Wasted Valor - August 2002
Confederate dead at Gettysburg
Sent by Tom Gladwell
as quoted from the book "Wasted Valor" by
happened to the Confederate dead? If this question was asked once, it was surely
asked a thousand times by visitors, especially as they walk through the
Soldier's National Cemetery. When told about the sad fate of most of the
Confederate dead, and how they were carelessly buried with little or no attempt
at identification by Union soldiers, almost all visitors, regardless where they
hail from, are shocked by this information. Quite a few people cannot understand
why the cemetery does not include all of the Confederate burials (a few were
mistakenly buried in it), and wonder why these men, Americans all, were not
properly interred with identification and headstones. Of course most people do
not realize that, at first, even the Union soldiers had only crude headboards to
mark their graves, while Southerners, buried by their comrades, were likely to
have the same.
Usually the strongest reaction, besides that of anguish and sadness expressed by visitors, comes when they are informed that most of the Confederate bodies were left in their makeshift graves for nine or ten years after the battle. Then, mainly through the efforts of several patriotic organizations, some money was eventually raised to pay for the exhuming, boxing, shipment south, and eventual reburial of the remains in Confederate cemeteries in Richmond, Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, identified in each place with a tablet indicating only two words: Gettysburg Dead. It is my experience that this fact does more than the most vivid and dramatic accounts of the desperate and savage fighting that occurred in such places as the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and Pickett's charge to underscore the tragic futility of war. This realization causes many, for the first time, to understand the terrible cost of war in terms of human values and the traumatic damage done the human soul.
A Fearful Verification: The men, Their Stories, Their Deaths.
Every grave had its history, and thousands were there.
Sophronia E. Buckland
Volunteer nurse at Gettysburg
The Rebels boasted that in coming into Pennsylvania they had got back into the Union- many who thus boasted occupied those burial trenches. Their boasting met a fearful verification Jacob Hoke, Chambersburg, PA. Citizen.
….the dead are laid out in long rows, with their naked faces turned up to the sun, their clothes stiff with the dried blood, and their features retaining in death the agony and pain which they died with; and presently they are dragged forth and thrust into a shallow pit, with, perhaps, the coarse jest of a vulgar soldier for their requiem, and bloody blankets for their winding sheets.
Captain D. et U. Barziza
4th Texas Infantry
Often, while collecting research on the Confederate burials at Gettysburg, some personal narrative would surface, covering a specific soldier who was killed during the battle, or died of his wounds hours, days, or weeks later. Out of approximately 160 narratives assembled, I have chosen a few to include here. These compiled biographies are, of course, only a small number of the over 4,500 Southerners who died as a result of that battle. Their intimate stories of anguish, death, and courage were usually recalled and written by comrades, military nurses, surgeons, the Union captors, and civilians.
The purpose here is to emphasize the human aspect of men suffering and dying far from home, who were now in the hands of the enemy. The impact of seeing as many 5,000 dead and dying soldiers collectively is too overwhelming to comprehend. One must see them as individuals, as people. It would seem more equitable to let every man be recognized and to have had a friend, or even a stranger, to recall their last moments. But unfortunately, that was not possible. Hopefully, these accounts will impart some notion of the price of the folly of war.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
This story does much to underscore that " glory guards, with solemn round, the bivouac of the (Confederate) dead." Despite this title Wasted Valor, sensitive and knowledgeable people, because of this powerful and gripping portrayal of events, may conclude that these Confederates did not die in vain at Gettysburg- that their lives were given in a cause they believed right, just as did their Union brothers who set the stage for the birth of a true and stronger nation. Although they did not live to see it, their valor has contributed to the making of present day America.
Private Marshall Pure, 5th Texas Infantry
This young Texan was one of the fifty plus men of the 5th Texas who was killed or mortally wounded on July 2 in General Jerome Robertson's attack on the Houck's Ridge area just west of Little Round Top. Ironically, Pure was one of the few casualties anywhere on the battlefield whose grave was noted by two separate visitors.
