Gettysburg Seminar Papers

The Army of the Potomac in the Gettysburg Campaign

The Army of the Potomac vs. Public Opinion
Eric A. Campbell

Gettysburg was a dot on the map marking a place where all the roads crossed; a pleasant little town lying amid rolling hills and broad shallow valleys, a blue mountain wall rising a score of miles to the west, rival armies moving toward it without design, as if something drew them irresistibly....Gettysburg was an act of fate; a three-day explosion of storm and flame and terror, unplanned and uncontrollable, coming inevitably...out of the things that hard-pressed men had done in light of imperfect knowledge, and the end result of actions that moved with inexorable logic toward a fundamental and astounding goal. It would come to symbolize all the war, as if the blunders and the heroism, the hopes and the delusions, the combativeness and the incomprehensible devotion of all Americans had been summed up once and for all in one monstrous act of violence. [1]

This is how one of America's most popular Civil War historians, Bruce Catton, summarized the meaning of Gettysburg, a battle that for various reasons has generated seemingly endless discussion, debate and controversy almost from the very moment it ended. It is stating the obvious to claim Gettysburg holds a distinctive place in American, if not world, history. Innumerable and wide-ranging reasons can be given to any one who ventures the obvious question, Why? A simple and concise answer can be found in The Encyclopedia Americana, which succinctly states:

GETTYSBURG...the greatest battle of the war, perhaps the most fateful engagement between Waterloo and the Marne.... Gettysburg was the war's turning point not merely in time but in military fact, for after that climactic battle the decline of the Confederate States of America began in earnest. [2]

A more analytical answer appears in the Preface to Edwin B. Coddington's masterful work on the battle, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command:

The campaign and battle of Gettysburg have great significance in themselves, but they gain in dimension when viewed in the overall context of the American Civil War. The campaign of many weeks' duration occurred almost midway in the course of the war. It began with a period of preparation in the middle of May, 1863, and...ended when the last Confederate brigade slipped across the Potomac River on July 14. The battle itself was fought on July 1, 2, and 3....In retrospect the battle of Gettysburg seemed to have been a turning point in the course of the conflict, and it became popularly known as the place where the Confederacy reached its High Water Mark. [3]

While the above statements provide at least a partial explanation of the battle's political and military significance, the common thread between them is perception; each was written with the benefit of decades of hindsight; what Coddington terms "retrospect." There is, of course, nothing wrong with this as any good historian takes advantage of every tool available to interpret an event. While time takes us ever further from any particular moment in history, it provides not only the constant discovery of new material, but more importantly the advantage of perspective, or knowledge of subsequent events and their association to one another.

Veterans of the Army of the Potomac: Co. C, 110th Pennsylvania Infantry

Almost all histories of Gettysburg use this method, and for obvious reasons. Any meaningful analysis of command decisions, troop movements, tactical maneuvers, combat readiness, orders issued and countless other factors must rely upon their connection with previous and future events and the 'cause-and-effect' relationship between them. The one danger of hindsight, however, can be the "layering" effect of various interpretations over time. Coddington, well-aware of this fact, used it as justification in writing his study:

Over the years...the results of the battle lead to an outpouring of books, articles, pamphlets, and orations, in which writers both Northern and Southern overindulged in the use of the word "if"...these traditional interpretations have become threadbare and somewhat frayed around the edges.... [4]

It can be easy for the modern writer or reader to forget that we have available today an immensely greater knowledge of Gettysburg, the opposing armies and the events which transpired around it than did the commanders or soldiers who actually fought the battle nearly 135 years ago. This paper, therefore, is an attempt to "peel back" the layers of interpretation created since 1863 and view the Gettysburg Campaign through the experiences of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac.

The only primary accounts available today are the hundreds of letters and diary entries written by these men which still survive. It was here that these soldiers recorded, within weeks, days, sometimes even moments after the fighting and as the campaign continued to unfold, their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and opinions on the events they were helping to shape. What were the primary thoughts of these soldiers concerning the campaign? How did they perceive Gettysburg and its importance without the advantage of hindsight, or the perfect knowledge of events that would follow? Simply put, how did the fighting soldier view Gettysburg?

In preparing this paper, hundreds of letters, newspaper articles and diaries written at the time by participates and eye witnesses were reviewed. Of these, over 230 letters and 15 diaries furnished useful information and insight. While this number is admittedly an extremely small percentage of the soldiers within the ranks of the Army of the Potomac, the writings do provide a wide cross-section of that army. Represented are every branch of the service along with every corps in the army, both officers and enlisted men, volunteers as well as Regulars, veterans and untested soldiers and combat troops along with support units. Furthermore, these primary sources provide great intimacy with the event, for they were all created during a three and a half month span and within two months of the battle, the earliest being written on June 1 and the latest on September 15. Altogether, the material used certainly provided enough information to allow general conclusions to be made.


To better understand their writings a brief analysis of the army on the eve of the Gettysburg Campaign will provide a better understanding of these Union soldiers. The Army of the Potomac marched into battle at Gettysburg with an approximate strength of 90,000. [5]

Organized into seven corps of infantry, one cavalry corps and an artillery reserve, they were one of the last great volunteer armies. Nearly 3/4 of the front line units (74%) had been recruited and mustered into service in 1861. By contrast an extremely small percentage (0.5%) of the units experienced their first combat during the Gettysburg campaign. The vast majority, acclimated to the routine of military regulation, seasoned by two years of constant marching, drilling, the fatigues and hardships of active campaigning and hardened by numerous battlefield encounters were, by definition, experienced veterans. [6]

This experience had been purchased at an extremely high price, however. The average regiment, reduced by illness, desertion and combat losses from its original strength of 1,000, could only muster slightly more than 300 men. [7] The army as a whole represented this attrition. Previous campaign losses, along with the mustering out of nearly 23,000 men upon expiration of their enlistments, dwindled the army's ranks by nearly 20 percent in May and June 1863. The Army of the Potomac thus entered the Gettysburg Campaign at nearly its lowest strength during the entire war. [8]

Being the principal Union army in the eastern theater of war, it is not surprising that the majority of the men were easterners, with New York and Pennsylvania providing the most soldiers. Only 14 percent of the units could be considered "western," hailing from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio or Wisconsin. Every state that fought for the Union, save Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri, were represented within its ranks. The vast majority were volunteers, only 12 percent of the units being United States Regulars. [9]

The high-level leadership of the army, however, was more professional. Of the 107 officers commanding at brigade-level or above (brigade, division, corps, army), nearly half (49) were either graduates of the United Stated Military Academy at West Point or were in the regular army when the war began. Not surprisingly, most of these officers were commanding at the corps or division level, although 23 brigades were also led by professionals. The vast majority of non-professional high-level officers commanded brigades (48), though there were also nine divisions and one corps of the army which were led to Gettysburg by these "citizen-soldiers." Though the overwhelming majority of officers in lower-level command positions (regiment or below) were volunteers, there were 50 additional West Point graduates scattered throughout the army in various positions. [10]

Most of the soldiers were native-born Americans, as were several generations of their ancestors. Still, a wide range of foreign nationalities was also represented within the army's ranks, including among others, German, French, Italian, British, Irish, Canadian, Portuguese, Norwegian, Polish, Sweden, Netherlands, and Swiss. [11]

As was common for the time period, many of the men, whatever nationality, whether officers or enlisted man, held some religious beliefs. A large percentage of the writings reviewed for this paper expressed some belief or faith in a higher power which guided their lives and the fate of the nation. Brig. Gen. John W. Geary, commanding a division in the Twelfth Corps, wrote to his wife on June 24:

Be of good cheer, my dear wife...[we] must [not] loose confidence in God, and although the cloud hangs darkly around us, still the "pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night" will guide us to the promised land of peace as potently as it did the children of Israel through the dark wilderness of Arabia. [12]

Corporal Augustus Hesse, a recent immigrant from Germany, and during the Gettysburg Campaign a gunner in the 9th Massachusetts Battery, expressed his strong motivation for enlisting in the "disheartening" summer of 1862:

I have taken up Arms to defennt the wright of the U.S. of American Will do their best for you Now my dear Almira...I know that you dit cry for me, by my dear let it pass. think that it is every boys duty to go and put the Rebels [down] which are trying to destroy the Free liberty of the North.... when I come back...O! I can say that I was one of them that fought for Liberty-and not for Slavey! [13]

Whatever their cause, these Northern soldiers realized the importance of the struggle they were engaged in. Gen. Geary summed up this fact in a letter to his wife:

These are trying times I must confess, but having been all my life nursed in the paths of danger, it is hard to tell what cannot be braved. Should we ever pass this perilous period in the history of our country we shall know how to appreciate the blessings and benign influences of peace, and perhaps not be so ready, as a people, to place ourselves again in jeopardy. [14]

Two years of war, and seemingly endless failures, had made many of the men cynical. They had served under a parade of commanders: McDowell, McClellan, Pope, McClellan again, Burnside and Hooker, none of whom had brought the success the men felt they deserved and had earned. Despite the courage and devotion shown by the rank and file, the victory the army so desperately sought remained elusive. Defeats at First Manassas, the Seven Days, Second Manassas and Fredericksburg followed each other in rapid succession. Even Antietam in many ways was a shallow victory. The worst, however, was Chancellorsville.

The defeat at Chancellorsville in early May 1863 was indeed tough to accept. Having successfully maneuvered their constant nemesis, the Army of Northern Virginia, into a seemingly inescapable position, the army watched in disbelief as their high command lost its nerve at the critical moment. The Army of the Potomac, less more than 17,000 casualties, retreated back across the Rappahannock River having suffered one of its most ignominious reverses. [15]

By the spring of 1863 many were despondent over their prospects for ultimate success. Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, commanding the First Division, Twelfth Corps, wrote:

I cannot conceive of greater imbecility and weakness than characterized that campaign from the moment Hooker reached Chancellorsville and took command.... All we are suffering now in shame and mortification and in the great risk of losing the whole fortunes of the war is the legitimate result of the weakness which characterized that campaign. [16]

Sgt. Bowen probably best summed up the attitude of the enlisted man when he wrote home in early June:

There is no use in disguising the truth, the south has better Generals that we have & the war is ended by fighting, tis easy for a blind men to see, that with all our superior numbers & strength, we shall be the whipped party.... We havent the Generals to whip him (so we think) & have made up our minds that we shall get confoundly whiped ourselves. [17]

Though Sgt. Bowen's words expressed discouragement, the men had not lost confidence in themselves. Actually Bowen struck a common theme found in many of his comrades' writings as to what they perceived as the cause of their failure: poor leadership. Justin M. Sillimar, a private in the 17th Connecticut Volunteers, also touched upon this idea in a June 9 letter home:

It is true the A.P. [Army of the Potomac] accomplished but little since its organization though I think it is composed of better drilled and as good fighting men as can be found. the reasons for its failure I think are as follows. The incompetency and treachery of some of its commanding generals; the continual interference of politicians at W[ashington].... [18]

Indeed, the men still believed in their own ability. Col. Lucius Fairchild commanding the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry remarked, "What an unfortunate set of fellows we are, and have been...." The soldiers were not to blame for the army's "reverses, its repulses its defeats...." On the contrary, Fairchild claimed the Army of the Potomac was "better disciplined, better equipped, better behaved" than any "army in the world.... when it has a fair fight you will hear a good account of it." J. Henry Blakeman, of the 17th Connecticut Volunteers, simply stated, "I forgot to tell you the boys are all thriving and in gay spirits ready for a fight if necessary." [19]

Though writing about his troops after the campaign had ended, Gen. Williams' description below is probably the best summation of the Army of the Potomac as it existed in mid-June, 1863:

There was never a better army, because from long service and few recruits we are hardened down to the very sublimation of muscle, health, and endurance. The men can march twenty-five to thirty miles a day with sixty pounds—if necessary. They seldom grumble, and come to camp after a hard day's march with jokes and songs. There are absolutely without fear.... Such an army can only be made by long service and exposure in the field and at a great loss of original numbers. [20]


When the Army of Northern Virginia launched its second invasion of the North that same month, these Union soldiers were soon forced to rely on all of these qualities, for the Gettysburg Campaign tested them to the extreme limit. Reacting to the Confederate threat to Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Army of the Potomac broke its camps around Falmouth, Virginia, and along the banks of the Rappahannock River on June 11 and began a northward march. Little did these men realize at the time they were beginning one of the most important campaigns of the war. In fact, being active in the field left them completely out of touch with the events transpiring around them. "You probably know by this time much more than we do about the general aspect of military affairs as we hardly know what we are doing & much less about the other Corps," wrote Robert Hubbard, surgeon of the 17th Connecticut, to his wife on June 15. [21]

The soldiers, much like the civilians, relied heavily on newspapers to keep abreast of daily occurrences and events of national significance. Once the campaign was underway mail service was drastically reduced, thus leaving the men grasping at any means, including the unreliable and rampant rumors, to stay informed. On June 17, John Willboughby, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves, wrote:

...we have been somewhat excited, owing to the rumors of the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania....I am afraid that the invading force consist only of cavalry and flying artillery...on a foraging expedition similar to that of last fall.... Where the main force of both armies are it can only be conjectured at. [22]

Surgeon Hubbard complained that, "I have never been so completely shut out from all communication with the world.... We hear all sorts of rumors...." [23]

An excellent example of the scanty knowledge available to soldiers at this time, and one that is often overlooked in general histories of the campaign, concerned the size of the opposing armies. While the modern historian or reader has at least a sound approximation of the relative strengths of each army, [24] and takes for granted that the Army of the Potomac was larger, the average Union officer or enlisted man could only guess at the size of his own army, and had heard any number of, and at times completely unbelievable, estimates of Confederate strength. During the campaign both of the Union army's commanders, Hooker and Meade, estimated that Lee's army was larger than their own. [25]

Even without the concrete knowledge available to us today, the writings of these soldiers reveal they clearly understood the significance of their movements and the possible consequences of an impending battle. Gen. Williams reflected this in a letter to his daughters:

You see we have a great task before us to preserve the Republic.... we run a fearful risk, because upon this small army everything depends. If we are badly defeated the Capital is gone and all our principal cities and our national honor. [26]

Even newcomers to the army, who had never seen combat, realized the importance of the coming battle. Thousands of troops manning the defenses of Washington were attached to the army during its northward march. Private David Brett of the 9th Massachusetts Battery was one of these men. Amazed at the sheer size of the Army of the Potomac, he wrote on June 28, "Hooker has got most of all of his army [here]...all it military there is no end to the troops." Despite his inexperience, however, Brett added, "the coming Battle will no doubt be a severe one the result will probibly be verry important... " Writing to the Rochester Union, Lt. George Breck of Battery L, 1st New York Artillery summed up the men's feelings on a possible battle: Events are fast shaping themselves, however, and before this reaches you we may have fought the most desperate and bloody battle of the war....The two armies must inevitably come in collision before many days longer, and one or the other will be dreadfully whipped, we venture to predict. [27]

John Willoughby, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves, summed up this attitude by simply writing, "The next month is to tell greatly for or against our cause." [28]

Many of the officers and men also saw the Confederate invasion as an opportunity. Disgusted at what they perceived as a lack of support for the war effort, a surprisingly large number of the officers and men expressed delight at this turn of events. In a June 16 letter to his wife, Fifth Corps commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade stated:

I think Lee had made a mistake in going into Maryland.... I hope his movement will arouse the North, and that now men enough will be turned out, not only to drive him back, but to follow and crush him. If his course does not awake the North from lethargy it has been in, nothing will ever save us. [29]

Henry P. Clare of the 83rd New York Infantry, was even more emphatic when he wrote to his brother on June 28:

...the prevailing idea in this...Army seems to be that the enemy are all heading for Harrisburg.... We all agree on one idea—viz—the hope Lee may lay waste the whole state of Pa in order to arouse the North from their apparent lethargy — ...if the North will not flock to our standard in masses then I sincerly hope Lee may come off victorious, as such people would not be worthy of having a country- [30]

The rank and file of the Army of the Potomac also viewed the Confederate movements as an opportunity in a military sense. In a letter to his mother, Capt. David Acheson, 140th Pennsylvania Volunteers wrote simply, "I believe this to be the campaign of the war, and the rebs have staked their all upon it." Corporal Horatio Dana Chapman, 20th Connecticut Regiment, expressed similar thoughts in his diary:

June 30: ...It is...reported that Lees Army is north of us and have entered the state of Penna and that the advance of our Army is very near the confederate army and that before long the two armies will meet and in all probability a terrible battle will ensue and I am willing with thousands and tens of thousands of others of my fellow soldiers to do dare sacrifice and suffer if by any means this war will be brought to a termination We hope to capture or so cripple the confederate army here on northern soil that the south will give up the contest and an honorable peace restored But time will determine [31]

Lt. Breck felt that: Lee is playing a bold and desperate game surely, but we hope Hooker will be able to "checkmate" him. His military skill and ability, and in fact that of all our generals, will be put to the greatest test now. Heaven grant that Lee's advance northward, may prove the advance of his army to capture or destruction. [32]

Little did Lt. Breck realize when he penned those words that it would not be Gen. Joseph Hooker who would be tested, but instead Maj. Gen. George G. Meade.

