Golden Thread "Cheer less, boys and fight more" - Wofford's Brigade at Gettysburg

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W. Richardson

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I did look through all of my notes and whatnot last night but nothing mentions why Captain A. Burnett Rhett missed out on Gettysburg. Later that year, he was promoted and took a command in South Carolina but can't seem to find what he was doing in that summer. I'll have to see of there was a unit history for the Brooks Light Artillery written and see if it may be available on Google Books.

Ryan

“Colonel Edward P. Alexander dispatched Brown’s men, who arrived at Marye’s Heights on the morning of May 1. Dejectedly, Rhett’s South Carolinians went to the rear and did not participate further in this campaign. Rhett’s removal had long been in the works due to the captain’s frequent absences from his company”

Source: The Union Sixth Army Corps in the Chancellorsville Campaign: A Study of the Engagements of Second Fredericksburg, Salem Church and Banks Ford, May 3-4, 1863, by Philip W. Parsons, page 57


It appears that Capt. Rhett had been dismissed before Gettysburg due to his frequent absences..........So possibly he was between assignments???????
A. Burnet Rhett.jpg


Respectfully,
William
 

PeterT

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“Colonel Edward P. Alexander dispatched Brown’s men, who arrived at Marye’s Heights on the morning of May 1. Dejectedly, Rhett’s South Carolinians went to the rear and did not participate further in this campaign. Rhett’s removal had long been in the works due to the captain’s frequent absences from his company”

Source: The Union Sixth Army Corps in the Chancellorsville Campaign: A Study of the Engagements of Second Fredericksburg, Salem Church and Banks Ford, May 3-4, 1863, by Philip W. Parsons, page 57


It appears that Capt. Rhett had been dismissed before Gettysburg due to his frequent absences..........So possibly he was between assignments???????
View attachment 115940

Respectfully,
William
Thanks William! Another piece to the puzzle!

I wonder why he was frequently absent!
 
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W. Richardson

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I wonder why he was frequently absent!

Hi Peter, that is a good question. I wonder if it had to do with who his father was? (Robert Barnwell Rhett)............Or due to his getting married in August of 1862 and was away often visiting his new bride?



Married Henrietta Aiken only daughter of Honorable William Aiken at Hillside the residence of Mrs. M. R. Singleton, Flat Rock, North Carolina on August 21, 1862.

A.B. Rhett graduated from the South Carolina College in 1852 and the Medical College of South Carolina in 1859. During the War, Rhett distinguished himself as an artillery officer. He began as captain of Co. K, Second Palmetto Regiment, SC Volunteers (Infantry). The unit was sent to Virginia and fought at First Manassas, in July, 1861, where Rhett was cited for bravery. The following spring, Rhett was detached to form his own artillery battery which became a part of Stephen D. Lee's battalion in Evans' brigade. Temporarily, he was attached to General Ripley's brigade in A.P. Hill's division and fought at the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, and Malvern Hill, in June and July of 1862. He again was highly commended following these engagements, and was cited for gallantry following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. He was promoted to major in December of 1863, and appointed chief of artillery for the Second Military District of South Carolina. In February of 1865, Major Rhett commanded a battalion of artillery which fought in the battles of Averysboro and Bentonville in North Carolina. The Aiken-Rhett house where he lived after the war that his wife, Henrietta Aiken inherited, is in Charleston, SC and open to the public.

Above paragraph from descendant Jordan Yale.

Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=28295654



Flag Of The AoNV  1.jpg

Respectfully,
William
 
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W. Richardson

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That is really odd since he was cited for gallantry at Bull Run, the Seven Days, and Fredericksburg. Apparently, it all didn't hurt his career since he was promoted to command the artillery in the Second District of South Carolina and later commanded an artillery battalion in 1865. Interesting.

Ryan

Hello Ryan,

Yes it is interesting and puzzling as well. Perhaps he was too brave? As in recklessly brave? Perhaps some in his unit felt he was too brave for them..........lol.....Men being led want someone brave but not recklessly brave, especially with their lives.....but that is only far flung speculation. I do find it strange that he is so gallant, and then removed due to being absent too often.


