Affidavit of Supervisors of Co. C, 149th regiment. Pa. Vols.
These accounts harmonize so completely as to leave them free from all doubt. Note well the striking fact, that, when our temporarily victorious Color Guards came rushing along to rejoin the regiment, they saw only men in gray where but a short time before they had seen the blue, the enemy being in possession of that part of the field. Had the dash on our colors been made but five or ten minutes sooner, or, had Brehm not lost twice that length of time in waiting,  in vain, for Hoffman to return and report, our little band of heroes could have reached the regiment, while it was yet at McPherson's, and the colors would have been saved from capture. Since I could never learn of any one of our brigade who claimed to have seen Brehm approaching through the meadow, the inference is that our line was then being withdrawn, as Col. Dana, who was now in command, had discovered that he was flanked both right and left. Now for the Confederate side of the story. I will quote from a booklet-Pickett or Pettigrew-written by Captain W. R. Bond, of Daniel's Brigade, who, in speaking of Davis' men says as follows: ‘To illustrate the individual gallantry of these troops I will relate an adventure which came under my observation. It must be borne in mind that this brigade had been doing fierce and bloody fighting, and at this time not only its numerical loss but its percentage of killed and wounded was greater than that which Pickett's troops had to submit to two days later, and that it was then waiting to be relieved. Early in the afternoon of this day my division (Rodes') arrived upon the field by the Carlisle road and at once went into action. My brigade (Daniel's) was on the right, and after doing some sharp fighting we came in sight of Heth's line, which was at right angles to ours as we approached. The direction of our right regiments had to be changed in order that we might move in front of their left brigade, which was Davis': The Federal line, or lines, for my impression is there were two or more of them, were also lying in the open field, the interval between the opposing lines being about three hundred yards. Half way between these lines there was another, which ran by a house. This line was made of dead and wounded Federals, who lay “as thick as autumnal leaves which strew the brooks in Vallombrosa.” It was about here that the incident occurred. A Pennsylvania regiment of Stone's brigade had their two flags—state and national—with their guard a short distance in front of them. One of these colors, Sergeant Frank Price, of the Forty-second Mississippi, and half a dozen of his comrades determined to capture. Moving on hands and  knees till they had nearly reached the desired object, they suddenly rose, charged and overcame the guard, captured the flag and were rapidly making off with it, when its owners fired upon them. All were struck down but the Sergeant, and as he was making for the house above referred to a young staff officer of my command, having carried some message to Heth's people, was returning by a short cut between the lines, and seeing a man with a strange flag, without noticing his uniform he thought he, too, would get a little glory along with some bunting. Dismounting among the dead and wounded he picked up and fired several muskets at Price; but was fortunate enought to miss him. Sergeant Price survived the war. His home was in Carrollton, Mississippi. Recently the information came from one of his sons, a name sake of the writer, that his gallant father was no more.’ The line of killed and wounded spoken of above were those of my brigade, and the house mentioned by which this line lay, was the McPherson house—the only one in the vicinity. This narrative of Capt. Bond's is easily reconciled with the sworn testimony of my men. There is no more discrepancy than is reasonable to expect from the circumstances; for it can readily be understood how awkward it would have been for Capt. Bond to give all the details. Price and his comrades must have noticed our colors on top of that slope, for the last hour or more. But they wisely postponed their adventure until they knew by the firing that the Confederate line south of the pike had reached the crest of the ridge. According to the rules of strategy the regiment they supposed to be with our colors should then have changed front and attacked its enemy in flank. No such movement taking place, and those colors still flaunting, as it were, in their faces, they determined to solve the mystery, and with commendable caution to escape detection they moved up the wheat covered slope ‘on hands and knees’ as Bond relates it. Directly west of the colors the field had not been marched over and the wheat was still standing erect. When these men reached the edge and peered out they saw at a glance that our troops were