On Cemetery Ridge "Moments Seemed like Ages"

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W. Richardson

Jun 29, 2011
Mt. Gilead, North Carolina
With the Rochester graduates............

As Capt. Winfield Scott looked out across the Pennsylvania farm fields that hot afternoon in July 1863, he saw a sight “grand
beyond description.” In the distance, line after line of enemy soldiers stepped into view, their guns and bayonets gleaming in the
sunlight. They looked like “a stream or river of silver moving toward us.”

The Class of 1859 graduate—a Syracuse minister who left the pulpit to wield a sword—was at “ground zero” for one of the
most dramatic, defining moments of the American Civil War: Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Scott’s former University classmate, Lt. Col. Francis Pierce, Class of 1859, 1862 (AM); another University graduate, Capt. John Ronald
Leslie, Class of 1856, 1860 (AM); and a University undergraduate, Lt. Samuel Porter, Class of 1864, were also in the Union ranks
on Cemetery Ridge that day, bracing for the onslaught of 12,000 southern soldiers whose desperate charge marked the high tide of
the Confederacy

Crossed Flags - 4  Thumbnail.jpg


Member of the Year
May 18, 2011
Carlisle, PA
Lt. Colonel Francis Pierce (108th New York) was wounded at Gettysburg (but still took command of the brigade when Colonel Thomas A. Smyth was shot in the face), at Morton's Ford in February 1864, and at the Wilderness. He was appointed to command of the 1st United States Volunteers (a unit of veterans who had not been mustered out yet) and then went on to join the post-war army as a 2nd Lt., even though he was a brevet volunteer brigadier general. Pierce made the army his career and retired as an infantry captain.

1st Lt. Samuel Porter (Co. F, 108th New York) was wounded at Antietam, Gettysburg, and Bristoe Station before being promoted to captain. He commanded Company F through the rest of the war and was wounded again at the Wilderness.

Captain Winfield Scott (Co. C, 126th New York) surrendered with the rest of his regiment at Harper's Ferry during the Antietam Campaign. He continued as commander of Company C until he was seriously wounded at Spotsylvania on May 8. Scott was discharged due to disability from wounds in September 1864.

Captain John R. Leslie (Co. B, 80th New York) was wounded in action on July 1, possibly along McPherson's Ridge against Pettigrew's Brigade. He continued as commander of Company B until January 1865 when he was promoted to major before mustering out with the regiment in January 1866 (the regiment served on provost duty in Richmond and then Norfolk from April 1865-January 1866).


Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Jan 16, 2015
Rochester graduates is a reference is to the University of Rochester in upstate New York, which had an affiliation with the Baptists when it was founded in 1850. But a Rochester Theological Seminary also existed.

When Pierce (108th New York) encountered Scott moving up with his regiment (126th New York) into Ziegler's Grove on July 3, they held a brief reunion. As the article states, Pierce said, “Well, Scott, we have sat beside each other in the classroom many a day; but this is a new experience. This isn’t much like digging out Greek roots.” Most schools of that era strongly emphasized Greek and Latin studies.

Leslie was a captain in the 80th New York as noted. I show that Porter (of the 108th New York) attended (1859-1862), but did not graduate.

Meanwhile over on Little Round Top, in the 140th New York, Captain Elwell Stephen Otis had graduated in 1858 with an A.B. degree, while Captain Porter Farley of Company G attended from 1857-1861.

Not mentioned in the article is Chaplain Norman Fox, Jr. of the 77th New York, who was also on that field. He graduated with an A.B. in 1855 from the University of Rochester, before completing religious instruction at the Rochester Theological Seminary in 1857. Did Scott attend the latter seminary as well?

Colonel Abel Godard, an 1859 graduate of the university, ably led the 60th New York on Culp's Hill against Edward Johnson's Confederates.
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