Transcribed Letter

This is a letter from James Wallace, Dickinson class of 1840, to John Bachelder, the official government historian of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Letter of Col. James Wallace

Cambridge, Maryland

July 4th, 1878

Major John Bachelder

Dear Sir

You circular letter in relation to the maps of the field of Gettysburg was duly received. I am much pleased with the work. I am sorry I did not meet with you at the spot on last decoration day, to point out an omission in the location of the 1st E.S. Md. Vol. under Lockwood on the 3d July. We were dispatched about 8 o’clock AM from across the Baltimore Pike, down Spanglers Lane to reinforce Genl. Geary. We took position on the crest of the slope, Geary’s extreme left, on Culp’s Hill, at the angle in toe works as shown by your maps, to the right of the swale.

We arrived just in time & opened fore over the heads of a Pennsylvania regiment laying in the trenches out of amunition & repelled the last dash of Stewarts Confederate brigade & held the position until 10 o’clock Am when we were relieved.

This was the regiment that appeared in new uniforms & bright burnished arms, that attracted the attention of the reporter of the New York Herald & noticed by him in his account of the affair at that point on the 3d (which please see). I do not perceive that you place my regiment at that place. It was the turning point of the day on Culps Hill. The 1st Maryland Confederate regiment met us and were cut to pieces. We sorrowfully gathered up many of our old friends & acquaintances & had them carefully & tenderly cared for.

In your isometrical drawing you place Lockwood too far to the right towards Mr. Patersons Mill. We were there at night &threw up the defense, but we met the enemy on Culps Hill & lost all of our men there.

I will be grateful if you correct this matter & give us the position & credit we are entitled to.

Yours respectfully

James Wallace

Late Col. 1st E.S. Md. Vol.

Adams Co. Historical Society

I have set up an appointment to meet with Wayne Motts, the director of the Adams County Historical Society, to view some documents on and discuss the 1st Maryland Regiments. The Society houses the Bachelder Papers that I have been trying to track down for sometime now, along with some other relevant documents concerning the fighting on Culp’s Hill. Given the value of the Papers and the success I have had with Mr. Motts on past projects, I anticipate that this will be a very beneficial meeting.

I am set to go down there on Wednesday afternoon, so there will be more to say then. Hope everyone had a good break.

The John Bachelder Papers

I have identified a source of documents that I believe will be incredibly helpful for my project. John Bachelder, the leading historian on the Battle of Gettysburg, was contracted by congress to compile a comprehensive history of the events. He amounted a collection of 2,081 pages of letters from the officers and men of both armies to the official historian of Gettysburg. All written in an effort to fix correctly the details of the battle. This mass of correspondence between John Bachelder and the participants of the battle, both Union and Confederate, is arranged in chronological order from 1863-1894.

Unfortunately, this collection has proven very difficult to track down. It is not available in our library and is currently out of print so I cannot order a copy. It looks like my best chance is to hope my siblings old student ID’s work at the Gettysburg College Library where they have a copy in their Special Civil War Collections.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Cousins

Some good stuff I’ve found:

The Union 1st Maryland Eastern Shore faced the Confederate 1st Maryland Battalion faced each other on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg. Color Sergeant Robert Ross of the Union regiment was a cousin to Color Sergeant P.M. Moore of the Confederate battalion, who was wounded several times and captured by his neighbors.

Colonel Wallace of the Union 1st Maryland wrote, “The 1st Maryland Confederate Regiment met us and were cut to pieces. We sorrowfully gathered up many of our old friends and acquaintances and had them carefully and tenderly cared for.” Included among these dead was the battalion’s mascot, Grace. Union General Thomas Kane recalled, “He licked someone’s hand, they said, after he was perfectly riddled.” Kane ordered the dog given decent burial “as the only Christian minded being on either side.”

More to come…

Historical Society

I have reached out to Wayne Motts of the Adams County Historical Society and Bill Copeley of the New Hampshire Historical Society for help with this project. Motts would be a help for obvious reasons, but Copeley has possession of the John Bachelder Papers. Bachelder (1825-94), was appointed by Congress the official historian of the Battle of Gettysburg. These writings contain a great deal of material that would be very helpful on my search, including many writings from James Wallace, the Dickinson grad and Colonel of the 1st Maryland Regiment, USA.

Unfortunately, neither of these individuals have been able to respond to my inquiries. I do remain hopeful, however, that these contacts will eventually pay off.

