Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gettysburg 150th Part 3 - John Batdorff and Henry McDaniel

June 27, 2013

John G. Batdorff
2nd Lieutenant
John George Batdorff
149th Pennsylvania
Stone's Brigade, Doubleday's Division, Reynolds' 1st Corps

John Batdorff was born in 1839 and raised by his grandparents near Myerstown in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.  There is but little information about his upbringing in rural Pennsylvania, but by the outbreak of the Civil War many men from his area had enlisted in the newly formed state regiments.  Batdorff enlisted with the 149th Pennsylvania (2nd Bucktails) in August of 1862 as a Second Lieutenant, the regiment being raised by Colonel Roy Stone, a member of the original 'Pennsylvania Bucktails.'  Early service with the 149th PA kept Batdorff and his comrades on duty in the Washington Garrison until February of 1863 when the regiment joined the First Corps, Army of the Potomac.  They were involved in the Chancellorsville Campaign, but very lightly engaged and still untested in battle.

As the army marched to Gettysburg in pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, they would soon get enough battlefield experience to last more than a lifetime.  The 149th PA arrived on the battlefield late in the morning of July 1 and took position near the McPherson Farm buildings along the Chambersburg Pike.  Maneuvering into a number of different lines, Batdorff was a busy soldier that morning assisting in getting Company C into its proper place in line.  Like the building of a massive thunderstorm on a hot and humid summer evening, both armies were extending their lines and awaiting the culmination of the buildup of troops.  It was only a matter of time until the thunder once again started to roll on that first day of July, 1863.

149th PA Monument on McPherson's Ridge...the
Lutheran Theological Seminary in the distance
When the storm broke, the 149th PA and its sister regiments found themselves in a very unstable part of the Federal battle line.  They got hammered from both the north and the west by Confederate batteries which were belching forth a fierce-some fire.  Outnumbered and outflanked, the Federal position could not remain and after a desperate fight that lasted for what must have seemed like an eternity to the men wearing their buck-tails aloft, it was time to get out!

Lieutenant Batdorff faced the dangerous obstacle of retreat like everyone on the line and this story comes out of that harrowing experience.  "Captain John Bassler of the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry was wounded in the thigh during the Union Army's hectic retreat on the first day of the Battle.  Second Lieutenant Batdorf came to his rescue - but Bassler found it impossible to walk even with this assistance.  Batdorf then told him to "get on my back."

"As they trotted toward safety, Rebel bullets zipped by, no doubt encouraging Batdorf to even greater efforts with his heavy burden."

"Later, within Yankee lines, Lieutenant Batdorf jokingly said that Bassler must not give him too much "credit for disinterestedness; that his object in carrying me on his back was to shield himself from the Rebel bullets!"

Descriptive list written and kept in the field desk of Captain
John G. Batdorff for Private Jonathan Witman, who also
served at Gettysburg and was unscathed, only to be wounded
at the battle of the Wilderness in May of '64. (author's collection)
Batdorff was later wounded on July 3, but survived his wounds to be promoted to Captain of Company C, in which capacity he served until the end of the war.  The regiment was engaged in the Overland Campaign and the actions around Petersburg, losing many more men to the Confederate lead storms.  After the war Batdorff returned to Millbach in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania where he resumed his activities as a well-known farmer and eventually became the County Treasurer, living out his days near his boyhood home.  "He was widely known and universally liked...He was a loving husband and father, and a true friend. In politics, he was a staunch Republican, and in the last days of the nineteenth century, he was honored by his party with election to the office of county treasurer, which he filled to the complete satisfaction of the taxpayer. He was a member of the Lutheran congregation at Millbach, and stood high in the councils of the church. His wife, who was Miss Elizabeth Illig, and a daughter, Miss Carrie Batdorf, at home, survive. He was the last of his family, his sister, Mrs. Albert Karmany, of Myerstown, preceding him in death six years ago. He was aged 65 years."  He died in 1905 after a life of dedicated service and bravery.

Sources: Gregory A. Coco, On The Bloodstained Field I&II, p.12, 2013.  Historical Data Systems, Inc.  Lebanon Daily News, 15 September 1905.

Monument to the 149th PA on Cemetery Ridge marking their position on July 3 at Gettysburg...
Batdorff was wounded somewhere in this area during Pickett's assault.

