** Please check out my tribute page to two of my Civil War relatives who never made it home **

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 27, 2013

On a recent trip to Gettysburg I took this random sweeping photo of the area of Culp’s Hill known as the “saddle” and was intrigued by the thought of identifying all of the monuments in the photo. (Click for larger view). The divisional marker at far left represents the Second Division of the Twelfth Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. John W. Geary. The monument with the statue in center left is the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry (Birney’s Zouaves). The 67th New York Infantry is barely visible to the right (between two trees).

The “pink” monument in center belongs to the 7th Ohio Infantry. The tall monument just past that is the 137th New York Infantry. The monument with “ridged” sides is that of the 29th Ohio Infantry. Directly to the right is the 122nd New York Infantry. The last monument visible to the right belongs to the 149th New York Infantry. The boulder plaque in the foreground represents the 84th New York Infantry.  


Co. E, 111th New York Infantry

Died July 03, 1863 at age 34

Pvt. Brown’s prewar residence was probably Arcadia, New York, and he enlisted at this location on June 8, 1862. He was felled by a mortal wound to the lungs and his exact date of death is debated. Pvt. Brown is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery, though anyone who might look for his grave won’t find it in the New York section. He was mistakenly identified as a soldier from New Hampshire and was buried accordingly.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25, 2013

The George Rose family would never again encounter horrors such as they witnessed during the battle of Gettysburg.  What started out as a beautiful farmstead on idyllic fields bordering a small, unassuming town ended up as a collection of blood-stained and hallowed spaces that somehow seemed to hold in the agonies of the dead. The property was used as a Confederate field hospital and was later happened upon by Union soldiers as well. Many of the Southern dead were initially buried at the Rose farm before being taken south for reburial. It must be wondered if all these hapless men were indeed removed. Many were from Georgia and South Carolina and participated in the attack against Stony Hill, which lies just beyond the infamous “Bloody Wheatfield.” The stone Rose barn, which must have been lovely, burned about seventy years after the battle. Unfortunately, many if not all of its harrowing stories have been lost forever.


Co. K, 3rd Virginia Infantry

Born June 1830 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 33

Lt. Col. Callcote already had an impressive military career beneath his belt by age 21, having attended the Virginia Military Institute, yet his prewar labor involved civilian service. His residence was probably Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He farmed and worked as a teacher until he readied himself to go to war. Lt. Col. Callcote was probably killed during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge on July 3rd and was originally interred near Emmitsburg Road. It’s likely that he was removed to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, though there is no marker for him there. He may be one of the “unknowns.” He married first, Harriet Hancock, and there were two children. The elder was named Mattie. With his second wife, Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Cofer, Lt. Col. Callcote had no children.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, February 22, 2013

February 22, 2013

Monument to the 151st Pennsylvania at Herbst Woods
There was no “favoritism” at the battle of Gettysburg. Seasoned units full of hardened veterans found themselves side-by-side with raw recruits who’d had only a small taste of battle, as in the case of the Iron Brigade and the 151st Pennsylvania. Both occupied positions in or near Herbst Woods; both fought honorably and held their ground until the enemy’s superior forces made it impracticable to do so. Their overall stories were very different.

The Iron Brigade, consisting of the 19th Indiana, the 24th Michigan, and the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin (the 7th had been deployed to the Railroad Cut) were no strangers to warfare. They’d already gained national acclaim for their wartime exploits. The men of the 151st Pennsylvania, though, mustered in during the previous autumn, weren’t so seasoned. Army veterans looked upon them with derision, believing they’d only enlisted for the money. It was a nine-month regiment . . . no one thought they were good for much.

But then came Gettysburg, and right there on the flank of the famous Iron Brigade was the 151st Pennsylvania. When the “Hoosiers” and “Badgers” and “Wolverines” started to give way, the 151st took the heat, proving themselves every bit as valorous as their more experienced brethren. That time came in the late afternoon of July 1, 1863. The Iron Brigade, most notably the 24th Michigan, had held their ground against the 26th North Carolina for several hours. It must have been like target practice; send one row of men forward, then another, then another, each successive row taking the place of the soldiers who now lay dead or wounded.

The Iron Brigade struggled; but that did nothing to diminish their valor. When they were pushed off the small hill at Herbst Woods, the 151st Pennsylvania, so often mocked and jeered, put up a heroic scrap that would silence any opposition. At the end of the day, seasoned western men of the Iron Brigade and newly-minted Pennsylvania warriors lay side by side on the field of death, proving once and for all that it’s not the unit to which you belong; it’s the courage with which you fight.


