Chapter 31: after the battle.
Hundreds of the enemy fired their last round, dropped their muskets and surrendered themselves as prisoners of war rather than run the chance of getting safely back to their lines under the fire of the Union
guns over the 1580 yards of open plain.
Most of the remaining men of the regiment pushed ahead, directly through the grove and over the fence into the field beyond.
This was covered by dead and wounded rebels, and the men were here exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery which opened as soon as their infantry retired.
A few of the men got behind some large rocks in an angle of the stone wall and fired on the retreating rebels as long as they remained in view.
A number of the rebel prisoners were quite communicative.
One had been shot through the fleshy part of the leg, below the knee and was wondering how he could get to the rear.
He was told to take two muskets for crutches, as there were plenty lying about.
He was afraid that some of the men would take them away from him, but someone got him a couple and he hobbled away.
One prisoner declared that Gen. Lee
had said that a fly could not live under the shelling of his artillery and that most of the Union
troops there were Pennsylvania
militia, and, as evidence of this, called the attention of his men to the large number of new colors in the Union
(The fact is that many regiments had received new sets of colors during the spring.
The Nineteenth Massachusetts had a new set.) ‘But,’ said the soldier, ‘when I got up to the stone wall and saw that damned white club (pointing to the trefoil on the cap of one of the men), I knew that the whole Army of the Potomac was here and I just dropped my gun and gave up.’
The brave old Nineteenth Massachusetts, which entered
the fight numbering 141 and now mustered but 39 dirty, bloody, panting heroes, was re-formed at the north of the grove, near the Shippenburg Pike
and marched back to the crest of the Ridge
to its place in the line, amid a storm of cheers from those who had shared with it the indescribable perils of that last hour.
A detail was told off for picket duty and these were marched out to the front and posted along Plum Run
, the right being near the Emmetsburg
road, south of the Cordora house
, and the left was opposite the right of the Third Corps. Twelve men from the regiment were detailed to man Hazard
's Rhode Island battery and a squad to act as provost guard, collecting stragglers, etc. The balance of the regiment bivouacked for the night.
Ah! How sad were the hearts of the survivors that night!
In front and to the left of the line were thousands of wounded men who were groaning and crying for help during the night.
Those inside the lines were cared for, but those lying between the lines were left to suffer, because neither side dared to go to their assistance.
During the night a heavy rain began to fall (as is usual after great battles) and by morning it was falling in torrents, continuing with diminishing force throughout the day and the following night.
Everybody and everything was drenched.
In the afternoon skirmishers came out, passed the pickets and advanced to the road.
Then the pickets were withdrawn.
Rations had been issued and there was an abundance of food,— it having been issued for the number of troops who were on duty before the battle.
As a consequence a great deal of fresh beef was thrown away.
The officers were engaged in completing the count of losses.
The Third Brigade had lost nearly 1,000 men and could now bring into line but 300.
The Second Division of the Second Corps could report but 1037.
It had reported 3730 the previous day at noon. Of those who remained there were but few who had not received some injury.
In speaking of the position of the Nineteenth Massachusetts and the Forty-Second regiments during this great fight, Col. Devereux
has since said: ‘I have always felt a reverential
awe of the responsibility resting on these two regiments during that conflict.
They were advanced before I could anticipate what use could be made of them and halted just at the spot, as it proved, where they could hurl, with full effect, right against the front of Pickett
's column which had actually pierced our lines and gained its objective point.
They were the only troops in prompt striking distance.
They were under full command and perfect order, sent forward to the performance of a specific purpose.
Their arrival steadied Hall
's and Harrow
's swaying line; enabled Webb
to rally his command once more; made effective Stannard
's throwing out perpendicularly to the line, on the left, and Hayes
' rush from the right; formed a cul-de-sac, and held the enemy in the jaws of a vise whose resistless pressure must inevitably crush.
If they had not been just there, who will say what might have happened.?’
The four rebel colors taken were all captured during the hand to hand fighting.
Corporal Joseph H. DeCastro
, of Co. I, and Private John Robinson
, Co. I, Sergt. Benjamin H. Jellison
, Co. C, and Private Benjamin Falls
, of Co. A, each got one.
Benjamin Falls captured his flag at the stone wall, taking it from the rebel color bearer's hands.
When he reached the wall, he saw the flag flying above it, and, supposing it to have been left there, he took hold of it, but it could not be moved.
Looking over the wall, he saw that a rebel soldier still had hold of it. Falls raised his musket on which was the bayonet, and, holding it like a spear over the Johnnie, said ‘Hut, Tut!
Let alone of that or I'll run ye through.’
He captured the flag and the ‘Johnnie too.’
The flag of the Fourteenth Virginia regiment was captured by Sergt. Benjamin H. Jellison
, of Co. C, and, in addition, he succeeded in capturing a squad of prisoners, bringing them in with the captured flag.
This flag was handed to Second Lieut. Joseph Snelling
After the charge had been repulsed, Gen. Alexander Hayes
was seen, riding up and down, waving a captured flag.
It was claimed by one of the Nineteenth Massachusetts that he had captured it and that the general forgot to return it after borrowing it.
Following is the official receipt, received by Col. Devereux
, for the captured colors at Gettysburg
, the original of which is on file at the State House
, Boston, Mass.
During this engagement First Lieutenant Herman Donath
, of Roxbury
, a very valuable and promising young officer, was instantly killed and the following officers wounded: Lieut. Col. Ansel D. Wass
; Maj. Edmund Rice
, Capt. Wm. L. Palmer
, Capt. James G. C. Dodge
, First Lieut. David T. Chubbuck
, Second Lieut. John J. Ferris
and Second Lieut. Joseph W. Snellen
The total loss of the Nineteenth Massachusetts regiment in the battles of Gettysburg
was—officers, killed, 2; wounded, 9; enlisted men, killed 7; wounded 51; missing, 8 (about 50%). The regiment went into action with 141 men and the due proportion of officers,—160 all told.
Casualties—Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863.
|Men missing||8||Total 77|
was killed by a buckshot which entered his heart.
When found, there was no blood upon his person, but when his clothing was opened, a little round hole was discovered in his side, showing what had caused his death.
He was quite boyish looking and in the short time he had been with the company had won its love and respect.
Joseph H. Hervey
, of Co. C, was a Georgetown boy, popular in the company and a model soldier, His body was found, after the battle, in the ‘Clump of Trees’ where the battle had raged the fiercest.
It was terribly mangled by a solid shot.
, of Co. K, received his wound just as the ine of Pickett
's men broke, under the terrible fire trained upon them.
could not restrain his enthusiasm at the spectacle, and, jumping to the top of a little ridge in front of his company, he waved his arms and shouted: ‘They've broke, boys!
There they go!
See 'em run!’
As he cried out in his excitement, a rebel bullet found lodgment in the back of his neck and he dropped.
In an official report, made in 1878, Col. Devereux