Chapter 22

Written and Narrated by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 22 – This poem, General Greene and Colonel Ireland – Culp’s Hill, focuses on their efforts to safeguard Culp’s Hill on the night of July 2nd, 1863. Most of the forces had been moved to the Union Center and Left. General Slocum was only allowed to leave one Brigade behind to guard the hill. He chose General Greene’s Brigade. Greene was the oldest Union General at the age of 62. He was a descendant of Nathaniel Greene who was George Washington’s 2nd in Command during the Revolutionary War. The Hill was defended, and if it had fallen the Rebels could have gained access to the Baltimore Pike. This road was a vital line of retreat to Union forces at Gettysburg, and the road if followed south eventually leads to Washington D.C.

George_Sears_Greene,_Rhode_Island's_most_illustrious_Civil_War_General General George Sears Greene

Chapter 22 – General Greene and Colonel Ireland – Culp’s Hill – 2nd Night

 

General Meade realized

The Union left needed troops more

So he told General Slocum

To send the XII Corps

 

But the XII Corps was guarding

The far right on Culp’s hill

Slocum wanted to leave a division

They might need them still

 

But Meade was adamant

All troops must come to the left’s aide

Slocum pleaded some more

Meade left him one Brigade

 

Slocum picked a Brigade

In the Second Division mean

Led by Brigadier General

George Sears Greene

 

Greene was the oldest General

From the Union at Gettysburg

62 years old and fiery

A commander superb

 

Greene was from Rhode Island

But commanded men from New York

On Culp’s Hill that day

They built formidable breastworks

 

For they felt a life and death struggle

Was impending

Upon ramparts of stone and wood

They would be depending

 

By 7 PM

Greene’s troops were left alone

His brigade just 5 regiments

1,350 men prone

 

These men from New York

A thin line they did make

Only one man deep

So easily it could brake

 

Walker’s Stonewall brigade soon spotted

Crossing Rock Creek

At the bottom of Culp’s hill

Stalking in they sneaked

 

Three more of Johnson’s brigades

Across Rock Creek waded

Confederates finally attacking

As the Sun slowly faded

 

Random shots rang out

As Rebels climbed Culp’s Hill

Behind their bulwarks crouched

The Yankees waiting still

 

Then out of the shadows

Rebel ranks shooting steady

New Yorkers ordered

To fire when ready

 

From the zig-zag line of fire

Chain lightning leaped

Rebels blasted rolled

Down the hill so steep

 

Union muskets popped

In the dark sparked

Bouncing flames flickered

Lead balls found their mark

 

The Rebels fell back

Into the woods to regroup

Back again they came

Advancing all their troops

 

Shots rang behind rocks

And behind trees large

But Yanks were dug in good

Rebels must muster another charge

 

This time they attacked

The extreme flank right

Colonel Ireland’s 137th NY

Braced for the fight

 

The Rebels charged hard

Intense fire was exchanged

Whites of their eyes could be seen

They fired at close range

 

Ireland’s men fought fierce

But they could barely hold the line

Then reinforcements arrived

They got there just in time

 

It was Brooklyn’s 14th

And the 6th Wisconsin

They would need to save this battle

Fight bravely once again

 

The 6th Wisconsin ordered

Breastworks they must hold

Led by Lt. Colonel Rufus Dawes

Dependable and bold

 

Brooklyn’s finest 14th

Immediately ordered to attack

Joining Ireland’s fighting men

They must push the Rebels back

 

Ireland’s men were taking

Rebel fire from three sides

They crawled behind some rocks

Where they could partly hide

 

Brooklyn’s 14th arrived

Colors in front streaming

Angry contorted faces

Each one fiercely screaming

 

So, with the 137th NY

They joined the line too

One the Rebels couldn’t brake

They never let them through

 

Strengthening the line left

At the expense of the line right

Could have proved to be a calamity

If they lost Culp’s Hill that night

 

But Culp’s Hill never fell

Thanks to the sheer valor that was seen

By the Boys of Blue

Led by old General Greene

 

Go to Chapter 23

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