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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31, 2013

As I mentioned my post of February 13, there’s something eerie about touring the battlefield in the fog. Whether that eeriness concerns something of a paranormal nature or simply embodies the heaviness of bloodshed, valor, courage, and grief that took place here so long ago, foggy mornings on the field are sure to bring some interesting experiences --- and some great photos. This particular photo shows the Pennsylvania State Memorial (see my post of June 14) on a misty March morning several years ago.

The artillery battery closest to the camera is Battery H, 3RD Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. A pair of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles marks the position. Next are the 12-pounder Napoleon guns representing the 15TH New York Light Artillery. The large stone monument seen just above this battery is the 148TH Pennsylvania Infantry. The next battery, third from the foreground, is Battery E of the 5TH Massachusetts Light Artillery, also with 3-inch Rifles. And the furthest battery in this view is Battery B of the 1ST Pennsylvania Light Artillery. The 90TH Pennsylvania Infantry marker flanks it. The 1ST Minnesota Infantry monument rises just between the last two batteries, keeping a solemn watch over the fields of battle. Finally, the Vermont State Memorial, topped by Gen. George Stannard, is visible at far left.


Co. K, 111TH New York Infantry

Died August 31,, 1863 at age 18

Pvt. Myers incurred his mortal wound on the 03rd of July and languished in a field hospital until August 31st. According to Camp Letterman records, his leg was amputated by Ohio surgeon H. M. McAbee “at lower third of shot-fractured left femur.” Pvt. Myers was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013

On my last trip to Gettysburg I tried to focus on snapping shots of random cannon, and I really like this view of Smith’s 4TH New York Independent Battery in the Plum Run Valley. These 10-pounder Parrotts represent the lower half of Cpt. Smith’s Battery . . . the rest of the artillery pieces were placed upon Houck’s Ridge just above Devil’s Den. In this photo there are a few things I particularly like: the random boulders strewn across the ground; the sprinkle of yellow in the field; and the American flag honoring the men who fought and died here. The stone wall just visible at the top right runs along Ayres Avenue, which is out of view. The granite markers near the wall explain the movements of the U.S. Regular Army units who helped out at Houck’s Ridge.

The website “Historical Marker Database” explains that this battery was trained on men under Gen. Benning and Gen. Law and had much success mowing down Confederates in the Valley of Death and Slaughter Pen at the base of Little Round Top. “Draw the Sword”, in quoting from the marker itself, explains that shortly after three of Cpt. Smith’s cannon were taken by Texans above Devil’s Den, these two cannon in the Plum Run Valley were fired non-stop to prevent the same fate. On the next day the artillerymen were allowed to rest, and Smith’s New York Battery saw no further service at Gettysburg. They’d already proved their mettle.


Co. D, 48TH Georgia Infantry

Born 1829 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 34

1ST Lt. Allen’s death at Gettysburg was bad enough in the sense that yet another soldier had been cut down at a young age, but things were also bleak for his newly-orphaned children who had lost their mother in 1858. Remaining at home were Lt. Allen’s sons, 14-year-old Francis, 13-year-old William, and 7-year-old Robert, and daughters, 11-year-old Margaret, 9-year-old Pauline, and 5-year-old Anna. (Some sources have daughters as Anna Pauline and Anna E.). 1ST Lt. Allen’s body was never found and he is likely still buried at Gettysburg.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26, 2013

I first discovered the Coster Avenue mural on a rainy afternoon in October 2002. After a conundrum over where might be the best place to park, I took a brief yet fascinating walk around the grounds. The mural brings to life the struggle between boys in blue and gray at what was then Kuhns’ Brickyard. Unfortunately these photos were taken too far away to show a lot of detail. For instance, among the boys in blue, Sgt. Amos Humiston’s face can be seen. Most Gettysburg enthusiasts know the story of Amos Humiston and the iconic photograph of his three children that was found on his body. A closer inspection of the mural reveals his face very clearly.

There are two monuments near the Coster Avenue mural. One is shown here in the second photo and represents the 154TH New York Infantry, the unit to which Sgt. Humiston belonged. The other, further to the right, is the 27TH Pennsylvania Infantry. When I visited I was lucky enough to see a group of people dressed in Civil War garb, but I don’t think that’s the norm for this particular part of town . . . though it was nice to see that others cared about the mural and its historical significance as much as I did. Do keep in mind that parking can be a hassle and finding the mural might take a bit of patience, but it’s an interesting part of Gettysburg history that shouldn’t be missed. The mural is located at Coster Avenue near Stratton Street.


Co. E, 1ST Minnesota Infantry

Died August 07, 1863 at age 24

The 1ST Minnesota Infantry’s charge at Gettysburg is the stuff of legend, but unfortunately was all too real. Only a few moments were needed to secure reinforcements, and many of these men paid with their lives, facing superior numbers while being fully knowledgeable that their deaths were required to save the Union line. One of these men was 24-year-old John McKenzie. He was fortunate enough to survive the initial charge on July 02ND and the combat of July 03RD, but he later died at Camp Letterman due to a “shot fracture and amputation of left thigh.” He is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013

I took this random shot while searching for the wooded area where the 114TH Pennsylvania Infantry (Collis’ Zouaves) bivouacked on the night of July 02ND before going into battle the next day. I’m not sure if this is the exact spot, but it’s interesting in and of itself, especially considering its location along Cemetery Ridge.