Culp’s Hill

Pickett’s Charge from Culp’s Hill:

As the first rays of light were visible across the horizon on the morning of July 3d, the fight was resumed on Culp’s Hill, where darkness had interrupted it the night before, and long before broad daylight the fire was heavy and incessant. We knew that Slocum was trying to drive the “Rebs” out of our works. They had entered the works the night before without invitation, and had occupied them and slept in them during the night. Culp’s Hill was about one mile distant from the place where we lay. We could plainly hear the cheers of Geary’s men borne to us on the morning air, with now and then a stray bullet. As the day advanced the artillery mingled with the musketry. The men now held their breath from sheer anxiety. At nine o’clock in the morning the firing ceased suddenly and a tremendous cheer went up. Culp’s Hill was once more in our possession. This was succeeded by a brief respite — a perfect calm.

About noon we could see considerable activity along Seminary Ridge. Battery after battery unlimbered, the horses were taken to the rear, and the guns placed at the edge of the woods. On our side officers sat around in groups and anxiously watched the movements in our front, knowing full well what it meant. Shortly after one o’clock we knew all about it. The headquarters wagon had just been driven up and General Gibbon had invited General Hancock and staff to partake of lunch. The bread was handed round. It was eaten without butter, for as an orderly was passing the latter a shell from Seminary Ridge cut him in two.

Instantly the air was filled with bursting shells. The batteries that we had been watching for the last two hours go into position in our front did not open singly or spasmodically. The whole 120 guns that had begun to play upon us seemed to be discharged simultaneously, as if by electricity. For nearly two hours the storm of death went on.

I have read many accounts of this artillery duel, but the most graphic description penned by the most able writer falls far short of the reality. No tongue or pen can find language equal to convey an adequate idea of its awfulness. Streams of screaming shells poured through the hot air, falling and bursting everywhere. Men and horses were torn limb from limb. Caissons exploded one after another in rapid succession, blowing the gunners to pieces. No spot within our line was free from the rain of iron. The infantry hugged closely to the earth, and sought all the shelter that the earthworks afforded. It was in the most perfect sense a storm of shot and shell, such as the oldest soldiers then — those who had taken part in almost every battle up to this time during the war — had not seen equalled. That awful, rushing sound of flying missiles, a sound that causes the firmest hearts to quail, was everywhere.

Child, Benjamin Ham, 1843-1902, Memoir of Benjamin Ham Child, in The Memorial War Book : as Drawn from Historical Records and Personal Narratives of the Men who Served in the Great Struggle. Wiliams, George Forrester, Brady, Mathew B. and Gardner, Alexander. Providence, RI: Lovell Brothers Company, 1894, pp. 610.

Adams County Historical Society

I have contacted Wayne Motts, the Director of the Adams County Historical Society, for some possible insights regarding some primary evidence that may be available regarding the fighting on Culp’s Hill. Mr. Motts and I have worked together in the past on a Civil War-related projects with very good success and I anticipate a similar result in this case. I have yet to hear from him in this case, but I will provide updates when I do.

McKim

One example of the specific stories conveyed in Randolph Harrison McKim’s Recolleections:

“Reverting to the story of the battle, there are one or two things I wish to mention of a personal nature. As we were on the march to the field, on July 1st, the distant booming of the cannon in our ears, one of the privates of Murray’s company came up to me, during a brief halt by the roadside, and said he wanted to speak to me. It was James Iglehart, of Annapolis. We stepped aside, and I said, “What is it, Iglehart?” He answered, “Lieutenant, I want to ask your pardon.” “My pardon!” said I. “Why, what on earth do you mean?” “I’ve done you an injustice,” he said, “and before we go into this battle, I want to tell you so, and have your forgiveness.” I told him I could not imagine what he meant, and he then said that he had thought from my bearing toward him that I was “proud and stuck up,” because I was an officer and he only a private in the ranks, but now he saw that he was entirely mistaken and he wanted to wipe out the unspoken injustice he had done me. The next time I heard his voice was in that last terrible charge on Culp’s Hill, when our column had been dashed back like a wave breaking in spray against a rock. “McKim,” he cried, “McKim, for God’s sake, help me!” I turned and saw him prostrate on the ground, shot through both thighs. I went back a few yards, and putting my arm round him, dragged him to the shelter of a great rock and laid him down to die. There are two things that rise in my thought when I think of this incident. One is that if he hadn’t come to me two days before and relieved his mind as he did, the gallant fellow would not have asked my help. And the other is that the men in blue in that breastwork must have been touched with pity when they saw me trying to help poor Iglehart. It took some minutes to go back and get him behind that rock, and they could have shot us both down with perfect ease if they had chosen to do it.

