(1863) Battle of Gettysburg
Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1528
Joined: 2004
News from Georgia
8/10/2022 8:12:20 AM
From the Macon Telegraph. Macon Georgia. August 17, 1863.

"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5837
Joined: 2004
News from Georgia
8/10/2022 6:23:17 PM
The fate of Major George Washington Ross is sad to read about. We see from Larry’s article that his wound was not considered fatal , but that his nurses were more worried about his “ despondency “. He succumbed to his shoulder wound, dying on 2 August 1863, exactly one month after he was hit leading his men during the charge on the Union centre.

It brings home the importance of morale as a factor in survival of the wounded. We tend to think of the stoicism and robust certainties of people in those days, buoyed up by patriotism and religious faith, and their strong belief in their cause. But, just as we are, they were susceptible to depression and doubts.

Ross had been a prosperous merchant in Bibb County, and had enlisted as a Sergeant in April 1861, promoted Captain the following month, and Major Field and Staff exactly one year after enlistment.

What induced the fatal despondency ?

His command was certainly ravaged : 16 killed, 9 mortally wounded, 56 wounded and 16 captured unhurt, with another man missing. From a complement of 184, 98 were casualties.

Edit : I'm tempted to suggest that Major Ross was cast down by the awareness that so many of his brothers in arms had been left wounded and dying in the hands of the enemy. This has always played havoc with the morale of soldiers ; they hate to leave their comrades in such circumstances, and this weighs especially heavily on the minds of their commanders - with a soldier of Ross's professional pride and competence this would be hard to bear. Of the nine who were mortally wounded, six were left to die behind enemy lines, and 31 of the 56 wounded who survived were likewise left to the mercy of the enemy. Of the unwounded prisoners, four died in captivity. I wonder if this dismay was compounded by the thought that the Georgians had got so close to success, breaking into the Federal centre, and then having to withdraw.

Continuing to edit:

Also badly wounded and left in enemy hands was Sergeant Major Ross of the Field and Staff of the 2nd Georgia battalion. His thigh had been shattered and he’d been shot through the side.
Surely this was, literally, A Band of Brothers? He was more fortunate than his younger brother, surviving his wound, exchanged out of prison, fighting on to the end of the war and living until 1915.

Did I see yet another Ross mentioned in the casualty list ?

Bibb County Brothers….. a feature of that war, apparent on both sides. Think of Lawrence and Tom Chamberlain in the 20th Maine. It was surely more so in the South, with its much smaller white population and more agrarian and parochial society.

The tragedy of this war is often depicted as brother fighting against brother.

It was also rendered tragic and poignant by the ordeal of brothers serving alongside each other, and bearing witness to the horrors that befell their siblings.

I wonder if this explains the fate of Major Ross.

Regards, Phil
"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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