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39_new set of memories
Image by Jim Surkamp
The Showdown of Harry Gilmor and Dent Summers Oct., 1862 by J.Surkamp
1_Settling myself in the saddle
(Harry Gilmor:) Settling myself in the saddle, I dashed in among the blue jackets, cutting and thrusting right and left, and parrying a blow when necessary.
2_Here they are boys
(George D. Summers:) “Here they are boys by God, we’ve got them now!”
3_Come on you damned rebel
(Aquilla S. Gallion:) “Come on you da*ned rebel, I’ll soon fix your flint.”
4_a man whom I knew to be a Unionist
We met a man whom I knew to be a Unionist, but, expecting to capture the party ahead of me before they could reach Charlestown in my rear, I let him pass. What a change it would have made in subsequent events had I taken him along with us!
How Confederate Marylander Harry Gilmor, who once bragged he “shot apples off the heads of my friends,” went looking for trouble that Wednesday, October 7th, 1863, venturing to Charlestown, recently made WEST Virgina, trailing about 20 Federal cavalrymen across the countryside to Smithfield (also called Middleway), then hi-tailing back to Charlestown chasing these Federals on their return to their camp. Then, having been thwarted, and giving up the chase and retiring to a spring near Summit Point, Gilmor suddenly finds his men attacked by another, larger Federal cavalry force coming from the other, western direction. The result: a fierce battle in front of the White House Farm near Summit Point. Gilmor finds himself face-to-face with another, equally brave cavlaryman, George Denton, nicknamed “Dent” Summers, who was charging right at him.
1. The Hunt Begins;
2. The Union Man Gilmor Let Go Sounds the Alarm in Charlestown, Prompting Col. Simpson to Send For Help;
3. Gilmor’s Men Race, But Fail To Block the Federals From Getting Back Into Charlestown;
4. Gilmor’s Men Retreat Back to White House Farm Near Summit Point. They Don’t Know That a Second Cavalry Force Was Already In The Land Looking for Them, Commanded By Capt. George “Dent” Summers;
5. “Dent” Summers Last Stand;
6. Gilmor’s Getaway
1.The Hunt Begins:
7_Federal picket lines of the 9th Maryland Infantry encircled Charles Town
When Gilmor’s cavalry moved towards Charlestown early on October 7th, 1862, Federal picket lines, commanded by Col. Benjamin Simpson of the 9th Maryland Infantry, encircled Charles Town.
Gilmor describe what happened, in his postwar book beginning October 6th. Gilmor road a stately black horse he captured in Pennsylvania. When they camped, kept his bloodhound about to signal approaching strangers while he slept wrapped up in a thick baggy-style English robe.
8_I camped in the woods on William Washington’s place
I camped in the woods on William Washington’s place, and, being determined not to go back without some game, sent scouts to watch the road leading out of Charles Town. I had not slept more than two hours when I learned that cavalry had gone up the road leading to Smithfield. The men were soon mounted, and, striking out across the country, we got into the road in the rear of this squad, and followed on their trail to Smithfield.
Middleway Pike facing west, about halfway
2. The Union Man Gilmor Let Go Sounds the Alarm in Charlestown, Prompting Col. Simpson to Get Help:
9_Soon after reaching the turnpike
Soon after reaching the turnpike we met a man whom I knew to be a Unionist, but, expecting to capture the party ahead of me before they could reach Charles Town in my rear, I let him pass. What a change it would have made in subsequent events had I taken him along with us! We continued at a trot until we gained the hill immediately above Smithfield, when I closed up the column, drawing sabres, charged into the town, expecting to find the enemy there; but to my chagrin, learned that they had passed through without halting, taking the road to Summit Point, and were now a considerable distance ahead.
road from hill view from town
view from hill
3. Gilmor’s Men Race But Fail To Block the Federals From Getting Back Into Charlestown:
10_I followed on at a good swinging trot
I followed on at a good swinging trot, with four or five well mounted men in advance, until we got nearly to Summit Point, when my scouts returned, saying the enemy had passed through that place also a short time previous, and were now on the road back to Charles Town.
view approaching Summit Point
My horses were by this time much jaded, and some hardly able to keep up; still, determined not to abandon the enterprise, I struck across the fields, hoping to cut them off before they could reach Charles Town. In this I did not succeed; but three of my men ran into their rear guard just as they were entering the place. One of them, Charles Forman, was captured.
(Seventeen-year-old Charles O. Foreman, of Company A, the Virginia 12th Cavalry, lived in 1860 in Jefferson County, VA. in the household his parents, 61-year old farmer, Jacob, and 51-year old Eliza, with two sisters and a brother. He would be exchanged the following May).
