Sunday, May 28, 2006

Such is War

20th Connecticut
20th Connecticut Monument on Culp's Hill
Gettysburg National Military Park

After the fighting ended on July 3, 1863, the grim task of caring for the wounded and of burying the dead occupied the time of the soldiers until ordered to move from the battlefield. Corporal Horatio Chapman, 20th Connecticut, described it thus.

"We built fires all over the battle field and the dead of the blue and gray were being buried all night, and the wounded carried to the hospital. We made no distinction between our own and the confederate wounded, but treated them both alike, and although we had been engaged in fierce and deadly combat all day and weary and all begrimed with smoke and powder and dust, many of us went around among the wounded and gave cooling water or hot coffee to drink. The confederates were surprised and so expressed themselves that they received such kind treatment at our hands, and some of the slightly wounded were glad they were wounded and our prisoners. But in front of our breastworks, where the confederates were massed in large numbers, the sight was truly awful and appalling. The shells from our batteries had told with fearful and terrible effect upon them and the dead in some places were piled upon each other, and the groans and moans of the wounded were truly saddening to hear. Some were just alive and gasping, but unconscious. Others were mortally wounded and were conscious of the f act that they could not live long; and there were others wounded, how bad they could not tell, whether mortal or otherwise, and so it was they would linger on some longer and some for a shorter time-without the sight or consolation of wife, mother, sister or friend.

I saw a letter sticking out of the breast pocket of one of the confederate dead, a young man apparently about twenty-four. Curiosity prompted me to read it. It was from his young wife away down in the state of Louisiana. She was hoping and longing that this cruel war would end and he could come home, and she says, "Our little boy gets into my lap and says, `Now, Mama, I will give you a kiss for Papa.' But oh how I wish you could come home and kiss me for yourself." But this is only one in a thousand. But such is war and we are getting used to it and can look on scenes of war, carnage and suffering with but very little feeling and without a shudder."



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More of this quote and further information on the 20th Connecticut can be found at 20th Connecticut Infantry Volunteers

1 comment:

GettysBLOG said...

"We make war that we may live in peace."

Thanks for the essay Randy. It was, as usual, quite superb.