Haskell’s Gettysburg

Union Major Frank Haskell served with the big name generals on the hottest part of the field during Pickett’s Charge. A few months later, he wrote this epic, vivid, picturesque description of the full battle for Gettysburg to his brother.  It’s a long read but well worth your time – beautifully written and full of detail.

The outpost skirmish that I have mentioned, soon subsided. I suppose it was the natural escape of the wrath which the men had, during the night, hoarded up against each other, and which, as soon as they could see in the morning, they could no longer contain, but must let it off through their musket barrels, at their adversaries. At the commencement of the war such firing would have awaked the whole army and roused it to its feet and to arms; not so now. The men upon the crest lay snoring in their blankets, even though some of the enemy’s bullet dropped among them, as if bullets were as harmless as the drops of dew around them. As the sun arose to-day, the clouds became broken, and we had once more glimpses of sky, and fits of sunshine—a rarity, to cheer us. From the crest, save to the right of the Second Corps, no enemy, not even his outposts could be discovered, along all the position where he so thronged upon the Third Corps yesterday. All was silent there—the wounded horses were limping about the field; the ravages of the conflict were still fearfully visible—the scattered arms and the ground thickly dotted with the dead—but no hostile foe.

Haskell’s Account of the Battle of Gettysburg. Paras. 1-25. 1909-14. American Historical Documents, 1000-1904. The Harvard Classics.

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