Sesquicentennial: The Battle of Gettysburg

June 21, 2013

BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG

July 1 – 3, 1863

Often referred to as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the Battle of Gettysburg was the Civil War’s biggest and bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties, nearly one-third of the 157,000 troops engaged there.

In June 1863, Confederate general Robert E. Lee launched the Army of Northern Virginia’s second and final invasion of the North, hoping to draw the Union Army of the Potomac away from war-ravaged Virginia and defeat it on Northern soil. Buoyed by decisive victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Lee had every reason to expect a successful outcome. However, the enterprise was derailed by lack of accurate intelligence about Union forces and their occupation of the high ground at Gettysburg. After three days of ferocious attacks, Lee withdrew his troops back to Virginia, leaving behind more than 3,000 dead and a train of wounded that stretched over 14 miles, returning to the prolonged the war of attrition that he had hoped to disrupt.

Massachusetts sent nearly 7,300 men to Gettysburg, and many played key roles in bringing about the Union victory that turned the tide of the War. More than 50 veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery, as are Edward Everett, “the other speaker” at the consecration of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863, and William R. Rathvon, an eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address delivered later that day.

Lt. Col. Waldo Merriam
(1839 – 1864)
2922 Fountain Avenue
Commander, 16th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Wounded, Gettysburg; mortally wounded, Spotsylvania.

Bugler Charles Wellington Reed
(1842 – 1926)
1995 Elm Avenue
Bugler and Orderly, 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery
Congressional Medal of Honor, Gettysburg: “Rescued his wounded captain from between the lines.”

Sgt. Harvey May Munsell
(1843 – 1913)
3398 Mistletoe Path (Merrill Lot)
Color Bearer, 99th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Congressional Medal of Honor, Gettysburg: “Gallant and courageous conduct as color bearer.”
Promoted 1st Lieutenant, then Captain.

Col. Henry Lawrence Eustis
(1819 – 1885)
2146 Honeysuckle Path
Commander, 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

Capt. Herbert Copeland Mason
(1840 – 1884)
3492 Saffron Path
Captain, 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Wounded, Gettysburg. Bvt. Major.

Capt. Charles Robinson Johnson
(1836 – 1863)
1920 Spruce Avenue
Captain, 16th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Wounded, Chancellorsville; mortally wounded, Gettysburg.

Surg. Zabdiel Boylston Adams, MD
(1829 – 1902)
2700 Elder Path
Surgeon, 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry: “Surgeon Z. Boylston Adams placed the field hospital of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry . . . so near the line of battle many of our wounded escaped capture or death by its timely aid.”
Wounded, Wilderness and Petersburg, as Captain, 56th MVI. Bvt. Major.

Col. Paul Joseph Revere
(1832 – 1863)
286 Walnut Avenue
Commander, 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Wounded, Ball’s Bluff and Antietam; mortally wounded, Gettysburg. Bvt. Brig. Gen.

Edward Everett
(1794 – 1865)
17 Magnolia Avenue
Delivered a well-received two-hour oration prior to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

Surg. John Theodore Heard, MD
(1836 – 1906)
926 Cedar Avenue
Medical Director, 1st Army Corps: “Surg. J. Theodore Heard, medical director, and Surg. T. H. Bache, medical inspector, remained in the town of Gettysburg during its occupation by the enemy, and deserve the highest praise for their zealous and unremitting attention to the wounded.”
Wounded and taken prisoner, Gettysburg. Bvt. Lt. Col. as Med. Dir. 4th Army Corps.

William Roedel Rathvon
(1854 – 1939)
Columbaria 1, Niche 174 in Bigelow Chapel
Witnessed Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as a nine-year-old boy and recorded a remembrance of the event for shortwave radio broadcast on February 12, 1938.

 

 Text and research by Mount Auburn Volunteer Docent Steve Pinkerton with additional research and photos by Mount Auburn Volunteer Docent Carol Harper and Volunteer Bill McEvoy.

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