Stepping back into history is sometimes a daunting task for visitors to the hallowed fields of Gettysburg. The park, one of the most extensive outdoor gardens of stone to be found on this earth, is home to over 1300 monuments, statues, tablets, and markers. The field is vast in size and encompasses a “living” town complete with businesses, homes, and modern structures. A basic two-hour tour only scratches the surface. Traveling through the network of park and public roads allows people to follow the ebb and flow of this battle from its opening to the conclusion.
It is not uncommon for people to see groups of individuals traveling through the fields on one mode of transportation available in 1863 that survives until the present time. That would be the horse, of course! On July 1st-3rd, 1863, an estimated 80,000 horses and mules led by 165,000 combined soldiers utilized a network of roads that brought them to this town. When the armies finally concentrated in this small section of Pennsylvania, they had traversed a distance of nearly 130 miles throughout about one month.
The horse and mules were multi-task animals. They carried mounted officers, couriers and cavalry. They pulled the enormous cannon and their compliments. Some had mundane tasks of hauling the great wagon trains of supplies and, eventually, the wounded. Despite their importance they were just another “cog” in the wheel of war. Like their masters, they were expendable, a means to an end. They required a great deal of training and care. Horses are not warring creatures, unlike their masters; instead, they simply pass the days grazing. Man has dominion over them, and therefore they were impressed and prepared for the day of battle. By the time this battle reached its conclusion, approximately four to five thousand were dead and dying. This statistic, along with the nearly 51,000 soldiers who became casualties horrifies people, and rightly so.
They were not automatons, they are living breathing creatures, more is the pity. If it were a mechanized vehicle we wouldn’t bat an eye. They are curious by nature and reactive animals; they are prey, not predator. With gentle yet firm training and a healthy degree of respect, they can be either friend and companion or turned into an implement of war. Perhaps that is the connection shared between man and beast that draws us to them. To ride one of these animals over the hallowed fields is a memorable and unique way to visit Gettysburg. Uniting man and equine in peace over the ground that saw the blood-shed of both.
In 1862 our nation was embroiled in a desperate Civil War. The war was not going well for the Union. In June General McClellan was beaten back from Richmond by General Lee in the debacle of the Seven Days Battles. The federal government needed money desperately to pay for the war and on July 1 the U.S. Congress passed “An Act to provide Internal Revenue to Support the Government and pay Interest on the Public Debt.” This was the first federal income tax in U.S. history. Also in July President Lincoln issued a call directly to the loyal governors of the northern states for 300,000 men needed immediately to stave off disaster as casualties mounted in both the eastern and western theaters. In addition to recruiting new regiments, the old regiments were decimated for manpower and desperately needed men to replace losses in their ranks. Connecticut’s Governor William Buckingham loyally responded to President Lincoln’s call that “I will spare no effort to raise men.” He issued a ringing proclamation to the men of Connecticut, “Close your manufactories and workshops—turn aside from your farms and your businesses—leave for a while your families and your homes—meet face to face the enemies of your liberties.” All rhetoric aside the little State of Connecticut had federal manpower quotas to fill and was implementing plans for a draft should quotas not be met. Buckingham himself would spare no expense or effort to preserve the Union. First and foremost was the mandate to form five new Connecticut regiments. State and Federal bounties for enlisting were offered as financial incentives to attract men quickly to the cause. Ultimately little Connecticut would fill eight new regiments in the summer of ’62.
War meetings were held all over the state. Celebrities, generals, businessmen, politicians and other luminaries formed committees and held patriotic rallies to induce enlistments. Patriotic fever ran high in most cities and towns of Connecticut despite the state’s deep political divisions. The military setbacks of June rallied patriotic fever to preserve the Union.
Army recruiters became busy all over the state. Many of these recruiters wanted to raise companies and would become the officers in those companies. These future officers had strong incentive to enlist men under them. They attended patriotic rallies, held meetings, and in some cases paid home visits to men eligible for military service to induce them to enlist. With the threat of draft hanging over towns that failed to supply their quota of manpower and the state and federal bounties for enlistment being offered, many men became amenable to joining regiments of their choice, often with others from their towns and communities. The age of enlistment was eighteen without parental permission and many young men joined with friends and relatives to enlist.
