Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today In History......

In 1863...............

Two brigades from Henry Heth's division marching into Gettysburg Pa, to look for shoes and other supplies were engaged by Federal cavalry under the command of John Buford. This was the beginnings of the battle of Gettysburg which lasted three days and would end up costing Federal forces 23,055 men Killed, Wounded and missing. The Confederate forces lost 23,251. In that number were members of the 26th North Carolina regiment who went into the fight with 839 men, but by the time the battle was over, only 152 were left standing. This was the highest casualty rate suffered by any regiment North or South in the entire Civil War.

In 1898................

American Army troops (Including the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, "The Rough Riders") captured the San Juan Heights outside the city of Santiago, Cuba. Killed in this engagement was a personal hero of mine Captain William "Bucky" O'Neil.

William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill. Born 2 February 1860

Sheriff, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory
Mayor, Prescott, Arizona Territory
Captain, Troop A First U.S. Vol. Cav. " The Rough Riders"

K.I.A. 1 July 1898 in the assault on Kettle Hill, San Juan Hts. Cuba

"The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered
befell just before we charged. Buckey O'Neill was strolling up and
down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was
inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer
ought never to take cover-a theory which was wrong, though in a
volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose
themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our
regimental toast on the transport running "the officers; may the war
last until each is killed, wounded or promoted." As O'Neill moved to
and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of his sergeants
said "Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you." O'Neill took his
cigarette out of his mouth and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed
and said "Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me."
A little later, he discussed for a moment with one of the regular
officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he
turned on his heel a bullet stuck him in the mouth and came out the
back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant
soul had gone out into the darkness"

Theodore Roosevelt
The Rough Riders pp 123-124

"Who would not die for a new star in the flag"
On the tombstone of "Buckey" O' Neill at Arlington

"We may have great men.......but we'll never have better!"
Down by the Glenside

In 1916..............

The beginning of the Battle of the Somme. Before the sun set on this first day of battle, over 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers would be killed, and over 40,000 would be wounded. The battle continued until November 18th 1916. At the end of the battle, it was estimated that over one and a half million men Allied and German had been casualties.

In remembrance of the men of the 36th (Ulster) division. Requiescat in pace.

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