Re: [TalkAntietam] Fredericksburg: A Gettysburg for the Other Side
- Why thank you kind sir -- You are most generous!
----- Original Message -----
From: "G E Mayers" <gerry1952@...>
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
> 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
> > My next book is on Fredericksburg and, interestingly, Hirst plays a
> > 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
> > Union and a few fought to free the slaves. But while marching up
> > 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,
> > the words scrolled in gold across the bottom - "The Fourteenth
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > and now it was their turn to storm the wall.
> > Augustus Foote and Benjamin Hirst were two ranks back,
> > side-by-side as always, as they had in a thousand drills over the
> > 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
> > 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
> > obstacle for the 24th New Jersey, but they had managed to take most of
> > 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
> > 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
> > at his comrades and waved them forward. "Follow me boys!" he yelled as
> > broke into a run. Foote and Hirst and all of the men of Oliver's
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > finally finished he brought the weapon to the firing position, pulled
> > 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.
> > couldn't save him and he couldn't kill him. All he had to do was pull
> > 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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