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Covered with Glory

The 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg

Rod Gragg

Publication Year: 2010

Covered with Glory tells the story of the 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg, which joined James J. Pettigrew’s brigade at Gettysburg as reinforcement for Henry Heth’s division. As Lee ordered Confederate attack, the 26th was positioned at the well defended Herbst Woods, where it was charged with the task of taking on the Union’s Iron Brigade—one of the most experienced, hard-nosed combat groups in the Army of the Potomac. Fighting through deadly fire from two Iron Brigade regiments, the 26th advanced with great precision against the Union line, forcing the northerners back and achieving the strategic advantage of breaking the line; but the cost was great, as approximately 3/4s of the regiment’s troops were killed or wounded on the first day. The 26th did, however, inflict its own damage, causing two Iron Brigade regiments comparable losses. Despite heavy casualties, the regiment responded to play a part in the events two days later at Cemetery Ridge, in the culminating attack against the Union line. On that day, the surviving men of the 26th displayed the same precision they had two days earlier. In the end, the Union line did not break, but having fought valiantly while suffering the highest casualty rate of any unit in the three days, the group from North Carolina left its mark on the battlefield at Gettysburg. The 26th went on to fight with distinction at other battles, including the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, and was one of the last Confederate units to surrender at Appomattox.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Further Reading, Dedication, Quote

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-xiv

Even in the late 1950s, the fireplace was the only source of heat in my grandparents’ farmhouse parlor. Upstairs there was no heat—and winter nights could be icy cold in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Layers of quilts on the upstairs beds...

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INTRODUCTION: “I WAS ONCE A SOLDIER”

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pp. xv-xvi

He still looked strong and robust, but he was an old man now. His dark, chest-length beard was flecked with gray and his face bore the wrinkles of almost seven decades. Tomorrow would be his sixty-eighth birthday. Dressed in a suit of gray, he...

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1. GOOD, HONEST AMERICAN STOCK

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pp. 1-16

Up ahead, death awaited some of them. Lieutenant Colonel John Randolph Lane understood that grim fact, but at the moment he was distracted by a wave of nausea. After a bone-wearying two-week march from Virginia to Pennsylvania, his regiment and the rest of General Robert E. Lee’s army were finally about...

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2. INTO THE JAWS OF CERTAIN DEATH

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pp. 17-36

Bonfires lit the night sky to signal the alarm: the Yankees were coming. Commanded by Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, approximately 10,000 Federal troops had been ferried from their staging area on the Outer Banks and across Pamlico Sound to the North Carolina mainland...

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3. WE ARE ON OUR WAY

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pp. 37-51

It was a gorgeous day for a parade. Julius Lineback could look up into the Virginia sky that Monday afternoon, June 15, 1863, and see nothing but cloudless blue expanse. Virginia was gripped by a summer heat wave, and it was unusually hot, but skies were cheerfully...

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4. “MAY THE GOOD LORD TAKE CARE OF THE PORE SOLDIERS”

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pp. 52-72

Major John Thomas Jones understood his enemy. The troops of the 26th North Carolina who were now kicking up the Virginia dust on the route of march had faced Northern troops before. But most were farm boys-turnedsoldiers who could not be expected to fully comprehend the...

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5. “SUMMER IS ENDED”

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pp. 73-100

Assembled beneath the Pennsylvania sky, the soldiers of the 26th North Carolina turned their faces toward the regimental chaplain as he delivered a Sunday sermon in the field. It was their second day at the bivouac near Fayette - ville, and those who had come to worship...

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6. “LIKE WHEAT BEFORE THE SICKLE”

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pp. 101-116

Private Eli Setser was the champion marbles shooter of Company F. His second cousin and fellow soldier, Thomas W. Setser, claimed Eli could “beet enybody in camp a playing marvils.” Eli may have pondered those campfire games—shooting marbles amid a circle of soldiers...

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7. COVERED WITH GLORY

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pp. 117-136

Colonel Burgwyn could see the trouble ahead. The enemy’s last volley had dropped men all along his front line, but the 26th had closed ranks and kept going. Now, however, as they emerged from the oat field and approached Willoughby Run, the men faced a swath of creekside underbrush that included dense brambles with quarter-inch thorns...

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8. “THE SICKENING HORRORS OF WAR”

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pp. 137-152

Private William Cheek headed back down McPherson’s Ridge, trying to shake off the effects of a Federal artillery shell that had exploded nearby. The round had landed near the edge of the woods moments after the Yankee line had broken. The concussion had flattened Cheek and had temporarily clouded his vision. Dazed, he had joined other...

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9. “ALL WERE WILLING TO DIE”

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pp. 153-174

Captain Thomas Cureton stood in the edge of the sprawling field and studied the distant outline of Cemetery Ridge. To do so, he had to look toward the early morning sun, which was rising through a patchy haze of ground fog and campfire smoke...

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10. “TERRIBLE AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS”

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pp. 175-201

Mounted on horseback, Colonel James Keith Marshall sat in front of his brigade and waited for the order to advance. At age twenty-four, “Jimmy” Marshall was the youngest front-line brigade commander in the assault force. Handsome, dark-headed and youthful-looking, he was a day away from a memorable anniversary...

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11. “UNCONQUERED IN SPIRIT”

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pp. 202-220

Carpeted with bodies, the Emmitsburg Road was a bloody mess. As the troops on the Confederate left fell back under the storm of Federal fire, many halted in the lane and lay on their bellies among the fallen. “The roar of the artillery continued,” one of Pettigrew’s men would...

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EPILOGUE: “STEADFAST TO THE LAST”

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pp. 221-245

Gettysburg would prove to be the high-water mark of the Confederacy. Two more years of brutal warfare would follow, but never again would Southerners come so close to achieving nationhood. The costliest battle of the war with 51,112 casualties, Gettysburg would afflict...

Images

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p. 246-246

NOTES

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pp. 246-278

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 279-293

INDEX

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pp. 294-304


E-ISBN-13: 9781469604312
E-ISBN-10: 1469604310
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807871409
Print-ISBN-10: 0807871400

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010