The elusive 15th South Carolina infantry regiment

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Tom Elmore

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The 15th South Carolina was the largest regiment in Brig. Gen. J. B. Kershaw's brigade at Gettysburg, with an estimated 36 officers and 412 men engaged, yet little hard information is available on this unit's activities in the battle, because it became separated from the rest of the brigade and fought independently, and because not one truly informative account by any of its members has ever come to light, so far as I am aware.

Kershaw's Official Report provides the best clues. The 15th was separated from the brigade at the outset, being sent to the right to protect artillery batteries off that flank when the brigade settled into its jump-off position on Seminary Ridge. Out of sight, out of mind. When the rest of the brigade advanced, the 15th may have been the last to receive word. In any case, by the time it did advance, Semmes' Georgia brigade had cut it off. I believe it reasonable to deduce that the 15th then attached itself to the right regiment (53rd Georgia) of Semmes' brigade, and conformed itself to that brigade's movements.

The mortal wounding of Semmes and the subsequent confusion of its regiments would have thus affected the 15th as well. An analysis of 26 individual casualties incurred in Semmes' brigade indicates that about half were due to artillery fire. One might expect the 15th South Carolina to have suffered a similar fate, but in fact, of their 15 identified casualties, only one was inflicted by artillery; the rest were gunshot wounds. Now again, so far as I can tell, the only Federal command directly fought by the 15th was that of Brooke's brigade of Caldwell's division in the Second Corps. From the above I surmise that the 15th remained behind the wall (or fence?) southeast of the Rose dwellings for some time, alongside the 53rd Georgia, but when it finally did advance into the field in front, it was caught out in the open by the sudden appearance of Brooke's brigade coming over the rise ahead, at a very short range. In that scenario, the well-known photographs in that vicinity showing rows of dead Confederates could well belong (in large part) to the 15th South Carolina.

The 15th lost 30 killed, 96 wounded, and 18 missing in the battle, roughly average for Kershaw's brigade, and I do think most of their losses can be directly attributed to the encounter with Brooke's brigade, as described. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that a considerable number of the 15th South Carolina's dead were identified and recovered after the war, lending credence to their dead being grouped fairly close together. In addition, the mentioned field of dead lay just in rear of the Confederate lines from the night of July 2, into July 3, which would have afforded their comrades an opportunity to collect bodies and mark graves, unlike so many other dead that lay in the Wheatfield beyond, which was a "no man's land" between the opposing skirmishers on July 3.
 

Scott F

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In this iconic photograph taken on the Rose Farm by Alexander Gardner, the finished grave in the background contain 3 members of the 15th SC. They are Lt. J M potter, 3rd Sgt. E W Eure, and E W Lewis. The soldier without a grave marker in the open trench is Sgt. J T Spears. The 3 other soldiers in the trench are Thomas W Sligh, William Calvin Butler, and Lt. Langford ( from the 3rd SCV Co. E). The photo location is right next to the Rose Barn. These soldiers along with 4 other soldiers (2nd SC) from another Gardner photo laid out for burial( location is right next to the other photo location) were relocated by George Rose. He was afraid that the corpses would contaminate his well. They were buried together with 3 GA soldiers in the grove walk in the Rose Woods ( common grave #28). Dr. Rufus Weaver was contracted in 1871 by a SC group to return the remains from SC units back home to their state. With the exception of Pvt. Butler and Lt Daniels the rest of the remains were buried in a common grave in Magnolia Cemetery in SC. Pvt. Butler was returned to his family and he is now buried in his families cemetery in Head Springs SC. It is unclear what happened to the remains of Lt. Daniels (2nd SC co. I). I hope this info is helpful in your research. Good luck.
SCgraves3.jpg
CG 28.jpg
 
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Tom Elmore

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I can find no E. W. Eure (or Ewie) in the 15th's rolls, but a Sergeant Emanuel W. Lewie of Company C, 15th South Carolina was killed on the Rose farm on July 2, and eventually made it to Magnolia cemetery in Charleston. A Lieutenant Joseph M. Porter of Company H, 15th South Carolina was also killed on July 2.
 

