I met Betty C. Schacher, 85, this weekend in Windham, N.Y., and we found a quiet place to talk about her great uncle Simon Pincus. “Uncle Sime,” as she knew him as a little girl, was a kindly elderly gent who was confined to a wheelchair. I captured audio of Betty’s reminiscences of Uncle Sime, who died when she was six. One of her memories was a story he told about his Gettysburg experience. At the time he was a sergeant in Company C of the Sixty-sixth New York Infantry. From the transcript of the audio recording:
He was at the Wheatfield, and, um, I remember thinking, I didn’t know they grew wheat in Pennsylvania (laughter). When we saw pictures of wheat, you know, what was I five years old I was in kindergarten, it was out in Kansas, out in the Midwest somewhere, which to me was a foreign territory.
He told us about this, it was after the battle had quieted down. It was very quiet. I asked him, did the noise frighten him. And he said the silence was worse.
He told us, all of a sudden he saw something move, and it was a Confederate soldier trying to get back to his outfit and he had lost his rifle. And Uncle Sime told him, he better move quick to beat his trigger finger. And Uncle Sime did not shoot him. He let him go back to the unit. And, at first I asked him why, because I was told the Southerners were the enemy. And he said to me, well he was an American, too, and he was unarmed. That’s what he said.
Here’s Betty in the Windham Library. A retired librarian, the setting was most appropriate for our conversation. Uncle Sime survived the war, and mustered out as a second lieutenant. He became a cigar maker in Brooklyn. Lt. Pincus died in 1934.