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Battle of Monterey spotlighted

Matt McLaughlin
The Record Herald

(10/19) A one-of-a-kind Civil War battle that has largely slipped through the cracks of history will receive special treatment in November.

The seminar “Thunder on the Mountain and the Retreat from Gettysburg” will be hosted by the One Mountain Foundation from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, in the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Hall.

Guns in the lightning

Funds raised by the seminar will benefit the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association, whose current projects include a Civil War Trails marker, parking lot and purchase of a cannon.

The seminar costs $60 and will focus on the days following the Battle of Gettysburg, specifically the Battle of Monterey Pass.

The Battle of Monterey Pass was unique in more than one respect.

“Most of it was fought during a thunderstorm,” said John Miller, an employee of South Mountain State Battlefield, founder of the MPBA, co-chairman of the OMF and a lecturer at the upcoming seminar.

Forces from both sides were forced to wait for the lightning to illuminate the battleground to position themselves strategically and fire their weapons as they fought in the dark, according to Miller.

The Battle of Monterey Pass, resulting from the Confederate retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg which ended the day before, also was unique for another important reason, according to Miller.
It was the only Civil War battle fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“The battle (was) much larger than people think,” said Miller, who has spent 10 years researching the battle site.

The July 4, 1863, battle started in Fountaindale before moving into Monterey and then down to Rouzerville, finally ending in Ringgold.

Learning the battle

There will be five lectures during the seminar, according to Miller.

Gettysburg park ranger Troy Harman will speak on the retreat. Other lecturers include Ted Alexander, chief historian at Antietam National Battlefield, Miller, Eric Wittenburg, J. David Petruzzi and Michael Nugent.

Miller’s lecture will focus on human interest stories from the Battle of Monterey Pass like that of Maj. Charles Capehart, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions and who Miller believes to be the true hero of the battle. He was the commander of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry that attacked the Confederate wagon train and supported Gen. George Custer’s stalled battleline.

“You have people who never knew there was a battlefield there,” said Miller. “They’re going to benefit, because they’re going to know what happened.”

The seminar will include lunch and refreshments as well as displays and exhibits from historical organizations such as Friends of South Mountain State Battlefield and Heart of the Civil War.

“There are organizations out there that are trying to preserve history,” reminded Miller.

Registration forms for the seminar are available at the MPBA Web site:

and also at the OMF Web site:

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