OLiver Rood

Oliver Rood

rank@thirdwave.net (Richard Rollins) says:

Craig and Tom:

At the end of March you had a discussion about Oliver Rood of the 14th Ind., misidentified (I think) as of the 20th. My guess is that Craig got the info from Adj. Townsend's report, OR, 27, 2, 282. His id of Rood is one of 8 errors in that report, not including a large number of omissions. Here is the information that I have come across.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 6, "This flag never goes down until I am down": July 2nd, in _"The Damned Red Flags of the Rebellion": The Struggle Over the Confederate Battle Flag at Gettysburg_(Redondo Beach, CA: Rank and File).

Over on the right of Avery's brigade the 6th North Carolina had fought its way up to the section of the wall defended by the 153rd Pennsylvania of Colonel Leopold Von Gilsa's brigade. At least 75 Tarheels crossed the wall, fighting with clubs, knives, stones, fists and anything else a man could use to defend himself or attack the enemy. A Confederate colorbearer, probably from the 6th North Carolina, jumped up on the wall, pistol in one hand, the flag in the other. He shouted out "surrender, you Yankees," but a Federal stuck his bayonet into him and pulled the trigger of his rifle, blowing a hole clear through the Confederate. The colorbearer fell backwards, his dead hand tightly wrapped around the flagstaff. A Federal soldier grabbed for it at the same moment that another Confederate grabbed the other end. The ensuing tug-of-war was won by the Rebel. What was left of the 6th cleared the ridge and captured Federal guns, then retreated down the side of the hill to the stone wall. When the first colorbearer of the 21st North Carolina was killed while charging up the hill, the flag was picked up by Major Alexander Miller. When Miller went down, Private J. W. Bennett picked it up, and was also shot. Four more men of the 21st North Carolina were killed carrying the flag, then Capt. James Beall picked it up. "The hour was one of horror," recalled Beall:

Amid the incessant roar of cannon, the din of musketry, and the glare of bursting shells making the darkness intermittent--adding awfulness to the scene--the hoarse shouts of friend and foe, the piteous cries of wounded and dying, one could well imagine, (if it were proper to say it), that "war is hell." . . . To remain was certain capture, to retreat was almost certain death. Few, except the wounded and dead, were left behind. Here, these brave North Carolinians 'stood, few and faint, but fearless still.'

Like Wright's brigade on Cemetery Ridge, and Johnson's division on Culp's Hill, the Confederates could not hold East Cemetery Hill in the face of overwhelming Federal reinforcements. Two new brigades of Federal troops stunned the Confederates in the Federal works, their lines broke, and the remainder retreated back down the hill. Beall carried the flag to a lower line of works, where he gave it to Corporal Eli Wiley. A further retreat was ordered, and during it Wiley was killed, and the flag disappeared. The next morning Capt. Oliver Rood of the 14th Indiana picked up the flag of the 21st North Carolina.