Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61

A Mother’s Poem

Phil Spaugy:

Today, one the 150th anniversary of his assassination I was going to post my thoughts on this most American of Presidents, but my thoughts just kept returning back to young Abe and his love for his mother. So here is a reblog of an earlier post of mine. It the best I can do today.

Originally posted on Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61:

young abe “Young Lincoln” – by Norman Rockwell

The following poem was a favorite of my grandmother, Helen Taylor Ehemann, who at a young age instilled in me the love of reading and history. I owe her so much, and I am sure that Abe Lincoln felt much they same way about his mother, who died when he was but nine years old.

Nancy Hanks

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She’d ask first
“Where’s my son?
What’s happened to Abe?
What’s he done?”

“Poor little Abe,
Left all alone.
Except for Tom,
Who’s a rolling stone;
He was only nine,
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried.”

“You wouldn’t know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he…

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“Boys, the command is no longer forward, but now it is follow me!”

Phil Spaugy:

The Civil War Trust has just announced the purchase of the tract of land over which the 19th Indiana charged and where the gallant Lt. Colonel Bachman fell. Please consider supporting the purchase of this very important piece of hallowed ground. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam/antietam-2015/

Originally posted on Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61:

Bachman

Lt. Colonel Alois O. Bachman was killed while leading the “Black Hats” of of the 19th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry on the morning of September 17, 1862. This is the story of his first day of regimental command and, tragically, the last day of his life.

A native of Madison County, Indiana, Bachman had previously served as a Captain in the 6th Indiana Volunteer Infantry (90 Days). He was commissioned Major of the 19th in late July 1861, receiving  his promotion to Lt. Colonel of the regiment the following February.  Due to injuries suffered at the Battle of Brawner Farm, and the physical and emotional toll of the campaign since that time, the Colonel of the 19th, Solomon Meredith, was unable to take the field; consequently, the 23-year-old Bachman became the commander of the regiment soon after the September 14th fight for Turners Gap.

Advancing with the other black-hatted “western”…

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Club’s Are Trumps. A Story For Saint Paddy’s Day.

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Monument to the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Photo by the author

While I have many favorite monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield, the monument of the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry of the famed Irish Brigade stands out as the one that gives me more pause and reflection than any other. Situated on top of the rise know as “Stony Hill” it shows a fallen soldier laying in repose behind a stone and rail fence, his bent and broken musket at his side. I am sure that many battlefield visitors who pass this memorial believe that the soldier depicted belonged to the 116th PVI, that is not the case. The soldier memorialized forever on this monument is Private Charles F. Gardner of the 110th Pennsylvania. Gardner had fallen early in the action before his regiment was pushed back off the hill. Shortly after the 116th, along with the other units of the Irish Brigade charged through the “Wheatfield,” and retook the Stony Hill Position. Major St. Clair Mulholland, who commanded the 116th PVI at Gettsyburg noticed the fallen soldier, laying at peace where he fell. Mulholland was so moved by the slight smile and peaceful countenance on Private Chandlers face that when the 116th decided to raise a regimental monument he proposed that the slain Chandler be memorialized in stone so that future generations would forever know the horrible sacrifice and cost of war.

The following account is Major Mulholland’s description of the advance of the 116th that carried Stony Hill and his impression upon seeing the fallen Chandler the first time:

“…..as the column moved towards the left, Zook’s Brigade was in the rear, and as that command was passing the Rose farm, Colonel H. E. Tremaine, of General Sickles’s staff,rode up to the general and requested him to halt and
advance against the enemy who were breaking through the Union lines at that point. Zook at first refused to do
so, as he had no authority from the division commander,General Caldwell, who was then far in advance at the
head of the column, but Colonel Tremaine insisted and gave Zook a peremptory order in the name of General
Sickles. The gallant Zook hesitated no longer but, leaving the division column, quickly formed line, dashed into
the woods, met the enemy and began fighting, while the other three brigades of the division continued marching
towards Little Round Top, unaware of the fact that Zook’s men had left the command and were fighting all alone.
When the three brigades arrived at the foot of the hill (Little Round Top), there was a short delay; then Cross
deployed and went forward. Brooke went in to his left, and the Irish Brigade counter-marched to the right, passing
in rear of Cross and, after clearing his line, deployed and formed on the right of the division. As that brigade
advanced it moved over exactly the same ground on which Zook’s men had fought, passed over the line that they had reached, and struck the foe. Zook had been carried to the rear dying, and all the regiments of his brigade, after
making a most gallant fight, had fallen back, and as the brigades of Brooke, Cross and Kelly advanced and fought,
the One Hundred and Sixteenth held the extreme right flank of the division line.

The men of the Regiment went in at a “right shoulder shift” and, although the ground was covered with huge
boulders, interspersed with forest trees, hilly and rough, the alignment was well-preserved and, as it neared the
crest, met the enemy and received a volley. But the shots were too high and did but little damage and the men
rushed on. Soon the lines were but a few feet apart, and the men returned the fire with deadly effect. Captain
Nowlen drew his revolver and opened fire ; nearly all the other officers followed his example. Little Jeff Carl killed
a man within six feet of his bayonet. That hero. Sergeant Francis Malin, was conspicuous by his dash and bravery,
as his tall form towered above all around him – a noble soul. He soon fell dead with a bullet through his brain.
For a few moments it was hand-to-hand, but the Confederates seemed to have no stomach for the fight ;
they were tired, weary and glad to call “enough”, surrendered and were sent to the rear as prisoners of war.
The Regiment had met and fought the men of Kershaw’s Brigade, the same who, at Fredericksburg, had poured
their deadly fire into the Regiment from the stone wall at the base of Marye’s Heights. Then the brigade was
halted and aligned where the monuments now stand.