Promoted on June 28, Meade became the Army of the Potomac's fourth commander in the previous eight months. Reaction to this change in command varied, though the trend seems to indicate that general officers supported the move while the rank and file were more skeptical. Gen. Williams wrote, "For myself I am rejoiced at the change of with a gentleman and a soldier in command I have renewed confidence that we shall at least do enough to preserve our honor and the safety of the Republic."

A typical reaction from the enlisted ranks comes from Sgt. Maj. A. P. Morrison, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves:

...we learned of the removal of Gen. Hooker, & appointment of Gen. Meade.... I was taken by surprise at this announcement & was...filled with forbodings for the future. It did seem so strange that now for the 3rd or 4th time the General, commanding, should be suddenly the very midst of most important operations. [33]

One of the first enlisted men to know of the change was Private R.S. Robertson, 93rd New York Regiment, then serving as guard to army headquarters. His comments, written within hours of Hooker's removal, were filled within even more concern:

This morning Hooker was relieved from command, a Gen. Meade appointed to fill his place. Once more has the army of the Potomac changed commanders on the eve of an important campaign, and God only knows that this change will lead to. Although I never had the greatest confidence in Hooker, I think it is a bad policy to remove him now and I am afraid we will be sorry enough for the change. [34]

Robertson's use of "a" instead of "the" in describing Meade speaks volumes as to how unknown the general was, even within his own army. It is no wonder that many of the men exhibited casual indifference upon learning they had a new commander. Capt. Acheson, 140th Pennsylvania, wrote later that same day,

"It is rumored...that Hooker has been superseded by Meade. I do not now how this will please the army but it seems to me that the Government is at a loss to know who is fitted for the command." [35]

A significant portion of the writings did not even mention this important episode. One possible explanation might be the soldiers' acceptance of this constant change in the army's high command, though a more likely reason was the physical and mental state of these men. By the time of Meade's promotion, the army had been continually on the move for over two weeks, marching at times over twenty miles a day, during some of the worst conditions the men had ever experienced. "The weather has been very warm during the march, and consequently the boys have suffered a great deal," related Capt. David Acheson in a June 20 letter. He even admitted, "I can hardly bear the heat.... I threw away everything but my haversack and canteen, and would have dropped them if I could not have kept up the regt." [36]

"the old braves" Sketch by Charles W. Reed of the veterans of the Army of the Potomac during their march toward Gettysburg.

The marches from June 14-17 were by far the most difficult, being made in excessive heat and humidity. Sgt. Bowen's diary entries give a good account of these hardships:

June 15, 1863 ...The heat was intense all day & the dust in such clouds that we could scarcely draw breath.... I know of 7 men that fell dead & a great part of the men were unable to keep up with their Companies....

June 17. 1863 ...Men fell by the dozens from the excessive heat.... I stood it very well until within 2 miles of camp & then my sight began to fail & my head swim & I had to drop under a shade tree. [37]

Making matters worse was the rain that soon followed, turning the dirt roads into mud. In Battery G, 1st New York Artillery, Charles Sheldon wrote in his diary, "...raines some this morning.... the roads are very bad-it has rained just enough to make them bad.... we have marched 65 miles in two days and over the worst kind of mountain roads-the horses and men are used up."

Sgt. Maj. Morrison recorded in his diary, "It rained on us very hard...the roads exceedingly heavy & slippery—rather trying...." R.S. Robertson best summed up the effects of these numerous hardships in a letter to his parents:

Weak, sore and worn out after a long and weary march, I take the opportunity of sending you a few lines.... You may imagine how little I feel like writing when you know what I have gone through for a few days past.... This is the hardest marching on record since the war began and we are completely used up. The sides of my feet are covered with large blisters and the soles are so sore, I can scarecely bear my weight...and cannot get my boots on at all, my feet are swelled to such a size.... 54 miles in two days would be an extraordinary march on the best roads, but in the mud it was more than any army did before. [38]

Capt. Acheson simply wrote, "Our marches are very fatigueing indeed and several times when it was raining the men at end of a day's march would lie down in the water and sleep soundly. I never knew what a man was able to endure before." [39]

Despite these fatigues most of the men bore the hardships well. "Our men have stood this forced march nobly thru," wrote Surgeon Robert Hubbard, "heat & dust with blistered feet & under no little privation." This stoic attitude might be explained by the motivation and realization of what lay ahead. [40]

As the month of June drew to a close the probability of a battle loomed large, a fact of which the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac were well aware. "There is every sign here of a very hard battle being fought in a very few days," wrote William T. Shimp of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers. In spite of the obvious danger this involved, John Follmer, in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, remarked, "Most of our men seem anxious to have a fight. If the field is open we think we are sure of victory." Private E.D. Benedict, 12th Pennsylvania Reserves, probably expressed the men's motivation best when he penned this July 1 entry into his diary:

...crossed the Penna line about M= The col Halted us at the line and the boys gave 3 cheers for old Pa and we vowed never to leave the state until we had driven the rebels out.... There is no nonsense about us.... We have been in the service long enough to know that fighting is no Childs play but we want to be led against the Enemy now because we are determined to drive him out of our state or perish in the attempt. [41]

This then was the condition of the Army of the Potomac on the eve of one of the most crucial battles of the war. Though pushed to near physical and mental limits, they were well aware that success in the approaching conflict would require their maximum effort. Despite their fatigues, the constant changes in command, and lack of public support, the confidence and morale of the officers and men remained high. Most, it would appear from their writings, were ready for the difficult task ahead of them. Surgeon Hubbard probably summed up the attitude of the entire army when he wrote on June 30, "I hope we shall be able to celebrate the 4th of July by a glorious victory over the enemies of our government." [42]


Gettysburg July 4th 63

Three days hard fighting expecting more all safe. Our troops everywhere overwhelmingly victorious

C L Warner [43]

Lt. Charles L. Warner's concise summary of Gettysburg was probably similar to thousands of other letters written at this time to wives and families, who anxiously awaited the news that their loved ones had survived one of the worst slaughters in American history.

With perfect hindsight modern histories of Gettysburg state, quite correctly, that the battle officially ended with the repulse of "Pickett's Charge" on July 3. For the soldiers who had survived the three days of combat, however, that fact was anything but certain. Throughout the remainder of July 3 and all through a rainy and dismal July 4 the two armies lay within sight of each other in an ominous face-off. Though well aware they had severely punished their Confederate opponents ("We have met the enemy and given them hell," wrote Oliver Norton) most Union soldiers fully expected more fighting. Sgt. Bowen, 12th United States Regulars, probably best summed up the attitude of the army when he recorded:

July 4, 1863. Today is the glorious old Forth of July. I suppose up north the people are enjoying themselves after the good old fashion. But we expect that so far as noise is concerned that we shall beat them for if I am not mistaken we shall come up with the rebs & have a muss before night. [44]

As July 4 slowly passed without the eruption of any serious fighting, however, the realization that the battle was indeed over began to dawn on the men. More importantly, with the retreat of the Confederate army on the evening of the 4th and throughout July 5, the Army of the Potomac understood they had achieved a significant victory. Ellis C. Strouss who had written somewhat cautiously on July 4, "We are confident of Victory," stated emphatically just two days later, "The Battle of Gettysburg is fought and thank God The Army of the Potomac has been Victorious." [45]

After two years filled with disheartening defeats, reverses and disasters these soldiers experienced true success for the first time. These initial emotions of relief and joy are conveyed in their writings, with terms like "glorious," "splendid" or "great" being used repeatedly to describe the outcome of the battle. Capt. David E. B. Beem of the 14th Indiana Volunteers, wrote:

The Army of the Potomac has again met the enemy and after three days desperate fighting have achieved the most glorious victory of the war... This was a grand and glorious moment. All our banners floated, and from one end of our line to the other...thousands sent up their cheers... [46]

Capt. Henry Falls Young, 7th Wisconsin Infantry, was more succinct when he wrote, "...didnt we give them hell, well we did your men were perfectly wild with enthusism..." In summing up his feelings, Capt. Henry Abbott of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment, simply wrote, "By jove, it was worth all our defeats." [47]

Common threads to many of these battlefield letters, from both officers and enlisted men, were again their strong religious beliefs and faith in providence. In announcing the Union victory and his survival to his wife, Gen. Geary wrote:

With the devout thanks to Almighty God for His miraculous protection in passing the most terrible battle yet fought, I am enabled to announce to you that Edward [his son] & I are both unhurt.... Thank God for so glorious a victory.... [48]

Henry Clare of the 83rd New York Regiment began his letter of July 5 in similar fashion:

Through the Providence of God I have been spared to write you of three of the most desperate battles Christendom have ever heard of fought in and about this town on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd inst.... Though I may appear worldly minded in your estimation, do not suppose dear brother, that I am unmindful of my obligation to Almighty God for his marvellous loving kindness to me in this and other numerous occasions. [49]

Major Luther Trowbridge was more direct when he wrote to his wife, " all the dangers of the pass week, which have indeed been thick around me, our kind Heavenly Father has spared me.... I think that God is now fighting on our side...." [50]

Capt. Henry Abbott

Though the men were joyous and thankful for the victory, another common element found in these early letters was, not surprisingly, the sorrowful acceptance of the grim realities of war. Capt. Henry Livermore Abbott related in a July 6 letter home:

When our great victory was just over the exultation of victory was so great one didn't think of our fearful losses, but now I can't help feeling a great weight at my heart. [51]

Realizing the broader implications the battle had on the entire nation, Private A.W. Stiwell eloquently penned in his diary:

We are Celebrating our Fourth of July on the Battlefield among the Rocky hills of the Blue Ridge in Old Pennsylvania and while success brings joy to us, it will soon bring Mourning to thousands of happy families. [52]


Though not a common occurrence, many of these letters to loved ones and friends attempted to describe the trials and ordeals the soldiers had survived. This was especially true and understandable of the men who had experienced combat for the first time. Col. Russell A. Alger, commanding the 5th Michigan Cavalry, admitted, "I had a curiosity to Participate in a Battle and to know what it was to charge upon the enemy." He soon got the opportunity he sought, describing a charge he lead:

How did I feel while makeing this charge? Well I was so elated at the good front & gallant manner that my command was makeing in the charge that although I saw men & Horses falling fast around me I did not think of danger to myself & was praising the men untill we drew the Pistol and went was kill all you can & do your best each for himself...

Alger apparently got the answer he was looking for, writing: I had my curiosity fully gratified & have not hankered for a fight since & do not think I should if I never participated in an other... Since then I have been in a good many fights...& I enter all with a dread.... [53]

Corporal Hesse, in the 9th Massachusetts Battery, attempted to describe his first experience of combat, in which he was wounded:

we have had a great fight.... I am lucky that I have got out the fight so save... it was all the time a Shower of Bullets over and around me three bullets went throug my blouse_ ...they shot me through my left Arm-the blood run all over me I was Sweting and the Powder of handling the Cartrige and Smoke blacked my if you had seen me you would not have known me_ ...the 9th Mass' Battery showed them brave and Heroes- [54]

Bugler Charles W. Reed of the same battery attempted to describe the sheer volume of noise during the battle: ...such a shrieking, hissing, seathing I never dreamed was imaginable, it seemed as though it must be the work of the very devil himself. [55]

Even though most combat-hardened soldiers realized it was a useless attempt to describe a battle to those who had never experienced one, some veterans, like Eseck G. Wiber of the 120th New York Infantry, nevertheless related small incidents of combat:

...the 2d of July...will be a day long to be remembered by the survivers of that terable battle.... My comrades were falling on evry side of me and I expected evry minut that it would be my turn next. Captain Barker fell shot dead instantly the ball went through his head just back of his ear right through his brain I saw him fall he never groaned at all he had his sword over his head giving us orders: says he take it cool boys listen to the command and evry man stand to his post with these words he fell to the ground A Corpse [56]

Gilbert Gaul's sketch, "Holding the Line," typifies the type of fighting experienced at Gettysburg.

Whatever the men's level of experience before the battle, all could be considered "veterans" by the time it had ended. [57] Victor E. Comte, and the rest of his comrades of the 5th Michigan Cavalry, saw their first action during the campaign and marvelled at their rapid acclamation to war, "Never could I imagine that young soldiers could cope so well and quickly with the old ones and defeat them so well and quickly." Capt. John Bigelow commanded the 9th Massachusetts Battery in its first action during the fighting on July 2, and remembered years later "before the day ended the men had been initiated thoroughly in the horrors of war." [58]

Bugler Reed was one of the men in the battery who was "initiated" that day. Upon entering his first battle Reed naively felt "like going to some game or review." His attitude obviously changed, as he related: appeared to be a grand terrible drama we were enacting and the idea of being hit or killed never occuured to me, but when I saw the dead, wounded, and mutilated pouring out their lifes blood...then the terrible sense of reality came upon me in full force. the novelty had vanished I could only turn my thoughts to him who sees and controls all, with silent thanks giveings and weep for the many, many dead and maimed. [59]

What motivated these men to enter this hailstorm of carnage? Certainly their strong religious beliefs would have inspired them in combat. Some were also probably animated by the cause for which they fought. Loyalty to unit and comrades would also enable men to stand the rigors of battle. More basic still was the optimistic philosophy some men took toward combat. Sgt. Charles Bowen of the 12th United States Regulars explained this attitude when he wrote, "we all hope to live through it, of course; although we know many of us will not, still each one thinks he is not among the doomed." In a letter to his mother, Lt. Col. Henry Hastings Curran, comforted her with a similar outlook, "You must not be anxious about me.... The chances of being killed in battle you must recollect, are very small." [60]


Almost as soon as fighting had ended the men who had survived Gettysburg began to analyze it. They, and future historians, would write volumes on what had occurred in the rolling fields surrounding the south-central Pennsylvania cross-roads town and its significance in history. Though these later histories are useful in their own right, some of the most powerful and revealing material was written by the soldiers themselves soon after the battle.

