Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

A Marker for Lieutenant Colonel Carter

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on December 1, 2013

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Back in 2010 I started this post about Lt. Colonel Benjamin Franklin Carter of the Forth Texas Infantry, but never finished it. Carter started out as commanding officer of Company B. He was promoted to Major in late June 1862, and advanced to Lieutenant Colonel two weeks later, on July 10, 1862, and commanded the regiment at Sharpsburg. Carter was grievously wounded during the Texas Brigade’s assault on Little Round Top at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, struck by shell fragments in the face and legs. He lingered for almost three weeks, dying on July 21. My post was occasioned by a June 2010 news story, describing the placement of a marker at his gravesite.

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In an interesting two-part story from the North Texas Herald Democrat, an officer of the 4th Texas Infantry killed at Little Round Top gets a grave marker in Pennsylvania:

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[Lieutenant Colonel] Carter asked the doctor if there might be some gentleman in town to whom he could appeal for a Christian burial. When the doctor told McClure the story, McClure went to the hospital to visit Carter.
 
Within days Carter died and McClure asked that he be buried in the Presbyterian burial grounds. The request was unanimously denied by the church members. Every other church in town also refused to allow Carter to be buried in their cemeteries.
 
Finally, with help from a member of the Methodist Church, a burial plot was allowed in the Methodist Cemetery and Carter received a Christian burial there.
 
For 33 years Carter lay in that grave with a granite headstone until the cemetery was sold, along with the Methodist Church, to the Brethren congregation. When the church decided to enlarge its facilities, the only way it could build was into the burial grounds.
 
Forty-seven graves of people who had no one to claim their bones, including Carter’s, were disinterred and taken to the Cedar Grove Cemetery and buried in a single grave with no head stone.  It was said that Carter’s stone probably was used as ballast when the concrete was poured for the new section of the church.

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Benjamin F. Carter was born in Tennessee in 1831. At the time of the 1850 census, eighteen-year-old Carter was teaching school in Giles County, Tennessee. After completing Jackson College, he relocated to Austin, where he worked as an attorney. He served a term two consecutive one-year terms as Austin’s mayor in 1858 and 1859. In the 1860 census, he is listed as 29 years old, with a wife Louisa and two daughters, ages 1 and 3. He reported owning $2,000 worth of real estate, but did not report any personal property. He is not listed that year as a slaveholder.

With the coming of the war he organized a company called the Tom Green Rifles, that ultimately became Company B of the 4th Texas Infantry. Van C. Giles, a member of Carter’s company, noted years later that the entire regiment was teeming with members of the bar:

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Of the ten original captains who went to war in Virginia with the Fourth Texas regiment in 1861, six of them were lawyers, two merchants, one a farmer and one a stockman. Of the thirty lieutenants, nearly one-third were lawyers. Of the fifty sergeants, fifteen were lawyers, and of the 1500 men who served in that old regiment from the beginning to the finish, there was no end to lawyers and law students. Of course there were not enough offices in the regiment for all of them. Lawyers in war are like lawyers in peace, they go for all that’s in sight. They held the best places in the army and they hold the best places in civil life. It’s a mighty cold day when a lawyer gets left if chicken pie is on the bill of fare.

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Even among the lawyer-soldiers of the 4th Texas, though, Carter stood out:

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Captain B. F. Carter of Company B was far above the average of men as you meet them. Intellectually, he had no superior in the regiments. A fine lawyer, a natural born soldier, he was a strict disciplinarian, but practical and just in all things. He possessed the gift of knowing how to explain every maneuver set down in Hardee’s Tactics so thoroughly that the biggest blockhead in the ranks could understand them Physically he was not strong and the long marches used to weary him very much. On those occasions, to help him along, the boys would divide up his luggage, one taking his sword and belt, another his haversack and canteen another his blanket, and so forth. By this means we managed to keep him up. . . .
 
There was not an officer in Hood’s Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia who was more universally loved and admired by the soldiers of that old command than Lieutenant Colonel Ben F. Carter of the Fourth Texas Regiment, whom I have mentioned earlier.
 
He was the very soul of honor, full of the milk of human kindness, yet at times he appeared harsh and cruel, especially to those who did not know and understand him. . . .
 
After our arrival at Richmond [Virginia] in the summer of 1861, many of the men were sick from exposure and change in climate. They were sent to various hospitals in the city. Captain Carter would send someone every day to see how his boys were getting along, but would never go in person to see them. He would buy and send them little delicacies, and to some of the prodigal fellows who never had a cent he often sent money.He manifested the greatest interest in his men and nothing the quartermaster could issue was too good for old Company B — but he strictly avoided coming in contact with the sick and wounded.
 
He often spoke of this peculiarity, or apparent indifference, explaining it by saying that he could not bear to see any one suffer, and that he had a perfect horror of a sick room.

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Giles was writing long after the war, of course, so his profile of Carter undoubtedly includes a certain nostalgia, along with the knowledge that Carter did not survive the war. Nonetheless, it offers a vivid portrait of the man, and evinces affection and respect.

Part 2 of the news story is here.

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Carter portrait via user AUG351 at Civil War Talk.

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Stuck at Hanover Junction

Posted in Technology by Andy Hall on August 3, 2013
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Passengers at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, one of several images in the Library of Congress collection. I believe these pictures were taken on November 18 or 19, 1863, and may depict passengers stuck at Hanover Junction, unable to continue on to their intended destination at the dedication of the new National Cemetery at Gettysburg. See an enlargement here.

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UPDATE: Scott Mingus got there first.

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We talked the other day about the logistical difficulties of rail travel through wartime Richmond, Virginia, which was served by fine railroads, none of which connected to any another. As I mentioned in the piece, that was a common situation in the 1860s, across the country. As Bob Huddleston mentioned in the comments on that post, it was exactly that sort of situation in Baltimore that required the 6th Massachusetts to march through the center of that city, exposing them to mob violence in April 1861.

There’s another example of how disjointed rail travel could be in those days.Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania was a stop on the Northern Central Railway, that ran north from Baltimore, Maryland, into the middle of the Keystone State. It was the connection point with the Hanover Branch Railroad (also known as the Hanover and Gettysburg), that ran the 25 miles or so west to Gettysburg. From a history of that little railroad:

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This original trackage of the Hanover Branch Railroad became one of real historical interest. It carried the parties of President Abraham Lincoln and Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin from Hanover Junction to Gettysburg on November 18, 1869, where on November 19, President Lincoln delivered his now famous “Gettysburg Address” at the dedication of the National Cemetery. The Northern Central trains carried President Lincoln from Baltimore and Governor Curtin from Harrisburg, the two groups meeting at Hanover Junction and proceeding together on the Hanover Branch to Gettysburg.

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Simple enough, but there’s more to the goings-on at Hanover Junction during the Gettysburg dedication than that. It’s one of those stories that gets forgotten in the celebration, unless it happened to you. From the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Patriot, November 26, 1863:

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The Gettysburg Celebration. Dedication of the Great National Cemetery.
 
