This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I had several ancestors that were actively engaged in this battle. So I went looking for a book that could tell me about this battle. I found “A Field Guide To Gettysburg” by Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler. This well written guide can be taken with you for reference as you walk the battlefield. Or you can do what I am doing, reading it at home, and the book is transporting me to Gettysburg. The book is an easy read, with each section called a stop. At each stop the book tells what happened there. The book of course gives the required who, what where, when, and why, but goes on to tell the human side of the story. When I visit Gettysburg, in the future, this book is a must take item. However as I said I feel like I am there by just reading this book. This is also a good resource book for anyone who had family at the Battle of Gettysburg.
My wife’s Great Uncle Charles Ladd, was at Gettysburg, and became part of the carnage that saw over 50,000 casualties. The casualty rate was about one in every three of those engaged in this battle. Charles, grew up in a very different place. He was born August 7, 1836 in upstate New York to Ulysses and Electa Hazen Ladd, in Point Au Roche, near Beekmantown. This area was settled by many Ladd families and was good farm land. I grew up very near here in Plattsburgh N.Y. and have walked the land where his family farm was. In fact we have one farm that still exists from this family in partial operation today. The land on the east is bordered by Lake Champlain. Charles’s, father died when he was 18. With his other siblings married and with families of their own it fell to him to provide support for his mother. Sometime after August of 1860, Charles moved to Ohio, where he continued to help support his mother.
On June 12th 1861, Charles, enlisted for three years into Company E, the 25th Regiment, of Ohio Infantry. Charles, was to hold the rank of sergeant. The Company Descriptive Book, gives this description of Charles. He had a light complexion, standing at 6 foot 2 inches tall, with brown hair and black eyes. He must have stood out in a line as the average height for men in 1863 was 5 feet 8 inches. They gave his occupation as a farmer. He was to take part in a few small battles, and was getting use to camp life. But that was soon to end.
Charles, saw his first large battle in August 1862, in the Second Battle of Bull Run. He received a head wound and was taken prisoner by the Confederate Army on August 30th, 1862. He received a parole almost immediately on September 1, 1862. When he was well enough in October he was given a furlough. However he failed to return when his furlough was up. Charges of desertion and absence without leave were brought against him. These charges were dropped upon his return in May of 1863. Charles, had been ill for several months and could not travel. At Gettysburg, Charles, was on the field of battle on July 1, 1863, with his Company E of the 25th Ohio Infantry. That day they were vastly out numbered and it was a desperate fight to hold the Confederates from getting control of the high ground. Charles was shot in the left leg shattering his bone. His leg was amputated to the lower third of his thigh. But the effort failed to save him. Charles, died of his wound on July 14, 1863.
The fighting that day was brutal and every inch of ground was contested. Musket volleys were fired into each line as close as 20 paces. 220 men were with Sergeant Ladd that day in the Ohio 25th, at the end of the fighting only 36 were still standing. But they still held the high ground. These are the sacrifices that these men in Union blue endured for us. They saved our country, ended slavery, so that today we have a united and strong country. I have often wondered where the courage came from that these men displayed during this war. I just don’t know if I have that kind of courage in me. They were all men of the flesh, but with courage of iron.