Petersburg/Richmond Mystery Surrounding a Battle of Hatcher's Run Medal of Honor Story?

KepiBrit

Cadet
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
From looking at recent posts, it seems like I just missed the March 25th MoH day! Just a coincidence.
Anyhow, while doing some research on the sadly neglected battle of Hatcher's Run (Feb 5-7 1865), on reading through my various resources, my curiosity was piqued by something that didn't seem to add up. This revolved around the well cited story of Daniel Caldwell, who won a MoH for capturing the colors of the 33rd NC infantry regiment in some style. My problem is that I dont think that this NC regiment was involved in the battle? This started to bug me and I have penned a draft letter (attached) outlining my case, that I thought could be of interest to some journal / magazine / website. I thought that here would be a good first base to acquire comments, suggestions and insights. Is this a worthy story at all, or do people take MoH stories with a large pinch of salt? Personally, I would have thought that such heroic deeds deserved to be correctly recorded and that the 33rd NC perhaps didn't loose their colors at Hatcher's Run after all. So I look forward to hearing your views.
 

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Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
I agree, it sounds like a typo. You've made a good case for who was where and what really happened.

The haze of battle can make memories fuzzy. For instance, Desmond Doss in War 2. By count of wounded, his fellows were sure he had helped 100 men off the escarpment. He felt it could not have been more than 50, so they divided the difference and said 75 in the citation.

Personally, I'm not sure why grabbing a standard was considered more heroic than carrying one, or than charging into enemy fire like so many did in this war. It may have been more flamboyant, but also seems sort of foolhardy. I don't remember now if it was Rufus Dawes who after taking a Conf. unit noted that taking a flag seemed more commendable than the actions of he and his men. And to think that at the start of the war no one attached any great importance to the banners they carried into battle. I remember reading about one color bearer burning his old flag when it was replaced by a new one, because it wasn't of any use anymore.
 

JeffFromSyracuse

Corporal
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Philly Suburbs
Good scholarship, and an interesting question. Are there records of captured Confederate battle flags, including who possessed them and what banners were returned well after the war?

As your sources indicate, Hatcher's Run is a hard battle to understand because of the paucity of source material, so I think what you've already done is very impressive!
 

KepiBrit

Cadet
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
I agree, it sounds like a typo. You've made a good case for who was where and what really happened.

The haze of battle can make memories fuzzy. For instance, Desmond Doss in War 2. By count of wounded, his fellows were sure he had helped 100 men off the escarpment. He felt it could not have been more than 50, so they divided the difference and said 75 in the citation.

Personally, I'm not sure why grabbing a standard was considered more heroic than carrying one, or than charging into enemy fire like so many did in this war. It may have been more flamboyant, but also seems sort of foolhardy. I don't remember now if it was Rufus Dawes who after taking a Conf. unit noted that taking a flag seemed more commendable than the actions of he and his men. And to think that at the start of the war no one attached any great importance to the banners they carried into battle. I remember reading about one color bearer burning his old flag when it was replaced by a new one, because it wasn't of any use anymore.
Thank you for your kind words. A simple typo would be the neatest solution, but there are problems in placing the 23rd NC in the same vicinity as Caldwell and the 13th Penn Cav.
I recall reading about one Confederate soldier cutting up his regimental colors and hiding the pieces upon his person, rather than surrender them at Appomattox.
 

KepiBrit

Cadet
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Good scholarship, and an interesting question. Are there records of captured Confederate battle flags, including who possessed them and what banners were returned well after the war?

As your sources indicate, Hatcher's Run is a hard battle to understand because of the paucity of source material, so I think what you've already done is very impressive!
Thank you for your comments and as a relative newbie, I'm glad that my account was found to be of a reasonable standard. I have a colleague who is helping me with the flag situation. Living in England I'm at a disadvantage regarding on-the-ground contacts, hence the beauty of this wonderful forum. I'm still trying to understand which Confederate regiments would actually have been fighting with the 13th Penn Cav on Feb 6th.
 
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