Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Road to the Death Strewn Slope: Part Eight

The eighth of a nine-part series about the journey of Benjamin Franklin Heald and Llewellyn Heald to Gettysburg with the Twentieth Maine Regiment, June 29-July 3, 1863.

My great-great uncle, Benjamin Franklin Heald, survived Gettysburg. The wound to his hand was apparently superficial. He was promoted to corporal on November 1, 1863. In May, 1864, fighting with the Twentieth Maine at Laurel Hill near Spotsylvania Courthouse, he was wounded by a gunshot to the left thigh. He died of sepsis eight days later in a Fredericksburg hospital at the age of twenty-one. It is not known whether any of his brothers received word in time to travel from up north to be with him. In the historical novel I’m writing in my head, Lew was at his bedside. Ironically, when Frank was shot at Spotsylvania, Lew was in a hospital in Washington, D.C, suffering from “debility”—the effects of his Gettysburg wound. Frank is buried on Sumner Hill alongside his parents and his brother James. The epitaph on his gravestone reads: “Sleep on brave Soldier! A life sacrificed but a Country saved.” Photo: The Heald homestead on Sumner Hill.

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