Sunday, July 28, 2013

"...short trousers..."

Tuesday, July 28, 1863, Rapahannock River

We are finally home, if our old positions can be called home. We are not exactly where we were when the march to Gettysburg started about one month ago but we must be very close. So much looks familiar. I think that we must have out-marched the Yankees for they have not troubled us for many days. Now that we are here, we will throw up new earthworks and strengthen old ones in preparation to give the Yankees, once they get here, a warm reception. Given that the army is still tired and is in need of everything from rations to shoes to ammunition, I cannot see this army engaging in any offensive action any time soon.

While fording the Thornton River, I lost my shoes. I have been barefoot ever since then. Somewhere are our quartermaster wagons if the Yankees did not get them some time ago. Somewhere near the wagons is our Quartermaster. I shall see him about shoes. A day or so more of being unshod and I shall have to report to the sick list. My trousers are well-ventilated as well. They have been well-patched even to the point of my decreasing the length of the legs in order to get material for patching. Corporal Flynn said that if my trousers get any shorter, I will look like I was wearing short trousers for a boy. He had no shoes either.

Castles and Duncan have patched themselves up and appear to be the best of friends. Lyles has rejoined with us. There have been so many who were left behind when this campaigned started due to illness or furlough. Our numbers are increasing but given that so many were left behind after the battle, like Vincent, we are still short.

Once back along the line and rejoined with those who missed the campaign, they bombarded us with questions on what had happened. Each of us told of what we saw and what we did. When we told of the loss of Bill Barton, Senior, all took off their hats and bowed their heads. He was well-liked. We told of the gallant charge that took place on the third day. None of us were there but we had witnessed it and two of the brigades in our division took part. Few believed what we said. They were not there. Time will set the story straight and will do honor to those who made the charge.

With the loss of Bill Barton, Senior, the mess, the Dandy Eights, now number seven. We knew, and sometimes said so out loud, that the Eights might someday be reduced to the Sixes or the Fours. We joked about it but there is no joking now. On Sunday last, we seven who are left, held a memorial for old Bill. In the absence of Chaplain Betts, Bill, Junior started the service but could not finish. Jeff Mathis, who had witnessed Bill, Senior's fall, finished for him. Once we finished, we built a fire and sat around it, telling stories about Bill when he was still alive.

Last night, it was our turn to pull picket duty. There were so few of us that a good push by the Yankees across the river would have swept us away. We assume the Yankees are across there somewhere. We have seen no smoke from campfires or heard any horses or have seen any evidence of their presence. Even so, we must exercise dilligence. I found a spot relatively free of rocks and briers and, barefoot as a newborn, stayed there at my post. Supper was a single handful of parched corn.

Tomorrow morning, I will have new shoes.

I Send You These Few Lines

Of particular interest is a blog posting by Mannie Gentile in his blog, My Year of Living Rangerously, one of the blogs followed here. Drop in and take a read; it's good material.

The Gettysburg Campaign is now over. Both sides were beat up rather badly. Neither was able to inflict a killing blow upon the other. Both sides have returned to the same places they occupied, more or less, when the campaign began. Neither side has anything to show for all their efforts.

Well, not quite anything. The South was able to take the war from Northern Virginia and spare that area another summer of war. Also, the South was able to bring home much-needed war supplies taken while on the campaign. Lee's army was able to inflict severe losses in manpower on Meade's army.

While the North lost in terms of those same supplies, it was able to make good on those losses easily and quickly. The same holds true for the losses in troops. The manpower pool the North could draw upon was much larger than that of the South. Meade gave as good as he got in terms of casualties. One very critical factor in place is that the South's ability to replace it's losses was shrinking even before the campaign started. The situation will only get worse.

For the time being, both sides, out of necessity, can rest and lick their wounds. The North can mobilize more troops and send them into the field along with all the uniforms, horses, wagons, munitions and all other things it takes to maintain an army in the field. When the time comes, Meade will move on Lee and Richmond.

