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Re: [TalkAntietam] Fredericksburg: A Gettysburg for the Other Side

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  • richard@rcroker.com
    Why thank you kind sir -- You are most generous! R. ... From: G E Mayers To: Sent: Thursday, December
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 15, 2005
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      Why thank you kind sir -- You are most generous!

      R.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "G E Mayers" <gerry1952@...>
      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2005 8:11 AM
      Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Fredericksburg: A Gettysburg for the Other Side


      > Dear Richard,
      >
      > Oh my god...........It sent a shiver through my spine as I read
      > this........very well written.......could mentally see Hirst's friend
      lying
      > there, horribly wounded, begging for someone to put an end to his misery.
      >
      > Very respectfully,
      > G E "Gerry" Mayers
      >
      > "As an American citizen I prize the Union very highly
      > and know of no personal sacrifice that I would not make
      > to preserve it, save that of honour."
      > --Robt. E. Lee, Letter to Rooney Lee, 3 December 1860
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: <richard@...>
      > To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 9:16 PM
      > Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Fredericksburg: A Gettysburg for the Other
      Side
      >
      >
      > > My next book is on Fredericksburg and, interestingly, Hirst plays a
      role.
      > > I
      > > note the difference in spelling, but there was a lot of that going on in
      > > those days. Assuming it's the same guy, he had reason to demand revenge
      > > for
      > > Fredericksurg...
      > >
      > > For those of you who take offense at "history as fiction," read no
      > > further,
      > > but if you want to capture agony of the moment, read on. This is taken
      > > from
      > > Hirst's own account as are the words contained in the quotation marks...
      > > Enjoy,
      > > Richard
      > >
      > > Some of the men of the 14th Connecticut fought to preserve
      the
      > > Union and a few fought to free the slaves. But while marching up
      Marye's
      > > Heights into the face of the enemy, those huge issues became very small.
      > > Today they all agreed about why they were there, facing death and glory
      > > together. Today they fought for each other - and for their big, blue,
      > > beautiful flag. Not so much for the Stars and Stripes, though she was
      > > beautiful too, but for the blue flag with the grape vines, the eagle,
      and
      > > the words scrolled in gold across the bottom - "The Fourteenth
      Regiment."
      > > Every man in Perkins's little regiment would give his life to keep her
      > > flying and out of the hands of the enemy.
      > >
      > > The Rebels knew this. They loved their flags too. And in
      the
      > > absence of a nicely mounted general or colonel to shoot at, the standard
      > > bearer was the next best thing.
      > >
      > > They were never armed, these men who bore the pride of their
      > > regiments into battle. If one went down, or more precisely when one
      went
      > > down, the closest man would abandon his rifle, pick up the flag, and
      > > continue forward. And so it was with the men of the Fighting
      Fourteenth,
      > > and now it was their turn to storm the wall.
      > >
      > > Augustus Foote and Benjamin Hirst were two ranks back,
      marching
      > > side-by-side as always, as they had in a thousand drills over the
      months.
      > > As they had at Antietam when they marched over Roulette's Swale and into
      > > the
      > > Bloody Lane.
      > >
      > > The ground was still wet and slippery and it was now
      cluttered
      > > with the bodies of dead and wounded men. They came to the remnants of a
      > > fence that had surrounded the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. It had been
      an
      > > obstacle for the 24th New Jersey, but they had managed to take most of
      it
      > > down. The Connecticut color guard stepped over the remaining rails and
      > > the
      > > blue flag kept moving forward. Foote was jealous of the man who carried
      > > the
      > > colors, Color Sergeant Charles Dart. What an incredible honor to stand
      so
      > > well forward - to be the man Connecticut followed into the worthy fight.
      > > But Dart had earned the job at Antietam and was doing it well today.
      > >
      > > When Colonel Oliver gave the order to charge, Dart glanced
      back
      > > at his comrades and waved them forward. "Follow me boys!" he yelled as
      he
      > > broke into a run. Foote and Hirst and all of the men of Oliver's
      brigade
      > > growled and screamed and stepped over the fence rails and the Washington
      > > Artillery fired all four cannons in the same instant - all double-packed
      > > with canister - and over two hundred of the heavy iron pellets ripped
      > > through the ranks of the Fighting Fourteenth.
      > >
      > > Foote and Hirst had been in the second rank, but the first
      rank
      > > was gone and the rest of the Fourteenth fell to the ground. Foote saw
      > > Sergeant Dart go down and was amazed that the horribly wounded man
      managed
      > > to plant the flag as he fell. He speared the staff into the soft earth
      > > and
      > > leaned it against one of the remaining fence posts. The courageous
      color
      > > sergeant writhed on the ground for only a moment before his body went
      > > perfectly still. All of the men of the color guard were down, but the
      > > flag
      > > remained standing proudly, but alone and defenseless.
      > >
      > > Foote couldn't tolerate the sight. He had to rescue her. He
      > > was just about to stand up and rush forward when a thousand muskets
      > > appeared
      > > over the top of the stone wall and Cobb's Rebels began to unload on the
      > > prostrate Yanks. Foote couldn't stand and charge now, but he could
      crawl,
      > > by God. He had only ten feet to go, but it would be a hellish ten feet.
      > >
      > > Hirst tried to stop him. "Augie - don't go!"
      > >
      > > He grabbed the sergeant's leg, but Foote yanked it away and continued
      > > forward. He made it to within inches of the staff when one bullet
      struck
      > > him in the hip and another in the face.
      > >
      > > Hirst saw his friend's body shutter with each blow.
      > >
      > > "NOOOOOOO!"
      > >
      > > He couldn't control his fury, but he knew it would be suicide to try to
      > > save
      > > him - or the flag. He aimed his rifle at the wall and sent a shot
      > > forward,
      > > knowing that it would do no good. The Rebels were just too
      > > well-protected,
      > > but he fired anyway. And so did everybody else, but all they did was
      take
      > > small chips out of the thick rocks of Cobb's stone wall. He tried to
      > > hurry
      > > himself through the agonizingly slow procedure of reloading. While
      > > standing
      > > he could do the job in under a half a minute, but reloading under fire
      > > while
      > > lying down was awkward and dangerous and seemed to take forever. When
      he
      > > finally finished he brought the weapon to the firing position, pulled
      the
      > > hammer back to full cock, and before he fired he heard his friend lying
      > > just
      > > ten feet ahead.
      > >
      > > "Oh, God! For the love of God. Please, somebody kill me.
      > > Somebody kill me! Please."
      > >
      > > Hirst began to weep. His friend's agony tortured his soul.
      He
      > > couldn't save him and he couldn't kill him. All he had to do was pull
      the
      > > trigger, but he couldn't do it. He couldn't put his best friend in the
      > > world out of his misery.
      > >
      > > He just couldn't do it.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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