* OFFICIAL *
- Mar 15, 2013
On May 12, 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania, 1st Lieutenant Elwood S. Corser of Co. B, 93rd New York was wounded and lay between the lines as the tide of battle passed over him. Forty-five years later, in an article in the Minneapolis Tribune, Corser recounted his experience and shared his own observations concerning the motivations of the soldiers on both sides.
At early dawn we were facing the Confederate works at Spottsylvania C. H. Our charge was made through a tangled marsh and over logs and other obstacles. Our hard fighting in the Wilderness had thinned our ranks, and the two companies of my regiment which I led over the breastworks could not have numbered more than thirty men. We made a quick rush over the Confederate line, which, taken by surprise at that early hour, was giving way to right and left of the point where we struck it.
By our successful rush a thousand Confederates were broken and gathered as prisoners. Then we were met by a sweeping flank fire on our right from the works still held by the Confederates, and I fell with a gun shot wound in the left hip. Then came a rush from the Confederates, who regained their works. These they held during the day. One of the Confederates, a fine young fellow of about sixteen or eighteen years, came rushing in with his comrades, reciting a patriotic monologue thus: 'We'll teach these Hessians to invade our soil!'
Having leisure for reflection, I reached some conclusions which have remained unchanged to the present time — viz., that the men of the North and the South who faced each other on the battlefields of the Civil War were equally sincere and patriotic in standing for their differing convictions. As I was surrounded by the Northern moral and political atmosphere and was naturally in the Federal army, I saw that it could not be otherwise with me, nor did I wish it so; but I also saw that if I had been born and bred in Virginia or South Carolina, I would have been standing clothed in Confederate gray, and, joining in the monologue of that fine type of the Southern soldier, recited by him as he rushed into the Confederate works.
I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy, but I feel it within me that it is to be so.
Source: Originally published in the Minneapolis Tribune, reprinted in Confederate Veteran, Volume 19, page 36.
Thanks to @Mike Serpa for the image of Elwood S. Courser.