On the other side, Lee has to scramble just to keep what he has in the field, ready to parry the next Union attack. Everything he needs is in short supply. The government in Richmond, the same government that Lee is protecting from the wolf at the door, is incapable of making the hard choices that a government in wartime needs to make to ensure the existence of the nation. What Lee needs, Richmond cannot provide.

But, then again, this is Lee we're talking about. He has seen wolves before.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

" mercy and kill me?"

Thursday, July 16, 1863, near Bunker's Hill, Virginia

We have marched twice around the world, I think and we are not yet done. At least we have stopped to rest here, at this postage stamp of a town. There is water to drink, shade to hide from the Sun, and, as is usual, nothing to eat. We should be used to it by now but we are not.

At least the Yankees are not known to be hard by. They had tried to trap us at Falling Waters but Lee whipped them once again. While we waited for the Potomac to fall to the point where we could be forded, their infantry caught up to us. They thought that they had us with our backs against the river, outnumbered and with no place to go. But we were behind entrenchments which gave us some advantage. Lee posted a battery on a hill knowing that it had not a single round of ammunition. It was a big bluff but one that the Yankees tried anyway.

We had been bested at Gettysburg but we still had plenty of fight in us. We were anxious to give back something and the Yankees obliged us by attacking. The fight was a desperate affair. Both sides fought knowing that the war could end right at that place. If they beat us, the only hope for the Confederacy would die. If we beat them, and cross the river, we would come back at them for another try some day and the war would continue.

We waited in line to meet them with fixed bayonets. We did not have as much ammunition as we would have liked. Off to my left, I saw the Yankees reach our lines and there was some hand to hand combat. The Yankees did not stay long; they were beaten back. They had waited too long to attack us. Even as the battle was raging, the advance part of the army was crossing the river. By that night, we were all across and marching South.

Perhaps marching is not the proper word to use here. Once across, I will say that we appeared relieved that the Yankees could not come after us for awhile. Our pontoons were cut loose from their moorings once we crossed and we had the satisfaction of seeing them float downriver, stranding the enemy, shouting, on the other side. 

We did not escape unbloodied.  John Howell is missing from our company and his fate is unknown. We managed to take most of our wounded with us. I fear that so many were abandoned to the Yankees at Gettysburg. The pitiful condition of our wounded made me give thanks that I was untouched. Although we had crossed the river, we dared not pause so close to the river to attend to the needs of the wounded lest the Yankees, in particular their cavalry, find another way to ford the river, get in front of us and hold us up until their infantry caught up with us.

The suffering was beyond any form of measure. Ordinary wagons, unsuited to the transport of wounded, were pressed into exactly that kind of service. Broken men were put into the wagons the same as boxes of ammunition. Their cries could be heard by all who passed by. They begged for relief and there was none save the relief of death. I heard one call out, "Will someone show mercy and kill me?" We marched on, barely acknowledging the poor soul. This war has been too long and we have seen too much.

We did camp at Martinsburg but not for long before we retired to this place.  A few of the local inhabitants, and there are but a few local inhabitants, came to our camp to satisfy their curiosity. They asked about Gettysburg, about the battle there. We told them but they acted as if they believed none of it. It was far too fanciful for them to swallow. Only those who have been in a war and fought for their lives understand what it is to be a soldier. 

Some of our wounded have been taken in by the local folks. They have shared a little of their food with us. They did not appear to have much to share. This part of Virginia is now the so-called state of West Virginia, unlawfully torn from the mother state by the Lincoln administration. We all know that Federal troops have been recruited in this stolen state. When this war is over, they will be dealt with as traitors.

We are in no hurry to leave here and we do enjoy the long rest, especially those of us without shoes. I still have mine and am grateful for them. I am hopeful that they will last until our march is concluded at our destination whatever that might be. We suppose that we will return to our positions along the Rappahannock. What will happen once we return is yet to be revealed.

I Send You These Few Lines:

The retreat from Gettysburg was composed of two large elements. One was the wagon train of wounded that was about 17 miles long. It was sent over a route far above the route of retreat of Lee's main army which was retreating between Meade's army and the train of wounded.

Even so, fast-moving Union cavalry were able to raid the train several times. The train was protected by Southern cavalry and some artillery but a slow train was easily ambushed and the guards could not be everywhere. 

The route of retreat at this point is almost exclusively down the Valley Pike, present-day US 11 which largely parallels the newer I-81. 

The Battle of Falling Waters was the last serious attempt by Meade to trap and destroy Lee. Once Lee was across the Potomac, Meade knew that Lee had successfully escaped and that the pursuit was over. From now on, Meade would just be following but not pursuing Lee.

John Howell was the last casualty the the Lancaster Hornets suffered during the Gettysburg campaign. We will hear from him again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Now we starve like peasants."

Wednesday, July 8, 1863, in the trenches near Hagerstown

We left Gettysburg very late Sunday night. As secrecy was important, we skulked more than we did retreat. As at Chancellorsville, we needed to give the Yankees the impression that we were still there. We were told to be quiet by anyone with a stripe or bar. I suppose we left successfully as we were not attacked or even followed for awhile.

We marched away from Gettysburg along the Fairfield Road. There was some talk in the ranks that perhaps we were making a flanking move and would catch the Yankees where they least expected it. The further we went along the road, the more we realized that this was nothing less than a retreat. We came, we fought, we lost. There will be tomorrows to come.

We arrived in Fairfield early Monday morning. We rested there until that same evening when we resumed the march in the direction of Hagerstown. On Tuesday, we were somewhere near Waynesboro where we stopped and rested again. We now understood that the Army of the Potomac was coming after us. We would have to get to the Potomac River crossings before the Yankees did or be cut off from home. 

When we arrived here today, we spent only a few moments resting before we began throwing up earthworks in anticipation of a battle. We hear that Meade has sent his cavalry to nip at our heels and get in between us and the crossings to stall us until Meade's infantry can catch us on this side of the river. If he comes at us with us behind these earthworks, we will remind him of what Fredericksburg was all about. We are depending on Stuart to keep their cavalry away until we can finish these earthworks. We hope to keep Meade at bay until we can cross.

It has rained upon us every day since we left that town in Pennsylvania. Had it not been for the rain, we might have crossed already. As it is, the river is swollen and may prevent our crossing until it has receded. That would, quite badly for us, give Meade time to catch us.

As we passed through the enemy's country, we saw many happy faces, but none were happy at seeing us except while heading south. There were jeers and taunts and there were more than a few of us angry enough to rush at them and thrash them well. We did not; we stayed in the ranks and behaved ourselves. There was no foraging, no impressment and no certificates of payment. We were interested too much in moving along.

Today, I have eaten the last of my crackers. All I have left in my haversack are a handful of beans and some salt. I have no meat. We are all like this. Where our commissaries are, I do not know. It was not so long ago that we ate like kings. Now we starve like peasants. If one of those mules pulling wagons should happen to pass on, we will rush it and claim it as our own before some one else does. At least there is plenty of sweet water here.

There is artillery throwing up their own works near us. We feel better knowing that they are hard by. If we had any rations, we would share with them just because they are here. We can hear musketry in the far distance. As long as it remains far, we are not too concerned. If the firing comes from cavalry, we will be more than concerned as they can travel fast enough to be here before we are ready to receive them.

Holton is growing tired and is telling me that it is time to put down the pen and pick up the shovel.

I Send You These Few Lines:

The race is on. The finish line is the river crossing. If Lee wins, his army will be saved and the war will continue. If Meade wins, Lee's army will be in the bag and the war could be over. Meade is being pressured by Washington to pursue and corral Lee. Meade knows full well what Washington does not, that his army has taken a beating and any pursuit will be at the risk of his army's existence a Lee might pull another audacious rabbit out of his hat. All depends on Lee holding off Meade long enough for the Potomac to recede to a point where it can be crossed safely.