In company with many others, we took the train for Gettysburg, via Hanover Junction, on Wednesday morning, to swell the ranks of the thronging thousands who, prompted by curiosity and patriotism or drawn by the tender ties of love for the dead, were gathering there to witness and participate in the the grand and solemn consecration of the burying place of the nation’s dead. . . .
 
The train n which we rode was filled to its utmost capacity, many being forced to stand on the platform throughout the journey. The passengers were from all parts of the country, and almost every loyal State was represented in each car. The accommodation of the roads — the Northern Central and the Hanover and Gettysburg — were by no means sufficient for the occasion, and all persons going to or from the scene of interest were put to great inconvenience in consequence. Some were unable to get beyond Hanover Junction on Thursday. We saw a party of over fifty persons, who had journeyed over six hundred miles for the express purpose of attending the dedication, which party lay at the Junction from nine o’clock in the morning until ten at night, unable to get a step farther. Not a train was run over the Hanover road during that time, and this the pilgrims, after coming six hundred miles to see the battlefield, were defeated in their enterprise on the last twenty-five miles. It is a matter of wonder that, with such timely notice, this road failed to make proper arrangements, and suffered the spirit of mismanagement to paralyze its workings.

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There are additional photos at the Library of Congress, apparently taken at the same time, of Hanover Junction. Some are attributed to Matthew Brady, and some assigned a date of 1863, but nothing more specific:

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See an enlargement here.
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See an enlargement here.

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The LoC catalog listing provides no additional information on the date or subject of these images, but there are clues. The lack of vegetation on the trees suggests the images were made either early or late in the year. The clothing of the civilians is uniformly heavy, and mostly formal — these are not locals hanging around the depot to see who gets off the train. The soldiers all seem to be using canes, suggesting the effect of wounds. To me, these factors all suggest a date in late 1863. More specifically, I believe all three images are of parties traveling to or from the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 18 or 19, 1863 — maybe Governor Curtin’s party, or perhaps the delegation that had come 600 miles to witness the festivities, only to find themselves stuck in Hanover Junction. Either of those would be obvious subjects for a photographer. I don’t know if Brady traveled from Washington to Gettysburg, but Alexander Gardner was there. He had broken with Brady and had his own studio in Washington by the fall of 1863, and Gardner likely would have followed the same route by rail from Washington to Gettysburg, changing at Hanover Junction. Could these be Gardner photos from that event, misattributed (as much of his work was) to Brady? Or did Brady, coming up from Washington, also found himself stuck at Hanover Junction on the day of the dedication, and occupied his time shooting images of his fellow stranded passengers?

The 1863 station at Hanover Junction, by the way, still stands, apparently little changed from its appearance 150 years ago (via Google Maps):

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How Val Giles Made Second Sergeant

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on July 2, 2013

West slope of the Little Round Top, Gettysburg, as seen from the plain along Plum Run. This is the view that presented itself to the Fourth and Fifth Texas Regiments late on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Photo by jwolf312, used under Creative Commons License.

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Valerius Cincinnatus Giles — inevitably known simply as “Val” — was a twenty-one-year-old soldier in Company B of the Fourth Texas Infantry when that unit made its famous, unsuccessful assault on the Federal positions on Little Round Top, late on the second day during the Battle of Gettysburg. In his later years, Giles spent much of his free time compiling a memoir, but did not live to see its completion. Giles died in 1915; his writings, edited by Mary Lasswell, were finally published in 1961. That volume, Rags and Hope, has since become a classic first-person account of Texas soldiers during the war.

It was nearly five o’clock when we began the assault against the enemy that was strongly fortified behind logs and stones on the crest of a steep mountain. It was more than half a mile from our starting point to the edge of the timber at the base of the ridge, comparatively open ground all the way. We started off at quick time, the officers keeping the column in pretty good line until we passed through a blossoming peach orchard and reached the level ground beyond. We were now about 400 yards from the timber. The fire from the enemy, both artillery and musketry, was fearful.
 
In making that long charge, our brigade got jammed. Regiments lapped over each other, and when we reached the woods and climbed the mountains as far as we could go, we were a badly mixed crowd.
 
Confusion reigned everywhere. Nearly all our field officers were gone. Hood, our Major General, had been shot from his horse. He lost an arm from the wound [sic.]. Robertson, our Brigadier, had been carried from the field. Colonel Powell of the Fifth Texas was riddled with bullets. Colonel Van Manning of the Third Arkansas was disabled. and Colonel B. F. Carter of my Regiment lay dying at the foot of the mountain.
 
The side of the mountain was heavily timbered and covered with great boulders that had tumbled from the cliffs above years before. These afforded great protection to the men.
 
Every tree, rock and stump that gave any protection from the rain of Minié balls that were poured down upon us from the crest above us, was soon appropriated. John Griffith and myself pre-empted a moss-covered old boulder about the size of a 500-pound cotton bale.
 
By this time order and discipline were gone. Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as the officers. Nobody paid any attention to either. To add to this confusion, our artillery on the hill to our rear was cutting its fuse too short. Their shells were bursting behind us, in the treetops, over our heads, and all around us.
 
Nothing demoralizes troops quicker than to be fired into by their friends. I saw it occur twice during the war. The first time we ran, but at Gettysburg we couldn’t.
 
This mistake was soon corrected and the shells burst high on the mountain or went over it.
 
Major Rogers, then in command of the Fifth Texas Regiment, mounted an old log near my boulder and began a Fourth of July speech. He was a little ahead of time, for that was about six thirty on the evening of July 2d.
 
Of course nobody was paying any attention to the oration as he appealed to the men to “stand fast.” He and Captain Cousins of the Fourth Alabama were the only two men I saw standing. The balance of us had settled down behind rocks, logs, and trees. While the speech was going on, John Haggerty, one of Hood’s couriers, then acting for General Law, dashed up the side of the mountain, saluted the Major and said: “General Law presents his compliments, and says hold this place at all hazards.” The Major checked up, glared down at Haggerty from his’ perch, and shouted: “Compliments, hell! Who wants any compliments in such a damned place as this? Go back and ask General Law if he expects me to hold the world in check with the Fifth Texas Regiment!”
 
The Major evidently thought he had his own regiment with him, but in fact there were men from every regiment in the Texas Brigade all around him.
 
From behind my boulder I saw a ragged line of battle strung out along the side of Cemetery Ridge and in front of Little Round Top. Night began settling around us, but the carnage went on.
 
There seemed to be a viciousness in the very air we breathed. Things had gone wrong all the day, and now pandemonium came with the darkness.
 
Alexander Dumas says the devil gets in a man seven times a day, and if the average is not over seven times, he is almost a saint.
 
At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officer on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling him to go to a country not very far away from us just at that time. If that old Satanic dragon has ever been on earth since he offered our Saviour the world if He would serve him, he was certainly at Gettysburg that night.
 
Every characteristic of the human race was presented there, the cruelty of the Turk, the courage of the Greek, the endurance of the Arab, the dash of the Cossack, the fearlessness of the Bashibazouk, the ignorance of the Zulu, the cunning of the Comanche, the recklessness of the American volunteer, and the wickedness of the devil thrown in to make the thing complete.
 
