on Sharpsburg Campaign
As part of the division of Layfayette McLaws and Joseph Kershaw’s Brigade, the 7th South Carolina was temporarily detached from Longstreet’s Corps and assigned to Jackson’s Corps. They were to cross South Mountain and seize Maryland Heights from which they could command Harper’s Ferry below. Maryland Heights is the southernmost promontory of Elk Mountain.
Kershaw’s Brigade partnered with Gen. William Barksdale’s Brigade of Missisippians crossed South Mountain into Pleasant Valley then scaled Elk Mountain at Solomon’s Gap, four miles north of Maryland Heights. From there they advanced along the rocky spine of the ridge. They found Solomon’s Gap undefended and had occupied the ridge by nightfall of September 12th.
Captain Henry King, the aide de camp to Gen. Layfayette McLaws was with Kershaw and said that the woods were almost impassable, “rocks – no road – blind path & no path.” He said that the enemy was located beyond an abattis about six p.m. and that skirmishers attacked them quite late, but that General Kershaw determined to postpone the main attack until morning. The men were suffering from lack of water since the morning and had little to eat with no fires allowed. They slept on the ground, “surrounded by troops & hearing the groans of wounded men.” At some point during the night he reports that water finally arrived, being brought from two and a half miles away.
So under these conditions, Daniel and Pressley Boyd along with their close friend James Alewine, laid down on the rocky ground of Maryland Heights high upon the Blue Ridge Mountains — thirsty and exhausted — for a fitful sleep knowing that in a few short hours they would face a heavily entrenched enemy.
Nominated for Best History book of 2012 by the Military Writers Society of America.
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