Writing Process — Tennessee Valor

Posted on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The 7th Tennessee's Company E lost 82% of its strength at Gettysburg

The Writing Process — Tennessee Valor: The 7th Tennessee Infantry at Gettysburg

Four hours finished the analysis of the men of Company E. Here is a brief summary:

Company E, of the organizations I have studied so far, suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the Gettysburg campaign.

Company E, with its men from Hendersonville and Gallatin, of Sumner Co. Tn, mustered in with 27 officers and men on June 30, 1863. By the time the Gettysburg campaign ended and the Army of Northern Virginia was once again safely south of the Potomac River, there were only five men left, with their senior man, 3rd Sgt Jesse Cage.

On June 30th, Company E was led by 1st Lt Robert Miller, the son of a wealthy Sumner County planter. The 25-year-old had begun the war as a private and quickly moved upwards in rank, and as 1st Lt., taken over command of the company when Captain James Franklin was detached as a recruiting officer in May 1863.

The company’s second in command, 2nd Lt. Alexander Hogan also began the war as a private, and also was quickly promoted, as was the unit’s third officer, 3rd Lt. William McCall.

At Gettysburg, Company E suffered the loss of two soldiers; Privates William Korpf and William Motherly in the scramble around Willoughby Run on July 1st. Both men were captured in the melee of confusion with the Iron Brigade.

Therefore, when the 7th Tennessee began marching forward on that fateful afternoon on July 3rd, there were 26 Tennessean veterans answering to the call.

As the unit moved across the field in Pickett’s charge, artillery fire downed three, including 1st Lt Miller, 4th Sgt James Garrett, and Pvt Milton Brown.

Then, with 2nd Lt. Hogan now in command, the company piled into the stout fences along Emmitsburg Rd. Seven more Tennesseans were felled at this time, including Pvt Frank Frazer and Pvt Joseph Love, both who were severely wounded and died of the injuries within the next week.

A number of other Company E men chose not to venture beyond the safety of the fences, meaning only seven followed the regiment’s colors towards the fateful stone wall’s Angle. None of those seven returned; 2nd Sgt Blackman Dunn, Cpl William Garrett, and Pvt George Hamilton were wounded and captured. And 3rd Lt McCall, and Pvts Marcus Hurt, John Idson, and William Kirkpatrick all dropped to the ground for safety and were trapped. Since they could not escape, they eventually were marched away as prisoners.

Following Pickett’s Charge Company E possessed just eight shocked survivors, commanded by 2nd Lt Hogan and 3rd Sgt Cage. Then, when the 7th Tennessee was detailed as part of the blocking force to hold the bridgehead across the Potomac River open so the Army of Northern Virginia could escape, more men from Company E were lost. 2nd Lt Hogan, and Pvts Hugh Kirkpatrick and William Lewis would be swept up by Union attacks at Falling Waters, MD and never cross the Potomac to safety.

Company E returned to Virginia virtually wiped out, numbering just a handful; Sgt Cage, and Pvts Elisha Blackburn, William Coe, George Freeman, and Henry Graves.

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