Almost all the men in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac seemed to realize immediately that had lived through something significant. The one dominant theme found in their letters and diaries concerned the overwhelming severity of the combat that ensued at Gettysburg.

Col. John Musser, commanding the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry later wrote, "...history will record it, as one of the most stubbornly contested battles of the war."

A member of the 66th Ohio Infantry stated:

It was truly a terrible conflict. The history of the Revolution gives us great conflicts where a couple of hundred men breathe their lives out upon the martial field, but nowhere does it or European history relate anything equal to the Gettysburg struggles. [61]

The use of the words "desperate," "terrible" and "bloodiest" to describe the fighting is common throughout the soldiers' writings. "We fought the bloodiest battle of the war," related an unknown soldier in the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteers, "We have gained the greatest victory of the war. The loss on both sides is awful and the fighting beyond description." Robert Hubbard simply wrote, "It has been one of the most terrible battles of the world." [62]

Even more important are the statements from veterans, who had something to compare with Gettysburg. Henry Clare, a veteran of the 83rd New York Infantry, wrote:

In the thirteen battles in which I have taken an active part none could compare in desperation and determined fighting with that of the 3rd inst. God only knows how I escaped, the shot and shell fell round me thicker than rain from clouds. [63]

"The regiment I have the honor to command 26th Penna. Volunteers ...has seen hard service for more than two years, "wrote Maj. Robert Bodine, "but all acknowledge this to be the most desperate fight of the war." Other veterans agreed, one writing, "we thought we had hard fighting to Chanselorville but it was not a flee Bite to this one this has been the hardest fight we ever had:"

In his diary entry for July 4, Charles H. Blinn recorded:

Soldiers who were present at the battles of Antietam and Malvern Hill say that the cannonading at those places was but a salute compared with yesterday's and many General Officers say that this has been the hardest battle of the war. [64]

One of those "General Officers" was Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, commanding the Second Division of the Second Corps. In a short note scribbled before the fighting began on July 3, he wrote simply, "We had a great fight yesterday...the hardest fighting I have yet seen." [65]

Many noted that, for sheer intensity, the volume of fire and subsequent casualties exceeded anything they had previously experienced. Capt. J.F. Sterling, 121st Pennsylvania Regiment, described the fighting of July 1, in which he was wounded:

Although the Infantry fire was sever at Fredericksburg yet that of yesterday far exceeded it. Whole regiments were mowed down at single vollies as the fight was in an open field and the two armies within one hundred and fifty yards of each other. At one time it appeared to me the majority of our regiment was on the ground. I feel thankfull to God I got off so well The way the bullets and pieces of shells whistled past me digging up the earth on all sides was not I can assure you particularly healthy. [66]

While there are many possible explanations for the tremendously high casualties suffered at Gettysburg (it was the bloodiest of the war), the soldiers expressed their own theories. Thomas Francis Galwey of the 8th Ohio Volunteers, offered one possibility:

Both armies were composed of veteran soldiers, who had been in many engagements, and, accordingly, it was only after the utmost amount of valor and resistance had been used on both sides, that we succeeded in compelling them to relinquish the field... [67]

Another motivation, at least for the Army of the Potomac, was revenge for previous defeats. Robert Carter of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry, expressed this attitude in a letter to his father:

We went into the bloody battle of Gettysburg feeling that we had suffered too much for the wretches, not to give them a licking, and we fought like devils. I almost prayed on the road that they would not 'skedaddle,' so that we might get at them; every step that I took with my raw feet made me savage and ugly. [68]

Alexander McNeil, in the 14th Connecticut Infantry was more concise when he wrote, "we paid the Rebels back, with Interest, for our defeat at Fredericksburg." [69]

Many Northern soldiers, especially Pennsylvanians, had the additional motivation of defending their home soil. Even though he had been excused from duty due to illness, George Cramer of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, remained in the ranks and fought with his unit on July 1. He later explained why in a letter to his wife:

...I must acknowledge that I felt indignant; the Rebels to come to our very door to spread destruction. This is certainly not purely* fighting to gain theyr Independence.... [The men] were determent to fight even to death on theyre own soil. [70]

Lt. Sebastian Duncan, Jr., of the 13th New Jersey Infantry, even went so far as to state:

Had this battle been fought in Virginia, the same number of men on Either side I believe we would have lost it. So much for fighting on our own ground & among friends. The men never went into a fight more hopefully. There was a determination not to be conquered whatever happened. [71]

Union soldiers obviously also realized the importance of the issue for which they fought. In describing the repulse of "Pickett's Charge," William Burns of the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry wrote, "...if they had succeeded at this point it would have been all up for the USA." Another factor which might have made the soldiers in both armies more determined at Gettysburg was expressed by Lt. Charles H. Salter. "It seemed," he wrote, "as if every man on both sides, was activated by the intensest hate, and determined to kill as many of the enemy as possible, and excited up to an enthusiasm for exceeding that on any other field...." [72]

The fact that they had participated in, and survived, a momentous event is also evident in the soldiers' writings. " immense amount of history has been made," stated Gen. Geary. Bugler Charles Reed wrote a month later, "I....wouldn't have missed being in at the battle of Gettysburg for ten thousand dollars not a cent less."

In a July 4 letter to his wife Lt. Col. Rufus Dawes, commanding the 6th Wisconsin Infantry, wrote:

I am entirely safe through the first three of these terrible days in the history of this bloody struggle ....Someday Mary we will visit together the battlefield of Gettysburg. [73]

In trying to convey the immense scope of the battle, Corporal Thomas Livermore, 20th Maine Infantry, wrote, "this is a great story & I would not have believed it if I had not seen it myself." [74]

The large number of men who kept diaries of their service is, by itself, an indication they understood that they were making history. Many also realized they had witnessed so many important events that it was impossible to fully describe them. "So much as transpired within the last week that I cannot hope to tell you all in one letter or in a dozen," wrote one cavalry officer. J.L. Harding of the 7th Indiana Infantry was even more emphatic, when he wrote to his sister, "I might fill a quire of blanke paper foolscap were I so minded for seldom has any other circumstance or subject entered my mind since them so dreadful days." [75]

Above all else, the rank and file of the Army of the Potomac felt that they had achieved something important. "We are of the opinion that we have gained one of the greatest victories of the war," wrote one enlisted man.

They also were aware, however, that that victory had been purchased at an extremely high cost. [76]


History has accorded Gettysburg the dubious distinction of being the bloodiest battle ever waged in the Western Hemisphere. The carnage was unprecedented; roughly 51,000 Americans had become casualties (an approximate breakdown is 10,000 killed or mortally wounded, 30,000 wounded and 10,000 missing or captured). The Army of the Potomac itself, had suffered heavily. Total casualties exceeded 23,000, including approximately 3,100 killed, 14,500 wounded and 5,300 missing. Taken as a whole, the army had lost over 25 percent of its strength. [77]

These statistics, well known to any student of the battle, were of course compiled in the decades following and with the advantage of hindsight. Despite the best efforts of historians these numbers remain estimates. Immediately following the battle, however, the dazed and stunned combatants, despite being without the benefit of detailed casualty returns and future studies, were still certain that "never has there ever been such wholesale slaughter before." Another wrote, "The battle has been the most obstinate and bloodiest of the war...." [78]

One of the greatest impacts of the battle, and the most obvious to the soldiers, were the overwhelming losses their individual units had suffered. Outside their families, the strongest bonds that most of these men had ever formed were with their fellow soldiers in the regiments and batteries in which they served. The common practice in the Civil War of forming units with men from the same community, meant that often these soldiers were familiar with each other even before the war. Two years of war and all its hardships, including the risk of death, had made loyalty and friendship with their comrades an extremely important part of their existence.

That casualties were uncommonly high at Gettysburg is borne out by the fact that an amazing 22.7 percent of the infantry regiments of the Army of the Potomac suffered losses of 50 percent or greater. Most of these regiments belonged to the First, Second, Third and Eleventh Corps. The casualties sustained during the battle, therefore, must have shocked the men tremendously. This was especially true for the officers, who felt somewhat responsible for the welfare of their men. Lt. Col. Dawes, 6th Wisconsin Regiment, expressed to his wife the sorrow he felt over the loss of nearly half of his regiment:

Oh Mary its awful to look now at my shattered band of devoted men.... This had been the most terrible ordeal of all. My loss is 30 killed outright, 116 wounded...and 23 missing, all out of 340 men in the fight.... The experiences of the past few days seem more like a fearful, horrible dream than reality.... Our bravest and best are cold in the ground or suffering on beds of anguish. [79]

After suffering nearly 55 percent casualties in their first battle, the survivors of the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry gathered on Cemetery Hill. In the growing twilight of that July 1 evening the full reality of the disaster that had befallen them became evident. Col. John Musser later described this moment:

We sat down to rest, but could not sit still. Officers and men shook hands in silence great tear drops standing in their undaunted eyes, as they thought of the dead and wounded left in the hands of the cursed Rebels. We were afraid to ask each other where the rest of our regt. were, we knew most of them were either killed or wounded. If I had been called upon to point out any deserving of promotion or gallantry, I would have pointed to them all. All are worthy of the highest praise. [80]

During the fighting near the Peach Orchard on July 2, the 9th Massachusetts Battery was shattered, losing three of its four officers, six of eight sergeants, nineteen enlisted men, four of its six guns and 88 of its 110 horses. "we have lost so many officers and men it does not seem like the same Battery," wrote Private David Brett.

Corporal Augustus Hesse, in describing the shock of battle, scribbled, "I am sorry that our Battery is cut up so terable oh I feel so bad that I could cry...." [81]

For some units which had marched off to war 1,000 strong in 1861, two years of fighting and its inherent hardships, combined with their Gettysburg casualties, reduced their ranks to a mere shadow of their former strength. William A. Smith in the 116th Pennsylvania Regiment described the condition of his regiment in a letter to his family: is hardes battle that has bin fought yet I think in the army of the Potomic... their is only 9 in my company now... 108 in all in our Regt. with 1 Major - 1 Adjt - 2 captens in that has nock the Regt. To peaces pritty fast out of 900 when we left Phila....this fight I think it will finish them off and than their will be no more of the 116 Regt. [82]

Making these losses even more evident to the Army of the Potomac was the aftermath of the battle, which they had to endure during the two to three days they remained in the area. "I embraced the opportunity of satisfying my curiosity," described Henry Clare of his activities on morning of July 5:

...and rode over the plains. To one not accustomed to the sight, the scene would be sickening, —at least ten thousand lay dead in all kinds of attitudes, —most hideous sights.... The stench was beyond description, and yet we had to endure it for 24 hours...I feel I cannot accurately describe how dreadful it was. [83]

Certain areas of the field, where the fighting had been especially fierce, were particularly bad. Maj. Robert L. Bodine, 26th Pennsylvania Regiment, spent the night of July 3 assisting in removing the wounded in front of the Union center, and he recounted the sights that greeted him: give you an idea of how the field looked by moonlight, it would compare favorably in appearance to what a wheatfield, where the sheaves have been bound and left ungathered, and then the color of a Reb is not unlike that of ripe wheat. [84]

For many Union soldiers this was their first experience of the aftermath of a battle, and what they saw was unforgettable. "This is the first time I have been over a battleground after a fight," wrote Dayton E. Flint of the 15th New Jersey Infantry:

It was a scene I hope never to witness again, and a sad 4th of July it was to us. Some of the dead had lain in the hot sun nearly two days, and it was a horrible sight. They were so disfigured that it was impossible for their comrades to recognize them. [85]

The aftermath was so bad that John Burrill of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry stated, "I had rather go into a fight than see the effects of it afterwards..." [86]

It is no wonder then that the elation of victory was so short-lived. William Porter Wilkin, 1st West Virginia Cavalry, described this change of emotion:

In the evening the battle ceased - Lee was repulsed - his panting, shattered, bleeding ranks were compiled to retire - it was announced that we had achieved a great victory. This was cause for great rejoicing; but how could we rejoice, amid the scenes of blood and carnage spread out to view on that battlefield; how could we rejoice, amid the groans and ejaculations of pain and suffering from our wounded and dying comrades? [87]

Sights and experiences such as these had naturally hardened the veterans of the Army of the Potomac. Oliver Norton recalled in a July 17 letter:

...I saw the bodies of thirteen rebels lying in the mud with the pitiless rain beating on their ghastly faces. That would have been a horror at home; there it was only a glimpse of what might be seen. [88]

Horatio Chapman, 20th Connecticut Infantry explained this thought even better when he wrote, "....such is War and we are getting use to it and can looke on scenes of War carnage and suffering with but little feeling and without a shudder." [89]

The sufferings of the local community also hardened these soldiers to the impacts of war. R.S. Robertson, 93rd New York Infantry, stated:

Large fields of grain were trampled down and the fences are scattered in every direction. It seems hard that a loyal people must suffer the desolations of war as the people here have done.... You should see the groups of women and children who fled from their homes...returning again today when the danger is past carrying what little property they have left in baskets and bags—coming back only to find their homes pillaged and perhaps entirely destroyed. You who have never seen any of the horrors of war, can form no idea of the terrible sights that we have got so accustomed to, that we have hardly any feeling left for the unfortunate. A few days ago this part of the country was quiet and peaceful, covered with ripening grain, now it is a desert for miles on every side of us and a cemetery and hospital for thousands of dead and wounded men. [90]

While the ravages of war on the citizens of Adams County were obvious, the Union soldiers were also aware the battle effected the rest of the North, including their loved ones at home, in a different way. Joseph Hopkins Twitchell, Chaplin of the 71st New York Regiments, stated this idea perfectly when he wrote on July 5:

It has been a terrible battle - one of the hardest fought, if not the hardest of the war. Once more the fearful tragedy is enacted. Another libation of blood has been poured out to Liberty: Thousands of souls have been called to sudden judgement - thousands of homes are desolated. [91]

This fact was certainly made clear to Horatio Chapman, 20th Connecticut Infantry, who related an incident which occurred while burying the Confederate dead on Culp's Hill:

I saw a letter sticking out of the breast pocket of one of the Confederate dead, A Young man apparently about 24.... It was from his Young Wife away down in the state of Louisiana. She was hoping and longing that this cruel war would end and he could come home and she says our little boy gets into my lap and says now mama I will give you a kiss for Papa. But oh how I wish you could come home and kiss me for yourself. But this is only one in a thousand. [92]

George Cramer of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, expressed sympathy for the families of such men, writing, "It is certainly hard to die away from home.... But, still I think it is equally as hard for those at home, for a father, a mother, an affectionate wife or Sister, yes, more to hear of the death of a beloved one." [93]

