Book Chat
Covered With Glory
The 26th NC Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg
Rod Gragg

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 2/19/06 and covered Chapters 7, 8, 9, & 10

2/19/2006 9:05 pm (et) ks: As usual we request that discussion be confined to the chapter we're covering. The archived chats are easier to follow when we proceed this way. :)

We begin tonight's chat with Chapter 7 where we read of Colonel Burgwyn's 26th emerging from the oat field and approaching Willoughby Run. Discussion of the Assault on McPherson's Ridge, July 1, is in order. ;)

"Covered In Glory" by Rod Gragg
Chapter 7 -
Covered In Glory
2/19/2006 9:05 pm (et) Babs: I'm sorry Mobile missed out on such a good book.

2/19/2006 9:07 pm (et) ks: Last week I posted an image of Colonel Burgwyn. Both chilling and sad to look upon the image of that youth. I'll repeat it for the archives.

2/19/2006 9:07 pm (et) ks:

2/19/2006 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: For those who have not seen this part of the Gettysburg battlefield, the land looks pretty much the same as it did on July 1, 1863. One thing that is different is you would have had a better view from Herr's Ridge back then you have today of the fighting there.

2/19/2006 9:07 pm (et) HankC: where was that photo taken?

2/19/2006 9:08 pm (et) Basecat: Hank...Am guessing photo was taken at West Point.

2/19/2006 9:09 pm (et) ks: I presumed at VMI, Hank. From VMI archives. I'll look again. That was LAST week I looked it up. ;)

2/19/2006 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: Excuse me...VMI...Glad Teej was not here to see my mistake...LOL..;)

2/19/2006 9:09 pm (et) HankC: ah...a 'veemie' ;)

2/19/2006 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: 1861 Hank...Right before the war started.

2/19/2006 9:11 pm (et) Basecat: Had only one minor quibble with this chapter, as from various other sources I have read timed the wounding of Colonel Morrow of the 24th Michigan earlier in the fight there.

2/19/2006 9:12 pm (et) Babs: There is mention of the pits left by digging for marl. I remember that was mentioned ib some other book we read (mayber Colorss of Courage). Base, Do I remember you saying that there is still evidence of that?

2/19/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: This is the first account I've read that goes into this kind of detail and which actually may stick with me, Basecat. I think Gragg's done a fine job of bringing these soldiers and their actions to life for us. Really look forward to walking this ground with Gragg's book (or notes from said book) in hand.

2/19/2006 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Other thing that made me shake my Head...Pettigrew telling a staff officer to tell Burgwyn that his regiment was Covered with Glory, as the fight was still going on...Made me wonder if Pettigrew did that assuming that Burgwyn would not be coming back from the fight to hear it from the General himself. He sure sent the right person to deliver the order though,

2/19/2006 9:14 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Remnants of the marl area can still be found on the scene. You can also see where the remains of the quarry is on that part of the battlefield.

2/19/2006 9:14 pm (et) ks: I had no idea what marl was until I looked it up, Babs. For those as geology challenged as myself...Marls are calcium carbonate or lime rich muds or mudstones which contain variable amounts of clays and calcite or aragonite. The term is most often used to describe lacustrine (lake) sediments, but is also used for marine deposits. The term marl is widely used in North American geology, while the term seekreide is used in European references.

2/19/2006 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Thought he captured it much better than Harry did, and as one who has been out there plenty of times, very easy to picture what was going on while I was reading the chapter.

2/19/2006 9:15 pm (et) Babs: Base, Do you find them by following the trail down to Willoughby Run?

2/19/2006 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, they used the marl for fertilizer.

2/19/2006 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Babs..Yes...and IIRC the ledge where they hid is to the left of the path down to the run.

2/19/2006 9:16 pm (et) ks: Yes, or so I read. It has been utilized as a soil conditioner and acid soil neutralizing agent.

2/19/2006 9:17 pm (et) Babs: Yes, That's what I remember from looking it up the last time marl came up.

2/19/2006 9:17 pm (et) ks: So the ledge still remains intact?

2/19/2006 9:17 pm (et) HankC: major proponent of marl use was Edmund Ruffin...

2/19/2006 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: BTW..the thorny briars are still there in abundance...You have to be careful walking around down there in the area where the 26th ascended the slope from the Run.

2/19/2006 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: ks...You can see part of the remnants of the ledge.

2/19/2006 9:18 pm (et) Babs: Base, Thanks for the info. I will try to find it this year.

