I Almost Fear to Hear the Result~Gettysburg~July 2, 1863

I Almost Fear to Hear the Result~Gettysburg~July 2, 1863

Witnesses & Participants in their own words:

General Meade in council

General Meade in council

July 2– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– A cloudy day, all day long. High temperature reaches 81 degrees. During the night General Lee and General Meade have brought up large numbers of additional troops and artillery. The two sides face each each in long lines and fighting begins in the late morning. During the day the Confederate forces attack Federal positions in three different places. In late afternoon, the Confederates attempt to take Little Round Top at the extreme left of the Union line. When the 20th Maine Regiment comes under heavy attack, they eventually run low on ammunition after one and a half hours of continuous fighting. Seeing the Southerners forming again for yet another attack, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin, age 34, professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College, and without formal military training, orders his men to fix bayonets and charge downhill at the upcoming Confederates. Surprising and scattering the Confederates, they end the attack and take a number of prisoners. The hard fighting all over the battlefield results in one of the highest single days of bloodshed in the whole war, both sides suffering more than 9,000 casualties each. Union General Dan Sickles, age 43, arrogant, flamboyant New York politician who literally got away with the murder of his wife’s lover, loses his leg during a maneuver in which he is disobeying orders. Union Colonel Strong Vincent, age 26, handsome lawyer from Erie, Pennsylvania, and popular with his troops, is mortally wounded and will die July 7th. Union Colonel Edward Cross, age 31, popular leader and fierce fighter from New Hampshire, is mortally wounded and wil die the next day. Confederate General Albert Gallatin Jenkins, age 32, former U S Congressman from Virginia, is shot from his horse and seriously wounded. Union General James Barnes, age 61, West Point Class of 1829, is seriously wounded in the leg by a shell fragment. Confederate General Dorsey Pender, age 29, from North Carolina and a favorite of General Lee, is mortally wounded and will die July 18. Confederate General William Barksdale, age 31, fire-eating pro-slavery former Congressman from Mississippi, is mortally wounded. Union General George Willard, New York born career soldier, age 35, is killed in the fight where Barksdale is mortally wounded. Union General Samuel Zook, age 42, a Pennsylvanian, is mortally wounded. At nightfall, General Lee, having come close to success, determines to try again on the morrow. General Meade considers retreating but decides to stay and see if Lee will attack once more.

 

monument to the 20th Maine Regiment

monument to the 20th Maine Regiment

July 2– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Union soldier Samuel Cormany describes his participation in today’s fighting. “We fellows had our horses cared for and were marched down to the right of the main line– to occupy a gap and do Sharpshooting, at long range, with our Carbines– we soon attracted attention, and later an occasional shell fell conspicuously close– but far enough to the rear of us so we suffered no serious harm. Towards noon firing became more general and in almost all directions– and we were ordered to our horses . . . . The general battle increased in energy– and occasional fierceness– and by 2 P.M. the cannonading was most terrific and continued til 5 P.M. and was interspersed with musketry– and Charge– yells and everything that goes to making up the indescribable battle of the best men on Earth, seemingly in the Fight to the Finish– At dark, our Cavalry Brigade . . . was moved to the left– many wounded came in– Taken as a whole from all one can see from one point– it seems as tho our men–The Union Army– is rather overpowered and worsted. Lay on arms to rest– Little chance to feed and eat.”

Samuel Cormany

Samuel Cormany

 July 2– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Young Tillie Pierce describes the day. This forenoon another incident occurred which I shall ever remember. While the infantry were passing, I noticed a poor, worn-out soldier crawling along on his hands and knees. An officer yelled at him, with cursing, to get up and march. The poor fellow said he could not, whereupon the officer, raising his sword, struck him down three or four times. The officer passed on. Little caring what he had done. Some of his comrades at once picked up the prostrate form and carried the unfortunate man into the house. After several hours of hard work the sufferer was brought back to consciousness. He seemed quite a young man, and was suffering from sunstroke received on the forced march. As they were carrying him in, some of the men who had witnessed this act of brutality remarked: ‘We will mark that officer for this. It is a pretty well established fact that many a brutal officer fell in the battle, from being shot other than by the enemy.’ . . . . a baking had been put in the old-fashioned oven; . . . we expected to find it all burned, but fortunately the soldiers had taken it out in good time. They doubtless had their eye on it as well as on the enemy. The cannonading, which all the time appeared to be getting more and more severe, lasted until the close of day. On this evening the number of wounded brought to the place was indeed appalling. They were laid in different parts of the house. The orchard and space around the buildings were covered with the shattered and dying, and the barn became more and more crowded. The scene had become terrible beyond description. That night, in the house, I made myself useful in doing whatever I could to assist the surgeons and nurses. Cooking and making beef tea seemed to be going on all the time. It was an animated and busy scene. Some were cutting bread and spreading it, while I was kept busy carrying the pieces to the soldiers.”

July 2– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes describes his part in the fight. “At about 2 o’clock P.M. we reached the Battlefield . . . having made a march of thirty-four (34) miles without a halt. . . . . Our Division was finally sent to the front and relieved General Sykes’ Division of Regulars. Picket firing was kept up until long after dark, when we were relieved and returned a short distance. The men threw themselves upon the ground, and oblivious to the dead and dying around us we slept the sleep of the weary.”

July 2– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Sir Arthur James Fremantle describes the last part of the day’s fighting. “At 5.45 all became comparatively quiet on our left and in the cemetery; but volleys of musketry on the right told us that Longstreet’s infantry were advancing, and the onward progress of the smoke showed that he was progressing favorably; but about 6.30 there seemed to be a check, and even a slight retrograde movement. Soon after 7, General Lee got a report by signal from Longstreet to say ‘we are doing well.’ A little before dark the firing dropped off in every direction, and soon ceased altogether. We then received intelligence that Longstreet had carried every thing before him for some time, capturing several batteries, and driving the enemy from his positions; but when Hlll’s Florida brigade and some other troops gave way, he was forced to abandona small portion of the ground he had won, together with all the captured guns, except three. His troops, however, bivouacked during the night on ground occupied by the enemy this morning. Every one deplores that Longstreet will expose himself in such a reckless manner.”

July 2– Thursday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel Cormany writes of her day. “At 3 A.M. I was wakened by the yells & howls of this dirty ragged lousy trash– they made as ugly as they could– all day they have been passing– part of the time on the double quick. At one time the report came that our men had come on them & that they were fighting– the excitement was high in town– but it was soon found out to be untrue– but the shock was so great that I got quite weak & imagined that I could already see My Samuel falling– I feel very uneasy about him–I cannot hear at all– They had quite a battle with Stuart– I almost fear to hear the result in who was killed & who wounded–still I want to know.”

Colonel Strong Vincent

Colonel Strong Vincent

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

 

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

General James Longstreet

General James Longstreet

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: