Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gettysburg interactive panoramas: The Wheatfield

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27th Connecticut monument marks where Lt. Col. Henry Merwin was mortally wounded.
            61st New York monument.  The regiment suffered six killed, 56 wounded here.

Lieutenant colonel Henry Merwin was 
mortally wounded at the Wheatfield 
at Gettysburg.
"My poor regiment is suffering terribly," 23-year-old Henry Merwin reportedly whispered after he was cut down leading his little band of men at The Wheatfield at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. From New Haven, Conn., the lieutenant colonel commanded the 75 soldiers in the 27th Connecticut, the smallest regiment in the Union army at Gettysburg. Nearly 50 percent -- 10 killed,  23 wounded and four captured -- became casualties there.

The 27th Connecticut had been  thrasheed at Fredericksburg in December 1862 (19 killed, 86 wounded, three prisoners) and on May 3, 1863 at Chancellorsville, where 280 men surrendered after they were surrounded -- one of the greatest humiliations for a Union regiment during the war.

"Only five minutes before, the men stood at their posts undisturbed by even a doubt of their security," a regimental historian wrote about the Chancellorsville disaster. "Now, astonished at the sudden denouement, we found ourselves about to enter upon the terrible uncertainties of rebel captivity." Among those captured, Merwin was sent to Richmond and then paroled 20 days after his regiment's surrender.

The 27th Connecticut monument at Gettysburg, dedicated on Oct. 27, 1885, marks the spot were Merwin was mortally wounded. It's one of two monuments dedicated to the regiment at the battlefield.

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