NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 4, 2013

Remembering the Battle of Gettysburg

A local soldier's eyewitness account

(Continued)

Reaching the other side I found that I had got behind the most of the regiment, and looking saw rebels in close pursuit, but where were the men with the Maltese cross? I never found out where they went, but they had disappeared and Johnny was coming on. Climbing over a stone fence covered with bushes, I entered another field in which a battery had just come into action and was pouring canister into the rebels. There were some infantry men dodging around firing from the cover of stones and trees. Feeling much more courageous backed by a battery of artillery, I stopped and was about to shoot at the confeds — to help the artillery out — when Maj. Rice suddenly appeared and wanted to borrow my gun to shoot a reb. Knowing that it is best to humor such people in any of their little whims, I handed the musket over to him and while he was dodging around trying to get a good shot, I amused myself playing with a Belgian rifle which I picked up and fired; the previous owner had loaded it before casting it away, yes, I should judge he had loaded it several times. It came near laying me out, hurt my shoulder and made my head swim; I came to the conclusion that the other fellow had forgot to fire.

The major got in his shot and liked the sport so well that he wanted to try again, and I loaded her up for him. While doing so, Serg. Velas, first sergeant of Co. E, came running past the battery calling out, “Come on! Come on! They are running!” Just as he reached a wall near us, he dropped his musket and clasped his arms across his breast, ran to the rear wounded in the arm, we subsequently learned. The major remarked, “There is a brave man,” and then hurried me up with my loading, as I was working rather slow; not being used to loading for majors I was rather nervous, but finally got the cap on and while he was going hunting for a reb I tried to load up the old Belgian but the bullets in our cartridges were too large and I gave up. The enemy now being in full retreat the major retired, bringing his command out in good order.

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