Estimated Location of Where General Barksdale Fell at Gettysburg

Tom Elmore

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#1
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A little over three decades ago, during a visit to the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua, New York, I came across a hand-drawn map in the C. A. Richardson Papers. It had been prepared by John W. C. O’Neal, a physician who worked at the Adams County Almshouse, to mark the supposed precise spot where Brig. Gen. William Barksdale was fatally wounded on July 2. Charles A. Richardson had served as Captain of Company D, 126th New York during the battle. Richardson’s regiment was part of Col. George Willard’s brigade, which took credit for having mortally wounded Barksdale during their counter-charge. In fact, Corporal Menah C. Van Liew of Company C, 126th New York claimed specific credit, although how one individual could do so where much lead was flying around on a chaotic battlefield obscured with smoke is difficult to accept. In any case, Barksdale remained out on the battlefield until after dark, when C. E. Livingston, an Acting Inspector General of the First Corps, encountered him while he and an orderly were taking canteens of water to fallen wounded in the vicinity. Returning with a stretcher, he found a detail from Stannard’s Vermont brigade carrying Barksdale off in another stretcher to a field hospital established at the Jacob Hummelbaugh buildings on the Taneytown road. The time was about 11 p.m.

Explaining his map, J. W. C. O’Neal wrote (on August 9, 1886) … “spot marked in red circle … locality where Barksdale fatally wounded … location of circle is near spring or swale originating from Plum Run in front of and to right of Peter Rogers house on Emmitsburg Rd.”

O’Neal followed with another note, “Since writing above … have seen Gettysburg … the battlefield guide says Barksdale was killed in front of Willard’s Brigade … Barksdale was first wounded near blacksmith shop or between it and the Peach Orchard … then he passed in front of the Trostle barn … was met by Willard’s brigade near head of Plum Run and was there mortally wounded and carried to Hummelbaugh house and there buried.”

Based on O’Neal’s map and description, the red circle on my attached draft map shows the approximate position where Barksdale fell. It lies on or near a branch offshoot of Plum Run (O’Neal’s “swale”?) that extends toward the Rogers house. The estimated position (previously calculated) of the 16th Vermont on the night of July 2 is shown with three companies deployed in front as skirmishers. Barksdale would be just beyond the skirmish line. I figure that ground was contested earlier in the day by Willard’s 111th New York, with the 126th New York just to the south (off the bottom edge of this map). I mention it as a possibility that Barksdale fell up to 150 yards further south, although I don’t think Stannard’s skirmishers extended much further south, nor would it accord as well with O’Neal’s description of a swale in connection with the Rogers house and Plum Run. Earlier, at sunset on July 2, men of Baxter’s brigade of the First Corps occupied that same ground, which explains why Livingston was there.

The place is rather isolated and cannot easily be accessed on foot. The nearest battlefield monument is probably the stone marking the spot where Willard fell during the retreat of his brigade toward the northeast. I have added Sickles Avenue as a reference to help locate the position.

Sources:
-C. A. Richardson Papers, Ontario County Historical County, Canandaigua, New York.
-The National Tribune, September 24, 1908, p. 7.
-C. E. Livingston, The Barksdale Episode, Gettysburg Star and Sentinel, July 27, 1886, Misc. Army Correspondence, 126 NY, box 2, Ontario County Historical County, Canandaigua, New York.
-Letter from David Parker (C/14 VT) to Mr. Barksdale [presumably his brother, Ethelbert Barksdale], 22 March 1882, Brake Collection, U.S. Army Military Heritage Center, Carlisle, PA
 

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Tom Elmore

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#9
Great info! The spot is a bit further west than I had always assumed. Thanks for posting.

Was the blacksmith shop referred to the Klingle farm?
Good question - not sure. I was just reading accounts from Graham's brigade, including 105th Pennsylvania, which mentions a blacksmith shop in that same vicinity, where Cavada could go no further and was captured. The 105 PA fell back northeastward in front of the left of Barksdale's left, which would not be far from the Klingle buildings. Barksdale's left pivoted northeastward to roll up A. Humphreys' left while at the same time Wilcox was advancing and threatening A. Humphreys in his front.

The 105th Pennsylvania halted briefly along Trostle lane where it meets the Emmitsburg road. I wonder if there was a small blacksmith shop at that intersection?
 
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#10
Good question - not sure. I was just reading accounts from Graham's brigade, including 105th Pennsylvania, which mentions a blacksmith shop in that same vicinity, where Cavada could go no further and was captured. The 105 PA fell back northeastward in front of the left of Barksdale's left, which would be at or near the Klingle buildings. Barksdale's left pivoted northeastward to roll up A. Humphreys' left while at the same time Wilcox was advancing and threatening A. Humphreys in his front.
Are there any Mississippi accounts of Barksdale being wounded that early in the fight?