There are some changes in the commander's photos flanking this blog. On the Union side, Reynolds was killed and then replaced by Abner Doubleday who was relived and replaced by John Newton. Stoneman has been replaced as army cavalry commander by Alfred Plesanton. Sickles was wounded and replaced by David Birney. On the grey side, Pender was wounded and replaced by Trimble who was also wounded and replaced by James Lane. 

The Confederate army is starving, tired and is penned up with its back to a swollen river. Lee will need a good deal of luck to get out of this predicament.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"We are going home".

Saturday, July 4,1863, Gettysburg

Today is Independence Day, at least for some. Ours is yet to come. If we have anything to celebrate it is the fact that we are alive. So many of us who came here will stay here; they will never return.

All day we waited for the Yankees to do something, anything. We hoped aloud that they would come after us the same as they did at Fredericksburg and we would cut them down like ripe wheat. Holton said that was what had happened to us yesterday. At least there was time enough to bring up more ammunition. We were confident that we could take care of anything the Yankees could throw at us. All of our nervous anticipation was for naught. An occasional volley or isolated musket report was all we heard.

We ate what we had in our haversacks which was not very much. We have not seen our commissary since the battle started. We do have water but we do have to go after it. I had to show one watering party where the branch was that I refilled those canteens from. We waited, we talked, we cursed, we mourned, we longed. We took the war to the enemy and thrashed them rather well, we thought. But it is all over and they are still there. Our best was not good enough.

Corporal Flynn has just come around to tell us to be ready to move out on short notice tonight. We are going home.

I Send You These Few Lines

The battle of Gettysburg is now over. It was the largest battle ever fought on this continent. The casualties numbered more than 50,000 for both sides. Some regiments were reduced to a few dozen men. Some companies suffered 100% casualties. But it is over.

Now is the time for Lee's army to return to Virginia with all haste lest Meade's army cut him off and destroy him. Destroying Lee would destroy the Confederacy. President Lincoln was hoping for just that sort of outcome.

Meade saw things differently. His army has been well thrashed by Lee. Some units effectiveness were reduced to zero and those units were disbanded and folded into other, not so blooded units. Meade knew that his army needed much in the way of rebuilding in both men and material. Meade would be content to lick his wounds but the pressure from Lincoln was to pursue  and destroy Lee. Orders were orders so Meade followed at a distance, looking for an opportunity. There would be opportunities.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"...through lead and iron..."

Friday, July 3, 1863, Gettysburg

This last night I slept quite well as did many of us,  even with sporadic skirmishing all during the night. That same skirmishing the night before kept us from getting a good sleep after such a fatiguing day. I suppose it all overwhelmed us last night.

At least some of us had to remain on watch lest the Yankees come down from their positions to engage with us. I have been told that where they are is called Cemetery Ridge. We had to relieve each other at fairly frequent intervals to allow everyone to get some sleep.

This morning, after our cartridge boxes were refilled and some time after breakfast, the Yankees did, indeed, come out of their works and tried to retake a road that ran in front of our positions. Gallantly they came on and gallantly we sent them back. This took quite some time as their attack was spirited and in earnest. 

As the attack continued, we could see more of the enemy being fed into the fray. They wanted that road rather badly and so did we. Finally, the Fourteenth was ordered to charge them and thus claim the road as ours. We supported them from where we were with our gunfire. The Yankees gave ground under protest but they did give. Eventually, they retreated back to their works and we all rested somewhat nervously. 

Now, our boxes were depleted and in need of replenishment but this was not effected. Lieutenant Williamson was concerned that if we were called upon to engage in a general attack, we would suffer for lack of ammunition. I had been suffering from the lack of a canteen, mine having been holed yesterday. My pards, I believe, were becoming annoyed at my frequent requests for a pull at their canteens but it has been so beastly hot.

