We have been leading up to the big one, no not Gettysburg, but Antietam. We see the 33rd regiment headed by Lt. Col. Corning move to Crampton’s Gap on Sept. 14, 1862. The soldiers on the north were set up and General Slocum’s Division and General Franklin’s Sixth Corps were ready to assault Burkittsville and head to Crampton Gap on the right flank. The Vermont Brigade was to attack on the left. General Smith ordered the 3rd Brigade to attack on the mountainside on Brook’s left.
The Union troops’ 33rd was heading toward Burkittsville but the Rebels opened fire. It was then that Lt. Col. Corning ordered a double quick heading to the fields into the village.
With the bad sometimes comes an unexpected good. When the 33rd marched double quick into the Village of Burkittsville the folks came out with glad tidings and waving handkerchiefs, hailing them as heroes. This was great, but with that came food and drink which was a wonderful bonus. Captain McNair noted that as the 33rd arrived in the center of town and the order to halt came, the Rebels opened fire in a barrage of bullets and cannons fire pelting the streets, buildings, innocents, and fences. Through all this, noted McNair, the village women did not falter but continued to assist the soldiers of the 33rd. Finally the 33rd reached the foot of the mountain greeting even more fire. No hesitation from Lt. Col. Corning and his troops who continued to climb to the peak. No halting or dropping back but regrouping and realigning his troops allowed them to make it to the summit, charge, and capture two guns and numerous prisoners.
Five hours of constant battle and the 33rd under Corning was an amazement to the surgeon and Chaplin attending to the dead and injured. The question was how did Corning’s troops make it through this constant barrage of bullets with only one casualty? The 33rd was definitely being watched over from above. Gen. Franklin was supposed to take his troops to assist the Union at Harper’s Ferry. The General made a decision to camp for the night and left those troops at Harper’s destined to suffer the fate of death, devastation, and surrender. The 33rd was up and ready to assist those at Harper’s Ferry, but was too late and the word came back that Col. Miles had surrendered after a brief fight called the largest surrender of Union troops during the war. Over 12,000 prisoners, 13,000 small arms, and 73 pieces of artillery. New recruits were needed and the men of the Finger Lakes were ready and willing. These new recruits have no idea what is coming and the fate that is waiting. Next week we will get into the Battle of Antietam.
Historic Palmyra’s Canaltown Days events will offer six sites open. All museums and the uptown booth will be ready and waiting for your visits. Special Canaltown Days price is being offered at the museums. New and amazing items will be on sale at the HPI uptown booth in the Presbyterian Church yard. On Sept. 13, Friday night, at 8 p.m. at the Village Main Street park, we will meet for a walking tour to speak to the spirits of Palmyra. Our last two walks have been amazing and this one should be even better. The walk will be until 10 p.m. for $10 per person with the last hour at the museums on Market Street. Come on down and do something different. Call for information, questions, and reservations at 597-6981. History is our business and with Historic Palmyra it comes dead or alive!