Scott F

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I can find no E. W. Eure (or Ewie) in the 15th's rolls, but a Sergeant Emanuel W. Lewie of Company C, 15th South Carolina was killed on the Rose farm on July 2, and eventually made it to Magnolia cemetery in Charleston. A Lieutenant Joseph M. Porter of Company H, 15th South Carolina was also killed on July 2.
Sorry, I meant to tell you Eure was misidentified. His name was (Ewic) Co. H. Also it was Porter and not Potter like it has on the grave stone. Lewie is correct also. Sgt. J T Spears from Co. H is the one on the end in the open trench next to the three soldiers from the 3rd SC. Also on the opposite side of the lane and barn buried under a pair tree was Capt. T J Warren Co. D (where the black dot is on the map between the house and barn in orchard).
12776897_10205894730063385_785397561_o.jpg
EW Eure.jpg
 
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Scott F

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The 15th South Carolina was the largest regiment in Brig. Gen. J. B. Kershaw's brigade at Gettysburg, with an estimated 36 officers and 412 men engaged, yet little hard information is available on this unit's activities in the battle, because it became separated from the rest of the brigade and fought independently, and because not one truly informative account by any of its members has ever come to light, so far as I am aware.

Kershaw's Official Report provides the best clues. The 15th was separated from the brigade at the outset, being sent to the right to protect artillery batteries off that flank when the brigade settled into its jump-off position on Seminary Ridge. Out of sight, out of mind. When the rest of the brigade advanced, the 15th may have been the last to receive word. In any case, by the time it did advance, Semmes' Georgia brigade had cut it off. I believe it reasonable to deduce that the 15th then attached itself to the right regiment (53rd Georgia) of Semmes' brigade, and conformed itself to that brigade's movements.

The mortal wounding of Semmes and the subsequent confusion of its regiments would have thus affected the 15th as well. An analysis of 26 individual casualties incurred in Semmes' brigade indicates that about half were due to artillery fire. One might expect the 15th South Carolina to have suffered a similar fate, but in fact, of their 15 identified casualties, only one was inflicted by artillery; the rest were gunshot wounds. Now again, so far as I can tell, the only Federal command directly fought by the 15th was that of Brooke's brigade of Caldwell's division in the Second Corps. From the above I surmise that the 15th remained behind the wall (or fence?) southeast of the Rose dwellings for some time, alongside the 53rd Georgia, but when it finally did advance into the field in front, it was caught out in the open by the sudden appearance of Brooke's brigade coming over the rise ahead, at a very short range. In that scenario, the well-known photographs in that vicinity showing rows of dead Confederates could well belong (in large part) to the 15th South Carolina.

The 15th lost 30 killed, 96 wounded, and 18 missing in the battle, roughly average for Kershaw's brigade, and I do think most of their losses can be directly attributed to the encounter with Brooke's brigade, as described. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that a considerable number of the 15th South Carolina's dead were identified and recovered after the war, lending credence to their dead being grouped fairly close together. In addition, the mentioned field of dead lay just in rear of the Confederate lines from the night of July 2, into July 3, which would have afforded their comrades an opportunity to collect bodies and mark graves, unlike so many other dead that lay in the Wheatfield beyond, which was a "no man's land" between the opposing skirmishers on July 3.
If your suspicion is correct most of the casualties in the photos would be from the 10th Georgia and the 15th SC. Given the burial records there were members of the 10th GA buried in that field (no where near 44). I marked on the map on where three regiments most likely were during the Brook's attack from what little info we do have and the burial records for those regiments (most of the 15th SC are not recorded other then the 5 I mentioned before). Taking all this into account, it's safe to say that the 10th GA was next to the 15SC and not the 53GA.
15th meadow.jpg
15thSCmeadow1.jpg
 