One such family was the Achesons of Washington, Pennsylvania. Their son and brother, David, a captain in the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry was mortally wounded during the fighting in the Wheatfield on July 2. As the battle raged they, like thousands of other families, anxiously awaited news from the field. "This week has been one of terrible suspense to me," wrote his brother Sandie. It was nearly a week before he got any news:

Not until Thursday [July 9] did I see one word about the 140th, then in the Tribune I saw...Capt. Atkinson's death...announced. Since then I've been in a perfect agony to hear from home or the regt., hoping that it was not so, and that he was yet alive. ...My feelings have got the upper hand of me and I can't write. Good bye. [94]

Well aware of the hardships the news of Gettysburg would bring, Capt. H.C. Coates of the 1st Minnesota Infantry, which had lost over 70 percent of its men, attempted in his official report to sum up the sacrifice of his regiment, writing, "Our loss of so many brave men is heartrending and will carry mourning into all parts of the state." [95]

Even for those families whose sons, brothers, fathers and husbands in the army survived the battle, the strain was difficult. The soldiers were well aware of this and scribbled off letters as quickly as possible to let their families know they were safe. Many letters are filled with introductions such as "Congratulate me on passing through the severest fought battle of the war in perfect safety" or "You will be glad to hear that I am safe-" Sgt. Charles Bowen probably summed up the soldiers' awareness of their families' anxiety when he wrote to his grandmother:

I have no doubt but you have all worried a considerable about me, not hearing from me in so long a time,... I know how eagerly you searched the papers for my name among those who so gloriously fell in that action while gallantly doing battle, against the invading foe. The anxious nights you spent are but the counterpart of my own at that time, for when wearied & tired I tried to sleep, imagination would picture in vivid colors upon my brain the "Old House at Home" with its loved inmates worried & restless like myself, though from a far different cause. They worried because a son was perhaps lying on a bloody battlefield writhing in pain from some horrid wound with none to succor, or at best his blood stained corpse might lie among the thousands of his brave comrades, to blacken & disfigure in the scorching sun. While I worried (for well I knew the horrors a busy brain will conjure up). I would lay & think over such things untill it seemed I would give any price to assure you of my safety. [96]

Indeed, the cost had been high in a variety of ways. The soldiers of the Army of the Potomac knew they had achieved a victory, but many probably pondered whether or not it had been worth the sacrifice. Horatio Chapman stated his feelings on the subject when he penned in his diary entry for July 4:

July 4th This day reminds us of our Independence and what it costs to achieve it and what it is now costing to maintain it [97]

With the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia from the field, the other question which some might have asked was, "What did that victory mean and what did their future hold?"


With the nearly complete reversal of fortunes the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac experienced after Gettysburg, it should not be surprising that many of the men felt the victory they had won was an overwhelming and decisive one. "We hear all sorts of rumors," wrote Robert Hubbard, "but we do not know what to believe except that at the battle of Gettysburg the enemy received the greatest punishment they have ever suffered & the victory on our side was unequivocal & complete." [98] Such sentiments are common in the soldiers' writings just after the battle.

It should also not be surprising that the soldiers' confidence as a result of their victory rose sharply. Sgt. Walter Carter of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry wrote simply, "We will win a final victory, I am most positive. You do not know with what confidence this jaded-out army goes forth to the harvest of death...." This type of attitude bred high hopes among the men. Such expressions, as that penned by John Kay, were common: "We hope to wipe Lees Army out of existence & secure peace to the United States before long." [99]

The reasons for such hopes, some of them unrealistic, were varied. An overriding cause was that many of the men were sick of the war and its misery. "I have seen so much death and suffering this month that I am perfectly sick of the times," wrote Gen. John Geary, "My very clothes smell of death." Sgt. Wilfred McDonald also conveyed this feeling in his July 5 diary entry:

If ever my heart has bled it has been at this fight. The suffering is awful. God grant that this battle may be the termination of the war. [100]

Having survived his first combat, Pvt. David Brett expressed another reason to wish for the end of hostilities, "[I] hope the war will soon be over I for one do not want to get into another battle." Another strong desire of the men, which influenced their optimistic hopes following the battle, was to return home. In a July 4 letter to his mother Ellis Strouss wrote, "I hope this Battle will end the war so that I may return home to you." Victor Comte was even more emphatic, writing:

I have every reason to believe that the South will be subdued within 2 months and that Uncle Sam's soldiers will go back to their homes to begin over to live a peaceful and happy life. That's what I'm longing for with all my heart. [101]

With these types of hopes and desires serving as motivation, many of the soldiers saw a great opportunity before them. Robert Hubbard stated this idea in a letter to his wife, "If we can keep Lee on this side of the [Potomac] river we can ruin his whole army." This hope only increased in the days following the battle for, as Capt. Mathew Richards wrote, "It has been raining constantly...but we console ourselves...that the rains are sweling the Potomac and preventing Lee from getting back until we thoroughly disorganize him." [102]

Further increasing the Army of the Potomac's confidence was their attitude toward the Confederate army. Many Union soldiers believed they had punished the Army of Northern Virginia so severely at Gettysburg, that its ranks were now demoralized. Maj. James Biddle, a member of Meade's staff wrote on July 8, "I trust we may be able to break up the whole of Lee's army before they can get over their present demoralization." This type of thinking was probably unrealistically encouraged by Confederate prisoners, who were obviously disheartened by their defeat and capture. Biddle related, "Rebel prisoners are coming in all the time a squad of 200 just passed, they acknowledge a terrible whipping." Robert Hubbard, after speaking with several Confederates wrote "The evidence of demoralization of the rebel army is strong - many expressing...that they will not go south again." [103]

This attitude of overwhelming confidence, however, was not universally felt throughout the army. Other soldiers were more realistic and subdued concerning the final outcome of the campaign. One of these was Lt. George Breck of Battery D, 1st New York Light Artillery. Breck, after conversing with several wounded Confederates, wrote about their firm determination:

I found them very intelligent...They were tired of the war, as our men are, and wish it was ended, but they believe they are right in taking up arms, as much as we are. They blame northern as well as southern incentives. Talk about exterminating such a people! Might as well talk about exterminating the planets in the heavens by physical force! [104]

It is no wonder then, that just four days later in a letter to the Rochester Union, Breck wrote, "The Federal army won a great victory at Gettysburg, but Lee's army is not destroyed. Far from it. There is more fighting to be done, lots of it, and thousands of more troops are needed." [105]

In attempting to follow up their victory the Army of the Potomac set off in pursuit of the retreating Confederates between July 5 and 7. What followed for the men, of course, were additional fatiguing marches made especially difficult by the constant rain following the battle. Lt. Breck, in a July 8 letter described the army's continuing ordeal:

In pursuit of the enemy just as fast [as] our legs and horses can carry us. I am tired all out, and wet through and through, soaking wet. It has done nothing but pour since we left

Gettysburg.... How we have marched since then! Yesterday and today have witnessed the most severe marching we ever performed. We marched yesterday 28 or 30 miles, part of the distance over a terribly rocky road and up the steepest, highest, longest mountain we ever crossed over....I often go the day through on a long march, on a cup of coffee and hard tack. So it has been, day after day, and night after night! [106]

The cumulative effect of their marches from Virginia, the battle itself, their subsequent marches and all the fatigues of each began to take its toll on the men. In a letter written July 6, Corporal Jacob L. Bechtel stated:

it has been imposible for me to write sooner...for we have been on the go...three weeks to day, in that time we marched over two hundred miles and rested about four days the last two weeks the weather has been very rainy. I have had but one changed of clothing, which is enough to cause sickness.... I am nearly wore out with fatigue and exposure. [107]

Indeed, by the time the Army of the Potomac managed to confront the Confederate army again along the northern bank of the flooded Potomac River on July 11, the combat effectiveness of the Union soldiers was far from ideal. What was the condition of these men at that time and did it effect the results of the campaign?


One of the greatest pitfalls of the modern student of Gettysburg is to study the battle in a "vacuum" by overlooking events which both preceded and followed the fighting. This is especially true of the events following the battle, as many general histories only summarize the remainder of the campaign while offering sweeping analysis of command decisions. [108]

One of the many forgotten factors which greatly influenced the closing stages of the campaign, however, was the condition of the opposing armies. Both had experienced trying ordeals since early June when the Confederate invasion got under way. What follows is a brief summary of the physical, emotional and mental condition of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac as they reached the Potomac River nearly a week after the battle.

From the time I took command till to-day, now over ten days, I have not changed my clothes, have not had a regular night's rest, and many nights not a wink of sleep, and for several days did not even wash my face and hands, no regular food, and all the time in a great state of mental anxiety. Indeed, I think I have lived as much in this time as in the last thirty years. [109]

This is how Maj, Gen. George Gordon Meade, writing to his wife on July 8, attempted to describe the physical and mental strain he had undergone during the campaign. This type of stress and fatigue effected every member of Meade's army in some fashion. The worst was the physical hardships the men had endured and which they would long remember. John Willoughby of the 5th Pennsylvania Reserves summed up the campaign by writing:

Since the 25th of June we have been marching more or less every day. At times going 25 and 28 miles the day; at times marching all night. Often wading on mud and water to our middles. This has been the severest campaign the Army of the Potomac has went through and it is not yet finished. [110]

Cornelius Wheeler, of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, agreed when he stated:

...this certainly the most severe of any which we have yet experienced here. We have been on the march almost constantly for a month now. I have not changed my shirt during the time. Have worn out $9.00 worth of shoes. [111]

Col. William N. Noble, commanding the 17th Connecticut Infantry, elaborated on the men's adversities:

...we have been constantly on the move 3 or 4 hours sleep each night. Yesterday we marched through the wost mud & roads about 22 miles with 100 bare feet in the Regt the poor fellows suffer terribly. [112]

One of the greatest myths concerning Gettysburg is that the Union army was well-equipped and uniformed compared to their Confederate counterparts. Such was not the case, especially after nearly four weeks of hard campaigning. One of the greatest difficulties was lack of proper footgear. As their writings bear out, thousands of Union soldiers after the battle marched barefoot or had to wait until new shoes could be supplied. [113]

William T. Shimp of the 46th Pennsylvania Regiment was one of those unfortunate soldiers and wrote on July 9, "I have marched two days without shoes and there is no prospects of us getting any before we get Lee out of Maryland." A member of the 140th New York Infantry stated, "Our men are suffering considerably from the want of clothing, more particularly shoes. A great man are barefoot and have marched from Gettysburg through the Blue Ridge and South Mountains without a shoe to their feet." [114]

Slowing the pursuit of the Army of the Potomac was the constant rain following the battle. "The weather has been unfavorable for moving," wrote the same New York soldier, "as it has rained almost constantly since the battles, making the roads almost impassable." Common diary entries made during this time included, "We had a very hard march last night, being very muddy..." and "On the march at 4 [a.m.] - raining - the hardest march I ever made—over the muddiest roads & toughest fields—I was never so near dead beat." [115]

Indeed, it had been so wet throughout the entire campaign that one soldier noted, "I guess we had not two days without rain." Oliver Norton described the effects of this weather:

The night of the 4th of July it rained tremendously, and I had little shelter and lay in water half an inch deep all night. I was too much exhausted to stand up or even to keep awake. I was wet through most of the time for a week after, and a very bad diarrhea set in which destroyed my appetite and made me very weak. [116]

Capt. Richards explained how his men suffered:

It has been raining constantly, our clothes are wet and we do not get time or opportunity to dry them.... We have not seen our baggage wagons or slept in tents for a long while, and have not changed our clothes or took them off that they feel as if they had grown to us. [117]

This led to another common problem among the men, which Oliver Norton described:

I said the men were lousy. You hardly know what that means, but if you were in the ranks you would, not head lice, but body lice, that crawl all over shirts and pants. Nothing but boiling will kill them, and for three weeks no one has had a chance to boil a shirt. [118]

Not surprisingly the uniforms of many soldiers began to disintegrate. "Just before we left... Va...," wrote Sgt. Henry Thomas Peck, "I got a whole new suit But now it looks as if I had worn it a year." Others were in even worse condition, as one soldier noted on July 11 that "the boys looks hard they are nearley naked for cloes[.]" H. Miller of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry wrote, "we look very near as bad as the Rebels with hardly clothes to our backs." [119]

Additional hardships the men endured included short rations and little sleep. Accumulatively, the effects of the continuous marches, constant rain, suffocating heat, numerous other privations and the battle itself began to take a toll on the men. In his diary for the fifteen days between July 6-20, Charles Sheldon, Battery G, 1st New York Artillery, recorded that he was "tiard" or "very tiered" five times, noted that it rained eight times, complained about the mud twice, the heat three times and the lack of rations twice. Robert Carter of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry wrote:

We have been on the march day and night for over a month, and you have probably read of how much we have suffered. Whole regiments would fall out and catch up again before morning, only to fall out again. I fell out just twice, and not till my feet were raw and bloody, sticking to my stockings. [120]

Lt. James Pepper Pratt of the 11th United States Regulars summed up the campaign by writing:

I fear the letters on the march were not very edifying.... There was a touch of whining about them not manly nor soldier-like. But the truth was, we suffered a great deal,—marching twenty five and thirty miles a day, lying down in roads and sleeping a few hours, and before daybreak on our way again,—sore feet and stiff joints, empty stomachs, horrible mud, driving rains and roaring streams, never checking our tremendous pace. [121]

While the soldiers themselves suffered, so too did the horses and mules of the artillery batteries, cavalry regiments and supply trains. John Follmer of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry described this in his diary entry for July 7:

The country is rough, roads are hard and stony, forage slim and poor in quality. Our poor horses are all fagged out with hard continuous marching and scanty feed. I pity them as they are forced along until they can stand no more. No mercy is shown many of the poor brutes, who are patiently wearing away their lives, being abused and starved to death. War is a horrible thing. It makes men heartless, brutal, and in many instances sinks out of sight all of the higher and nobler manhood. [122]

Oliver Norton noticed, "The horses are worn out, every days's march killing from five to twenty in each battery." The situation was so bad that at one point the First and Sixth Corps were forced to leave their artillery batteries behind until their horses could rest up or be replaced. [123]

If the physical fatigues on the army were not enough, it must be remembered that the Union soldiers had also undergone extreme mental and emotional stresses during the campaign. The shock of combat must certainly have strained the men's nervous systems, and although the terms "shell shock," "battle fatigue" and "post traumatic stress disorder" would be coined in later wars, the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac suffered from its effects. Some even attempted to describe this mental stress in their writings. Sgt. Maj. A.P. Morrison of the 38th Pennsylvania Infantry, having survived the slaughter of July 2 and 3, described the mental strain of a later impending battle that did not occur:

I was sure this was to be a fight. But again I was mistaken—The wear & tear of these movements tho is quite as hard on ones nervous system as an actual fight would be— for the hardest part of the battle is the getting into it. [124]

James McErea, of the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry, had the sad task of informing the mother of Lt. John D. Gordon that her son had died from wounds he had received during the battle. In part McErea's letter reads:

I with Sorrow of heart inform you of the death of your son J.D. Gordon.... The Co. deeply deplore his loss as well as sympathize with your afflictions.... we know not the future May God Bless us all. Excuse my poorly written letter &c as we are now about into march and I have been through all the fight & am nervous. [125]

As mentioned earlier, a unit's total battle casualties put a tremendous emotional strain on the survivors. This was made even worse when the casualties were close friends or comrades. An excellent example of this is given in the letters of Lt. Col. David Thomson of the 82nd Ohio Infantry. Thomson's tent mate and close companion was the regiment's adjutant, 24-year old Lt. Stowell L. Burnham, who was mortally wounded during the fighting north of town on July 1. In several letters written during the six-week period following the battle, Thomson describes the effect Burnham's death had on him. On July 16 he wrote: Oh! how I miss Burnham. I went with him and took dinner just before his death. He was brave and a good officer above all, good and honest.