The advance lines of the two armies in many places were not more than fifty yards apart. Everything was on the shoot. No favors asked, and none offered.
 
My gun was so dirty that the ramrod hung in the barrel, and 1 could neither get it down nor out. 1 slammed the rod against a rock a few times, and drove home ramrod, cartridge and all, laid the gun on a boulder, elevated the muzzle, ducked my head, hollered “Look out!” and pulled the trigger. She roared like a young cannon and flew over my boulder, the barrel striking John Griffith a smart whack on the left ear. John roared too, and abused me like a pickpocket for my carelessness. It was no trouble to get another gun there. The mountain side was covered with them.
 
Just to our left was a little fellow from the Third Arkansas Regiment. He was comfortably located behind a big stump, loading and firing as fast as he could. Between biting cartridges and taking aim, he was singing at the top of his voice: “Now let the wide world wag as it will, I’ll be gay and happy still”
 
The world was wagging all right-no mistake about that, but 1 failed to see where the “gay and happy” came in. That was a fearful night. There was no sweet music. The “tooters” had left the shooters to fight it out, and taken “Home, Sweet Home” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me” with them.
 
Our spiritual advisers, chaplains of regiments, were in the rear, caring for the wounded and dying soldiers. With seven devils to each man, it was no place for a preacher, anyhow. A little red paint and a few eagle feathers were all that was necessary to make that crowd on both sides into the most veritable savages on earth. White-winged peace didn’t roost at Little Round Top that nightl There was not a man there that cared a snap for the golden rule, or that could have remembered one line of the Lord’s Prayer. Both sides were whipped, and all were furious about it.
 
We lay along the side of Cemetery Ridge, and on the crest of the mountain lay 10,000 Yankee infantry, not 100 yards above us. That was on the morning of July 3, 1863, the day that General Pickett made his gallant, but fatal charge on our left.
 
Our Corps, Longstreet’s, had made the assault on Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top the evening before. The Texas Brigade had butted up against a perpendicular wall of gray limestone. There we lay on the night of the 2d with the devil in command of both armies. About daylight on the morning of the 3rd old Uncle John Price (colored) brought in the rations for Company B. There were only fourteen of us present that morning under the command of Lieutenant James T. McLaurin.
 
I felt pretty safe behind my big rock; every member of the regiment had sought protection from the storm of Minié balls behind rocks or trees. The side of the mountain was covered with both. When Uncle John brought in the grub, he deposited it by a big Hat rock, lay down behind another boulder, and went to sleep.
 
Sergeant Mose Norris and Sergeant Perry Grumbles had been killed in our charge the evening before, and Sergeant Garland Colvin was wounded and missing.
 
Somebody had to issue the grub to the men, and as an incentive to induce me to take the job, the Lieutenant raised me three points. He too was located in a bombproof position behind another big boulder just in front of me.
 
“Giles,” he said, “Sergeant Norris always issued the rations to the men, but poor Mose is dead now and you must take his place. I appoint you Second Sergeant of Company B. Divide the rations into fourteen equal parts and have the men crawl up and get them.”
 
Every time a fellow showed himself, some smart aleck of a Yankee on top of the ridge took a shot at him. I didn’t even thank the Lieutenant for the honor (or better, the lemon) that he handed me, and must admit that I undertook the job with a great deal of reluctance.
 
A steady artillery fire was going on all along the line and a sulphuric kind of odor filled the air, caused by the great amount of black powder burned in the battle. Maybe it was the fumes of old Satan as he pulled out that morning leaving the row to be settled by Lee and Meade. We were comparatively safe from the big guns, but it was the infantry just above us that made things unpleasant. I crawled up to the camp kettle of boiled roasting ears and meal-sack full of ironclad biscuits that Uncle John had brought in, and began dividing the grub and laying it on top of a big flat rock.
 
The Yanks on the hill became somewhat quiet, so I got a little bolder and popped my head above the rock. They saw my old black wool hat and before you could say “scat,” two Minié balls flattened out on top of the rock, making lead prints half as big as a saucer, and smashing two rations of grub. One roasting ear was cut in two, but the old cold-water ironclad biscuits went rolling down the hill, solid as the rock from which they flew.
 
Cuss words don’t look well in print, but I don’t see how a fellow can tell his personal experience in the army without letting one slip in now and then. In this case I’ll let it pass!
 
When those bullets struck the lunch counter, the newly-made Second Sergeant disappeared from view. The remark he made caused that grim old Lieutenant to laugh and say, “Let the boys crawl up and help themselves.” The range was so close that when those bullets struck the solid rock, it flew all to pieces, a small fragment striking me on the upper lip, drawing a few drops of blood and mussing up my baby mustache.
 
Second Sergeant was my limit in the Fourth Texas Regiment.

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This post originally appeared on July 18, 2010.

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Why Movies Are More Gooder Than Reality

Posted in Media, Memory by Andy Hall on May 3, 2012

My favorite scene in the 1993 film Gettysburg is this one, where Hood rides to General Longstreet, his corps commander, to protest the order to make a frontal assault on Little Round Top. It’s brief, direct, and poignant; the way the dialogue is framed, even someone who knows nothing about Gettysburg understands immediately that the attack is doomed to fail. It perfectly encapsulates the conflict between the generals; too bad that encounter never happened.

At least, it didn’t happen the way it’s depicted in the movie, which is widely heralded in some quarters as being particularly faithful to the historical record. There’s no question that Hood protested his orders to make a frontal assault on the Federal position, and reluctantly complied with his orders, but the details of how that exchange came about are considerably different, as reported by three officers who were there.

Here is Evander M. Law’s (1836-1920, right) account of the event, from his article, “‘Round Top’ and the Confederate Right at Gettysburg,” published in the December 1886 issue of The Century Magazine. At the time, Law commanded the Alabama Brigade in Hood’s Division, and succeeded to command of the division when Hood was wounded early in the action:

I found General Hood on the ridge where his line had been formed, communicated to him the information I had obtained, and pointed out the ease with which a movement by the right flank might be made. He coincided fully in my views, but said that his orders were positive to attack in front, as soon as the left of the corps should get into position. I therefore entered a formal protest against a direct attack. . . .

General Hood called up Captain Hamilton, of his staff, and requested me to repeat the protest to him, and the grounds on which it was made. He then directed Captain Hamilton to find General Longstreet as quickly as possible and deliver the protest, and to say to him that he (Hood) indorsed it fully. Hamilton rode off at once, but in about ten minutes returned, accompanied by a staff-officer of General Longstreet, who said to General Hood, in my hearing, ” General Longstreet orders that you begin the attack at once.” Hood turned to me and merely said, ” You hear the order ? ” I at once moved my brigade to the assault. I do not know whether the protest ever reached General Lee. From the brief interval that elapsed between the time it was sent to General Longstreet and the receipt of the order to begin the attack, I am inclined to think it did not.  General Longstreet has since said that he repeatedly advised against a front attack and suggested a movement by our right flank. He may have thought, after the rejection of this advice by General Lee, that it was useless to press the matter further.