– McKim, Randolph Harrison, 1842-1920, Memoir of Randolph Harrison McKim, in A Soldier’s Recollections : Leaves from the Diary of a Young Confederate, with an Oration on the Motives and Aims of the Soldiers of the South. New York, NY: Longmans & Co., 1910.

http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com/cgi-bin/asp/philo//getobject.pl?c.25092:1:0:-1:47.cwld.25713.25720

Updated Proposal

Revised Paper Proposal

Description

This project will be the examination of the story of the First Maryland Volunteer Regiments of the Federal and Confederate Armies who originated from the same area on Maryland’s Eastern shore and went on to meet in battle – though only once – at Culp’s Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Significance

I will engage the significance of this topic regarding several factors within this story. This study is focused on enhancing the understanding of who fought, why they fought, and what happened between these former friends during some of the most intense fighting of the whole war – at a moment when the outcome was never more important.

Context

Although much less famous that its counterpart of Little Round Top, the significance of the events on Culp’s Hill, in terms of its place during the battle, has generally been appreciated. However, much less has been written and publicized about the heroic stories of the individuals involved (in contrast to the actions of Col. Chamberlain). This is an attempt to bring these individuals to life in their own time.

Evidence

The primary point of reference that I have found to this point are the Memoirs of Randolph Harrison McKim. A Marylander fighting for the Confederacy, McKim’s recollections have already proved to be incredibly valuable in providing an inside look at the regiment – from its creation through the fighting on Culp’s Hill and its time beyond. There are also a number of books about the events on Culp’s Hill that will be helpful in setting the stage and illustrating the bigger picture within context. The Historical Societies of Adams County and Dorchester County have, and will continue to be valuable as I move through this process. I have looked into, and hoped that local newspapers would be helpful in this process – however, I have encountered some difficulty in accessing some of the more specific articles that I had hoped for.

Method

This will be a survey of multiple different forms of evidence compiled from a wide-ranging variety of resources. My goal is to create as full and clear a picture of this episode – through the specific stories of a few individuals – as I possibly can.

Maryland v. Maryland

I’ve had a bit more success with my research of the 1st Maryland Regiments of the USA and CSA since I last checked in..

The two key figures I have gravitated towards are James Wallace, Dickinson Class of 1840, who was a major player in the creation and combat action of the 1st Maryland Regiment of the Federal Army. He was the colonel when the two regiments met on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg.

The second figure is Randolph H. McKim, a member of the 1st Maryland of the Confederate Army. He is most significant, at least to my research, because of his recollections and extensive memoirs that have since been published.

I have also been able to locate a book dedicated entirely to the Confederate Maryland regiments during the conflict. Titled “The Maryland Line in the Confederate Army: 1861-1865” it has proved to be a useful launch point into some more specific and detailed research about this group.

A Soldier’s Recollections

I recently made a significant discovery concerning my paper and the conflict between the First Maryland Infantry Regiments from the CSA and USA that took place on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg. It turns out that Randolph Harrison McKim, who was a 1st Lieutenant fighting for the Confederacy, wrote an extensive Memoir that includes accounts of both the decision to fight for the Confederacy, and contains some accounts of specific memories from the intense fighting on Culp’s Hill.

Though I will be focusing on those areas of his writings, he does provide an extensive first-hand recollection of the time leading up to and following the war from the perspective of a student at the University of Virginia. It can be viewed in its entirety here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/mckim/mckim.html.

Perhaps that will be helpful to some people.

Update

For some reason far beyond my understanding, I have been unable to log on to this blog over the past several days. It simply would not load onto my computer.

I was, however, able to identify the individual from Dickinson who Prof. Osborne referred to in class last week. James Alexander Ventress Pue graduated in the Dickinson Class of 1859 and went on to fight in the First Maryland Calvary of the Confederate Army. Although his Calvary Battalion was not present at the Battle of Gettysburg as previously believed, he was traveling with Fitzhugh Lee’s Calvary Brigade at the time and most likely would have returned to Carlisle and Dickinson College during the June occupation of the town.

More information on Pue is available in the Dickinson Chronicles.

Topic Search

Like most people, I still have some work to do in finding an appropriate topic. I’ve been trying to avoid posting and updating you with my slow progress just for the sake of posting, so I thought I would share a letter that I came across over the past week.