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ErnieMac

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Excerpt from the OR of Union General John R. Brooke along with a couple photos from the area for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately Brooke did not identify the commands he was up against if he knew them.
At about 5 p.m. a furious attack was made upon our left. In a short time, General Caldwell directed me to move to the left. I immediately marched, following the Irish Brigade, and forming in line in a copse of woods in rear of the Irish Brigade, and, moving forward in supporting distance, I crossed an open field or marsh, when, meeting the general commanding the division, he commanded me to halt my line. He then moved the Irish Brigade to the right, leaving my brigade in rear of and at supporting distance from the First Brigade, Colonel Cross, which was then hotly engaged beyond the crest, behind which I then was. In a short time the general commanding directed me to relieve the First Brigade. I advanced in line, faced by the rear rank (which formation was necessary, from the fact that there was not time to form by the front rank), and, passing the line of Colonel Cross at the edge of a wheat-field, I became at once hotly engaged. Pressing forward, firing as we went, we drove back the first line of the enemy, capturing a great number, and then charging the second line, drove it from its almost impregnable position on a rocky crest.

I now found my flanks threatened by a strong force of the enemy, and immediately sent an officer to the general commanding the division for assistance, and finding also a part of the Third Brigade close at hand, I immediately ordered them in and held my ground. Both my aides being wounded, and myself severely bruised, I with great difficulty was able to maintain a proper knowledge of the enemy. Being notified about this time that a heavy column of the enemy was coming upon my left, I immediately took measures to meet them, sending word to that effect to the general commanding. I held them at bay for some time, when word was brought me that my right was being turned, and finding no troops coming to my support, and finding that unless I retired all would be killed or captured, I reluctantly gave the order to retire, and in good order the whole command came off the field slowly, and, firing as they retired, succeeded in bringing off nearly all their wounded. In passing back over the wheat-field, I found the enemy had nearly closed in my rear, and had the movement not been executed at the time it was, I feel convinced that all would have been lost by death, wounds, or capture.​

Photo (taken March 2014) of the brigade marker of Brooke's Brigade (Second Corps, First Division, Fourth Brigade) at the crest of the hill in the Rose Woods. The open field behind is the Wheatfield. The marker is located almost directs across Brooke Avenue from Semmes' Brigade marker. Kershaw's Brigade marker is off the left of the photo a ways.
20140323_150112.jpg


The Rose Farm house and outbuildings taken from a point close to the intersection of Brooke and DeTrobriand Avenues.
20140323_150802.jpg

 
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Tom Elmore

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The 10th Georgia was the one regiment in Semmes' brigade that appeared to have maintained cohesion throughout most of the fight. I have figured the alignment (left to right) in Semmes' brigade to have been 50 GA - 10 GA - 51 GA - 53 GA. This is based on the fact that they stood on the left of the 9th Georgia in the bed of Rose's Run after Brooke's brigade retired and helped fend off the 4th Michigan's final advance in the southwest corner of the Wheatfield just before Wofford's arrival. At that time some men of the 10th advanced to a knoll in the southeast corner of the Wheatfield and continued into the valley of Plum Run until Crawford's Pennsylvanians turned them back.

But I would very much like to see the burial information that points to the 10th being on the right of the brigade.
 

Scott F

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The 10th Georgia was the one regiment in Semmes' brigade that appeared to have maintained cohesion throughout most of the fight. I have figured the alignment (left to right) in Semmes' brigade to have been 50 GA - 10 GA - 51 GA - 53 GA. This is based on the fact that they stood on the left of the 9th Georgia in the bed of Rose's Run after Brooke's brigade retired and helped fend off the 4th Michigan's final advance in the southwest corner of the Wheatfield just before Wofford's arrival. At that time some men of the 10th advanced to a knoll in the southeast corner of the Wheatfield and continued into the valley of Plum Run until Crawford's Pennsylvanians turned them back.

