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(1863) Battle of Gettysburg
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Larry Purtell
Little Meadows
PA USA
Posts: 984
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 6:19:01 AM





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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan
MI USA
Posts: 5841
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 9:44:47 AM

Hi Larry,

As this article portrays what a predicament the South was in, spreading their forces so thin!? They Can’t really relieve Vicksburg! An amiture force protecting their capital at Richmond, & Lee’s ANV with limited supplies trying to win against overwhelming odds at Gettysburg!? What a predicament!?

Again, Longstreet reported killed! Where did that come from? And Grant losing Vicksburg?? What was that reporter drinking?

Regards, & stay safe,
MD

BTW Larry, I thought you lived close to Gettysburg, but you are located next to New York State!?
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Dick Evick
Waco
TX USA
Posts: 339
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 10:32:17 AM

MD, wasn't Armistead mistaken for Longstreet at one point shortly after the PPT charge? Seems I've read that somewhere.

Dick.

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Larry Purtell
Little Meadows
PA USA
Posts: 984
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 10:46:03 AM

Quote:
Hi Larry,

As this article portrays what a predicament the South was in, spreading their forces so thin!? They Can’t really relieve Vicksburg! An amiture force protecting their capital at Richmond, & Lee’s ANV with limited supplies trying to win against overwhelming odds at Gettysburg!? What a predicament!?

Again, Longstreet reported killed! Where did that come from? And Grant losing Vicksburg?? What was that reporter drinking?

Regards, & stay safe,
MD

BTW Larry, I thought you lived close to Gettysburg, but you are located next to New York State!?

M.D. I'm in Susquehanna County which is in NE PA and the town I live in is right on the PA/NY border. about 4.5 hours North of Gettysburg.
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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Larry Purtell
Little Meadows
PA USA
Posts: 984
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 10:47:29 AM

Quote:
MD, wasn't Armistead mistaken for Longstreet at one point shortly after the PPT charge? Seems I've read that somewhere.

Dick.


I think a Colonel of a Texas regiment who was wounded and captured at Gettysburg was the man misidentified as Longstreet.

Larry

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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 909
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 1:01:21 PM

A letter home from Royal D. King, 14th Vermont, Stannard's brigade. His company had been left to guard the division hospital. (3rd Division, 1st Corps)

Near Gettysburg Pennsylvania
July 9th 1863. Thursday

Dear Sister -

I don't hear anything from you or any one else but I am going to keep writing just the same - I have not rec'd a letter from any source since about the middle of June. I tho't is strange that I did not hear anything from home, for some time before we left the sh oals. I have written twice since we left there. Perhaps you rec'd the letters. I don't expect to receive any more mail matter til we rejoin our regiment. Our Company is left here as guard for the division Hospital. We left the Reg't the 5th & have heard nothing from it. I suppose it is at Frederick M.D. Frederick is about 30 miles from here. Our mail I presume has been sent there, but we shall not get it till we start for home. 11 days after to day will bring the 21st of July. the 13ths time is out tomorrow. There was a co of that Reg't sent here at the same time we were - They have started to rejoin their Reg't to day. I presume we shall be ordered back next week - I have not told you yet where we are. We are between 3 & 4 miles south east from the Battle Field - on the Baltimore turnpike. The whole country for 10 miles is one vast Hospital. Every barn & almost every house has been appropriated for hospital purposes. The wounded suffer greatly from want of proper care. Many die, who if they had properly cared [for] would have recovered. Ours is only a Division Hospital & there are 500 in it. Dr. woodward is the principal surgeon. He does all he can & as well as he can, but that is but little compared to the care that most would get at home. They are sending the wounded off to Baltimore, Philadelphia, & Washington as fast as possible. We have to stand guard six hours of the 24. That is light duty compared with anything we have had before since we left the shoals. It is hard work tho for us to do that. No one except ourselves can form any idea of how tired we were when we got here. The truth is we were completely fagged out. After marching seven days, from 20 to 25 miles each day, & lying one whole day exposed to the heat of a broiling sun, & the most terrific cannonading ever known, it [is] wonderful that so many are alive & as well as we are. The Rebs supposed they had annihilated the 2nd Vt brigade - for they didn't suppose men could possibly live exposed to the fire that we were. They call us "fighting devils." Some of the old Reg'ts say they never saw men stand fire as we did, & the old Regts never could have been made to do it. We did something toward gaining the victory at Gettysburg. I [am] glad that I was there, & would willingly go thro all I have again if it would be the means of ending this inhuman war. I am proud of the "Flying Brigade," & I never before was so proud of being a Vermonter. We have not disgraced the Green Mountain State, & tho others may have done as well, I know of none who have done better. It is true we are weary & exhausted, but what of that, if we have been the means of crushing rebellion & treason. Those of us who get home will come with different looks feelings from those we left. Our experiences will have taught us many things that we never would have learned without. No money could buy mine - I would not part with them on any account.