The meeting of the lines was unexpected to both the Confederates and Union men. As the latter were moving
up one side of the hill the Confederates were ascending the other. They gained the crest first and seeing the
Union men so close, they became excited and fired too quickly, resulting in the volley passing overhead, and but
few of the men of the Regiment were injured. On the contrary, the fire of the Regiment was delivered with
precision and calmness, and every shot told. The Confederates were on a crest while the regimental line
was below them, their feet about on a level with the heads of the men. When the Regiment charged and gained the
ground on which the enemy stood, it was found covered with their dead, nearly every one of them being hit in the
head or upper part of the body. Behind one large rock five men lay dead in a heap. They had evidently fallen
at the first volley and all at the same time. One of them, in his dying agony, had torn his blouse and shirt open,
exposing his breast and showing a great hole from which  his heart’s blood was flowing.

The large ball (calibre 69) and three buck shot with which the pieces were loaded, although a wretched
ammunition for distant firing, was just right for close hand-to-hand work, and so, on this occasion the fire of
the Regiment was terrible in its effect, while the small rifle balls of the South Carolina men went whistling over
the heads of the men of the One Hundred and Sixteenth. In front, and a little to the right, stood the Rose farm
house and barn. Over the little valley in the immediate front one could see the enemy massed and preparing for
another attack. The dead of the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers lay directly in front, on
the ground which that command had vacated but a half hour before, and one young boy lay outstretched on a
large rock with his musket still grasped in his hand, his pale, calm face upturned to the sunny sky, the warm blood
still flowing from a hole in his forehead and running in a red stream over the gray stone. The young hero had
just given his life for his country. A sweet, childish face it was, lips parted in a smile, those still lips on which
the mother’s kisses had so lately fallen, warm and tender. The writer never looked on a soldier slain without feeling
that he gazed upon the relics of a saint ; but the little boy lying there with his blood coloring the soil of his own
State, and his young heart stilled forever, seemed more like an angel form than any of the others.

” Somebody’s watching and waiting for him,
Yearning to hold him again to her heart ;
And there he Hes with his blue eyes dim,
And the smiling child-like lips apart.”

As the Regiment stood in line waiting for the foe in front to advance, a column of the enemy, supposed to be
Semm’s and Wofford’s Brigades, passed through the peach orchard, formed a line in rear and began to
advance just as the line in front began moving forward. Orders were given for the division to retire, and under
the circumstances it was done in fairly good order.”

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The view referenced in Major Mulholland’s account of the Confederate position on top of Stony Hill. The 116th’s monument is pictured at the top of this rise. Photo by the author

So today as you toast Saint Patrick, raise a glass or two to the fallen Private Gardner and to the valor of the Irish soldier, who in the American Civil War as in all of our conflicts sacrificed much to help keep their adopted country free.

Faugh a Ballagh !!!!

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At Rest. Photo by the author.

Sources:

The 116th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865available on line at Archive.Org

Gettysburg Daily website

“The Boys of Company D” – Part II

Captain James Glenn, Co. D 149th PVI. Image from the American Civil War Database

The morning of July 1st dawned warm and humid with a light rain that had been falling on and off during the night. Captain James Glenn shook the 60 men of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, out from under their damp wool blankets, and after a hurried breakfast of hardtack and coffee, formed up with the rest of the 2nd Brigade (Stones), 3rd Division of the 1st Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Leaving their campsite in Farmer Brown’s barnyard, the company crossed over nearby Marsh Creek and headed north on the Emmitsburg Road toward the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Although Company D, along with the rest of the 149th, had been with the veteran 1st Corps since the previous February, they had not, in the common soldier expression of the time, “Seen the Elephant.” That said, Captain Glenn was still very proud of Company D and the men and boys in its ranks. After all, he helped raise the company in the fall of 1862, and within its ranks were many of his Washington County, Pennsylvania friends and neighbors. Now, on this damp, humid July morning, they were hard after the invading “Johnnies” of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, prepared to defend with their very lives the soil of their native state.

Upon reaching the slight rise upon which Sherfy’s soon to be famous peach orchard was located, and hearing increasing sounds of battle off to the northwest (Wadsworth’s 1st Division of the 1st Corps had just engaged the Confederate forces to the west of Gettysburg), the 3rd Division was ordered to march to the sound of the guns at the “double quick.” After less than a mile they reached the Codori Farm, where the division turned off the road to the left following the same well-worn shortcut taken by the First Division earlier that morning. This route led them west across the fields to the crest of Seminary Ridge, then following the ridge northward to the imposing brick structure that housed the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Arriving around 11:15 p.m. during a bit of lull in the battle, the 149th, with its sister regiments of the 150th and 143rd Pennsylvania (Stone’s Brigade), dropped their knapsacks and stacked arms in the small woodlot just to the west of the Seminary building to await further orders. (It was here they learned of the tragic death of Major General John Reynolds.)

Their rest was brief, for by 12:45 p.m. the 149th, 143rd and 150th PVI brigade were headed west to the area around the McPherson farm buildings to fill a gap in the Federal line between the Iron Brigade to the south and Cutler’s Brigade to the northeast. However, since Company D was designated as the provost or headquarters company of the third division, it remained behind, taking up a position extending southward of the Seminary building towards the Hagerstown Road where it was engaged in controlling the flow of stragglers and maintaining order behind the lines of battle.

By 2:30 p.m. the reformed division of Heth (who had been wounded and turned the command of his division over to Pettigrew) supported by Pender’s Division advanced, and after some of the most horrific fighting of the battle, outflanked the Federal line on McPherson’s Ridge, forcing the Iron Brigade, and shortly thereafter Stone’s Brigade, back to a “slight barricade of rails” that had been constructed earlier in the day by the men of Robinsons 2nd Division on the edge of a grove of trees just to the west of the Seminary building.

Pettigrew’s Division, having been decimated by both the morning and afternoon fighting on McPherson’s Ridge, paused to allow Pender’s Division, consisting of the brigades of Scales, Perrin and Lane, to move through its ranks and form for the attack against the battered but resolute survivors of the 1st Army Corps. They, after falling back across the swale between east McPherson’s Ridge and Seminary Ridge, were rallying on that ridge behind and to the north of the barricade of rails, their position being reinforced by the 19 guns of the 1st Corps Artillery Brigade.

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Situation on Seminary Ridge, 4:00 PM July 1st, 1863. Map courtesy of Hal Jespersen. http://www.cwmaps.com/

As previously mentioned, Captain Glenn had spread his 60 men of Company D in a very thin skirmish line covering a front of more than 200 yards extending southward from left of the Seminary building across Hagerstown road to the area just west of the Schultz home. There they formed to the right of Gamble’s Cavalry Brigade, and in support of the four 3-inch ordinance rifles of Battery L, 1st New York Artillery (under the immediate command of Lt. William Bower), positioned facing westward on and to the north of the Hagerstown Road. They were to protect the extreme left flank of the Federal line and to keep the road as an avenue for Federal withdrawal back into Gettysburg and the heights beyond. (See map)

Company D “hunkered down” into position, taking whatever cover they could find behind the fences, stone walls and trees in the area. For easier access cartridge boxes were pulled around to their sides, flaps opened and readied for use.The metallic clank of ramrods and the strong click of hammers being pulled back was heard up and down the line as the men made their Enfield and Springfield rifle muskets ready to fire. They would not have long to wait.

By 4:00 p.m. Pender’s men had begun their assault across the 500 yards of open ground between Seminary Ridge and McPherson’s Ridge. While their advance was initially stopped by a tremendous fire of musketry and massed artillery, two regiments of Perrin’s Brigade (1st SC and the 14th SC ) soon found the exposed left flank of the Federal line and flanked the 121st Pennsylvania out of position causing the whole Federal line to start to unravel northward. At about the same time, Perrin spotted a gap in the Federal line and with the view to capture the guns of Battery L, ordered his other two regiments (12th and 13th SC ) to oblique to the right towards the battery’s position. What Perrin had not expected was the stout resistance made by the troopers of Gamble’s Cavalry Brigade and the 66 men of Company D. Even though outnumbered, under tremendous pressure, and with the entire Federal line rapidly crumbling, Company D helped hold this crucial position for 20 long minutes. Lieutenant Bower fired his last rounds, then hitching his guns up under a hail of small arms fire from the “Johnnies,” withdrew in great haste, racing eastward down the Hagerstown road towards Gettysburg and then on to the comparative safety of the Federal position on Cemetery Hill. The “Redlegs” were shortly followed by Gamble’s horse soldiers who were exhausted after more than nine hours of continuous fighting and maneuver. (As you will read in the account below, perhaps the men of Company D thought the cavalry might have left a bit too soon!)

The valiant Old First Corps, battered to near extinction, was now in full retreat, falling back to run the chaotic gauntlet through the streets of Gettysburg and then on to the “good ground” of Cemetery Hill. All, that is, except for Company D, who still had a tenuous hold around the Schultz house, but that grip was rapidly slipping away.

The following is an excerpt from the “History of Company D” by Private John Nesbit, which gives a good description of this crucial part of the action:

“A strong column of Confederates had moved towards our line on the Hagerstown road, striking the First Brigade and doubling up their left flank. After severe fighting this (First) brigade was driven back, uncovering our front entirely. Up to this time our Company had not fired a gun, but our time was coming.
 The rebel lines moved steadily forward, and were soon within range. The two pieces of artillery, the squad of cavalry, and Company D were now the only troops on this part of Seminary Ridge that had not been under fire and more or less demoralized. We opened fire and kept it up, but the rebels moved slowly and steadily forwards, and it soon became evident that we could not hold the position. The cavalry squad kept up appearances in good style, and it was thought they would charge, but they didn’t. They charged to the rear and left us in a hurry.
  The artillery had exhausted their ammunition and were compelled to cease firing and save their pieces as best they could. Our Company commenced to fall back. Gen. Thos. A. Rowley, who was then in command of the division, was with us. Henry B. Callahan, of our Company, insisted that if he did not get off the Ridge he would be captured. He finally mounted a horse and galloped off the field. It had now become necessary to run to escape capture and our boys got off that hill in a hurry.
  The writer with Capt. Glenn, Jos. C. Bell, Serg’t Snodgrass and others, went down the Hagerstown road towards the town. Jas. Roach and one or two others were in the field to the left of the road. The balances of the Company were each one saving himself. David H. Morton, who was nearly worn out, mounted a loose cavalry horse and galloped across the fields to Cemetery Hill.
  We left on the field, Jos. H. Baldwin, killed; Serg’t A. M. Stewart, mortally wounded; Andy Crooks, shot through the ankle, and a number of men wounded and captured.
  The rebel lines seemed to halt on the Ridge and deliberately fire after us, but we sustained no loss on the retreat. When we reached the level at the foot of the hill, near where the road crossed a little stream, Capt. Glenn insisted on stopping there to fight. There were about a half dozen of us and after persuading the captain that we could not, with any show of success, fight a Brigade of rebels, we hurried down the road to the town of Gettysburg with the Captain. (See map)
The Hagerstown road intersecting the main street of Gettysburg at the outskirts of the town, we were soon crowding along this street without any definite idea as to where we were going. Our Company was scattered in every direction. H. B. Callahan, John B. Holland, and one or two others were together. While making our way out of reach of rebel bullets, and not yet having arrived at the square, about the center of town, we found a detachment (sic) of Lee’s army were coming in at the other end of Main street. This was the first proof we had that the First and Eleventh corps must be entirely captured or driven through the town to Cemetery Hill, on our right.”

Company D- Good Map

Map showing Company D’s skirmish line and the location of Captain Glenn’s proposed stand.

Singly and in small groups, the men of Company D struggled through the crowded, confusing streets of Gettysburg and on to Cemetery Hill. There they rejoined what remained of the 149th, who suffered losses of nearly 75 percent (336 out of 450) during the fighting near the McPherson farm and along Chambersburg Pike. With every field officer of the regiment having been wounded, and in some cases captured, command of the regiment fell to Company D’s Captain Glenn. Physically and mentally exhausted, the men dropped down on the grass, started their coffee boiling, and tried to make sense of it all. Concern was great for those “pards” who had gone missing, but for many of the men, sleep, borne of the stress of battle and the experiences of the day, came surprisingly easy that night.

One thing was for certain. On the afternoon of July 1st, “The Boys of Company D” had looked the elephant in the eye, and while they didn’t blink, they most certainly would never be the same.

Coming soon, part three of this post –Remembering the Boys of Company D who fell during the fight of July 1st.

Sources:
American Civil War Databasewww.civilwardata.com
Doubleday, Abner, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg– available online at Google Books.
Gottfried, Bradley, The Maps of Gettysburg, Savas Beatie, 2007
Laino, Phillip, The Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, Gettysburg Publishing, 2015
Phanz, Harry, Gettysburg-The First Day, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001
Martin, David G.,Gettysburg July1, Combined Books, 1996 (revised edition)
Wittenberg, Eric, “The Devil’s to Pay” John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour; Savas Beatie 2014
Revised Edition General History of Company D 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers and Personal Sketches of the Members – available online at http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/digitalbks2/id/60985

“The Boys of Company D” – Part One

This past January I was in Gettysburg and had the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Jeremy Brandt. During our meal the conversation turned to the actions of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania during the fighting on Seminary Ridge on the afternoon of July 1, 1863. Jeremy asked if I had ever seen the image of Co. D taken in November of 1864 near Petersburg,Virginia. When I told him that I couldn’t recall the image, he pulled out his cell phone  showed me copy and then told me that the image is available in downloadable from the Library of Congress. When I returned home I downloaded the image, and after viewing the high-resolution .tif file I realized that it would make a great blog post.

Beyond being rich in the details of their uniforms and accoutrements of which I will discuss below, I find this to be a most powerful image. From Gettysburg through the Overland Campaign of 1864, the men and boys pictured here are veterans of some of the most intense combat of not only the the American Civil War, but of the history of this country. If you choose to download the image, spend some time looking at the faces and into the eyes of these men…eyes of the veteran combat infantrymen that had, in the parlance of the day, “Seen the Elephant.”

The image has also drawn me to learn more about Company D, and the crucial role they played during the fighting on the late afternoon of July 1st which I detail in part two of this post.

First the image. which is rich in detail, some of which I will discuss below:

Company D

Click on image for the direct link to the downloadable image.

The officer on the left is Major James Glenn, who raised Company D and served as its first captain. He is holding the sword presented to him by the company in August of 1862. It is interesting to note that Glenn had the sword with him during Company D’s 1897 reunion where it “was brought out and examined with affectionate interest by the members of the company, all of whom had been interested in the sword thirty-two years ago.”

Captain (later Major) Glenn’s presentation sword.

The 1st sergeant next to Glenn is wearing what appears to be a commercial grade sack coat with some exterior pockets added. Also notable is that the only badge or insignia of rank he has on his sleeve is the lozenge or diamond of the first sergeant stripes. This was a common practice for both officers and non-coms during the later years of the war, as it made them less of a target for confederate sharpshooters. I believe that the First Sergeant is Frank Dorrington who was grievously wounded at Laurel Hill in May of 1864, left for dead in an ambulance wagon, and was almost buried before his “pard” William Johnston noticed he was still alive! Dorrington recovered and returned to the company in August of 1864. He served to the end.

Subdued 1st Sergeant lozenge.

Major Glenn and First Sergeant Frank   Dorrington.

Commercial grade blouse worn by First Sergeant Dorrington

In this cropped view noticed the variety of headgear, with 29 slouch hats of different styles and issue (M1858 Hardeee Hats and private purchase) visible. There are about 15 of the circular First Corps badges affixed, with several appearing to have some sort of pin fastening them to the hats. Remember that the “Old First Corps” had been combined with the Fifth Corp in March of 1864, but the men of the First were adamant about retaining their badges. The 149th would serve in both the second (white) and third (blue) divisions of the Fifth Corps which might account for the different color shades shown in the image. Also note the empty bayonet scabbards which are easily explained by the company’s rifle muskets (which appear to be M1861/63 Springfield rifle muskets) that are stacked in the rear of Company D. A few soldiers are sporting “bucktails” on their hats which was first the distinctive badge of the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves and later used by both the 149th and 150th PVI. (It must be stated that the 13th were the “Original Bucktails” and they often referred to the 149th and 150th as “Bogus Bucktails!”) And finally while the majority of the men are wearing the M1851 Dress or Frock coat, there are a couple of four-button blouses to be found in the image.

Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Finally, as I mentioned above, spend some time looking at the faces, particularly the eyes, of the men in the image. These are the combat veterans of our great Civil War, and if you let it, this image almost transcends time giving one a new appreciation for the service and sacrifice of these “Defenders of the Old Flag!”

Look for part two of this post “Company D at Gettysburg” which will be published in the next couple of days.

Sources:

General History of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers and Personal Sketches of their Members – available online from the Penn State Library Digital Collections website.

Gettysburg Magazine; Issue Eight, January 1st, 1993. Published by Morningside House, Dayton, Ohio

 

Auction Skull is not from the Battle of Gettysburg

Phil Spaugy:

The final word on the Benner Farm skull from the NPS!

Originally posted on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park:

Frontal view of carnium by Donald E Hurlbert

A detective story that began last June with an attempted auction of a human skull, reportedly from the battle of Gettysburg, now has a new chapter. A scientific study by the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, conducted at the request of Gettysburg National Military Park, has determined the cranium to be more than 800 years old and from the American Southwest.

The planned auction of the skull, and a number of artifacts that were going to be sold with it, was cancelled due to public outcry and the collection was offered as a donation to Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT). The park asked the Gettysburg Foundation to accept the donation on its behalf.

Douglas W. Owsley and a team of forensic anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History recently completed an examination of the skull and determined, in summary:

  • the remains are not those of…

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Thoughts on Harry Pfanz

Phil Spaugy:

I am not a big fan of re-blogging, but this article noting the passing of Harry Pfanz deserves special notice.

Originally posted on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park:

On the early afternoon of January 31st, the staff at Gettysburg National Military Park received a jolting bit of news:  one of our own, in a large and treasured sense, had passed.  And while the announcement of the death of Dr. Harold “Harry” Pfanz, while not wholly unexpected, certainly saddened many, it also gave us cause to once again recall the man for some whose very name meant “Gettysburg.”Pfanz

Personally, from my perspective, as an interpretive ranger fairly new to the battlefield at the time, Dr. Pfanz was a quiet, unassuming gentleman; though one already looked upon with quiet reverence given the recognition earned by his first work, Gettysburg: The Second Day.  I was privileged to meet the good Doctor in the early ‘90’s, during his research on his second work, Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill & Cemetery Hill.   At that moment, he was on his way…

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“The Last Full Measure of Devotion”

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Small monument marking the place where Captain Jed. Chapman fell, July 2nd, 1863.

In memory of Captain Jedidiah Chapman, Company H, 27th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry who fell at head of his company on July 2nd, 1863.

He was 23 years old.

Captain Chapman would have been celebrated his 24nd birthday on November 21st, 1863, two days after the events of 151 years ago today. Events of which in my opinion there is no better description of than that penned by Bruce Catton in volume two of his Army of Potomac trilogy, “Glory Road:”

“There are many thousands of people at this ceremony and among them were certain wounded veterans who had come back to see all of this and a nod of these wandered away at the crowd as the speaker stand and stroll down around cemetery ridge, pausing when they reached a little clump of trees and there they looked off toward the west and talked quietly about what they had seen and done there. In front of them was the wide gentle valley of the shadow of death, brimming now in the autumn light and the voice went on and the governors looked dignified and the veterans by the trees looked about them and saw again the fury and the smoke and the killing. This was the valley of the dry bones, the valley of the dry bones, waiting for the word which might or might not come in rhythmic prose. The bones had lain there in the sun and rain and now they were carefully state by state in the new sod. They were bones in their youths and some had been heros and others had been scamped and pillaged and run away when they could and they died here. Back of these men were innumerable dusty roads reaching to the main streets of thousands of towns and villages where there had been people crying and cheering and waving a last good-bye. Perhaps there was a meaning to all of this somewhere. Perhaps everything the nation was and meant to be had come to a focus here beyond the graves. Programs the whole of it somehow was greater than the sum of its tragic parts. And perhaps here on this wind-swept hill the thing could be said at last so that the dry bones of the country’s dreams could take on flesh. The orator finished and after the applause had died, the tall man in the black coat got to his feet with two little sheets of paper in his hand and he looked out over the valley and he began to speak.”

 

The Day That “Ossawatomie” Brown Discovered the Meaning of “Send In The Marines!”

Today’s post is dedicated to those men and women who have worn the “Globe and Anchor” in defense of our country over the last 239 years. The following is the first person account of Lieutenant Israel Brown, commander of the detachment of Marines who successfully put an end to John “Ossawatomie” Brown and his followers brief insurrection at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal on October 18th, 1859.

 - image from: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/jbrown/master.html

Israel Greene. In the uniform of a Captain in the C.S. Marine Corps.