I was saved from a death by thirst when several of my pards gave me their canteens and told me that if I wanted any more water from them, I should refill their canteens. I had eight or ten of them slung around me and set off in search of water. I could not remember seeing any water during our advance from Wednesday to today. I was looking for a line of trees in a depression which might indicate a branch. 

I found such a place and there was, indeed, water. There was also a Yankee who had the same idea. He had his musket and I had a string of canteens. It was lucky for me that he was quite dead, as evidenced by two bloody holes in his sack coat. I presumed that he was wounded and made his way to this water. Being wounded makes one very thirsty and his live went from him while he was filling his canteen. As he had no further use for it, I relieved him of his burden. It was not too bloody. He was minus his shoes and haversack so others had visited him before me.

After filling all the canteens, I made my way back to my pards. Upon seeing me, they hurrahed me. When they saw that I had a canteen of my own, they hurrahed me a second time. Corporal Flynn chastised me for not bringing back the dead Yankee's musket and cartridge box. And I had filled his canteen, too. Such ingratitude. 

While I recovered from my burdensome journey, my pards told me what had happened in my absence. Lane's brigade and Scales' brigade were taken away from our division and marched south and west of us into a wooded area. General Trimble, whom is new to me, now commands the division now that General Pender is absent, wounded from yesterday. He did not remove the whole division, just those two brigades. Our brigade and Thomas's brigade were left in place, why, no one knew. We did know that there was now a gap in our lines where those two brigades had been. Should the Yankees discover this, we would be hard-pressed to keep them from exploiting the gap as we had done to them two days ago.

We were lying there waiting for a Yankee attack and wishing for more ammunition when a great cannonade opened up in the general direction of where the two brigades had gone. We were too far to be able to tell how many guns were involved but there must have numbered in the several dozens, and they were all ours. We cheered and cheered those artillery boys knowing they were giving the Yankees H--l.

When their artillery responded, we stopped cheering because some of the H--l was directed at us. We tried to look very small. We supposed that our bombardment was a prelude to a general assault. Was their similar treatment of us a prelude to an assault of their own? We fixed our bayonets while lying down. Muskets that were unloaded were made ready. Corporal Flynn went up and down his part of the line, telling us to keep a sharp eye.

This exchange of artillery ammunition continued for some time. We could see some of their shells land in the woods. We thought those rounds landed in error. The cannon fire slowed and then such a sight that is seen once in one's lifetime was seen by all of us. From one area of the woods came our infantry. The line was easily seen by all the red battle colors. It reminded me of our own regimental colors. All of our brigade was issued new colors just a few weeks ago. None of them look new anymore.

As we continued to watch, additional regiments and brigades emerged from the woods and formed up into one long and grand line of battle. They looked so splendid, like they had spent their whole lives drilling. And they looked so mighty.

Then we saw our two missing brigades. We could tell them by their colors. Both of the brigades, half of our division, was crossing a field to have at the Yankees. We sat along the sidelines and cheered heartily but we would have preferred to be with them. There were several lines, a line of skirmishers followed by the main line followed by the supports. Our two brigades were in the line of supports. Lieutenant Williamson has a glass and said that our brigades were following behind Pettigrew's North Carolinians. We then gave three cheers for the Old North State. 

As the lines advanced, they came within range of Yankee muskets and artillery. The fire directed against them was fierce but they did not waver.They maintained their formations and went forward through lead and iron. As they advanced, we could tell that something was wrong. At this point, a message reached Lieutenant Williamson stating that Lieutenant Stover had been wounded and he, Williamson, now commanded the company. We called upon him to allow us to go in and support our people. Ever a soldier, he said he could not move from this spot without orders.

So we watched and did nothing except cheer them on. We saw more and more of them go down and felt helpless. The numbers of those leaving the lines and returning, many limping and some even crawling, to the cover of the trees from whence they came. We saw more and more colors disappear. 