On August 11 he lamented, "How much I miss Burnham. Glorious good fellow was he, and most generously did he live." Though Thompson remarked in August 19, "A death in the army is not thought of hardly," he continued in the same letter: I miss Burnham more and more. It was too bad that he was killed. Yet he died nobly and bravely. He and I were companions. I had none more so. Now I am alone. [126]

Capt. Henry Livermore Abbott, 20th Massachusetts Infantry, described the impact the death of Lt. Henry Ropes had on the regiment Ropes was killed on July 3 by friendly artillery fire during the great cannonade preceding "Pickett's Charge:"

Poor Henry Ropes was one of the dearest friends I ever had or expect to have. He was one of the purest-minded, noblest, most generous men I ever knew. His loss is terrible. His men actually wept when they showed me his body, even under the tremendous cannonade, a time when most soldiers see their comrades dying around them with indifference....

Later that month Abbott wrote:

Henry Ropes' loss I felt as I should a brother. Such a pure hearted, generous and brave a gentleman I shall never meet again. I think Col. Hall was exactly right in saying Henry had the real flame of patriotism & not the newspaper stuff that makes most of us fight. Think how he would have gloried if he had lived to see that victory. [127]

Thousands of similar experiences were enacted throughout the army in the days and weeks following Gettysburg.

Another type of mental and emotional stress which effected the men was caused by particularly harsh incidents of combat. Robert Carter summed up the cumulative effect of a battle:

All the horrors of war were again renewed; the awful stench of the blackened corpses; the bloody, groaning forms borne to the rear; the awful din of the bursting shells; the crack of the musketry, the stifling, sulphurous smoke...the demoniac yells of the charging rebs. Oh, what a scene is war! [128]

Other such incidents were more individual. Lt. Col. Thomson related several appalling scenes in his letters:

...I was command and selected an adjuctant...who was sitting with me at the head of our regiment when he was killed by a 12 lb. shot. Several of our boys were torn to tatters, their blood and flesh scattered over their comrads. Yet these brave boys stood still and awaited for their turn patently.... It was an awful battle. [129]

Gen. Geary's son, Lt. Edward Geary of Battery E, 1st Pennsylvania Artillery, described a rather gruesome episode in a letter to his mother:

Three of my men were wounded. One had a piece of his head knocked off all the flesh between his shoulder and neck taken away, and his right hand almost knocked off he was still living when we left Gettysburg. He was a terrible sight when first struck, and when I had him carried to the rear, it almost turned my stomach, which is something that, as yet, has never been done. [130]

Still an even more shocking experience occurred to Lt. Lewis E. Crandell of the 125th New York Infantry during the fighting on July 2: How I escaped I can not tell. I was covered with blood. My pants were stiff with dark clotted blood, one man by me [was] shot with grape in the head the hot blood flew in my face nearly blinding me. [131]

Such appalling occurrences as these obviously impacted the men in some way. It is no wonder then that William Shimp wrote on July 6, "We are liable to be called up at a moment to meet the enemy, but I hope not. [132] Such sentiments, while not always expressed aloud, were probably in the thoughts of many Union soldiers. The battle certainly made some men more reflective. Col. John Musser, commanding the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry, recalled his mood during the dismal day of July 4: It was raining.... With an old green blanket wrapped around me I sat under an oak tree. Meditating upon the uncertainty of life and worldly things in general and of those on Battlefields in particular. [133]

This then was the basic condition of the Army of the Potomac as it marched away from Gettysburg and into Maryland. Its men and horses had been pushed to the extreme limits of physical endurance for nearly three weeks, in addition to the severe mental and emotional stresses brought on by the battle, loss of comrades and physical exhaustion. And yet the Gettysburg Campaign was far from over.

While each man reacted differently to these circumstances, a large percentage seemed determined to push ahead, despite their hardships. Oliver Norton described this in a letter home, "The men have pressed on since the fight, barefooted, hungry, lousy and faint, animated by the hope of giving Lee his finishing blow." Pvt. Ira S. Jeffers of the 137th New York Infantry probably stated this attitude best when he wrote, "I wont grumble nor make enny fuss as long as there is enny prospects of bringing this to a close." Col. Noble of the 17th Connecticut Regiment wrote proudly of the "heroic endurance...the men of this army bear their hardships & how much true pluck they have." The troops certainly proved Noble correct on July 7. By forced marches, and despite their exhaustion and the terrible condition of the roads, most of the corps covered between fifteen and twenty miles. The Eleventh and Twelfth Corps did even better, covering thirty-two and twenty-nine miles, respectively. [134]

The confidence of the men, already in "the best of spirits over our victories," rose even higher as they realized the prospects of further victory loomed greater. "We feel highly elated over our success," wrote Sgt. Andrew Buck of the 7th Michigan Cavalry:

The Potomac is said to be unfordable for the enemy with their available means for crossing so they will necessarily have to fight on loyal soil a spell longer. [135]


Corporal Livermore probably summed up the thoughts of many soldiers when he wrote, "I hope we shal have another big Battle on this side of the river for we had better fight them here than in Va" [136]

Gen. Meade himself felt the same way, writing on July 8: For my part, as I have to follow and fight him, I would rather do it at once and in Maryland than to follow into Virginia. Yet the commanding general was not inclined to risk all that his army had fought so hard to gain. He summed up this attitude in a July 8 dispatch to General-in-Chief Henry Halleck:

The spirit of the Army is high; the men are ready and willing to make any exertion to push forward.... Be assured I most earnestly desire to try the fortunes of war with the enemy on this side of the river, hoping, through Providence and the bravery of my men to settle the question, but I should be wrong not to frankly tell you of the difficulties encountered. I expect to find the enemy in a strong position, well covered with artillery, and I do not desire to imitate his example at Gettysburg and assault a position when the chances are so greatly against success. [137]

Other officers felt "the fate of the rebel confederacy" hung in the balance as the two armies faced each other along the Potomac River on July 10 and 11 1863. One of those was Col. Charles Wainwright, Chief of Artillery, First Army Corps, who penned these thoughts into his diary:

JULY 11, SATURDAY....two things are certain: first, Lee has not crossed into Virginia yet; and second, that if he does not clear out soon we shall have another fight. It would nearly end the rebellion if we could actually bag this army, but on the other hand, a severe repulse of us would give them all the prestige at home and abroad which they lost at Gettysburg, and injure our morale greatly. I trust therefore that General Meade will not attempt it, unless under circumstances which will make our chances of success at least four out of five.... [138]

As we know, Meade did not risk an attack until July 13, and by that time most of the Army of Northern Virginia had recrossed the Potomac River, thus officially ending the Gettysburg Campaign. This episode, even 135 years later, is certainly one of the most controversial moments of the war. It was also highly controversial in July of 1863.

As diverse is humanity, so too were the opinions expressed in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac concerning this event. Not surprisingly, with the confidence and hopes of the army raised so high by their late victory, many of the men were greatly discouraged at what they termed "Lee's escape." A typical reaction among these soldiers was expressed by Henry Clare of the 83rd New York Infantry in a July 17 letter:

Our army are greatly incensed at the bad generalship displayed by General Meade, in not attacking Lee... as it is positively known that his army was decidedly crippled, out of ammunition, greatly discouraged & did not number more than 70,000— We consider the golden opportunity was allowed to pass.... [139]

J.W. Stuckenburg was even more adamant when he wrote in his journal:

All seemed to be greatly disappointed at Meade's failure to attack them. Our officers came together that afternoon and could not express their regret....An attack...might have shortened this war by many months.... Lee was much weaker. We whipped Lee at G[ettysburg] how much probable that we could do so at Williiamsport. The greater part of his army might have been captured....If whipped again a panic would have seized his troops and thousands on thousands would have been captured and nothing but a miserable broken, scattered, hopeless, forlorn remnant would have been permitted to escape.... The bright sun which dawned on us at Gettysburg was as suddenly eclipsed.... All we, all the whole army had done and suffered since the G[ettysburg] battle was in vain. [140]

Still, a large percentage of the soldiers' writings reflected a different attitude. Capt. Henry Abbott expressed his feelings about the controversy in a July 27 letter, writing simply "it would have been madness to attack the tete de pont of the rebels, as besides the intrenchments the positions of Gettysburg would have been precisely reversed...." W.B. Judd of the 97th New York Infantry agreed with this sentiment completely, writing on July 16:

One thing is certain; it was an uncertain position to attack. Lee had the same advantage in his position that we had at Gettysburg.... Allow me to say that an army like Gen Lee's cannot be captured in an open country without an opposing force of six times as large. [141]

After examining the Confederate fortifications along the river, Col. Wainwright wrote: These were by far the strongest I have seen yet; evidently laid out by engineers and built as if they meant to stand a month's siege.... My opinion is most decided that we could not carry it. [142]

Sgt. Frederick Conette, 14th United States Regulars, defined all the talk about destroying the Confederate army as "the biggest nonsense you can think of..." Other soldiers, upon reflection, accepted the outcome, as Lt. Sebastian Duncan, Jr. explained in a July 17 letter:

We half hoped at one time that...we would end the war in Maryland by the capture or annihilation of Lee's Army. Of course their escape is a disapointment, but we do not blame Meade for not attacking now.... There's no need of running great risks, the rebellion is doomed. we can afford to wait a little have taken them [the Confederate intrenchments] must have involved a fearful loss on our part, while the probability was that we should have been severely repulsed. [143]

This controversy, which led to great dissatisfaction in the Lincoln Administration, the public and the press, is just one example of many misconceptions and misunderstandings that existed between the Army of the Potomac and the general public. The layering effect of history over time has transformed some of these incidents into myths of gigantic proportions or even outright "fact." This evolution began within days of the battle, even as the campaign was underway. How great was this difference of opinion and how did the Union soldier, who had fought and survived the worst slaughter of the war, react to the public's perception of Gettysburg?


The Desperate Battles Near Gettysburg!
...the Heaviest Battle of the War.

So announced the Philadelphia Inquirer, in its July 6 1863 edition, the results of the Battle of Gettysburg. Other major newspapers of the time also described the battle in colossal terms. The New York Times that same day declared Gettysburg "The Most Terrible Struggle of the War." These newspapers gave the anxious public its first information of the momentous events which had transpired on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. It must also be remembered that such journals were the only form of mass communication of that era. They not only kept the masses informed of major events, both at home and abroad, but also announced every birth, death, ship arrival, accident, fire, meeting and countless other daily occurrences in their respective towns and cities. Soldiers' families and friends also anxiously searched the papers columns as regimental casualty returns from the battlefields were published, thus giving the first indication if their loved ones had survived. As such, newspapers had a tremendous impact on the everyday lives of people. Not surprisingly, these papers, many controlled by powerful political machines, also heavily influenced the shaping of public opinion during the war.

The newspapers were just as important to the soldiers themselves, for it was also their only means to kept abreast of the latest news. Yet the soldiers also realized the papers could be a curse as well as a blessing. Many of the news stories were fairly accurate, some surprisingly so, and the soldiers relied on the press to keep their families informed of the movements of the army. "By this time," wrote John Burrill of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry on July 13, "you have seen accounts of the battle better than I could write." [144] Such statements were fairly common in the letters of these men, and thus some did not elaborate on the battle in their writings.

Other newspaper reports, however, were based completely on rumor or outright lies. One soldier, before the campaign, expressed his opinion on newspaper coverage of the war in general: You have undoubtedly read in the Chronicle of yesterday the account of our fight with the rebs. Don't believe the half of it. I for one will never believe newspaper accounts for they are all stating falsehoods either directly or indirectly. [145]

Months after Gettysburg, Capt. Henry Hastings Curran, of the 146th New York Infantry, wrote to his mother, "No account [of the battle] has yet been given which approaches the truth...." [146]

An obvious lack of respect for newspaper reporters is evident in some of the soldiers' letters. A Pennsylvania soldier wrote home: Well I suppose you have had all the particulars of the fight (Gettysburg) in the papers. If they are not correct it was a little too hot for the reporters and they took a back seat. [147]

Charles W. Reed, in commenting on a Boston Journal article which described the artillery action his battery participated in on July 2, wrote:

...the account that was published in the journal.. heartily laughed at out here it is an egregious exageration for our positions as stated in that paper are incorrect. one would judge by the language used by the reporter that he was in the thickest of the fight it's all bash, he being probably a mile or two in the rear safe from harm, you may depend on it. [148]

It should come as no surprise then that many soldiers also felt the public could never understand what the army had been through during the previous month. Albert Emmel of the 12th New Jersey Infantry wrote on July 17: We have suffered from long and tiresome marching, more than any one who has never soldiered himself can imagine. It would be folly to attempt into give you a full description. [149]

A New Hampshire soldier agreed with this thought, stating in a July 6 letter, "no one knows what war is and being a soldier until they try it...." Others attempt to describe their hardships by comparing them to experiences their loved ones could understand. Steuben H. Coon of the 60th New York Infantry used this method to explain the fatigues of marching:

To give you a fair idea of what marching in this country is just imagine a day about 20 degrees hotter than the hottest you ever see...then consider our soldiers are clothed in the thickest kind of woolen with coats which must be buttoned from top to bottom, tight. Then imagine how he is harnessed with straps and belts in every direction. A knapsack weighing...from 15 to 20 pounds.... Cartridge box, and 60 rounds of cartridges, 12 to the pound, and a rifle and a sabre bayonet and a capbox. Put a man into a hayfield dressed and belted and loaded in such a way even on a cool day and how much work would you expect he would do? [150]

Some of the soldiers even admitted they did not fully understand the scope of the war until Gettysburg. Corporal Livermore wrote to his brother: After what I have written you have no idea of the sene nor I did not much til this battle you look at it on too small a scale [151]

One small section of the public that understood and better appreciated what the Army of the Potomac had undergone and accomplished were those who visited Gettysburg after the battle. One such person was Samuel Babcock whose son, Willis, a lieutenant in the 64th New York Infantry, was killed during the fighting in the Wheatfield on July 2. Babcock traveled to Gettysburg to retrieve his son's remains and wrote on July 19:

I had no adaquate idea of what our soldiers had to bare untill I came down one can visit the field without feeling that the fight was the most desperate on the content. Willie has layed himself on the alter of his country. It was the bravery of him and others who saved the army from destruction & Penn from pillage and turned the whole tide of things here.... O how much our army of the Potomac has endured. [152]

Realizing how much influence newspapers had, and feeling the public could not truly understand their ordeal, Union soldiers took serious exception to news stories that passed judgment on their successes or failures.