The Capture of John Brown

by Israel Greene

At noon of Monday, October 18,1859, Chief Clerk Walsh, of the Navy Department, drove rapidly into the Washington Navy-yard, and, meeting me, asked me how many marines we had stationed at the barracks available for immediate duty. I happened to be the senior officer present and in command that day. I instantly replied to Mr. Walsh that we had ninety men available, and then asked him what was the trouble. He told me that Ossawatomie Brown, of Kansas, with a number of men, had taken the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, and was then besieged there by the Virginia State troops. Mr. Walsh returned speedily to the Navy Department building, and, in the course of an hour, orders came to me from Secretary Tousey to proceed at once to Harper’s Ferry and report to the senior officer; and, if there should be no such officer at the Ferry, to take charge and protect the government property. With a detachment of ninety marines, I started for Harper’s Ferry that afternoon on the 3:30 train, taking with me two howitzers. It was a beautiful, clear autumn day, and the men, exhilarated by the excitement of the occasion, which came after a long, dull season of confinement in the barracks, enjoyed the trip exceedingly.

At Frederick Junction I received a dispatch from Colonel Robert E. Lee, who turned out to be the army officer to whom I was to report. He directed me to proceed to Sandy Hook, a small place about a mile this side of the Ferry, and there await his arrival. At ten o’clock in the evening he came up on a special train from Washington. His first order was to form the marines out of the car, and march from the bridge to Harper’s Ferry. This we did, entering the enclosure of the arsenal grounds through a back gate. At eleven o’clock Colonel Lee ordered the volunteers to march out of the grounds, and gave the control inside to the marines, with instructions to see that none of the insurgents escaped during the night. There had been hard fighting all the preceding day, and Brown and his men kept quiet during the night. At half-past six in the morning Colonel Lee gave me orders to select a detail of twelve men for a storming party, and place them near the engine-house in which Brown and his men had intrenched themselves. I selected twelve of my best men, and a second twelve to be employed as a reserve. The engine-house was a strong stone [actually brick] building, which is still in a good state of preservation at the Ferry, in spite of the three days’ fighting in the building by Brown and his men, and the ravages of the recent war between the States. The building was . . . perhaps thirty feet by thirty-five. In the front were two large double doors, between which was a stone abutment. Within were two old-fashioned, heavy fire-engines, with a hose-cart and reel standing between them, and just back of the abutment between the doors. They were double-battened doors, very strongly made, with heavy wrought-iron nails.

Lieutenant J.E.B. Stewart [Stuart], afterwards famous as a cavalry commander on the side of the South, accompanied Colonel Lee as a volunteer aid. He was ordered to go with a part of the troops to the front of the engine-house and demand the surrender of the insurgent party. Colonel Lee directed him to offer protection to Brown and his men, but to receive no counter-proposition from Brown in regard to the surrender. On the way to the engine-house, Stewart and myself agreed upon a signal for attack in the event that Brown should refuse to surrender. It was simply that Lieutenant Stewart would wave his hat, which was then, I believe, one very similar to the famous chapeau which he wore throughout the war. I had my storming party ranged alongside of the engine-house, and a number of men were provided with sledge-hammers with which to batter in the doors. I stood in front of the abutment between the doors. Stewart hailed Brown and called for his surrender, but Brown at once began to make a proposition that he and his men should be allowed to come out of the engine-house and be given the length of the bridge start, so that they might escape. Suddenly Lieutenant Stewart waved his hat, and I gave the order to my men to batter in the door. Those inside fired rapidly at the point where the blows were given upon the door Very little impression was made with the hammers, as the doors were tied on the inside with ropes and braced by the hand-brakes of the fire- engines, and in a few minutes I gave the order to desist. Just then my eye caught sight of a ladder, Iying a few feet from the engine-house, in the yard, and I ordered my men to catch it up and use it as a battering-ram. The reserve of twelve men I employed as a supporting column for the assaulting party. The men took hold bravely and made a tremendous assault upon the door. The second blow broke it in. This entrance was a ragged hole low down in the right-hand door, the door being splintered and cracked some distance upward. I instantly stepped from my position in front of the stone abutment, and entered the opening made by the ladder. At the time I did not stop to think of it, but upon reflection I should say that Brown had just emptied his carbine at the point broken by the ladder, and so I passed in safely. Getting to my feet, I ran to the right of the engine which stood behind the door, passed quickly to the rear of the house, and came up between the two engines. The first person I saw was Colonel Lewis Washington, who was standing near the hose-cart, at the front of the engine-house. On one knee, a few feet to the left, knelt a man with a carbine in his hand, just pulling the lever to reload.

“Hello, Green,” said Colonel Washington, and he reached out his hand to me. I grasped it with my lef t hand, having my saber uplif ted in my right, and he said, pointing to the kneeling figure, “This is Ossawatomie.”

As he said this, Brown turned his head to see who it was to whom Colonel Washington was speaking. Quicker than thought I brought my sbaer down with all my strength upon his head. He was moving as the blow fell, and I suppose I did not strike him where I intended, for he received a deep saber cut in the back of the neck. He fell senseless on his side, then rolled over on his back. He had in his hand a short Sharpe’s- cavalry carbine. I think he had just fired as I reached Colonel Washington, for the marine who followed me into the aperture made by the ladder received a bullet in the abdomen, from which he died in a few minutes. The shot might have been fired by some one else in the insurgent party, but I think it was from Brown. Instinctively as Brown fell I gave him a saber thrust in the left breast. The sword I carried was a light uniform weapon, and, either not having a point or striking something hard in Brown’s accouterments, did not penetrate. The blade bent double.