I dismounted half my men, put them in position, and tried to draw out the enemy, but they had their own plan in view, and refused to follow. This made me rather suspicious, so putting twelve men under Captain Blackford as a rear guard,
Facing Charlestown on Route 51 approaching Davenports’
4. Gilmor’s Men Retreat Back to White House Farm Near Summit Point. They Don’t Know That a Second Cavalry Force Was Already In The Land Looking for Them, Commanded By Capt. George “Dent” Summers:
11_I started for Summit Point and camp
12_They Don’t Know That a Second Cavalry Force
I started for Summit Point and camp. I had reached the “White House,” owned by Mr. Morrow, two miles from Summit Point, had halted to let the men dismount and get water from the large spring about fifty yards off, and was the only mounted man left in
13_I had ridden up to the yard fence
14_a bullet whistled through a lilac bush
the road. I had ridden up to the yard fence, and was talking to the ladies, when I heard a voice exclaim, “Here they are boys by God, we’ve got them now!” At the same instant a bullet whistled through a lilac bush between the ladies and myself.
15_a cavalry column on the rocky hill above, and between me and Summit Point
I wheeled around and saw the head of a cavalry column on the rocky hill above, and between me and Summit Point. Here was a perilous position. Seeing only the first section of fours, I knew not how many were behind them. I could not retreat, and therefore determined to make the best light possible under the circumstances.
16_George Denton Summers
5. “Dent” Summers Last Stand:
(27-year-old George Denton Summers enlisted near his home in Hancock, Maryland in 1862. He lived with his widowed mother, Mary, and his younger siblings: Nathaniel, Alice, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Levi).
17_ ten of my men who had carbines to get behind an old stone stable
I ordered ten of my men who had carbines to get behind the ruins of an old stone stable, and fight them to the last. Seeing my horses without their riders, the others thought we were apprized of their coming, and had prepared an ambuscade; and though Captain Summers, whom I recognized, begged, implored, and cursed them, they would not charge, but stood still on the hill, popping away at us with their carbines.
18_One of my men Ford
One of my men Ford, from Baltimore came up with a rifle and putting his hand on my thigh, asked what he should do. I told him to get behind the stone wall, and take a good aim every time he fired, “all right,
19_ a ball pierced his head
Major.” Just as he spoke the word a ball pierced his head, killing him instantly. At that moment Captain Summers. who I must say was a brave man, spurred his horse down the hill, and engaged me with his pistol, firing wildly, for I saw he was much excited. I reserved my fire till he came within twenty paces, steadied my horse with the bit, took a long sure aim, and Summers fell from his horse. The ball entered the side of his nose, and came out back of his head. By this time nine of my men had mounted, and, as the sharpooters had been doing good work.
20_Lieutenant James McIntire
(Lieutenant James McIntire, who joined up barely ten days before without even being mustered in formally, was killed by Gilmor’s men).
I thought I could risk a charge, but it was unnecessary to give the order, for I heard Reed or Bosley say, “come, boys it’s a shame to leave the major there by himself;” and by the time I had returned the pistol and drawn my sabre, the boys were at my
21_When we gained the hill top
side, so on we went. When we gained the hill top, I saw, to my amazement, that there were about sixty before me, but, as there was a good post and rail fence on either side, they could show no more front than my ten men. To whip the foremost was to whip
all. As I passed by the stone stable I ordered the rest to mount and follow. Captain Summers was lying across the road. I was
22_jump my horse over his dead body
obliged to jump my horse over his dead body; four others lying near were either dead or wounded. Settling myself in the saddle, I dashed in among the blue jackets, cutting and thrusting right and left, and parrying a blow when necessary. They were from Michigan and Maryland, and for a while fought well.
Gilmor then saw who was most likely 46-year old Lt. Aquilla S. Gallion, who came from Harford County, Maryland:
23_Observing an officer fighting like a Turk
Observing an officer fighting like a Turk and cheering his men on, I made for him. He was a man of my own size, wore a very heavy beard, and looked, I thought very savage as he yelled out, “Come on you damned rebel, I’ll soon fix your flint.” This promised good sport. I closed with him, making a powerful front cut, which he parried, and at the same instant made a right cut at my neck. By bringing my sabre down in time, my side caught the blow.
24_I cut him across the cheek
Now I had the advantage. Quick as a flash I cut him across the cheek, inflicting a large gash, and he fell to the ground. I gave him in charge of one of my men, and then followed after my first ten, who had pushed the column back two hundred yards while the lieutenant and I were busy with our affair. The latter soon after escaped by jumping a stone wall and running into a thick woods.