Sgt. William Clark of the 147th New York Regiment remarked:

...from the papers, One might suppose that the Army of the Potomac, were giants able to overturn Mountains, they do a great wrong by expressing so much about what ought to be done and what can be done, they can fight better with Pen & Ink than they could with the Rifle. [153]

A Pennsylvania soldier was more concise when he wrote, "Some of the papers are blowing about Meade not destroying Lee's army.... Then I suppose they think we should never get tired." [154]

Having experienced, endured and survived the Gettysburg Campaign first-hand, the opinions of the men in the Army of the Potomac should be given great respect. How did these Union soldiers view the campaign and how did they perceive their accomplishments and failures?

One subject which generated considerable opinion and discussion among the troops was the leadership of the army. While the public debated and pontificated on the merits and deficiencies of the army's high command, the men who were affected most by the decisions of these generals offered their own opinions. Not surprisingly, these views were many and diverse. Having won their first true victory, many men expressed satisfaction with their new commander. "The soldiers & officers are loud in their praise of Meade," wrote Lt. Charles Fairchild, "General officers particularly so." Others, however, frustrated by the failure to follow up their victory were more critical. Sgt. Charles Bowen was one such soldier, who wrote: Great dissatisfaction exists among the troops at the escape of Lee...but the army has got so used to bungles that it almost seems a matter of course. [155]

The general attitude of most of the army was probably that expressed by Capt. Henry Abbott, when he wrote on July 27:

About Meade I hardly know enough to form an immediate opinion. I can hardly tell yet whether his is Weillingtonian or simply apes it.... I certainly feel great confidence in him as I do most others, though no enthusiasm. He hasn't had a cheer, so far as I can learn. [156]

Pvt. A.W. Stiwell summed up this feeling when he penned into his diary on July 17, "It is said by Military Men that Gen Meade fought the first battle ever fought by the US army without the army knowing their Commander." [157] Though quite untrue, Stiwell's attitude is perfectly clear.

Sgt. Frederick Conette of the 14th United States Infantry, described his feelings concerning the overall leadership of the army: I feel uneasy and I am physically getting down. Besides of that I have no confidence in our leaders It seems the Army of the Potomac is to be slaughtered uselessly. [158]

On a similar point, some of the men offered their views as to who was responsible for the victory. Lt. Charles Salter, 16th Michigan Infantry, stated flatly:

All the papers that I have seen yet seem to lay the blame of our former defeats into our former generals, and give the credit of the victory of Gettysburg into Gen. Meade. But our army knows this to be not the true state of affairs.... I contend that it was the Army of the Potomac that won the battle, and not Gen. Meade.... We are not fighting for generals, but for our country and I hope that Northern people some day will give the credit of our fighting to the soldiers [and not make] Gods of the generals.... [159]

Henry Clare was more to the point when he wrote, "The rank and file won the battle of Gettysburg by their determined bravery." [160]

Indeed, these soldiers had a right to be proud of their actions and accomplishments at Gettysburg and many of their writings reflect this. What was especially important was how their deeds were perceived at home. In a letter to his local newspaper, a Michigan soldier attempted to describe the deeds of the 5th Michigan Infantry on July 2 in the most heroic light:

The 5th was placed in the very position where the rebels advanced in force, and never did this "war worn regiment" conduct itself in a more noble manner. For three long hours they stood under the most terrific and galling fire, maintaining their line...with that bravery and hardihood which only belongs to the hardiest veterans....they stood like a stone wall, till....relieved.... As they came off the field, the few that were left...gathered around their old flag which they brought safely out, and give three rousing cheers. [161]

Col. John Musser, 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry, in describing the actions of his regiment on July 1, wrote: Luzerne, Lycoming, Susquehanna...and all other counties that have boys (men) in the 143rd Regt. PV I may well feel proud of them for the endurance and gallantry displayed at the great Battle of Gettysburg. [162]

Not only was the respect from their local communities important, but so too was the appreciation from the nation as a whole. Having suffered embarrassing defeats through two years of war, Gettysburg was seen by a large percentage of the men as redemption. Capt. David Beem, of the 14th Indiana Regiment in announcing the Union victory wrote:

Fighting a desperate foe for three days on the 1st 2nd & 3rd of July the Army of the Potomac long restng under the disgrace of public opinion celebrated the glorious 4th of July with there guns still black with powder, and on the very field where they had vindicated their bravery. [163]

Along with redemption, many men also experienced great relief upon achieving their victory. Lt. Col. Henry Curran wrote:

If you, or any, ever doubted the loyalty of our army, you should have been here, when that last great charge of the Rebels was repulsed. A dozen generals, heroes of a dozen battles, shouted and clapped theirs hands, and even wept for joy. And one great shout rose again and again from the four miles of Union soldiers. [164]

Also important to the soldiers was to whom history accorded the laurels of the campaign. They rightfully felt the Army of the Potomac alone had achieved the victory at Gettysburg, and not the emergency militia of Pennsylvania nor other United States forces sent as reinforcements who were mentioned repeatedly in many newspaper stories after the battle. Lt. Col. Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry stated this emphatically in a July 9 letter writing, "One thing will appear in history, that the Army of the Potomac saved Pennsylvania, and the north." Orderly Sgt. William Tubbs of the 5th Maine Volunteers, expressed his obvious disgust for the militia units, commanded by Gen. Darius Couch, when he wrote:

The Penna. Militia dont amount to a pinch of shit. I dont believe Gen. Couch can get...them in sight of Johny Rebs, they act as if they were afraid some of them would get hurt. I have not seen any of them yet for the reason I have been to the front all the time but I hear that some of them have put on bravery enough to come up to within about 10 miles of here. [165]

A soldier in the 1st Minnesota Infantry offered his opinion on this matter in his hometown newspaper:

...when we see the "cornstalk militia" and "emergency" men...who, while near enough to hear the battle, were not called on to go into it, and who, during the whole campaign, never "smelt powder," are to receive for their distinguished services "medals of honor," while such regiments as the First and its companions get nothing but curses for not "bagging" Lee and his whole army, we do come to the conclusion that "Republics are ungrateful." [166]

More importantly, the officers and men realized what they had accomplished. Sgt. Walter Carter, 22nd Massachusetts Regiment, wrote simply: ...the Army of the Potomac will yet be the pride of the people. Everyone of its members has some claim to the name of Washington inasmuch as they are the saviours of their country at this trying hour. [167]

They had achieved this triumph, many felt, by stoic endurance and heroic courage. Reflecting on the ordeal they had survived, some verbalized pride in their achievement. Walter Carter's brother, Robert, in a July 14 letter to his father penned: I am proud to say that I have marched hundreds of miles, gone barefooted and ragged, fought one of the most terrible battles on record, and whipped GLORY!!! and chased them by thunder!!!! [168]

Corporal J.L. Bechtel of the 59th New York Infantry, summed up this opinion when he wrote on July 17, "I cannot describe the suffering I have endured on this march. But it has all been courage." Summing up the soldiers' attitude toward the public's respect of the Army of the Potomac, Robert Carter wrote on July 27, "We deserve not to succeed as a nation, if they do not favor us now...." [169]

With this perspective prevailing throughout most of the Army of the Potomac, it is not hard to imagine the feelings of shock, dismay and indignation the men experienced in the wake of the Draft Riots that shook the North in mid-July. As the Gettysburg Campaign was winding toward its conclusion, the deadliest riots in the history of the country began on July 13. These violent protests were in reaction to the enactment of the United States' first military draft. Though several communities experienced this unrest, the worst by far was in New York City, where 50,000 rioters took to the streets in protest of the draft by burning, killing and looting to the sum of $1.5 million in damage and a dozen lives. The situation was so unmanageable that 500 men and a battery of artillery from the army, fresh from the battlefield, were dispatched to quell the riot and reestablish peace. In all, it is estimated that over 1,000 were killed or wounded before quiet was restored on July 16. For the Union soldier, who had just risked life and limb on the battlefield of Gettysburg, this was a stark betrayal of the cause for which they fought and evidence of the public's indifference to their deeds. [170]

Blaming the Peace Democrats and Copperheads for instigating the riots, Lt. Sebastian Duncan, Jr. expressed a typical reaction from the soldiers:

The New York riot is causing quite as much excitment among us, as our doings at Gettysburg could have done among you.... I suppose the idea of the Copperheads is to thus keep the city in "mourning" over the "Reb" defeats. But Oh! if the soldiers only could get home wouldn't they get a lesson in blood letting that would make short work with them! You can't imagine the indignation which seems to be universal among the men.... The men are indignant that they...have been so leniently dealt with. Its disgraceful.....they ought to give them...shot, grape cannister the bayonet without mercy as long as ther was one of the...villians to show himself in the streets. [171]

Explaining his emotions toward this incident in more detail, and on the detachment of his brother's unit to New York, Walter Carter wrote on July 16:

...they carry with them the heartfelt good wishes of the Army of the Potomac for a triumphant success.. If they but carry out our sentiments, every traitor in New York City will be disgraceful it is, and if you only knew the feeling it has created in the Army of the Potomac. We are mad with rage to think they should give our enemies encouragement in this, their day of defeat, and of our triumph. [172]

Lt. E.P. Geary was more to the point when he wrote, "I wish they would send our battery [to New York]. I could fight such traitors better than those we have been fighting." [173]

Despite this obvious lack of support from some elements of the northern public, the Army of the Potomac itself realized what it had accomplished that mid-summer of 1863 and the effects it had on them and the nation. One of these soldiers was Eseck G. Wiber of the 120th New York Infantry who wrote:

...the army that 2 months ago was almost demorilised was won a victory that will long be remembered General Lee flushed with the hope of a successful result has tried Pensilvania and Mariland but he has found a man that is redy to meet him on evry corner and he has got badly whiped... [174]

Maj. Gen. Andrew Humphreys, who commanded the Second Division, Third Corps, summarized the army's achievements in a July 25 letter:

What a campaign we have had since...early June! The immense marches; the extraordinary fatigues; the nights of no sleep; the lying in the rain; watching the enemy; of marching to meet him; of manoeuvering; of fighting; marching again in pursuit; of attacks; and hopes of other battles. We have marched not less than 500 miles, fought the heaviest battle of the war...tried twice in attacking the enemy to bring another great battle and break up his army. The army has never before done so much; never moved so rapidly; never been so offensive in its operations... [175]

More importantly, the men also sensed a change in the war had occurred. Oliver Norton, writing on July 17, stated, "At Gettysburg I think we broke the ribs on one side. At all events we came nearer to it than we ever did before." The victory at Gettysburg, by itself, was enough to give some of the men renewed hope. "The cloud that has hung over our country so long is getting lighter," wrote William Shimp on July 9, "and I think I can see peace in the distance." [176] This hopeful outlook was further increased by the successes of other Union armies at Vicksburg, Port Hudson and Charleston which occurred at this same time.

As news of these victories or Union advances on other fronts reached the soldiers, their confidence of ultimate triumph rose accordingly. "The prospects now are brighter than they have been for sometime past & I guess we are now in a fair way to conquer at last," wrote Cornelius Wheeler of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry. Gen. John Geary concurred with this opinion, writing on July 17, "The result of the war seems no longer doubt and every thing in a military point of view seems more cheering and ever heretofore, the beginning of the end seems visible." [177]

Not until the war was finally over did the full significance of the events in July 1863 become clear and was the term "High Water Mark" coined. However, some men in the Army of the Potomac, in advancing such sentiments at the time, used similar expressions. Albert Emmel, in the 12th New Jersey Infantry, was one such soldier, who wrote hopefully on July 17: I hope that Gettysburg and Vicksburg are the turning point in this unnatural rebellion. It seems now that we are favored by a Higher Power and I hope that the hardest fighting is over with. [178] In a similar vein, A.W. Stiwell of the 5th Wisconsin Volunteers, penned into his diary entry that same day: the fortunes of war have changed tide.... [Gettysburg] and the news of such successes as Vicksburg and Port Hudson lead us to believe the Rebellion is about squelched and will shortly Collapse. [179]

These men also realized, however, that their accomplishments had come at an extremely high price. The most obvious were the nearly 25 percent casualties within the ranks of the army. Chaplin Joseph Twitchell, with the 72nd New York Regiment wrote home: The Army of the Union has fought as if appreciating its cause. The accidents of War are dreadful, but the fruits of such a war as this amply pay the cost. [180]

They also realized the impact of the war at home. "It is true we have been having a great many successes of late," wrote William Shimp, "But just think of the widowless mothers and fatherless children there will be after this heartless and bloody war is over...." [181]

The successes of the Gettysburg Campaign had also affected the survivors. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams described the condition of the army at the end of the campaign:

Our troops require rest, shoes, and clothing. They have been some five weeks on the march. None but veterans troops could stand it.... I think the Army of the Potomac is simmered down to the very sublimation of human strength and endurance. [182]

Indeed, the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac who had witnessed and survived the Gettysburg Campaign realized they had lived through and achieved something significant. In doing so they had also learned something about themselves. Loren Goodrich, in the 14th Connecticut Infantry, expressed this idea in a letter home:

...this has been the longest campaign that the army has ever had..., it has tried the patience and courage of the men and shows of itself what privations and hardships men can endure the month of July has been one of great interest to us all it has decided the fate of some of the strongest places that the rebels boast of the 3 and 4th day of July will be days that will be remembered by all of the men that were engaged.... both by the army of the Potomac and by General Grants army one by the surrender of Vicksburgh the other by giving General Lee a good sound thrashing....

Though they now could see hope for the future, they also realized there was much more fighting to be done. Goodrich continued:

...what we want of the people now is to come forward and help us to join ranks with us and we will soon see peace restored...and the Stars and stripes floating once more over all of the states peace and comfort to our homes....

The only question was when. In answering, Goodrich expressed a thought that was probably uppermost in the minds of many of his comrades. He simply wrote, "I hope that it will end before long" [183]

At the more basic level however, the majority of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac viewed the Gettysburg Campaign from a personal perspective. Private David Brett of the 9th Massachusetts Battery best summed up this attitude in a letter home: was of full time I Can assure you... no one can guess how awful it is until he as been in a battle ...I feel quite thankful that I am alive [184]


1. Bruce Catton, This Hallowed Ground, (Doubleday and Company, Garden City, New York, 1956), pp. 248, 250.

2. The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 12 (Americana Corporation, New York, New York, 1962), p. 628.

3. Edwin B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1968), p. vii. Many historians consider Coddington's book the definitive study of the battle.

4. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, pp. viii-ix.

5. Official Records of the War of Rebellion, Series I, Vol 27, part 1, p. 151. (all citations from Series 1, Vol. 27 and hereafter cited as OR). Over the years a wide range of estimates of strength have been given. The number used in this study is considered a safe approximation.

6. OR, Pt. 1, pp. 155-169. The number of units that saw their first combat during the Gettysburg Campaign was approximately 17, as follows: 2nd Connecticut Battery, 9th Massachusetts Battery, 5th and 6th Michigan Cavalry, 9th Michigan Battery, 150th New York Infantry, 143rd, 149th, 150th and 151st Pennsylvania Infantry, 17th and 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery and the 13th, 14th 15th and 16th Vermont Infantry.

