"I'm hit and I fear badly." These words, uttered by Captain James Lile Lemon (A/18th GA) during the fighting on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, were likely repeated by thousands of others of both sides fighting in the wheatfield that day - and most of them were not nearly as lucky as he. Captain Lemon was a compelling story-teller and his memoirs shed important light on this understudied brigade of McLaws' Division of Longstreet's Corps.
"As we made our way back across the wheat, I took the opportunity to relieve a dead Yank of his canteen and threw away my old one. This was made necessary by another embarrassing incident one often experiences in war. During our initial advance into the wheat [field], my trusty old tin canteen took a bullet and flew up and struck me in the head with such force I thought for an instant I had been shot in the head. Of course, I was instantly covered with the warm liquid contents of the canteen and thinking it was blood exclaimed to my pard Art Nichols, "I'm hit and I fear badly." He looked at the water running down my face and then the dripping canteen by my side and near doubled over with fits of laughter. This, of course, caused me to investigate the situation by wiping at the moisture on my face and looking at my hand. My folly was at once apparent and if I could have dug myself a hole and crawled inside I would have. Good old Art, he never let my secret out, but this didn't prevent him from thereafter remarking to me, whenever we would meet (always with a sly smile) "Say, Captain, I'm a bit fagged. Mind if I have a swig from your canteen? By the by, how's your headache?"
Wofford's Georgia brigade, which included the 18th Georgia, initially reported 30 killed, 192 wounded, and 112 missing in the Battle of Gettysburg - or 334 total casualties. The 16th Georgia, advancing in the center of Wofford's line, sustained 31.5% of the 334 total casualties in the brigade. The 24th Georgia, to their right, sustained 27.5% of the 334. Together, these two regiments, the 16th and 24th Georgia, advancing in the center/right center of the brigade, sustained nearly 60% of the 334 casualties reported by the brigade that day. Casualties in Captain Lemon's regiment [18th Georgia], on the far right of the brigade, were comparatively light.
[Chart by the author utilizing data from The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.), August 07, 1863, page 1. It should be noted that, although the chart shows the 3d Battn SS on the far right, the regt. was likely deployed out front, as skirmishers.]
Quote Source: Feed Them the Steel! Being the Wartime Recollections of Capt. James Lile Lemon, Co A 18th Georgia Infantry, CSA. Mark H. Lemon, privately published, 2016.
Advancing Confederate Infantry https://images.history.com/images/media/pdf/CivilWar150Guide.pdf
Portrait James Lile Lemon https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10378383/james-lile-lemon
Canteen: Note this is not the actual canteen of James Lile Lemon. It is a representative item from the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum, Madison, WI. Confederate Canteen, Item number V1998.1.266, Description: Confederate tin drum canteen; three piece construction, bullseye, "CS" and one concentric ring are stamped on the two end pieces, soldered to a curved piece of tin which is perforated for a soldered tin spout with folded lip, three tin loops are soldered to the sides for a strap. A leather cavalry sword knot runs through the loops and is not original to the canteen. A bullet entry hole is on one side and an exit hole on the other.