gone. Only a short distance  before them stood our colors, their lovely folds gently swaying in a light breeze. Not a guard was visible. Not a musket showed above the rails. With an exultant yell they dashed forward. Never was there made a worse mistake than that yell; and it may truly be said that it sounded the death knell of more than one of those who gave it. But for that yell they could have jumped on my men before they were up. That yell startled our Union boys to a consciousness of their danger and gave them a few precious seconds of time in which to jump to their feet and cock their rifles. The foe was so close that there was no need of taking aim. Every shot took effect. The next instant the rifles were used as clubs, and quicker than it takes to relate, the foemen were all laid low, and the little band of Bucktails were speeding away with their colors to rejoin the regiment. Three rifles against seven! The bearers of the seven all struck down but one, and that one temporarily stretched on his back by Brehm! The owners of the three off without a scratch! If it were not confirmed by the Confederate report it might well tax the credulity of my auditors. How do we account for it? Easily enough. Those Mississippians—than whom there were no better fighters either North or South—had not anticipated any serious resistance. Each of them was so eager to secure one of the coveted prizes that they forgot all danger, and threw caution to the winds. Their hot reception took them completely by surprise, and, before they had time to recover from it, the clash was over. The wounded comrade who witnessed the melee over the colors, saw but ‘three of the enemy stretched on the sod.’ It is presumed that the two victims of Spayd's rifle lay west of the breastwork and could not be seen by him. Price may have had only five comrades with him; but if he really had ‘half a dozen,’ as stated by Capt. Bond, then there is one more man to be accounted for, and he too must have lain in a position where the aforementioned comrade could not see him. Price, the leader, was evidently the man whom Brehm clutched by the throat and hurled to the ground, and it is probably to this humiliating experience he owed his preservation from serious injury; otherwise he too might have received the blow of  a rifle-butt over his skull. When he got on his feet again and had picked up a gun and was ready to fire, Brehm's bold dash through the enemy's ranks may have already been accomplished; but Spayd, noticing in time that he was running right into the Johnnie's, and having changed his course to clear their left flank, was nearer to Price, who, presently brought him down by firing a bullet through his thigh. It took him but a minute to cover the distance between them, when he pulled out from under our seventeen year old hero the flag which he had but a few minutes before so gallantly rescued; and Price, who had had his grasp on the staff of our national flag, but slipped up on its capture, as narrated, now had possession of our State flag, while the National flag and its noble bearer went down over a hundred yards further on, south of the pike and east of McPherson's. This furnishes a striking illustration of the rapid succession of stirring events during the whirlwind of battle, and the sudden changes of fortune from one side to the other. As a further confirmation of the above account, I will quote from Capt. Bond's letter to Comrade W. R. Johnston, secretary of our Regimental Association:
 Was Brehm to blame for clinging to his post so long? No! By all that is just and reasonable, no! He was perfectly justified in waiting for orders. He had a right to expect that his safety was looked after. He naturally thought that there must be a good reason for holding him to his post, or else he would be recalled. He considered it cowardly to go back withut orders. He, like all the rest of us, had learned that Col. Dwight would brook no infraction of his commands, and hence was determined to stick to his post to the last minute. Nevertheless he sent a messenger to ask for orders and a watch was kept on Davis' brigade, one of their number getting up at intervals and taking a hurried glance in that direction. It would have been foolhardy to expose themselves to the fire of sharpshooters longer than absolutely necessary, for by needlessly braving that danger, there would shortly have been no guard left to protect the colors. Daniel's brigade having moved further east, Davis' men were the only troops from whom Brehm anticipated any danger; and his intention, no doubt, was, not to let that line get too close before leaving his post, orders or no orders. But as explained before, Davis did not move with the rest of the sweeping semicircle, and Price and his squad came up through the wheat field so stealthily that they were not discovered. The last time but one that I saw