The Battle of Gettysburg By LBM

A note by Ron Mesnard: This was one of the 55th finest moments. Had they not held the line the battle of Gettysburg and the war might have ended differently. I have a link to Chas Stacey's own account of how he earned the Metal of Honor.  I think these firsthand accounts allow us to visualize and appreciate what these very brave men did. Chas Stacey's own account

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get to my regiment J and made an extreme effort to do so. Then within a few feet of my company I fell from the heat and exhaustion, or sunstroke. I was unconscious some half hour. Then I regained consciousness I was in an ambulance, and Dr. Spooner was giving me restorations. I rode till night when we camped near Emmittsburg having marched forty-four miles, so reports said. Our brigade had gone some four miles out of the proper way during the night. We moved only a mile or so the next day. Then on July first we started early for Gettysburg, but I rode in an ambulance being unable to march. We soon heard the firing at Gettysburg, where we arrived near noon. I left the ambulance and went past Little Round Top, and joined 11th regiment on Cemetery Hill before they had got up from their first rest after reaching there. The First Corps had been heavily engaged for some hours doing most heroic and effective work. Two divisions of 1st corps had passed through the town and deployed on the right of the lst Corps, but were soon enveloped and flanked by the enemy and as I arrived at Cemetery Rill our forces, (some 10 thousand) were retreating before some thirty thousand of the enemy then on the field. Our division of some four thousand on Cemetery Hill were all the organized Union forces then on the field. A Union cavalry regiment deployed and charged on the left of the town. This was the only real cavalry Charge I ever saw in the army, and as the rebs were much disorganized and scattered it was quite effective in stopping the enemy, who made no attempt to dislodge us during the afternoon.

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Our regiment was moved down to the foot of the hill to the left of the center of our line behind a stonewall alongside the road where the Emmittsburg road joins a road from past Little Round Top, so we could look directly up a street through the left of the town. The rebs worked up through the buildings of the town near us and did quite effective sharpshooting. A sand stone monument now locates the position of the 55th Ohio regiment. The german regiment to our right did not keep any Skirmishers out but we threw them out in an open field in our front. Our army was drifting in and taking position all the afternoon and night, and the artillery on both sides was thundering shells through the air. I was sick and had orders from the doctor to keep very quiet and not attempt to go out on the Skirmish line or other hard duty. But how we did sleep and rest! At daylight the next morning the Skirmish lines were hotly engaged. The wounded were dropping out quite rapidly and soon came back "pell-mell" over the wall. Then Col. (Gambee) came that way and ordered them out, again. A wounded lst Sergt. from the skirmish line says, "No one can stay out there under that cross fire". Col. Gambee said, Lieut. Boalt, take your Co. out there." I ordered the Co. into line. Boalt drew his sword and we were out there in a jiffy, but my, how the lead did fly. A dozen men were sent to a small brick barn to the right. As I was kneeling in the grass capping my gun a ball from the right struck my gunstock, stinging my little finger, bruising my knee quite severely, and spoiling my gun. I picked up another gun, and suggested to Boalt that we charge on the post and rail fence behind which the rebs were, as I thought they were too close. The word was given and we got there. There was wheat standing the other side of the fence. I raised up behind a post to look over as a bullet struck the edge of the post and glanced past my ear sending splinters into my forehead. Some twenty feet in front there was an old

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stump and elder bushes growing up inside. I drew a rail out of the lower part of the fence and suggested to Chas Stacy that he go to the stump which he did, and has since received therefor a Medal of Honor. He did good work there as a sharpshooter, but it was a better, safer place than the rest of us had. When our seventy rounds of ammunition was fired away we were relieved, but no other Skirmishers went to the fence. There was very heavy fighting to our left for hours during the afternoon, Sickels 3rd Corps was being driven in from the Emmittsburg road, also there was hard fighting off to our right near Culps Rill. Probably 30 to 40 guns on Cemetery Hill were firing over our heads and as I lay behind the wall I noted that on a space between two appletrees, about twice the size of a large wagon box, that three shells per minute struck. I called a comrade's attention to it and timed it again for some minutes with like results. History says the rebs were ordered to attack on our front, and toward night they were very aggressive and I have always believed that the strong skirmishing of our brigade held them back. About six o’clock the skirmishers on our left were driven in and ours being hard pressed, our Co. was sent out to reinforce the line, and ordered to deploy on the right the worst place and my position was at the right of the Company. We went out and clear to the fence but could not stay as the rebs were on our side of the fence both to left and right. We fell back to where the line had been most of the day, but, my boy, it was a bad place. Rebs were on both flanks and front, and quite too close. But we lay close and fired as fast as possible. Soon I was wounded in the right arm, and soon after the first

