Friday, November 24, 2017

Gettysburg, The Last Moments of Frank Gould - Part 3

This post is part 3 of 4 parts.  If you have not read the other parts you can access them at the links below.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 4, the conclusion, here.

Part 3.

Company K of the 13th Mass was hit pretty hard at Gettysburg on Oak Ridge July 1, 1863.

Sgt. Austin Stearns of Company K wrote:

“The skirmishers in our front commenced a brisk fire when we were ordered to advance into a piece of woods; this we did, and the firing became general in our front.

"In advancing up, being near the turn in the line, the farther we advanced the greater would be the gap between the two regiments until there was quite a space, the other regiment partially facing the other way. On our left but a little ways off was a little hill, or knoll; this was occupied by the rebels, [who] seeing our exposed position fired directly down our line. This was a most fatal fire for us. Many of our brave boys fell at this time; we being so briskly engaged with those in front we had not noticed them till we received their fire. My place being near the right of the company, I turned to see what had been the effect on old K. The first thing I saw was Sergeant Wheeler laying on the ground but a short distance away. There being so much noise and din, I could not tell by looking at him how bad he was hurt, for I could hear no sound. I went up and spoke to him, but received no answer. I saw that he was shot through the head, the bullet striking him in the left temple, and the blood and brains were oozeing out.”

William R. Warner of Company K, was promoted 2nd Lieutenant the night before the engagement, and attached to Company G. Regarding the battle July 1, he recorded the following in his journal:

“Passing through the woods, we attempted to form a line at a stone wall – possibly we were halted there a few moments to allow stragglers to get up – then across an open field to another piece of woods, and hardly before we could realize it we were in the midst of a battle.

"I had thought very little about it, I mean in the matter of dwelling upon it, & dreading it, and when once engaged, had no time to think. My first impulse, was to pick up gun & some cartridges, and I loaded & fired several times. Sergeant Wheeler of Co. K. was almost the first man I saw struck. - He fell over backwards, a ball having ploughed his forehead – About the same moment, six or seven of the tallest men of Co. K, on the right were wounded, Harvey Ross, H. Cutter, John Flye, M. O. Laughlin, Melville Walker.”

Melvin Walker wrote:

“My position in the ranks was on the right of my Company K, which was on the left of the regiment.  Of the first eight men four were mortally and three severely wounded.  I was so fortunate as to be carried off the field by two comrades of the Twelfth Massachusetts, which regiment had just been relieved and was moving to the rear.”

Melvin Walker, Pictured right.

Doubtless, Frank Gould, was one of these wounded men and he was probably carried to the Christ Church Hospital, on Chambersburg Street where Austin Stearns found him the next morning.

It is stated that Frank was wounded in the back and hip, which is important to this story, and that he died July 14; the date also being important to this story.

I duly noted the ambiguity of Frank’s final resting place, when I built the ‘Gettysburg Casualties’ page of my website. The tale would have ended there if I had not stumbled upon a reference to the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County.

To continue with my research of the 13th Mass Vols after the battle, I had to consider that their division and brigade were nearly destroyed in the first day’s fight at Gettysburg.

The 13th Massachusetts Volunteers took 260 men into the conflict on July 1st 1863, and reported only 79 men and 15 officers present the next morning. Primary source material in the regiment was getting scarce. So, going forward with my web history, following the battle, I decided to look to other regiments of their brigade, to fill out the story. For instance, Chaplain F. D. Ward of the 104th NY wrote home to a New York Newspaper, in a letter dated August 12:

“The 950 who passed through Washington sixteen months ago, are reduced to less than 90 !  And where are the absent ones ?  At Gettysburg 25 officers and privates were killed;  86 wounded;  94 prisoners and missing.  Total, 205.  At Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg this “cruel war” found victims from among us.  A letter just in from Capt. Geo. Starr, of your city, now a prisoner at Libby Prison, Richmond, informs us that nine of the 104th are confined there — the prospect of an exchange at present not being favorable.

“The regiment is at present in command of Col. Prey, Captain and Acting Adjutant Van Dresser, Lieuts. McConnell, Trembley and Richardson, who, with Quartermaster Colt and Dr. Rugg and the Chaplain, constitute the entire field, staff and line force.  Nor is this an isolate case.  The 16th Maine and 13th Massachusetts, in our brigade, are in no better condition.“

Another source I took for a reference was a letter written by Captain E. D. Roath of the 107th PA Vols.

Roath’s long letter to the “Weekly Mariettian” newspaper, touched on a variety of subjects, but of particular significance to this story, is this passage regarding the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county.

“The 104th N.Y. Volunteers is attached to our brigade; they received their initiative with us at Cedar Mountain ; they have participated with us at Rappahannock, Thoroughfare Gap, Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg; as soon as they crossed the Pennsylvania line, up went cheer after cheer for the Old Keystone, with a determination that the rebels must be driven from its soil;  and their conduct on the 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th days of July, in battle, confirmed their determination; the regiment suffered;  their wounded were placed in a hospital about four miles from the town ;  they were in want of the necessaries of life and comfort; fortunately that hospital and the wants of the suffering was suppled by the Patriot Daughters.  When the wounded and sick were informed that these comforts had been furnished by the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, tears of gratitude could be seen standing in the eyes of these bronzed veterans. Three cheers were given of God bless the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, for their act of kindness and help.  Dr. Ward, their Chaplain, then offered up a prayer, in which he kindly remembered the Daughters;  asking God’s blessing for them, and for Him to crown their efforts in the good work they have undertaken for the comforts of the soldier, and as a reward for their services in the righteous cause of humanity, they might enjoy a blessed immortality hereafter.  I felt that I was from Lancaster county, and such heart-felt expressions from strangers in praise of the ladies of my county, made me feel doubly proud.  The daughters’ work is developing itself; many suffering soldiers are made comfortable and buoyant with the oil and food of kindness sent by those ministering angels among them.  It is the soldier that can duly appreciate their works — and may they never be found wanting.”

This passage was just one short part of Capt. Roath’s letter. My immediate concern in positing the lengthy letter on my website, was to find pictures to go with it. The Patriot Daughters seemed like an interesting subject to learn more about, — and hopefully I could find a picture or two related to them to accompany the letter.

My interest was only very general at this point. I had no idea that looking into the Patriot Daughters would lead me back to Christ Church Hospital, and what I think is a detailed description of the last moments of Frank Gould and George Sprague, both of Company K; 13th Massachusetts Volunteers.

To be concluded tomorrow.

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