Saturday, November 04, 2006

Our Army is Generally Badly Cut Up

After the Battle of Gettysburg, Captain J. J. Young of the 26th North Carolina wrote this grim assessment of the fighting to Governor Zebulon Vance.

The 26th North Carolina Marker
noting the point of the regiment's advance
just feet from the Union line on Cemtery Ridge.

"Near Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863.

My Dear Governor:

I will trespass a few minutes upon your indulgence to communicate the sad fate that has befallen the old Twenty-sixth. The heaviest conflict of the war has taken place in this vicinity. It commenced July 1, and raged furiously until late last night. Heth's division, of A. P. Hill's corps, opened the ball, and Pettigrew's brigade was the advance. We went in with over 800 men in the regiment. There came out but 216, all told, unhurt. Yesterday they were again engaged, and now have only about 80 men for duty. To give you an idea of the frightful loss in officers: Heth being wounded, Pettigrew commands the division and Major J. Jones our brigade. Eleven men were shot down the first day with our colors; yesterday they were lost. Poor Colonel Burgwyn, jr., was shot through both lungs, and died shortly afterward. His loss is great, for he had but few equals of his age. Captain McCreery, of General Pettigrew's staff, was shot through the heart and instantly killed' with them Lieutenant-Colonel Lane through the neck, jaw, and mouth, I fear mortally; Adjutant James B. Jordan in the hip, severely; Captain J. T. Adams, shoulder, seriously; Stokes McRae's thigh broken; Captain William Wilson was killed; Lieutenants John W. Richardson and J. B. Holloway have died of their wounds. It is thought Lieutenant M. McLeod and Captain N. G. Bradford will die. Nearly all the rest of the officers were slightly wounded. I. A. Jarratt I had forgotten to mention-in the face and hand. Yesterday, Captain S. P. Wagg was shot through by grape and instantly killed; Lieutenant G. Broughton in the head, and instantly killed, Alexander Saunders was wounded and J. R. Emerson left on the field for dead. Captain H. C. Albright is the only captain left in the regiment unhurt, and commands the regiment. Lieutenants J. A. Lowe, M. B. Blair, T. J. Cureton, and C. M. Sudderth are all of the subalterns. Colonel Faribault, of the Forty-seventh, is severely wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Graves and Major A. D. Crudup supposed killed. Colonel Marshall and Major J. Q. Richardson, of the Fifty-second, supposed to be killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Parks dangerously wounded; Colonel Leventhorpe badly wounded; Major Ross killed. Our whole division numbers but only 1,500 or 1,600 effective men, as officially reported, but, of course, a good many will still come in. The division at the beginning numbered about 8,000 effective men. I hear our army is generally badly cut up. We will fall back about 5 miles, to draw the enemy, if possible, from his impregnable position. It was a second Fredericksburg affair, only the wrong way. We had to charge over a mile a stone wall in an elevated position. I learn the loss of the enemy is terrible. We have taken 10,000 or 15,000 prisoners in all. Yesterday, in falling back, we had to leave the wounded; hence the uncertainty of a good many being killed late yesterday evening. I must close.

Yours truly,

J. J. Young, Captain, and Assistant Quartermaster.

His Excellency Gov. Zebulon B. Vance."



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All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved

Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
The text appears as it does in the record minus 21 sets of brackets "[ ]" which made the reading difficult. The brackets were around the initials of the names noted above.


Judi said...

And the question always echos..."How did they keep on?"

Randy said...

I couldn't agree with you more. That's the question that started my interest in the American Civil War. How could they know what they were facing and yet continue as bravely as they did?