McMillan Woods Youth Campground
McMillan Woods Youth Campground is actually situated on the battlefield
grounds on Seminary Ridge, right behind what was the Confederate line.
McMillan Woods provided some shelter from the fire of thousands of muskets. During the three days of battle, 7 million musket balls were fired. The hail of lead was so thick, crops were mown down and livestock killed. Houses and barns of the 2,400 residents of Gettysburg were hit, and one civilian woman was killed when a ball entered through her kitchen door, striking her in the back as she made biscuits.
German POW pays nostalgic visit
By ED REINER - Times Staff Writer
For Carl Brantz, his first trip to Gettysburg was an unforgettable experience. Unlike most people, when they come to town, they come for the sights.
Brantz never had that opportunity. When he was here, he was in a German prisoner of war camp located along Confederate Avenue at the Old CCC Camp, which is now the McMillan Woods Youth Group Campground.
This was the temporary home for Germans who were captured in 1943. They didnít get to Gettysburg until June, 1944 and were set up in a temporary camp along the Emmitsburg Road near the Home Sweet Home Motel.
The camp was moved to the site of the old CCC Camp, Nov. 15, 1944. It was the temporary home of more than 200 prisoners. Brantz was released from prisoner status Sept. 15, 1946 . . .
Pickett's Charge and McMillan Woods
Longstreet's Assault on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg, or what is generally but very incorrectly known as "Pickett's Charge," has not only had its proper place in books about the war, but has furnished a subject for more speeches, historical essays, paintings and poems than any other event which ever occurred in America. Many writings have led their readers to falsely think that Pickett's Virginians were the only ones in the grand charge.
Company H, nicknamed "The Alexander Boys," of the 55th North Carolina Troops were there. As the Alexander and Onslow boys crouched in the McMillan Woods they waited for the furious two-hour bombardment by some 150 Confederate cannons to cease. Their attack would then commence, and little did they know that the turning point of the war and their cause was at hand.
Company H stepped out of the woods atop Seminary Ridge and, with forty-one other Confederate regiments, formed ranks for the assault; eighteen regiments and one battalion from Virginia, fifteen regiments from North Carolina, three from Mississippi, three more from Tennessee, and one regiment and one battalion from Alabama. Before them, clearly unveiled as a breeze blew the smoke away, lay 1,300 yards of coverless ground and the bristling Federal lines beyond.
General Lee requested his "Old War-horse," General James Longstreet, to command the assault even though Pickett's fresh division was the only one from his I Corps. The other two divisions were from A. P. Hill's III Corps. Henry Heth's division was commanded by Johnston Pettigrew. Heth was wounded on the first day which would have been fatal if it were not for a few folded papers he stuffed in his hat. Upon the mortal wounding of Dorsey Pender, his division was now commanded by Isaac Trimble. Both divisions were heavily engaged during the first day's battle and suffered severely. The 55th NC was commanded by Captain George Gilreath upon the killing and wounding of all its' field officers on the first day's fight. Company H was commanded by Captain Edward Satterfield with many of the regiments' companies led by non-commissioned officers.
Major General George Pickett's Virginians took up position on the right of Pettigrew with Trimble in support of Pettigrew. The command to commence the assault was given to Pickett by a reluctant Longstreet and the grand charge had begun. Pettigrew dispatched Col. James Marshal, "Now Colonel, for the honor of the Old North State, Forward" and the (North Carolina) Tar Heels stepped off.
Preceded by a line of skirmishers and "colors flying in the breeze," Pickett's and Pettigrew's men moved "in perfect order as if on dress parade" towards the Emmitsburg Road. Under severe fire from artillery and musketry the southern lines began to give way. Brockenborough's Virginia brigade was soon shattered which left Davis' brigade, which included the 55th NC, exposed on the far left where they were flanked by the Union 8th Ohio. Franklin Sawyer of the 8th Ohio Volunteers later wrote; "Changing our front, the men were ordered to fire into their left flank at will. The distinct graceful lines were at once enveloped in a dense smoke and dust. Arms, heads, blankets, guns and knapsacks were thrown and tossed in the air. A moan went up from the field, distinctly to be heard amid the storm of battle, but on they went, more like a cloud of moving smoke and dust than a column of troops."
The casualties of the charge were horrendous for every southern regiment involved. However, if the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in which it lost thirty-five percent has rendered it famous, why should not the Charge of Davis' brigade in which it lost sixty percent render it equally famous? The casualties for the 55th NC were 74 men killed or mortally wounded (of whom 27 died in the hands of the enemy), 76 wounded, 263 captured (of whom 107 were wounded), and two missing --- a total of 415 including many men from Onslow. The 55th as a regiment rivaled in casualties, the three brigades of Pickett's division who averaged 455 each.
The ocean of men in butternut and gray that flowed forward that summer's afternoon 135 years ago, created the "high-water mark" to which the tide of Southern success rose, and from which, it painfully ebbed away. General Lewis Armistead, (born in New Bern, N.C.), of Pickett's division, with about 150 men crossed the Union lines at an angle in a stonewall where he was mortally wounded 40 yards therein. The portion of the Union line assaulted by the 55th NC was a stonewall 80 yards farther in distance. Captain Satterfield of Company H, fell dead nine yards from that portion of the line. Allowing for the thickness of the wall, Captain Satterfield, company commander of Onslow County soldiers, fell 31 yards beyond Armistead and is responsible for North Carolina's motto: "Farthest at Gettysburg."
It should be noted that one Confederate soldier in every four who fell at Gettysburg was a North Carolinian.
Boy Scout Troop 174, Yorktown, NY. http://troop174.info