Just here the battle of Gettysburg was lost to the Confederate arms.

In his own account, James Longstreet (1821-1904) acknowledges Hood’s appeals not to go forward with the attack as planned, but also suggests that even when the matter was decided, Hood dragged his feet in executing it:

Hood’s division was in two lines, Law’s and Robertson’s brigades in front, G. T. Anderson’s and Benning’s in the second line. The batteries were with the divisions, four to the division. One of G. T. Anderson’s regiments was put on picket down the Emmitsburg road. General Hood appealed again and again for the move to the right, but, to give more confidence to his attack, he was reminded that the move to the right had been carefully considered by our chief and rejected in favor of his present orders. . . .

Prompt to the order the combat opened, followed by artillery of the other corps, and our artillerists measured up to the better metal of the enemy by vigilant work. Hood’s lines were not yet ready. After a little practice by the artillery, he was properly adjusted and ordered to bear down upon the enemy’s left, but he was not prompt, and the order was repeated before he would strike down.

In his usual gallant style he led his troops through the rocky fastnesses against the strong lines of his earnest adversary, and encountered battle that called for all of his power and skill. The enemy was tenacious of his strong ground ; his skilfully-handled batteries swept through the passes between the rocks ; the more deadly fire of infantry concentrated as our men bore upon the angle of the enemy’s line and stemmed the fiercest onset, until it became necessary to shorten their work by a desperate charge. This pressing struggle and the cross-fire of our batteries broke in the salient angle, but the thickening fire, as the angle was pressed back, hurt Hood’s left and held him in steady fight. His right brigade was drawn towards Round Top by the heavy fire pouring from that quarter, Benning’s brigade was pressed to the thickening line at the angle, and G. T. Anderson’s was put in support of the battle growing against Hood’s right.

There’s no mention in either Law’s or Longstreet’s accounts of the two men arguing the matter face-to-face.

Division commander John Bell Hood (1831-79), in his posthumously-published memoir, gave this version of events, recounted in a letter he’d written to Longstreet a decade after the conflict:

A third time I despatched one of my staff [to Longstreet] to explain fully in regard to the situation, and suggest that you had better come and look for yourself. I selected, in this instance, my adjutant-general, Colonel Harry Sellers, whom you know to be not only an officer of great courage, but also of marked ability. Colonel Sellers returned with the same message, ‘General Lee’s orders are to attack up the Emmetsburg road.’ Almost simultaneously. Colonel Fairfax, of your staff, rode up and repeated the above orders.

After this urgent protest against entering the battle at Gettysburg, according to instructions — which protest is the first and only one I ever made during my entire military career — I ordered my line to advance and make the assault.

As my troops were moving forward, you [Longstreet] rode up in person; a brief conversation passed between us, during which I again expressed the fears above mentioned, and regret at not being allowed to attack in flank around Round Top. You answered to this effect, ‘ We must obey the orders of General Lee.’ I then rode forward with my line under a heavy fire. In about twenty minutes, after reaching the peach orchard, I was severely wounded in the arm, and borne from the field.

Hood’s account is the earliest of the three, and closest to the scene in the film. But while it does recount a face-to-face meeting between him and Longstreet, it differs from the movie encounter in two critical aspects. First, Hood makes it clear that it was Longstreet who came to him, not the other way around. More important, when they did meet, the issue had already been decided, and Hood’s Division was already advancing. At this point, the decision to commit his troops to a frontal assault was final — “I again expressed the fears above mentioned, and regret at not being allowed to attack in flank around Round Top.” Like Law, Hood says his formal protest was made through staff officers earlier, not directly to Longstreet himself, and there’s no suggestion that when they did met, their exchange was anywhere near as heated as depicted in the movie.

So what really happened? All three accounts are pretty consistent, given the passage of years, and none has Hood riding over to his corps commander to make his plea in person. (Indeed, to have absented himself from his division to do so during a battle, in fact, might have been seen as dereliction; generals are surrounded by staff officers and couriers for just that purpose.) If the two discussed it at all in person, as Hood describes, it was after the matter had already been settled and his division’s regiments were on the move.

Kevin has mentioned before how another important Civil War film, Glory, both highlighted and badly over-simplified the “pay crisis” that enveloped the 54th Massachusetts and other early black regiments. Virtually all films of that sort have to simplify events, compress timelines and (sometimes) create composite characters to advance the story at a regular pace, and help the audience follow the plot. It’s just a fact of story-telling on film.

I don’t especially fault Ron Maxwell, who both directed Gettysburg and wrote the screenplay, for handling this part of the story, in this way. It neatly, and dramatically, encapsulates the real-life conflict between Old Pete and Sam Hood in a way that more-historically-accurate shots of staff officers galloping back and forth across the Pennsylvania countryside could never achieve. It’s more effective storytelling, and it accurately reflects the positions of the principals. But even when, as in this case, it speaks to a larger truth, one should never confuse it with the truth.

And I still love that scene.

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Yankees in the Attic

Posted in Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on July 2, 2011

Not my attic, as it happens, but my wife’s. It’s hardly a surprise, but it’s good to be able to confirm specific names and dates, rather than some vague understanding passed down by oral history. It appears that her great-grandfather’s two older brothers, James Bradley Ridge and George B. Ridge, both fought for the Union during the Civil War. Bradley, aged about 17, enlisted in Co. K of the 5th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry on July 21, 1861, and served with the regiment until discharged on July 5, 1865. His older brother George, age about 19, enlisted in the same company in January 1862, and served through the end of the war. He was promoted to Corporal in June 1865, and mustered out of the regiment on July 19, 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.

The 5th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was originally composed of companies formed in response to that state’s governor’s call for volunteers in April 1861. These units were disbanded after Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops in May 1861, and reorganized themselves as the First Regiment, Colt’s Revolving Rifles, with famed gun maker Samuel Colt as their prospective colonel. The new regiment was quartered on the grounds of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Company at Hartford, but when Colt determined that the regiment should enlist as regulars, the new recruits refused. So the First Regiment of Colt’s Revolving Rifles was disbanded (again) and immediately reformed (again) as the 5th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. And they never did get their Colt Revolving Rifles.

As part of the Army of the Potomac, the 5th Connecticut took part in Pope’s campaign in northern Virginia, and were heavily engaged at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862. On that day Pope’s army ran smack into that of Stonewall Jackson. After initially pushing back the Confederate line, a swift counterattack by A.P. Hill’s troops turned the course of the action late in the day. The 5th Connecticut, in the thick of the fighting near a local landmark known as “the cabin” (below), lost 48 men killed or mortally wounded, 67 wounded and 64 captured, or 179 of the 380 men present — 47.1% casualties. The regimental history notes ruefully that these losses were “as large as all the rest of its battle service put together,” and among the highest of any Connecticut regiment during the entire war.


“Charge of Union troops of the left flank of the army commanded by Genl. Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain,” by Edwin Forbes. Library of Congress.

