, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 4, 2013

Remembering the Battle of Gettysburg

A local soldier's eyewitness account


Lieut. Sherman Robinson was standing among the group of officers, facing us, in the act of wiping his mouth with his handkerchief; the shot struck him in the left side just below his shoulder, passing through his body and bearing him to the ground, literally torn in pieces. We had not a second in which to contemplate this sad sight, for before the sound of the second gun had died away all the rebel artillery in our front opened.

Then came an hour of horror which beggars description; the earth fairly shook, the Union artillery replied to the Confederate along our whole front, enveloping the whole ridge in flame and smoke, the deafening roar of the cannon was incessant; the rain of shot and shell continuous; the fragments of bursting shells were flying everywhere, there seemed to be no place where they did not strike, and no direction from which they did not come.

Officers and men alike crawled for places of safely, and there was no precedence according to rank; it was one of the most democratic of movements; the one that got there first was the best fellow; some got behind the few boulders, others took advantage of depressions in the ground. I crawled to a hollow by the side of a ridge, where had once been a fence, and after laying myself flat in it, looked around a little.

I did not dare lift my face but an inch or two from the hot sand, and then only for an instant at a time, for fear that a piece of shell might hit my head. It was awfully hot and the sweat poured out and dropped from the nose and chin into the sand, which was almost like a furnace, sending up hot air which made breathing difficult.

Tomorrow: Foster’s unit fights during Pickett’s Charge.

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