Andrew B. Cross, a member of the U.S. Christian Commission, visited the battleground about July 7 and saw…"below the rocks, in the lower part of the meadow, on the other side, also alone is Marshal Prue, Company F 5th Texas--A piece of rail… was driven in at the head of the grave, and the name written with a lead pencil."
Edward Bird, a Baltimore resident, apparently viewed the same area on Monday August 24. After walking over the George Rose farm, Bird observed this: "Way down in one corner of a field and near the base of Round Top, was the grave of a Texan soldier named M. Pure, 5th Texas, his old coat was lying alongside of his grave."
Regrettably, even as early as 1866 this grave was no longer recorded by Dr. O'Neal, and during the removals by Dr Rufus Weaver in the summer of 1871,1872, and 1873, his body was not included with those shipped to the south for reinterment. It had become just another lost grave, wiped off the face of the earth by weathering, or the carelessness or vandalism of some battlefield visitor.
Private J. W. Shackelfore, 9th Louisiana Infantry
This solider was very likely the first Confederate to be buried in the Gettysburg area. Dr. J.W.C. O'Neal, the local physician originally from Fairfax County, Virginia, who had moved to Adams County in February 1863 told the following story in 1905 to a reporter for the Compiler, a local newspaper:
….on June 30, 1863 I got word to go to Schiver's on the Mummasburg Road, that a sick man there needed attention. I discovered the man to be a dropped Rebel, he couldn't march along and was left behind and had taken quarters in the Schiver's barn………
I visited the man in the Schiver's barn and prescribed for him. He was from New Orleans and was over marched. He died later and was buried by the roadside.
Forty- two years later when speaking to the reporter, Dr. O'Neal probably did not remember the exact details, but his physician's visiting books, which he kept for each year of his practice, had the facts. On page 154 of the 1863 journal is this entry:
" Died on Mummasburg Road at Shrivers from 9th Regiment Louisiana, Hayes Bd, ect. J.W. Shackelfore, Rocky Mount, Bossier Parish. His mother is Mary A. Shackelfore, same address.
The David Schriver farm had at least 23 Confederate graves located on it, most of which were " unknown" and by 1873 all traces of Shackelfore's burial place were gone. Whether his mother ever received word of his death is not known.
Private John Keels, 15th Alabama Infantry
During the July 2 fighting on the southeastern spur of Little Round Top, Colonel William C. Oates gave a graphic description of the wounding of one of the men in his regiment when the order to retreat was given.
When the signal was given we ran like a heard of wild cattle, right through the line of Union dismounted cavalrymen. Some of the men as they ran through seized three of the cavalryman by the collar and carried them out prisoners. As we ran, a man named Keils, of Company H, from Henry County, who was to my right and rear had his throat cut by a bullet, and he ran past me breathing at his throat and the blood spattering. His windpipe was entirely severed, but notwithstanding he crossed the mountain (Big Round Top) and died in the field hospital that night or the next morning.
Keel's gravesite did not survive. In fact, of the 1,200 or so identified Confederate burials in the Gettysburg area, only two are from the 15th Alabama, both listed at the Michael Fiscel farm, the Union Army's Fifth Corps hospital
Samuel W. Gray, 57th North Carolina Infantry
When two of General Jubal Early's brigades attacked the Union line upon Cemetery Hill on the night of July 2, Captain Gray was one of the killed. Dr. J.W.C. O'Neal noted in his journal that he was buried at the east base of the hill just south of Raffensbergers Spring. The body was marked under the inspection of Captain C.H. Hawkins of the Eleventh Corps. O'Neal wrote:
…….Locket on his breast… Capt. Gray is said to have been wounded in the head, and died at once- his memorandum book and likeness was returned to his family. The Captain was 21 years of age-small man- in his uniform when killed. His father visited battlefield Nov. 13, 1863 making inquiries.
The father, from Winston, North Carolina, was able to find and remove his son's remains during his stay. The captain's body now rests in that beautiful state.
