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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Vandals Still Sought

The article below is reprinted from the York Daily Record. For more information, please refer to this earlier blog entry (The Sad Damage & Needed Assistance)

Search Continues for Gettysburg Statue Vandals
In two cases, repairs prove difficult.
Daily Record/Sunday News

May 21, 2006 — Gettysburg park officials hope information about civil war monuments vandalized three months ago will turn up but have researched options to repair two of the statues if missing pieces aren't recovered.

Gettysburg National Military Park officials have taken leads since three monuments - honoring the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the 4th New York Battery - were the targets of vandals Feb. 16, but are still looking for information to help lead them to the responsible party.

The Pennsylvania statue was fixed and returned to its base in March, and repairs to the historic cast iron fence around it are more than half finished, said Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for the park.

Figuring out how to repair the other monuments has taken a little more investigation.

Internet research led to a monument in New Hampshire that contains an artilleryman identical to the one depicted in the New York monument at Gettysburg, where the statue's head and rammer were stolen, Lawhon said.

Although they hope the parts will be recovered, park officials could make a mold from the New Hampshire statue and cast new bronze parts, she said.

Repairing the Massachusetts monument, a carved granite arm holding a sword, is proving more challenging. The arm was shattered and parts, including the sword, stolen.

The park already had a pattern for the bronze sword, which had been stolen before. However, the arm is harder to replace.

"Sculpting the new granite arm will be very difficult without a model," Lawhon said, noting that the park has even tracked down descendents of the original granite company that made the statue but couldn't find a useful model.

"We're sort of still hoping something will come to light on that," she said.

A $36,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals is still being offered.

"We're still hearing from people anxious to see justice served," said Dru Anne Neil, spokeswoman for Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, which contributed $30,000 to the reward fund. "We just hope somewhere somebody knows something."

Tourists can still visit the monuments. The Pennsylvania monument has a little red caution tape around the broken fence, Lawhon said, but otherwise looks "pretty darn good."

At the other two monuments, visitors can still read the inscriptions on the granite pedestals that once supported the statues, she said.

"There may be some visitors who aren't aware a figure is missing," she said.

Seeking tips

Anyone with information about vandalism to monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park can call the park at (717) 334-0909 or Adams County Crime Stoppers at 800-869-8057.



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Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Soldier's Grim Remembrance

Oft times, the glory of war fades when confronted with a soldier's grim reality.

"The hoarse and indistinguishable orders of commanding officers, the screaming and bursting of shells, canister and shrapnel as they tore through the struggling masses of humanity, the death screams of wounded animals, the groans of their human companions, wounded and dying and trampled underfoot by hurrying batteries, riderless horses and the moving lines of battle-a perfect Hell on earth, never, perhaps to be equaled, certainly not to be surpassed, nor ever to be forgotten in a man's lifetime. It has never been effaced from my memory, day or night, for fifty years."

Reminiscences of the Rebellion - William Archibald Waugh



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The Yankees are Coming

Before proceeding, I must apologize for the lack of a noted source for this article. Only to my apparent carelessness can I attribute not writing down the source of this excerpt when first obtained. If anyone knows of this article's origins, please let me know and I will give the proper credit.

Still, I hope a few will find this interesting, especially those curious about civilian life during the war.

"In the fall of 1863 we were very much menaced by General Rosecrans' army up about Dalton and Resaca, and every little while we would have an alarm that a raid was coming. A raid was a very amusing thing, or rather, it is amusing to think of now. We would wake up out of our sleep and every- body would spring out of bed saying, "The Yankees are coming; they are only 10 miles out of town; they are coming with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other." That was the watchword. Then we would all try to think what we had that was valuable, although at that time we didn't have much except the family silver and furniture, which were rapidly wearing out. The supply of bed linen was also getting small. The blankets had been all sent to the soldiers long before. Very few housekeepers had blankets as late as 1863. On these occasions the ladies would put on three or four dresses and tie around under the dresses everything that could be suspended and hidden in that way. Hams would be jerked out of the smoke-house, and holes would be dug and every- thing thrown in pell mell. Then we would begin to imagine that because we knew where those things were, the first Yankee that appeared would know, too, and often we would go and take them all up from there and dig another hole and put them in that; so that our yards came to look like graveyards. It is very funny to think of now, but it wasn't funny then-to be flying around in the middle of the night that way. Then, to add to the confusion, the children would wake up and would stare around with a vacant look, and begin saying, "What is the matter? What is the matter?" And then we would tell them "The Yankees are coming."...

