2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Friday July 3, 1863
Confederate General Richard Garnett & his Virginians

Gen Richard GarnettDuring General Thomas Jackson's famous Shenandoah Campaign in 1862, Confederate General Richard Brooke Garnett led the storied Stonewall Brigade at the First Battle of Kernstown. General Garnett attacked what the Southerners discovered was a larger number of Union forces than first assumed and soon found himself outnumbered and low on ammunition. He ordered his men to withdraw. General Jackson, believing Garnett violated orders, promptly placed him under arrest. Although eventually ordered back to his post by General Robert E. Lee, the stain of perceived dishonor remained. On this day, July 3, 1863, General Garnett would defy orders to march on foot and proudly lead his men forward courageously mounted on horseback, perhaps to erase the taint brought on by his previous arrest and perhaps due to illness. [4] His valorous gesture would make him an easy target. General Lee, in his after action report, would describe General Garnett's bearing on this day as "leading (his) troops with the courage that always distinguished (him)". [9]

Union Lieutenant Frank Haskell, positioned opposite the forming gray line, wrote of what he saw. "Every eye could see his legions, an overwhelming resistless tide of an ocean of armed men sweeping upon us! Regiment after regiment, and brigade after brigade, move from the woods and rapidly take their places in the lines forming the assault. Pickett’s proud division, with some additional troops, hold their right; Pettigrew’s (Worth’s) their left. The first line at short interval followed by a second, and that a third succeeds; and columns between, support the lines. More than half a mile their front extends; more than a thousand yards the dull gray masses deploy, man touching man, rank pressing rank, and line supporting line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and down; the arms of eighteen thousand men, barrel and bayonet, gleam in the sun, a sloping forest of flashing steel. Right on they move, as with one soul, in perfect order, without impediment of ditch, or wall or stream, over ridge and slope, through orchard and meadow, and cornfield, magnificent, grim, irresistible." [1]

General Garnett, still mounted, road with his men who marched to the front left of Pickett's Virginians, heading the nearly mile long charge to destiny which climaxed at the Angle on Cemetery Ridge. Six to seven thousand Union soldiers dutifully awaited their advance. General Garnett continued to direct his men forward until at last fate ruled against him and Union fire unhorsed and killed the bold general. In his History of the Civil War, James Ford Rhodes described briefly what occurred. "General Garnett, just out of the sick ambulance and commanding a brigade in Pickett’s division, rode immediately in the rear of his advancing line with great coolness and deliberation, and endeavored...to keep his line well closed and dressed. He was shot from his horse while near the center of the brigade within about 25 paces of the stone wall." [4] His body would never be identified. His final resting place completely unknown.

Seminary Ridge at sunriseNear the van of General Garnett's brigade, the 28th Virginia served as one of the first of his regiments to reach the Angle's stone wall. From the cover of the woods pictured, Confederate Lieutenant Thomas C. Holland of the 28th Virginia, Company G, waited with the men of his regiment alone with his thoughts. After enduring the tremendous cannonade, the stalwart Confederates bravely marched across the open fields to face their enemy. During the eventual determined surge of Pickett's Charge and the fury of savage battle, a bullet slammed into Lieutenant Holland's face, exiting through the back of his head.

Of the 88 men of the 28th Virginia's Company G to begin the charge, Lieutenant Holland found himself among the 81 noted casualties. Miraculously, despite his grave wounding, he managed to survived both the battle and the war. Half a century later, during one of Gettysburg's Grand Reunions, on these same fields, he again stood face to face with the soldier who had shot him. This time however, as each beheld the other, they grasped each others extended hand in respect and friendship. [C]