Chapter 10

Written by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 10 – This poem, Iron Brigade at Gettysburg, focuses on the actions of the Iron Brigade and Confederates during  the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1st 1863. The regiments of the Iron Brigade dealt with in this chapter are the 24th Michigan, 19th Indiana, 2nd and 7th Wisconsin. The actions of the 6th Wisconsin are dealt with in Chapter 11. For the Confederates, this chapter covers the actions of General Jame’s Archer’s Brigade as well as the 26th North Carolina Regiment of General James Pettigrew’s Brigade. For the most part, the 1st day of battle at Gettysburg was won by the Confederates. Even though the Iron Brigade (Black Hats) was made up of the toughest Union soldiers, they were totally overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of tenacious Confederates on the battlefield that day. The 6th Wisconsin, one of the Iron Brigade Regiments did however achieve a victory within this overall loss (Ch 11). By the end of the first day of battle, all the Union troops were forced to retreat. The Iron Brigade fought a heroic delaying action that allowed for the Union to withdrawl to two hills south of town. So, although they lost the first day of battle, they did manage to secure the high ground that allowed the Union to have the tactical advantage for the remainder of the battle.

civil_war_print_iron_brigade_at_brawner_farm Iron Brigade Black Hats

Chapter 10 – Iron Brigade at Gettysburg – July 1st, 1863

 

Splashing across the stream

The bottom of Willoughby’s Run

James Archer’s Brigade moved forward

Under the mid-morning sun

 

Out of the stream predators

From Alabama and Tennessee

Looking to decimate and defeat

The Union Cavalry

 

But the Iron Brigade arrived

The Mid Westerners were here

To greet them boldy

Made many Rebels swear

 

19th Indiana

24th Michigan

2nd and 7th Wisconsin

Let the battle begin!

 

At the edge of Herbst Woods

Arrived Sergeant Peck

Holding Michigan’s 24th colors

Shot right in the neck

 

Confederate bullets ripping

Zipping zapping galore

Colors quickly picked up

By Corporal Charles Bellore

 

24th pressed forward

With loaded raging guns

Archer’s men withdrew

Back to Willoughby’s Run

 

The 13th Alabama

Now getting overlapped

Forced back to Herr’s Ridge

Where they were now trapped

 

For Colonel Henry Morrow

Swept around towards the rear

Leading the Michigan 24th

Rebels were in panic and fear

 

200 Confederates

Who failed to early run

Were captured quickly

The battle for them done

 

Archer himself

A prisoner now

Taken to General Abner Doubleday

For a little pow wow

 

“Good morning Archer

Good to see you”

Prewar acquaintances

One Gray now one Blue

 

“I see you had

To give up the fight

Well, you tangled with the Iron Brigade

Now you’ve felt their might”

 

Back at the battlefield

It was already high noon

Even though lull in the air

Couldn’t celebrate too soon

 

For the Confederates

Were coming with blazing guns

Enormous Army arriving

Under the blistering sun

 

Iron Brigade Commander

Brought his men back

General Solomon Meredith

Sensed an upcoming attack

 

Back from Willoughby’s Run

A compact line formed

Inside Herbst Woods

Bracing for the Rebel swarm

 

24th Michigan in the middle

7th Wisconsin right

19th Indiana left

They prepared for the fight

 

2nd Wisconsin had suffered

The heaviest casualties high

Moved back to the rear

To form a 2nd line nigh

 

Rebels raging returned

Under General Pettigrew

Back to Herr’s Ridge

Tenacious Tar Heel crew

 

Heading straight

South of the Cash Town Road (Chambersburg Pike now U.S. 30)

Into Herbst woods

The battle then explode

 

The 26th North Carolina

Entered the fray

Largest Confederate Regiment

843 soldiers Gray

 

Led by the Boy Colonel

Only 21 years old

Henry King Burgwyn

The battle did unfold

 

Before they reached the stream

At Willoughby’s run

Already five color guards dead

Sacrificed under the sun

 

Five more Flag Bearers

Were quickly killed

Stamper, Kelly, Thomas, Vinson, Marley

Still over the banks rebels spilled

 

But in the Herbst woods

Camouflaged in the shade

Were mighty Black Hats

The Union’s Iron Brigade

 

The Confederates approached

Totally possessed

Screaming that Rebel yell

Forward they pressed

 

Colonel Morrow told the 24th

To hold their shots

Until just 40 yards away

Rifles fired lead hot

 

A devastating volley

Into the Tar Heels blast

But Iron Brigade still overwhelmed

Rebel numbers too vast

 

The Iron Brigade fell back

24th Colors still carried by Bellore

Shot right in the head

Wolverines lost one brave more

 

Deep in the woods now

Standing toe to toe

Two proud regiments

Stared into the eyes of their foe

 

The Boy Colonel out in front

Bravery always war tests

Grabbed the Rebel Colors himself

Shot right in the chest

 

Private Frank Honeycutt

Then yelled the Rebel Yell

Picked up the flag swirling

Shot dead he too fell

 

Rebel Lieutenant Colonel Lane

Not at all done yet

Took over command

“Let’s give them our bayonets!”

 

But the Colors on the ground

Lay their weeping

Nobody holding the Colors

Wanting safekeeping

 

Then Rebel Lieutenant Blair said

“No man can hold those colors alive”

Any one of us touches it

Just won’t survive”

 

Lane concurred but yelled

“North Carolinians follow me”

Picked up the flag

They charged with fury

 

Totally overwhelmed

24th Michigan pulled back

To a third line of defense

Rebels continued to attack

 

On the new line

24th’s colors were held

By Private August Earnest

Until shot and filled with lead

 

Colonel Morrow himself

The Colors now held

Wolverines dying fast

So many were felled

 

The left flank compromised

They had to pull back

To safety of Seminary Ridge

They quickly back tracked

 

Surging still forward

North Carolina’s 26th did trek

Lane still carrying the Colors

Until shot right in the neck

 

Union Colonel Henry Morrow

Up the slopes fled

Carrying his regiment’s flag

Until shot right in the head

 

Behind a barricade of rails

Captain Edwards now in command

The 24th Michigan

Still bravely made their stand

 

Tar Heels climbing fast

They charged up the hill

Yanks held their fire

Getting ready for the kill

 

The Union line then unleashed

A devastating attack

Balls and fragments whirled

Driving the Rebels back

 

Once again Rebels charged

Driven bloody back again

By the 24th Wolverines

Iron Men from Michigan

 

But their numbers were too many

Even for the Hats of Black

Time now for them was through

Now time to pull back

 

So, they headed southeast

Through Gettysburg’s streets

Fought a great delaying action

While Union troops retreat

 

Back south beyond the town

They found two solid hills

Culp’s and Cemetery

Where they all dug in for the kill

 

Go to Chapter 11

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