Monday, July 1, 2013

The Road to the Death Strewn Slope: Part Four

The fourth of a nine-part series about the journey of Benjamin Franklin Heald and Llewellyn Heald to Gettysburg with the Twentieth Maine Regiment, June 29-July2, 1863.

Frank’s brother James had died eight months before at a hospital in Annapolis. A member of the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Regiment, he had been taken prisoner of war at Savage Station and was held in a Richmond prison. As the regiment was ordered back into line at sunset on July 1, Frank knew that a battle was not far off. He may again have thought of his older brother, the closest of his eleven siblings. But now, he took solace in the nearness of his cousin Lew as they marched alongside into the moonlit evening. Rumors drifted through the corps that their beloved General McClellan was back in command and cheering broke out in the ranks. Later, another rumor arose that General George Washington had been seen riding on a white horse among the hills of Gettysburg. Years hence, reflecting on that surreal evening, Joshua Chamberlain would write: “I half believed it myself—so did the powers of the other world draw nigh!”*Thomas A. Desjardin “Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine” pg. 30.

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