Co. A, 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry

Born March 25, 1830 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 33

Pvt. Buss enlisted in July 1862. His death just a year later left a large family to mourn him, including his wife Anna; James, aged 15; Emma, aged 13; Richard, aged 12; Sarah, aged 9; William, aged 7; Allen, aged 6; Louisa, aged 3; and Andrew, aged 1.. He was later buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 20, 2013

***Note: I just wanted to let everyone know since this is a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday blog, I'll be visiting Gettysburg on Thursday and Friday and Friday's post may be a bit late.***

Anyone traveling Hancock Avenue toward the Pennsylvania State Memorial along Cemetery Ridge will notice this large structure. It’s not a state memorial and doesn’t appear to be a regimental monument, but it’s obviously an important tribute. This is the New York Officers Monument. Unveiled in 1925, its age is showing, but that somehow gives it a more somber appeal. From the road it’s difficult to see that each granite block is filled with names. In between the spreading ‘wings’ of the semicircular monument is a column topped with an eagle and decorated with New York’s official seal.


Co. H, 44th Virginia Infantry

Born March 13, 1840 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 23

Lt. Bailey’s prewar residence was likely Amelia Court House, Virginia. He enlisted in Richmond on June 18, 1861. He was later reburied at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

The Jacob Hummelbaugh farm is one of Gettysburg’s many battlefield gems that is a bit off the beaten path. Located along Pleasonton Avenue near the Pennsylvania State Memorial, this little white farmhouse with its charming picket fence dates from the 1840s and was fairly new when blue and gray clashed on these fields. This house was the last thing Gen. William Barksdale ever saw; he died on these grounds. The Hummelbaugh farm was deemed useful by both armies and functioned as both a headquarters and a hospital.  



Co. B, 20th Indiana Infantry

Died July 02, 1863

Pvt. Richmond’s prewar residence was likely Lake County, Indiana. He must have had a strong sense of duty, as, when his first term of service ended, he immediately reentered the army in the 20th Indiana Infantry. He was killed in the vicinity of the George Rose farm and was later buried there, receiving the same sad resting place as many unfortunate soldiers who died in the second day’s fighting. Pvt. Richmond’s current burial place can be found at Gettysburg National Cemetery. There is also a memorial stone for him in Lowell, Indiana.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15, 2013

It’s difficult to believe that there are places on the Gettysburg battlefield that might be considered more violent than others, considering that the battle raged with such great ferocity on those brutal July days. Yet some stories stand out --- some evoke even greater pathos. One is the story of Iverson’s Pits. By July 1863 it was well known that Gen. Alfred Iverson had a “failure to communicate” with his subordinates. There were many instances where he just didn’t seem to get along with the men under his command, and never was this clearer than at Gettysburg.

On July 1st something went horribly wrong. Gen. Iverson ordered the advance of his North Carolina brigade, believing that neighboring brigades would offer support. But the orders weren’t well-thought-out, and the North Carolinians ended up wandering in the middle of a field without much where the enemy lay. They were basically sitting ducks. All of a sudden, boys from Pennsylvania and New York, who had been crouched behind the stone wall that still runs along Oak Ridge, stood up and began to fire. It was chaos. Many of Iverson’s men were killed on sight; the rest were taken prisoner.

A great number of these unfortunate men were buried where they fell --- survivors and witnesses remembered that the North Carolinians fell in rows as if still in a battle line --- on what was then the John Forney farm. But the exact location has been lost. It is therefore still possible, and probable, that a great many Confederate soldiers are still buried at Iverson’s Pits.


Co. H, 49th Georgia Infantry

Born 1836 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 27

Cpt. Jones started out in the 1st Georgia but was later a part of the 49th Georgia. He had already seen hardship before he ever stepped foot in Gettysburg. During 1861 he was captured in West Virginia but was soon released; he would later see major action. 1863 would be his last year of service. It was likely that he lost his life during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge and was first interred on the battlefield. Though he is remembered at Old City Cemetery in Sandersville, Georgia, it has never been proven that he was removed from the Gettysburg battlefield, thus it is possible that Cpt. Jones’ remains may still lie where he fell. One family tree says he was a lawyer before the war.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13, 2013

Anyone who has visited Gettysburg in the fog knows that there’s an eerie quality not easily explained. Whether or not you’ve seen distant figures of soldiers in the mist, those foggy mornings make for some great photos, such as this capture of the 7th New Jersey Infantry monument above. When I came upon that photo in my archives I decided to study the regiment’s history and see what exactly they accomplished at Gettysburg.