By that time three or four of my men were inside. They came rushing in like tigers, as a storming assault is not a play-day sport. They bayoneted one man skulking under the engine, and pinned another fellow up against the rear wall, both being instantly killed. I ordered the men to spill no more blood. The other insurgents were at once taken under arrest, and the contest ended. The whole fight had not lasted over three minutes. My only thought was to capture, or, if necessary, kill, the insurgents, and take possession of the engine-house. I saw very little of the situation within until the fight was over. Then I observed that the engine-house was thick with smoke, and it was with difficulty that a person could be seen across the room. In the rear, behind the left-hand engine, were huddled the prisoners whom Brown had captured and held as hostages for the safety of himself and his men. Colonel Washington was one of these. All during the fight, as I understood afterward, he kept to the front of the engine-house. When I met him he was as cool as he would have been on his own veranda entertaining guests. He was naturally a very brave man. I remember that he would not come out of the engine-house, begrimed and soiled as he was from his long imprisonment, until he had put a pair of kid gloves upon his hands. The other prisoners were the sorriest lot of people I ever saw. They had been without food for over sixty hours, in constant dread of being shot, and were huddled up in the corner where lay the body of Brown’s son and one or two others of the insurgents who had been killed. Some of them have endeavored to give an account of the storming of the engine-house and the capture of Brown, but none of the reports have been free from a great many misstatements, and I suppose that Colonel Washington and myself were the only persons really able to say what was done. Other stories have been printed by people on the outside, describing the fight within. What they say must be taken with a great deal of allowance, for they could not have been witnesses of what occurred within the engine-house. One recent account describes me as jumping over the right-hand engine more like a wild beast than a soldier. Of course nothing of the kind happened. The report made by Colonel Lee at the time, which is now on file in the War department, gives a more succinct and detailed account than any I have seen.

I can see Colonel Lee now, as he stood on a slight elevation about forty feet from the engine-house, during the assault. He was in civilian dress, and looked then very little as he did during the war. He wore no beard, except a dark mustache, and his hair was slightly gray. He had no arms upon his person, and treated the affair as one of no very great consequence, which would be speedily settled by the marines. A part of the scene, giving color and life to the picture, was the bright blue uniform of the marines. They wore blue trousers then, as they do now, and a dark- blue frock-coat. Their belts were white, and they wore French fatigue caps. I do not remember the names of the twelve men in the storming party, nor can I tell what became of them in later life. We had no use for the howitzers, and, in fact, they were not taken from the car.

Immediately after the fight, Brown was carried out of the engine-house, and recovered consciousness while lying on the ground in front. A detail of men carried him up to the paymaster’s office, where he was attended to and his wants supplied. On the following day, Wednesday, with an escort, I removed him to Charleston [Charles Town], and turned him over to the civil authorities. No handcuffs were placed upon him, and he supported himself with a self-reliance and independence which were characteristic of the man He had recovered a great deal from the effects of the blow from my saber, the injury of which was principally the shock, as he only received a flesh wound. I had little conversation with him, and spent very little time with him.

I have often been asked to describe Brown’s appearance at the instant he lifted his head to see who was talking with Colonel Washington. It would be impossible for me to do so. The whole scene passed so rapidly that it hardly made a distinct impression upon my mind. I can only recall the fleeting picture of an old man kneeling with a carbine in his hand, with a long gray beard falling away from his face, looking quickly and keenly toward the danger that he was aware had come upon him. He was not a large man, being perhaps five feet ten inches when he straightened up in full. His dress, even, I do not remember distinctly. I should say that he had his trousers tucked in his boots, and that he wore clothes of gray-probably no more than trousers and shirt. I think he had no hat upon his head.

None of the prisoners were hurt. They were badly frightened and somewhat starved. I received no wounds except a slight scratch on one hand as I was getting through the hole in the door. Colonel Lee and the people on the outside thought I was wounded. Brown had, at the time, only five or six fighting men, and I think he himself was the only one who showed fight af ter I entered the engine-house. There were no provisions in the building, and it would have been only a question of time when Brown would have had to surrender. Colonel Washington was the only person inside the house that I knew.

I have been asked what became of Brown’s carbine. That I do not know. My sword was left in Washington, among people with whom I lived, and I lost trace of it. A few years ago, after having come out of the war and gone west to Dakota, where I now live, I received a letter from a gentleman in Washington, saying that he knew where the sword was, and that it was still bent double, as it was left by the thrust upon Brown’s breast. He said that it was now a relic of great historic value, and asked me to assent to the selling of it upon the condition that I should receive a portion of the price of the weapon. To me the matter had very little interest, and I replied indifferently. Since then I have heard nothing of the matter. I presume the saber could be found somewhere in Washington.

It’s interesting to note that while will Colonel Robert E. Lee was the overall commander of the forces at Harpers Ferry, and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart was present as Lee’s aide, it was Lt. Greene, in the best tradition of the Marine Corps  who, as indicated in his report would lead his “Leathernecks” into the firehouse to personally engage and subdue Brown and his followers. The Marines had two men killed in action during the brief engagement. It should also be noted in a mere 18 months, all three of the officers involved had resigned their commissions, going south to become officers in the armed forces of the new Confederate States. While the story of Lee and Stuarts career in the American Civil War is well known, Lieutenant Greene’s is more obscure. Greene, (whose wife was a native of Virginia) was born in New York, and had lived in Wisconsin before joining the U.S Marine Corps, turned down offers to command infantry units from both Virginia and Wisconsin, instead accepting a captains commission in the C.S. Marine Corps. He served ably in staff positions throughout the conflict, surrendering at Farmville Virginia in April of 1865. After the war he moved to Mitchell, South Dakota where he died in 1909 and is buried.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Greene

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5900917

http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/jbrown/master.html

 

A Story of a “Black Hat” of the 19th Indiana and a “Redleg” of Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery

William L. Balch, Company G, 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry

William L. Balch, Company G, 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Courtesy of Jim Oswalt

I recently received a scanned copy of the image above from my old friend and “pard,” Jim Oswalt. As noted, it is the image of Private William L. Balch of Company G, 19th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, which was one of the member regiments of the famed “Iron Brigade of the West.” A quick review of Balch’s service records from the American Civil War Database showed the following:

Residence Waterloo City IN;
Enlisted on 7/29/1861 as a Private.