2/19/2006 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, a tree had grown on top of the ledge, and was felled during a storm years ago, and thus took out part of the ledge.

2/19/2006 9:19 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Remnants of the quarry is easy to find...Fenced in and to the right of the path about 3/4s the way down the hill.

2/19/2006 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: Marl and Secession...Ruffin I guess can be looked at as full of it..;) Sorry...;)

2/19/2006 9:21 pm (et) HankC: lol...

2/19/2006 9:21 pm (et) ks: While it's not the first time I've read about the color bearer's duty being hazardous, this chapter may remain the most memorable for accounts where we have color bearer after color bearer who falls named for us. Certainly adds vivid imagery to the accounts when Gragg speaks of the dangerous, make that deadly, duty.

2/19/2006 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: ks..IMHO, it ranks right up there in terms of stories about carrying the flag on both sides...Notice also that on both sides, enlisted men grabbed the flag from the officers saying it was their duty to carry it and not the officer's duty.

2/19/2006 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Also shows the importance of just what the flag meant in terms of fighting in a battle, as with all the smoke around, that was probably the only thing you could see in all that turmoil.

2/19/2006 9:25 pm (et) Babs: Depending on how you look at it either officers were too important for the job or the job was too important for officers.

2/19/2006 9:25 pm (et) HankC: flag frenzy...

2/19/2006 9:26 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...True, and in this case, it shows how well the men on both sides respected their officers. Main reason why the casualties were so high, both the 24th Michigan and the 26th NC were very well drilled for this sorta combat, and they acted like a machine, if that makes sense.

2/19/2006 9:27 pm (et) Babs: Sadly, it does made sense.

2/19/2006 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: Any more questions or comments on Chapter 7??

2/19/2006 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: If not...ks...:)

2/19/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: flag frenzy...rather amazing to read those accounts and then think of the sad displays by the likes of Fred Phelps and his (IMHO) twisted supporters. But that's present day and I'll save it for later. Have to admire the Patriot Guards...

2/19/2006 9:29 pm (et) ks: The 2nd chapter in tonight's reading takes up the time after the Confederate forces have successfully pushed back the Federals. It's a time when both sides are assessing the heavy casualties they've suffered. Please proceed with thoughts on...

Chapter 8
"The Sickening Horrors of War"
2/19/2006 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: Thing here when I read this, imagine having survived this fight, and then you walk back and see many folks you knew about 60 minutes ago, are no longer alive. This fight also ended the effectiveness of the Iron Brigade for the rest of the war. Yes the remnants of that fine organization lasted until Appomattox, but was never again the fierce fighting brigade it was from 1862 until Day one at Gettysburg.

2/19/2006 9:33 pm (et) HankC: And for less than a year at that...

2/19/2006 9:33 pm (et) Babs: That could probably be said of most of the brigades at GB.

2/19/2006 9:34 pm (et) Basecat: Exactly Hank...Have read quite a bit on the Brigade here, and they never had an "Easy" battle...

2/19/2006 9:34 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Very true, as this battle in a sense wiped out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Corps of the Union Army.

2/19/2006 9:35 pm (et) ks: Sure a chapter filled with chilling accounts of the human carnage. :( But something that impressed me positively in this chapter was the story about the 11th NC Band who were ordered to put aside their hospital chores and report to brigade HQ. They thought they were going into battle but were instead ordered to get their instruments and inspire the troops with martial music. Can you imagine how surreal that scene must have been?

2/19/2006 9:35 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, the first and 3rd were consolidated into the 2nd and 5th corps of the Union army.

2/19/2006 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: ks...and I loved the fact that Gragg found a picture of the band and included it in the book. Never ceases to amaze me as to how much the power of music had on both sides in this war.

2/19/2006 9:37 pm (et) ks: To quote the book..."When the cannonade was at its height...a Confederate band...began to play polkas and waltzes, which sounded very curious, accompanied by the hissing and bursting of the shells." That was Lt. Colonel Freemantle quoted.

2/19/2006 9:40 pm (et) Basecat: Saga of Thomas Perret was something that stuck out with me as well...Drunken surgeon wanted to do surgery on him for a Yankee bullet, a shouting match erupted between the two, and the surgeon backed down..

2/19/2006 9:43 pm (et) Basecat: Also, story of Burgwyn's friend keeping his promise...burying him and getting Burgwyn's personal effects as promised.

2/19/2006 9:43 pm (et) HankC: Where was he buried?

