Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caring for the wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg: yankees aiding rebels

In several posts in this forum, we have discussed the everyday horrors of life in both Federal and Confederate prisons. As an alternative to this perspective, please allow us to consider the following excerpt from a volume entitled "Soldiers Letters From Camp, Battle-field and Prison." In this snippet, we hear Charles N. Maxwell, 3rd Maine, discusses the manner in which federal soldiers came to the aid of wounded and dying confederates on the Gettysburg battlefield. Maxwell writes:

On the morning of the 4th we took the front, and I was upon the skirmish-line watching the enemy's sharp-shooters, and exchanging shots with them. We were in the grass, and they several times climbed trees to see us, but we could take them out the first fire. That night, the cries of the wounded, during the storm which raged, was unpleasant in the extreme. I gave many of the rebel wounded water, and covered them up, for which they were grateful, and would urge me to take money. Our boys would mingle with them with the best of feelings — brave men after a desperate struggle respect each other.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Battle of Gettysburg: the behavior of the townspeople through the eyes of a young girl

Part 5 in a series of posts regarding the behavior of the citizends of Gettysburg before, during, and after the great battle. In this entry we hear from Matilda J. "Tillie" Pierce Alleman who was 15 years old at the time of the historic event. In her book "At Gettysburg: or, what a girl saw and heard of the battle", young Tillie Pierce writes:

My native townsmen, during that terrible struggle, acted as patriotic and bravely as it was possible for citizens to act, who had suddenly thrust upon them the most gigantic battle of modern times.

They had none of the weapons or munitions of war; they were not drilled and were totally unprepared for such an unthoughtof experience, They were civilians.

Long before had many of their sons and brothers gone to the front, and those who still remained were as true to the Union as those found at home in the other towns of the North.

Upon the first rumor of the rebel invasion, Major Robert Bell, a citizen of the place, recruited a company of cavalry from the town and surrounding country.


A company of infantry was also formed from the students and citizens of the place which was mustered into Col. Wm. Jennings' regiment of Pennsylvania Emergency Troops.

This regiment, on June 26th, was the first to encounter and exchange shots with the invaders of 1863. Though inexperienced, the stand they made, and the valor they displayed before an overwhelming force, cannot fail in placing the loyalty and bravery of her citizens in the foremost rank.

Opportunity was offered a few, who like old John Burns, went into the fray. To some like Professors Jacobs and Stower, came the occasion of explaining and pointing out to the Union officers the impregnable positions of the locality, and by this means insuring victory to our arms.

To others was given the oppottunity of concealing in their homes the brave Union boys who had been wounded in the first day's fight, who, in their retreat, had sought shelter in the house they could first reach, and there were Compelled to remain, within the Confederate lines, during the remainder of the battle.

Many a Union soldier would have gone to "Libby" or "Andersonville" had it not been for the loyalty and bravery of some of the citizens in thus secreting them.

To all was presented the opportunity of caring for the wounded and dying after the battle had passed, and nobly and feebly did they administer the tender and loving acts of charity even in their own homes as well as upon the field - and in the hospital.

Let those disposed to cavil and doubt the patriotism of the citizens of Gettysburg at the time of the battle forever cease, for what I have written is correct.

True it is there were a few who sympathized with the South just as in other Northern towns, but it would be unjust and unreasonable to condemn the many for the misdeeds of the few.

Friday, September 11, 2009

African American soldiers in the Civil War: the United States Colored Troops (USCT)

Pictured here is drummer boy Taylor of the 78th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry (USCI). While no full name is provided with the image of young Taylor, a quick examination of the National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System reveals there were five soldiers named Taylor who served in the 78th regiment, USCI. These Taylors were as follows: Alfred, Joseph, Nelson, Robert, and Washington. Which of these five is pictured here with his drum? That question must go unanswered for now.... In the meantime, here's a summary of young Taylor's regimental history, courtesy of the National Park Service:

78th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Organized April 4, 1864, from 6th Corps de Afrique Infantry. Attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Corps de Afrique, Dept. of the Gulf, to July, 1864. Post of Port Hudson, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to October, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, United States Colored Troops, Dept. of the Gulf, to October, 1864. Post of Port Hudson, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to April, 1865. District of LaFourche, Dept. of the Gulf, to January, 1866.

SERVICE.--Post and garrison duty at Port Hudson, La., till April, 1865, and at Donaldsonville, Thibodeaux and other points in District of LaFourche, Dept. of the Gulf, to January, 1866. Mustered out January 6, 1866.

Predecessor unit:


Organized at Port Hudson, La., September 4, 1863. Attached to Ullman's Brigade, Corps de Afrique, Dept. of the Gulf, to December, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Corps de Afrique, to March, 1864. Garrison, Port Hudson, La., to April, 1864.

SERVICE.--Duty at Port Hudson, La., August 31, 1863. Designation of Regiment changed to 78th United States Colored Troops April 4, 1864 (which see).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Paul Revere at the Battle of Gettysburg: patriotism runs in the family

Did you know that Paul Revere, the famous "midnight rider" of Boston, had a grandson who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg? Yes, it's true; Paul Joseph Revere was a Colonel in the 20th regiment Masachusetts Volunteers when he gave the last full measure on July 4, 1863. Below is an excerpt from the American Annual Cyclopaedia summarizing the accomplishments of Colonel Revere:

Revere, Col. Paul Joseph, an officer of U. S. volunteers, died of wounds received in the battle of Gettysburg. He was born in Boston, September 18th, 1832, and was a grandson of Paul Revere of Revolutionary history. His early educational advantages were good, and in 1862 he graduated at Harvard College. When the war broke out, though occupying a high sodul position and surrounded by everything calculated to make life pleasant, he at once volunteered his services on behalf of his country, and accepting the commission of major in the 20Uth regiment of volunteers, went to the seat of war. At the disastrous battle of Ball's Bluff his regiment behaved nobly, but lost heavily; he was taken prisoner and, with his colonel, was confined in a felon's cell as a hostage for the privateersmen whom the United States Court had convicted as pirates. After his exchange he participated in the campaign on the James river, and at Antietam was on General Sumner's staff, when he was complimented for his gallantry, having received a severe wound, which gave him a long winter of pain and seclusion. Upon his recovery he was promoted as colonel of the 20th regiment, and received his death wound in the first successful battle of the campaign.