Your Favorite Battle Speeches and Quotes

FrazierC

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Soldiers were inspired and relieved when their commander gave them words of encouragement before combat. What are your favorite pre-battle or battle speeches and/or quotes?
One of mine would have to be my signature. During the Second Battle of Manassas, a Federal unit attacking the Unfinished Railroad Cut found itself struggling to deploy into line of battle. Major General Philip Kearny offered a simple solution. He rode to the front of the regiment and roared, "Fall in here, you sons of b******, and I'll make major generals out of every one of you!"
Another of my favorites is John Gordon's speech to General Lee and his own division before leading the counterattack at Spotsylvania Court House. When Lee rode to the front of Gordon's Division to personally lead the attack, Gordon rode to his commander and spoke loudly for his troops to hear: "General Lee, you shall not lead my men in a charge. No man can do that, sir. Another is here for that purpose. These men behind you are Georgians, Virginians, and Carolinians. They have never failed you on any field. They will not fail you here. Will you, boys?" To which his men shouted, "No!" and "Lee to the rear!" Lee complied, and Gordon's counterattack stopped the Federals cold.
 

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JeffBrooks

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Before leading his men in the charge up the slope of Kennesaw Mountain which would cost him his life, Union Colonel Dan McCook stood before his men and recited Horatius by Thomas Macaulay:

Then out spake brave Horatius
The captain of the gate.
To every man upon the earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods.
 

AUG

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That was actually the second "Lee to the rear" incident, where Lee rode up and tried to personally lead troops into battle; the first taking place at the Wilderness at the Widow Tapp Field, which I just remembered strangely took place on this day, May 6th :O o:

As Hancock's II Corps pushed A. P. Hill's Third back around the Orange Plank Road and the Wideo Tapp Field, Longstreet sent his men in. John Gregg, in commanded of the Texas Brigade, was in the front of the column on the left side of the Orange Plank Road, in the Widow Tapp Field. Lee himself road up before they were to be sent to counter attack Hancock's men and asked "Who are these boys?" and they shouted back "Texas boys!". Lee rode out in front of them and yelled "Texans always move them! Fallow me boys!" but they yelled "Go back general Lee! Go back!" and "General Lee to the rear!". Finally, John Gregg talked Lee out of going any farther. The Texas Brigade fought fiercely, pushing Hancock's corps several hundred yards back at the loss of 550 men out of 800.
 
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TobyVonKanobi

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One of the most bizarre was Kirby-Smith at First Bull Run.

"The watchword is Sumter and the signal is this", he said trowing up his right hand palm outward above his forehead.

I believe Shelby Foote commented, "Nobody knew what it meant, but it sounded fine."
 

NedBaldwin

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In October 1864 CSA General Samuel French was poised to attack a US brigade under John Corse at Altoona Georgia. French sent in a message that"I have the forces under my command in such positions that you are now surrounded, and, to avoid a needless effusion of blood, I call upon you to surrender your forces at once, and unconditionally. Five minutes will be allowed you to decide. "

Corse responded: "Your communication demanding surrender of my command I acknowledge receipt of, and would respectfully reply that we are prepared for the “needless effusion of blood” whenever it is agreeable to you."

Wounded while beating back French's attack, Corse declared "I am short of a cheekbone, and one ear, but am able to whip all hell yet".
 

diane

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Wounded while beating back French's attack, Corse declared "I am short of a cheekbone, and one ear, but am able to whip all hell yet".
Lol! When Sherman, who was worried about the injury, saw Corse, he laughed and said, "Well, Corse, it looks like the rebels **** near missed!"

But Corse's correspondence with Sherman got Bliss to write the familiar old hymn "Hold the Fort!" The refrain, hold the fort for I am coming, was said to be directly from one of Sherman's telegrams to Corse. Sherman could never remember telegraphing that!
 

FrazierC

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Another of my favorites:
During the battle of Gettysburg at the Angle during Pickett's Charge, the 71st Pennsylvania Regiment at the Angle in the the stone wall retreated, leaving Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery under the command of Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing to its fate as several hundred Confederates rushed the stone wall. Bleeding profusely from shrapnel wounds to the shoulder and groin, Lt. Cushing refused to seek medical treatment in the rear and continued directing the two remaining 3'' Ordinance Rifles blasting away at the oncoming Confederates as General Webb tried in vain to stop the 71st Pennsylvania in its retreat. Knowing that his two guns were all that stood in the way of the Confederates, Cushing shouted to Webb over the roar of gunfire, "I will give them one more shot, sir!" Seconds later, a bullet entered through his mouth, killing him instantly. Cushing's steadfastness and sacrifice inspired his men to continue working their guns until being overrun.
 

AUG

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Lt. Col. William P. Rogers of the 2nd Texas, while leading his men to attack Battery Robinette at 2nd Corinth jumped off his horse and grabbed the flag of the 2nd Texas after several color bearers had been shot down. He ran into the ditch in front of the fort and before going up the top told his men "Men, save yourselves or sell your lives as dearly as possible." and ran up the parapet with the flag of the 2nd Texas and was shot in the chest and killed instantly.
 

FrazierC

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Not meaning to bump my own thread, but I just read this one and wanted to share it.
150 years ago today, Federal soldiers received orders to attack the Confederate rifle pits at the bottom of Missionary Ridge during the Siege of Chattanooga. Before all the orders could be properly distributed, the signal guns fired, signaling for the attack to begin immediately.
As his men moved forward, one of General August Willich's subordinates asked the general where they were supposed to stop to reform. Replied Willich: "I don't know; at Hell, I expect."
 

diane

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Willich had some good ones! At Chickamauga, he was late to the party and thought he'd missed the battle. He rode into headquarters camp and yelled in his thick Prussian accent, "Vere ist dem gott-dam rebels!"
 

FZ11

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Sickles to a,very,animated Meade, "Then should I move my troops back?" Meade to Sickles,"I wish to God you could but the Enemy won't let you!" Buford to Reynolds,"The Devils to pay! E.P. Alexander,"A Chicken couldn't live on that field."
 

Tin cup

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"Old Rock" General Benning of the Georgia Brigade encountering a squad of soldiers cowering at Chickamauga:

"God **** you, men, get from behind those trees and rocks, and give them hell!" A shell exploded a few feet away, killing his horse. Benning tumbled to the ground. When he got up, dazed but unhurt, Benning's perspective changed.
"God **** you, men, stay behind those trees and give em hell"!

Kevin Dally
 


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