Thursday, May 10, 2012

Drayton's Brigade - Composition

Above: Statement of the composition of Drayton’s Brigade in the order of battle of the Army of Northern Virginia for the Second Manassas Campaign. Source: US War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Ser. I, Vol. XII, Part 2, Ser. No. 16. Operations in Northern Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, March 17-September 2, 1862.  Washington, DC: USGPO, 1885.

Drayton’s Brigade had an ephemeral existence. It participated in the bookend Second Manassas and Maryland campaigns before being broken-up in November 1862. Its brief existence as a formation attached to the Army of Northern Virginia and the extraordinary casualties it incurred at South Mountain (Fox’s Gap), including the loss of many officers, resulted in a relatively sparse documentary record. This is indicated by statements of the brigade’s composition in the official records and in many, if not most, secondary works until recently. As illustrated above, the brigade appears to have consisted of four units – two regiments and one infantry battalion from Georgia and one regiment from South Carolina. This is how it is represented in the most detailed histories of the 19th century (e.g., Ezra A. Carman’s ms. History of the Antietam campaign, recently published) and the best recent works on the Second Manassas campaign and the Maryland campaign (e.g., Hennessy’s and Sears’, inter alia). In fact, the brigade consisted of five units, as shown below.

50th Ga.
51st Ga.
15th S.C.
3d S.C. Bn.
Phillips (Ga.) Legion Inf. Bn.

The (usually) missing unit is the 3d S.C. Inf. Bn., aka the James or Laurens Battalion. The fact of this unit’s attachment to the brigade I believe was uncovered by the research of local, unheralded historians studying the South Mountain battle and indeed the story of the 3d S.C. Bn. itself.

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