Major Robert H. Poore, 14th Virginia
On August 15, 1863, a notice appeared in a local newspaper, the Star and Sentinel. It read: "Major R., H. Poore of Fluvanna, fell about half way up the heights of Gettysburg, which his regiment was assisting to storm. He was first wounded in the hand, but refused to retire, though made to do so bye his officers. He continued to cheer his men and urge them forward, until he fell with one thigh badly fractured, and a flesh wound in the other. He was last heard from 11 days after the fight, at which time he was in a hospital near Gettysburg."
Any of the returned surgeons or prisoners who may know anything of his condition, will confer a great favor to his family by making it known." A comrade stated that after being wounded Poore said that "so long as he could move to the front he should advance; that officers should give the example to their men; that the soldier's path of duty was onward."
The only word concerning the major's plight at Gettysburg was in Dr. O'Neal's journal where he noted: "Removed to 12th army corps hospital."
The family finally heard of his death, but no one ever found out where Poore was buried, or the final disposition of his body.
Colonel Lewis B. Williams Jr., 1st Virginia Infantry
This Virginia Military Institute graduate was born in 1833. He entered the service in 1861 as a captain of the 13th Virginia. Later he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Virginia, then to Colonel of the 1st in April, 1862. Williams was wounded and captured at Williamsburg and again at Gettysburg, where on July 3 he was one of sixteen officers of Pickett's Division who went into the attack mounted. Struck in the shoulder, he then fell from his horse onto his drawn sword, one eyewitness said. Lieutenant John Dooley next saw him just in rear of the Union line early on July 4.
This morning I am unable to walk a step and had to have myself carried about ten yards off the (Emmitsburg) road to where Colonel Williams lies mortally wounded. Poor Williams! In the charge yesterday, foolishly and insanely he rode coolly and deliberately in front of the regiment.
spinal bone is broken, the shot, I think, striking at the neck joint and running
down the spinal column. He suffers continual and intense agony. No position in
which he may be placed affords any relief and he constantly seeks some change in
the disposition of his head. There is a Yankee Colonel close by who is doing all
he can to alleviate the sufferings whenever he appears to suffer most. But
Williams shows a dislike to be thus waited on, and frequently ask me to give a
more comfortable position to his head, which on account of the stiffness of my
own wound, I am unable to do without giving him much additional pain. I make
several of the officials who have direction of the ambulances promise me to have
Col. Removed to the field hospital where medical attendance may be had; and
towards the middle of the day I have the satisfaction of knowing he had been
removed. I never saw him afterwards. He died after 4 or 5 days intense
As of this writing, Colonel Williams "battlefield" burial places has not been determined. He may have been removed very soon after the war by his family.
Lieutenant James M Seals, 42nd Mississippi Infantry
Emily Sounder was one of the many volunteer nurses who worked so hard to relieve the suffering of many of the 21, 000 wounded left be hind at Gettysburg after the battle. And these nurses were, in fact, as kind to the Confederates as to their own men. On July 20, 1863, Ms. Sounder wrote her sister-law who lived in Philadelphia. In part, this missive reads:
........ I wrote a letter yesterday for Lieutenant Seal, of the 42nd Mississippi, a very interesting young man. On Wednesday morning last, we first visited the camp hospital of the Second Corps.....We had scarcely entered the field of labor when some one came and begged me to see a young Mississippi Lieutenant.....Lying on the ground, in front of one of the larger hospital tents, was a young man, whose face as I looked at him, seemed that of one of my own kindred; the same blue eyes, brown hair, and light complexion. With sorrow, I spoke of his coming North on the wrong side. A Massachusetts man in the tent eagerly answered for him: '' He could not help it; he is a good Union man at heart."
This was Lieutenant Seals. In reply to my offer of service, he said I could do nothing for him. He was groaning in spirit, and suffering greatly, having been wounded in five places, and had also suffered amputation...Yesterday, I wrote his farewell message to his wife, which he was scarcely able to utter, even in a faint whisper.
Lieutenant Seals died shortly afterwards and was buried in Yard b, 2nd row located on a hill between the Jacob Schwartz and George Bushman farmhouse. Unfortunately, by 1873, his grave was lost, and when 3,320 Confederate remains were shipped south between 1871 and 1873 his bones were unidentified.
Sergeant William S. Jenkins, 7 North Carolina Infantry
A great proportion of the men who made the attack under Pettigrew, Trimble, and Pickett on the last afternoon of the battle were killed or mortally wounded and died while still on the battlefield along Cemetery Ridge. Most of them were buried indiscriminately in mass graves. One, in a scene, fortunate enough not to be among these was 34 year old William Jenkins. His lonely grave was visible for several years after the battle in the Orchard of Peter Frey who lived in a small stone house on the Taneytown Road. The orchard appears on contemporary maps to be just south of the farm buildings on the West Side of the road. As in so many instances, by the early 1870 when Doctor Weaver began removing the Southern remains, the sergeant had become another " unknown" and had disappeared forever.
Jenkins death, however did not go unnoticed but was recorded by a Union solider, Lieutenant Abner R. Small, who happened upon the scene the day after the assault had been repulsed.
....... My duties permitting, I went among the wounded in a grove on the left of our position, where lay many hurt survivors of the Rebel attacking force; men of Pickett's division, and Heath's and Pender's. I proffered what assistance I could. I remember stopping beside one poor fellow who was shot through the body, His wants were few. 'Only a drink of water; I'm cold; so cold. Won't you cover me up?' Then his mind wandered, and he murmured something about his mother. Then he had a clear sense of his condition, would I write to his home, and say how he loved them, and how he died? 'Tell them all about it, won't you?' Father's name is Robert Jenkins. My name is Will. I thought I heard him say he belonged to the 7th North Carolina and came from Chatham County. His words faltered into silence. I covered his face.
Private Edgar Hammond, 1st Maryland Battalion
An unidentified officer of a North Carolina regiment, possibly the 47th, who was wounded and ended up in the Confederate hospital at Pennsylvania Collage just north of Gettysburg, remembered the subject of this sketch. He wrote:
..... it is strange how cold wounded men will get, even in the warmest weather. I saw one poor fellow on the field, named Hammond, from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, who was riddled with balls and slowly dying. He continually asked to be covered up, he was so cold, and I put my jacket over him though I too was shivering with cold, yet it was in July.
Three years later, while the officer was writing the above story, Dr. O'Neal recorded Hammond's barely marked grave located with one other Confederate in the cemetery at Mark's " White Church" on the Baltimore Pike, which had been a hospital of the Union First Corps. But by 1870 it too, like so many others, had disappeared.
Sergeant John Moseley, 4th Alabama Infantry
Last letters from soldiers mortally wounded in battle are quite rear. The few that have survived were usually written, by friends, or nurses of the men as they lay dying and were often penned in the exact words of the solider. One such letter was from Sergeant Moseley.
Battlefield Gettysburg, July 4,1863
I am here a prisoner of war, and mortally wounded. I can live but a few hours, at farthest. I was shot fifty yards from the enemy's line. They have been exceedingly kind to me. I have no doubt as to the final result of this battle, and I hope I may live long enough to hear the shouts of victory before I die. I am very week. Do not mourn my loss. I had hoped to have been spared; but a righteous God has ordered it otherwise, and I feel prepared to trust my ease in his hands. Farewell to you all! Pray that God receive my soul. Your unfortunate son John
Private Hardy Graves, 6th Alabama Infantry
Upon entering the Roman Catholic Church on July 2, Elizabeth Myers, a Gettysburg schoolteacher noticed three wounded Southern soldiers lying just inside the door. She recalled:
.... I did what I could for them... One of them particularly attracted my attention. He was, or seemed to be, a large man though as he was lying down, I could not very tell. His complexion was dark, and he had the blackest eyes and hair I ever saw. That was fifty years ago, but today I can see him as distinctly as then, lying there helpless and the appealing look in his great black eyes.
Several weeks later while working at the General hospital on the York Pike, Elizabeth Myers had an occasion to go into the " dead tent" where several soldiers corpses waited for burial. Myers continued;
We went into the "dead tent" and there lay the man who had attracted my attention in the Catholic Church, but the great black eyes were forever closed. On his breast was pinned his name- Hardy Graves; and below it his wife's name and address- Julia Graves, Burdidge, Pike County, Alabama. I cut off a lock of his hair and sometime after.... I wrote to her, sent her the lock of hair, and told her what I knew of her husband. She replied, and asked if I could find his grave..... He had been buried in a plot of ground along with many others, near Camp Letterman. I gathered some wild flowers growing near and enclosed them in a letter to her, telling her how her husband's grave was situated and that it was marked.