The regiment was present at Second Manassas (Bull Run), and the following year in the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns. After Gettysburg, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, where in 1864 it participated in Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. According to its regimental history, the 5th Connecticut led the column of Sherman’s army that marched into Atlanta on September 2, 1864, after that city’s surrender:

September 2d. We all move forward toward the city of Atlanta, leaving our tents standing. Our regiment has the advance, and the Fifth Regiment Connecticut Veteran Volunteers have the honor of being the first Union regiment to march through the streets of the city of Atlanta. We have certainly earned the honor, for we have made a long and tedious campaign, having been 112 days and nights continually under fire, sleeping many nights in the trenches, fighting at every opportunity, always holding the ground and routing those opposed to us, and finishing the campaign with great honor to ourselves, to the State and to the General Government.

General Sherman says that we will rest in the city for thirty days, and I believe him.


Federal troops occupy former Confederate defensive works at Atlanta. A diarist in the 5th Connecticut recorded on September 10, 1864, “have visited the lines of fortification built by ourselves and the rebels around this city, and also looked around the city. Terrible destruction by shot and shell everywhere.” Library of Congress.

The 5th Connecticut went on to participate in Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” and in fighting up through the Carolinas in 1865. Bradley Ridge was reported missing after the Battle of Averasboro in North Carolina in March 1865, but eventually returned to the regiment. (I have not yet received his CSR, so don’t know the specifics, or if he was captured by Confederate forces.)

That particular line of my wife’s family has a long tradition of military service — her grandfather was gassed with the AEF during World War I, her dad served in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, her brother flew on medical evacuation missions during Desert Storm, and so on. Now that list goes a little farther back, still.

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“My humanity revolted at taking the poor devils away from their homes.”

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on June 29, 2011

Over at the Encyclopedia Virginia Blog, Brendan Wolfe posts a letter written by Colonel William Steptoe Christian (right, 1830-1910) of the 55th Virginia Infantry during the Gettysburg campaign. Christian’s letter, written from camp, describes the campaign through the Maryland and Pennsylvania countryside so far, and the Confederate army’s efforts at foraging on the march. He also mentions the seizure of African Americans from the free soil of Pennsylvania:

No houses were searched and robbed, like our houses were done, by the Yankees. Pigs, chickens, geese, etc., are finding their way into our camp; it can’t be prevented, and I can’t think it ought to be. We must show them something of war. I have sent out to-day to get a good horse; I have no scruples about that, as they have taken mine. We took a lot of negroes [sic.] yesterday. I was offered my choice, but as I could not get them back home I would not take them. In fact, my humanity revolted at taking the poor devils away from their homes.

They were so scared that I turned them all loose. I dined yesterday with two old maids. They treated me very well, and seemed greatly in favor of peace. I have had a great deal of fun since I have been here.

Christian’s letter is fascinating, both for what it says and what it doesn’t. Undoubtedly Colonel Christian’s perspective was shared by many Confederates, both officers and enlisted men. While he objected to searching and ransacking private residences, he had no qualms about the seizure of livestock for forage and even a personal mount for himself. And while he declined to take captured African Americans for himself personally, both on practical (“I could not get them back home”) and humanitarian grounds (“they were so scared that I turned them all loose”), he never questions whether he had the right to do so, not indeed if it was right to do so. Those larger questions simply aren’t part of his recorded consideration of the question, and one is left to imagine that, had his circumstances been different, might he have decided differently, as well.

Others in Lee’s army were not so scrupulous when it came to the well-being of their captives, many of whom had never been slaves at all, but were born free. In his essay, “Race and Retaliation: The Capture of African Americans During the Gettysburg Campaign,” David G. Smith uses original, primary sources like Christian’s letter to conclude that the total number of African Americans captured by Lee’s army and taken south during the Gettysburg campaign may have been more than a thousand.
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The Veteran, the Historian, and the Things Not Seen

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 23, 2011

Over the Christmas holiday in 1905 Lawrence Daffan (1845-1907), a former private in the Fourth Texas Infantry, dictated to his daughter Katie a biographical sketch of his life, along with more detailed accounts of two major actions he served in. After his death, Katie published these in a memorial book, My Father as I Remember Him.

In the memoir, Daffan recalled that after the Army of Northern Virginia was turned back at Gettysburg and withdrew across the Potomac,

we then marched to Culpepper, where we camped a while, then on to Fredericksburg, thence to Port Royal, where we camped some weeks.

While at Culpepper we had something of a riot in our regiment, caused by one of the regiment being ordered to wear a ball and chain, which we thought was a disgrace to our regiment and to the State of Texas. A number of us boys, who did not know any better, attempted to take him from the guard. Charges of mutiny were made against twenty-five of us, and we were put under arrest. Our captains were responsible for our appearance at court. This relieved us from drill and every other duty for six weeks of the summer.

Our trial was ordered to take place at General Longstreet’s headquarters, at Fredericksburg, in the first days of September, 1863. We were then camped at Port Royal, twenty miles east of Fredericksburg. We were all ordered to report to General Longstreet’s headquarters, near Fredericksburg, to be tried. On the way there I stopped at my uncle’s home, Champ Jones, twelve or fifteen miles from Fredericksburg, and did not arrive at Fredericksburg until after my “crowd” had arrived there. In going, I was alone. There was no guard with any of us. In looking for the headquarters where I might be tried, I went to the camp of the battalion of artillery, and the major commanding met me. I asked him to tell me where the General’s headquarters were, and he said “At the Reynold’s place, a large, white house about a mile away.” He said, “What are you going for?” I said, “I am going to be court-martialed for mutiny.” He said, with astonishment, “What, looking for a court to be court-martialed? That beats everything I ever heard of.” I said, “yes,” and he replied to go ahead, that he didn’t think I would be shot. I was then eighteen years old. We were all cleared through the influence of General Lee.

This anecdote was first widely published forty years ago in Harold B. Simpson’s Hood’s Texas Brigade: Lee’s Grenadier Guard, and has been mentioned in other secondary accounts since. To my knowledge, it’s not corroborated by other firsthand accounts. (Giles’ Rags and Hope mostly skips over this period of relative inactivity.) Ten years ago, Texas A&M historian Charles E. Brooks included this anecdote in his journal article, “The Social and Cultural Dynamics of Soldiering in Hood’s Texas Brigade,” published in the Journal of Southern History. Brooks briefly summarizes Daffan’s account, and then assesses it in terms of its time and place — not 1863, but 1905:

Written years later after the cult of the Lost Cause had romanticized the war and magnified the heroic deeds of Confederate soldiers, Daffan’s account only noted parenthetically that neither he nor the others “knew any better” at the time. But his amplifying comment was characteristic of many wartime reminiscences, which often glossed over the continuous conflicts that had taken place between officers and men concerning matters of discipline and subordination. Young Private Daffan and the others knew exactly what they were doing when they tried to rescue their fellow soldier. Although enlisting as a soldier of the Confederate Army required soldiers to occupy a new social status somewhere between freedom and slavery, the ball-and-chain punishment had blurred the distinction beyond what they were willing to accept.

Shorter: Daffan’s account is a reminiscence that has to be understood in the context of the time it was recorded.

