Skip to comments.Exactly 150 years ago today...
Posted on 07/03/2013 11:01:00 AM PDT by Wyrd bið ful aræd
Or rather, 150 years ago this minute, 2:00 P.M. eastern time, 12,500 men of three confederate divisions, under the overall command of General Longstreet, stepped into the burning fields of history in what we know as Pickett's charge.
God bless them...Men with the courage to stand up and march in formation across a mile of open, lead-swept ground for a cause they believed in simply aren't born any more.
I'm sure there are FReepers reading this at this moment who had ancestors in that body of men -- I have an ancestor who was standing on the other side of the wall.
As I said, God bless them. And may we always remember them.
A few years ago, myself and a friend walked this field, from the woods to the ridge.
To imagine doing this while under fire, with all that entails, was simply mind-boggling. Not sure that I could have found the courage for that.
Some on FR pooh-poohed it when it was posted, but I've been playing with it for days.
Exactly 150 years ago, all my Confederate army ancestors were a day away from surrendering at Vicksburg. I suspect they were ready to go home anyhow. I think that there were a lot of rather reluctant conscripts in the rebel army at Vicksburg while Lee’s eastern army had a greater percentage of early volunteering true believers.
No daylight savings time in 1863. You’re off by an hour.
I have ancestors standing on both sides of that now “hallowed ground.”
Junius, aka June, Kimble enlisted as Corporal in the 14th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He wrote a story about his experience at Gettysburg that made him famous among Civil War historians.
Junius was born Apr 1842 in Tennessee (or possibly Kentucky) to Herbert S. Kimble, an attorney, and his wife Martha Farmer.
Martha’s parents were Thomas Farmer and Lurene Harper.
Thomas was born 1760 in Virginia and died 18 Apr 1818 in Robertson County, Tennessee. His parents were Lodowick Farmer and Sarah Cheatham.
Ludowick’s parents were Henry Farmer and Sarah Ward.
He was 21 years old that day in July, a soldier in the 14th Tennessee infantry regiment, and he had just been given the orders that would determine the rest of his life - if there was to be a life longer than two or three hours. He and his unit were to march across a field which rose slightly to the well-entrenched position of the enemy. The march was a little under a mile.
He examined the field and mentally measured his chances of survival. The prospect did not encourage him. “Realizing just what was before me and the brave boys with me, and at one of the most serious moments in life, I asked aloud the question: ‘June Kimble, are you going to do your duty today?’”
He was satisfied by his answer and wrote, “All dread...passed away.” Asked by the other men in his unit how things looked, he replied, “Boys, if we have to go, it will be hot for us, and we will have to do our best.”
Fast forward....the battle is over. The Confederates have failed to take the Union position. There are dead and wounded southern soldiers all over that field. June (Junius) Kimble is trapped near the Federal line.
When I realized that the assault on Cemetery Ridge was a failure, I sprang out of the enemy’s works and rushed across to the slab fence, and dropped to the ground behind a large rock for protection. There were a number of other rocks similar, extending with the fence and behind each rock there was one or two men all busy loading and firing at the enemy’s reinforcements coming over the crest of the ridge to our left. At my side, behind a rock, I noticed a comrade, also loading and firing. He was a handsome, fair complected youth, in fact he was a beardless boy, as I discovered.
I used in this battle a Mississippi rifle, with which I had killed squirrels [Union soldiers] considering myself a fairly good marksman, while shooting from this rock, I noticed a federal soldier clothed in blue pants and red shirt, standing some 50 or 60 yards to my left, with his left foot upon a low place in the rock fence, shooting at the retreating confederates. In my effort to pick him off, with good rest across my rock, I deliberately fired five shots at this red shirt. If I touched him, he gave no evidence of my splendid marksmanship. In my disgust I turned to my boy comrade and said to him “Shoot that fellow in the red shirt to the left”. In reply he exclaimed in a loud tone, “Why dam him, I have shot at him four times”. “I am going out of here”. He sprang to his feet, turning his back to the enemy, and in that instant, I distinctly heard the bullet strike his head. He fell upon his face, and was dead, without a struggle. He was a member of Armistead’s Virginia Brigade. He wore a neat, rather new dark gray uniform. Although a mere youth myself, I felt so much older than that bright-eyed, fair-faced brave boy looked, that a real sorrow passed into my heart, as lying by him I knew that his gallant spirit had winged its flight to its God.
