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Gettysburg Soldier Stories

You were the grandest men the world ever saw”

From civil ware veteran reunion in 1913

“You were the grandest men the world ever saw”
Those are the words of a Union Civil War veteran. In 1913, the largest Civil War reunion was held at Gettysburg, Federals and Rebels both.

As with most soldiers when the fury of war dies away, camaraderie replaced conflict.

Also like most soldiers, they honored courage, even in old enemies. Some of the greatest compliments were paid to the Mississippi men of General Barksdale’s Brigade.

On the second day of battle, Confederate Lieutenant General Longstreet needed to create an opening in the Union lines. Four of his brigades had failed. Union artillery had shredded the Confederates.

General Barksdale approached Longstreet with a request:  “I wish you would let me go in, General; I would take that battery in five minutes!” 

The request approved, Barksdale’s men advanced.

The Union artillery commander later said, “I was giving you all the canister my guns could carry but you never halted, but charged right on over us.”

The Mississippians kept going, driving a hole in the Union lines a mile deep.

At the reunion 41 years later, one of the former Rebels reported that a Federal soldier from Pennsylvania insisted on shaking hands “with one of the men who made the most splendid charge of the war.” The 58th Pennsylvania had been one of the overwhelmed regiments.

Another Federal reported, “Your line was perfect and you held it…”

Union Colonel Worthen, whose men at Gettysburg tried to stand against the Mississippi brigade, said:
“Nothing we could do seemed to confuse or halt Barksdale’s veterans.  We federals had five regiments fronting Barksdale’s small brigade, and these were supported by two additional regiments stationed just behind the five…, but nothing daunted Barksdale and his men. You just came on, and on… they are the bravest men I ever met or ever expect to meet.”  

“I am sure that it was the grandest charge that was ever seen by mortal man.”

Tough men know courage when they see it.

Gettysburg veterans, North and South

Gettysburg Veterans, North & South

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