"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Friday, July 3, 1863. “What troops are those ... muskets glittering in the sunlight and battle flags fluttering in the breeze?"

James Wilson
Co. B, 13th Vt
killed July 3, 1863
Age 20
"Friday, July 3, 1863: Skirmishing began a quarter before 4 o'clock . . . Artillery opened first at 4 AM then ceased somewhat until 2 PM when 100 pieces opened on us. Continued 2 hours when the enemy advanced. Captured 3 colors-lost one afterward. Brought in 2nd Florida and 8th Va. We have won a great victory."  ~ From the Diary of Wheelock G. Veazey, Colonel, 16th Vermont Regiment.(VHS), in David Cross, Wheelock Veazey, (Rutland Historical Society, 1995)

"Dexter Parker received a very painful wound from a piece of shell which cut through one of his hands and he was in such agony that Corporal O. G. Miles and James H. Wilson started to help him to the rear, one on each side. They had only gone a short distance when a shell struck in a pile of stones and burst. All three fell to the ground and it was found that a small piece of shell had pierced Wilson's heart, killing him instantly." ~ Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 470(1910)

"When we were about six hundred yards from the stone wall a Sergt. Dalton of my Co. asked me, “What troops are those on our right, are they our men or Yankees?” …There off on our right was the grandest sight I have ever seen -- ...A body of Yankees coming at double quick “right shoulder shift.” Their line perpendicular to our own,
uniforms looking black in the distance, muskets glittering in the sunlight and battle flags fluttering in the breeze created by their quickened motion.
"...[T]he shock of this attack on our right...struck us at least 100 yards from the stone wall. I saw their men … deliberately fire into our whole line. In a few minutes all was confusion...” ~Captain Henry Owen, 18th Virginia, in Richard M. Rollins, Pickett's charge: eyewitness accounts at the Battle of Gettysburg 188-89

"[A] bout 4:30 p.m. a large column of infantry was seen to steadily advance from between the batteries and right glad were we to see them. They came out in front, protected by their shells which being a little above them came over their heads and deployed handsomely in line. On they came directly towards my picket line but the grape and canister from our batteries and the shots fire from my picket now acting as skirmishers warned them of the hazard of that route. They then turned and marched by their left flank. At that moment our bugle sounded our picket came in, we formed a line with the 13th and 14th rushed on. We were asked if we could charge. Our terrific yell from our men was the response and there we were after the “greybacks” In fifteen minutes the results could be counted thus - 300 rebels dead and wounded on the field and over a thousand prisoners were taken and 2 stands of colors. Of these the 16th took full 400 prisoners and in a second separate charge made only by the themselves they took these two stand of colors the 2nd Florida and 8th VA, and over a hundred more prisoners." ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters July 6, 1863. VHS.

"....The movements I have briefly described were executed in the open field, under a very heavy fire of shell, grape, and musketry, and they were performed with the promptness and precision of battalion drill. They ended the contest in the center and substantially closed the battle. Officers and men behaved like veterans, although it was for most of them their first battle, and I am content to leave it to the witnesses of the fight whether or not they have sustained the credit of the service and the honor of our Green Mountain State. 

"... There were 350 killed, wounded, and missing from my three regiments engaged; of the missing, only 1 is known to have been taken prisoner." ~ Report of Brig. Gen. George J. Stannard, July 4, 1863.

From the Second Vermont Brigade monument:

July 1. Arrived at dusk and took position on right of Third Corps.

July 2. Joined the Corps and went into position at the left and rear of the Cemetery. Just before dusk a detachment advanced to the Emmitsburg Road and captured about 80 prisoners and recovered 4 abandoned Union guns.

July 3. In position on left of Second Division Second Corps at the time of Longstreet's assault. The 13th and 16th advanced against Major Gen. Pickett's Division changed front forward and attacked its right throwing it into confusion and capturing many prisoners. The 16th and part of 14th then went to the left and attacked the advancing Brigades of Brig. Gen. Wilcox and Perry (Col. Lang) and captured three flags and many prisoners.

Casualties Killed 1 Officer 44 Men, Wounded 12 Officers 262 men, Captured or Missing 32 Men; Total 351.

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