At this moment I deliberated as to my own course, shall or shall I not surrender, rather than attempt to run the gauntlet of fire from innumerable guns. My first conclusion was to surrender. I laid my gun to one side, bowed up my body, unbuckled my cartridge belt, and was ready. But this conclusion and preparation for the safe side of the question was quickly recalled, as prison bars loomed up before me. I bowed up again, rebuckled my belt, grasped my gun, sprang to my feet, and made the run for liberty and won out. The near by zip of unfriendly bullets, reminding me of the danger of back wounds, and the more or less disgrace that clings to such wounds, caused me to about face and “gallantly” back out; which run and back out was safely accomplished and without so much as a scratch of clothing or flesh. It is due perhaps to state, that when I left my rock, the red shirt man still stood in his hole in the wall, seemingly a very live yankee, and no doubt returned my compliment of shots, as I made for tall timber. I, at least was very cognizant of many near by lead messengers as they zipped on either side and made crosses on the ground in front, and then in my rear, in the backward movement, thanks to their poor marksmanship.
After the war, June Kimble lived in Eastland, Texas, was the first elected mayor of that town, and was an editor of a local paper. He became vice president of a bank and died in 1911.
I believe they were ordered to cross that killing ground and would have been shot had they not. You might say, forced to die a hero.
No time zones, either. You’ll have to look up when 2 hours after meridian is for Gettysburg.
Corp. Willard Pinkham 20th Maine. Killed on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg.
Same here. A couple years ago I walked the field at dusk — there was hardly anyone else around, and it was very quiet. Eerie and awe-inspiring at the same time. Men were cast out of iron in those days.
Okay okay, but you get the idea. ;)
My GGgrandfather fought at Culp’s Hill (49th VA inf) and my wife’s GGgrandfather was captured on July 1st and died at Fort Delaware (55th NC inf).
When watching the movie Gettysburg, one has to be in awe of the artillery prior to Pickett’s charge. To think the movie only used a fraction of the cannon and they had reduced charges. The barrage must have been deafening in reality.
“I think that there were a lot of rather reluctant conscripts in the rebel army at Vicksburg”
Confederate conscription was a poorly-managed sore-point throughout the war. Also, leadership was an issue, with the most motivated gravitating to the armies of the east, where Lee was taking the fight to the Union, while in the center-west it was mostly defensive, with no real answer available to the northern gunboats.
The 2nd day's action on Little Round Top has haunted me for years. Paternal side of the family are Mainers. Maternal side are Alabamians. While there is no family history from either side to indicate they were there, the symbolism of Chamberlain's 20th Maine bayonet charge into a regiment of Alabamians remains with me.
We were visiting my family in Eastport, ME, over the 4th of July in 1995. Always a marvelous time to be there with the weather and the incredible festivities and patriotism. I was watching "Gettysburg on the TV when my uncle walked in. He shook his head and said, "I see the South is still fighting the war."
It’s believed that the grand cannonade preceding Pickett’s Charge was the loudest manmade sound on the North American Continent until the Trinity test in 1945.
Our ancestors were most certainly trading shots with each other then — 2nd Lt. Lemuel Rossiter, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Inf.
With a few exceptions, Confederate leadership in the west was nothing to Bragg about.
A few years ago, I visited the battlefield and stood at the line defended by the 20th Maine on Little Round Top. Someone had placed fresh flowers there on the rocks. People still remember.
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