Brehm, was immediately after he was compelled to surrender his flag. He followed the captor of his colors to the Confederate rear and passed near where I lay. Though mortally wounded, he carried his head high, as became the undismayed warrior he was. His eyes were still ablaze with the fire of battle. He looked neither to the right nor to left. His gaze was fixed upon his beloved flag. I was wondering what were then his thoughts. Was he considering some scheme to attempt the recapture of the lost treasure? It would be interesting to know how many shots were fired at the Color Sergeant while making his way across that meadow. In the end it seems to have been a fragment of a shell that struck him down, if subsequent reports concerning the nature of his wound were correct. The captor of Brehm's flag was J. T. Lumpkin, of Company C, 55th Virginia Regiment. While he was advancing with his  command south of the McPherson buildings, being one of those wide-awake and observant fellows whose eyes take in more than those of the average man, he got a glimpse of both our flags, as the bearers were making the race of their lives to reach our line. Amid the smoke, hurry and confusion of battle, it appeared to him as if both flags had shot out from the barn. He and his nearest comrades at once directed their fire on Brehm; and when he was struck down, this fleet-flooted Virginian was the first to reach him. As he hurried to the rear with his trophy, he passed near me, and though the sight was anything but pleasing, I cannot efface it from my memory. In an address, which I delivered in after years, (embodied in the pamphlet repeatedly referred to in this paper), I alluded to this gallant Confederate in rather intemperate language, which subsequently, when my war-time animosities had finally died out, I regretted. I then reflected that had I been born and bred as far south of Mason and Dixon's line as Mr. Lumpkin, I too, would most likely have been fighting in the Confederate ranks, as sincere a rebel as any of them, and would have been proud of capturing a Federal flag. Thinking that the pamphlet, containing said address, might possibly fall into Mr. Lumpkin's hands, I wrote to him lately, tendering an apology for the language I had used, and in reply received a charming letter bearing the impress of a cultured mind, filled with lofty ideals, and evincing a warm attachment to our common country. He entered the Gospel ministry after the war and bore aloft the banner of the Prince of Peace for many years. He is now nearly blind, the effect of an attack of la grippe.
Whose was the fault?Having now given the facts of our color episode, it is not difficult to determine who is responsible for their loss. Not a particle of blame attaches to the Color Bearers and guards, nor to the Color Company. It is the Lieut. Colonel commanding the regiment, and the officers successively commanding the brigade, who are accountable. The responsibility of ordering Brehm back to his proper place, rested on them. The major part of the blame belongs to Dwight. Next in the order named are Stone, Wister  and Dana. That attaching to the last two is comparatively slight; and if Stone had not been severely wounded and carried into the barn, he would no doubt have kept a watch over the colors and got them back in time; but, badly wounded though he was, he should not have forgotten that the colors were exposed to capture by his very unusual military stratagem of ordering them away from the regiment to confuse the enemy; and he should not have passed over the matter in silence when writing his official report, giving outside interests a chance to distort it. Not a word of reference to it does he make in that document. As far as I know, it was only when I sent him a copy of my pamphlet, thirty-three years after the battle, that he expressed himself on the subject. This he did in the following letter:
Stone left the task of explaining our color incident entirely to Col. Dwight, and the humiliation he must have felt on reading the Colonel's official report was a deserved punishment for his neglect.
‘Old Gobble-Em-up.’Col. Dwight was a brave and forceful man, possessing in a large degree the qualifications of a successful commander. He had great push; good judgment; was a thorough disciplinarian; enforced strict obedience to orders; looked well after the sanitary conditions of his camps, and always saw to it that his men got the best that was to be had. He was one who had the courage of his convictions; was free and outspoken in his opinions, and never said behind a man what he would not say to his face. He was apt to be rough and profane when provoked, but to those who pleased him he was generous to a fault.  