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
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