Post-war image of Major McDaniel
Henry Dickerson McDaniel
11th Georgia
Anderson's Brigade, Hood's Division, Longstreet's Corps

Major Henry McDaniel was one of those young officers thrown into the cusp of regimental command because of the mounting losses on July 2 at Gettysburg.  His regiment was the 11th Georgia and a part of George 'Tige' Anderson's Brigade.  At 26, the young man led his regiment through the fray at Gettysburg's infamous "Wheatfield."  The attack was very deadly and through extraordinary circumstances McDaniel managed to do not only a competent job, but one which warrants consideration in his rise to the occasion.  His official report was written only five days after the guns fell silent at Gettysburg and is in my opinion, one of the more detailed accounts we have of Anderson's Brigade's actions in 'The Wheatfield.'

"JULY 8, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the part borne by the Eleventh Georgia Regiment in the engagement near Gettysburg, Pa., on the 2d instant.

The regiment went into action under command of Col. F. H. Little. He having been severely wounded during the action, the command devolved upon Lieut. Col. William Luffman. Fear the close of the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Luffman took command of the brigade, when the command of the regiment devolved upon myself.

The scene of action was reached by a march of several miles, under a burning sun, and for the distance of 1 mile under a terrific fire of the enemy's batteries. Advancing to the crest of the hill where the Emmitsburg pike enters the woods in front of the enemy's position, along a ravine near the base of the mountain, the regiment bore unflinchingly, with the remainder of the brigade, the severe enfilading fire of the enemy's batteries upon Cemetery Hill until ordered to advance.

17th Maine Monument at left...This is the original stone wall along
the southern edge of 'The Wheatfield' that Major McDaniel
and his men of the 11th Georgia fought over against the
17th Maine and later, units of the 2nd Corps. 
The Eleventh Georgia is the right center regiment of the brigade, and went into action in its place. The advance was made in good order, and, upon reaching the belt of woods in front, a vigorous fire was opened upon the enemy, followed up by a vigorous charge, which dislodged them from the woods, the ravine, and from a stone fence running diagonally with the line of battle. This formidable position was occupied by the Eleventh Georgia, and a galling fire opened upon the enemy's front and flank, causing his line to recoil in confusion. At this juncture, Brigadier-General Anderson came in person to the regiment (a considerable distance in advance of the remainder of the brigade and in strong position, which was at the time held and might have been held against the enemy in front), and ordered Colonel Little to withdraw the regiment to the crest of the hill, on account of a movement of the enemy in force upon the left flank of the brigade. The regiment retired in good order, though with loss, to the point indicated.

After a short interval, a second advance was made to the stone fence, but, after a furious conflict, the failure of support on the right forced the brigade back a distance of 100 yards. The third advance was made in connection with the entire line on that part of the field, and resulted, after a conflict in the ravine of half an hour, in the rout of the enemy from the field. This rout was vigorously pressed to the very foot of the mountain, up the sides of which the enemy fled in the greatest confusion. The loss of the enemy was here very great, his dead lying upon the field by the hundred. Nothing but the exhausted condition of the men prevented them from carrying the heights. As it was, with no support of fresh troops, and with the knowledge that the enemy was pouring re-enforcements from their right into the ledges of the mountain, it was found impracticable to follow him farther.

In this charge, large numbers of prisoners taken by men of this command were sent to the rear, but no guards were kept over them specially, and it is impossible now to ascertain the number. The regiment retired with the line to the ravine, and went into bivouac for the night, the pickets of the brigade holding the field. The rout of the enemy was manifested in the fact that no attempt was made to follow our retreat, and scarcely any effort to annoy us in retiring.

The regiment lost many valuable officers and men. Among the killed are Capt. M. T. Nunnally, Company H; Capt. John W. Stokes, Company B, and First Lieut. W. Holmes Baskin, Company K, who fell gallantly at their posts. A complete list of the casualties is herewith transmitted. From this it appears that the number of killed was 23, of wounded 171, and of missing 5; total, 204.

I take pleasure in testifying that the behavior of officers and men was satisfactory and worthy the proud name heretofore won by the troops of this army.
I am, your obedient servant,
Major, Commanding Eleventh Georgia Regiment.
A. A. G., Anderson's Brigade. "

McDaniel was wounded and then captured at a temporary hospital near Funkstown, Maryland only a few days after writing this report.  He was taken to a Federal prison camp.  He survived the war and had a remarkably vivid career in politics after the war which included governorship of the state of Georgia.  He also became a millionaire and died at age 89 in 1926.

Sources: Milan Simonich, Gettysburg: Profiles in Courage / Henry D. McDaniel, Pittsburgh Post Gazette,  July 6, 2003. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the  Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1880-1901, Washington, D.C., Ser. 1, Vol. xxvii, Pt. 2, p. 401-403.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog

Follow by Email