But I would very much like to see the burial information that points to the 10th being on the right of the brigade.
Oh Just a guess but here is one of few that were said to be buried in that meadow. That is if that is the Rose's orchard and not the Sherfys orchard. The 53 GA on the other hand have very good burial records. Back of the privy, near the spring house, washhouse, and all over the woods south west of that field (meadow) none in the field itself. If this is true then most if not all of the fallen soldiers (in the photos would be from the 15th SC.
10GA.jpg
 
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Scott F

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The 10th Georgia was the one regiment in Semmes' brigade that appeared to have maintained cohesion throughout most of the fight. I have figured the alignment (left to right) in Semmes' brigade to have been 50 GA - 10 GA - 51 GA - 53 GA. This is based on the fact that they stood on the left of the 9th Georgia in the bed of Rose's Run after Brooke's brigade retired and helped fend off the 4th Michigan's final advance in the southwest corner of the Wheatfield just before Wofford's arrival. At that time some men of the 10th advanced to a knoll in the southeast corner of the Wheatfield and continued into the valley of Plum Run until Crawford's Pennsylvanians turned them back.

But I would very much like to see the burial information that points to the 10th being on the right of the brigade.
OK that makes sense now. the 3 GA soldiers that were in the same grave as those from the 15th SC were all from the 53rd GA. Notice the place that Capt. Warren is buried is near the stone wall you mentioned. The 2 regiments were just more spread out then I thought. I think you are on to something. Interested to see how this theory develops. Great research so far.
 

Tom Elmore

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Here is how a member of the 10th Georgia described his regiment's movements: We marched through an open field in plain view and in easy range of many Federal batteries ... we passed out of the field into a strip of woods ... after entering the woods we stopped and fought for several minutes ... we then advanced about 60 yards and stopped behind some rocks, which, however, did not afford much protection because they projected only from 12-18 inches above the surface. There again we remained for several minutes. Many fell along this line. ... Finally the Yankees retreated and we chased them up a long, rough hillside ...

Scott F, having gone over the ground, I am of the mind that the 10th entered the woods near the location "Rose Spring" on the map that you posted. In this spot, the 10th would be in the gap just off the front right flank of Brooke's brigade and the front left flank of Kelly/Zook on the stony hill (the Loop). When Brooke retreated, the 10th could move straight ahead to Rose Run, being joined on their right in the depression of the Run by the 9th Georgia, which had moved north from behind the east-west wall adjacent to the George W. Weikert (J. Timber) place. At this time, the 7th and 3rd South Carolina were back around the J. Rose buildings. The 2nd South Carolina had held in the woods west of the Loop and joined Wofford's right as it came up. Perhaps some men of the 51st and 53rd Georgia and 15th South Carolina joined this general advance toward the valley of Plum Run, but there is no firm evidence for it so far as I know.
 

CheathamHill

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Pretty neat to see this today. I was JUST looking up info about my 1st cousin 3x removed, William E Lipscomb, who was KIA at Chancellorsville a few months before Gburg. He was in the 13th SC which, in research, led me to reading about the 15th as well.

How were they able to determine who was in the grave in the famous photo and in which place, considering how deteriorated the bodies were at that time and it doesn't look like anything is written on the wood boards yet?
Maybe I didn't zoom in enough
.
Either way, cool info
 
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Scott F

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Pretty neat to see this today. I was JUST looking up info about my 1st cousin 3x removed, William E Lipscomb, who was KIA at Chancellorsville a few months before Gburg. He was in the 13th SC which, in research, led me to reading about the 15th as well.

How were they able to determine who was in the grave in the famous photo and in which place, considering how deteriorated the bodies were at that time and it doesn't look like anything is written on the wood boards yet?
Maybe I didn't zoom in enough
.
Either way, cool info
I have been researching it for about 4 months. I was able to enhance the photo and read the grave markers. Long story but I will post the link to my study when I get home. This is new info and very few people know about my discovery yet.
 

