Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We knew that the rebs were scooped

In Gettysburg at midday July 3, 1863, one of the wounded Iron Brigade men--Pvt. James "Mickey" Sullivan of the 6th Wisconsin--found one of the band members to help him and, hanging onto the railing on the stairs, climbed to the cupola of the railroad depot. “I saw what appeared like the whole Rebel Army in a chunk start for our lines with their infernal squealing yell. It seemed as if everything stood still inside of me for a second or two, then I began to pray.”  An officer of his division, watching from Culp’s Hill with the Iron Brigade regiments, called it an irresistible sight: “On they came, banners waving in the battle smoke, cannon roaring, men shouting, horses neighing, small arms crashing in volleys! Still they came on…nothing stops them…. They almost reach our main line of battle with a fairly well-filled line of their own, as it seemed from our location.”
          Sullivan’s prayer (though he admitted he “was, and am not yet noted for the frequency and fervency of my prayers”), was that the Confederates would “catch h—l.” It seemed after a few long, anxious minutes he said, as “if the fire from our lines doubled and doubled again, and I could see long streaks of light through the Rebel columns, but they went forward. I was afraid they would capture our guns.” Another Wisconsin soldier said later watching the heavy Confederate losses that he “felt bad for the poor cusses who went down, but it had to be.”
        Sullivan watched as the Confederate infantry seem to melt as the Union infantry opened on them. “…[W]e could hear the Northern cheer. We knew that the rebs were scooped, and the old Army of the Potomac was victorious. The dozen or so wounded soldiers around Sullivan “were wild with joy, some cried, others shook hands, and all joined in with the best cheer we could get up. I forgot all about my wound and was very forcibly reminded of it when I went to shout as I had to sit down to keep from falling.” A Confederate officer came to see what the clamor was about and “when told that Lee was cleaned, he growled out if we d---d Yankees were able to cheer we were able to go to Richmond,” said Sullivan, who  admitted “our fellows felt good anyway, and the reb went out and we saw no more of him.”

1 comment:

  1. Lance,

    I am the Great Great Grandson of Lt. Michael Dempsey of the 24th Michigan. Michael was noted for leading a charge across Willoughby Run in Col Morrow's Field Report. He was slightly wounded and was wounded two additional times throughout the war. He walked away from Annapolis Hospital a year later following the third injury. In books he is listed as the only member of the Michigan 24 to be "dismissed". In one report it was said for "Drunkenness and conduct unbecoming an officer". Now they would call it PTSD. I'm wondering in your research if you have come across anything that mentions him further. He mustered in as a Corporal as he was older than most of the other soldiers and moved up to Lt. by the time he was at Gettysburg. He was noted in a Detroit Free Press article about the battle as, "our correspondent" but, I believe, that was the only time he performed that function.

    I'm ordering your book right now from Amazon. Thanks for your diligence

    Marshall Bice