William H. Warren was just eighteen in 1862 and never forgot the recruiter who came to his home to try obtain his enlistment that summer. After the war, Warren would record the incident in his memoirs included in the 17th Connecticut manuscript, part of the Bridgeport History Center’s collections. The incident made a considerable impression on Warren who after the war collected letters, photographs, and diaries from his army comrades of the 17th Connecticut in hopes of writing the regimental history. He never published that history but among the materials he gathered and recorded was this incident along with pertinent photographs.
Warren wrote: “Samuel G. Bailey, Captain of Company K, 23rd Connecticut Regiment, who came to my home, while recruiting the above company, with a squad of men, calling me out into the front yard, and gathering around me, tried their best to influence me to enlist. My mother mistrusting what was going on, also came out, and in strong language informed them that I could not go, so that settled it, and they went away. A few days later I enlisted in another company.”
In 1862, the hand that rocked the cradle was a powerful influence that even an army recruiter would not tangle with. Warren’s mother had the last word that day, but not for long. Her only son, and child, would soon join the boys in blue and be off to war. That August, William Warren enlisted as a private in Company C, comprised of Danbury men, in the 17th Connecticut Regiment known as the Fairfield County Regiment. This regiment would become part of the 11th Corps in the Army of the Potomac. The 17th Connecticut would see combat at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in the Eastern Theater. After Gettysburg the regiment would be shipped to South Carolina and see hard service in the bombardment of Ft. Sumter and the attack on Ft. Wagner. After the fall of Ft. Wagner the Regiment would be sent to Florida for the remainder of the war where they would participate in various raids and small actions such as Welaka and Dunn’s Lake. The Regiment’s three year enlistment would end at Hilton Head, South Carolina where they were mustered out on July 19, 1865 and would return to New Haven, Connecticut on August 3, 1865 where the survivors would be disbanded. These men would remain proud of their service for the rest of their lives. The war was their greatest adventure. They would remember and honor for the rest of their lives their fallen comrades who gave the last full measure so that the nation would live.
The Civil War would touch every heart and hearthstone in America. It was a war of terrible hardship, sacrifice, and tragedy for millions of American families north and south. William Warren was one of the survivors who would come home and resume his life. He, like so many of his comrades, would marry in 1866 and start a family. So very like a later generation of young American men who would return from World War II and who would be termed the Greatest Generation. These survivors of the Civil War should be remembered as the Greatest Generation of 19th century America. William Warren would devote his life to recording and gathering the memories and history of the men of the regiment so they would never be forgotten. This work would engage him until the end of his life. The tragedy of his work is it was never published. It remains in the Bridgeport History Center as a treasure trove of primary sources of the lives of these men of the Union who gave this nation a “new birth of freedom.” Let us hope that we the living generation can preserve the gift their sacrifices gave us and hand it on, as a good and great nation, to the generations that will follow us.
Bailey, James, Montgomery & Hill, Susan Benedict, History of Danbury, Connecticut 1684-896, Burr Printing
House, New York, 1896
Bridgeport History Center, Bridgeport Public Library, Burroughs-Saden Building, 925 Broad Street,
Bridgeport, CT, http://bportlibrary.org/hc/
Hines, Blaikie, Civil War Volunteer Sons of Connecticut, American Patriot Press, Thomaston, Maine, 2002
Miller, Richard, F., editor, States at War, Volume 1, A Reference Guide for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont in the Civil War, University Press of New England
Hanover and London, 2013
Warren, William H, 17th Connecticut Manuscript, various volumes, Bridgeport History Center
Ancestry.com: census records for multiple years, family trees, birth, death, marriage records
PHIL’S GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN ATLAS STORY
I am often asked how did the idea of the Atlas come about and how long did it take you to complete this project. I will try to explain my answers to these questions, hoping along the way not to put you all to sleep.