Comparing these two passages makes for a good illustration of what a professional historian does. Daffan’s account, like so many written about that same time, stresses the humor and devil-may-care attitude of soldiering during the war. Daffan was indeed eighteen at the of this incident, but he was also a veteran (by his own count) of at least six different engagements, including Second Manassas, Sharpsburg and Little Round Top. The soldiers understood what they were doing when they tried to overpower the prisoner’s guard. Daffan and his compatriots also understood at least the potential penalty upon conviction of mutiny by a court martial; it cannot have seemed to Daffan at the time to have been such a summertime lark as he suggests when he describes his arrest as relieving “us from drill and every other duty for six weeks of the summer.”

Brooks’ reference to the pervasiveness of the Lost Cause is not supposition; it’s true both generally, and in Lawrence Daffan’s case specifically. Daffan was an active member of UCV and the Hood’s Texas Brigade Association; his daughter Katie was secretary and sole female member of the latter organization. When the local UDC chapter bestowed the honorary title of “colonel” on Lawrence Daffan, he adopted it immediately, and used it in both his personal and professional life so much that, upon his death, newspapers around the state referred to him as “Col. Daffan,” even though he’d never risen above the rank of private during the war.

Daffan was captured late in 1863 an spent the remainder of the war in the prison camp at Rock Island. Although he spent almost as much time as prisoner as he did as a soldier in the field, in his memoir he generally declines to discuss the hardships of this period in his life, commenting instead on the sheer boredom of the experience, where one day was exactly like the one before, and exactly like the one following, so that there was little concept of the passage of time. In fact, Daffan apparently left much unsaid in his dictation, and found his recollections, as they appeared on the page, difficult emotionally. As a preface to his autobiographical sketch, Katie wrote that

he would frequently related some anecdote or little incident, which he did not deem worthy of being included in the sketch, but which was invariably interesting.

Once or twice, while reviewing the battles [i.e., Second Manassas and Sharpsburg], he gave way to weeping and expressions of the deepest feeling, very unusual for him.

He told me that it carried him back to the days when he was a boy, that it was all so vivid, and so much had occurred since to change him, and so many of his friends and comrades had died, that it made him very sad.

What were the “invariably interesting” anecdotes that Daffan thought too inconsequential to commit to paper? More important, what ugly and terrible experiences remained, insufficiently blurred by the passage of time and memory, that he declined to recall for Katie’s note-taking? My guess is that the latter includes Gettysburg, notably missing from Daffan’s story, where the Fourth Texas remained pinned on the slopes of Little Round Top after the failed assault on the Federal left on July 2, or the habit of the “hundred dazers” walking post on the wall at Rock Island occasionally to relieve their own boredom by squeezing off rounds into the prisoners’ barracks.

None of this diminishes the value of the memoirs of old veterans like Daffan, but it does remind us that, even as important as they are as the record of the men who were there, they nonetheless have real limitations. Their tales of battle, hardship, humor and adventure are only as complete as they themselves recalled them.

Or were willing to.

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Image: Fife and drums at the United Confederate Veterans’ reunion, Washington, D.C., 1917. Library of Congress.

Fisking Fremantle

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on October 27, 2010

Recently I uploaded a post in which I characterized Dr. Steiner’s famous account of Confederate troops entering Frederick, Maryland in 1862 as being unreliable, because (among other things) it was uncorroborated by other witnesses to the same event. The credibility of Steiner’s account is important, as it’s one of the references often cited as evidence of large formations of black soldiers serving in the Confederate Army. Steiner estimates their number as “over 3,000 Negroes” — an enormous number, something approaching the size of a full-strength brigade.

One of my commenters took me to task, saying that Steiner’s account is corroborated by the Fremantle Diary, an account of a British 0fficer’s travels across the Confederacy in the spring and early summer of 1863, and culminating with his witnessing the Battle of Gettysburg. I pointed out that Fremantle didn’t witness the Confederates’ entry into Frederick the previous fall, but my commenter assured me, “it’s the same army.”

This struck me as odd. Fremantle and I are old friends, as it were, since I first read his account years back while working on an archaeology project. I thought I was familiar with Fremantle’s account, but I sure couldn’t recall any references to Black Confederates in it. Furthermore, any reference to Black Confederates in “the same army” would be restricted to a relatively small part of the book, that covered Fremantle’s time with the Army of Northern Virginia — Chapters 10 through 13. I skimmed those chapters, and then the entire text, and came up empty.

So I did some Googling and came up with two brief passages that are cited over and over again on Black Confederate sites, such as this one. Fremantle’s texts are rarely quoted in full, but are most often summarized, which is the crux of the problem. More about that in a moment.

The first passage in Fremantle comes in a description of McLaws’ Division, marching north toward Pennsylvania, on June 25, 1863:

The weather was cool and showery, and all went swimmingly for the first fourteen miles, when we caught up M’Laws’s division, which belongs to Longstreet’s corps. As my horse about this time began to show signs of fatigue, and as Lawley’s pickaxed most alarmingly, we turned them in to some clover to graze, whilst we watched two brigades pass along the road. They were commanded, I think, by Semmes and Barksdale, and were composed of Georgians, Mississippians, and South Carolinians. They marched very well, and there was no attempt at straggling; quite a different state of things from Johnston’s men in Mississippi. All were well shod and efficiently clothed.

In the rear of each regiment were from twenty to thirty Negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the’ ambulance corps; this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men falling out on pretense of taking wounded to the rear. The knapsacks of the men still bear the names of the Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, or other regiments to which they originally be tonged. There were about twenty wagons to each brigade, most of which were marked U. S., and each of these brigades was about 2,800 strong. There are four brigades in M’Laws’s division. All the men seem in the highest spirits, and were cheering and yelling most vociferously·

Fremantle explicitly identifies the African American men as slaves. He makes no mention of arms or weapons, but does describe them as being “in the rear” of each regiment — i.e., not actually part of the formation of companies, along with the stretcher-bearers. There’s no suggestion that Fremantle viewed these men as soldiers. Nonetheless, some authors have written secondary accounts describing Fremantle’s observations, with some careful rephrasing that changes the the meaning entirely. An example of this is a post by James Durney over at the TOCWOC Blog:

[Fremantle] states that every regiment and battery has from 20 to 40 [sic.] black men traveling with it. His description of their dress and arms is similar to the description of Jackson’s command in 1862. This indicates that Lee’s army had not changed any policies and still contained a substantial number of black men. Longstreet had 72 regiments and batteries with just under 21,000 men carried on the rolls. If we use 20 black men with each battery and 30 with each regiment Longstreet’s Corps in July 1863 had just under 2,000 black men embedded in the units, an additional 9.4% above the official muster rolls.

Fremantle does not, in fact, make a blanket statement that “every regiment and battery” has a similar number of men traveling with it; he only describes the regiments he saw, those of Semmes’ and Barksdale’s Brigades, eight infantry regiments in all. Fremantle makes no mention of batteries in this context. He gives no description of these black mens’ dress. And significantly, Mr. Durney never uses the term Fremantle openly did — slaves — to describe the men traveling with each regiment, which further clouds their actual status and makes it possible for the reader to come away thinking they are soldiers. This summary is misleading and attributes to Fremantle claims that, in fact, the Englishman never made.