Tom Elmore

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A source identified as Franklin Chunn, Company A, 15th South Carolina, wrote a letter (below) on 7 July to his brother, which is found in the Brake Collection at the U.S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA, and it is attributed to the Perkins Library of Duke University. Unfortunately the surname Chunn is not found in the service records, but from his references it does appear this soldier did indeed serve in Company A of the 15th SC, which was known as the "Columbia Rifles." Could this be F. J. Brown, or Franklin A. Gibson? He wrote on paper bearing the letterhead of the 20th Indiana, so it appears he reached the position held by the 20th Indiana in the woods south of the Wheatfield, although he might have gone there after the fighting was over for the day to scavenge through the belongings of dead Federals. Incidentally, Tillman Daniel Gibson of Company E was detailed as a nurse for the wounded, but I don't know if this is the "Uncle Tim" that he mentions.

" ...I did not get touched ... we lost our colonel, he was killed. The Columbia Boys suffered very much ... [Henry?] got shot twice in the leg and had to have it amputated ... above his knee. We have 8 or 10 wounded in our company, all slight nearly. Four was wounded pretty badly. Our relatives all came out safe but [Henry?] ... I captured things from the Yankees. I got a pistol and a portfolio full of writing paper and envelopes ... Uncle Tim ... was detailed to stay behind with our wounded."
 
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Dunnerstick

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I've been looking for more detailed accounts myself.
That being said I do know a little bit about the regiment from my ancestral research in regards to my Great Great Granpa Ivanhoe Holloway Bird, Captain of Company K S.C. 15th Infantry, and his brother Daniel Bird Corporal/Private*
*according to records from South Carolina


I know a little bit about the two of them thanks to an essay written about Captain Bird as well as documents from various archives.

The essay is titled
"Important Personalities of Lawrence County Captain Holloway I. Bird
FC
W. B. Harris"
That's Lawrence County Mississippi, where he moved a couple of years after the war.
I'll spare the non-civilwar related content and skip into his service.

"Following his graduation from college, young Bird, taught school in the section of South Carolina where he was reared until the fall of Fort Sumter at beginning of the Civil War. Resigning his position as a school teacher, Bird enlisted as a Private in the Confederate Army. His company was assigned to guard duty in the rice-growing section of South Carolina."

Enter my 1st document from the S.C. Department of Archives:
For this first enlistment he was with the
1st Souty Carolina Infantry (6 months, 1861)
The document claims he enlisted at:
"Richmond, Va., May 7, 1861, at age 27"
"On Last Roll: July 9, 1861 (muster-out roll, Richmond, Va.)
Remarks: Some members of this unit subsequently served in the 15 S.C. Infantry."

Back to the essay.

"This type of military service became irksome to young Bird, who was of an active, energetic temperment: therefore at the expiration of the six month period for which he enlisted he returned home, where he again took up his profession as a teacher.
Only a few days after Bird had resumed teaching, news was received of the Battle of Bull Run. He immediately notified the patrons of his school to select another teacher, as he expected to re-enlist in the Confederate Army.
He was requested by his school patrons, including a member of the conscription corps of the army, to delay enlisting for a few days in order that a Company might be formed with Prof. Bird as its Captain. The Company was organized and Bird was elected as its Captain."

S.C. Document #2:
"First Name: Holloway I.
Last Name: Bird
Rank: Captain
Company: K
Unit/Regiment: 15 South Carolina Infantry
Enlisted at: Dorn's Mines, Abbeville District, S.C., September 3, 1861, at age 27"
Note: I once found a list on a website of some person that was trying to build info on the 15th, they had Company K nicknamed as "Dorn's Own" as I recall it.
I didn't understand why until I got this Document.

Back to Essay:
"This Company became a part of the Fifteenth Carolina Volunteers and was part of the command of Colonel Desseo, whose superior officer in turn was General Kershaw. Kershaw's Brigade was a portion of Longstreet's command and was an important pary of the Army of Virginia.
Captain Bird saw service through the campaign, taking part in the Battle of Chancellorsville and other important engagements.
After fighting in the Campaign in Virginia for a year or more, Captain Bird was wounded while his Company was on picket duty. While eating his midday meal which consisted of coffee made from parched meal and hard tack, Captain Bird instructed a soldier who was seated on a stump behind the breast works to relinquish his seat so that the Captain might enjoy his pipe on something other than cold mud. The soldier cautioned the Captain that he was in an exposed position and might be a very good target for the enemy gunners. The warning had hardly been given when a Minnie Ball struck Bird in the foot, passing through his ankle and lodging in the heel of his boot.
This wound sent the young Captain home and almost caused his death when the would became infected due to the bungling first aid that was available in the trenches."