The 7th New Jersey became active in September 1861 and participated in major battles such as Second Bull Run / Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville before ever stepping foot in Gettysburg. In July 1863 the unit was part of Burling’s Brigade in Sickles’ Third Corps. The 7th marched into the Peach Orchard as did many men of the Third Corps on July 2, 1863, where they held tight in the face of opposition for over an hour. The only thing separating the men of the 7th New Jersey from their Confederate counterparts was a wooden farm fence.

The attack against the Peach Orchard was too much for the nearby New Jersey artillery, which retreated in full view of the 7th New Jersey Infantry. Instead of following suit, the 7th and their gallant Colonel Louis Francine led a short and ill-fated charge an in attempt to keep the Confederates at bay. I’d have to say this is one of my favorite Gettysburg monuments not only due to the sleek and somber design but also to the way I remember first seeing it: shrouded in fog one mysterious battlefield morning.


Co. A, 1st Massachusetts Infantry

Born 1837 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 26

Cpl. Henry Evans’ wartime residence was Boston, Massachusetts, where he labored as a silversmith. He was promoted to Corporal in November 1862 but, sadly, could only enjoy that rank for eight months. He was buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013

It is nearly impossible to stand at Devil’s Den and not be in awe. The thought that these prehistoric diabase boulders pushed up through the ground with seemingly no rhyme or reason is an intriguing one, and the added Civil War history only makes the area more fascinating.

There are many Devil’s Den rocks that have been named throughout time. Though most are located right at the “main” den, one of the most famous is across Sickles Avenue at the edge of the Triangular Field. It is quite aptly named the “Elephant Rock.” It is unlikely that many soldiers took note of the odd shape in the midst of combat but is probable that some did and perhaps remembered this particular boulder years later.

The Elephant Rock is difficult to reach and is best enjoyed from a distance. It can easily be seen from Sickles Avenue where the road curves up around Devil’s Den to the Triangular Field and Houck’s Ridge.



Co. D, 1st Tennessee Infantry

Born 1840 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 23

When Pvt. Mitchell went off to war, he left behind the sweetheart he had married in 1860, Letha Ann. Family trees list different parents but there is a Jacob Mitchell aged 20 in the 1860 census, living in Lincoln, Tennessee (this is where “our” Jacob was married in 1860). He is listed as having been born in South Carolina. Records indicate that he received his wound on the first day of fighting but succumbed on the third. The 1st Tennessee Infantry was part of Archer’s Brigade and fought at Willoughby Run, so this is likely where Pvt. Mitchell was wounded. He was later buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 08, 2013

One of the best-known sections of the Gettysburg battlefield is the “Bloody Wheatfield” owned by George Rose, part of Gen. Longstreet’s July 2nd offensive. When I first began reading about the battle, I was surprised to learn that this section of field was shuffled back and forth between blue and gray six different times. This attack went on from 4:30 to 8:00 PM. It would have been getting dark during the last vestiges of the fight, which must have lent an eerie quality to an already stressful struggle.

The photo above shows three of the monuments located in the Wheatfield. The monument farthest left is the 61st New York Infantry, which suffered 62 casualties at Gettysburg. The center monument is the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry, who ironically also had 62 casualties. The monument to the right, emblazoned with an eagle, is the 27th Connecticut Infantry. Their casualty count was 38. The story of the 27th, part of Brooke’s Brigade, is an interesting one. In the afternoon of July 2nd they came from Rose Woods, fought their way across the Wheatfield while getting in a few good shots, and entrenched in the woods on the other side of the field. When they declared the position untenable and were plagued by insufficient firepower, they found themselves once again marching through the Wheatfield, trading potshots with Confederate units as they sought safety.



Co. H, 24th Michigan Infantry

Born 1842 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 21

Pvt. Harrison was from Detroit and enlisted at twenty years of age on November 8, 1862. It is probable that he fell in McPherson / Herbst Woods along McPherson’s Ridge, where the Iron Brigade faced first Archer’s Tennesseans and then Pettigrew’s tenacious 26th North Carolina on the afternoon of July 1st. The 24th Michigan suffered unbelievable casualties on this day. Pvt. Harrison was buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery, where his stone lists his company as “K” instead of “H.” Sites seem to go back and forth in listing “K” or “H.” It’s possible that he had belonged to Co. H at one time and was later transferred.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 06, 2013

Lately I’ve been studying the McPherson barn, and since I wrote about the McPherson property on Monday, I’m making today’s post about that particular farm as well. The McPherson barn is without doubt one of the iconic structures of the Gettysburg battlefield. Many battle enthusiasts likely know that Edward McPherson was not living at the farm during the battle and that farmer John Slentz and his family occupied the property. They were forced to evacuate when the blue and the gray collided.