White House Farm
39° 15′ 5″ N, 77° 56′ 45″ W
6. Gilmor Gets Away:
25_We soon got them on the run
We soon got them on the run, nor did we give them time to stop and reform until they had passed through and beyond Summit Point.
26_until they had passed through and beyond Summit Point.
27_Summit Point intersection
Summit Point intersection where the chase, either continued to the east over the railroad track or south towards the Virginia border.
We had taken eighteen prisoners, and were unable to pursue them farther until my men had come up, for the federals had formed and turned upon the two or three men who were still in pursuit, but by the time they had pushed these back again to Summit Point I had dismounted ten or fifteen men, who easily checked them. We charged again, took five more prisoners, and the rest made their escape. After collecting my prisoners and men, I left by a private route for the Upper Valley, with twenty three prisoners and twenty nine horses, leaving four of their dead and three wounded on the field. My loss was one man killed, three wounded, and one taken prisoner.
28_at Andersonville prison in Georgia
Of Gilmor’s prisoners, three would die the following summer of diarrhea at Andersonville prison in Georgia, noted for its
29_Nineteen-year-old William Duckwall
unhealthy conditions. Nineteen-year-old William Duckwall from Pierce town, Clermont County, Ohio, is buried at Andersonville.
30_Also buried there is John W. Ganoe
Also buried there is John W. Ganoe was a 23-year-old laborer, the eldest of eight children, living at the home of his parents in Bath (Berkeley Springs) in Morgan County, VA. His father, Richard, was a plasterer, his mother’s name was Nancy.
I reached camp safely with everything I had captured. It seems the Unionist went immediately to Charles Town and gave information of what he had seen, and Summers followed me all the way round. A sad affair it turned out for him, but “such are the fortunes of war”. Captain Summers was highly esteemed by his commanding officers, as shown by a long article, highly complimentary to him, that appeared a few days after. The same paper also alleged that I had murdered him! Indeed! Then not a few were murdered on both sides. – Gilmor, pp. 107-111.
Report of George Duncan Wells:
31_George Duncan Wells
Cole’s cavalry, placed under my orders by the brigadier-general commanding, were sent to Charlestown that night, and the next morning scouted out the Summit Point and Smithfield road, bringing in the bodies of our killed. They report seeing no enemy. It would seem that the rebel force consisted of two companies (Captains Baylor aud Morrow) Twelfth Virginia Cavalry and Gilmor’s entire battalion . . . Our loss was: Capt. George D. Summers, Company F, Cavalry, Second Maryland Regiment, [Potomac Home Brigade,] killed [and 1 man killed and 4 wounded]. I think Colonel Simpson’s disposition and management of his small force very judicious. The loss of Captain Summers is greatly to be deplored. – G. WELLS, Chapter XLI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Volume 29, pp. 210-211.
32_a man burst in on Gilmor
In February, 1865, a man burst in on Gilmor in his second floor room in a rooming house in Moorefield, West Virginia grabbing Gilmor’s pistols on a chair. Gilmor said “Who the devil are you!!?” from his bed. The reply: “Major Young of General Sheridan’s scouts.”
33_Gilmor lived in New Orleans
For several years after the war, Harry Gilmor lived in New Orleans, where he married Miss Mentoria Strong. Upon his return to Maryland, he was elected colonel of cavalry in the Maryland National Guard. He also served as Baltimore City Police Commissioner from 1874 to 1879. He was a member of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland and
35_Harry Gilmor died
it’s Vice-President in 1882. Harry Gilmor died in Baltimore on March 4, 1883 at the age of forty-five. He was interred on “Confederate Hill” in Loudoun Park Cemetery.
The burial place of George Denton Summers, though he was praised, remains a mystery to this day, even to his modern family.
His mother and two brothers moved to Canton, Missouri to start a new life and a new set of memories.
38_to start a new life
39_new set of memories
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn4JubpNBHM TRT: 24:48
Script matched with images within the text follows
An "action-packed" storyabout the fabled Harry Gilmor, who bragged "I can shoot apples off the heads of my friends" and how he came to a showdown with a heroic young, Captain "Dent" Summers right in front of White House Farm near Summit Point, October 7th, 1863. But before that Gilmor is moving all over the county chasing, and being chased. And how lives are forever changed. Three of those captured at Summit Point wound up at Andersonville prison and are buried there.
Made possible with the generous support of American Public University System, providing an affordable, quality, online education. The video and post do not reflect any modern-day policies or positions of American Public University System, and their content is intended to encourage discussion and better understanding of the past. More apus.edu
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