2/19/2006 9:43 pm (et) ks: Stood out to me as well, Basecat. BTW I was well pleased to have a chapter so well loaded with PICTURES. Putting faces on these men and locations was helpful.

2/19/2006 9:45 pm (et) Basecat: Will also add, and just my opinion. No way the 26th should have been made to fight again at Gettysburg. Bad decision by Lee, as there were other troops barely used on Day one that could have been used on Day 3, but I am getting ahead of myself.

2/19/2006 9:45 pm (et) Basecat: Same here ks... and even liked the maps in the book. But you are most add to the story, and to quote the old knight from Indiana Jones part 3..Gragg chose wisely..;)

2/19/2006 9:49 pm (et) Basecat: Let's move on to Chapter 9... All Were Willing To Die. Any comments and or questions from this chapter?

2/19/2006 9:50 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry Hank...Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.

2/19/2006 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: He was first buried on the battlefield at Gettysburg, just off the Chambersburg Pike.

2/19/2006 9:52 pm (et) Babs: This chapter did a great job of building the tension before the charge.

2/19/2006 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: Babs..It reminded me of the preparation scene from the movie Praying, singing, and thinking of loved ones back home.

2/19/2006 9:53 pm (et) ks: I couldn't recall if the book had stated a location, Hank. It did emphasize that Burgwyn had requested before the battle that, if he fell, his body should be taken back home. And the account of his friend arriving wrapping his body in a red blanket and placing it in a ammo crate (IIRC) and burying it in a shady spot on the battlefield until it could be claimed at a later date was quite poignant.

2/19/2006 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: from the movie Glory ....

2/19/2006 9:54 pm (et) ks: Agreed, Babs. Kind of funny though how I read an account like that and, in my mind, play it against the scenes depicted in THE MOVIE. ;)

2/19/2006 9:55 pm (et) ks: Thought of that too, Basecat. Now what did stand out as curious to me was the mention of how the soldiers were told to keep quiet so as to not betray their locations. That's why they only took off they hats in greeting to General Lee. BUT then we read of their having the prayer services and the singing. That doesn't seem like a very quiet activity.

2/19/2006 9:55 pm (et) Basecat: Took until 1867 until the body was allowed to be reburied in NC.. Stanton was a PITA over this issue, but finally relented. IIRC, His fiancee never married after he was killed, and is buried right beside him down there in Raleigh.

2/19/2006 9:57 pm (et) Babs: I don't think there was anyone left for her to marry.

2/19/2006 9:57 pm (et) Basecat: ks...The whole " secrecy" notion used by CSA troops at Gettysburg has been one of the things I could never get my hands around. Makes no sense, as the Union troops knew they were there...and not going anywhere. Just adds to what many have said...Lee picked the wrong time to have an off 3 days mind wise.

2/19/2006 9:58 pm (et) Basecat: Babs... Am sure Teej would know a lot more about this, and will ask her about it the next time she is in the room.

2/19/2006 10:00 pm (et) Basecat: ks..will add, on the Union side, just the opposite was occurring, as for the most part, they did not think an attack was in the offing on Day 3, which quickly changed when the artillery barrage commenced in the afternoon.

2/19/2006 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: Once those guns started to say the praying commenced in earnest on the Union side.

2/19/2006 10:02 pm (et) Basecat: Am often left with wonderment, as I read the union soldier's accounts of just how majestic the Confederate soldiers were, when they started the advance on day 3. The word beautiful is used quite a bit in those descriptions, and then the feelings of dread started to creep in as the approached closer.

2/19/2006 10:03 pm (et) ks: This chapter (this book for that matter) is the first time I've read the contents of the messages sent by Longstreet to Porter where he appears to be trying to put responsibility for the attack on Porter's shoulders.

2/19/2006 10:03 pm (et) Babs: Gragg's is the best description of that I have read.

2/19/2006 10:04 pm (et) ks: No kidding. Even such poetic language used in the descriptions like the advancing "ribbons of steel" or something like that.

2/19/2006 10:04 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Which is a theme the lost causers reminded folks about after the war...good ammo to aim at Pete to show he wanted no part in that day.

2/19/2006 10:05 pm (et) Babs: It reminds me of some of the Confederate accounts of watching the Federal troops marching to their death at Fredericksburg.

2/19/2006 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...great description in Alexander's memoirs of this as well, and how he was not going to be the one to make the call.

2/19/2006 10:06 pm (et) Babs: How long did it take for the "charge"?

