View Full Version : African American at Battle of Gettysburg

10-16-2008, 07:04 PM
Hi list,
Almost everyone has heard about aged citizen John Burns who fought at Gettysburg, but I've ran across another civilian who also fought for the Union..In the book Buckeye Blood by Richard Baumgartner..A member of the 5th Ohio, writing under a pseudonym, to the Cincinnati Daily Times described the fighting on Culps Hill..In his account he states

On the left of our regiment an American citizen of African descent had taken position, and with a gun and a cartridge box, which he took from one of our dead men, was more than piling hot lead into the Gray-backs. His coolness and bravery was noticed and commented by all who saw him. If the negro regiments fight like he did, I don't wonder that the Rebs and Copperheads hate them so..

I have never run across any other reports of this brave man and was wondering if anyone else had...

10-17-2008, 09:40 AM
Probably a freedman just helping to defend the cause. The Bryant family were a family of freed blacks who resided right along Cemetery Ridge where Smyth's Brigade was placed at Gettysburg.

Andy Siganuk, Mifflin Guard

10-18-2008, 08:50 AM
That would make a great story a freed black man fighting off the Confederates near or on his land..Too bad this story is probably lost to history and we'll never know the name of this brave man, who decided to take a stand and not run...

10-18-2008, 03:40 PM
The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg's Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War's Defining Battle (Basic Books, 2004), Bates College professor of history Margaret Creighton writes that an unnamed African American was the third Union soldier killed in "the Gettysburg campaign":

Most African American men in Pennsylvania were denied the opportunity to fight the Confederates with weapons. But not all of them. One company of black men helped hold back invading soldiers, and their efforts, considered one of the first military engagements in the war by men of color, is still overlooked. The site of the action was the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge, a span a mile and a quarter long over the Susquehanna River. Before word had come of the Army of the Potomac's move north from Virginia, General Lee and corps commander Richard Ewell had envisioned taking Harrisburg from the east and south. The bridge over the Susquehanna River -- twenty-five miles southest of the capital -- was key. On June 28th, and emergency Pennsylvania militia unit and a company of African American men recruited form the area -- numbering at least fifty -- attempted to hold the bridge against 2500 seasoned Confederate troops (including artillery), until the bridge could be destroyed. "The negros," commented one observer, "did nobly." The officer in command of the milita had even more to say. "When the fight commenced," he reported, the black company "took their guns and stood up to their work bravely. They fell back only when ordered to do so." One of the black volunteers paid the ultimate price for his work: His head was "taken off by a shell." As one historian has pointed out, this man -- no one knows his name -- was only the third Northern soldier killed in the Gettysburg campaign. [Pages 134-135]

Kent Dorr - Ohio
Devils Own Mess