2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Wednesday, July 1, 1863
Union First Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson

During the afternoon of July 1, as Confederate Brigadier General John B. Gordon's men surged over this small knoll at the far right of the existing Union line, they forced the Union's 11th Corps to retreat back through the town. Prior to their reverses however, the 4th US artillery, Battery G strove to help Major General Oliver Otis Howard's men secure this hill. Of the action the 4th US would encounter this day, the battery's 2nd Lieutenant C. F. Merkle would say, "I was assigned to a position by First Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson with my section about 1 mile or three-quarters northwest of the poor-house. I engaged one battery of the enemy for a few moments with solid shot, and then directed my attention to the rebel infantry as they were advancing in mass upon us. I used shell and spherical case shot at first, and, as the line of the enemy came closer, and I ran out of shot, shell, and case shot, I used canister; the enemy was then within canister range." [5]

Brigadier General Henry Hunt, the Union Army's Chief of Artillery, described the action with which the cannoneers contended. "About 11 a.m. Wilkeson's battery (G, Fourth United States, four 12-pounders) came up, and reported to General Barlow, who posted it close to the enemy's line of infantry, with which it immediately became engaged, sustaining at the same time the fire of two of his batteries. In the commencement of this unequal contest, Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson (Fourth U. S. Artillery), commanding the battery, a young officer of great gallantry, fell, mortally wounded, and was carried from the field."

A National Park Service Interpretive Marker near this site expands upon the death of the young lieutenant as he performed his duties.

"Lt. Bayard Wilkeson commands Battery G, 4th US Artillery, here on Barlow Knoll on the afternoon of July 1. When the Confederates routed the Union infantry, the cannoneers were forced to withdraw. Wilkeson, age 19, was mortally wounded here when a cannonball nearly severed his leg. Carried to a nearby almshouse, he amputated the leg with a pocket knife. As his dying act, he gave his last canteen of water to a dying comrade."

Sam Wilkeson Jr., a reporter for the New York Times, who was on the battlefield July 2nd and 3rd, would soon learn with great sorrow of the death of his young son. He would write for his paper, "The ground about me is covered thick with rebel dead, mingled with our own. Thousands of prisoners have been sent to the rear, and yet the conflict still continues.... It is near sunset.... The final results of the action I hope to be able to give you at a later hour.

Who can write the history of a battle whose eyes are immovably fastened upon a central figure of transcendingly absorbing interest -- the dead body of an oldest born, crushed by a shell in a position where a battery should never have been sent, and abandoned to death in a building where surgeons dared not to stay?...

My pen is heavy. Oh, you dead, who at Gettysburgh have baptised with your blood the second birth of Freedom in America, how you are to be envied! I rise from a grave whose wet clay I have passionately kissed, and I look up and see Christ spanning this battle-field with his feet and reaching fraternal and lovingly up to heaven. His right hand opens the gates of Paradise -- with his left he beckons to these mutilated, bloody, swollen forms." July 3 & 4, 1863, New York Times.