Ryan
 

Andy Cardinal

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#12
Good question - not sure. I was just reading accounts from Graham's brigade, including 105th Pennsylvania, which mentions a blacksmith shop in that same vicinity, where Cavada could go no further and was captured. The 105 PA fell back northeastward in front of the left of Barksdale's left, which would not be far from the Klingle buildings. Barksdale's left pivoted northeastward to roll up A. Humphreys' left while at the same time Wilcox was advancing and threatening A. Humphreys in his front.

The 105th Pennsylvania halted briefly along Trostle lane where it meets the Emmitsburg road. I wonder if there was a small blacksmith shop at that intersection?
One of the accounts I've read from the 114th Pennsylvania (Givens maybe --I'd have to check) refers to a blacksmith shop as well.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#14
So O'Neal's notes included Barkdale? That's fascinating, thank you! Found an article by him in a post war newspaper and hadn't realized how helpful he'd been making notes during and after the battle, locations of Confederate graves he came across. He said he wasn't a popular guy in town, Virginian ( I think ), only just beginning to practice in Gettysburg that year.

I've never seen anything from his notes, as written. Thanks very much for posting all of this!
 

Tom Elmore

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#15
One of the accounts I've read from the 114th Pennsylvania (Givens maybe --I'd have to check) refers to a blacksmith shop as well.
Andy, you are right, this is the source I had in mind. Memoirs of Alexander Wallace Given, 114 PA: "The Rebels gained the Emmitsburg Road on our left, driving our left back, bringing up a battery of 12 pounders, planting it in the middle of the road opened up with double grape and canister. I saw that it would not be wise for us to remain and told the men to retreat slowly, load and fire. ... Keep in the field until reaching the small frame dwelling (shoemaker's shop). As we crossed the road, Col. Cavada was sitting on the back doorstep. I said to him are you wounded? He said, 'No, but very weak.' ... "

I interpret Given's remarks as suggesting the shoemaker's (blacksmith's) shop was on the Emmitsburg road, most likely at or near the intersection with Trostle lane. It would have to be south of the Klingle buildings. I think it was Given that prompted me to consider that he saw at least a section of Patterson's battery going into action on the Emmitsburg road - it was likely too early to be part of Alexander's battalion in my opinion, Alexander's batteries coming up after Wofford passed through the Peach Orchard.
 

EJ Zander

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#16
Had to go to town this morning so I stopped by the area and walked the swales in question. After walking the ground the one that E has an X on is the most pronounced one and also the deepest as compared to the one that the has brush in it by the horse trail. If standing at the site of the Rodgers house and looking toward the Emmittsburg Rd, it is just off to the right.

The below pick is looking at the swale from Emmitsburg road at the fence.
swale1.jpg


This one is looking at the swale from the side.
swale2.jpg


This one was taken while standing at the bottom of the swale looking towards the Rodgers House. It is deep enough that I could only see the top of one tall guys head who along with a large group of horseback riders were passing by on the nearby horse trail.
swale3.jpg
 
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#17
So O'Neal's notes included Barkdale? That's fascinating, thank you! Found an article by him in a post war newspaper and hadn't realized how helpful he'd been making notes during and after the battle, locations of Confederate graves he came across. He said he wasn't a popular guy in town, Virginian ( I think ), only just beginning to practice in Gettysburg that year.

I've never seen anything from his notes, as written. Thanks very much for posting all of this!
There is a transcription of O'Neal's notes in the GNMP Library.
 

Tom Elmore

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#18
Are there any Mississippi accounts of Barksdale being wounded that early in the fight?

Ryan
Ryan, in the above cited David Parker source (Private, Company C, 14th Vermont), he quotes Barksdale as saying, "I was wounded by a rifle ball in my left limb above the knee, but I led my men. Next I was wounded by having my left foot took off or nearly off near the arch by a cannon ball. Though I was weak from loss of blood, still I rode my horse and led my men in the fiercest of the charge that we broke the lines and drove the enemy; and at the moment of success I was pierced by a ball through the breast, knocked senseless from my horse and left by my soldiers for dead ..."

The Parker account is quite detailed and rings true in my mind. If so, Barksdale was struck three separate times. In the realm of speculation, the solid shot I suppose most likely came from a section of Battery K, 4th U.S. Artillery that was firing in his direction from near the Klingle buildings, when Barksdale was east of the Emmitsburg road, which would indeed be between that blacksmith shop and the Peach Orchard. His first wound might have come when he was just west of the Emmitsburg road or else very close to the road, when he may have been nearly opposite the 114th and 141st Pennsylvania and 73rd New York. His final wound could have been inflicted by a New York soldier of Willard's brigade.
 



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