23 June 2010

The New York City Regiment

The 78th New York, was known as the New York City Regiment even though only three companies were from the city. The rest of the men were raised in Rochester, Utica, Buffalo and Bath NY. The 198 men of Brigadier General George Sears Greene's 3rd Brigade of the Twelfth Corp were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Herbert von Hamerstein.

The 78th would loose 30 men on Culp's Hill.

25 May 2010

Two Engineers

The 102nd New York was formed of men mostly from Manhattan and Brooklyn and numbered 250 men. They were part of the 12th Corps, 2nd Division, 3rd Brigade. Their leader Colonel James C Lane of New York City was a civil engineer like his commander Brigadier General George Sears Greene, before the war. He was wounded during the night fighting on 2 July on Culp's Hill. After the Colonel was wounded Captain Lewis R Stegman took over command.

The 102nd would begin the battle with 248 men and loose 29 men killed, wounded or missing during the fighting on Culp's Hill.

16 May 2010

They Lost The Same On The Left And Right

The 137th New York was the largest regiment of Brigadier General George Sears Greene's third Brigade of the twelfth Corps with 450 men. Known as the "Ambulance Brigade", the men mostly from Binghamton New York were commanded by Colonel David Ireland. This regiment would see the hardest fighting on Culp's Hill and loose the most men.
The 137th would loose 137 men on Cup's Hill. Interestingly this unit on the far right 2 Jul 1863; that second days fighting at Gettysburg, would loose the same percentage of men as the 20th Maine fighting on Little Round Top on the far left of the Union line.

02 May 2010

Salt Boilers

The 149th New York from Binghamton and led by Colonel Henry Barnum, were known as the "Salt Boilers" or the "Fourth Onondaga". They were part of Brigadier General George Sears Greene's 3rd Brigade of the twelfth Corps, and served on Culp's Hill.

The 149th would loose 55 men on Culp's Hill.

18 April 2010

The Savior Of Culp's Hill

Brigadier General George Sears Greene was the Union commander of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division of the 12th Corps on Culp's Hill during the fight there on July 2 and 3. His brigade was made up of 5 New York Regiments. Greene was the oldest commander on the field at 62.

George Sears Greene was born in Rhode Island 6May1801. He came from an old military family, being a descendant of General Nathaniel Greens. George graduated second in his class at West Point in 1823. After serving in the military doing artillery duty and teaching math at West Point, Greene left the service in 1835. He would become a Civil Engineer, including building a reservoir for the New York City Dept of Water Supply which was used until the 1990's.

With the coming of the Civil War Greene returned to the Army and was given command 28Apr1862 of the 60th New York. He led this Regiment at the Battle of Antietam.

On the July 1 the General Greene and the 3rd Brigade marched to the Little Round Top area and spent the night.

On July 2 at day break Brigadier General John W Geary's 2nd Division of which the 3rd Brigade was part were ordered to the Union right on Culp's Hill. Although Geary didn't see the need, Greene ordered his men to build breastworks. With the left of the Union line being pummeled, the 12th Corps were ordered by General Meade to move to the left, leaving only Greene's men to defend the hill. At 7pm Greene's men would be attacked by Confederates. The men would recive reinforcement from Brigader General Thomas L Kane brigade. Around 10pm that night the fight would end. The rest of the Twelfth Corps would return to the hill abouth mid-night.

When Greene died 28Jan1899, as was his request, a rock from on top of Culp's Hill was moved to Rhode Island to used as his cemetery stone.

11 April 2010

The 15th Massachusetts

The 15th Massachusetts Infantry was part of the First Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Corps at Gettysburg. They were under the command of Colonel George Hull Ward.

Taking up position on July 2 on the northern end of Cemetery Ridge to the left of the 11th Corps, near the Copse of trees. At 6pm they along with the 82nd New York were ordered forward to the Emmitsburg Road north of the Codori House. This being an exposed position Col Ward ordered the men to take down fences and build a breast work. They were hit by the three Regiments and a Battalion of Georgians commanded by Brigadier General Ambrose "Rans" Wright. The men had to fall back from this exposed position after taking heavy fire.

