Slippery Rock, PA
February 23, 2011
My family and I had the great pleasure of touring the historic Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, PA on September 19, 2009.
We found all the National Park service staff to be very accommodating and courteous.
We toured the outside of the Bryan House and were able to view the inside of the house. We observed the various farm objects and other historical items that were germane to that period in American history. An extensive Q and A session was conducted with our tour guide.
|Bryan house in the 1860's|
An extension of the trip was a visit to the Gettysburg Museum. We watched the three dimensional Cyclorama Painting of the battle. We purchased several gift items and memorabilia from one of the shops inside the Gettysburg Museum.
We then drove to the Shriver House and had a very moving, informative and interesting tour of the Shriver House Museum.
Finally, we ate dinner at the famous Colonial Dobbin House Tavern. After dinner, we had a very interesting and educational tour of the Dobbin House Tavern which is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places. The upstairs of the Dobbins House contained a secret room where the owners hid runaway enslaved Africans from the numerous slave catchers who were always on the prowl looking for escaped enslaved Africans.
After we returned home, I called the Gettysburg National Military Park and inquired to one of the park's historians, John Heiser, for information on Pickett's Charge, which was the pivotal point in the Battle of Gettysburg.
According to Heiser, a significant portion of General James Longstreet's Grand Assault, popularly known as "Pickett's Charge", failed on land owned by a free Black man who was Mr. Abraham Bryan or Brian . Ranger Heiser also stated that there were other parcels of land on which Pickett's Charge occurred and were owned by other Gettysburg civilians. Heiser further stated that the great Robert E. Lee ordered the charge with the hopes of renewing an offensive and breaking the Union line on Cemetery Ridge once and for all. According to Heiser, Confederate Generals Isaac Trimble and James J. Pettigrew commanded the left wing of the charge and went down to defeat on Bryan's farm land. Heiser also stated that Trimble and Pettigrew's men had been banged up from two straight days of hard fighting with the Federal forces.
The Confederates who fought on Mr. Bryan's farmland came from the following states: Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Union or Federal troops that fought on the Bryan farmland came from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware.
Each side had roughly about 11,000 officers and men.
My research revealed that Longstreet's famous assault ends on land partially owned by a free Black man, Mr. Abraham Bryan who emigrated to Gettysburg from the State of Maryland. With Pickett's defeat and the failure of the charge, Lee withdrew to a defensive position on Seminary Ridge to the west of Gettysburg, and began his retreat to Virginia overnight on July 4, 1863. In three days of fighting, the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, had lost 23,000 men, and the great Army of Northern Virginia under Lee lost upward of 28,000 men.
I am of the belief if the Confederate States of America's best General, the brilliant tactician Stonewall Jackson would have been at Gettysburg, the Union may have lost the great battle.
The Confederate States of America let President Lincoln outfox and outmaneuver them by putting together 186,097 Colored Troops of which 7,122 were Officers and 178,975 were enlisted who fought gallantly for the Union. Negro Union soldiers participated in at least 41 major battles and in another 450 smaller actions.
When the Confederate States of America's Congress on March 13, 1865 approved the use of 300,000 Negro slaves for use in combat, the war was basically over and thus the South's fate was sealed at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, should have known that many loyal slaves in the Antebellum South would have fought for their masters and for their masters' homelands. It is apparent that Davis and his cabinet miscalculated the use of the enslaved Negro. There were many Negro troops who served with the Confederate States of America in the role of cooks, teamsters, wheelwrights, mechanics, harness makers, firemen, ambulance drivers, boatmen, servants, musicians, nurses, female luandresses, blacksmiths, wagon drivers, laborers, stevedores, trench diggers, armed pickets (guards), team drivers, aides to their masters, escort service, bodyguards, engineer helpers, and manning the Howitzers Batteries. Many saw combat against the Federals in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana and the Carolinas. At the first and second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), the Negro troops manned the Howitzer Batteries for the Confederates. The Negro Confederate troops at the Battle of Richmond partially manned the Howitzers Battery # 2. In many battles the armed Negro troops of the Confederacy escorted the captured Union soldiers to rear holding centers for transport to Southern prisons.
On April 4, 1865 in Amelia County Virginia, a Confederate supply train was exclusively manned by guards of Negro Infantry, and when the train was attacked by the Federals, the Negro troops repulsed the first wave of the attack. On the second assault of the supply train, the Negro Confederate troops were overwhelmed by the superior man and firepower of the Yankees.
The Confederate States of America couldn't have survived a day without the valuable support of a few free and numerous enslaved Africans. A total of 65,000 Negro troops served with the Confederate States of America and it is believed that 13,000 served in combat against the Federals.
Many Negroes willingly died in combat and in support of the various State Confederate Battle flags. The record is not complete or verifiable as to how many enslaved Africans ran away rather than support the war effort of the Confederate States of America. More unbiased scholarship and research is still needed as to the true role that Black Confederate soldiers played in the Southern States of America's War of Independence. There appears to be a deliberate attempt by many so-called Civil War scholars and historians to cover-up and relegate to a position of secondary consideration the role that both the Negro Confederate soldiers and Negro Union soldiers played in the internal conflict called the war between the States.
Upon one's visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, one will see the Confederate Monument of a Confederate soldier handing his child to an enslaved African female to care for while he is heading off to war. Another Confederate Monument depicts a Negro soldier in full Confederate uniform marching in the ranks with other Confederate soldiers. These two Confederate Monuments were designed by the Confederate Jewish War Veteran, Moses Ezekiel. It is believed that the monument of the Confederate Negro soldier is the first monument honoring a Black soldier in the United States of America.
All of the Confederate States of America paid pensions to the Negro War veterans of the Civil War. And many of these Confederate Negro War veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg did in fact return to Gettysburg, PA for the various reunions with their White Confederate counter-parts along with the veterans from the Union/Federal ranks.
The record is not clear as to whether there were any armed engagements between the Colored Federal Troops vs. the Colored Troops of the Confederacy.
It's very unfortunate that most of the history books in the United States of America fail to mention anything about the free Negro Abraham Bryan. He like other townspeople, on their property, played a key role in the Battle of Gettysburg, which was the turning point in the War between the States.
With the defeat at Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi soon after, the war commonly referred to as the United States Civil War had reached its zenith. The great Robert E. Lee would fight on for an additional two years but he may have known the Confederacy would never have another opportunity as his army had at Gettysburg.