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 Posted: Thu Apr 17th, 2008 12:49 am
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PvtClewell
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I don't know much about Ames, but I do know that he took over the 1st Division of the 11th Corps at Gettysburg after Barlow was wounded. That means the Clewells, as members of the 153rd Pennsylvania, served under him at Gettysburg, most specifically at East Cemetery Hill on July 2.

Best as I can figure, the 153rd was forced to give ground under the weight of Hays' and Hoke's (Avery's) attack on the evening of July 2, but not before giving stiff initial resistance. They met the 6th North Carolina's attack head on. Although the 153rd was eventually forced to flee, I like to think the Clewells still gave battle in the melee among Wainwright's artillery at the top of the hill. These guys just had three weeks left in their nine-month enlistment.

Here's an excerpt from the regimental history of the 153rd describing the fight at Cemetery Hill, which began around 7:30 p.m. and ended around 9 p.m. in the dark:

'The arms of ordinary warfare were no longer exclusively used. Clubs, knives, stones, fists — anything calculated to inflict pain or death was now resorted to. Now advancing and then retreating, this sort of conflict continued for fully three-quarters of an hour. At one time defeat seemed inevitable. Closely pressed by the enemy, we were compelled to retire on our first line of defence (sic), but even here the enemy followed us while the more daring were already behind our lines and were now resolutely advancing towards our pieces. The foremost one had already reached a piece, when, throwing himself over the muzzle of the cannon, he called out to the bystanding gunners: "I take command of this gun!" Du sollst sie haben!" ('You can have it', if my German still serves me) was the curt reply of the sturdy German, who, at that very moment, was in the act of firing. A second later, and the soul of the daring rebel had taken its flight to the realms of everlasting peace. Here our reverses ended. Determined to conquer or die in the attempt, our men now threw themselves upon the enemy with a resolution and a fury that soon compelled him to retire. The batteries were saved, the day ours, Chancellorsville redeemed!'

This is pretty much a glorified and self-serving account of the 153rd's performance, written by a member of the regiment. Most historians — Sears, Pfanz, Bearrs — pretty much said the 153rd unceremoniously broke sometime during the assault. Still, the Confederate effort ultimately failed to take Cemetery Hill and Ames generally gets high marks for his performance there.

I'll always have mixed feelings about the 11th Corps. This corps, composed mostly of first and second generation Germans, took the initial brunt of Jackson's attack after his flank march at Chancellorsville and as such, the 'Flying Dutchmen' were pretty much held in contempt by the rest of the AofP. The first day at Gettysburg, after being forced off Barlow's Knoll, didn't help their reputation much either.

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