We assumed the goal of this attack was a low stone wall near a small grove of trees. Eventually, the lines merged and blurred into a mass of grey and butternut moving against a mass of blue at that location. We saw some of our people make and go over the wall and we looked for the supports that never came. All of them, blue and grey alike, fought like furies. In the end, we could take the wall but not hold it.

There was a stream of men, wounded and not, returning to the woods. This stream fas forced to weave its' way through those who would move no more. There were so many of them. A person could open up a stables with all of the riderless horses on that field. I saw one horse, well appointed, struggle to get away with a broken foreleg. It did not make it.
Someone showed mercy and shot it.

Those of us who remained behind were appalled at the sight of what had happened. Orders were orders and we stayed. We stayed and we cried. Some of us opened fire on the Yankees in front of us but our new company commander quickly put a stop to it lest we use up our meager supply of ammunition and be unable to repulse a Yankee attack should there be one.

But there was no attack. The rest of the day consisted of the usual sporadic skirmishing as what happened the past two nights. It is good for the Yankees that they did not attack us. We were so angry that we would have slaughtered them with our teeth. 

The rest of the night, up to this point, has remained uneventful. We have eaten but little as there is little desire to nourish ourselves. We wait for who knows what. On the morrow, either they will come after us or we after them and we will do it again. 

I Send You These Few Lines...

Pickett's Charge. Day three of Gettysburg. The name Pickett's Charge is a misnomer. Pickett commanded only his division, not the entire attack force. By rights, it should be called the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. But really, Longstreet gave the orders.

What happened was that General Isaac Trimble was an officer without a command and General Lee wanted to give him something to do. General Lane had assumed command of Pender's division after Pender was wounded on July 2. Trimble replaced Lane who went back to command his own brigade. Trimble took half of his new division and was behind General Pettigrew as his support.  Trimble would be wounded during the charge and Pettigrew would receive a mortal wound during the retreat back to Virginia.

Why the charge and why the failure is a subject that I won't touch. There's enough people already engaged in the battles over that subject; they do not need me.  

Whom will attack whom tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Thursday, July 2, 1863, Gettysburg

It was a fitful night. After the many hours of heavy fighting yesterday, I would have thought that my sleep would have been more restful. All night long, there was no peace from the sounds of wagons, horses, cannon and men. Both sides were bring up more of everything necessary to continue the fight today. We were hoping that the Yankees would be gone this morning but they remain on the hills in front of us. When we rose this morning, we knew that we would be called upon to throw them off of there.

This would be no easy task. By my reckoning, our company numbers only thirty muskets. It had been some forty or fifty but that was before yesterday's bloodletting. I can only think that the regiment as a whole suffered much the same. Even so, we had won the day.

We spent most of the day, waiting for the order to go forward. Some skirmishers from another regiment were ordered forward to clear out some of the enemy in front of the brigade but we remained in place.
Although we were not engaged with them, they were engaged with us. There was a great cannonade but it did not seem as if we were the target of their attentions from the fall of the shells. Some, as they always do, fell short, causing some hurt to us without us having the ability to hurt  back.

Sometime during this barrage, the word was passed down the line that General Pender was struck by one of these shells and was out of action. I do not know who now commands the division or if he is wounded or dead.

Bill Barton, Junior, is doing better after the death of Senior. Both he and two others have left the line to tend to the body. They need to return quickly lest their absence be discovered.

Not so very long ago, about ten of the clock, the brigade was ordered into line of battle and be prepared to advance into the enemy's works. Old Sol had already set and there was but so little light left but orders were orders. Here we remain, is absolute darkness. There is some musketry. We shoot at the fire from their muskets as that is all we can see. I am writing this with great difficulty by the light of a single candle which is dangerous as the light might be seen by the Yankees who would fire upon it. It would be equally dangerous should Corporal Flynn see my candle.

