Firing the First Shot
Regarding the July issue, I especially liked Dana Shoaf’s editorial about the Wisler house and J.D. Petruzzi’s fine article on the first shot at Gettysburg. Like countless others, I’ve risked life and limb to climb the steep little road berm to pay my respects to the 8th Illinois marker. I couldn’t agree with ACW more about the preservation of the Wisler property, or the restoration of the landscape. When I was there as a National Park Service ranger many years ago, the debate raged then as it does today about preservation versus public use. All we can do is our best to try to preserve what we can for future generations. ACW is certainly doing its part to help raise awareness!
I also enjoyed the story on the 143rd Pa. and Sergeant Benjamin Crippen. The monument depicting Crippen has always been one of my favorites. I have always wondered, however, whether Crippen was shaking his fist or just one particular digit attached to said fist at the Confederates…
Steven J. Wright
Hagood the Younger
In the September 2006 issue’s “Eyewitness to War” department, Kevin M. Levin made an error I’ve frequently seen elsewhere in his introduction to the letter from John Christopher Winsmith. In setting the stage for the letter, he describes the 1st South Carolina during the spring campaign of 1864 as being commanded by “Colonel Johnson Hagood.” Johnson Hagood, who was the first commander of the 1st South Carolina, had left the regiment after his promotion to brigadier general in August 1863, with an effective date of July 21. In the time frame of the letter, May 1864, he and his South Carolina brigade were in active combat against Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s command at Bermuda Hundred.
When Winsmith mentions his commander, “Col. Hagood,” in his letter, he is referring to Johnson Hagood’s younger brother, James Robert Hagood, who by that time had been promoted to command of the 1st South Carolina. It is important to note that his promotion to command was for merit, not because of his relationship to the first commander. His brief biography from the South Carolina volume of the Confederate Military History illustrates that point. When he enlisted in the 1st South Carolina, Colonel Thomas Glover was in command. As the Military History states, James was rapidly promoted to sergeant major, then regimental adjutant, then captain of Company K. Upon the death of Colonel Franklin W. Kirpatrick at Lookout Valley/Wauhatchie Junction in Tennessee on October 28, 1863, James was promoted to colonel—10 days before his 19th birthday, making him the youngest colonel in the Confederacy.
James A. Gabel
Rapid City, S.D.
The Tragic Terrills
It was exciting to see Steven Ossad’s story on the Terrill brothers of Virginia in your September 2006 issue. I have researched the Terrill family for more than 30 years in preparation for a biography of the family, and would like to add the following corrections to Ossad’s story.
Before serving for a year as assistant professor of mathematics at the U.S. Military Academy, Lieutenant William R. Terrill served on garrison duty, and he made one trip to Texas, conducting recruits to that state. The only time he was in Kansas was after he returned from Florida late in 1857. He spent about a month there, then left on a leave of absence.
Ossad mentions a letter written by the Terrill brothers’ mother in 1861, but she died in 1858 from typhoid fever. That powerful letter, which labeled William a traitor for fighting against the Confederacy, was written by his father, William Henry Terrill. The missive was copied by Lieutenant Terrill’s mother-in-law Arietta L. Henry, and without his knowledge sent to Professor Alexander Bache. The professor, in turn, forwarded it to Winfield Scott’s attention.
Thank you to Steve Ossad for his interest in the Terrills, and thanks to America’s Civil War Magazine for publishing his article.
Richard L. Armstrong
Hot Springs, Va.
Burnside and Heth
Kudos to Gerard A. Patterson for exploring the friendship between Confederate Maj. Gen. Henry Heth and Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside in his article “Harry and Burn” in the September 2006 issue. I encountered the poignant bond between the two officers in the research for my article “Old and Valued Friends: Generals Lewis Armistead and Winfield Scott Hancock,” which appeared in The Gettysburg Magazine, and was truly moved by the affection Heth and Burnside felt for each other. History has not been kind to either officer, but Patterson succeeded in revealing their humor, honor and love in his splendid article.
Where Were the Yanks?
The “Slashing Sabers at the Rummel Farm,” by Daniel Murphy that appeared in the January 2005 issue was recently brought to my attention. I enjoyed the article but Murphy did not say how many men Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg had in his two brigades and George A. Custer’s brigade. I would also like to know where Gregg’s 3rd Brigade was and why he did not use it.
Author Daniel Murphy responds: I’m glad you enjoyed the article. The total number of Federals engaged at the Rummel Farm was right at 3,400. Exactly why Colonel John Gregg’s brigade did not play a larger role in the fight is unknown. As it turned out, they were held mostly in reserve, and it’s likely that Federal commander Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg saw the brutal fighting seesawing back and forth before him and felt that a strong reserve was necessary. Had Colonel Gregg’s brigade played a bolder role, the day might well have ended in a decisive victory for the Federals instead of a bloody draw.
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