The McPherson barn --- the house and other outbuildings have long since faded into the pages of history --- was constructed in the early 1800s. After seeing old photographs circa 1890s that showed an all-stone barn, I wondered why the modern reincarnation features half-stone and half-siding construction, but an older photograph taken in July 1863 shows a barn that looked very much as it does today. (I highly recommend the site “Gettysburg Daily” for this and other historic photographs).

The barn was a landmark for many soldiers. Though this is nowhere near a comprehensive list, some of the units that would have been situated around the barn were Hall’s Maine Battery (artillery pieces and a monument are now located across the Chambersburg Pike from the barn); the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry (the “Bucktails”), and the 14th Brooklyn Infantry. The Iron Brigade may or may not have been able to see the barn from their position in Herbst Woods, but it's probable that they did. Soldiers from Wisconsin, New York, and Mississippi could probably see it from their fight at the Railroad Cut. Considering that the battlefield had far fewer trees than it does today and no monuments or modern structures to obstruct one’s view, most of the soldiers who fought at McPherson’s Ridge probably saw the barn on that first day. Many got a closer view they would rather have avoided: The McPherson barn was also used as a field hospital.



Co. C, 2nd Maryland Infantry (Confederate)

Born November 24, 1841 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 21

Though Pvt. Duvall is listed in the 1850 Maryland census with parents Daniel and Isabella, he’s not listed with them in the 1860 census. There is, however, a Samuel Duvall in the same county (Anne Arundel) living with 46-year-old R. J. Duvall and 32-year-old Rachael Duvall. As far as I can see, this is the only likelihood in the 1860 census. Pvt. Duvall was buried at the Duvall Family Cemetery in Crownsville, Maryland.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 04, 2013

Gettysburg is one of these amazing places where you can visit the battlefield for decades and still see something you’ve never seen before. Usually these sights are right underneath your nose, making you wonder how you could have possibly missed them. The photo for today was taken across from the Edward McPherson farm. I assume this land belonged to McPherson and was farmed by John Slentz during the battle, though I’m not sure what it was used for at the time of the battle.

The little “blip” in the center (to the left of the center tree) is the equestrian statue to Gen. John F. Reynolds, and the McPherson barn can be seen at left just behind the evergreen. The wooden fence bordering Chambersburg Pike / Route 30 is visible as well. Far in the distance lies South Mountain. This was a true photographic opportunity, though now I’m curious what purpose this land would have had in 1863. I know that Hall’s Maine battery was set up just beyond the statue of Gen. Reynolds, so obviously there was some artillery action in this area.



Co. F, 12th New Jersey Infantry

Born March 18, 1843 --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 20

Pvt. Adams’ pre-war residence was Beverly, New Jersey. He was killed by artillery at the Bliss farm, which was located on the field of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge but is no longer standing. He was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, February 1, 2013

February 01, 2013

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words definitely applies to the view from Little Round Top. At the far bottom is the “Valley of Death” at the base of Little Round Top; the marshland in the center left is that of the “Slaughter Pen” and Plum Run valley, and the road running horizontally through the bottom center of the photo is Warren Avenue. The stone structure is the old restroom that has now been removed.

Triangular Field is visible in the top center; this is where the Texans of Hood’s Division, as well as other determined Southern warriors, came across to the rocks. Devil’s Den sprawls in center like a mysterious rock palace from ages past.  One of the large rocks across the road from Devil’s Den (above and to the right of the restroom) is the famous “Elephant Rock.” The blacktop road is Sickles Avenue. I believe the white barn in the top left belongs to the Michael Bushman farm, though the John Slyder farm is located in this area as well.

The ridge in the far distance is Warfield Ridge . . . if you squint, you’ll notice a tiny white dot at the top far right of the photo. This is the Arkansas State Memorial (Arkansans were part of Hood’s Division also). Though they are not visible in this view, the Texas State Memorial and the monument to Hood’s Texas Brigade are located between the two stretches of woodland in the top center of the photo.


Co. F, 17th Mississippi Infantry

Born April 01, 1843 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 20

Pvt. Conley was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. There is a “William B. Conley” in the 1860 census who is listed as being born in South Carolina but currently living in Marshall, Mississippi. He is the son of Andrew and Ellen Conley. This is probably the correct William.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray