Stephen Weed

Stephen Weed

Paula Gidjunis <> says:

Hi everyone!

I just finished reading "At GB, or what a girl saw and heard of the battle", by Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman. In her book, Tillie discusses the death of Weed, whom she insists died at the Weikert's house. Now, I have heard the story where he was killed on LRT, and how Hazlett was bending over him to hear if he had any dying words, and then Hazlett was killed. Is Tillie's story accurate?

The intro to the book is by Wm. Frassanito, whom of course is well known in his own right. The only thing he disputes in her book is her account that she was able to witness the charge of the Pa Reserves on July 2 on the other side of LRT. So did Weed die at the Weikert's house?

Paula says:

It seems that Gen. Weed was not instantly killed. Shot through the body, possibly severing the spinal column, he sent for Lt. Hazlett, and was giving him some last messages when Hazlett was shot in the head and killed (or died very soon thereafter).

-- Hazlett by the way was wearing a light colored hat, according to his West Point chum Col. Martin D. Hardin -- who advised him to take it off as it would make a target. Apparently Hazlett did not....

In any case there is some debate over the location of Weed's death. Gregory Coco discusses this in his book "A Vast Sea of Misery." Tillie Pierce, among others, describes him dying in the Jacob Weikert farm, while Porter Farley of the 140th NY has him being taken to the Lewis A. Bushman farm. Yet another of the enduring questions of that battle.

Brian Pohanka (Brian Bennett) says:

Paula's original post asked about Stephen Weed's wounding and death and if Tillie Pierce's remembrances of seeing Weed at the Weikert house could have been accurate. Brian Pohanka noted the discrepancies in different reports, and since I had most of the relevant materials on hand, here is the long version, from the pens of the participants:

best against Hazlett's gunners, and it was while standing among them that Weed received a mortal wound. Believing that he was about to die he was in the very act of committing his last messages to his friend Hazlett, who stooped over him, when there came the whiz and thud of another bullet as it sunk into Hazlett's brain, and that brave artilleryman fell a corpse across the body of his dying friend.

"...The general was carried at once behind the shelter of a rock, and was soon taken in an ambulance to the farmhouse of Louis A. Bushman, which, as well as his barn and outhouses, had been taken possession of and was being used as our division hospital. Weed suffered intensely, but for some time after he was hurt was entirely conscious and able to communicate the messages which he had begun to give to Hazlett. This he did to Lieutenant William H. Crennell, quartermaster of our regiment, who with the other quartermasters of our brigade had served during this campaign as Weed's aides. Among other things, Weed asked that when he was dead the ring which he wore might be taken from his finger, and with the pocketbook containing his private letters, be carried to the young lady to whom he was engaged to be married. As the father of that young lady had for many years been a public character it may not be inappropriate to state that she was the daughter of Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania.

"Weed's bravery even unto death, and his bluff, outspoken manner, were well exemplified by the clearness with which he made his dying requests, well knowing they were such, and by the emphasis with which he spoke, particularly in a reply which almost epitomizes the character of the man, made to Crennell when he said to him, "General, I hope you are not so very badly hurt." Said Weed, "I'm as dead a man as Julius Caesar." He soon became delirious and died at about 9 o'clock that evening."

Note: In this source Farley also discusses going back to the Bushman Farm to view O'Rorke's body. Farley remained with the 140th until well after the fighting on Little Round Top, and since he apparently traveled directly to the Bushman Farm, probably did not know of the first stop at the Weikert Farm. His descriptions of Weed's preparations for death most likely came through conversation with Crennell.

Relevant excerpts from Lt. William Crennell's diary (Crennell was the quartermaster of the 140th NY and served as an aide to Weed during the battle):

July 2: "...about six o'clock General Weed was hit Captain Hazlett was killed while receiving his last words... wrote down what he wanted done he died at 5 minutes after 9."

July 3: "Rose very early after sleeping about three hours.... Got orders in regard to disposing of the remains of Col O'Rorke and General Weed. Burried them on the Bushman place. A very perplexing job on account of the lack of material etc for the coffins.

