Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part Three)

The ‘Quarry Trench’ used during the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In this the third and final part of her article, Mrs. McDarment relates the story of a soldier who visited the Thoroughfare Gap battlefield years after the Civil War.

Some years after the war an old soldier came from California to visit the old battle ground. He said the hardest fighting he was in was in the Battle at Thoroughfare Gap, that his company in Ricket’s Division lost more men than in any other engagement; that with one volley from Longstreet’s men thirty of his men fell, killed and wounded. His own brother was killed at his side.
“The Confederates,” he said, “used a paper cartridge containing a round ball and three buck-shot. When Longstreet’s men rose and fired they were so near us that the round ball went through my brother’s forehead; one buck shot grazed one cheek, one the other and one pierced his chin. At first, I thought I would stay with my brother, but seeing that he had been instantly killed, and knowing that I would be captured, I retreated with the rest of the company. The next morning we sent a flag of truce and buried our dead.”
The breast-works thrown up by Longstreet’s men are still standing.
Some twelve or fourteen years after the war in walking over the crest of the mountain near the Gap, I saw something that looked like the handle of a cup sticking out of the ground. I pulled it up and found it was a silver cup. After cleaning it I found on it the following inscription, “Lieut. R. A. S. Freeman, Company A, Second Regiment, Volunteers.”
I found that the Surgeon of that Regiment was a Doctor Gregory of Alexandria Virginia. I wrote to him and he replied that he knew Lieutenant Freeman well, that he had come out of the war alive and was at his home at West Point , Georgia.
I wrote Lieutenant Freeman and received an interesting letter from him telling about the battle in Thoroughfare Gap. He was delighted to get his cup that had lain buried for so many years on the old battle field. He said he went into the fight with the cup fastened to his belt, and as there was a dent in the bottom he supposed a bullet had knocked it off. The cup may have intercepted the bullet and in that way saved his life.
Near the mill in The Gap there is a hole where stone had been quarried to build the mill. In this hole the Federals placed sharp-shooters who were picking off the Confederates above. When Longstreet made a rush through The Gap the men in this hole were killed and twenty-five dead soldiers were later taken out.

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