Here's where it gets a lil confusing as to how the Document is set up but I've figured it out.
Back to S.C. Doc #2
"Wounded: Virginia, 1864*"
Then at the very bottom it reads
"Remarks: *Admitted to General Hospital No.4, Richmond, Va., May 15, 1864, with wounds in left arm and heel. Residence: Edgefield, S.C."

The essay continues...
"However, upon recovering from his wound, Bird returned to the army and assumed command of his Company. At about this time Longstreet's Corps, of which Captain Bird's Company was a pary, was transferred to the Western Army, then commanded by Gen. Jas. E. Johnson. He served in Johnson's army until the surrender, but not before the brave young Captain was again wounded, though not as seriously this time.
It seems that Bird's Company was again on picket duty in the front line trenches. Of a nervous temperment, Bird was pacing back and forth in the shallow trench smoking his pipe when a bullet... passed through his coat, grazing the skin of his chest. This wound did not necessitate his leaving the front."

Now S.C. Doc # 2 kind of disagrees with this last bit, it reads:
"Captured: Halltown, Va., August 26, 1864
...
Paroled: 1) For exchange, Pt. Lookout, Md., Oct. 11, 1864; 2)Greensboro, N.C., May 2, 1865
On Last Roll: April 27, 1865, Greensboro, N.C., (present)"

His brother, Daniel Bird, also of the 15th SC Company K is also listed in S.C. Doc #3
"Captured: Halltown, Va., August 26, 1864
...
Died: Camp Chase, Ohio, February 7, 1865, of heart disease
...
On Last Roll: May/June,1864
Remarks: Discharged November 25, 1862... Buried 1/3 mile south of Camp Chase."

Hope this shines a little light!
 

jameswoods

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I think a pretty good case can be made that the 15th South Carolina attempted to rejoin its (Kershaw's) brigade and briefly fought close to it before being forced back by Brooke's advance.

As noted earlier, the 15th had advanced with Semmes' brigade (on its right) where Kershaw, alarmed by the Federals threatening his right, found it in order to bring it forward.

Kershaw reported that the Federal advance appeared to be directed, “...in such a manner as to take the Seventh South Carolina in flank. I changed the direction of the right wing of the regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel [Elbert] Bland, to meet the attack, and hurried back to General Semmes, then some 150 yards in my right rear, to bring him up to meet the attack on my right, and also to bring forward my right regiment (Fifteenth South Carolina, Colonel De Saussure)... Its gallant and accomplished commander had just fallen when I reached it, and it was under the command of Major [William M.] Gist.”

Complying with Kershaw’s request, Semmes moved his brigade forward. Based on the recollection of Captain Hillyer, 9th Georgia of Anderson's brigade, Semmes’ 10th Georgia occupied a position on the 9th’s left, indicating that the 10th was Semmes’ brigade’s right regiment. Hillyer remembered seeing, “…General Semmes nobly doing his duty. He was one of the Brigade commanders in McLaws’ Division, and was standing in that branch just at that part of the line next to us, occupied by the Tenth Georgia Regiment....”

While the 15th South Carolina never actually succeeded in connecting with the rest of its brigade (as General Kershaw intended), that it apparently tried to do so was verified by Colonel D. Wyatt Aiken, commanding the 7th South Carolina. Aiken wrote General Kershaw in 1882 about the battle and about Bachelder’s recently published Gettysburg maps. Describing the two regiments’ initial advance, Aiken wrote, “...The Seventh Regiment extended across the branch bottom and a short distance up a hill into the woods on the right. The Fifteenth Regiment was still farther to the right, and encountered a stone wall on the edge of the field, separating the field through which we were passing from the forests upon a hill that descended precipitously in their front to the branch bottom that curved down to the right of the Seventh Regiment. The Fifteenth as they mounted the stone wall, charged with a yell down the hill through the forest....”