A cooler, more stable head would consider it quite rational to postpone these jottings until a future date where the risk of having the head removed by a cannon ball had passed. This I cannon cannot do. Too much has happened here and I think there is much more to come. I must put this all in writing while it is still fresh. As I can see only a speck of what has transpired, I will leave it to future historians to tell us what happened.

I Send You These Few Lines

Compared to yesterday the 1st, today the 2nd was calm and peaceful. General Lee had devised a grand plan for an attack that would drive the Union army from their positions. By the second day of Gettysburg, all of the Union army had come up and was well emplaced. However, not all of the Confederate army had arrived. Longstreet's corps had arrived but was missing Pickett's division. Stuart's cavalry hadn't been seen since the start of the campaign.

The attack started even with Pickett being absent. The attack was supposed to be a coordinated one involving diversionary attacks by Hill and Ewell but that just did not happen. The attack, involving places called Devil's Den, the Peach Orchard and Little Round Top met with some success but not to the degree that Lee was hoping for.

What happened? Why did Ewell and Hill fizzle out? I'm not going there. For decades I have heard Gettysburg fought and refought and rerefought beyond rational explanation. There are some excellent works on the battle written by some esteemed historians. Just don't put them in the same room m together or there will be blood.

Gettysburg is two-thirds over although no one knows it at the time. There is still one more great push on the morrow. Pickett will be up by then to bring added weight to anything Lee has in mind. Although General Pender has been wounded, his division, now under General James Lane will have a part to play tomorrow in the great push. This is the division that Tooms is in. Is Tooms and the Twelfth slated to participate in the grand assault known as Pickett's Charge? That's hard to say. The charge won't be until tomorrow. A lot can happen between now and then.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Gettysburg is ours...".

Wednesday, July 1, 1863, Gettysburg

It was a very good day today. We have suffered for it but the Yankees have suffered much more. Gettysburg is ours, and fairly won. The price we paid was high.

Yesterday, Pettigrew's brigade of North Carolinians from Heth's division marched to Gettysburg, down the Chambersburg Pike and found some but thought them militia or perhaps cavalry and of therefore of little consequence. Pettigrew then returned to Cashtown. We had thought that there were no Yankees near here but Pettigrew proved otherwise.

We arose this morning not very early and had our meager breakfast without haste. After checking our muskets and cartridge boxes and filling our canteens, we fell in. Our entire division was to follow Heth's entire division down the pike and push away these Yankees. Then we were to forage in Gettysburg as we have in other places. 

As we marched, we heard musketry and artillery fire coming from our front. We could tell that Heth's division was catching it. We saw that the division maneuvered itself into a line of battle to engage the Yankees. We fell out along whatever shade there was along the road while this exchange was happening. After a period of this exchange, we saw the Yankees retreat. We were then ordered forward.

We marched through the North Carolinians who shouted encouragements as we marched. "Go after them, South Carolina", I heard one yell. Our brigade went to the south of the pike, adjusted ourselves and went forward with Scales' brigade of North Carolinians to the left of us. Our brigade was the far right of the line. We entered this fight one regiment short, Orr's Rifles being detailed to guard the wagons the same as we did during the Chancellorsville battle. Facing us and the object of our intentions was a ridge which we were ordered to make Confederate.

The Yankees had other thoughts and voiced their objections with their cannon and muskets. We knew at this point that these were seasoned troops, not militia that faced us. Orders were orders and forward we marched. Vincent was on my right and I did not know that he was hit until I heard Corporal Flynn order that the gap in the ranks be closed. Nesbit advanced forward from the rear rank and went down, dead. Crenshaw was on my left and he went down, too, wounded. A ball pierced the crown of my slouch and another went through my jacket. On we went.

Plyer went down, wounded. Caskey went down, dead. We advanced, bayonets at the ready. The most horrible thing happened when Bill Barton, Senior fell straight down, dead. Bill, Junior saw this and paused only long enough to tell that there was no helping Bill, Senior. 
Many of us fell but more of them fell. Dismounted cavalry was on our right and infantry was on our left. We were told not to fire until ordered and that order was difficult to obey.