The Colonel was of a noted New York family; drifted into lumbering at an early age in Tioga County, Pennsylvania; and in the Spring of the year accompanied rafts down the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Such a life inured him to hardships, but it was probably also through it that he acquired a taste for strong drink, and on rare occasions he was liable to indulge beyond the point of safety. With this exception he was the right man in the right place as Commander of a regiment; and it is a pleasure to mention, that though badly wounded before leaving McPherson's, he stuck to the men until they reached town. In the Chancellorville fight, the Company C boys, in playful humor, nicknamed him ‘Gobble-em-up,’ which stuck to him ever after. It pains me to say ought against my old-time friend, but truth, historical accuracy, and justice to my men, demand that the curtain be drawn aside and the Colonel's condition during the engagement on the McPherson farm be revealed. Especially is this incumbent upon me, because in his official report he ignored (unknowingly it may be), the desperate struggle of my men to save the colors and retrieve his own mistake in neglecting to recall them; then, too, his report is so misleading and at variance with facts, that it leaves room for the false claim of a recapture that has done endless mischief; not only putting a stigma on my regiment, but doing great wrong to the actors in our color drama, tending to rob them of their laurels, and, what is worse yet, expose them to the shafts of slander. That Col. Dwight was drunk during the fight is well known to the men of his regiment. This statement is confirmed by comparing the testimony on both sides with the following extract from his official report, which says: “* * * * Whereupon Col. Stone ordered me to move my regiment forward and take possession of the railroad cut, about 50 paces to my front,” (it was over three times that distance); ‘also, to plant my colors about 20 paces on the left flank of my regiment, all of which was accomplished in good order. * * * The enemy had planted three or four pieces of artillery in an orchard on our left, about one-half mile distant, commanding the  cut I occupied, and had also, under cover of the hill we were fighting over, succeeded in moving up on my left flank part of a brigade, all of which was discovered in time to save my regiment by moving it rapidly back to my first position on the pike, but, I regret to inform you, not in time to save our colors, which were still where I first planted them; 20 paces on the left flank of the regiment, the color guard all being killed or wounded while defending them. To have saved my colors would have been to advance between two forces of the enemy, both my superiors in numbers; also, to have put my command under an enfilade battery fire. It would have been certain surrender or destruction.’ The Colonel must have found it quite a task to write his official report. His recollections of the battle were evidently so indistinct and confused, that, cudgel his brain as he may, it was impossible to get order out of chaos. He fixes the time of the loss of our standards over one hour before its actual occurrence. He had no opportunity to post himself on the color affair by interviewing the survivors, who were scattered in hospitals. The resulting document was about what could be expected from a man in his condition during the fight. He could not recall when and why the colors were detached, but having an undefined recollection of it concluded it took place after the regiment had reached the cut. If Stone's order had really been what Dwight says it was, it would stamp him as a man lacking common sense. To plant the colors 20 paces on the left flank of the regiment with an overlapping brigade of the enemy approaching in front, could have done no possible good. It would have been a senseless and criminal exposure of the colors and the men in charge of them, who would have drawn the enemy's fire with a vengeance, and would all have been struck down in a few moments, with the Color Company, too far away to supply fresh victims. The conditions the Colonel describes as a reason for not being able to save the colors—out there at the cut—did not exist until an hour or so later, that is, after both wings of the brigade were left unsupported. During the greater part of that time there was nothing to prevent him from sending an order to Brehm to return to the regiment.  The Colonel's well worded official report, so carefully drawn to shield him from blame, and which passed current these many years, is a dismal failure when subjected to the light of truth; and standing out distinct and prominent is the melancholy fact that it was the whiskey which muddled his brain that is to blame for the loss of our flags. It is simply one of the endless array of examples of the evils of alcoholism, that curse of our Christian civilization, to which is traceable nine-tenths of the crime, misery and degradation that stalk over our fair land.
