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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > Abner Small Gettysburg Transcript

Abner Small Gettysburg Transcript

……the attacking line came on, and following behind it was another, and we knew that our little regiment could not withstand the onset. With anxious hope we looked again to the rear for support - and saw that the other regiments of our brigade, our division, were falling back rapidly towards the town. The ridge could be held no longer. We were sacrificed to steady the retreat.

Our color bearers appealed to the colonel, and with his consent they tore the flags from the staves and ripped the silk to shreds; and our officers and men that were near took each a shred. I have one with a golden star.

Though the rebel lines were fast closing in, there was yet a chance for some of us to escape, and nothing now forbade our risking that desperate hazard. We that took the chance bolted across the Cashtown pike and made our way, in a fever of anxiety, to a hill south of town. There were batteries on the hill, in a cemetery; and Howard’s reserve division, with some of the troops that had been driven through the town; and what remained of Reynold’s corps, under Doubleday. Directing the placing of troops where we turned up was Hancock, whose imperious and defiant bearing heartened us all. We found a remnant of our brigade, with what was left of the 11th Pennsylvania added to it, and Colonel Coulter of that regiment in command. Once more we formed in line; more gap than line. The survivors of the 16th Maine then numbered only thirty men, four line officers, and myself.