Brockenbrough's Brigade

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rpkennedy

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Unless we are talking the possibility of two 55th North Carolina Infantry Regiments...I believe it was organized in May 1862. It then served in the Department of North Carolina until it was assigned to Davis's brigade. This regiment, although it had some very minor engagements prior to Gettysburg (including a minor skirmish at Suffolk), Gettysburg was its first real battle. I do not believe this regiment was with the ANV at Fredericksburg, nor were any of the other regiments that would comprise Davis's brigade.
Correct. The 2nd and 11th Mississippi were old timers in the Army of Northern Virginia but the 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina were still fairly untested. Gettysburg was their first real test.

Ryan
 

nc native

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Unless we are talking the possibility of two 55th North Carolina Infantry Regiments...I believe it was organized in May 1862. It then served in the Department of North Carolina until it was assigned to Davis's brigade. This regiment, although it had some very minor engagements prior to Gettysburg (including a minor skirmish at Suffolk), Gettysburg was its first real battle. I do not believe this regiment was with the ANV at Fredericksburg, nor were any of the other regiments that would comprise Davis's brigade.
You are correct, it was the 57th NC Infantry that made the charge I was thinking about at Fredericksburg.
Memory is lot like eyesight, as one ages, it is still useful but the details one sees or recalls are not as sharp
as they once were with the arrival of old age and the passing of time.
 

Tom Elmore

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A great question. I think the poor performance of the brigade on July 3 has a lot to do with Colonel Robert M. Mayo of the 47th Virginia. He commanded the stronger left wing of the brigade that day, consisting of the 47th and 55th Virginia. When the time came to advance, Col. Mayo could not be found. We can speculate as to what occupied him; it may have been the call of nature. Whatever the reason, the timing was bad (like Pickett's shad bake at Five Forks). Even if it was only a two minute delay, which is a generous concession, the rest of the line could have been 160 yards out in front by then. Even at a run (double quick), it's not clear whether the left wing actually caught up with the right; in any case a full-out run would have scattered the two regiments and rendered them much less effective. Accounts suggest to me that the left flank of the 40th Virginia was exposed as it approached the Emmitsburg road, and was held up to deal with what might have been the 8th Ohio's flanking fire. Since the 8th Ohio did not appear to much bothered on their own exposed right flank, it could be that the bulk of the 47th and 55th did not advance beyond the fence held by Thomas' skirmishers. Bolstering this opinion are the light losses sustained by the 47th and 55th, which stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the assaulting force. Mayo's own report also supports this interpretation, as he notes being the last to leave the field. Mayo's regiment was largely intact when it fell back, and could even rally upon the right regiment of Thomas (45th Georgia) in Long Lane, which would confirm that his command was the last organized unit to withdraw. But the fact that it was still organized as a fighting force by that time says a lot about their participation in the charge.

I do like your comment about the 22nd Virginia Battalion's obvious problems. How it impacted the other regiments in the brigade is food for thought. Incidentally, the brigade's performance on July 1 was adequate in my opinion. Yes, they did clear the battered remnants of Stone's brigade from around the McPherson buildings, but they stopped short before exposing themselves to a potentially murderous fire from Federals rallying on Seminary ridge (as Scales' men were about to learn). Perhaps if they had been more aggressive and inspired by a good commander they might have closely pursued the retreating Federal infantry, not giving the Federal artillery on the ridge a chance to fire, and not allowing the Federals an opportunity to rally for a final stand on Seminary ridge.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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You are correct, it was the 57th NC Infantry that made the charge I was thinking about at Fredericksburg.
Memory is lot like eyesight, as one ages, it is still useful but the details one sees or recalls are not as sharp
as they once were with the arrival of old age and the passing of time.
At my age too, I relate a lot to a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, although he never said it. I find it applies to me on occasion..."It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."

Cheers!

Mike
 

Greywolf

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No sources that i can remember exactly, but i saw a Gettysburg battle walk where one of the rangers was discussing some of this. I believe mention was made of the difficulty of Davis's brigade seeing exactly when Pettigrew stepped off because of the terrain. Made mention of Pettigrew sending an aide to find out what was going on with Davis and saw Davis command advancing in a disorganized manner. Also said something about the aide asking Pettigrew if he should check on Brockenbrough and essentially Pettigrew said no need, it's pointless essentially. Again, can't remember the ranger or if it is valid, but it is interesting.
 

Hussar Yeomanry

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So, firstly thank you for all the replies.

