A Current Civil War Campaign
The Battle of Thornton Gap
May 15, 1862
On the evening of 14 May 1862 lead elements of the 8th Division Commanded By B.G. J. Jones ran into Union forces in Thorton Gap. The division deployed that evening and waited for morning. The division was ordered to occupy the gap thereby protecting the flank of the ANV. We did not know if the US forces had deployed last night or not so we had to deploy across the gap. From right to left , 1st Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Brigade, 4th Brigade. The 3rd and 2nd Brigades straddled the road and along a hill crest and the 1st and 4th deployed on the flanks.
At 7:00 A.M. 15 May 1862 Union Troops were seen moving down the road toward our position. The Union did the unexpected and came right down the road, two brigades moving against our right while the balance assaulted the center. Surprisingly no attack was made against our left. BG Jones immediately called for reinforcement from the Valley and appraised the commanders there of the situation as Union forces had favorable numbers against us. When it became apparent that the enemy out numbered us in artillery we pulled back our troops off the hill crest at the same time swinging our left around against the Union right. The enemy had to counter this threat and thus we held off the Union infantry until lead brigades of 2nd Division arrived at 8:15 A.M. The two brigades had forced marched to the battle thus saving the position as they were thrown immediately into the center which was being pressured by 2-3 brigades of Union infantry. The rest of the division arrived before the hour was out.
The 2nd Division staved off the assault on the center. The 14th Alabama and 8th Florida threw back a brigade charge directed at them while wiping out the crew of a Union SB battery that had come too close. As this was happening another assault was occurring to their right in the woods. This attack was thrown back by the 10th Alabama, 2d Florida and 14th Virginia that held the woods and supported a counterattack made by the 9th Alabama and 9th Virginia regiments. This was to be the high water mark for the Union assault on the center and right. Our later push on the right by three brigades against a weak Union force of two brigades forced the enemy to pull regiments out of the center and reinforce his left.
The battle on the left was thrown into doubt when the enemy realized how weak we were on the left flank. Three devastating brigade charges, one of which occurred as the 4th Brigade was forming a new line threw the line into disorder. The Union had broken the left and our forces were being pushed back. We saw Union batteries moving toward Thompson's Hill, a high hill that dominated the surrounding countryside and our position. A failed charged by a disordered regiment could not prevent the Union from setting up a grand battery on the hill. The arrival of the 3rd Division at 11:00 A M strengthened our center-left position and held the enemy off there too. The battle see-sawed back and forth until around 3:00 P.M. At that time additional reinforcements arrived on the battlefield in the form of several artillery batteries. Being out numbered and out gunned in artillery and being pressed on the his left and center the Union began to retreat from the battle field.
A note on the weather, after several days of light rain the day dawned clear and warm. Visibility during the early morning was at one point over 3500 yards, as the day progressed though it grew hot and the visibility was reduced to 500 yards at the end. It was lucky that the 2nd division forced march in the cool of the early morning for they arrived without any undue effect on morale and fighting ability.
Respectfully submitted by,
Gen. D. Hill