The recaptured Canard.(Thus characterized by a well posted comrade of the 150th.) Having now seen how complete is the chain of evidence that the colors remained undisturbed at the rail piles where first planted until our position at McPherson's became untenable and the regiment was withdrawn, the question may well be asked, why was it deemed essential that the actors in the color affair be sworn or affirmed. Why? Because Gen. Huidekoper of the 150th has questioned my veracity and that of my men, by antagonizing our statements as given in my pamphlet. The General still clings to a modified form of the statement he gave in his official report, namely, that our colors were captured by the enemy at an early stage of the fight but were soon after recaptured by the 150th and restored to our regiment. But, after the lapse of these many years, he now says, he does not know whether the re-capture was made by his or our men. As his claim has gone into history we cannot pass it by in silence, though the foregoing indisputable evidence from both Union and Confederate sides prove it to be utterly without foundation. I quote first from his official report; second from a private letter of his which necessity requires to be made public, and third from an interview of his with Captain Gamble. （1)
... After lying under shelter for an hour, the command of the regiment fell to me, Col. Wister taking command of the brigade. Almost immediately, by order of Col Wister, a change of front forward on first company was made, and in that new position,  protected by a fence (on the south side of the pike), our men awaited the charge of a rebel regiment which was attempting to flank the 143rd and 149th regiments, which had gallantly repulsed an attack on their front. At a distance of fifty yards a volley was fired into the rebels, which staggered them so completely that a second one was fired before an attempt was made to advance or retreat. At this juncture Col. Wister ordered the regiment to charge, and led it in person. The rebels were utterly routed; and the colors of the 149th Pa. Vols., which had been lost were re-captured and restored to the regiment. The 105th then fell back to the position from which they had opened fire and advanced.In other words the 150th recaptured and restored the colors while north of the pike and then returned to the fence south of the road, the position from which they had opened fire and advanced. （2)
(The italics in both of above are my own.) （3) ‘I had a personal interview with Gen. Huidekoper last October (1906), upon this question (the Color question). He states positively and firmly that right after the charge to the cut of the 149th, apparently soon after you were wounded, that a force of rebels came down on your left and crossed the pike; and that they had the colors of the 149th, that the right of the 150th, and for all he can say the left of the 149th, went after those fellows and the colors; drove the enemy back, and that the flag of the 149th was brought to him by men wearing ‘Bucktails,’ whom he supposed to be his men; but who may have been 149th men as well, as all he noticed was the ‘Bucktails.’ They brought him the flag and he ordered it taken to Colonel Dwight with his compliments.’ In the above quotation H. gives three different versions of ‘the recapture canard,’ too contradictory in several essentials to ensure their credence in a court of law. In the first, as given in his official report, when the incidents of the battle were fresh in his memory, the recapture and return of the colors is claimed to have taken place during Wisters charge, north of the pike. In the second version given 43 years after the battle, he says the colors were ‘not far from where the Reynold's monument is,’  and curiously locates the color guards ‘close by at the N. W. corner of the barn.’ Why the color guards should be posted at the N. W. corner of the barn, (south of the pike), while the colors were north of the pike, is a question that would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer. They could not have been ‘close by’ the colors, for the barn is 50 yards away from the pike in a direct line, and how could the color guards protect the colors 100 to 120 yards away? In this version of H's story, the recapture must have taken place south of the pike; and, strange as it seems, he now believes that it was our color guards who got the flag; which flag, whether State or National, he does not say. It is strange that the enemy should take only one flag when they could just as easily have picked up both; strange, that if it was my men who recaptured ‘the flag,’ as H. now believes, that they should bring it to him; strange, that when ordered to take it to Col. Dwight with H's compliments, that they were sent back to the rail pile again, for there is where they were an hour or so after, as is proved by affidavits, corroborated by Confederate reports; strange, that not one man of the Color Company (nor of the regiment as far as I could ever learn), knows anything personally about such a capture, recapture and return of the colors; strange, that the force of the enemy that stole down on our left, (as H. says), struck our colors and carried them along south across the pike, is not mentioned in any official report on either side, not even in that of his own; strange, that in the spring of 1906, H. should consider this flag question so profitless that he resolved not again to make mention of it in anything he said or wrote, but that in the following fall we find him down in Porto Rico, revamping the recapture claim with added emphasis to Capt. Gamble, and giving it a sort of a stage setting to make it more impressive. Strange it is, that H. wants my brave boys turned down—they, who were so faithful to their trust, and who, after being