2/19/2006 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Depends on who you wish to believe...For me, I don't think it lasted more than a hour...and am talking total fighting time. Book also shows that folks on the right of the Virginians did get involved in the charge. Many in the Virginia brigades went to their graves saying they were not really helped by those on the left of the charge. There is also controversy still today, as to whether the 26th NC got the closest to the Union lines. Some feel that honor should go to the 11th Mississippi...As for me...I just say they both got close, and leave it at that.

2/19/2006 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry...On the left of the Virginians.

2/19/2006 10:11 pm (et) ks: In that time are you speaking also of the cannonade, or just of the advance of the men and the subsequent fighting??

2/19/2006 10:13 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Just talking about the actual charge. Still today there are numerous discussions on just how long the cannonade was etc. Frankly, I don't think we will ever know exactly.

2/19/2006 10:14 pm (et) ks: I'm certain we won't in this lifetime. :) And no doubt veterans' accounts are varied in what they state.

2/19/2006 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Am sure they all thought it lasted forever...:)

2/19/2006 10:17 pm (et) Basecat: As those can tell...we are bringing up stuff from Chapter 10 as well...Terrible As An Army With Banners Both of these chapters deal with the charge.

2/19/2006 10:18 pm (et) Basecat: Anymore comments or questions?

2/19/2006 10:20 pm (et) Basecat: Will just add one, as a NJan, am glad Gragg did focus on the 12th NJ and their part on that day. Folks attending the muster are sure to hear me and the Night Owl wax poetic over our boys from the Garden State.

2/19/2006 10:21 pm (et) Basecat: Next week we finish the book. Chapter 11, and the Epilog. Am gonna send Mr. Gragg and e-mail, and see if he will be available to join us for the discussion next week.

2/19/2006 10:21 pm (et) ks: On 9 or 10? The final "assault" of the wall by the two North Carolinians blew me away. I'd never read that before. Thomas and Brooks going over to "this side of the Lord" as they are pulled over the wall by the "Blue Birds" was incredible.

2/19/2006 10:22 pm (et) ks: I didn't realize we were so close to finishing the book.

2/19/2006 10:23 pm (et) Babs: Imagine how they felt when they turned around and saw there was no regiment left behind them.

2/19/2006 10:23 pm (et) Basecat: ks...and a lot lesser known story than those Virginians who were pulled over the wall, as depicted in the movie. In this case, I agree with the Tar Heel supporters, that they don't get enough of the credit for what they did that day.

2/19/2006 10:25 pm (et) ks: Or to be on the other side of the wall watching those two lone young men (with the flag no less) approaching! Another one of those stories of the deed being so incredible in the eyes of the soldiers watching that they choose to NOT fire a volley.

2/19/2006 10:26 pm (et) Basecat: Exactly ks...Many stories of Union soldiers begging those to come over the wall, and not shooting at them...but protecting them.

2/19/2006 10:26 pm (et) Basecat: Which is why the 50th anniversary is so poignant...especially the handshake over the wall...

2/19/2006 10:26 pm (et) Babs: and to backtrack a bit--- How about that sharpshooter taking water to the wounded guy.

2/19/2006 10:27 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...remiminded me of Sgt. Kirkland at Fredericksburg...

2/19/2006 10:27 pm (et) Babs: I love watching the videos of that reunion.

2/19/2006 10:27 pm (et) Basecat: reminded. shessh...crazy fingers here this evening..:)

2/19/2006 10:27 pm (et) Babs: Base, me too.

2/19/2006 10:28 pm (et) ks: But I never understood the significance of the handshake over the wall. I didn't know of these accounts until tonight. ;) Just thought it was some nice gesture when done at the 50th anniversary.

2/19/2006 10:29 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Really was a reenactment of pulling those across the wall 50 years later...image of how the country is one again.

2/19/2006 10:30 pm (et) Babs: Looks like Hank and Vickie have snuck off. I will do the same.

2/19/2006 10:30 pm (et) Babs: Good book, good chat, good night.

2/19/2006 10:30 pm (et) Basecat: Night Babs..Glad you enjoyed the chat. Take Care.

2/19/2006 10:31 pm (et) ks: We need to encourage a few more to sneak IN for book chats. Believe we would benefit from some ad campaign before we start another book, Basecat.

2/19/2006 10:31 pm (et) ks: Yes, it is a good book. Really sorry that people who will muster with us didn't choose to become involved in this one.

2/19/2006 10:34 pm (et) Basecat: Oops..forgot to say book chat is over...:)