While reviewing notes for my upcoming e-book Vermont At Gettysburg, I found this description of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, written by George H. Scott, who was a First Sergeant in Company G of the 13th Vermont, the famous unit of General Stannard’s which was right in the middle of the Union defenses on that day. This is an excerpt from an address that Scott delivered to the Vermont Historical Society on July 6, 1870. It was originally published in the Proceedings Of The Vermont Historical Society, New Series, Volume One, Number Two, in 1930.
“At about one o’clock the whole rebel artillery (120 guns) simultaneously thundered forth, while 70 guns on our side hurled back their stern defiance. Veterans pronounced it the grandest artillery prelude of the war. A battle of titans truly. All the hellish enginery which modern ingenuity could invent was now engaged. A pandemonium of discords. Solid shot, grape canister, spherical case, elongated shell, whizzing, whirling, shrieking, moaning, booming, bursting over our heads. The air is alive with messengers of death; to walk along the ridge is madness. Our men lie low; they get behind trees, stone, knolls, stone walls, breastworks,– anything to give them a partial protection…
“We hardly dared rise above our elbows, even, for just above our heads raged a tempest of orchestral death. Shot and shell struck, rent and tore the bank just back of us. On that hot sultry day we were exposed to the full glare of the sun. Many overcome with heat and exhaustion went to sleep, notwithstanding the turmoil and danger raging above them.”
“…Said a Rebel Colonel to one of our officers, ‘I have been in many battles and was never beaten before. As we marched over that field never was I more confident of victory. But when I saw that Damn Vermont Colonel (Stannard) on foot, hat off, sword swinging in air in front of his men and cheering them on upon our flank, I knew we were doomed.’
“Said General Meade, ‘I know of no body of troops entitled to more credit for distinguished services there rendered than Stannard’s Brigade of Vermont troops.’
“Says General Doubleday, ‘you ask what I think of the valor of the Vermont troops on that occasion. I can only say they performed perhaps the most brilliant feat during the war. For they broke the desperate charge of Pickett, saved the day and with it, the whole North from invasion and devastation.'”