Sunday, June 18, 2006

Not Shot But Bayoneted

While the American Civil War offers endless examples of inspirational gallantry and heroism, we must not fall prey to the ever lurking temptation to romanticize this fascinating yet dreadful conflict. In a letter written to General John L. Hodsdon of Augusta Maine, Captain James Hall of the 2nd Maine Artillery speaks of the many facets of war. In this instance, he writes of the Battle of Gettysburg.

2nd Maine

"We again bore the brunt of the battle at Gettysburg on the 1st day of July (and the first of the fight). I was the advance Artillery of the Army of the Potomac and was engaged for more than an hour before any battery came to our assistance. And you may well know we got badly hurt. 36 horses & 22 men in about one hour and a half - My loss in men was many of them slightly wounded and several taken prisoner so close was the action. We were so reduced in horses that we were obliged to drag two guns off by hand. The boys fought like the D-, never better. You may judge when I tell you that many of our horses were not shot but bayoneted that it was a close and desperate struggle for our guns, two of which they actually had hold of at one time. I have seen hard fighting before. And been badly smashed up, but I never saw a battery taken from the field and its guns saved in so bad a state as the Old Second came of that day. On Thursday and Friday we were engaged on Cemetery Hill and suffered only slightly. - The victory on our part on Friday the 3d was most glorious.

We are in line of battle and momentarily expecting a battle although I think at times Lee has escaped. - As soon as we get into camp, the monthly return for June will be forth coming.

I have the honor
to be very Respectfuly
Your Obt. Servt.
James A. Hall"



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All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved

Source: Maine State Archives


GettysBLOG said...

Wonderful, Randy!

Where oh where do you find these things?

Never mind, just keep finding them and putting them up, please.

Bob Parker said...

Great work, very interesting. We just had a ceremony here in Nova Scotia Canada for a Canadian who fought and died in the Civil War.

Randy said...

Thank you. From what I've read, there exist many estimates of the number of British North Americans or Canadians who fought in the American Civil War. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, did so with 29 receiving the Medal of Honor. The honor and bravery displayed by the soldiers above and below our shared border gave us the future we now enjoy.