When you walk over the battlegrounds in Gettysburg, you're held by the unspoiled
beauty of the wide rolling landscape, the gently undulating fields, and the compelling majesty of the monuments and statues
intended to honor eternally the brave who gave so much to their causes. Within the enormity of this
place and all of the many compiled statistics and numbers are sometimes lost the individual lives of
each soldier who risked everything to be here. This monument depicting a brief moment during the July 3rd
1863 charge honors the many men from North Carolina who sacrificed everything on these
now hallowed grounds. Despite previously taking severe punishment two days earlier, during the Pickett
/ Pettigrew Charge, 15 North Carolina regiments participated in the valorous but tragic assault.
Somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 men charged Cemetery Hill on this day. Only about half of those men
returned to their lines having escaped wounds or death. Of the estimated 23,000 to 28,000 Confederate
casualties for this colossal three day battle, one in four was from the great state of North Carolina
As the wave of Pickett's Charge
crested just feet from The Angle, the men from North Carolina advanced to the ground noted by the small marker just to the left of
the Union cannon barrel (pictured). One of those soldiers, Third Lieutenant William B. Taylor, left this account of the devastation.
"Our company went into the fight on the third day with 30 men rank and file...Our company came out with 8 men
and myself." Looking at the fence line in the distance (just to the right of the barrel) you can see
how the gently undulating terrain may have permitted an occasional respite from the watchful eyes of
the waiting Federals. The oft spoken of courage shown by these men was not just that which was
necessary to emerge from the protection of the woods in the distance and advance towards this
position. The North Carolinians, along with their comrades, also needed to return to the shelter of
their lines, withstanding the same fire they braved as they approached.
In a different view to the right, you can again see
the location reached by the men of the 26th North Carolina during the Pickett / Pettigrew Charge. Words
prove inadequate to describe the courage needed to walk from the distant tree line into the face of thousands
of Union guns just behind the stone row in the foreground. Some Union soldiers felt similarly and held their
fire as a few Confederates neared the wall. One man in gray came forward still carrying the 26th's flag.
Holding their fire out of respect for their bravery, one man in blue instead extended a hand saying, "Come over
to this side of the Lord." Those left standing were then taken prisoner.
Confederate Major General Isaac Trimble, who would lose a leg in this charge, said of his men and
the Union line on Cemetery Hill, "If the troops I had the honor to
command today for the first time cannot take that position, all hell cannot take it."
Click here for another view of the
monument on Seminary Ridge honoring the bravery of the men from North Carolina.