Henry Heth

Henry Heth

THE FIRST DAY AT GETTYSBURG Tribute to Brave General Harry Heth who Opened the Great Battle. A description by an eye witness. Interesting Observations of Jaquelin Marshall Meredith, Chaplain of Heth's Division--His Version of the "Cause of Failure."

Discussion by GDG Members

Jeff Hubbard says:

Gen. Heth(Heth's Division, A. P. Hill's III Corp, Army of Northern Virginia, CSA) has seemed to adopted two first names in my studies of Gettysburg and the Civil War. Some articles state "Harry Heth" to be his name. Many notes upon this very server report to that effect. They even claim that R. E. Lee himself referred to his relative as "Harry."(Subject: REL's Use of Nicknames) In the movie "Gettysburg" from Turner(1993), Gen. John F. Reynolds clearly states to Brig. Gen. John Buford, "...Now let's go surprise Harry Heth." Yet...other sources say that "Henry" is his first name. In the book "The Civil War Years: a day-by-day chronicle of the life of a nation" (p. 300) it says qoute: "...be made up of troops from the divisions of Henry Heth..." Also in a computerized strategy game called "Battleground: Gettysburg", the leader database refers to Heth as "Henry." In the book "The Killing Ground: Wilderness to Cold Harbor" (The Civil War from Time-Life on p. 68), it states, "...a division led by Maj. Gen Henry Heth." (I know it does not relate to Gettysburg, but in the text he is connected to that great battle)

Some collections defer the conflict altogether. In James Lognstreet's and J.E.B. Stuart's autobiography and biography, respectively, they make no reference to Heth's first name. In "The Battle of Gettysburg" by Col. William C. Oates, he NEITHER discloses Heth's ever-evading first. Also, Lt. Haskell (The Battle of Gettysburg) decided to leave him out of his story entirely.(That is understandable due to the fact Haskell WAS a Federal officer) I am almost at wit's end with this great puzzle. With each day, I grow more and more curious and determined to solve this mystery of mine. If anyone has an answer, or reference(as I enjoy reading about the battle) or just an interest, please reply. Thank you dearly.

Jeff Hubbard

"James F. Epperson" says:

"Harry" is to "Henry" as "Jim" is to "James"

MASpruill@aol.com says:

Ezra Warner's boook Geerals in Grey reports Heth's full name as Henry Heth; and so does the Offical Records Vol XXVII, Part II.


clemenst@isx.hjc.cc.md.us (Tom Clemens) says:

I am taking the liberty of borrowing my friend's e-mail to respond to this question. Please see _The Memoirs of Henry Heth_, edited by Janes L. Morrison. (By the way, "Harry" was a bit quirky. About Ambrose Burnside he wrote: "He was the only man I ever loved." Then again, if I were a Confederate general, I probably would have loved Ambrose Burnside, too!

I remain, as always, Your humble and obedient servant,
Mark A. Snell
Director, The George Tyler Moore
Center for the Study of the Civil War

William_Howard@prodigy.com (MR WILLIAM R HOWARD JR) says:

I'm glad Jack Kelly pointed out that 'Harry' for 'Henry' did indeed occur during Shakespeare's time, as shown perhaps most famously by the title character from Henry V referring to himself as 'Harry', but the interchangeable use of these names dates further back to Norman times, with Harry considered the English version and Henry the Norman one. Harry is therefore not strictly a nickname for Henry (in the sense that Billy is a nickname for William), but another linguistic form of the same name. The fact that Prince Charles chose to name his son Harry, quite unheard of in that circle for a long time, indicates that the native English name might be back in vogue.

But I suppose that's quite enough on this topic.

William Howard

lawrence@tyrell.net (Dennis Lawrence) says:

Since William Howard has provided the bridge, I'll walk across it. In the most famous reference to himself as Harry, Henry V rallies his men for the attack against the French in the below "St. Cripin's Day" speech. Change a few names in the litany of heroes to Armisted, Barksdale, Pettigrew, etc., and Harry's prediction of future generations revering these warriors fits quite nicely what we do here.

"He that lives out this day and sees old age,
Will yearly on this vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, "Tomorrow is Saint Crispian (Day),"...
Then shall our names, familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king, Bedford and Exter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Glouchester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story should the goodman teach his son;
And Crispian, St. Crispian shall ne'er go by
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he who to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; ...
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhood cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispin's day."
Henry V; Act IV, Scene iii, 51-66