Ever since I can remember, I have always been graphically inclined. I seem to see things, understand things, experience things in pictorial terms. When I read a book, I turn it into a movie, inhabiting it with leading men and women, appropriate locations, etc. Tom Hanks becomes the protagonist and Anthony Hopkins the antagonist, with Elizabeth Shue or Penelope Cruz, the femme fatale. The word is never enough for me. A picture is overwhelmingly worth more than a thousand words. But I digress a bit.
When I discovered Coddington in high school, I bookmarked the few maps within this wonderfully descriptive book and would go back and forth from the text to the maps, flipping pages to and fro, to try to get a lay of the land and understand what was happening, where, when, and by whom.
In the early 70’s I was returning from a cross-country car trip and decided to stop at Gettysburg and the experience was life changing. As my interest in the Civil War in general and Gettysburg in particular increased, I bemoaned the dearth of maps in most of the Gettysburg books I read (one can never have enough maps).
Somewhat later, in a happenstance I cannot explain, a germ of an idea began to gnaw away at my imagination and eventually I realized that what I needed, and perhaps what others needed, was a book of many maps that would compliment a few words about the battle of Gettysburg. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) but no training in cartography. Early on, I decided that mapping with pen and paper was too daunting a task and so around 1994, I bought a Mac and Adobe Illustrator software program and dove in. I read all I could on the doings at Gettysburg and through trial and many errors, began inputting data onto blank computer pages. I was working at a paying job at the time, so the going was slow but steady. My first offering was one page of text with a corresponding map on the opposite page. I eventually completed a book of maps and submitted it to a publisher and my eternal thanks goes to those gentlemen who promptly rejected my manuscript. My first attempt was woefully bad. I mean really BAD! It took me a while to realize that, but when the clouds parted, I went back to the computer and reworked and improved my first attempt at mapping this confusing battle.
The second iteration entailed more maps and fewer words. Now I only included bare-bones text at the bottom of the map. I assumed that the reader had many options to explore more deeply what my maps were showing using the large library of Gettysburg books available. As I was working on this new Atlas I discovered Gettysburg Magazine and the exemplary maps penned by John Heiser. Now that’s what I was always aiming for! I realized that I needed to rework, once again, my Atlas in an attempt to measure up to the high bar that Mr. Heiser’s put forth with his wonderful maps.
Iteration number three commenced. I now added much more detail and decided to include the march to and retreat from Gettysburg. In 2002 John Heiser no longer mapped for Gettysburg Magazine and Bob Younger canvassed readers to take Mr. Heiser’s place. I submitted some of my Atlas maps as examples of my work and he gave an unknown mapmaker a chance. Thank you, Mr. Younger. In a sidebar, years later, I am having dinner with Andy Turner, the new editor/publisher of Gettysburg Magazine, and I asked
him how many others submitted maps in response to Mr. Younger’s request. Andy smiled and softly replied: “you were the only one.”
As my third attempt at a Gettysburg Atlas continued, two important events occurred. John Imhof’s groundbreaking Day Two book of maps was published (Bravo!). I refined my maps as new battle information became available and as I completed a first-draft atlas, I posted these maps on the Military History Online website for a critique from its members. I incorporated ideas, suggestions and corrections from the incredibly generous students of the battle who posted responses and emailed me important information. With the unstinting help from Alan Brunelle (index) and Steve Floyd (Order of Battle), and the vetting of John Heiser, Andy Turner, published the Gettysburg Campaign Atlas late in 2009.
Years passed, Andy Turner sold Gettysburg Magazine. I continued to improve and add more maps to my first edition Atlas, I needed a new publisher. I have been blessed with meeting really great people as I wandered through the publishing phase. I was introduced to Kevin Drake at Gettysburg Publishing, and as I did with Andy Turner, Kevin and I shook hands and the updated Gettysburg Campaign Atlas became reality.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.