The ideas of the children about the Yankees was very funny. As soon as they heard the Yankees were coming they would jump up and get under the bed, or run out of the house. In fact they would have no idea of what they ought to do to preserve themselves. If you told them the house was on fire of course their first impulse would have been to get out of the house, but when you told them the Yankees were coming they didn't know what to do or which way to turn-whether to run out of the house or to get under the bed or go up the chimney.

I remember one night-all these things come up to me now so vividly-1 remember just such a night as I have been describing, when all the children jumped up and got under the bed. We asked what was the matter. Well, "the Yankees were coming." There was one little girl who was terribly frightened. She had no idea whether the Yankees were men, or horses, or what kind of animals they were. She just knew that they were something dreadful. That business went on through the whole of that night; we would hear that the Yankees were six miles off; that they were two miles off, and every sound we heard, whether it was the baker's cart, or anything else, we would think it was the Yankees; that they were actually in town.

On these occasions, after we had secured the things, as we thought, there would be consultations as to which of the servants would be the most trustworthy to do the manual labor -which ones we could take into our confidence, for of course it was necessary to have a Negro man around to lift things. We were obliged to take them into our confidence, and yet we mistrusted them on such occasions, because this was in 1863, and by that time there had been a great many stories told among us of the disloyalty of servants in such emergencies.

On the night I am now speaking of this excitement continued until morning came. Everybody had been up all night, and it would have been a relief to us to have known that the Yankees had come; but after awhile we ascertained that it was an unmistakable demonstration; that the Yankees were really down here about Gadsden, and that the report brought to Rome had come from a very reliable man, who had traveled all night to carry the news. The first alarm came from somebody who had heard of the matter but was not able to report the entire truth. That night and the next morning all was suspense...

Just as we were all expecting the Yankees to come in, and expecting that we were just literally going to be butchered- in fact I don't know what we did think-a courier came rushing into town with the news that Forrest had captured the Yankees and was bringing them in with him as captives. Then there was a reaction, and the excitement was worse than any camp-meeting you ever saw. Everybody was flying from one end of the town to the other. Suppers that were just ready to be cooked were never cooked or eaten; there was a general jollification. Everybody in town felt relieved from a terrible pressure. Forrest came into town and every lady insisted on going up and speaking to the general and shaking hands with him and his forces. My daughter Minnie was a baby at the time, and I took her with me and went up and spoke to him and he took her and kissed her. He told us that his prisoners were coming into town, and he wanted them to eat at once. Everybody went home and there was just a regular wholesale cooking of hams and shoulders and all sorts of provisions that we had, and everything was sent down to the respective camps. We were quite willing to feed the Yankees when they had no guns.

-Testimony of Mrs. Mary A. Ward”



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Sunday, May 07, 2006

History's Familiar Ring

Occasionally, I receive a strange look or awkward glance when I mention my passion for the American Civil War. The inevitable question soon follows concerning the relevance of events some 140 years past. That history forgotten repeats itself may appear too trite a response. Yet, consider this comment by Frank Haskell, an Army of the Potomac veteran and soldier at the Battle of Gettysburg. His sentiments possess a very familiar ring.

Cemetery Ridge

Cemetery Ridge south of the Copse of Trees,
part of the ground Lt. Frank Haskell helped to defend.

"But men there are who think that nothing was gained or done well in this battle, because some other general did not have the command, or because any portion of the army of the enemy was permitted to escape capture or destruction. As if one army of a hundred thousand men could encounter another of the same number of as good troops and annihilate it! Military men do not claim or expect this; but the McClellan destroyers do, the doughty knights of purchasable newspaper quills; the formidable warriors from the brothels of politics, men of much warlike experience against honesty and honor, of profound attainments in ignorance, who have the maxims of Napoleon, whose spirit they as little understand as they most things, to quote, to prove all things; but who, unfortunately, have much influence in the country and with the Government, and so over the army. It is very pleasant for these people, no doubt, at safe distances from guns, in the enjoyment of a lucrative office, or of a fraudulently obtained government contract, surrounded by the luxuries of their own firesides, where mud and flooding storms, and utter weariness never penetrate, to discourse of battles and how campaigns should be conducted and armies of the enemy destroyed. But it should be enough, perhaps, to say that men here, or elsewhere, who have knowledge enough of military affairs to entitle them to express an opinion on such matters, and accurate information enough to realize the nature and the means of this desired destruction of Lee's army before it crossed the Potomac into Virginia, will be most likely to vindicate the Pennsylvania campaign of Gen. Meade, and to see that he accomplished all that could have been reasonably expected of any general of any army."



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