The date and author will speak for themselves, but I thought it was – if nothing else – a pretty powerful message. It should also give you some idea of the topics I have been looking into. It may appear long in this format, but it reads quickly,  I highly recommend reading this:

Letter from George Edward Pickett to LaSalle Corbell Pickett, July 4, 1863.

MY letter of yesterday, my darling, written before the battle, was full of hope and cheer; even though it told you of the long hours of waiting from four in the morning, when Gary’s pistol rang out from the Federal lines signaling the attack upon Culp’s Hill, to the solemn eight-o’clock review of my men, who rose and stood silently lifting their hats in loving reverence as Marse Robert, Old Peter [nickname for General Longstreet] and your own Soldier reviewed them — on then to the deadly stillness of the five hours following, when the men lay in the tall grass in the rear of the artillery line, the July sun pouring its scorching rays almost vertically down upon them, till one o’clock when the awful silence of the vast battlefield was broken by a cannon-shot which opened the greatest artillery duel of the world. The firing lasted two hours. When it ceased we took advantage of the blackened field and in the glowering darkness formed our attacking column just before the brow of Seminary Ridge.

I closed my letter to you a little before three o’clock and rode up to Old Peter for orders. I found him like a great lion at bay. I have never seen him so grave and troubled. For several minutes after I had saluted him he looked at me without speaking. Then in an agonized voice, the reserve all gone, he said:

“Pickett, I am being crucified at the thought of the sacrifice of life which this attack will make. I have instructed Alexander to watch the effect of our fire upon the enemy, and when it begins to tell he must take the responsibility and give you your orders, for I can’t.”

While he was yet speaking a note was brought to me from Alexander. After reading it I handed it to him, asking if I should obey and go forward. He looked at me for a moment, then held out his hand. Presently, clasping his other hand over mine without speaking he bowed his head upon his breast. I shall never forget the look in his face nor the clasp of his hand when I said: — “Then, General, I shall lead my Division on.” I had ridden only a few paces when I remembered your letter and (forgive me) thoughtlessly scribbled in a corner of the envelope, “If Old Peter’s nod means death then good-by and God bless you, little one,” turned back and asked the dear old chief if he would be good enough to mail it for me. As he took your letter from me, my darling, I saw tears glistening on his cheeks and beard. The stern old war-horse, God bless him, was weeping for his men and, I know, praying too that this cup might pass from them. I obeyed the silent assent of his bowed head, an assent given against his own convictions, — given in anguish and with reluctance.

My brave boys were full of hope and confident of victory as I led them forth, forming them in column of attack, and though officers and men alike knew what was before them, — knew the odds against them, — they eagerly offered up their lives on the altar of duty, having absolute faith in their ultimate success.

Over on Cemetery Ridge the Federals beheld a scene never before witnessed on this continent, — a scene which has never previously been enacted and can never take place again — an army forming in line of battle in full view, under their very eyes — charging across a space nearly a mile in length over fields of waving grain and anon of stubble and then a smooth expanse — moving with the steadiness of a dress parade, the pride and glory soon to be crushed by an overwhelming heartbreak.

Well, it is all over now. The battle is lost, and many of us are prisoners, many are dead, many wounded, bleeding and dying. Your Soldier lives and mourns and but for you, my darling, he would rather, a million times rather, be back there with his dead, to sleep for all time in an unknown grave.

Your sorrowing

Soldier.

In Camp, July 4, 1863.

Bibliography

This may not be news to some of you, and it is certainly off topic from what has been discussed recently on these blogs, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the bibliography project we handed in to Chris Bombaro is different from the bibliography project for Prof.  Osborne (which was supposed to be due on Monday).

Again, some of you may already be aware of this, but based on some of the conversations that we had briefly in class, I don’t think everyone is; I, for one, did not realize it until Monday after class.

The instructions and expectations for that project are posted on the projects page, and appear immediately under the instructions for the Letter project.

This is something that you will want to get working on as soon as possible, for – as we have learned – history takes time. And this project is no different.

I hope this is helpful to some people.

Final Product

Wrapping up the loose ends of our letter assignment. It is amazing how much easier it was to read the letter after a couple weeks of looking at it from time to time. The words I could not discern the first few tries were easy after letting it sit for a while. This was a very interesting project, but I’m glad to have it complete.

“Mystery Company”

A few updates from the past week of research:
The biggest fact that I was able to find out is the identity of the “Company of Volunteers” that was identified by S.W. Price as originating from Jersey Shore, PA. They are Company A, of the 34th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. As it turns out, shortly after Price’s request to have them put into service they were enlisted into Camp Curtain in Harrisburg in June of 1861. From that point on, much of their history was fairly easy to track down.