In another letter written shortly after the battle, Aiken wrote, “...The 15SCR was Kershaw’s right, but having been that day detached to join Sims, my Regt was the extreme right closing up to a gap between me & Hood. Sims was afterward ordered to fill up that gap between me and Hood...& in pressing in with the 15SC on his left [author's empathis], he & they fired over at us....” If (as I believe was his intention) Aiken’s reference to “Sims” was an inadvertent mis-spelling of Semmes’ name, and not a reference to the 53rd Georgia’s commander (Colonel James Simms), in order for Semmes to have pressed forward with the 15th South Carolina on his left would have required the 15th to have previously moved to Semmes’ left. And, since Kershaw did not give any indication that Semmes objected to his request, it can safely be assumed that Major Gist would have attempted to obey his brigade commander’s order.

Kershaw also reported that one of Semmes’ regiments had come at a double-quick to the ravine in rear of his brigade; its position approximately 100 yards from the right of the 7th South Carolina. When the Irish Brigade successfully exploited that gap, Kershaw discovered that the, “...advanced regiment had given way.” Based on the identification of prisoners taken by the Irish Brigade’s New York regiments, this advanced regiment was, most likely, the 51st Georgia.

According to Lieutenant Bernard O’Neill, commanding Company A, 69th New York, “…On the evening of the 2nd July last I commanded Co A (which was one half of the 69th Regt.) into the musketry fire on the left of our position advancing through the woods the enemy got on our right and rere [sic] and in falling back under a galling flank fire especially in crossing a Wheatfield, our Brigade became mixed up with portions of the 3rd and 5th Corps, and only two of the men of my company remained with me, we had brought several rebel prisoners with us out of the woods and remained together, one of the rebel prisoners was 1st Lieut. B. F. Sharpton, Co I 7th South Carolina, the others belonged to 51st Georgia and 7th South Carolina.”

L. L. Cochran, Company E, 10th Georgia, recalled that upon gaining the cover of the woods, Semmes’, “...line was halted for a moment to get breath for the final struggle; we had not struck the infantry yet, and we all knew that the worst was yet to come. Just at this critical moment one of the regiments on our left showed signs of wavering...General Semmes was standing out in front exhorting them to stand firm; Captain McBride ordered the writer and Adjutant Strickland to ‘run down there and rally those men’. When we reached them they were on the verge of panic; their leaders had been shot down, and they were confused. We ran in among them, exhorting, yelling and storming, in language more forcible than eloquent, and with blows and imprecations, finally got them straightened out and back into line. And just here General Semmes was killed.”

Since General Kershaw had only just talked with Semmes before returning to the 7th South Carolina (in time to receive the attack of the Irish Brigade), it would appear that Cochran is describing events occurring immediately after that hurried conference. It is also noteworthy that Cochran indicates at least two regiments were to the left of the 10th Georgia, i.e., “...one of the regiments on our left”, not “...the regiment on our left.”

Meanwhile, Colonel Maffett, 3rd South Carolina, reported, “...the enemy advanced to within 30 yards of us, and, for more than one hour we held him in check, notwithstanding the repeated re-inforcements brought up by him. While thus engaged, about 40 men of the Fiftieth Georgia regiment, under the command of its major, came in on our left, and engaged the enemy.”

Apparently referring to the same reinforcement, Kershaw observed , “....One regiment of Semmes’ brigade came at a double-quick as far as the ravine in our rear,...there was still an interval of 100 yards between this regiment and the right of the Seventh, and into this the enemy was forcing his way, causing the Seventh to swing back more and more, still fighting at a distance not exceeding 30 paces, until the two wings were doubled on each other, or nearly so.”