The second passage from Fremantle dates from July 6, the third day after the battle, during the Confederate retreat along the Hagerstown Pike, somewhere northeast of that town:

At 12 o’clock we halted again, and all set to work to eat cherries, which was the only food we got between 5 A. M. and 11 P. M.

I saw a most laughable spectacle this afternoon – a Negro dressed in full Yankee uniform, with a rifle at full cock, leading long a barefooted white man, with whom he had evidently changed clothes. General Longstreet stopped the pair, and asked the black man what it meant. He replied, “The two soldiers in charge of this here Yank have got drunk, so for fear he should escape I have took care of him, and brought him through that little town.” The consequential manner of the Negro, and the supreme contempt with which he spoke to his prisoner, were most amusing.

This little episode of a Southern slave leading a white Yankee soldier through a Northern village, alone and of his own accord, would not have been gratifying to an abolitionist. Nor would the sympathizers both in England and in the North feel encouraged if they could hear the language of detestation and contempt with which the numerous Negroes with the Southern armies speak of their liberators.

The man is explicitly identified as being a slave; there’s nothing to indicate he’s a soldier, no reference to his own uniform, or even specifically that the weapon he carried was his own.  There’s simply the explanation that the two Confederate soldiers who were supposed to guard the prisoner were drunk, so this man took over their job that they were incapable of, rather than let the Union man escape.

Further, Fremantle’s observation that “the consequential manner of the Negro, and the supreme contempt with which he spoke to his prisoner, were most amusing” is a dead giveaway that the black man’s ordinary status is far lower than his prisoner’s; that’s what makes it funny. A Confederate soldier heaping verbal abuse on a Federal isn’t noteworthy; in the context of the time and place, a slave holding a Yankee at gunpoint and giving him what for most certainly would have been seen as comical. It’s a joke not unlike the famous incident where a former slave, now in the USCT, chided a group of sulking Southern civilians standing by the roadside: “bottom rail on top, now.”

This passage of Fremantle’s has also been misrepresented. Again, Durney:

Fremantle recounts an incident where an armed black man, dressed in Confederate and Union uniform items, escorts Union prisoners of war to the rear.

In fact Fremantle makes no mention whatever of Confederate “uniform items,” and the black man is escorting a solitary prisoner. Again Mr. Durney omits Fremantle’s explicit identification of the black man as a slave. He  omits too the black man’s explanation of taking charge of the prisoner on his own initiative, leaving the reader with the impression that prisoner escort was his assigned duty.

But wait, there’s more. As a footnote to that last paragraph, Fremantle adds this:

From what I have seen of the Southern Negroes, I am of opinion that the Confederates could, if they chose, convert a great number into soldiers; and from the affection which undoubtedly exists as a general rule between the Slaves and their masters, I think that they would prove more efficient than black troops under any other circumstances. But I do not imagine that such an experiment will be tried, except as a very last resort. . . .

So Fremantle takes the example of the slave taking charge of the Union prisoner and uses it as an opportunity to give his thoughts on the viability of enlisting blacks as soldiers, “if they chose.” He’s not discussing the success or advantages of a system that he’s seen, but describing what he thinks the prospects for it are if they chose. But Fremantle is resigned that “such an experiment will [not] be tried, except as a very last resort.” Far from documenting an example of African Americans serving as Confederate soldiers, Fremantle uses the case of the man in the blue uniform to argue that they would make acceptable soldiers if the Confederacy would allow it. Fremantle’s footnote, in particular, completely undermines the notion that his anecdote describes an actual Confederate soldier.

The title of this post is “Fisking Fremantle” because I like alliteration. But in truth, Fremantle’s not the problem. He reported what he saw and, despite his obvious sympathies with the Confederates he met, is generally considered a fair and reliable observer. The problem lies with the folks who (1) have read Fremantle’s observations and, through carelessness or intent, misrepresent them, and (2) those who repeat those same misrepresentations over and over again without checking them. It’s a shame, because what Fremantle actually wrote is fascinating on its own, and his speculation that “such an experiment will [not] be tried, except as a very last resort” is prescient. The folks who pull this example out of the Englishman’s book and cite it as evidence of Black Confederates are putting forward an account that doesn’t provide evidence of Black Confederates.  Do these folks ever read the texts they’re so good at citing as proof of their case?

Yeah, don’t answer that.

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Image: James Lancaster as Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Fremantle in Gettysburg (1993).

The Gettysburg Casino

Posted in Education, Leadership, Media, Memory by Andy Hall on September 1, 2010

This is a great video, and hits exactly the right chord. For what it’s worth, Matthew Broderick’s g-g-grandfather fought on Culp’s Hill with the 20th Connecticut Infantry. Not sure why this wasn’t mentioned in the video; it’s one of those small details that mean a lot when it comes to making the case for the preservation of Gettysburg.

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h/t Kevin Levin.

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How Val Giles Made Second Sergeant

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on July 18, 2010


West slope of the Little Round Top, Gettysburg, as seen from the plain along Plum Run. This is the view that presented itself to the 4th and 5th Texas Regiments late on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Photo by jwolf312, used under Creative Commons License.

Valerius Cincinnatus Giles — inevitably known simply as “Val” — was a twenty-one-year-old soldier in Company B of the 4th Texas Infantry when that unit made its famous, unsuccessful assault on the Federal positions on Little Round Top, late on the second day during the Battle of Gettysburg. In his later years, Giles spent much of his free time compiling a memoir, but did not live to see its completion. Giles died in 1915; his writings, edited by Mary Lasswell, were finally published in 1961. That volume, Rags and Hope, has since become a classic first-person account of Texas soldiers during the war.

It was nearly five o’clock when we began the assault against the enemy that was strongly fortified behind logs and stones on the crest of a steep mountain. It was more than half a mile from our starting point to the edge of the timber at the base of the ridge, comparatively open ground all the way. We started off at quick time, the officers keeping the column in pretty good line until we passed through a blossoming peach orchard and reached the level ground beyond. We were now about 400 yards from the timber. The fire from the enemy, both artillery and musketry, was fearful.

In making that long charge, our brigade got jammed. Regiments lapped over each other, and when we reached the woods and climbed the mountains as far as we could go, we were a badly mixed crowd.

Confusion reigned everywhere. Nearly all our field officers were gone. Hood, our Major General, had been shot from his horse. He lost an arm from the wound [sic.]. Robertson, our Brigadier, had been carried from the field. Colonel Powell of the Fifth Texas was riddled with bullets. Colonel Van Manning of the Third Arkansas was disabled. and Colonel B. F. Carter of my Regiment lay dying at the foot of the mountain.

The side of the mountain was heavily timbered and covered with great boulders that had tumbled from the cliffs above years before. These afforded great protection to the men.

