I have received several comments of late about this work, but in most cases have not gotten back to the writers. I am incredibly busy and ask for some indulgence for the next few weeks as I am on the go all day, and still have problems with both the computer and my handheld tablet. They have been, at the least, very challenging, so please expect delays in postings and response to comments.
I was very honoured to talk most briefly to each recipient and many eyes rolled when I mentioned my long task at researching the Canadian men. And more to the point, the very long history between Canada and the US forces... including MOH history.
The son of one of these men told me an incredible story. It began with the words... "Here. shake my hand." I did as directed, Then came the story. I had already shaken his father's hand. That man once many many years ago shook the hand of a very very very old MOH recipient... who at the age of seven, shook the hand of President Lincoln. So those who know me will now understand why I have not washed my right hand for awhile.
One of the goals of coming to Gettysburg was to visit the cemetery where it is said that there are no less than 27 Canadians buried. These are KNOWN Canadians. There are many unknowns buried here and it is fair to say that some of them may also be Canadians. A past column suggested that there may have been upwards of 700 fighting here and if so, the casualty rate may also be well above 27.
Mr Wills, the prominent Civil War Gettysburg lawyer was instrumental in the creation of the military cemetery that stands today and it is believed to still conduct burials. it is the current resting place for over 7,000, and some 3,512 are Civil War soldiers. Of these almost 1,700 are the remains of unknown heroes who fought and died for the North. It is said that there are no Confederate soldiers buried here. The original plans called for all men being equal, none shall be segregated by colour, unit, state or rank. But very soon one state said no no... we must have are own section, then came along another with similar demands and another and another and so today the cemetery... is in a large semi circle broken down by state, with no regard to rank however. The men were buried as they were brought in and so a researcher with lots of time can have a look to see who may well have died before his neighbour.
B. (possibly Bernard) Hogan was from either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and was 37 years old, an old man in terms of average service age in the CW and died in late July from Gettysburg wounds. Mr Ashley, unknown first name or unit, was from Quebec and died on 3 July. William Almas was 18 and serving with the 7th Michigan when he was shot down on 3 July.
I have about 1/2 of the pictures of the known Cdns here and must return later in my trip to get the rest. Most of the names were originally provided to me by one of the re-enactment groups from Ontario but unfortunately I did not think to bring their name along. I will credit them at a later date. While descriptions of where they were supposed to be buried were given... you still need to do lots of stumbling about to find them.
Thank goodness I had the excellent service of Mrs. Joanne Lewis, a wonderful trained town and battlefield guide. In fact she is one of those not only licensed to act as a guide in a very stringent market or experts, but is responsible for the licensing, after training , of others in that business. She also has an association with the great folks at the Main Street Gettysburg Society of you read much praise in my last blog. They and Joanne deserve much more.
I shall return with lots more on Monday but keep in mind, like today's and Wednesday's the others on this trip may get posted rather late in the day.
cheers from Gettysburg.
I'll be in Washington DC when we next meet.