Kershaw reported that despite a stubborn defense presented by his two right wing regiments, “...the enemy had swung around and had lapped my whole line at close quarters, and the fighting was general and desperate. At length, the Seventh South Carolina gave way, and I directed Colonel Aiken to reform them at the stone wall, some 200 yards in my right rear.” Kershaw then moved over to where the 3rd South Carolina was still holding off the enveloping Federals on the crest of the stony hill. The contest, however, proved to be a short one.

Kershaw observed one of the Union regiments had, “...mingled with the 3d, and amid rocks and trees, within a few feet of each other, these brave men, Confederate and Federals, maintained a desperate conflict. The enemy could make no progress in front, but slowly extended around my right. Separated from view of my left, of which I could hear nothing, all of my staff being with that wing, the position of the 15th Regiment being wholly unknown, the 7th having retreated, and nothing being heard of the other troops of the division...I ordered a retreat to the buildings at Rose’s. On emerging from the wood as I followed the retreat, I saw Wofford riding at the head of his fine brigade, then coming in, his left being in the Peach Orchard, which was then clear of the enemy.”

Interestingly, Kershaw’s report notes that at the same time the 3rd South Carolina retreated he ordered, “...the [Fiftieth?] Georgia with them to fall back to the stone house.” Kershaw apparently questioned Colonel Maffett’s identification of the regiment (or portion of a regiment) that came to the assistance of the 3rd South Carolina. This reluctance on Kershaw’s part may have been because he believed those Georgia troops were from the regiment that had advanced to the right rear of the 7th South Carolina, which he knew not to be the 50th Georgia.

General Kershaw’s mention of a Federal regiment fighting intermingled with the 3rd South Carolina on the crest of the hill, resembles very closely Major Mulholland’s recollection of the 116th Pennsylvania’s experience, “...for ten minutes this work went on, our men seeming to load and fire twice as fast as the enemy. Now the voice of Kelly is heard ordering the charge; with a cheer, a few quick strides, and we are on the crest among the enemy. Here took place a rather extraordinary scene. Our men and their opponents were mingled together...the Confederate soldiers stood there facing us, still retained their arms and showed no disposition to surrender. At this moment I called out, ‘Confederate troops lay down your arms and go to the rear!’... The order was promptly obeyed and a large number of what I think were men of Kershaw’s Brigade became our prisoners....”
 

Tom Elmore

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If the 15th South Carolina was ever near Semmes' left, I don't see how Kershaw could have missed seeing it. As for Aiken of the 7th, he must have heard second-hand about the 15th's position after the battle, since he soon became fully occupied with Kelly and part of Fraser (formerly Zook) until forced back to the Rose buildings.

Regarding Hillyer's recollection, I place that late in the action, when the 9th had advanced to the depression at Rose Run and opposed Sweitzer's brigade, about 7 p.m. Based on my interpretation the 10th Georgia was already there and the 9th joined them on their right.

Maffett describes part of the rallied 50th Georgia coming to his assistance. Kershaw's reference to a regiment coming up on the right of the 7th at 100 yards distance, is, I believe, a reference to the 10th Georgia. When Kershaw speaks of that regiment giving way, he could be referring to another regiment of Semmes (I think the 51st, which had rallied behind a stone wall to Kershaw's right front when he was back at the Rose buildings). Sources in the 10th Georgia do not admit of having ever given way. Cochran's description of the wavering regiment on his left describes the 50th Georgia to my mind.

The description of O'Neill of the 69th New York is intriguing with regard to captures from the 51st Georgia, but it still accords with my view that the 51st fought on the right of the 10th Georgia. A few men on the left of the 51st may have remained on the right of the 10th near Rose Run when the bulk of the 51st was forced back by Brooke's advance, which would explain how Kelly's men took one or more men of the 51st. Attached is my draft map of 6:50 p.m. July 2 to help illustrate.
 

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jameswoods

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Tom, the following two sketches depict my idea of the situation at approximately 6:30 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

Even with the 15th SC moving to the left of Semmes' brigade (6:40 p.m.), it is still some distance from the right of the 3rd SC which could explain why Kershaw didn't personally see it come into action.
 

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