The Captain of that Company, H.C. Ullman, who was a lawyer from Jersey Shore, served with the Company until the winter of 1862, when he was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg and discharged on December 23, 1862. Ullman is also mentioned in the letter by Price.

… More information will come soon.

Major Topics from Letter

The most prominent topics from my letter that I have been researching so far are the author of the letter – S.W. Price, Camp Scott, and Camp Curtin. Research on Price has been tedious so far, but I have learned that he was the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Jersey Shore, PA from 1860-1861. It also appears that he was so moved by the content of his letter that he decided to join the military in the 20th Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers. More information is forthcoming regarding his background.

Camp Scott, one of two mentioned in the letter, was a military training facility on the site of the York Fairgrounds. There is a fair amount of information on Camp Scott, which produced several thousand Pennsylvania soldiers.

Camp Curtin was located in Harrisburg, PA and was named in honor of the Governor after he called for additional troops from PA. It was this movement that created the 20th Pennsylvania, of which Price was believed to be a member.

Most Recent Letter Transcription

Rev. S.W. Price

May/61

Jersey Shore, Pa

May 8th, 1861

Hon. Eli K. Slifer,

Dear Sir; –

Having learned that the control of the Northern Central Railway was to a great extent under the State; I write you asking the favor of a renewal of the (illegible) Clergyman’s ticket. By granting it you will greatly ablige me.

Allow me Sir, to call your attention to another item or two, in which as public officer and Christian Philanthropist you will doubtless feel interested and effect your functions to a proper extent.

The first is an extract from a letter read from Camp Scott “There have been four of our men died in Camp within the last two days, and if we do not get better living and more of it we will all die before our three months are up.”

Every preparation cannot be made for a military campaign in two or three short weeks; but in an agricultural section like Penn. the brave men who have sacrificed comfortable homes and profitable situations to defend our Rights and our government, should be abundantly and comfortably provided for.

Another thing I will call your attention to and will Secure your influence for; is the Company of Volunteers raised in this place more than two weeks ago. They are a fine body of soldiers, good size, well-drilled, and after seeing last week the soldiers in Camp Curtis I have no hesitancy in pronouncing them a better body of men then two-thirds Encamped there – in every respect. We have kept them at the Expense of this little town for more than two weeks, knocking all the time for admission to the Army, until they are discouraged and many of our Citizens begin to complain of Expense. Some of us have used our influence to keep them together. Now, if they can be taken please have them (entered/issued?) immediately; or if that cannot be, have the kindness to inform us, and we will allow them to disband. They want to go and are willing to serve during the war. They are under the command of Capt. Ullman a lawyer of this place. Excuse the (perhaps unjustifiable liberty, but I hope pardonable) liberty, a comparative stranger has taken in addressing you these lines, and believe me

Yours Fraternally, Saml. W. Price

History of York County

One of the topics that I came up with from my letter was that of Camp Scott, a Union training camp for soldiers that was located on the fair grounds in York, Pa. As a resident of York County, I found this to be an enticing topic. In the library I found a multi-volume work dedicated strictly to the history of the county. It looks like this will be very helpful as I move forward, in addition to the well established York County Historical Society. I look forward to following through with these sources.

Transcribed Letter

I first wanted to apologize for not participating a on these blogs last week , I simply forgot all about them – it just takes some time to get used to I suppose. Hopefully I can help out in the future.

Otherwise, I just completed transcribing my assigned letter. The first time I went through it I had more than ten words that I could not quite decipher, but I have managed to get that down to two, and it doesn’t effect my ability to understand the contents at all.

The letter dated May 8, 1861, is from Samuel W. Price, who was a Minister from Jersey Shore, PA and is addressed to Slifer. In this letter, Price addresses three primary questions: the first is simply a request to have his complementary Clergyman’s train ticket renewed, for which he said he would be much abliged.

The second issue involved an extract from a letter that he received from Camp Scott, complaining of poor conditions that had led to the death of several men within the preceeding two days. Price pleaded for better accommodations, especially given the resources of Penn.

The last issue he discussed was the inefficiencyof the Army based on the existence of a Company of volunteers that he declared were some of the finest he had seen yet were not put into service. He expressed some of the community’s frustration with wasting resources and time furnishing the soldiers only to have them sit around.

That is the essence of my letter, one which I found to be pretty interesting. I have yet to determine a concrete topic that I may want to conduct a project on, but I think there are a few good options.