7. John W. Busey and David G. Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg, (Longstreet House, Hightstown, New Jersey, 1994), p. 230.

8. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, pp. 38-39. Though the army was actually weaker in the fall of 1863, it was during less important movements, such as the Bristoe Station and Mine Run campaigns.

9. "Organization of the Army of the the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863," OR, Vol. 27, Pt. 1, pp. 155-168. Not surprisingly, most of the regular units (74 percent) were artillery batteries, being a technical branch of the service which required more training and skill for proper use.

10. Sources consulted for this breakdown included: Stewart Sifakis, Who was Who in the Union, (Facts on File, New York, New York, 1988); Roger Hunt and Jack Brown, Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue, (Olde Soldier Books Inc., Gaithersburg, Maryland, 1990); Edmund Raus, Jr., A Generation on the March, The Union Army at Gettysburg, (H.E. Howard Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1987); Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg. The Second Day, (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1987); Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg, Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1993); Jesse Bowman Young, The Battle of Gettysburg, A Comprehensive Narrative, (Reprint: Press of Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio, 1976), pp. 335-336, 358-361. The lone civilian corps commander was Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, Third Corps, while the non-professional divisional commanders were Brig. Gen. Thomas Rowley, Brig. Gen. George Stannard, Brig. Gen. John Caldwell, Maj. Gen. David Birney, Brig. Gen. Francis Barlow, Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr, Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz, Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams and Brig. Gen. John Geary.

11. Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank, (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1952), pp. 307-311.

12. William Alan Blair, A Politician Goes to War, (Pennsylvania State University, Press University Park, Pennsylvania, 1995), p. 96.

13. Levi Baker, History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery, (Lakeview Press, J.C. Clark Printing Co., South Framingham, Massachusetts, 1888), p. 7; Augustus Hesse to Almira (his wife), August 10, 1862, Deborah Weston Manuscripts, Department of Rare Books & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library (hereafter cited as BPL).

14. Blair, ed., A Politician Goes to War, p. 96.

15. John Bigelow, Jr., Chancellorsville, (Reprint, Smithmark Publishers, Inc., New York, 1995), p. 473.

16. Williams to daughters, June 29, 1863, as quoted in, Milo M. Quaife, ed., From the Cannon's Mouth The Civil War Letters of General Alpheus S. Williams (Wayne State University Press & Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, Michigan, 1959), p. 221.

17. Charles Bowen letter, June 1, 1863, GNMP Library.

18. Edward Marcus, ed., A New Cananan Private in the Civil War: Letters of Justin M. Sillimar, 17th Connecticut Volunteers, (New Canaan Historical Society, Connecticut, 1984), p. 38.

19. Col. Lucius Fairchild to his sister Sarah, June 1, 1863, as quoted in Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 35; J. Henry Blakemen to mother, June 27, 1863, Lewis Leigh Collection, Book 40-80-108, United States Army Military History Institute (hereafter cited as USAMHI), copy in GNMP Library.

20. Williams to daughters, July 21, 1863, as quoted in, Quaife, ed., From the Cannon's Mouth, p. 239.

21. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 69; Robert Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), June 15, 1863, Robert Hubbard Letters, Yale University Library, (hereafter cited as YUL).

22. Willoughby to James Simpson, June 17, 1863, James Randolph Simpson Letters, transcription in GNMP Library. The "foraging expedition" which Willoughby referred to was the cavalry raid made by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in October, 1862. The 5th Pennsylvania Reserves was, at the time of this writing, part of the Washington defenses. If Willoughby was unable to get reliable information on the movements of the opposing armies, it must have been even more difficult for the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac who were active in the field.

23. Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 9, 1863, YUL.

24. Even today, with a plethora of sources available, it is impossible to state with any exactness the strengths of each army at Gettysburg. The most exhaustive study to date is John Busey's and David Martin's Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg (Longstreet House, Hightstown, New Jersey, 1994) and even they state in the book's introduction, "It is admittedly a difficult, and at times risky, job to make educated guesses for large numbers of units for which no reliable figures are available."

25. Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, 1863-1866, as published in Army of the Potomac, Part 2, (Kraus Reprint Co., Millwood, New York, 1977), pp. 173, 373. Hooker thought the Confederates had 103,000 of all arms, while Meade's estimate was slightly higher at 109,000. The most reliable estimates today put the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia at 75,000 during the Gettysburg Campaign.

26. Williams to daughters, June 29, 1863, as quoted in, Quaife, ed., From the Cannon's Mouth, p. 221.

27. Frank Putman Deane, 2nd, ed., "My Dear Wife..." The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 9th Massachusetts Battery, Union Cannoneer, (Pioneer, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1964), p. 59; Lt. George Breck letter to editor, June 27, 1863, Rochester Union, July 3, 1863.

28. John Willoughby letter to James Randolph Simpson, June 17, 1863, James Randolph Simpson Letters, copy in GNMP Library.

29. George G. Meade, ed., The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1913), pp. 385-386.

30. Henry P. Clare to William (his brother), June 28, 1863, copy of transcription in GNMP Library. Though a large number of writings expressed this delight, I feel a majority of soldiers had different attitude, but simply did not express it in their letters.

31. Acheson to mother, June 28, 1863, as quoted in, Sara Gould Walters, ed., Inscription at Gettysburg, (Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1991), p. 100; Horatio Dana Chapman Diary, copy of hand written transcription in GNMP Library.

32. Lt. Breck letter of June 28, 1863 to Rochester Union, July 3, 1863.

33. A.P. Morrison to "Will," July 21, 1863, transcription in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Library, (hereafter cited as FSNMP).

34. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 210; Williams to daughters, June 20, 1863, as quoted in, Quaife, ed., From the Cannon's Mouth, p. 219; R.S. Robertson to parents, June 28, 1863, transcription in FSNMP.

35. Acheson to mother, June 28, 1863, as quoted in, Walters, ed., Inscription at Gettysburg. p. 100.

36. Acheson to mother, June 20, 1863, as quoted in, Walters, ed., Inscription at Gettysburg, p. 98.

37. Sgt. Charles Bowen Diary entries for June 15 and 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

38. Charles Sheldon diary entries, June 26, 27, 28, 1863, Charles Henry Sheldon Civil War Diary, transcription in GNMP Library; Morrison to "Will," July 21, 1863; Robertson to parents, June 28, 1863, transcription in FSNMP.

39. Acheson to mother, June 28, 1863, as quoted in, Walters, ed., Inscription at Gettysburg, p. 100.

40. Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), June 18, 1863, YUL.

41. Shrimp to "Annie", June 25, 1863, William T. Shimp Letters, Civil War Miscellaneous Collection, USAMHI, copy in GNMP Library; John Follmer diary entry for June 28, 1863, John Follmer Diary, transcription in GNMP Library; E.D. Benedict diary entry for July 1, 1863, E.D. Benedict Diary, copy in GNMP Library.

42. Hubbard to his wife, June 30, 1863, YUL.

43. Charles L. Warner to mother, July 4, 1863, Collection of Paul W. Bean, Auburn, Maine, transcription in GNMP Library. Warner was a member of Company F, 145th New York Volunteers.

44. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 539; Norton to sister, July 4, 1863, as quoted in, Oliver Willcox Norton, Army Letters, 1861-1865, (Reprint, Morningside Press, Dayton, Ohio, 1990), p. 161; Sgt. Bowen diary entry for July 4, 1863, GNMP Library. Norton had served as a staff officer for Col. Strong Vincent (3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Fifth Corps) during the battle. Upon getting this letter his mother apparently admonished Oliver for using the term "hell." In attempting to explain himself, Norton wrote to his parents on July 28, "In regard to that expression that shocked you so much. I am sure I meant nothing is a common expression in the army for a hot reception of the enemy. Used in that sense, it does not seem so inappropriate, for such fighting, such bloody carnage belongs more to demons than to this fair earth. No reference to anything in their condition after death was intended. That is not for us to judge." (see Norton, p. 170).

45. Strouss to mother, July 4, 1863, Ellis C. Strouss Letters, CWTI Collection, USAMHI, copy in GNMP Library. Strouss was a member of Company K, 57th Pennsylvania Infantry.

46. Geary to wife, July 4, 1863, as quoted in, Blair, ed., A Politician Goes to War, p. 99; Capt. Charles Reese to Christopher Reese (his father), July 4, 1863, Charles Reese Letter, (original owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Carroll Brandt, Fort Wayne Indiana), copy in GNMP Library; Norton, A Letters, p. 161; Robert Garth Scott, ed., Fallen Leaves, The Civil War Letters of Major Henry Livermore Abbott. (The Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 1991), p. 184; Diary entry for July 3, 1863, Civil War Diary of Adolfo Fernandez-Cavada, A.I.G. and A.D.C. to Gen. Andrew Humphreys, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, transcription in GNMP Library; David Hendrick and Gordon Barry Davis, Jr., ed., "I'm Surrounded by Methodists..." Diary of John H.W. Stuckenburg. (Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1995), p. 87; Beem to his wife, July 5, 1863, Capt. David E. Beem Letter, Indiana Historical Society Library, copy in GNMP Library. Capt. Reese commanded Company D, 20th Indiana Regiment.

47. Capt. Henry Falls Young letter of July 11, 1863, copy in GNMP Library; Abbott to Olives Wendell Holmes, July 28, 1863, as quoted in, Scott, ed., Fallen Leaves, p. 194.

48. Geary to wife, July 4, 1863, as quoted in, Blair, ed., A Politician Goes to War, p. 99.

49. Clare to William (his brother), July 5, 1863, Henry P. Clare Letters, GNMP Library.

50. Trowbridge to wife, unknown date, Maj. Luther Stephen Trowbridge Letter, University of Michigan, (hereafter cited as UM), copy in GNMP Library. Trowbridge was in the 5th Michigan Cavalry.

51. Abbott to father, July 6, 1863, as quoted in, Scott, ed., Fallen Leaves, p. 184.

52. Diary of A.W. Stiwell, copy in GNMP Library. Stiwell was a member of Company E, 5th Wisconsin Infantry.

53. Alger to friend, July 30, 1863, Russell A. Alger Papers, William L. Clements Library, UM, copy in GNMP Library.

54. Hesse to Deborah Weston, letters of July 7, 12 and "Tuesday noon," 1863, BPL.

55. Reed to mother and sister, July 6, 1863, Charles Wellington Reed Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, (hereafter cited as LC).

56. Wiber to parents, July 10, 1863, Eseck G. Wiber, Murray J. Smith Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library.

57. It seems that some elements of war, including this sentiment, remain constant. The author recently had a discussion with Maj. Ken Heaney, 82nd Airborne Division and a combat veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. Maj. Heaney expressed the opinion that it took only one battle to turn a soldier into a "veteran."

58. Comte to Elise (his wife), July 7, 1863, Victor E. Comte Letter, UM, transcription in GNMP Library; "Account of the Engagement of the 9th Mass. Battery by Capt. Bigelow, in, David L. & Audrey J. Ladd, ed., The Bachelder Papers Vol. I, (Press of Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio, 1994), p. 178.

59. Reed to mother and sister, July 6, 1863, LC; Reed to Emma (his sister), August 14, 1863, Rare Books and Manuscript Division, Princeton University Library, (hereafter cited as PUL).

60. Bowen to grandmother, August 2, 1863, GNMP Library; Curran to mother, July 18, 1863, as quoted in, Edward North, Memorial of Lieut. Col. Henry Hastings Curran, p. 106. Curran was quite correct in his statement, for even though the 25 percent casualties the Army of the Potomac sustained at Gettysburg was outrageously high, that statistic still gave each man in the army a 75 percent chance at surviving the battle unscathed.

61. Musser to unknown, September 15, 1863, Col. John Musser Letter, Ronald Boyer Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library; Letter from "Tom" in 66th Ohio Infantry, Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 6, 1863.

62. Rufus Dawes to Mary (wife), July 4, 1863, Rufus Dawes Letters, Wisconsin Historical Society Manuscripts, (hereafter cited as WHS), transcription in GNMP Library; Charles Fairchild to mother, July 6, 1863, Fairchild Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, (hereafter cited as SHW), transcription in GNMP Library; John L. Harding to sister, July 18, 1863, J.L. Harding Manuscripts, Manuscripts Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, (hereafter cited as IU), transcription in GNMP Library; Henry Clare to William (his brother), July 5, 1863, GNMP; David Beem to wife, July 5, 1863, IHSL; Unknown soldier to wife, July 4 and 5, 1863, Diaries and letters of unknown soldier in 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, Timothy Brooks Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library; Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 4, 1863, YUL.

63. Clare to William (his brother), July 5, 1863, GNMP Library.

64. Bodine July 9, 1863 letter to Doylestown Democrat, July 12, 1863, transcription in Adams Country Historical Society; Eseck G. Wiber to parents, July 10, 1863, USAMHI; Charles H. Blinn Diary, copy in GNMP Library. Blinn was a member of Company A, 1st Vermont Cavalry.

65. Gibbon to his wife, July 3, 1863, John Gibbon Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, copy in GNMP Library.

66. Sterling to his father, July 2, 1863, Letter of Captain J. Frank Sterling, State University of new Jersey, Rutgers Special Collections and Achieves, Rutgers University Library, (hereafter cited as RUL), transcription in GNMP Library. Though Sterling did not at first believe his wound to be serious, he died just four months later as a result of it on November 6, 1863.

67. Galwey to father, July 4, 1863, in Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 13, 1864.

68. Carter to father, July 14, 1863, as quoted in, Capt. Robert Goldthwaite Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, (Reprint: University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1978), p. 334.

69. McNeil to David G. Porter (his friend), August 16, 1863, Alexander McNeil Letter, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library.

70. Cramer to wife, July 8 and 11, 1863, George Cramer Letters, transcriptions in GNMP Library. A soldier in the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry expressed similar sentiment when he wrote, "...the rebs must not tread on the soil of my birth right state and they have paid dear for it." (see Diary and Letters of unknown soldier in 140th Pennsylvania, Timothy Brooks Collection, USAMHI).

71. Duncan to sister, July 8, 1863, Lt. Sebastian Duncan,Jr. Letter, New Jersey State Historical Society, (hereafter cited as NJSHS), copy in GNMP Library.

72. Burns' diary entry for July 3, 1863, William J. Burns Diary, transcription in GNMP Library; Salter to Isabella Duffield (a friend), July 12, 1863, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, (hereafter cited as DPL), transcription in GNMP Library.

73. Geary to Mary (his wife), July 8, 1863, as quoted in, Blair, ed., A Politician Goes to War, p. 100; Reed to mother, August 13, 1863, LC; Dawes to Mary, (his wife), July 4 and 6, 1863, WHS.

74. Livermore to Charles (his brother), July 6, 1863, Oscar L. Hamlin, Mio, Maine, transcription in GNMP Library.

75. Maj. Luther Trowbridge to wife, July, 1863, UM; Harding to his sister, July 18, 1863, IU.

76. William L. Perry to friends, July 5, 1863, William L. Perry Letter, transcription in GNMP Library. Perry was a member of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and was wounded on July 3.

77. Mark Mayo Boatner, III, The Civil War Dictionary, (David McKay Company, New York, 1959), p. 339.

78. Victor E. Comte to Elise, July 7, 1863; Lt. Charles Fairchild to mother, July 6, 1863, WHS. Fairchild was a member of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry.