A. Bushman, Gettysburg Adams Co. Cumberland Township. The bodies of General Weed and Col O'Rorke are burried in rear of his house on the west side of the first apple tree in rear of his house. The Generals body being placed nearest that tree."

Sunday July 5: "Wrote General Weeds Brother"

Crennell was assisted in the burial by one man from the 140th NY, most likely Sgt. Major James Rennick Campbell. From a letter written by "J.R.C." comes the line: "Quartermaster and myself were the only men from the Regiment who were at the burial of Col. O'Rourke and Gen. Weed. We marked the spot, so that if the folks would like to have the bodies sent home they can easily find them."


"In a few moments Corporal Taylor, chief of the piece just placed by Lieutenant Hazlett, called me, "General Weed is wounded." He was lying on the rocks along, and near Taylor's piece. I ran to his assistance. He said "I am cut in two." I replied, "Not so bad as that I think, General," and unbuttoned his coat. A ball had passed through his spine and paralyzed the lower part of his body. He asked me to send for Hazlett. I sent one of the men for him, for he was on the left at the time. He rode up and dismounted, and knelt beside the General. General Weed intrusted him with some messages, and then drew him closer to say something confidential, when a ball pieced dear Hazlett's brain, and Corporal Taylor caught him in his arms.... We carried Hazlett below the crest. I gave the bugler orders to take him to the hospital and remain with him as long as he lived, and then report to me..."

Wounded artillery Lieutenant Malbone F. Watson was carried to the Weikert house where he saw "some bodies on the porch covered with sheets; as he got on the porch the wind blew the sheets off, and then he saw his captain, General Weed, and his intimate friends and classmates, Colonel O'Rourke and Lieutenant Hazlett, cold in death. He said, "the shock almost killed him."

In "A Vast Sea of Misery" by Greg Coco, he quotes a letter from Dr. Clinton Wagner, surgeon-in-chief of the Fifth Corps' Second (Ayres') Division, in which Wagner describes selecting the Weikert farm as a hospital, and also writes:

"On the porch of his house [Weikert's], the bodies of three valiant soldier lay during the night of Thursday, all of whom were killed in the struggle on the summit of 'Little Round Top;' they were General S.M. Weed, Col. O'Rourke, 140th N.Y. Vol., and Lieut. Hazlitt.

"General Weed was not killed instantly as many accounts of the battle state. I was riding to the front when I met the stretcher bearers carrying him... I dismounted; he begged me not to stop for him, 'he said I could do nothing for him;' I examined and found he was right... he was taken to the far house and survived about an hour or two."

Coco notes that the officers were first brought to the Weikert farm, which was behind Little Round Top, but were moved to the Bushman farm, farther east, due to shelling from Confederate artillery.

In terms of Hazlett's interment, Coco quotes from a letter from Captain Robert G. Carter, 22nd Mass., in which Carter states that Hazlett "was temporarily buried at the east end of Weikert's garden."

(Personal note: in referring to both my regimental history of the 140th and my biography of O'Rorke, I was appalled to find that I did not properly cite Coco for his information on Hazlett's burial site as well as Wagner's letter, which pegged the three dead bodies as lying on Weikert's porch (Rittenhouse's article did not identify the farm at which Malbone Watson saw the bodies). My apologies to Greg and to readers of either book.)

It would appear then, that O'Rorke (dead), Hazlett (probably dead) and Weed (mortally wounded) were all taken first to the Weikert Farm. As two men remembered seeing all three men dead and covered with a sheet here, Weed must have died here, as Pierce recalled. What's more interesting is why Hazlett was buried here, but Weed and O'Rorke were taken farther back to the Bushman Farm. Weed died at 9:05 p.m. according to Crennell's diary, so Hazlett's burial took place later that night and it is doubtful that shelling would have disrupted any work that night. It seems pretty clear from Crennell's detailed description of the burial spot of Weed and O'Rorke, that the pair were indeed buried on the Bushman Farm.

Brian Bennett