July 3 Gettysburg bombardment heard nearly 100 miles away

Nearly ninety miles south of Gettysburg in Virginia’s verdant Loudoun Valley, Captain Charles O’Ferrall of the 12th Virginia Cavalry laid in an Upperville house, clinging to life after a grievous wound suffered during the June 21 cavalry fight. He and his attendants, including his recently arrived mother, could clearly hear the bombardment that preceded Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.

“As I laid flat on my back in my bed I heard distinctly the roar of the cannon… I did not know where it was, but I knew it was the resounding of cannon, and that a great battle was in progress somewhere beyond the waters of the Potomac. The sound kept me stirred and excited, so Dr. [Thomas] Settle, under the pretense of being afraid I would catch the ear-ache, to which I had been subject before leaving home, stuffed cotton in my ears to deaden the sound.”

It worked. O’Ferrall calmed down and lay still. He eventually recovered and returned home.

Charles T. O’Ferrall, Four Years of Service. (New York and Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1904).

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Categories: Civil War anecdotes, Gettysburg | Leave a comment

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