The patch of grass to the right belongs to the George Weikert farm (see my post of December 17, 2012). The road at right turns into Sedgwick Avenue, which ends up near the base of Little Round Top. The road at left is known as Hancock Avenue and is the primary tour route to the Pennsylvania State Memorial, the High Water Mark, and the Angle.

In the center of the photo, on top of a hill, is the pretty but often-overlooked New Jersey Brigade monument. The stone wall that runs at the base of the hill is intriguing and picturesque. I don’t know if it’s original, but given the Park Service’s dedication to returning the battlefield to its 1863 dimensions, it’s logical that a wall stood here at that time.

I’ve learned in the past few years that there’s a lot more to Gettysburg than the typical sites and main tour stops. Every place --- every wall, every hill, every monument --- has its own story, and each tale is definitely worth checking out.


Co. B, 7TH Tennessee Infantry

Born 1842 --- Died August 15, 1863, 1863 at age 21

Pvt. Rison likely incurred his wound at McPherson’s Woods, where Gen. Archer’s Tennesseans battled against the famed Iron Brigade. He lived for 45 days as a prisoner in Gettysburg and died at Camp Letterman. The records indicate he passed away “after fracture of left femur” and that he “died of pyaemia.” Pvt. Rison was later reburied at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013

I like this photo for a number of reasons. First, it’s a different angle, a partial view of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge as seen from the Union artillery at the Copse of Trees. Second, it’s always fun for me to identify the monuments in the photo and accordingly put together who did what where. The cannonballs in the foreground are part of the High Water Mark memorial; the cannon to which they belong is located just to the left of the shot. Some of the trees of the High Water Mark, as well as an old wrought-iron fence, can be seen at left.

The first monument is the iconic 72ND Pennsylvania Infantry, which has been featured in many a photograph over the past 122 years. This monument was slightly damaged in a freak storm that swept through the area in June 2013. To the right is the blocky monument representing the 71ST Pennsylvania Infantry. The trees of the Angle, directly alongside the 71ST, were also damaged in the above-mentioned storm. I’m not sure if they are “witness trees” or not. Far to the right of the 71ST is a small, scroll-shaped marker. This memorial marks the spot where Confederate General Lewis Armistead was wounded while charging toward the Union-held stone wall.

The artillery battery at far right is Alonzo Cushing’s Battery A, 4
TH U.S. Artillery. The red granite marker detailing the artillerists’ struggle on the third day’s battle can be seen between the cannons. The memorial on the other side of the stone wall, at the extreme right of the photo, is probably the “secondary” monument honoring the men of the 72ND Pennsylvania. Notice there are also many position markers, especially at the left of the photo. The town of Gettysburg (the “modern”, touristy section, not the old historic center) can be partially seen at the center and right of this photo.


Co. D, 13TH Pennsylvania Reserves (42ND Infantry)

Born 1839 --- Died July 30, 1863 at age 24

Pvt. Collins was just a hearty Pennsylvania laborer like so many others, nothing out of the ordinary, yet infinitely special. His story particularly touched me due to a site I discovered with many of his war-era letters. Well aware that his parents in Kinzua, Pennsylvania struggled with finances and were dependant on his army pay, he dutifully sent what he could, worrying more over his family than himself. He fought like a lion during the battle of Gettysburg and was wounded twice on the 03RD, dying twenty-seven days later at the Worley farm. Pvt. Collins was later buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery. His name is misspelled “Cordillo” on his gravestone. 

I highly recommend reading soldiers’ letters. For me, this has automatically transformed the Gettysburg dead from nameless, faceless casualties to real individual men and boys who gave their lives for their causes and who had lives and dreams that would have otherwise remained hidden from future generations.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013

For years the monument honoring the 148TH Pennsylvania Infantry has been one of my very favorites. Of particular interest to me is the stack of “war accoutrements” topping the monument, as well as the small decorative columns on each side. This handsome work of art was created in the late 1880s and stands along Wheatfield Road, the “back” of the Wheatfield as opposed to the “main road” coming from the direction of Devil’s Den.

The 148TH Pennsylvania was part of Col. Cross’s brigade. Many Gettysburg enthusiasts will know the story of Col. Edward Cross’s wounding in the battle for the Wheatfield and will remember the way he spoke calmly of his own impending death to those who didn’t put much trust in his premonitions. Also part of Col. Cross’s brigade was the 61ST New York, the 81ST Pennsylvania, and the 5TH New Hampshire, whose monuments are scattered around this area. Monuments to the 61ST and 81ST can be found in the Wheatfield.


Co. C, 26TH North Carolina Infantry

Born 1841 --- Died August 29, 1863 at age 22

Pvt. Chappel was both lucky and unlucky concerning his wounding at Gettysburg: he eventually died from his injuries, but he had the pleasure of seeing his beloved North Carolina again before the inevitable occurred. He passed away in a hospital in Raleigh and was later buried at the famous Oakwood Cemetery, where many Gettysburg casualties were laid to rest.

(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray