2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Friday July 3, 1863
A Confederate Soldier's Last Letter
"...my greatest regret in dying"

The Monument to the 11th Mississippi
Just prior to the cresting of the wave of Confederate charge on July 3, 1863, the men of the 11th Mississippi surged forward to the stone wall along Cemetery Ridge. After weathering the fire from hundreds of muskets in their front, only 53 of the 393 men of the 11th Mississippi survived the battle unscathed. According to the 11th Mississippi marker along the wall, CSA Brigadier General Joseph R. Davis reported, "The regiment was here 'subjected to a most galling fire of musketry and artillery that so reduced the already thinned ranks that any further effort to carry the position was hopeless, and there was nothing left but to retire.' "

During one of her battlefield walks, National Park Ranger Terry Latschar discussed an encounter a doctor had with a soldier of the 11th during the aftermath of the charge. She relayed that Confederate surgeon Dr. Holt worked in a field hospital behind Seminary Ridge. He spoke of the unforgettable courage of a wounded soldier stating, "His left arm and a third of his torso had been torn away and he dictated a farewell letter to his mother." It read simply,

"This is the last you may ever hear from me.
I have time to tell you that I died like a man.
Bear my loss as best you can.
Remember that I am true to my country
and my greatest regret at dying is that she is still not free
and that you and your sisters are robbed of my youth.
I hope this will reach you
and you must not regret that my body cannot be obtained.
It is a mere matter of form anyhow.
This letter is stained with my blood."