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shock I took my gun and ran for the regiment. The bullets seemed to come crisscross from every way, but I was just ahead of them. Col. Gambee spoke kindly to me as I came over the wall and advised me to go to the rear at once, as we all thought a fierce attack was to be made. As I ran up the hill between the cannon which were belching war, and on across Cemetery Hill, I looked to my left and saw the rebs right among our guns and noted through the smoke hand to hand fighting. I came near being run over by some reinforcements just coming in. Dear me, but that was a terrible place just at that time! And by the way the place where the battle of Gettysburg came nearer being lost than at any other point or time. (Note: This attack came from just to the right of the village.) I ran along the Baltimore pike, I think it is called, in rear of our right wing among the flying lead and shells J and dodged around behind a rock near the size of a smokehouse. There I met "Bill Star" our company cook with some hot coffee. Soon I went on to a large barn used as a hospital. The ball was cut out of my arm by a doctor) it having struck the bone above the elbow and glanced along the bone to near my shoulder. Soon the little bullets were pattering against the barn) and a large sheet from nearly opposite direction burst in the upper part of the barn) which made quite a stir among the wounded. I remember being much concerned because some of the wounded and hospital attendants began to get scared and claimed we were getting "licked". I felt and insisted that the army of the Potomac was there to win a victory and would do so. About 10 o 'clock I started out to find our own corps hospital, but finally stayed at another large hospital till morning. This was simply about four acres covered with wounded, in or

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about a house and barn. I first got onto the top of an old flat straw-stack and went to sleep the only man up there. Some time after someone stepped on me hurting my arm and I saw the whole top of the stack was occup1ed. I got down and wandered around sometime watching the ambulances coming in with the wounded. Toward morning I lay down behind a large rock next a fence and had a good sleep. The next morning I found our llth corps hospital, where I found some thirty or forty boys from our regiment, and thousands from the corps. I spent several hours helping comrades end watching the surgeons at the operating tables of which there were three. I had started after several canteens of fresh water, as I noticed a bright boy some 18 years of age standing near one of the tables. One doctor was looking at his bandaged head, another at his bloody pants leg as the boy said, "Oh, the trouble is here," pointing to his right arm hanging limp at his side. "I hope you won't have to take it off." As he took his place on the table, I started on after the water. When I came back with the water he was just coming to from chloroform. He soon turned and sat on the edge of the table looking around in a dazed sort of way and rose to his feet and looked at the stump of his arm, and such a look! It seemed to touch his very soul. A shudder then a wave of greatness came over him and he was led away a hero indeed some mother's darling. Except some sharp fighting in the early morning at the right at Culps Hill, there had been little sound of battle during the forenoon. About one o 'clock I noticed a lot of reserve artillery moving over toward our left front and walked that way to our line of battle till I could

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look over to Seminary ridge where the right if the rebel army lay. Longstreet's corps, however) very little could be seen over there, but our line looked very strong, in the fastness of the rocks and stone walls the artillery massed on every hilltop. About two o 'clock the storm broke forth. Some three hundred cannon shook the earth and filled the air with death. I felt that the fate of our country was at stake. Soon orders came for all that could walk to go to the rear as the shells came screeching through the air by the score. I went back some thirty rods to the shelter of a hillside, stopping on the way to comfort my old neighbor, Wm. Pollock , who had been mortally wounded the night before (of Co. C55th Ohio).  After the cannon shot had struck the ground once or twice they would ricochet along the ground and bouncing the way they were going, I could see a dozen at a time bounding along like footballs. After the artillery fire slackened, I knew the crises was on and felt very anxious. I started along up toward the front where was a terrific musketry fire. That is what kills decides battles. Soon I heard Union cheers and after a while near a "ten acre lot full" of rebel prisoners just from the front. I came across 8th Ohio boy from Norwalk among those guarding them) and learned of the failure of "Pickett's Charge." This is known as "the high water mark of the rebellion". And this in fact ended the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the greatest and most important in the history of the world, where some 4500 men were killed and wounded in actual combat, not in the slaughter of retreating masses. The line of battle was near five miles in length. and anyone man could see very little of it, yet being in the rear of battle the third day, I saw much more of

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it than of any other battle I was ever in. Matters were very quiet the next day (the 4th of July) so far as we at the rear could see, and toward night we heard that Lee was falling back , and that Vicksburg had surrendered.

Gettysburg in Wikipedia

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