The commander of the 15th Colonel George Hull Ward. He was born 26 Apr 1826 in Worcester MA the son of Artemas and Sarah Ward. He worked before the war as a machinist and received some military experience as part of the Worcester City Guards in 1847. Ward was wounded at Ball's Bluff 20 Oct 1861 and lost his left leg, he returned to duty with an artificial leg in Feb 1863. Ward was mortally wounded during the fight on July 2nd, his men carried him from field.

17 March 2010

The Irish

Predominantly made up of emigrants from Ireland the 63rd, 69th, and 88th New York Infantry were part of the Irish Brigade. Fighting on July 2nd to hold onto the Wheatfield and Stony Hill they would loose 76 of their meager 313 men.

The three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade were raised in Albany County NY and the New York City area. They were made up mostly of men who had immigrated to America in the 1850’s to escape the poverty of Ireland. At the beginning of their enlistment the 63rd, 69th and 88th contained 2,500 men, but by the Gettysburg campaign they could only field 313 of these soldiers. The Irish Brigade also included the 28th Massachusetts and the 116th Pennsylvania.

On the 29th of June the Irish Brigade which part of the Second Corps began a 34 mile march towards Gettysburg. They would march past the wagon carrying the body General John F Reynolds on the first of July, final halting about 10pm still three miles short of Gettysburg. On the morning of the second of July around 4:30 the Brigade marched to the Tanneytown RD and finally went into position along Cemetery Ridge.

As the fighting on the left of the Union line raged on, the Irish Brigade knew it was only matter of time before they would called upon. As the time drew near Reverend William Corby climb onto a rock to grant the men in front if him, must of whom were Catholic a general absolution. The Irish went out across the battle field, crossed the Wheatfield and took a line along the north end of the Wheatfield and Stony Hill. Here they came up against the 3rd and 7th South Carolina known as the Kershaw Brigade. Firing into each other as close range, the Irish Brigade was able to halt the forward moment of the Confederates, until they were flanked by more reinforcements pouring in from the Peach Orchard. Men who survived the fight in the Wheatfield would remember it as “a whirlpool of death”.

Veterans of the Irish Brigade would return to Gettysburg in 1888 to dedicate a monument. Located in the saddle between the Wheatfield and Stony Hill, it was sculpted by Rudolph O’Donovan. The monument is the Celtic cross on top of green granite with an Irish Wolf Hound at the base.

06 March 2010

Not So Blissful Farm

The fighting on July 2nd shifted to the area in front Cemetery Ridge, and placed the Bliss farm in the middle of the battle field. The farm owned by William Bliss consisted of 60 acres, with a house and barn. The area changed hands many times over the next two days. Finally ending with the buildings getting burned down just before the Pickett - Petigrew - Trimble Charge.

William Bliss and his wife Adeline moved to Gettysburg from upstate New York in 1857. They had lost three of their five children and moved to the Pennsylvania area looking for better weather and farming. William was in his early sixties at the time. The original farm bought in 1857 from Alexander Cobean included 53 acres, William added another seven the next year. The Bliss family had a small house, bank style barn and an orchard. On the morning of the battle William, his wife and two daughters; Frances and Sara left the house quickly, leaving the “doors open, the table set, the beds were made” taking nothing with them.

On the morning of the 2nd of July the 1st Delaware Infantry was sent forward as part of a skirmish line set up around the Bliss Farm, with Colonel Andrew L Harris using it as his headquarters. The farm was about a half mile from the Union front line. Colonel Harris had to pull his troops back after a fight with Confederate General Carnot Posey’s brigade, as his men used up their ammo. The 12th New Jersey took the buildings along with about 80 prisoners, but they were also driven out. As the attack by the Confederates continued on the July 2nd the Bliss Farm compressed the Confederate line and this with the 8th Ohio’s flanking fire near the Emmitisburg Road stalled out the movement. Ending the fighting with the Confederates’ holding the ground on the Bliss Farm.

On the morning of the 3rd of July the 14th Connecticut and the 12th New Jersey were sent out to take the buildings in their front. The 14th which was able to occupied the Bliss house found themselves out flanked, and made a run for the barn which was then being held by the 12th New Jersey. As it became clearer to the Union commanders that these building would hard to hold onto, and that there was an action coming, Union Brigadier General Alexander Hays ordered, “the house and barn in our front, which interrupted the fire of our artillery, to be burned.”