@Greywolf I have also seen that very good battlefield walk. As to a source I imagine it is Sears Gettysburg p418 (again) where he has Pettigrew's aide Lewis Young recalling that Pettigrew said Brockenbrough's brigade “might follow, and if it failed to do so would not matter.” Sears then inserts some compositional information on the brigade before continuing (presumably with the previous source) “and was not to relied upon; it was virtually of no value in a fight.”

The Young quote apparently comes from Pettigrew's Brigade at Gettysburg. No further information, date or author is given.

That said I still have some questions. What we have determined is that some people who have looked at the charge seem to think the brigade was in two halves – one commanded by Brockenbrough, one by Mayo while others think Mayo was in entire command. I wonder if indeed Mayo was not in position to attack at the right time (and it isn't Colonel Christian covering himself forty years later) did he realise he was in command of at least some of the attack. Might he have still been with his regiment? Was that why he initially couldn't be found?

If this is the case then why was it so? Whatever the case it suggests a somewhat lacsadaisical attitude amidst the planning of the charge for surely whoever it was who was to lead the brigade should have known about it and been available at the time of the attack and they have had plenty of time to prepare. So that can't be used as an excuse.

Further while Longstreet seems to have spent some time with Pickett how much attention did he give to Pettigrew and Trimble's brigades? After all he is supposed to be in overall control. Yes Pettigrew and Trimble are new to their divisions but it all seems 'muddled' and the more I look at it there doesn't seem to be a unified PPT Charge. Instead there seem to be two distinct charges, the Pettigrew-Trimble half occurring in perhaps three distinct stages – Fry and Marshall, Mayo-Brockenbrough and then finally Trimble... which really isn't the usual narrative.

If Longstreet isn't providing coordination then surely Lee (or the mystery that is A.P. Hill) should have. We know Lee was repeatedly in the area and that Hill was at one point seen around the Louisiana monument (though there is no timing for this fleetingest of sighting).

That's my thinking any way. Yes? No?
 
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Scott Brown

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So, firstly thank you for all the replies.

@Greywolf I have also seen that very good battlefield walk. As to a source I imagine it is Sears Gettysburg p418 (again) where he has Pettigrew's aide Lewis Young recalling that Pettigrew said Brockenbrough's brigade “might follow, and if it failed to do so would not matter.” Sears then inserts some compositional information on the brigade before continuing (presumably with the previous source) “and was not to relied upon; it was virtually of no value in a fight.”

The Young quote apparently comes from Pettigrew's Brigade at Gettysburg. No further information, date or author is given.

That said I still have some questions. What we have determined is that some people who have looked at the charge seem to think the brigade was in two halves – one commanded by Brockenbrough, one by Mayo while others think Mayo was in entire command. I wonder if indeed Mayo was not in position to attack at the right time (and it isn't Colonel Christian covering himself forty years later) did he realise he was in command of at least some of the attack. Might he have still been with his regiment? Was that why he initially couldn't be found?

If this is the case then why was it so? Whatever the case it suggests a somewhat lacsadaisical attitude amidst the planning of the charge for surely whoever it was who was to lead the brigade should have known about it and been available at the time of the attack and they have had plenty of time to prepare. So that can't be used as an excuse.

Further while Longstreet seems to have spent some time with Pickett how much attention did he give to Pettigrew and Trimble's brigades? After all he is supposed to be in overall control. Yes Pettigrew and Trimble are new to their divisions but it all seems 'muddled' and the more I look at it there doesn't seem to be a unified PPT Charge. Instead there seem to be two distinct charges, the Pettigrew-Trimble half occurring in perhaps three distinct stages – Fry and Marshall, Mayo-Brockenbrough and then finally Trimble... which really isn't the usual narrative.

If Longstreet isn't providing coordination then surely Lee (or the mystery that is A.P. Hill) should have. We know Lee was repeatedly in the area and that Hill was at one point seen around the Louisiana monument (though there is no timing for this fleetingest of sighting).

That's my thinking any way. Yes? No?

Many of your thoughts are echoed in George Stewart's work, which makes me think it's not so outdated afterall (still a great read, too). I found Hessler/Motts excellent as well. Imo, whether Longstreet was recalcitrant or not, he should have been given tactical assistance for the operation. Lee put it all on him, though.
 

rpkennedy

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Many of your thoughts are echoed in George Stewart's work, which makes me think it's not so outdated afterall (still a great read, too). I found Hessler/Motts excellent as well. Imo, whether Longstreet was recalcitrant or not, he should have been given tactical assistance for the operation. Lee put it all on him, though.
Stewart's is still the best single volume work on the attack, even if it is dated. That said, I enjoyed Hessler/Motts as well but was less enthused with Earl Hess' book. I normally like Hess' work but this one just didn't resonate with me.

As for Longstreet, he has to take a great deal of blame. His preparations for the attack were fine but he just didn't do any follow-up once the attack began. The division commanders were essentially left on their own hook with no overall direction.

Ryan
 
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rpkennedy

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A great question. I think the poor performance of the brigade on July 3 has a lot to do with Colonel Robert M. Mayo of the 47th Virginia. He commanded the stronger left wing of the brigade that day, consisting of the 47th and 55th Virginia. When the time came to advance, Col. Mayo could not be found. We can speculate as to what occupied him; it may have been the call of nature. Whatever the reason, the timing was bad (like Pickett's shad bake at Five Forks). Even if it was only a two minute delay, which is a generous concession, the rest of the line could have been 160 yards out in front by then. Even at a run (double quick), it's not clear whether the left wing actually caught up with the right; in any case a full-out run would have scattered the two regiments and rendered them much less effective. Accounts suggest to me that the left flank of the 40th Virginia was exposed as it approached the Emmitsburg road, and was held up to deal with what might have been the 8th Ohio's flanking fire. Since the 8th Ohio did not appear to much bothered on their own exposed right flank, it could be that the bulk of the 47th and 55th did not advance beyond the fence held by Thomas' skirmishers. Bolstering this opinion are the light losses sustained by the 47th and 55th, which stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the assaulting force. Mayo's own report also supports this interpretation, as he notes being the last to leave the field. Mayo's regiment was largely intact when it fell back, and could even rally upon the right regiment of Thomas (45th Georgia) in Long Lane, which would confirm that his command was the last organized unit to withdraw. But the fact that it was still organized as a fighting force by that time says a lot about their participation in the charge.

I do like your comment about the 22nd Virginia Battalion's obvious problems. How it impacted the other regiments in the brigade is food for thought. Incidentally, the brigade's performance on July 1 was adequate in my opinion. Yes, they did clear the battered remnants of Stone's brigade from around the McPherson buildings, but they stopped short before exposing themselves to a potentially murderous fire from Federals rallying on Seminary ridge (as Scales' men were about to learn). Perhaps if they had been more aggressive and inspired by a good commander they might have closely pursued the retreating Federal infantry, not giving the Federal artillery on the ridge a chance to fire, and not allowing the Federals an opportunity to rally for a final stand on Seminary ridge.
On July 1, the Federal sources disagree about how much pressure Brockenbrough applied in his attack, even among men who were near to one another. Major Mansfield didn't think that the attack amounted to much and Colonel Robinson felt that the fire was heavy. And the reports from Stone's officers concentrate on Daniel's attack from the north. And Brockenbrough's men didn't cover themselves in glory when Pender's Division crossed over McPherson's Ridge, telling Scales' North Carolinians that they couldn't advance any further because they were low on ammunition. Scales was not impressed, understandably.

Ryan
 
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lelliott19

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So, firstly thank you for all the replies.
@Greywolf The Young quote apparently comes from Pettigrew's Brigade at Gettysburg. No further information, date or author is given.
I believe the quote may have come from a newspaper article in The Western Democrat (Charlotte, NC), April 16, 1867, page 1, columns 4-6. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020712/1867-04-16/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1863&sort=relevance&date2=1925&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=10&words=brigade+Brigade+Gettysburg+Pettigrew+Young+young&proxdistance=50&state=&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=Pettigrew+brigade+Gettysburg&phrasetext=&andtext=Young&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

The same article was mentioned in The Charlotte Democrat (Charlotte, NC), December 22, 1870, page 1, column 5. which credits the article to Young.

".....my main purpose in this communication.....is to request you...to republish, at an early day, the defense of Pettigrew's Brigade, made after his death by the surviving officers, and published in many of our papers at the time. It was written I think by Capt. Young, of Charleston, S. C., who was a member of Gen. Pettigrew's staff....." That article is located here https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020713/1870-12-22/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1863&sort=relevance&date2=1925&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=1&words=Brigade+Gettysburg+Pettigrew+Young+young&proxdistance=50&state=&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=Pettigrew+brigade+Gettysburg&phrasetext=&andtext=Young&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
 

rpkennedy

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I believe the quote may have come from a newspaper article in The Western Democrat (Charlotte, NC), April 16, 1867, page 1, columns 4-6. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020712/1867-04-16/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1863&sort=relevance&date2=1925&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=10&words=brigade+Brigade+Gettysburg+Pettigrew+Young+young&proxdistance=50&state=&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=Pettigrew+brigade+Gettysburg&phrasetext=&andtext=Young&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

The same article was mentioned in The Charlotte Democrat (Charlotte, NC), December 22, 1870, page 1, column 5. which credits the article to Young.

".....my main purpose in this communication.....is to request you...to republish, at an early day, the defense of Pettigrew's Brigade, made after his death by the surviving officers, and published in many of our papers at the time. It was written I think by Capt. Young, of Charleston, S. C., who was a member of Gen. Pettigrew's staff....." That article is located here https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020713/1870-12-22/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1863&sort=relevance&date2=1925&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=1&words=Brigade+Gettysburg+Pettigrew+Young+young&proxdistance=50&state=&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=Pettigrew+brigade+Gettysburg&phrasetext=&andtext=Young&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
That wouldn't surprise me. Young wrote quite a bit in defending Pettigrew and the brigade after the war.

Ryan
 
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Tom Elmore

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So, firstly thank you for all the replies.

@Greywolf I have also seen that very good battlefield walk. As to a source I imagine it is Sears Gettysburg p418 (again) where he has Pettigrew's aide Lewis Young recalling that Pettigrew said Brockenbrough's brigade “might follow, and if it failed to do so would not matter.” Sears then inserts some compositional information on the brigade before continuing (presumably with the previous source) “and was not to relied upon; it was virtually of no value in a fight.”

The Young quote apparently comes from Pettigrew's Brigade at Gettysburg. No further information, date or author is given.

That said I still have some questions. What we have determined is that some people who have looked at the charge seem to think the brigade was in two halves – one commanded by Brockenbrough, one by Mayo while others think Mayo was in entire command. I wonder if indeed Mayo was not in position to attack at the right time (and it isn't Colonel Christian covering himself forty years later) did he realise he was in command of at least some of the attack. Might he have still been with his regiment? Was that why he initially couldn't be found?

If this is the case then why was it so? Whatever the case it suggests a somewhat lacsadaisical attitude amidst the planning of the charge for surely whoever it was who was to lead the brigade should have known about it and been available at the time of the attack and they have had plenty of time to prepare. So that can't be used as an excuse.

Further while Longstreet seems to have spent some time with Pickett how much attention did he give to Pettigrew and Trimble's brigades? After all he is supposed to be in overall control. Yes Pettigrew and Trimble are new to their divisions but it all seems 'muddled' and the more I look at it there doesn't seem to be a unified PPT Charge. Instead there seem to be two distinct charges, the Pettigrew-Trimble half occurring in perhaps three distinct stages – Fry and Marshall, Mayo-Brockenbrough and then finally Trimble... which really isn't the usual narrative.

If Longstreet isn't providing coordination then surely Lee (or the mystery that is A.P. Hill) should have. We know Lee was repeatedly in the area and that Hill was at one point seen around the Louisiana monument (though there is no timing for this fleetingest of sighting).

That's my thinking any way. Yes? No?
I'm not sure of the original source, but Homer D. Musselman, in his book on the 47th Virginia (Virginia Regimental Histories Series) says that Lt. Col. John W. Lyle of the 47th could not find Col. Mayo either when the time came to advance. So we have it from Lt. Col. Lyle as well as Col. Christian of the 55th. One would not guess that Col. Mayo was temporarily absent after reading the official report that he wrote on August 13, 1863. In fact, Lyle and Christian decided to advance their respective regiments without Col. Mayo, according to Musselman and Richard O'Sullivan, who wrote on the 55th for the Virginia Regimental Histories Series. I'm guessing the two regiments did not delay their start by more than 2-3 minutes, but even that amount of time might have taken them out of the main action. If it was any longer, we can be rather confident of it. Since the 22nd Virginia Battalion was largely a no-show, that would leave the 40th Virginia to carry the burden alone.

Wayland Fuller Dunaway, former captain of Company I, 40th Virginia later wrote (in Reminiscences of a Rebel), "we were still advancing when they threw forward a column to attack our unprotected left flank. I feel no shame in recording that out of this corner the men without waiting for orders turned and fled, for the bravest soldiers cannot endure to be shot at simultaneously from the front and side." I think only the 8th Ohio could have delivered the flank fire that Dunaway recalled. Had the 47th and 55th Virginia been on the left of the 40th, the 8th Ohio would have had a much tougher task and perhaps might not have been able to wheel into the Confederate left at all. I doubt it would have affected the ultimate outcome, but it may have allowed more Confederate soldiers to escape capture, particularly in the brigades of Davis and Lane.
 

Greywolf

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Sounds like a brigade that should not have been in the PPT charge to begin with or certainly not the left flank. Their disintegration uncovered Davis and made it that much more difficult for them. If i remember correctly the swales on the attacks right gave some respite of cover to Picketts men, the left , not so much.
 
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