* OFFICIAL *
- Mar 15, 2013
The nature of the ground was such and the contest so brief that the wounded could not be moved, and were wounded twice, thrice and as many as four times after being stricken down. A few, who with shattered arms or wounded bodies, ran back in safety to the surgeons, have not ceased to admire their legs for the good service rendered...
This account was written for The News and Courier by Col. Joseph N. Brown, of Anderson [SC], who at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg was Lieutenant Colonel of the 14th South Carolina regiment. He afterwards became Colonel of the regiment. The article was originally published in The News and Courier in July 1882 and was reprinted in The Lancaster News (Lancaster, SC) in 1913.
Anderson, S.C., July 12, 1882
To the Editor of The News and Courier:
....In May last, you requested me to write up one of the battles of McGowan's brigade for The Weekly News, which was also urged on me by officers of the brigade, and I have taken Gettysburg.
Very truly yours,
Joseph N. Brown
McGowan's South Carolina Brigade at Gettysburg
(By Lieut. Col. Joseph N. Brown, Afterwards Colonel 14th S.C.V.)
Gen. McGowan and Capt. A. C. Haskell, A.A.G., were both severely wounded at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863, and Col. Abner Perrin, of the 14th South Carolina, commanded the brigade on the Pennsylvania campaign, with Lieut. J. G. Barnwell, of the 1st, as his A.A.G. The field officers of the several regiments were: Major W. M. Haddon, Orr's Rifles; Col. J. L. Miller, Lieut. Col. H. C. Davis and Major E. F. Bookter, 12th; Col. B. T. Brockman and Lieut. Col. J. F. Hunt, 13th; Lieut. Col. Joseph N. Brown and Major Edward Croft, 14th; and Captain W. T. Haskell, of the 1st, commanded the Battalion of sharpshooters....<text omitted>
NO ESCAPE FOR THE WOUNDED
The losses were immense. The 14th -- which was the largest regiment -- lost over 200 in killed and wounded out of 475 carried into action. All the regiments lost over one third. They were all killed or wounded. Over six hundred had fallen in front of these breastworks. The thousands of hostile bayonets that appeared and passed around the sides of the Seminary building comprised what remained of fifteen hundred carried into action.
The nature of the ground was such and the contest so brief that the wounded could not be moved, and were wounded twice, thrice and as many as four times after being stricken down. A few, who with shattered arms or wounded bodies, ran back in safety to the surgeons, have not ceased to admire their legs for the good service rendered. It was the only battlefield in which all avenues of escape for our wounded were closed. There was nothing that the ambulance corps could do.
The ground was swept at every point by the deadly minnie balls. The artillery fire is terrible, but the almost silent whirl of the minnie ball is the death-dealing missile in battle. Not a foot of ground presented a place of safety. The Union troops fired low, and their balls swept close to the ground on the dishlike field in the front. The terrible strife was over in a few minutes - fifteen, say twenty minutes at the most. Men never fell faster in this brigade, and perhaps never equally so, except in Orr's regiment at Gaines Mill.
On our side, the firing was not slack nor wild. The trees in the Seminary grounds, where the Union lines ran, are still thickly covered with scars, from the ground to the height of a man, made with the bullets of our unerring rifles. They are well-marked on their western sides. And the ground strewn with their dead and wounded well attested the accuracy of the deadly aim.
THE GALLANT ENEMY
It was no ordinary soldier that we had met. The prisoners captured were more intelligent than on other fields. They were mostly Pennsylvanians, fighting for everything they held dear. The celebrated Iron Brigade was in our front. The 121st Pennsylvania, 143d Pennsylvania, 149th Pennsylvania, 151st Pennsylvania and others not remembered. Maine troops were there, who stated that they came in not fifteen minutes before the actions began, also the artillery on our right and the cavalry behind the stone wall, all holding to the death. But there was no crossing of swords and bayonets, for this is seldom done except on paper. It was no time for hairbreath escapes with nobody hurt. It was not the clipping of clothing, but the bodies of men that were struck. While the loss in line officers and men were great, it was remarkable that not a single field officer was disabled for duty, though they did not escape unstruck.
INCIDENTS OF PERSONAL DARING
The Rev. W. B. Carson, chaplain of the 14th [SC] regiment, remained with the wounded, of whom ninety of his own were too badly wounded to be removed in ambulances south of the Potomac. He went in to the heavily shelled woods for blankets for his wounded men and remained to minister to their wants until death freed many from their sufferings.
Dr. Louis V. Huot, the eminent surgeon of the 14th [SC] performed many skillful operations, drawing praise from Union surgeons. He returned to us on the final retreat.
A soldier boy of the 14th [SC] captured the large flag of the 149th Pennsylvania in the works where all its guards were slain. Another captured a smaller one, and, folding it in his bosom, fell two days afterwards advancing in the picket line in front of Cemetery Heights.
R. Owens, color bearer, son of Capt. R. S. Owens of the 14th [SC], who had fallen at Frazier's Farm, was shot dead while carrying the flag of his regiment, and all his guard but one was slain.
In the 12th [SC] regiment, one color bearer after another was shot dead, until four were killed and two others wounded. And a scarcely less fatality attended the colors of the other regiments. The land of the Shamrock, as in other fields, continued its quota on the strongly contested ground.
Source: The Lancaster News. (Lancaster, SC), June 27, 1913, page 2.