We pushed the Yankees away from the top of the ridge and found ourselves with Yankees on our right, open and unsupported. Montgomery tapped me and said, "We have them now!". Then, we went down, shot in the leg. He handed my his cartridge box and told me to avenge him. It was a burden to carry two boxes but to my mind, too much ammunition is good. I did not keep his box long as a piece of shrapnel severed the strap and it fell from me. I was unwounded and very thankful. Denton, being rattled, fired his ramrod at the Yankees. His musket now useless, he fetched Montgomery's and was shot down.

We were ordered to turn right oblique, load and fire by volley. We caught the Yankees in the flank and threw them into a panic. During the last few moments of exchange before they withdrew,  Fleming was hit and he spun around like a wheel. He tried to say something as he lay upon the ground but nothing but his last breath passed his lips. 

The Yankees had the advantage of us as they occupied the high ground behind breastworks and were armed with breech-loaders. No matter as we shot them up and they withrew. That left their artillery unsupported and it then withdrew.We then took over the breastworks. Slowly, the Yankees were collapsing all along their line. The left of our brigade, the First and Fourteenth took Gettysburg and the race was on.

We were entering Gettysburg as fast as the enemy was leaving it. Our regiment, plus the Thirteenth skirted the city to the south in pursuit of the enemy. They would stop, rally and give us a volley or two but our dander was up and we would not let them check our advance. After some six hours of fighting, they took up positions on another range of hills and we stopped shy of them. Both sides were all in and no more could be expected of the flesh.

It is now night and an occasional weak fusilade can still be heard. We have eaten but have not enjoyed it. There were some spoils to be taken from the retreating Yankees but I have not profited. It has been very hot today and it is difficult to refill empty canteens. I found mine to have a hole in it and I am now dependent on the generosity of others.

We have taken stock of our losses and our victory is expensive. The Dandy Eights mess has lost one of its' own and numbers seven. William Barton, Senior was killed on the field of battle advancing the rights of a people who would be free. Peace to his ashes. Junior is in shock and the rest of us are doing our best to console him.

Tomorrow, we will attack the Yankees and finish the job. 

I Send You These Few Lines

This diary entry is the 100th in this blog. It coincides with the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was not planned that way; that's just the way it turned out.

Well, the dance has started and the Confederates are leading. The Union troops put up a good fight but it was no more than a delaying action to allow more of Meade's army to come up. The momentum was with the Confederates and they never let it go.

Several historians have contended that the battle of Gettysburg started as a quest for shoes. Gettysburg had actually been captured and raided for shoes several days earlier. On the 30th, after Pettigrew's encounter with Union troops, General Heth is said to have asked General Hill if he had any objection to taking his division to Gettysburg the next day in a search for shoes. Hill is supposed to have given his blessings and sent General Pender's division to support Heth. This was a rather large raiding party and it led to a general engagement.

Heth's division had thrown the Union troops off of their position along McPherson's Ridge. Pender's division then resumed the attack by passing through Heth to attack the Union's second line at Seminary Ridge. The brigade of Colonel Perrin broke the Union line in that area by hitting the cavalry in the flank. The Union forces end the day at Cemetery Hill.

All the casualties mentioned by Tooms were there and were killed or wounded. Tooms could only see so much so in addition to the senior William Barton,  Issac Nesbit and James Caskey and J,B. Fleming being killed, P.B. Lindsey was aso killed were killed.

The wounded that Tooms saw were Isaac Vincent, Ellis Plyer, Wilson Crenshaw, James W. Denton and John J. Montgomery. The ones he did not see were William Porter, David L. Adams, John B. Langly, Wesley Blackmon, Simon H. Huey, Robert Hagins and E.M.L. Williams. All were from just one company, I Company, the Lancaster Horne

And this is just the first day.