William Bliss came back to find nothing left of his farm. He filed a claim for damages of $1,256.00. As the Government dragged its feet in paying on any claims, Mr. Bliss sold his holdings to Nicholas Codori in October 1865 for $1,000. The family moved to Jamestown, New York, were Mr. Bliss died in 1888, and his wife followed him in 1889. The United States government finally granted the family’s claim in 1902. There is a story that when William Bliss sold his farm to Mr. Codori he said, “Let it go. I would give twenty farms for such a victory.”

24 February 2010

Lay On Their Arms

As the Union Army converged on the town of Gettysburg on 1 July 1863, among the troops was Battery “K” of the 5th US Artillery. Lead by Lieutenant David H Kinzie they got to with in a half mile of the town that night. They would be called into duty often over the next two days holding Culp’s Hill and protecting the Baltimore Pike.

Battery “K” of the 5th US Artillery was part of the 12th Corps. The unit was formed of men from Berks, Blair and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania. There were 86 men in the Battery within four 12 pound Napoleons. They marched hard on 1 July 1863 to reach with about a half mile of the town of Gettysburg, where the men, “lay on their arms all night.”

Battery “K” was lead by Lieutenant David Hunter Kinzie, an 1861 West Point graduate. Kinzie was born in Chicago Illinois 23 Jan 1841. On the morning of 2 Jul the Battery was ordered to move to a spot between the First and Twelfth Corps, and fill a gap. At about 5pm that evening one section was ordered to go to the top of Culp’s Hill to assist in silencing the Confederate Artillery firing from Benner’s Hill. After an hour they were sent back to the rest of the Battery at the foot of Power’s Hill.

Early in the morning of 3 Jul, Battery “K” was moved to the south side of the Baltimore Pike, just behind the center line of the 12th Corps. Firing their cannon from 4:30 am until 10 am they help to drive out the Confederates who had moved into the Culp’s Hill area during the night. They remained in this position through out the afternoon, finding them selves exposed to Confederate shelling that was over shooting Cemetery Hill. The Battery had 5 men wounded during the battle.

With thanks to the following sources
Peter C Vermilyea, "The Pipe Creek Effect; How Meade's Pipe Creek Circular Affected the Battle of Gettysburg," The Gettysburg Magazine, 42, January 2010, p 37
Edmund J Raus, Jr, "A Generation On The March; The Union Army at Gettysburg" [Gettysburg,PA, Thomas Pub., 1996], p 164 - 65.
The Historical Marker Database, Stone Sentinels for the photo.

18 February 2010

Lilly's Flag

On Culp’s Hill you will find a monument to the 149th New York Infantry. They were formed in Onondaga County, NY and were part of the 12th Corps. The monument is located on Slocum Ave. On it you will see a Relief, picturing a Color Bearer repairing the Regiment flag while under fire. This Color Bearer is William C Lilly.

William C Lilly was a 33 year old switchman from Syracuse NY when he enlisted 21 Aug 1862. Just before Gettysburg Lilly was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant. As part of General George Sears Greene’s Brigade the 149th held Culp’s Hill through the night on 2 Jul 1863 and the morning of the 3rd. It was on the morning of the 3Jul1863 while under attack from Major General Edward Johnson’s Division that the flag of the 149th received over 80 hits, including two which broke the staff. As the battle raged around him Lilly retrieved the flag and mended the staff of the flag using a splint made from a cracker box and the leather straps off a knapsack.

The flag is now located in the County Clerk’s Office in Onondaga County NY. The 147 year old fix still holding [I have been unable to confirm this]. Sergeant William Lilly died of wounds received at Wauhatchie TN 1Nov1863. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross by the State of New York 2May 1999.

My thanks to the following sources

Raus, Edmund J Jr, “A Generation On The March; The Union Army at Gettysburg”, [Gettysburg, PA, Thomas Pub, 1996], pg 86-7

The 149th New York State Volunteer Infantry

The 149th New York Infantry Monument

Historical Sketch of the 149th Infantry Regiment

Also thanks for the photos used

Civil War Contributions of Syracuse's Jewish Community

A Photographic Tour of Gettysburg Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill Area

Culp’s Hill Part 4