Tracking Down a Fallen Confederate on Culp’s Hill

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Tom Elmore

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Nearly all of the several hundred Confederates who fought and died on Culp’s Hill were buried as unknown soldiers in one of several mass graves dug for them by their opponents on July 4. It is rare to find any Federal who paid much specific attention to fallen enemies in this area, aside from those known to collect plunder. However, one exception to the general rule was Orderly Sergeant William H. H. Tallman of Company E, 66th Ohio.

In his memoirs, Tallman wrote that he was detailed to assist the medical staff behind the lines during the battle. He visited his regiment on the front lines on the morning of July 4, following a good night’s rest that few if any of his fellow compatriots had enjoyed. Tallman ventured out and saw where Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh (of Maj. Gen. Ed Johnson’s staff) had fallen. This places Tallman roughly 100 yards northeast of where the Federal works made a sharp bend to the east. Tallman continued his narrative:

“One young fellow seemingly twenty three years of age attracted my attention, and by looking through his pockets I hoped to find something to identify him, but was unsuccessful, as I found only one letter and that had not his name or regiment, only the name of a lady friend in Georgia. The letter I enclosed in one I wrote home … intending perhaps to have it sent to the writer at some future time.”

Georgia is a solid clue. Although no organized Georgia infantry commands fought on Culp’s Hill, it happens that Companies D and E of the 2nd North Carolina Battalion from Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel’s brigade were raised in Georgia. It is also clear from the records that Daniel’s brigade traversed this location on the morning of July 3. Daniel wrote: “In executing this movement, my troops were much exposed, and many were killed and wounded.”

A closer look at the dead of Companies D and E is warranted, although bear in mind that casualty lists for the battalion are rather incomplete. Seven prospects are possible, according to available information:

Private Andrew J. Beam, D, reportedly killed July 2. We can exclude Beam if July 2 is accurate, but such dates cannot be trusted, especially knowing the brigade was not especially engaged on that day, so we cannot rule him out entirely.

Private Thomas E. Crocker, D, mortally wounded July 3. We can exclude Crocker, who was most likely taken to a field hospital before his subsequent death.

Private Thomas J. Stewart, D, reportedly killed July 2. We may exclude Stewart like Beam, but with the same caveat.

Second Sergeant William T. Wallace, D, reportedly killed July 2. We can probably exclude Wallace since Tallman would likely have mentioned if he wore the chevrons of a sergeant.

Private Benjamin Caldwell, E, age 33 when he enlisted in May 1862. We can exclude Caldwell because of his age.

Private James W. Terrell, E, age 29 when he enlisted in May 1862. We can also exclude Terrell due to his age.

Private Isaac J. Hicks, E, age 21 circa May 1862, making him 22 or 23 at the battle of Gettysburg.

Although we can never be certain unless additional information surfaces, Private Isaac J. Hicks emerges as the most likely candidate to have been encountered by Sergeant Tallman, just one among many lifeless bodies that lay scattered over that rocky hillside on Independence Day in 1863.

Sources:
-Handwritten memoirs of Orderly Sgt. William H. H. Tallman, Charles Rhodes III Collection, U.S. Army Military History Institute (now the Heritage Museum), Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
-Official Report of Junius Daniel.
-Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg, by John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey.
-Compiled Service Records.
 

nc native

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That's some good detective work on your end to narrow down the possibilities as to the identity of the solider that Sgt. Tallman was referring to in his account. I have a mystery of my own when it comes to unidentified dead left on the battlefield on Gettysburg after Pickett's Charge on July 3rd. My 2x Great Grandfather's brother Sgt. Isaac Glenn of Company D of the 18th Virginia Infantry was killed and his body was never identified. From the direction of movement that the 18th Virginia moved during the battle my guess is that he was killed near the angle but unfortunately there were not any soliders like Sgt. Tallman to give me any evidence in their accounts to help confirm my suspicions. I think he may have been one of the unlucky few blown away by Cowan's battery with canister on that day when the 18th Virginia got close to the stone wall.
 

rpkennedy

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That's some good detective work on your end to narrow down the possibilities as to the identity of the solider that Sgt. Tallman was referring to in his account. I have a mystery of my own when it comes to unidentified dead left on the battlefield on Gettysburg after Pickett's Charge on July 3rd. My 2x Great Grandfather's brother Sgt. Isaac Glenn of Company D of the 18th Virginia Infantry was killed and his body was never identified. From the direction of movement that the 18th Virginia moved during the battle my guess is that he was killed near the angle but unfortunately there were not any soliders like Sgt. Tallman to give me any evidence in their accounts to help confirm my suspicions. I think he may have been one of the unlucky few blown away by Cowan's battery with canister on that day when the 18th Virginia got close to the stone wall.
While the Elliott map is possibly overstating the number, hundreds of dead Confederates were buried between the Emmitsburg Road and the stone wall. That count includes dead from all three divisions as well as Wright's Brigade from July 2. If Isaac Glenn was killed, he was most likely buried in one of these mass graves and was sent south in the 1870s.

Ryan
 
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rpkennedy

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As an addition, if Glenn was killed during the advance (from Seminary Ridge to the Emmitsburg Road), he may have been buried in the graves northwest or west of the Codori Farm. There were 75-100 Confederate graves in those locations and these men a mix of men from Wright's Brigade and from Longstreet's Assault.

Ryan
 
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Seduzal

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An amazing story of history past. There is (just my guess) but maybe not actually acceptable count of soldiers buried in unknown graves. As I see cemeteries that are post here on CWT there are many gravestones marked Unknowns Soldier. One may never know the names of these man who died and are buried...
 
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