18 September 2013

A Green Regiment

BG Henry Lockwood
The 150th New York Infantry were one of three regiments assigned to Brigadier General Henry Lockwood’s Brigade.  Being a new brigade to the First Division in the XII Corps, it was posted as an independent brigade.  The 150th New York was raised in Dutches County, NY and carried the nickname of “The Dutchess Regiment”.  The regiment had mustered into Union service in 1862, but had been garrisoned, guarding Washington, DC and on the morning of 2 July 1863, had not yet been in action.  Their trouble in keeping up on the march, “full ranks, bright colors and clean uniforms” easily placing them apart from the veteran troops.

The 150th would arrive in Gettysburg from the previous night's bivouac in LIttlestown, PA at about 9am on the second of July.  The men could hear sounds of battle and knew of the fight which had taken place the day before.  The Colonel of 150th, John Ketcham moved along the line of his men offering up “encouragement and imparting advice” for the upcoming action.

After having been held most of the of the day just off of Culp’s Hill, Lockwood received orders about 5pm to move his men in support of General Daniel Sickles’ III Corps.  They marched out Schoolhouse Lane toward the sound of the battle.  The men passed and saw for the first time soldiers who were wounded in battle.  Their march ended somewhere near the Trostle house.  Here the men of the 150th along with the First Maryland Eastern Shore; the other regiment on site making up two of the three regiments in Lockwood’s Brigade, faced the enemy for the first time.  They formed and held a line, causing the Confederates in the their front; most likely the 21st Mississippi of General William Barksdale’s Brigade to retire.  It was at this time that Companies B and G of the 150th recovered three guns from Bigelow’s 9th Massachusetts Battery, pulling them off the field.  The men marched from the field back toward the Baltimore Pike, deploying in the early morning hours near Rugg and Kinzie’s Batteries, with the 150th near the Lightner house.
Trostle House with Company B and G Monument

The 150th received orders on the morning of 3 July to move to Culp’s Hill to support General George S Greene's troops, who were engaged with the enemy.  They arrived on the hill about 7:30am to find “a long line of hastily built breastworks filled with soldiers who were pouring an incessant fire in the valley below.”  They were ordered to relieve the 78th New York.  One soldier described the pits as “so long that we only occupied a small portion of them...the breastworks are made of logs, stone and dirt and are about 5 feet high. Private Charles Benton of the 150th said, “the smoke had settled so thickly in the timber that we could not distinguish them (the Confederates) clearly, and the spurts of smoke from their guns” gave the means of aiming.

Monument on Culp's Hill
Division commander General Lockwood, who was concerned about his green troops, told Colonel Ketchum that the 150th might need support, but Private Benton wrote of the men that he was “struck by the cool and matter-of-fact way in which our men loading and firing, while the dead lay at frequent intervals.”  Lockwood would say about the men; “That is the green regiment is it?  Well I wish to God they were all green.”  However even being behind the breastworks didn’t guarantee safty.  Men were killed  it was thought by Confederate sharpshooters in the trees.  Two such men whose death was witnessed were John P Wing and Levi Rust of Washington, New York.  They were “struck by the same ball, it going through John’s breast and then striking Levi Rust.  The latter fell at once.  John looked up to me, I thought as much to say, ‘That came close’, when he fell over on his hands and knees and settled down in death with only a groan.”

The men stayed in the breastworks for about two and a half hours, until the 102nd New York relieved them.  They returned again in about an hour.  Each man of 150th fired about 150 round while there.

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