Editor’s note: This is the second of 2 parts.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Christine Comiskey has provided a unique and fascinating viewpoint on this pivotal Civil War battle.
Comiskey, the president of Georgetown Historical Society, has transcribed the series of articles written by Gettysburg veteran Richard R. Foster, as published in the Georgetown Advocate, 1889. The Daily News presents this memoir in two parts. Foster fought in the 19th Massachusetts Infantry, Company C. A large portion of Company C was made up of men from Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Georgetown and Rowley.
The narrative picks up on July 3, as Pickett’s Charge commences. As Confederate forces continue to bombard the Union troops with heavy artillery fire, our local soldiers of the 19th Massachusetts Company C take cover.
I was highly honored — although not then appreciating it — Col. Devereaux and Col. Mallon (42nd N.Y.) occupying the hollow with me, the former digging his spurs into my head, while the latter allowed me to comb his hair with my boot heels without remonstrating; we were equals for once. So thick did the missiles fly that in a few minutes nearly all the inverted muskets were knocked down or shot off; pieces of shell were plainly visible as they hissed by; I saw the lieutenant of the battery barely escape the butt of a shell by crouching down.
Albert Rogers was hit in the hand by a fragment and ran to the rear dodging from side to side as the shells screeched by on either side of him. Limber boxes and caissons were hit and blew up with stunning reports; the battery horses were nearly all shot down; the wounded screeching in their agony added to the horror of the occasion. Men lying flat behind large bounders are struck, a shot comes over and strikes a man in the back tearing him to pieces, arms and legs are shot off, men are constantly hobbling off with blood streaming from their persons; although enveloped in smoke not a musket had been fired, I doubt if one-third of the men knew just where their guns were, I am sure I had no idea where mine was.