Some Pictures From the Wilderness Where Immigrants Fought and Died

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
Thinking of all the deaths of the battle, I thought I would offer the old Irish poem I Am Stretched on Your Grave to recall the lovers left behind:

 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
Looks like I need to get back over to the visitor center there.
Yes you do. It is no larger than it was, but there is a nice artistry to the space. Great information and a moving commemoration of the lives that were changed on those fields.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I have created a directory to my three articles on immigrants in the Overland Campaign:
http://www.longislandwins.com/columns/detail/immigrants_in_the_overland_campaign

Pat,

I have just went through this magnificent thread of yours and I must say, BRAVO!

Thank you for taking the time and effort to put this altogether for us here at the forum.

And I must tell you, your Saunder's Field pictures brought rushing back my first "magic moment" in Civil War reenacting.

I had just starting reenacting about a year after I had retired from the Army. I think, but cannot be sure, that a friend (Mark Holbrook) and I decided to go to our first "national" reenactment, the Battle of the Wilderness, in Orange County, VA.

I believe it was the second day that we were to do the Saunder's Field battle. I had no idea of what was going to happen, as I was completely new to the history of the Civil War.

It was a very hot day, and about a thousand reenactors formed on a cleared field facing some woods, forming into two, very long lines of infantry. As a "new fish" I was placed in the front line in the EXACT center of that line. When the order was given to advance towards the woods, I was almost crushed from either side by the men pressing towards the center of the line, while the second line marched about 18 inches behind us.

It was amazing to look down that line from my left to my right, it stretched out of my sight. I was doing my absolute best to stay dressed in line and in step, holding my musket at right shoulder shift while we advanced towards those dark, forboding woods.

When we got about two to three hundred yards away from the woods, I got the absolute **** scared out of me! (Now, remember, I am a former member of the United States Army, a veteran of 20 years, with my last assignment being with the 10th Mountain Infantry Division, whom I had many training exercises with in the field during my time with them.) To my absolute terror, there stepped from the woods about a thousand Confederate infantrymen, with all of their muskets (Iwas dead certain) aimed directly at ME!

The first thought that sprang from my flustered brain, without a single prompt from me, was, "I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!" I actually saw myself dying in that forthcoming volley of musket fire. And then in an instant, my brain said, "No, you're not. This is a reenactment, remember?" Whew! What a relief to know that I wasn't really about to be gunned down by a Confederate mine' ball.

I still remember that moment of absolute terror and fear and am thankful that for an instant, I had felt what it must have been like for all those thousands of men who had to face that terror for real.

Again, Pat, thanks for the memories and your most excellent thread.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
If you are heading down to Cold Harbor or Petersburg from the Northeast for the 150th commemorations, please think of visiting the completely redone Chancellorsville Visitors Center along the way for an excellent look at the start of the Overland Campaign.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I don't know the story here, and I have not read the whole thread. But, with regard to the second photo--the one with the monument and numbers of soldiers on it, how do we get 114 missing out of 529 troops engaged? Did they get blown up into tiny parts? Were they captured and taken as undocumented prisoners? Did they run away and desert? How do we account for them?
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
I don't know the story here, and I have not read the whole thread. But, with regard to the second photo--the one with the monument and numbers of soldiers on it, how do we get 114 missing out of 529 troops engaged? Did they get blown up into tiny parts? Were they captured and taken as undocumented prisoners? Did they run away and desert? How do we account for them?
Hi Patrick. The particular horror of the Wilderness was the outbreak of fires that consumed the dead and killed the wounded. While some of the missing may have been captured or run off, it is likely many disappeared in the flames.

John Hennessy, NPS Historian at the Wilderness, wrote this on the fires:

https://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/capturing-the-wildernesss-signature-horror-fire/

Here is an illustration from Waud who witnessed the fires:

wildfire.JPG


Spottysylvania also saw bad fires.
 
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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Hi Patrick. The particular horror of the Wilderness was the outbreak of fires that consumed the dead and killed the wounded. While some of the missing may have been captured or run off, it is likely many disappeared in the flames.

John Hennessy, NPS Historian at the Wilderness, wrote this on the fires:

https://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/capturing-the-wildernesss-signature-horror-fire/

Here is an illustration from Waud who witnessed the fires:

View attachment 314283

Spttysylvania also saw bad fires.
Okay, Pat. I've got the possible explanation now, and I'll tell you and everyone else that the thought of wounded boys watching the fire advance on their location and waiting for it to consume them is just horrific to me. I'm sure it's horrific to all of those who weren't so slow on the uptake as I was. Dang! That's awful!
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I've only been able to read one account of those fires. It was just too awful, written starkly by a soldier who was there.

You know, I'm increasingly convinced immigrants who served in the war made us proud for several reasons. Think about it. They made hazardous journeys away from whichever unrest or poverty or oppression existed in their home countries, risking everything for a chance to give their families something better. And felt what they came to worth protecting, talk about principals. It's humbling. It also makes you deeply thoughtful about that statue in New York Harbor.

Missed this thread in 2014, thanks for the bump and reminder.
 

gjpratt

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Back in the 1980s I bought a relic US musket from the Catletts that was recovered at the Wilderness battlefield. There are some remnants of of wood under the barrel that are charred. Chilling.
 
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