Saturday July 11th 1863 - You see it takes some time to write a letter here. I commenced this two or three days ago & have not had a chance to finish it yet. We are still at the Division Hospital but shall probably be sent away somewhere by the middle of next week. We have heard nothing from our Reg't since we left it & don't know where it is or what it has been doing. We have rec'd no mail since leaving the shoals, & probably shall not now 'till we [get] back to the Reg't. I expect that when we leave here we shall go to Baltimore & from there home. We can't get so much as a newspaper here, & know no more about what the Army has done since it left here, than the man in the moon. They are sending off the wounded as fast as possible. The greater part of them are gone & as soon as the rest are sent, we shall leave here. They send them to Baltimore first & from [there] scatter them about among the different Hospitals. Sam left yesterday with the other cripples. he is doing well & will be able to go home when the rest of us go. He lost his knapsack & blanket - so I went on the battlefield yesterday & got a wollen & Rubber & knapsack for him & a wollen & a knapsack for myself. I threw away my knapsack the day before the big fight. My wool blanket I left at union mills. I am fitted up again for another march. The battlefield still shows the traces of the fierce strife waged upon it. The dead were not all buried, yesterday, they said, & hundreds of dead horses lie scattered about producing an intolerable stench. I went into the town or city of Gettysburg. It is quite a pleasant place, larger than Castleton & not as large as Rutland. About every hous I saw has bullet marks on it. We heard here last that lee had surrendered with his whole army - I don't credit the story. You at home know more about it than we do. If you have got a paper that has an account of the battle of Gettysburg in it, I wish you wo'd keep it till I get home as I have not seen anything of the kind. Mr Smart has gone with the Reg't. He was well when he left here. Proctor & Steve are with the Reg't. neither of them went into the fight - I was weighed yesterday & bro't down to 128 lbs. I am well as usual. I [can't] write any more now. It will not be of any use to write to me as I probably shall not get it if you do Yours

R D King

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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 4:20:09 PM

Jim,

That is a beautiful letter. It moved me. It’s understated, isn’t it ? The man writes with intense feeling, but exerts control over the way he expresses it. There is great patriotism and unit pride, governed by discipline and a realistic grasp that defies hyperbole. A sense of real perspective holds sway. No wonder these men made such an excellent account of themselves.

Where are the “ Shoals”...is that a coastal sector of the Green Mountain State ?

Regards, Phil



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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 909
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 5:03:25 PM

Quote:
Jim,

That is a beautiful letter. It moved me. It’s understated, isn’t it ? The man writes with intense feeling, but exerts control over the way he expresses it. There is great patriotism and unit pride, governed by discipline and a realistic grasp that defies hyperbole. A sense of real perspective holds sway. No wonder these men made such an excellent account of themselves.

Where are the “ Shoals”...is that a coastal sector of the Green Mountain State ?

Regards, Phil



Wolf Run Shoals, on the Occoquan River south of Washington, D.C. The brigade was on picket duty there in the defenses of Washington, before it joined the Army of the Potomac.

King also wrote home from Wolf Run Shoals, describing the army moving north after Lee. He was well educated, and after the war became a noted educator and a member of the Vermont state senate, which explains the expressive quality of his letters.

Wolf Run Shoals VA
June 16th 1863

Dear Sister -

We have been having lively times here for a day or two & I will write to you something about matters here. I told you in my last that there was movement of the army of the Potomac, rearward. It commenced passing here sunday a little before sundown. there has been a constant stream of trains & troops going toward the Court House and Station ever since. They, the trains, move all night. It is said the train would reach sixty five miles on the road. I should [think] it would myself. Three army corps have crossed at this Ford: the 12th yesterday, the 6th this afternoon - & the 2nd is crossing tonight. The 1st Vt Brigade is in the 6th Corps - They halted here 3 or 4 hours - I saw those in it from Benson. There was a sort of general visitation, carried on between that brigade & this Reg't this afternoon. The roads are very dusty & they are completely covered with it. I[t] seemed to do them good to, rest & wash off some of the dirt. Besides they were glad to see us if we are nine months men. Many of...the men die on the march form Falmouth here, from sunstroke. The Vt Reg'ts lost 7 from that cause. It is a forced march & they hurried them forward, as rapidly as possible. The Vermonters looked the best & seemed least fagged out of any troops I have seen. I can't tell the exact number, but thousands, both of teams & men have passed here since Sunday night & it is now Tuesday night - I saw henry Dedrick and Wrangham yesterday - They were both well. They are in the 12th, slocum's corps. I never knew before, what it was to move a large army, not the cost of it. If the folks in Benson could see what we have seen for two days past they would not wonder at the slowness of the movements of the army. I presume you have heard of Lee's movement into Maryland Penn, This movement of Hooker is caused by Lee's movement. We do not know what they will think of doing with us. perhaps we shall stay here to keep up the picket line. I expect to go out tomorrow, We didn't think a week ago that Joe Hooker wo'd fall back behing the 14th Vt. for safety. We are on the front now. I presume Hooker intends to cross into Maryland to head off lee. I should think from the papers today that [the] North was pretty thoroughly wroused. I think we shall remain here a while longer now. I am too sleepy to write more to night

Yours
R.D. King
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 5:34:53 PM

Thanks, Jim .

