Here is a short excerpt – again from the pen of George F. Noyes in his book “The Bivouac and the Battlefield.” As was evident in the post from yesterday, Noyes stayed behind in Bakersville an extra day. So the events of this writing must have occurred on Monday, October 27th.
This morning the rain had become more reasonable, did not come down so uncompromisingly, and at noon the heavens had gotten over their weeping-fit, and once more smiled on us. Great was the loading of wagons with quarter-master and commissary stores, and the last two tents disappeared from beside the
school-house, my own masked battery being one of them. At breakfast I had achieved a horse-trade. My mess having departed yesterday, I breakfasted at a farmhouse, and there sat at meat with us a stranger, uncouth, unkempt, unclean. < It is interesting how the more things change, the more they stay the same – as such a fellow would not be entirely rare in these parts 150 years later! > Happening to mention that I should require another horse, my mare being overworked, he of course had just the animal, and after breakfast brought to my tent a beast, large, black, clumsy, and strong, with big feet for wading through the mud. It was my duty to inspect and try him. Now if there was any one quality for which I was noted among the staff, it was my entire ignorance of the good points of a horse; but I mounted the black Bucephalus, rode him a couple of hundred yards, and returned looking very wise and saying nothing. < Bucephalus was the name of the war horse of Alexander the Great, and was a word to describe any animal capable of taking a person into war. > Thus I left it to the horse-dealer to make the first move, and the trade began. As it is the common belief that in a horse-trade the most honest man will try to cheat his own brother, I armed myself at all points with objections, but finally made an offer, which was, after much demur, accepted, and the beast was mine. I never repented of the bargain. Though evidently intended for a truck-horse, he was invaluable for the slow, heavy work of a muddy campaign. On my new black, then, my mare being ridden by my servant, I was soon plunging through the mud out of Bakersville, passing mile after mile of wagons, and reached, about 4 P.M., the head of the column.
The division was just going into bivouac in the fields lying under South Mountain, in the highly picturesque region at the western entrance of Crampton’s Pass. … It was late before the headquarter tents arrived, and as my own was still in the rear, I accepted the invitation of our colonel, a man with very correct ideas as to comfort, to pass the night at the pleasant residence of Mr. Crampton. Colonel Phelps, commanding the 1st brigade, and his staff soon joined us, and with these gentlemen, of whose bravery in battle and openhearted hospitality I had enjoyed abundant evidences, we supped and lodged. Among my many pleasant campaigning memories, that merry evening round Mr. Crampton’s blazing logs, with its mixture of solid conversation and sweet cider, has pleasant prominence. <The Cramptons living in this area were apparently the grandchildren of a Thomas Crampton who first laid out the roads through this area in the 1760s and following. It is my understanding that the Crampton lands were sold off in the 1880s, and doubt that the home of which Noyes speaks is remaining… though here is a map mentioning some Crampton homes:
Regarding Colonel Walter Phelps: He was a brigade commander at South Mountain and Antietam … recording a 43% loss on September 17th. From research materials that I have recorded from the U.S. Army Military Heritage Institute in Carlisle, PA … in a box of Phelps papers was the following letter from Abner Doubleday…
Camp near White Oak Church
HQ 3rd Divis. 1st A.C.
May 30, 1863
My Dear Colonel:
Now that you are going to leave us I desire to express to you in a few words my high appreciation of the valuable service you have rendered the government while under my immediate command. Your valor and constancy in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg did much to ensure the success of our Division. That the splendid body of men commanded by you were able to achieve so much was due in a great measure to the excellent drill and severe discipline inculcated by you. We all consider your absence a positive loss to the Army and the country. In bidding you adieu I can only hope that your future life will be as happy as your past has been glorious.
I am, colonel, with much esteem your sincere friend. .. A. Doubleday, Major Gen of Vol