Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Edwin J. Sweet in Zouave uniform, 40th New York, " The Constitution Guard ", 1861. One of the best Zouave photos I've come across. LoC.
40th had a long war- Fair Oaks, Seven Days, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, 2nd Bull Run, Gettysburg- uniforms wore an awful of blood and dust. Portion of Col.'s report after Gettysburg.
" At this point we were subjected to an enfilading fire from the enemy’s batteries, which compelled a change of position. Moving across a road leading from the Emmitsburg road to the Baltimore pike, we again formed line of battle, when I was moved, by order of Colonel de Trobriand, with the rest of the brigade, marching in line of battle, about 100 yards to the left and front, to the support of a battery which was stationed near a peach orchard.
At about 4 o’clock were relieved by a portion of the Fifth Corps, when I was ordered by Major-General Birney to move by the left flank through the woods across a field of wheat, in front of Captain Winslow’s battery, to a position pointed out to me by Capt. J. C. Briscoe, in a ravine bounded on the left by high hills and upon the right by a gentle ridge.
The enemy had at this time partly succeeded in flanking the Second Brigade upon my right by a movement upon their left. Captain Smith’s (Fourth New York) Battery was stationed upon the ridge at my right, and was in a very perilous situation. The enemy having already captured two of his pieces, he called upon me in beseeching terms to save his battery. I then moved in line of battle, with my right connecting with the Second Brigade regiments, which were on the right of the battery, under a terrific fire of the enemy’s infantry, who were strongly disposed behind the natural defenses of rocks and ridges, encountering also a destructive fire from his artillery. I immediately ordered my men to charge, when with great alacrity they pushed forward at a double-quick, crossing a marsh up to their knees in mud and water. " Col. Egan's partial report of the 40th, Day 2, Gettysburg
The enemy fell back upon my advance, but it was attended with no particular advantage to ourselves, for their new position was very much stronger than the first. All attempts to dislodge them from the second line proving unsuccessful, and discovering that they had gained ground upon my right, which threatened a flank movement, the regiments on my right having fallen to the rear and exposed us to a cross-fire, I was compelled to fall back, rallying my men upon the ridge over which I passed.
In moving in, my command suffered terribly, and here I have to regret the loss of one of my bravest and best officers, Lieut. William H. H. Johnson, who was acting adjutant. While nobly and gallantly urging on the men, he was killed instantly by a Minie ball. I sustained also the loss of many of my bravest and most faithful men, who nobly fell in the performance of their sacred duty, facing the enemy of our country.
Read somewhere Zouave uniforms were popular because they were easy to make quickly. In 1861 communities outfitted men, ladies burning midnight oil to march them off ASAP. Well, it doesn't look like simple toggery to whip up although haven't sewn a thing since Mom finished my 7th grade Home Ec project. Useless with a sewing machine so do not know.
Came across Edwin J. Sweet on LoC, seemed too wonderful not to share. Had an idea someone mistook a European soldier for Edwin but nope. He wasn't just all swish, patriotic glamor and dash, either. Sweet seems to have served from June, 1861 through May of 65. Mustered out a Lt. , record includes wound at Fredericksburg, MIA after Cold Harbor and a baffling desertion charge in1863. Must have been straightened out if he was still on officer in 1865?
Love to know what if anything may have survived of his uniform by 1865.