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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

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