Southern Cross of Honor.jpg

Respectfully,
William
 

rpkennedy

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Hello Ryan,

Yes it is interesting and puzzling as well. Perhaps he was too brave? As in recklessly brave? Perhaps some in his unit felt he was too brave for them..........lol.....Men being led want someone brave but not recklessly brave, especially with their lives.....but that is only far flung speculation. I do find it strange that he is so gallant, and then removed due to being absent too often.


View attachment 115970
Respectfully,
William
That also assumes that the Sixth Corps history has its facts right. I don't know much about the Brooks Light Artillery so can't say one way or the other.

Good find regardless, my friend.

Ryan
 
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lelliott19

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Was it Wofford or McClaws that didn't want to accept Longstreet's order to retreat ?
Longstreet ordered Wofford's brigade to fall back to the Wheatfield. Wofford was unhappy about the order. He ran up on McLaws somewhere around Trostle's Woods. He complained that his brigade should not have been ordered back and expressed concern over where the order initiated. McLaws who had not been aware of the order, replied that he assumed the order originated from Longstreet. The next morning Lee and Longstreet came to Wofford and asked him if he thought he could advance to the same position now. He said no - that the Union army had all night to reinforce and that the situation was very different from the day before when he was pursuing a broken enemy.

If Wofford was "unhappy" with the order to retire back to the wheatfield, Col. Goode Bryan 16th Georgia, was livid. He complained about it for years - to anyone who would listen.
No troops went so far as my 16th Georgia. I can and do assert, most positively, that they (16th GA) were not driven back, and that there was no enemy in front, nor on the right, to cause us to fall back; and I further assert that I was ordered back by a courier sent by the Commanding General Lonogstreet, and that before going, seeing General Longstreet some distance in the rear, I went to him and requested him not to order us back, but he repeated the order, and I retired.
Goode Bryan wrote McLaws nearly 15 years later: "I have always thought that if General L had not ordered us to fall back, we could have won the day." Bryan went to his grave believing that his men could have won the battle if they had not been ordered back.
 

Tom Elmore

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Hi Peter, that is a good question. I wonder if it had to do with who his father was? (Robert Barnwell Rhett)............Or due to his getting married in August of 1862 and was away often visiting his new bride?



Married Henrietta Aiken only daughter of Honorable William Aiken at Hillside the residence of Mrs. M. R. Singleton, Flat Rock, North Carolina on August 21, 1862.

A.B. Rhett graduated from the South Carolina College in 1852 and the Medical College of South Carolina in 1859. During the War, Rhett distinguished himself as an artillery officer. He began as captain of Co. K, Second Palmetto Regiment, SC Volunteers (Infantry). The unit was sent to Virginia and fought at First Manassas, in July, 1861, where Rhett was cited for bravery. The following spring, Rhett was detached to form his own artillery battery which became a part of Stephen D. Lee's battalion in Evans' brigade. Temporarily, he was attached to General Ripley's brigade in A.P. Hill's division and fought at the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, and Malvern Hill, in June and July of 1862. He again was highly commended following these engagements, and was cited for gallantry following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. He was promoted to major in December of 1863, and appointed chief of artillery for the Second Military District of South Carolina. In February of 1865, Major Rhett commanded a battalion of artillery which fought in the battles of Averysboro and Bentonville in North Carolina. The Aiken-Rhett house where he lived after the war that his wife, Henrietta Aiken inherited, is in Charleston, SC and open to the public.

Above paragraph from descendant Jordan Yale.

Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=28295654



View attachment 115969
Respectfully,
William
I visited the Aiken-Rhett house two days ago (see attached photo). Andrew Burnet Rhett's father served as a U.S. Congressman (1837-1847) and Senator (1850-1852), and also in the Confederate Congress. Henrietta's father, William Aiken, served as a Governor (1844-1846) and U.S. Senator. His first cousin was David Wyatt Aiken, who was Colonel of the 7th South Carolina infantry at Gettysburg.
Aiken-Rhett.JPG
 

lelliott19

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I visited the Aiken-Rhett house two days ago (see attached photo). Andrew Burnet Rhett's father served as a U.S. Congressman (1837-1847) and Senator (1850-1852), and also in the Confederate Congress. Henrietta's father, William Aiken, served as a Governor (1844-1846) and U.S. Senator. His first cousin was David Wyatt Aiken, who was Colonel of the 7th South Carolina infantry at Gettysburg.View attachment 116204
Where is that @Tom Elmore ? It's lovely!
 
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Tom Elmore

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Further to post #19 above, a member of the 57th New York (in New York at Gettysburg) recalled a similar view of Wofford's brigade after his regiment had fallen back from the Wheatfield: "One or two of the boys lingered at the edge of the woods as the Rebels in battalion front came from the opposite woods into the opening. They were marching steadily, with colors flying as though on dress parade, and guns at right shoulder shift. They looked harmless, but the lingering boys did not care to make a closer acquaintance and hurried on to their regiment." Based on this description, I can imagine this was the 16th Georgia emerging from the woods into the western edge of the Wheatfield, near the Wheatfield Road.
 

lelliott19

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Here is the "complete" version of the recollections of the 57th NY @Tom Elmore mentioned above describing the advance of Wofford's brigade.

From the Dedication of the Monument, 57th New York Infantry, October 6, 1889, Rev. Gilbert Frederick, D.D.

"The Second Corps occupied the left-centre, on Cemetery Ridge, a little to the left of Cemetery Hill......General Longstreet occupied the Rebel right-wing; hence our fighting was with Longstreet's Corps. General Lee, thinking the Peach Orchard was the left of our line, expected by turning it to double our flank and get into our rear; so Longstreet massed his men under cover of the woods, and hurled brigade after brigade upon the Third Corps in the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield.

The fighting thus begun on the left continued with fury. General Sickles had formed the Third Corps into a right angle, the ends resting on the main line and the angle in the Peach Orchard. The fighting was stubborn, but the line gave way, the Rebels poured into the Peach Orchard, thence through the opening and the woods into the Wheatfield, and up to Plum Run. It was at this junction that Hancock sent the First Division of the Second Corps into the Wheatfield to drive back the victorious enemy.

When about 4 o'clock, pm, the order came to move, the Fifty-seventh (New York) fell in, filed left, went in to the woods, and was soon under fire. As we pushed forward, the three regiments of the brigade making the first line, and the Fifty- seventh the second, man after man fell in his tracks, some instantly killed, others wounded. We soon returned the fire, still pushing forward over rocks, through underbrush and dense woods to the opening opposite the Peach Orchard. In this advance, as General Zook was jumping his horse over a stone wall, he received the bullet that put an end to his service and his life. When the rebels came in on our right, Colonel Chapman gave the order, "About face!" We fell back to the stone wall, then turned and gave the enemy such a volley of lead as, for a time, disordered his advance. One or two of the boys lingered at the edge of the woods as the Rebels in Battalion front came from the opposite woods into the opening. They were marching steadily, with colors flying as though on dress parade, and guns at right-shoulder-shift. They looked harmless, but the lingering boys did not care to make a closer acquaintance and hurried on to their regiment. It seemed miraculous that anyone came out of that wood alive, so terrible was the fire when we entered it...."


New York (State). Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga, William Freeman Fox, Daniel Edgar Sickles. J.B. Lyon Company, Printers, 1900, Gettysburg, PA. pp. 419-420.

https://books.google.com/books?id=Kqs2AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA420&lpg=PA420&dq="right+shoulder+shift"+colors+flying+decided+not+to&source=bl&ots=oKXrGvZZwU&sig=PBFx8aLHtCfdWI2_Z8bhDp0P5vs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjpw7OAv5LRAhUBcSYKHZ6JDIgQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q="right shoulder shift" colors flying decided not to&f=false
 
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