Every tree, rock and stump that gave any protection from the rain of Minié balls that were poured down upon us from the crest above us, was soon appropriated. John Griffith and myself pre-empted a moss-covered old boulder about the size of a 500-pound cotton bale.

By this time order and discipline were gone. Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as the officers. Nobody paid any attention to either. To add to this confusion, our artillery on the hill to our rear was cutting its fuse too short. Their shells were bursting behind us, in the treetops, over our heads, and all around us.

Nothing demoralizes troops quicker than to be fired into by their friends. I saw it occur twice during the war. The first time we ran, but at Gettysburg we couldn’t.

This mistake was soon corrected and the shells burst high on the mountain or went over it.

Major Rogers, then in command of the Fifth Texas Regiment, mounted an old log near my boulder and began a Fourth of July speech. He was a little ahead of time, for that was about six thirty on the evening of July 2d.

Of course nobody was paying any attention to the oration as he appealed to the men to “stand fast.” He and Captain Cousins of the Fourth Alabama were the only two men I saw standing. The balance of us had settled down behind rocks, logs, and trees. While the speech was going on, John Haggerty, one of Hood’s couriers, then acting for General Law, dashed up the side of the mountain, saluted the Major and said: “General Law presents his compliments, and says hold this place at all hazards.” The Major checked up, glared down at Haggerty from his’ perch, and shouted: “Compliments, hell! Who wants any compliments in such a damned place as this? Go back and ask General Law if he expects me to hold the world in check with the Fifth Texas Regiment!”

The Major evidently thought he had his own regiment with him, but in fact there were men from every regiment in the Texas Brigade all around him.

From behind my boulder I saw a ragged line of battle strung out along the side of Cemetery Ridge and in front of Little Round Top. Night began settling around us, but the carnage went on.

There seemed to be a viciousness in the very air we breathed. Things had gone wrong all the day, and now pandemonium came with the darkness.

Alexander Dumas says the devil gets in a man seven times a day, and if the average is not over seven times, he is almost a saint.

At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officer on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling him to go to a country not very far away from us just at that time. If that old Satanic dragon has ever been on earth since he offered our Saviour the world if He would serve him, he was certainly at Gettysburg that night.

Every characteristic of the human race was presented there, the cruelty of the Turk, the courage of the Greek, the endurance of the Arab, the dash of the Cossack, the fearlessness of the Bashibazouk, the ignorance of the Zulu, the cunning of the Comanche, the recklessness of the American volunteer, and the wickedness of the devil thrown in to make the thing complete.

The advance lines of the two armies in many places were not more than fifty yards apart. Everything was on the shoot. No favors asked, and none offered.

My gun was so dirty that the ramrod hung in the barrel, and 1 could neither get it down nor out. 1 slammed the rod against a rock a few times, and drove home ramrod, cartridge and all, laid the gun on a boulder, elevated the muzzle, ducked my head, hollered “Look out!” and pulled the trigger. She roared like a young cannon and flew over my boulder, the barrel striking John Griffith a smart whack on the left ear. John roared too, and abused me like a pickpocket for my carelessness. It was no trouble to get another gun there. The mountain side was covered with them.

Just to our left was a little fellow from the Third Arkansas Regiment. He was comfortably located behind a big stump, loading and firing as fast as he could. Between biting cartridges and taking aim, he was singing at the top of his voice: “Now let the wide world wag as it will, I’ll be gay and happy still”

The world was wagging all right-no mistake about that, but 1 failed to see where the “gay and happy” came in. That was a fearful night. There was no sweet music. The “tooters” had left the shooters to fight it out, and taken “Home, Sweet Home” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me” with them.

Our spiritual advisers, chaplains of regiments, were in the rear, caring for the wounded and dying soldiers. With seven devils to each man, it was no place for a preacher, anyhow. A little red paint and a few eagle feathers were all that was necessary to make that crowd on both sides into the most veritable savages on earth. White-winged peace didn’t roost at Little Round Top that nightl There was not a man there that cared a snap for the golden rule, or that could have remembered one line of the Lord’s Prayer. Both sides were whipped, and all were furious about it.

We lay along the side of Cemetery Ridge, and on the crest of the mountain lay 10,000 Yankee infantry, not 100 yards above us. That was on the morning of July 3, 1863, the day that General Pickett made his gallant, but fatal charge on our left.

Our Corps, Longstreet’s, had made the assault on Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top the evening before. The Texas Brigade had butted up against a perpendicular wall of gray limestone. There we lay on the night of the 2d with the devil in command of both armies. About daylight on the morning of the 3rd old Uncle John Price (colored) brought in the rations for Company B. There were only fourteen of us present that morning under the command of Lieutenant James T. McLaurin.

I felt pretty safe behind my big rock; every member of the regiment had sought protection from the storm of Minié balls behind rocks or trees. The side of the mountain was covered with both. When Uncle John brought in the grub, he deposited it by a big Hat rock, lay down behind another boulder, and went to sleep.

Sergeant Mose Norris and Sergeant Perry Grumbles had been killed in our charge the evening before, and Sergeant Garland Colvin was wounded and missing.

Somebody had to issue the grub to the men, and as an incentive to induce me to take the job, the Lieutenant raised me three points. He too was located in a bombproof position behind another big boulder just in front of me.

“Giles,” he said, “Sergeant Norris always issued the rations to the men, but poor Mose is dead now and you must take his place. I appoint you Second Sergeant of Company B. Divide the rations into fourteen equal parts and have the men crawl up and get them.”

Every time a fellow showed himself, some smart aleck of a Yankee on top of the ridge took a shot at him. I didn’t even thank the Lieutenant for the honor (or better, the lemon) that he handed me, and must admit that I undertook the job with a great deal of reluctance.

A steady artillery fire was going on all along the line and a sulphuric kind of odor filled the air, caused by the great amount of black powder burned in the battle. Maybe it was the fumes of old Satan as he pulled out that morning leaving the row to be settled by Lee and Meade. We were comparatively safe from the big guns, but it was the infantry just above us that made things unpleasant. I crawled up to the camp kettle of boiled roasting ears and meal-sack full of ironclad biscuits that Uncle John had brought in, and began dividing the grub and laying it on top of a big flat rock.

The Yanks on the hill became somewhat quiet, so I got a little bolder and popped my head above the rock. They saw my oId black wool hat and before you could say “scat,” two Minié balls flattened out on top of the rock, making lead prints half as big as a saucer, and smashing two rations of grub. One roasting ear was cut in two, but the old cold-water ironclad biscuits went rolling down the hill, solid as the rock from which they flew.

Cuss words don’t look well in print, but I don’t see how a fellow can tell his personal experience in the army without letting one slip in now and then. In this case I’ll let it pass!

When those bullets struck the lunch counter, the newly-made Second Sergeant disappeared from view. The remark he made caused that grim old Lieutenant to laugh and say, “Let the boys crawl up and help themselves.” The range was so close that when those bullets struck the solid rock, it flew all to pieces, a small fragment striking me on the upper lip, drawing a few drops of blood and mussing up my baby mustache.

Second Sergeant was my limit in the Fourth Texas Regiment.