Private Graves, age 25, had been buried in Row 1, plot 18 in the Confederate section of that hospital graveyard. His death occurred on July 25. His was one of the remains which was still intact when removed to the South in the early 1870s Hardy Graves had been wounded on July 1 when O'Neal's Brigade attacked Robison's Division on Oak Ridge, Northwest of Gettysburg.
Private Thomas W. Sligh, 3rd South Carolina Infantry
Private Sligh, approximately 18 years old when he joined the Confederate service, had bee a collage student at Newberry College, South Carolina. He was described as having fine qualities of head and heart- was general favorite- witty, and kind. Sligh was said to be rather feminine in appearance and physically not very strong. By 1863 he was acting as orderly at regimental headquarters, and at Gettysburg his last moments were described by D.A. Dickert.
Just before the Third Regiment went into action…. it became necessary…that the field and staff of the regiment should dismount
…..On this occasion, the Adjutant said to young Sligh: ' Now Tom got behind some hill and the moment we call you, bring up the horses; time is of the importance. To the Adjutant's surprise Sligh burst in to tears and besought that officer not to require him to stay behind, but on the contrary, to allow him to join his company and go into battle. At first this was denied, but so persistent was he in his request that the Adjutant, who was very fond of him, said; " Well, Tom for this one time you may go, but don't ask it again." Away he went with a smile instead of a tear. Poor Fellow! The Orderly, Thomas W. Sligh, was killed in that battle while assisting to drive back General Sickles from the " Peach Orchard " on the 2nd day of July 1863.
Young Tom's body was not seen again, and his name does not appear on any post-war burial list. He was apparently interred in one of the many unmarked graves on the George Rose farm.
Captain William T. Magruder, Davis Brigade, Heath's Division, Hill's Corps
When General Joseph R. Davis wrote the report of his brigade's actions on July 3, 1863 he noted that " Captain W.T. Magruder….Was in action, and rendered valuable service." The reader may find it odd that Davis did not mention that Magruder, who was his assistant adjutant-general, had been killed or mortally wounded in that last attack on Mead's line south of Gettysburg. His death surely occurred for this notice appeared in the local paper on July 30, 1863:
A large size double case watch and link chain belonging to Captain W. T. Magruder, C.S.A., who was killed at Gettysburg, July; and thought to have been placed in possession of Captain W. D. NAY, Co. B 11th Miss. Regt., who died, July 13th at 1st Army Corps, 2nd Division Hospital, and who, it is supposed, gave it to someone previous to his death for safe keeping. The full value of the watch will be given for its return and the information gratefully received. Apply to: Mrs. Mary C. Magruder, 64 Courtland Street, Baltimore.
Magruder's name did not make it to any burial record of Confederates interred on the field or at U.S. Hospitals. It is possible that Mrs. Magruder was able to secure his remains shortly after the battle.
Lieutenant John A Oates, 15th Alabama Infantry
William C. Oates, the brother of this subject, saw John Oates fall after the Captain of Company "G" was shot down in the attack on the south end of Little Round Top, July 2. He recalled the sad incident, saying…''my dear brother, succeeded to the command of the company, but was pierced through by a number of bullets, and fell mortally wounded." It is ironic that just prior to the fight John was sick and lying on the ground in rear of his company. William continued:
I thereupon told him not to go into action, but when we advanced to remain where he was, because he was unable to bear the fatigue. He replied with the most dogged and fiery determination, 'Brother, I will not do it.. If I were to remain here people would say that I did it through cowardice; no sir, I am an officer and will never disgrace the uniform I wear; I shall go through, unless I am killed, which I think is quite likely.' These were the last words ever passed between us. When he fell, struck by several balls, Lieut. Isacc H Parks, who had been his schoolfellow, ran to him and dragged him behind a large stone, and just as Parks let him down another ball struck one of his hands and carried away his little finger.