It’s mortifying for me to realise how little I know about the elementary geography of the USA : that I had assumed that Vermont has a coastline ! Here I am , opining about Gettysburg , and I make a howler like that !

Regards, Phil



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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 909
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/9/2020 8:41:08 PM

Quote:
Thanks, Jim .

It’s mortifying for me to realise how little I know about the elementary geography of the USA : that I had assumed that Vermont has a coastline ! Here I am , opining about Gettysburg , and I make a howler like that !

Regards, Phil



The only "coastline" VT has is on Lake Champlain. Don't feel bad, though, I don't know much more about the elementary geography of the UK.
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/10/2020 5:23:58 AM

Jim,

That second letter also gives us a most telling vignette regarding the turmoil and sense of upheaval that the movement of armies entailed.

It’s so easy to forget what life was like in pastoral America in those times. The impact of such experience must have been mightily amplified for people accustomed to living in small communities and modest townships.

Again, the reference to seven Vermont men dying from sunstroke reminds us of how hardships, squalor and accidents combined to take even more lives than those extremely bloody battles.

It’s a surprise to learn from John Busey’s survey that even more Northerners than Southerners died from wounds suffered at Gettysburg.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 909
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/10/2020 12:09:48 PM

Quote:


It’s so easy to forget what life was like in pastoral America in those times. The impact of such experience must have been mightily amplified for people accustomed to living in small communities and modest townships.


Another way to look at it is that the population of Vermont in 1860 was about 315,000. If the two armies brought between them roughly 160,000 men to Gettysburg, that equals about half the population of the entire state.
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/10/2020 3:02:21 PM

The problems of logistics were compounded by the challenge of maintaining hygiene.

No wonder men were dying from typhoid .

This educated soldier knew the stench of war.

And that was before the battle.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/11/2020 6:35:25 AM

Was there an abolitionist fervour in the New England states that imparted to their rank and file a commitment to battle that this soldier’s letters attest ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 909
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/11/2020 11:28:27 AM

Quote:
Was there an abolitionist fervour in the New England states that imparted to their rank and file a commitment to battle that this soldier’s letters attest ?

Regards, Phil


It would probably be fair to say there was a good deal of support for abolition in New England. Just how much, I really can't say. The extent to which this may have engendered a commitment to battle on the part of individual soldiers is difficult to say. My guess would be that there were some highly motivated by the cause, but that most fought for more generic reasons, such as preserving the Union. Or because when you're a young man, and there's a war, you go because all your friends are, and it looks exciting.
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/12/2020 3:16:01 AM

Jim,

This has really got me thinking.

Hotbeds of Abolitionist sentiment in New England....the Southern counterpart being so apparent with secessionist zeal in South Carolina. I intend to submit New England’s battlefield record to a statistical survey, to see if it indicates a significantly higher rate of combat fatalities .

This is so clearly the case for South Carolina as to be astonishing : the figure exceeds to the extent that I found it hard to believe, let alone understand. Maybe it was just bad luck ; or, perhaps, a case of more meticulous recording ensuring that reports were more complete. But I cannot escape the impression that it testified to a conviction to the cause and a corresponding determination to fight.

At Gettysburg itself it fell to New Yorkers in the Federal army, and to North Carolina contingents in the Confederate ranks , to take the preponderant punishment ; for the war as a whole, however, the figures might give my suggestion weight.

The worst experience for Vermont and Maine was surely the Overland in May and June 1864. The Vermonters took a horrific beating in the Wilderness, and many of us will be aware of the unique slaughter of the Maine heavy artillerymen deployed as infantry at Spotsylvania and, above all, at Petersburg. Indeed, this might be cited as an example of New Englanders coming late to the fight, and almost subvert my contention !

But, FWIW, I will take a look at those six states of New England, see what their populations were, and their loss of life, both in terms of the toll of combat and disease.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/13/2020 5:22:57 AM

Here we are, then. Fox has done all the heavy lifting. It just remains for me to extrapolate and interpret.

At Gettysburg, the six New England states put 16,926 men into the battle, of whom 866 were killed or mortally wounded. That’s not too bad, compared with poor New York, which furnished 23,056 men for the fight and lost 1,480 of them fatally stricken . Of course, this must not conceal the epic ordeal of some of the New England contingents....not least the 20th Maine.

