In Remembrance of Pickett’s Charge

As has become our custom at ECW, we offer you Faulkner’s famous reflection in remembrance of Pickett’s Charge:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago….

— William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

 

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Sunset at Devil’s Den

Devil's Den

A view west from the rocks of Devil’s Den toward the Emmitsburg Road.

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Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: Josiah Benner Farm

Modern view of the Benner Farm.

Modern view of the Benner Farm.

Part of a Series.

On the north side of Rock Creek, along the Harrisburg Road, sits the Josiah Benner Farm. At the time of the battle the farm encompassed 123 acres of the Gettysburg battlefield and served as the front lines of the Federal 11th Corps. The farm was also used as a divisional field hospital for Major General Jubal Early’s Confederate division.

The farmhouse, barn, and spring house saw action as Early’s division rolled down the Harrisburg Road toward Blocher’s (Barlow’s) Knoll. Four companies of Lt. Col. Douglas Fowler’s 17th Connecticut Infantry were deployed in and around the farm buildings and to the right of the Harrisburg Road. These four companies constituted Barlow’s forward right flank. The remaining six companies of the 17th Ct. moved to the top of Blocher’s Knoll on the south bank of Rock Creek. Continue reading

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Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: Jones Artillery Line

Part of a Series.

Guns along Jones' line.

Guns along Jones’ line.

Tucked between two housing plans are a few Civil War cannon. They represent Lieutenant Colonel Hilary Jones’ Confederate artillery line on the July 1st battlefield. Jones was the chief of divisional artillery for Major General Jubal Early’s Confederate Second Corps Division.

Early’s division made their way through Gettysburg on June 26. The division then headed off to the east following their “capture” of Gettysburg, moving onto York, and north towards Harrisburg. On the early afternoon of July 1st “Old Jube’s” division made their way down the Harrisburg Road toward Gettysburg. Early’s corps commander Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell had orders to march to the army at Gettysburg or Cashtown. Ewell chose Gettysburg as his destination and sent his three divisions down separate paths, to converge on the town. When Early arrived, Brigadier General Francis C. Barlow’s Federal 11th Corps division had moved forward to a small knoll named Blocher’s Knoll, named after John and David Blocher, whose family owned the land. (Today Blocher’s Knoll is known as Barlow’s Knoll.) Continue reading

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Mr. Jefferson’s library: “a necessity of life”

RevWarWednesdays-header

Part three in a four-part series

tjstudy“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in June of 1815. The former president had just packed his personal library—some 6,700 volumes—into a wagon train and shipped it north to the nation’s capital. He’d sold the collection to Congress for $23,950 to replace the collection burned by the British during the War of 1812.

His collection was, Jefferson rightly believed, “the choicest collection of books in the United States.”

And now he was left virtually bookless. Continue reading

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Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: The Eagle Hotel and Christ Lutheran Church

The Eagle Hotel in Gettysburg.

The Eagle Hotel in Gettysburg.

Part of a Series.

Contrary to popular belief, Old Dorm (also known as Schmucker Hall) at the Lutheran Theological Seminary was not Brigadier General John Buford’s headquarters on the night before the battle of Gettysburg. Buford actually stayed in downtown Gettysburg at the Eagle Hotel. Opened for business in 1834, the Eagle Hotel was a large three story hotel, which lasted until 1960. The hotel gave Buford a more central location for his brigade commanders to contact him, and was much more comfortable than the Seminary building would have been.

As the 1st and 11th Corps fell back through town, fighting erupted in the block around the Eagle Hotel.  Captain Francis Irsch, with four companies of the 45th New York, fell back through grounds of Pennsylvania College (today Gettysburg College). With Confederates filling the streets Irsch ordered his men to take up residency in the buildings along Chambersburg Street, he was going to make a perfect fort of the buildings. Continue reading

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An Elusive Doctor at Gettysburg

Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Sarah Kay Bierle.

Hunter McGuire

Hunter McGuire

Generals oversee battles. Soldiers fight. Civilians hide. Surgeons amputate. What does a medical director do during a battle? More specifically: what did Dr. Hunter McGuire do at Gettysburg? The medical director of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia is elusive to historians seeking to understand his role in the medical situation at Gettysburg. In the history books, he appears and then he’s gone, leaving readers with only a few facts and too many questions. However, the details gleaned from comrades’ accounts and his own writings from other battles allow us to partially reconstruction Dr. McGuire’s Gettysburg experience.

Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: The Colors of the 149th Pennsylvania

Monument of the 149th Pennsylvania. In the background is the Edward McPherson Barn.

Monument of the 149th Pennsylvania. In the background is the Edward McPherson Barn.

Part of a Series.

On the afternoon of July 1, acting 1st Corps commander Major General Abner Doubleday re-positioned his men in and around Herbst Woods. Deployed in the open fields of the Edward McPherson Farm, just north of the Herbst Woodsm was a brigade of Pennsylvanian’s commanded by Colonel Roy Stone. Stone had three regiments under his command the 143rd, 149th, and 150th. The 149th and 150th Pennsylvania Infantry regiments were known as the Second and Third Bucktails. Stone had served as the major of the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, also known as the First Bucktails (The 13th Pennsylvania Reserves served in 5th Corps at the battle). The 13th Pennsylvania was filled with crack shots from rural counties of Pennsylvania. in 1862 Stone came up with the idea to recruit more of these skilled marksmen and label them Bucktails. This did not sit well with the 13th, who called the others to follow “Bogus Bucktails.” Regardless of who was or was not a true Bucktail, the brigade itself was about to taste its first true combat. Continue reading

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Gettysburg Off the Beaten Path: The Capture of James Archer

Brigadier General James J. Archer

Brigadier General James J. Archer

Part of a Series.

Brigadier General James J. Archer was a brave and tough commander, with the appropriate nickname “The Little Gamecock”. Archer was a graduate of Princeton University, who had received a commission to the rank of Captain during the Mexican-American War. He left the army for a short time, but returned in 1855.  At the outbreak of war he threw his hat in the ring the Confederacy. Although he was a native of Baltimore, Maryland, he commanded a mixed brigade of Tennessee and Alabama forces in Major General Henry Heth’s Division, at Gettysburg.  Archer’s men had performed well at Second Manassas, Antietam, and Chancellorsville. Though a frail and sickly man (Archer was normally sick before every battle he entered), he never stayed in his sick bed when battle was eminent.

On the morning of July 1st, Archer’s brigade was the vanguard unit leading Lee’s army to battle at Gettysburg. Archer’s men were having a slow time with the cavalry, who mounted and dismounted at will, forcing the foot soldiers to engage and disengage time and again. Near 10:30 AM, with his entire brigade now in line of battle, moved from Springs Hotel Woods on Herr’s Ridge and were hotly contested by Col. William Gamble’s Federal troopers. Continue reading

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Upcoming Presentations July-August

July:

4th & 5th: Daniel T. Davis, Book Signing (9:00 am-12 pm) Sacred Trust Book Signings and Talks, Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center, Gettysburg, PA

5th: Edward Alexander, Book Signing (10:00 am-12 pm) Gettysburg Heritage Center, Gettysburg, PA. (1:00 pm-4:00 pm) Sacred Trust Book Signings and Talks, Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center, Gettysburg, PA

18th: Edward Alexander, “Expanding the Breakthrough: Medals of Honor” Guided Tour at Pamplin Historical Park, Petersburg, VA. 10:30 a.m.

25th: Chris Mackowski, Book Signing (10:00 am – 2:00 pm), Living History Day, Barnes & Noble, Fredericksburg, VA.

28th: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Last Battle: The Story Behind the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” Wheeling Library, Wheeling, WV; 7:30 p.m.

31st: Edward Alexander, “Dawn of Victory” White House of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA. 1:30 p.m.

Continue reading

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