The influences which create emotional bonds between us, today, and those in the past are human interest stories. Such stories allow us to understand the hardships and deprivations endured from this event. They connect and endear us in ways we can relate to the participants. They instill in us respect by their commitment to duty and they amaze us with tales of lighter, sometimes humorous, moments amidst tragic circumstances.
This unique blend of stories, arranged in chronological order to enhance the reader’s experience, was taken from primary sources, including, diaries, pension records, historical collections, official records, as well as newspapers, journals, and books. Here are just a few samples:
An unusual group of volunteers responded in Harrisburg to Governor Curtin’s plea. Capt. Charles C. Carson and a company of 17 men, the youngest being 68 years old, came forward and presented themselves for military service. Each senior citizen was a veteran of the War of 1812, and they wanted to again serve their state and country in a time of need. A color bearer proudly carried a historic relic, a highly tattered battle flag that had once been borne at the Battle of Trenton by Pennsylvanians serving under George Washington.
In one case, some members of the 3rd Michigan found that the most threatening enemy was not the Confederates they were pursuing. The Wolverines, hungry for some honey, raided some beehives in a nearby garden, initially driving off the bees. However, as the men reached the hives, the bees counterattacked en masse, repeatedly stinging the men as they struggled to get away from the prolonged assault. An amused onlooker, Color Sgt. Daniel Crotty, later wrote that the slashing and darting bees made some men “turn such somersaulting on the ground as to put to shame a lot of Japanese acrobat performers in a circus ring.” The soldiers made an inglorious retreat, their swollen heads and faces now resembling huge mortar shells.
A massive thunderstorm on the evening of July 4 drenched the armies, creating untold misery and torture for the thousands of wounded that still dotted the fields and woods surrounding Gettysburg. Creeks and streams, already swollen from days of rain before the Battle of Gettysburg, swiftly overflowed their banks, and flash floods claimed the lives of scores of unfortunate wounded men. The hospital of Clark’s Battery was in a field near Rock Creek east of Taneytown Road.. The attendants and orderlies frantically worked to move the injured soldiers to higher ground. However, the water rose so quickly that not all could be moved. Artilleryman Dick Price held himself up above the torrent with his elbows draped over the branch of a dogwood tree. The lower extremities of both arms had been amputated, so Price’s agony must have been excruciating. Still, he held his composure…Price would soon die from complications resulting from his wounds. He is buried in the National Cemetery.
Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign is published by Colecraft Industries, Orrtanna, PA 17353 and is now available for ordering online at firstname.lastname@example.org, amazon.com, and barnes&noble.com. It is also available at several Gettysburg area bookstores and gift centers.