On July 4, 1863 as the two exhausted sides starred warily at each other, some took the time to take
stock in the battle. Captain J. J. Young, quartermaster Twenty-sixth North Carolina Infantry, wrote to North Carolina Governor
Zebulon Vance with a concrete assessment of the Battle of Gettysburg as it impacted the sons of their home state.
Near Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863.
My Dear Governor:
I will trespass a few minutes upon your indulgence to communicate the sad fate that has befallen the old Twenty-sixth. The
heaviest conflict of the war has taken place in this vicinity. It commenced July 1, and raged furiously until late last night.
Heth's division, of A. P. Hill's corps, opened the ball, and Pettigrew's brigade was the advance. We went in with over 800 men
in the regiment. There came out but 216, all told, unhurt. Yesterday they were again engaged, and now have only about 80 men for
duty. To give you an idea of the frightful loss in officers: Heth being wounded, Pettigrew commands the division and Major [J.]
Jones our brigade. Eleven men were shot down the first day with our colors; yesterday they were lost. Poor Colonel Burgwyn, jr.,
was shot through both lungs, and died shortly afterward. His loss is great, for he had but few equals of his age. Captain McCreery,
of General Pettigrew's staff, was shot through the heart and instantly killed' with them Lieutenant-Colonel Lane through
the neck, jaw, and mouth, I fear mortally; Adjutant [James B.] Jordan in the hip, severely; Captain [J. T.] Adams, shoulder,
seriously; Stokes McRae's thigh broken; Captain [William] Wilson was killed; Lieutenants [John W.] Richardson and [J. B.] Holloway
have died of their wounds. It is thought Lieutenant [M.] McLeod and Captain [N. G.] Bradford will die. Nearly all the rest of the
officers were slightly wounded. [I. A.] Jarratt I had forgotten to mention-in the face and hand. Yesterday, Captain [S. P.] Wagg
was shot through by grape and instantly killed; Lieutenant [G.] Broughton in the head, and instantly killed, [Alexander] Saunders
was wounded and [J. R.] Emerson left on the field for dead. Captain [H. C.] Albright is the only captain left in the regiment
unhurt, and commands the regiment. Lieutenants [J. A.] Lowe, [M. B.] Blair, [T. J.] Cureton, and [C. M.] Sudderth are all of
the subalterns. Colonel Faribault, of the Forty-seventh, is severely wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel [J. A.] Graves and Major [A. D.]
Crudup supposed killed. Colonel Marshall and Major [J. Q.] Richardson, of the Fifty-second, supposed to be killed. Lieutenant-Colonel
Parks dangerously wounded; Colonel Leventhorpe badly wounded; Major Ross killed. Our whole division numbers but only 1,500 or 1,600
effective men, as officially reported, but, of course, a good many will still come in. The division at the beginning numbered about
8,000 effective men. I hear our army is generally badly cut up. We will fall back about 5 miles, to draw the enemy, if possible,
from his impregnable position. It was a second Fredericksburg affair, only the wrong way. We had to charge over a mile a stone wall
in an elevated position. I learn the loss of the enemy is terrible. We have taken 10,000 or 15,000 prisoners in all. Yesterday, in
falling back, we had to leave the wounded; hence the uncertainty of a good many being killed late yesterday evening. I must close.
J. J. Young,
Captain, and Assistant Quartermaster.
His Excellency Gov. Zebulon B. Vance.
As the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia abandoned their former lines and again moved south, they were forced to leave behind their
dead and seriously wounded. Union soldiers were then left with the task of burial. With thousands of bodies, there was little time for
respectful niceties, especially since the Northerners would soon be in pursuit of their Southern foes. Often, soldiers of either side
would dig shallow trenches and use a bent bayonet to drag bloated corpses to their temporary graves.
In the picture above, resting under a blanket of fallen leaves, the casual passerby barely notices the slight indentation marking the
remains of one of these trenches on the battlefield. The bodies long since removed, weather and time gradually erode the last vestiges
of the one time resting place of men these American dead.