Captured and carried to the Union's Fifth Corps field hospital at the Michael Fiscel farm, Lieutenant Oates lived 23 days. A companion, Lieutenant Barnett H. Cody, was with Oates at this hospital, where he died on July 23. Colonel Oates explained:
A Miss Lightner, a Virginia lady and Southern sympathizer, nursed them to the last, and Doctor Reed, of the One Hundred and Fifty fifth Pennsylvania Regiment, did all that he could for them and had them decently buried when they died. He sent to me by flag of truce my brother's old gold watch, his pocketbook, and money. I endeavored for years after the war to find Doctor (J.E.A.) Reed without success, but finally obtained his address, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and had a very pleasant and satisfactory correspondence with him. I had theretofore never had an opportunity of expressing to him the full measure of my gratitude for his attention to my brother and Lieutenant Cody.
The two young Lieutenants were buried together eats of Fiscel's house across a little creek. They were among twelve remains shipped south in the early 1870's. Only four names were still known in this small rebel cemetery, but none of the twelve could be identified separately.
Private Jeremiah S. Gage, 11th Mississippi Infantry
During the height of the July 3rd cannonade preceding Pickett's Charge, a litter was carried into a Confederate aid station somewhere behind Seminary Ridge. Surgeon LeGrand J. Wilson, 42nd Mississippi, saw a head raised up and recognized Jerry Gage. The young soldier had been wounded by a piece of shell which struck the left side near the stomach, tearing away the tissues, a rib and the spleen and fractured the left forearm lacerating it terribly. Gage asked if the wound was mortal. When answered in the affirmative, he asked for paper and pen to write his mother. A portion of that letter, which he stained with his own blood read:
My dear Mother
This is the last you may ever hear from me. I have time to tell you that I died like a man. Bear my loss best you can. remember that I am true to my country and my greatest regret at dying is she is not free and that you and sisters are robbed of my worth what ever that may be. I hope this will reach you and you must not regret that my body can not be obtained. It is a mere matter of form anyhow. This is for sisters too as I can not write more. Send my dying release to Miss Mary…you know who.
Co. A. 11th Miss.
Later as he neared death, Gage said: "Boys, come near me, it's growing dark. I can't see you. Come round me and take my hand."
His last words were; "I want you to bury me …. I want to be buried like my comrades. But deep, boys, deep, so the beast won't get me."
Private Harden H. Williams, 9th Georgia Infantry
A small news article appeared in the May 15, 1878 edition of the Star and Sentinal, a Gettysburg newspaper. It noted:
A daguerreotype of a solider was found on the Gettysburg Battlefield by Mr. A.W. Flemming in 1863. In the house cleaning the other day the picture fell from the case and on the inside was revealed in pencil the name " H. H. Williams." Should the owner or his friend desire this relic it will be cheerfully handed over.
Could the photograph have been that of the Georgia Williams? Unfortunately, we shall never know. In checking through the various rosters, only one man of this name was killed at Gettysburg, which of course does not mean the solider who dropped the photograph was killed. However, this incident was included because Williams may have lost the photograph at the time of his wounding or death, where it was later found by Mr. Flemming.
Private James Iglehart, 1st Maryland Battalion
Lieutenant Randolph McKim, in his recollections of the Civil War written in 1910, could not forget the death of a man in Company A.
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 Murrays company came up to me, during a brief halt by the roadside, and said he wanted to speak to me. It was James Lglehat, of Annapolis. We stepped aside and I said, " What is it Iglehat?" 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 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 around him dragged him to the shelter of a great rock and laid him down to die.
There are two things that raise in my thought when I think of this incident. One is that if he hadn't come to me tows days before and relieved his mind as he did, the gallant fellow would not have asked for 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.
Iglehart's grave was no more than a small space in one of the many Confederate burial trenches, which dotted the ridges and fields near Culp's Hill and Rock Creek. Some of these trenches (and there may have been as many as seventeen) held fifty to one hundred corpses, and by the time they were disinterred, James Iglehart's bones had now become mingled with those of many unknown Southerners along with the Pennsylvania soil which had so long blanketed those mournful hollows.
Private William Mitchel, 1st Virginia Infantry
This young solider was another killed during Longstreet's assault on July 3. Some time after the war, Jane Mitchel, mother of William wrote to her surviving son, James, concerning the burial of his brother.
… (Charles Joice said that) after the battle, he and three others going on the field looking for wounded soldiers. And that they found Willie rolled in a blanket pined with three pins- that his face had been washed and there was a slip of paper pinned to the blanket with his name W. J. Mitchel son of Irish patriot- with the help of a colored man they dug a grave on the banks of a small cabin (foundation) so close that no plow would ever disturb it- and laid him there and took the paper and fastened it to a piece of cracked board and hammered it there at the head of the grave. It was near a little brick house (Codori farm) that the body was found…..
I would like to find that grave. It was years before I gave up the hope that he would some day appear. I got it in my head that he had been taken prisoner and carried off a long distance but that he would make his way back one day- this I knew was silly of me but the hope was there nevertheless.
Confederates Interred in the National Cemetery
One rebel, who lay mortally wounded in front of the 69th Pennsylvania, sullenly refused to be taken to the hospital. He said he wanted to die on the field where he fell.
Lt. Benjamin H. Child
Battery H, 1st Rhode Island
…….I here most conscientiously assert, that I firmly believe that there has not been a single mistake made in the removal of the soldiers to the cemetery by taking the body of a rebel for a Union Soldier.
As can be expected, some Confederates corpses inadvertently were buried in the Soldiers National Cemetery which was established shortly after the battle to hold and honor the Union dear o mortally wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. The following is an up to date roster of possible Southerners interred among the Federal dead at Gettysburg.
The first name will be the Current Grave Identification
And the second name will be his Possible True Identity
S. Carter Co. A 15th Conn.
Lt. Sidney Carter, Co. A 14th S.C.
Williams Co. D 20th Conn
Cpl. David Williams Co D, 20th NC
M.F. Knott, 1st Md
Ninon F. Knott 1st Maryland C.S.A.
s. Hindeman 15th Mass
N.B. Hindeman, Co A, 13th Miss.
J.L. Johnson Co. K 11th Mass
John L. Johnson 11th Miss
James Akers, 2nd Miss.
J. Graves, Co.C 1st PA
Sergt Thomas Graves, Co I, 21st GA
E.T. Green 14th PA
Eli T. Green, Co E, 14th VA.
G. Williams Co. A
Gersham Williams 3rd Ga.
Major Benjamin W. Leigh, Adj. Gen. on Gen. Edward Johnson's staff
…. all of the killed and mortally wounded were left in Pennsylvania, and no one knows their graves, if buried. It may be that some of their bones may have been gathered into…. Richmond, since the war. Who knows? Others, Doubtless, have whitened and mingled into the dust on the field where they fell, which now the plow-boy, whistling as he plows, turns over the common earth, unconscious that his plowshare is stirring sod hallowed by the blood of as brave men as the continent has ever known.
Captain Richard Irby
18th Virginia Infantry
Throughout the last 135 years, but especially from 1873 to 1930, farmers, workmen and others sometimes accidentally stumbled upon the remains of Confederate and Union soldiers who had died and were buried in the Gettysburg Area. Here are a few examples of the macabre discoveries.
October 11, 1877
Confederate Dead. In plowing, the other day, the ones of four Confederates were discovered a short distance east of the Springs hotel. It is Gen. Slayton's intention to have them taken up and places in some suitable spot on the Springs Park, and have other remains of Confederates known to be on the battlefield removed to the same spot.
August 2, 1878
One day last week, Mr. Henry M. Mingay, commander of the GAR Post at Pen Yan, MY found among the bones of a Confederate soldier buried near Blocher's shop one mile north of this place, a daguerreotype of a lady and two girls 7 to 10 years old, in a remarkable state of preservation. The case had decayed, but the picture is still perfect, showing features, clothing, coloring and guilding with the clearness of a recent taking. Mr. Blocher says the soldier belonged to the 31st Georgia regiment (Gordon's Brigade), and Mr. Mingay intends to have the faces well published, with a view to the restoration of the picture to the family of the deceased.
June 9, 1891
Mr. J. A. Danner… has a pearl medallion with turquoise set in gold in the center marked "S.L.P.". It was found in the trench containing the bodies recently discovered on the Gelback Place. (near Culp's Hill)
June 8, 1886
D. A. Riley, residing on the Codori Farm on June 5, plowed up the remains of a soldier in the field over which Pickett's charge and near the (Col. G. H.) Ward monument. He showed us a piece of the skull with a bullet protruding at both sides, also one of the thighbones with a bullet imbedded in the lower end. A cap box full of caps was also found. From indications, the remains were probably one of Pickett's men..
August 10, 1886
Paul Kappers has shown us part of a human jaw bone, lower right side, filled with solid teeth, belonging to a much decayed skeleton found in Menchey's sand hole, near East Cemetery Hill last week. The body was no doubt that of a Confederate, the buttons and bullets found with the bones indicating that, and a bottle of ink, soundly corked, and bearing a Richmond label, corroborating it.
May 10, 1887
Seven Bodies Found - On Tuesday, in plowing, Mr. Frederick Peffer came upon the remains of seven soldiers, supposed Mississippians, near the 12th New Jersey monument, on the south side of the Emmitsburg road. The bones were reburied.
THE STAR AND SENTINEL
One day last week a son of Mr. Joseph J. Smith found a human skull embedded in the lot of the Water Company, on East Cemetery Hill. A small portion projected above the earth, and being curious, the boy dug it out, with the above results. The poor fellow may have been buried there in July 1863 and been resting in an unknown grave ever since.
May 29, 1888
Clayton Hoke, of Cumberland Township, shows us an interesting relic found by his wife of the farm of Hon. Edward McPherson, formerly owned by John S. Crawford, Esq. Deceased. It is part of a decayed wooden headboard, which bears in neat letters the following inscription: "Capt. J.M. Gaston. *Capt. T.G. Clark & Son. 42nd Miss. Vols. Killed July 1, 1863." This farm was a vast rebel hospital.
*Captain Thomas Goode Clark, Co. I, 42nd Mississippi and his two sons were killed July 1
July 17, 1888
On last Thursday Jacob Mumper discovered and unearthed the remains of a soldier near the Devil's Den. Mr. Mumper was showing the beauty of the den to a tourist and when walking over the pathway, north of it, annually frequented by thousands of visitors, he discovered a human bone protruding from the ground. He immediately produced some digging irons and commenced an investigation, and, after going down about a foot, found the skeleton of a large man in good condition. All the bones were there but those of the right arm. In a superficial grave were found two or three Alabama buttons, some US Buttons, a light gold ring, engraved in diamond shaped form. Nothing found conclusively indicated to which army the soldier belonged. As the den was occupied by Confederate sharpshooters, the probability is that he was one of them, and the theory is corroborated by the finding of the Southern buttons. On the other hand, the engraving on the ring might indicate that he belongs to our army, as the diamond was the Third Corps badge. No vestige of the Uniform remained.
July 17, 1888
Yesterday Edward Leeper, while gathering herbs in Reynolds grove, discovered the remains of two Union Soldiers. The buttons and remnants of uniform were conclusive evidence that they belonged to the Union Army. Further investigation will be made this morning. We have not learned what disposition was made of the bodies, but they will undoubtedly be reinterred in the National Cemetery with the 979 unknown comrades who sleep there.
Gettysburg-where so many poured out the wine of life; where the very name of the field brings tears to the eyes of thousands of mourners-is it any wonder that, with feet standing upon the sacred sod, the very air seems haunted, as well as hallowed, and every wind the sigh of a ghostly presence.
I hope you all enjoyed and understand my story of Wasted Valor. It is a sad story but one that needs to be told. To this day there are well over a thousand men still buried someplace on the field. This story is for them, told by them.
By Tom Gladwell.
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