For the war as a whole, there is a rather different story. The New England states furnished 262,812 men on the three year standard, and of these 15,418 were killed or mortally wounded, equating to 5.9%. Maine lost 6.4%, New Hampshire 6.5%, and our topical Vermont came out hardest hit with 6.8%. Fox emphasises that the losses in Vermont and New Hampshire were inflated by terrible experience in the Overland.

These figures are for white troops only.

New York provided 334,784 white soldiers on the three year standard, of whom 19,085 were combat fatalities, which is 5.7%.

Only one state in the Union exceeded Vermont in the overall battle fatality rate : Pennsylvania, with 7.1%.

These losses, it must be noted, take no account of deaths from disease and other causes apart from battle.

When all causes are taken into account , about one in five of all the soldiers from Massachusetts died or were killed, a death rate nearly fifty per cent higher than that of New York.

From their entire white populations, New England lost about one half of one per cent killed in battle, and 1.3% from all causes. For New York, the figures are almost identical in terms of battle deaths compared with overall white population, and 1.2% for deaths from all causes. We need to multiply these percentage rates five fold to assess them against the men of military age....which implies that about one in forty of all the men in that cohort was killed in battle, and that roughly one in sixteen perished from all causes.

Nothing here indicates much of the zeal imparted by Abolitionist tradition, although it might be applicable to Vermont .

By contrast, the Secessionist hotbed of South Carolina, from a pool of 55,046 white males of military age, recorded 12,922 killed or died from wounds( 23.5%) and 4,760 died from disease.... a staggering price, equating to roughly one third of its military manhood being killed or died.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 797
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/13/2020 7:44:13 AM

Phil
The 5th NH had the unfortunate distinction of having sustained the greatest total loss in battles of any infantry or cavalry regiment in the Union Army, with a total of 295 killed and 756 wounded, for a total of 1,051 men. It's colonel Edward E Cross once bragged to his fellow officers about the number of casualties his regiment suffered. Cross was wounded at Fair Oaks, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was mortally wounded at Gettysburg. It is also believed the the 5th NH got closest to the wall on Marye's Heights
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4573
July 9, 1863
Posted on: 7/13/2020 8:51:15 AM

Thank you, John.

This is a controversial matter : there are so many claimants for this somber distinction. You will find, I think, that the total of 295 killed that you cite includes the mortally wounded.

Were I to hazard a guess, I would contend that the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery might have exceeded the 5th NH in battle fatalities....but I must check .

Yes....here’s what Fox says : the highest loss in killed and mortally wounded in any infantry regiment was indeed the 5th NH, with figures exactly as you state...BUT...the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery was artillery in name only : it was deployed in combat as infantry and suffered a total of 423 killed ( including died from wounds), the great majority of them during two horrific fights : Spotsylvania 19 May 1864, and Petersburg 18 June 1864.
This was the worst loss of killed suffered by any Federal unit fighting as foot soldiers. Next on the list comes another Heavy Artillery Regiment : the 8th NY, which suffered 361 combat fatalities, incurred, again, whilst deployed as infantry in that last horrific phase of the war in Virginia commencing with the Overland .

Vermont claims another melancholy distinction of having the highest number of killed or mortally wounded in any infantry brigade in the Union Army, with 1,172 killed....here again, an awful proportion of them being suffered in the Wilderness in 1864.

The very heavy loss in the 5th NH was suffered over a longer period and in a greater number of engagements.
Its total enrollment was 2,496, which implies that just under 12% of the men were killed. The 1st Maine HA enrolled 2,202 overall, and lost 423 of them killed, which is 19.2%. Nearly 85% of its battle dead are attributable to those two days I alluded to earlier .

Bearing in mind the incredible battle losses suffered by South Carolina, I am somewhat at a loss to understand how its most famous infantry brigade - Gregg’s South Carolina - recorded “ only” 1,290 killed and died of wounds : hardly more than its Vermont counterpart, and spread over a much longer period of the war.

Sometimes - indeed, all too often - these figures just don’t “ click” , do they ?

Editing here : John, I think that I might have found the reason for the surprisingly low figure of killed/died of wounds for the South Carolina Brigade : the author of its history, J.Caldwell, set out the tabular record of the brigade's casualties, and added a note ...the reports I give were made out immediately after the battle and .... many men, reported missing, were after the reports were given in, found to have been either killed or wounded....I have not pretended to give, in the table, the number of missing....Even the regimental commanders failed to obtain satisfactory returns on this point.

Judging by the tabular record of 3,735 non mortal wound cases, I reckon that a couple of hundred of the men posted as missing might have been killed, raising the total of battle deaths to around fifteen hundred.

Caldwell had served as an officer in the brigade.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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