79. Busey and Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses, p. 237, 239, 270; Dawes to Mary (his wife), July 4 and 6, 1863. 239, WHS.

80. Ibid., p. 241; Musser to unknown, September 15, 1863, USAMHI. The 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry lost 21 killed, 141 wounded and 91 missing or captured out of 465 men engaged.

81. Eric A. Campbell, "We Saved the Line from Being Broken," Freeman McGilvery, John Bigelow, Charles Reed and the Battle of Gettysburg," UnSung Heroes of Gettysburg, Programs of the Fifth Annual Gettysburg Seminar, (Gettysburg National Military Park, The National Park Service, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1996), p. 57; Deane, ed., "My Dear Wife...", p. 61; Hesse to Debroah Weston, July 7, 1863, BPL.

82. Smith to family, July 12, 1863, Lewis Leigh Collection, USAMHI, Book 12, transcription in GNMP Library.

83. Clare to William (his brother), July 5, 1863, GNMP Library.

84. Bodine letter of July 9, 1863 in Doylestown Democrat, July 12, 1863, copy in Adams County Historical Society.

85. Flint to sisters, July 6, 1863, Dayton E. Flint Letter, Civil War Miscellaneous, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library.

86. Burrill to parents, July 13, 1863, John Burrill Letter, transcription in GNMP Library.

87. Wilken to wife, July 31, 1863 letter in Athens Messenger, August 13, 1863, transcription in GNMP Library.

88. Norton to friends, July 17, 1863, as quoted in, Norton, Army Letters, p. 165.

89. July 3, 1863 diary entry, Horatio Dana Chapman Diary, USAMHI.

90. Robertson to parents, July 6, 1863, FSNMP.

91. Twitchell to sister, July 5, 1863, Joseph Hopkins Twitchell Letter, YUL, copy in GNMP Library.

92. July 3, 1863 diary entry, Horatio Dana Chapman Diary, USAMHI.

93. Cramer to wife, August 8, 1863, GNMP Library.

94. Sandie Acheson to father, July 12, 1863 in Walters, ed., Inscription at Gettysburg, p. 112.

95. Coates to Gov. Ramsey, July 5, 1863, as quoted in, Richard Moe, The Last Full Measure, The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers, (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1993), p. 295. Though many histories of the battle state the 1st Minnesota Infantry took over 80 percent casualties during the fighting on July 2, making it the highest percentage of losses suffered by a unit in a single engagement, recent research has revealed this statistic to be incorrect. In actuality, the regiment, which was engaged both July 2 and 3, lost approximately 70 percent of its men; still extremely high losses.

96. Charles Reed to mother and sister, July 6, 1863, LC; Robert Hubbard to wife, July 4, 1863, YUL; Bowen to grandmother, August 2, 1863, GNMP Library.

97. Horatio Dana Chapman Diary, USAMHI.

98. Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 9, 1863, YUL.

99. Carter letter of July 10, 1863 as quoted from, Robert Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 330; Kay to parents, July 9, 1863, John B. Kay Letter, transcription in GNMP Library. Kay was a member of the 6th Michigan Cavalry.

100. Geary to wife, July 5, 1863, as quoted in, Blair, ed., A Politician Goes to War, p. 100; Wilfred McDonald Diary, transcription in GNMP Library. McDonald was a member of the 118th Pennsylvania Regiment.

101. Deane, ed., "My Dear Wife...", p. 61; Strouss to mother, July 4, 1863, USAMHI; Comte to Elise, July 7, 1863, UM.

102. Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 9, 1863, YUL; Richards to father, July 6, 1863, Mathew Edgar Richards Letter, Civil War Miscellaneous Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library. Richards belonged to the 95th Pennsylvania Infantry but was detailed as an A.D.C. to the 3rd Division, Sixth Army Corps during the Gettysburg Campaign.

103. Biddle to wife, July 6 and 8, 1863, Letters of James Cornell Biddle, George G. Meade Collection, HSP, transcription in GNMP Library; Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 9, 1863, YUL.

104. Breck to Ellen, July 8, 1863 as quoted in Blake McKelvery, ed., "Rochester in the Civil War," The Rochester Historical Society, XXII (1944), 133-135, transcription in GNMP Library.

105. Breck letter of July 12, 1863 to Rochester Union, July 20, 1863.

106. Breck to Ellen, July 8, 1863, in McKelvey, ed., "Rochester in the Civil War."

107. Bechtel to Miss Connie, July 6, 1863, Jacob L. Bechtel Letter, transcription in GNMP Library. Bechtel was a member of Company B, 59th New York Infantry.

108. Such histories, among others, include: Jesse Bowmen Young, Battle of Gettysburg, A Comprehensive Narrative, (Reprint: Press of Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio, 1976), pp. 329-332; Glenn Tucker, High Tide at Gettysburg, (Reprint: Stan Clark Military Books, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1995), pp. 383-387; Edward Stackpole, They Met at Gettysburg, (Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1956), pp. 306-316; Richard Wheeler, Witness to Gettysburg, (Harper & Row Publishers, New York, New York, 1987), pp. 256-258.

109. Meade to his wife, July 8, 1863, as quoted in Meade, ed., The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. II, p. 132.

110. Willoughby to James Randolph "Daul" Simpson, July 21, 1863, James Randolph Simpson Letters, GNMP Library.

111. Wheeler to parents, July 11, 1863, University of Wisconsin, (hereafter cited as UW), copy in GNMP Library.

112. Noble to wife, July 6, 1863, William N. Noble Letters, Lewis Leigh Collection, Book 43, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library.

113. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 556. A similar Gettysburg myth is that the Confederate soldiers were poorly equipped and uniformed. Stories of barefoot Southern soldiers in rags, though popular, are not true. Some of the Confederate brigades had been completely re-uniformed just before the campaign began.

114. Shimp to Annie, July 9, 1863, USAMHI; "From the 140th New York, The Late Fight...From Our Own Corespondent," Rochester Evening Express, July 17, 1863, transcription in GNMP Library.

115. Ibid.; Diary entry of July 7, 1863, Diary of Henry Keiser, transcription in GNMP Library; Diary entry of July 5, 1863, Sgt. Maj. A.P. Morrison diary, quoted in letter to Will (his brother), July 21, 1863, FSNMP. Keiser was a member of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry.

116. Norton to parents, July 28, 1863, as quoted in, Norton, Army Letters, p. 168.

117. Sgt. Frederick Conette to Friend Ingersoll, July 17, 1863, copy in GNMP Library; Capt. Mathew Richards to father, July 6, 1863, USAMHI. Conette was a member of Company A, 14th United States Regulars.

118. Norton to sister, July 12, 1863, as quoted in, Norton, Army Letters, p. 162.

119. Peck to mother, July 7, 1863, Henry Thomas Peck Letter, transcription in GNMP Library; Law to Mary (his wife), July 11, 1863, Law Family Papers, Civil War Miscellaneous Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library. Sgt. Peck was in Company K, 118th Pennsylvania Infantry. Law belonged to Company E, 148th Pennsylvania Infantry.

120. "From the 140th New York...," Rochester Evening Express July 17, 1863; Lt. James Pepper Pratt to father, July 13, 1863, as quoted in, Catherine Merrill, The Soldier of Indiana in the War for the Union, (Merrill and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1869), p. 115; Diary entries from July 6-20, 1863, Charles Henry Sheldon Diary, transcription in GNMP Library; Carter to father, July 14, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, pp. 333-334. Lt. Pratt was a member of the 11th United States Regulars.

121. Pratt to father, July 13, 1863, as quoted in, Merrill, The Soldier of Indiana, p. 115.

122. Diary entry of July 7, 1863, Diary of John Follmer, GNMP Library.

123. Norton to friends, July 17, 1863, as quoted in, Norton, Army Letters, pp. 165-166; Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 556.

124. Morrison to Will (his brother), July 21, 1863, FSNMP.

125. McErea to Mrs. Gordon, July 4, 1863, copy in GNMP Library. Lt. Gordon was a 25 year old farmer when he enlisted in the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry. His remains are buried today in the Soldiers' National Cemetery, Pennsylvania section, Row A, Grave 3.

126. Thomson to daughter, July 16, August 11 and 19, 1863, David Thomson Letters, copies in GNMP Library.

127. Abbott to father (July 6, 1863) and Abbott to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (July 28, 1863), as quoted in, Scott, ed., Fallen Leaves, pp. 184, 194. Ropes was a member of Company K Abbott himself would not survive the war, being killed on May 6, 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness.

128. Robert Carter to father, July 14, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 335.

129. Thomson to daughter, July 16 and August 5, 1863, GNMP Library.

130. Geary to mother, July 17, 1863, transcription in GNMP Library. Geary was a member of Battery E, 1st Pennsylvania Artillery.

131. Crandell to "Ennie," July 6, 1863, Lewis Crandell Letter, Lance Ingmire, Pittsford, New York, transcription in GNMP Library.

132. Shimp to Annie, July 6, 1863, USAMHI.

133. Musser letter of September 15, 1863, Ronald Boyer Collection, John D. Musser Papers, USAMHI.

134. Norton to friends, July 17, 1863, as quoted in Army Letters, p. 165; Jeffers to parents, July 28, 1863, Ira S. Jeffers Letters, transcriptions in GNMP Library; Noble to wife, July 6, 1863, USAMHI; Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, p. 555.

135. William T. Livermore Charles (his brother), July 6, 1863, Oscar Hamlin Collection; Buck to brother and sister, July 9, 1863, Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Historical Library, UM, transcription in GNMP Library.

136. Livermore to Charles (his brother), July 6, 1863, Oscar Hamlin Collection.

137. Meade to Halleck, July 8, 1863, as quoted in Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. II, p. 308.

138. Robert Hubbard to Nellie (his wife), July 13, 1863, YUL; Allan Nevins, ed., A Diary of Battle, The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, New York, 1962), p. 259.

139. Clare to William (his brother), July 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

140. David Hendrick and Gordon Barry Davis, Jr., ed., "I'm Surrounded by Methodists...", pp. 90, 91.

141. Abbott to father, July 27, 1863, as quoted in, Scott, ed., Fallen Leaves, p. 192; Judd letter of July 16, 1863 as published in Herkimer County Journal, July 19, 1863, transcription in GNMP Library.

142. Wainwright journal entries for July 13 and 14, 1863, as quoted in, Nevins, ed., Diary of Battle, pp. 260, 261.

143. Conette to "Friend Ingersoll," July 17, 1863, GNMP; Duncan to sister, July 17, 1863, NJSHS.

144. Burrill to parents, July 13, 1863, GNMP Library.

145. Lt. Balder to Tattnall Paulding, June 12, 1863, as quoted in, James W. Milgram, "The Libby Prison Correspondence of Tattnall Paulding," The American Philatelist, December 1975, Vol. 89, No. 12. Paulding and Balder were members of the 6th United States Cavalry.

146. Curran to mother, December 12, 1863, as quoted in, North, Memorial of Lieut Col. Henry Hastings Curran, p. 109.

147. Letter of July 23, 1863, Letters and Diary of Unknown soldier in 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, GNMP Library.

148. Reed to mother, February 2, 1864, LC. The article to which Reed refers was probably written by C.C. Coffin ("Carleton") and appeared in the July 7, 1863 addition of the Boston Journal.

149. Emmel to Sarah Brown (his aunt), July 17, 1863, Albert Emmel Letter, transcription in GNMP Library.

150. James Moulton to his wife and family, July 6, 1863, James Moulton Letters, transcription in GNMP Library; Coon to his father, August 14, 1863, Steuben Coon Letter, transcription in GNMP Library. It could not be determined what New Hampshire unit James Moulton belonged to.

151. Livermore to Charles (his brother), July 6, 1863, Oscar Hamlin Collection.

152. Samuel Babcock to his children, July 19, 1863, Willoughby Babcock Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, transcription in GNMP Library.

153. Clark to brother, July 16, 1863, William M. Clark Letters, transcriptions in GNMP Library.

154. Letter of July 30, 1863, Diary and Letters of Unknown soldier in 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, GNMP Library.

155. Diary entry of July 14, 1863, Charles Thomas Bowen Letters and Diary, GNMP Library. Overall, in the letters and diaries reviewed for this paper the opinions on Gen. Meade's generalship, both positive and negative, were split nearly evenly.

156. Abbott to father, July 27, 1863, as quoted in, Scott, Fallen Leaves, p. 192.

157. Diary entry of July 17, 1863, A.W. Stiwell Diary, GNMP Library.

158. Conette to "Friend," July 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

159. Salter to Isabella Duffield, July 12, 1863, DPL.

160. Clare to William (his brother), July 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

161, "From the 3d and 5th Infantry, Their part in the Battle of Gettysburg—Their Heroic Bravery, and Terrible Loss," Letter from "G.W.W." July 5, 1863, to Tribune, July 23, 1863.

162. Musser letter of September 15, 1863, USAMHI.

163. Beem to wife, July 5, 1863, IHSL.

164. Curran to mother, July 17, 1863, as quoted in North, Memorial of Lieut. Col. Henry Hastings Curran, p. 106.

165. Dawes to Mary (his wife), July 9, 1863, WHS; Tubbs to parents, July 13, 1863, William Tubbs Letters, transcription in GNMP Library.

166. "Sergeant" in Saint Paul Pioneer, August 9, 1863, Brake Collection, USAMHI, transcription in GNMP Library.

167. Walter Carter letter of July 13, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 333.

168. Carter to father, July 14, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 334.

169. Bechtel to "Miss Connie," July 17, 1863, GNMP Library; Robert Carter to letter of July 27, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, p. 340.

170. E.B. Long, The Civil War Day by Day, An Almanac, (Doubleday and Company, Garden city, New York, 1971), pp. 384, 385, 386, 387; OR, Vol. 27, Pt. 3, p. 704. The 8th United States Infantry and a regular battery of artillery were sent to New York on July 15.

171. Duncan to sister, July 17, 1863, NJSHS.

172. Walter Carter to parents, July 16, 1863, as quoted in, Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, pp. 336, 337.

173. Geary to mother, July 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

174. Wiber to parents, July 10, 1863, USAMHI.

175. Humphreys letter of July 25, 1863, as quoted in, Henry H. Humphreys, Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, A Biography, (John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1924), pp. 204-205.

176. Norton to friends, July 17, 1863, as quoted in, Norton, Army Letters, p. 165; Shimp to Annie, July 9, 1863, USAMHI.

177. Wheeler to parents, July 11, 1863, GNMP Library; Geary to Mary (his wife), July 17, 1863, as quoted in, Blair, A Politician Goes to War, p. 101.

178. Emmel to Sarah Brown, (his aunt), July 17, 1863, GNMP Library.

179. Diary entry for July 17, 1863, A.W. Stiwell Diary, GNMP Library.

180. Twitchell to sister, July 5, 1863, YU.

181. Shimp to Annie, July 18, 1863, USAMHI.

182. Williams to daughter, July 16, 1863, as quoted in, Quaife, ed., From the Cannon's Mouth, p. 231.

183. Goodrich to friends, July 17, 1863, Loren Goodrich Letter, transcription in GNMP Library.

184. Deane, ed., "My Dear Wife...", pp. 59, 60, 73.

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