On 7/29/1861 he mustered into “G” Co. IN 19th Infantry
He was transferred out on 10/18/1864 at Petersburg, VA

On 10/18/1864 he transferred into “C” Co. IN 20th Infantry
He was discharged for wounds on 12/2/1864

He was listed as:
* Wounded 6/25/1864 Petersburg, VA (Severe wound in left arm, amputated)

But, as is often the case, there is much more to the story of Private Balch’s service that the eight lines of info listed above. Born in Ohio, William, moved to Fremont, Indiana before the beginning of the war. Joining the Elkhart County Guards,which would become Company “G” of the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. A good soldier, William was present from the battle of Groveton in August of 1862, on through the Wilderness campaign of 1864, apparently without suffering any wounds.

However, his luck was about to run out.

On May 25, 1864, while on duty on the skirmish line near the North Anna River, William was hit by a spent ball that penetrated his blanket roll, but left his chest severely bruised. Not hurt badly enough to need medical attention, William remained on duty. On June 25th while digging trenches near Petersburg, Virginia, William was shot by a confederate sharpshooter in the upper left arm. He was taken to the 19th Indiana’s field hospital where the regimental surgeon, Doctor Jacob Eversole, amputated his badly shattered arm close to the left shoulder. For William, the long war was over.

Returning to his Indiana home, the now one-armed carpenter filed and received a pension for the loss of his limb, and married Susan Davis in December of 1864. With his prewar occupation as a carpenter over due to the loss of his left arm, William became a painter and served as Fremont’s Justice of the Peace. He would enjoy a long life with Susan and became the father of four children. This proud old vet of  the 19th Indiana, Iron Brigade, and Battery B passed away at the age of 71 years and rests today in the Old Fremont Cemetery in Steuben County, Indiana.

William Balch and his family. Image taken in the late 1890's. Courtesy of Ancestory.com

William Balch and his family. Image taken in the late 1890’s. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

Analyzing the William Balch wartime image – with none of the uniforms items that would normally show Balch as soldier of an Iron Brigade regiment (M1858 Hardee hat and the M1851 Frock coat for instance) present in the image, might make one question if the subject is really a member of the famed Iron Brigade. Over the years, I have viewed identified images of Iron Brigade soldiers in what seems to be commercially made shell jackets. These seem to be worn when the subject of the image was either on convalescent leave or when the soldier was on leave after his initial three-year term of service had expired and he had mustered in as a”Veteran Volunteer.” (See the blog of the Gettysburg NMP “From the Fields of Gettysburg” for the image and story of another member of the 19th Indiana, Burlington Cunningham.) Neither of these explanations seem to work for Balch, as he was wounded before he had the opportunity to “veteranize” and it is clear that the image was taken before he lost his left arm in June of 1864.

So, why was William wearing the shell jacket in his image? My pard Jim thought perhaps the image was taken in 1861 while the 19th was still uniformed in the grey doeskin cassimere uniforms issued by the State of Indiana, a view I don’t share as the jacket appears to be quite a bit darker than grey of the state issue uniforms. I believe I found the answer on page 19 of Augustus Buell’s remembrance of service* in Battery B, “The Cannoneer”, which lists William Balch of the 19th Indiana as serving on detached service with Battery B sometime between October 1861 and June of 1862. Keep in mind that this was long before the spring of 1862 when the 19th was issued issued their distinctive U.S regular Army uniforms consisting of the M1858 Dress or Hardee Hat, the M1851 Frock Coat, and the white canvas gaiters. During this same time period the 19th Indiana was observed wearing a hodgepodge of both Indiana-issue grey and Federal-issue blue uniforms while being reviewed by General Irwin McDowell! Given the above, if you enlarge the image, it almost appears that you can make out the presence of the tape trim along the jacket opening and on the left collar, the same sort of red trim that was part of the M1854 Light Artillery shell jacket, the type of jacket that would have been worn by the regulars of “Old” Battery B. Given that he is wearing a shell jacket of some sort, it is my opinion that William sat for his image while on detached duty with Battery B, sometime in the late fall of 1861 or early spring of 1862.

* It is well-known among those who study the American Civil War that while “The Cannoneer” is rich in factual detail of the service of Battery B, Augustus Buell never served with the battery at any time during the war.

Sources:

Gaff, Alan D. On Many a Bloody Field. Four Years in the Iron Brigade. Bloomington, Indiana State Press. 1996

Herdegen, Lance J. The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory. El Dorado Hills, Savas Beatie. 2012.

Herdegen, Lance J. and William J.K. Beaudot. In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg. Dayton, Morningside. 1990

On Line Sources:

http://www.19thindianaironbrigade.com/

http://npsgnmp.wordpress.com/

http://www.civilwardata.com/

Augustus Buell. The Cannoneer, Recollections of Service in the Army of the Potomachttps://archive.org/stream/cannoneerthe00buelrich#page/n0/mode/2up

 

 

 

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