My latest contribution to Disunion is now available. Corp. James Brownlee of the 134th New York Infantry suffered multiple wounds during the first day’s fight at Gettysburg. An excerpt:
Union forces along the northern edge of Gettysburg, Pa., occupied a precarious position on July 1, 1863. Advancing Confederates poured deadly volleys into the rapidly thinning blue ranks as a steady stream of wounded trickled into the normally peaceful Pennsylvania town.
A federal division commander in the thick of the fray, Gen. Carl Schurz, was running out of options. A former German revolutionary who became an influential voice among fellow political refugees, he sent his aides in search of reinforcements. While he waited for help, he received reports that Union troops on his right and left had buckled under the intense pressure of the Confederate juggernaut.
A mile south, Cpl. James Brownlee watched and listened to the raging battle from the heights of Cemetery Hill. A farmhand who had emigrated from Ireland with his family when he was a boy, Brownlee and his comrades in the 134th New York Infantry could clearly see the fighting where Schurz was hotly engaged.
The story of Amos Rhoads, a lieutenant in the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, was killed in action during the June 27, 1863, raid on Shelbyville, Tennessee, was posted on Disunion this afternoon. Rhoads’ wife, Anna, left their home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to bring her husband’s remains home.
One day during the summer of 1863, in Union-occupied Nashville, Tenn., Anna Rhoads visited the headquarters of Gen. Walter C. Whitaker and requested a meeting with him. Perhaps to her surprise, he granted one.
A Kentuckian known for his volatile temper and a fondness for alcohol, Whitaker was moved as the earnest young woman recounted the grim errand that prompted her visit. “Mrs. Rhoads is here with the body of her husband, Lt. Rhoads of the 7th Penn. Cav.,” wrote Whitaker to Gen. Robert S. Granger, an old West Pointer in command of the military district that included Nashville. “He was a gallant officer. She has come from Pennsylvania to take his body home and is short of money.” Whitaker added, “I send this note to you hoping in its perusal you may find it proper to give her transportation for herself and the body of her husband.”
Amos B. Rhoads (1836-1863) started his war service as a sergeant in the Eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment organized for a three-month term of enlistment in the spring of 1861. He returned to the army later that year as a first lieutenant in the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. Captured during a skirmish near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on July 13, 1862, he spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war before he was paroled and exchanged. Rhoads returned to his regiment in Tennessee only to be killed in action on June 27, 1863, in fighting to take a rebel battery in Shelbyville.
He posed for his carte de visite portrait in the studio of Mathew B. Brady of New York City and Washington, D.C.