19th Maine

19th Maine

Ddavis@VAX2.Winona.MSUS.EDU (Dick Davis) says:

Greetings Richard Rollins,

You said that the 19th Maine "...performed at least as well as the Minnesotans, and did so at the same time and a few hundred yards to their right..."

Now, please understand that I am not disputing your claim, as I don't have the detailed knowledge of just what the 19th did. On the other hand, do we agree that 262 Minnesotans fixed bayonets and charged into Wilcox's brigade of 1,600 Alabamans supported by advanced artillery? That only 150 of them reached the Confederate line? That when the shooting stopped only 47 of them were left standing? That not a single man was "missing" after the battle? (All of this comes from Richard Moe's "The Last Full Measure.")

Given these bloody facts and the attitude of Hancock and others about the importance of what the First Minnesota did, I am amazed to learn that another regiment "performed at least as well" on that day (and it wasn't the 20th Maine!).

Can you give the highlights of the 19th's action and the titles and authors from which I can read the whole story? With my limited knowledge of the battle, I thought the 1st Minnesota and the 20th Maine were the heroes on the federal left. I would love to learn more about the 19th.


Dick Davis

rank@thirdwave.net (Richard Rollins) says:

See John Day Smith, _The History of the Nineteenth Regiment of Maine Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865 (Minneapolis: The Great Western Printing Co., 1909) , for a start. [probably available through Morningside] Also a few letters from the 19th's colonel, Francis Heath, in the Bachelder Papers. The story of the 1st's attack is well known, told by everyone, especially Bruce Catton. I'm not doubting their importance, etc., but the 19th effectively did the same thing at almost the same time, and no one knows about it. Even the recent essay in _Gettysburg_ did a less than spectacular job of telling the story. No offense meant, just trying to point out something that has gotten short shrift over the years. Of course, I have to admit I had an ancestor in the 19th Maine, Private Philip Rollins.

One more point. Don't take this as an attack on the 1st, but I hesitate to equate casualties with effective fighting.