so shamefully left to their fate, gave such a splendid account of themselves, exhibiting the highest qualities of the American soldier, and adding renown to their regiment; strange, indeed, that it did not strike H. how unreasonable was such advice, which,  if given by an outsider to the historian of his regiment, urging him to leave out an unimportant, all mention of their brave color bearer, Sergt. Peiffer, would have aroused his (H.'s) indignation, and he would have justly denounced it as the height of impertinence; yes, surprisingly strange, that H. has the effrontery to suggest to our historian that he pass over our color affair in silence and leave the stigma which his fictitious claim has placed on our regiment, without an antidote to its concealed poison. Stigma? Yes, the worst kind. The recapture claim, as given in H.'s official report, looks innocent enough on its face; but, as it is a well-known fact that the enemy got permanent possession of both our standards, it is equivalent to charging us with having lost our colors twice that day, a record bad enough to blacken the reputation of any regiment, no matter how severe and bloody was its fighting, or how heavy its losses. Strange it is, too, that H. adheres so persistently to his story, though unable to produce any evidence of its truth. Forty-three years have passed and the name of the hero who made the recapture is still a mystery. Is it not reasonable to suppose that if it had really occurred, his name would have been known to every man in the regiment within 24 hours? In the nature of the case, such a conspicuous affair would not escape the notice of a goodly number of men, who would be sure to spread the news and the name of their valiant comrade. It would have formed a topic of conversation around the camp-fire for weeks to come. It is astonishing that a man of the General's standing should place himself in such an indefensible position; for the proof is indisputable that there was no capture of our colors while the brigade held its position around the McPherson buildings, and since there was no capture there could not possibly have been a recapture. For years I kept a watch to see whether anyone would claim the mythical honor of having been the central figure in this assumed recapture. When, in 1882, on the publication of Kieffer's fascinating serial, ‘The Recollections of a Drummer Boy,’ Sergeant John C. Kensill, Company F, 150th, posed as the longsought — for hero, I at once opened a correspondence with him;  but soon found that this comrade's mind was somewhat off its balance, and I subsequently learned that it was caused by a wound in his head. Incidentally our correspondence did me a valuable service, for which I shall always hold him in kindly remembrance, for it led to my acquaintance with a comrade of his company, Sergeant W. R. Ramsey—an acquaintance which ripened into a warm and lasting friendship. As the Sergeant has something to say on the ‘recapture canard,’ I claim the privilege of introducing him to my auditors with a few complimentary remarks. Comrade Ramsey's marvelous power of endurance enabled him to survive war experiences which not one man in a thousand could have passed through and lived. He had a leg shattered in the Battle of the Wilderness at the most advanced point to which our line had penetrated, lay for a time between the firing lines, and as our troops were driven back, was unavoidably left. Mr. Ramsey is a gentleman of fine intelligence; and, that he is one of the notable men of his splendid regiment, is evidenced by the fact that he was selected as one of the speakers at the dedication of their battlefield monument; and, that the very complete roster of his regiment, involving a vast deal of correspondence, and which is embodied in Chamberlin's history of the 150th, is from his pen. He is a historian by natural instinct; brimful of facts relating to the first day's fight at Gettysburg; has carefully investigated all points of interest that presented themselves; among them Comrade Kensill's above mentioned pretensions, and through pure love of truth and fairplay, he sifted to the bottom, the recapture claim as set forth in Bates' history. It gives me great pleasure to present to you the result of his investigation in the following letter:
Kensill had served three years in the navy and was well-known as ‘Sailor-Jack;’ he was a good comrade and gallant soldier. I think his severe head wound, on the first day at Gettysburg, was responsible for much of the nonsense which he talked and wrote.
Cast in a different Mould.In striking contract to General Huidekoper's course, is that of the highly cultured and versatile Rev. Dr. Henry M. Kieffer, author of ‘The Recollections of a Drummer Boy.’ The Doctor had accepted the recapture claim as a fact, upon the authority of Bates' history, and in his serial for St. Nicholas, he, with customary literary license, dressed it up in fine style. But, with a nobility of nature worthy of his high calling and his title of D. D., as soon as he learned the truth about the matter, he made all the reparation that could be asked for, in the following letters: 
In conclusion, the evidence is indisputable that the only recapture of colors in the first day's fight was made by Color Guard H. H. Spayd, who temporarily rescued from a foeman our State flag; and, had our regiment still been at McPherson's, he would have brought in his trophy in triumph. Too modest to blow his own horn his heroic deed remained for a long time unrecognized; and he and his brave color comrades were maligned, on the supposition that the fictitious recapture claim in H.'s official report and in Bates' history, was true—that the colors were returned to them, and that they lost them a second time. But truth is mighty and must in the end prevail.