"Boys, remember Haymarket!"

The only known image/drawing of the destruction caused by the burning of the town of Haymarket by Union forces. Courtesy Library of Congress

 

"Boys, remember Haymarket!"

The following is an excerpt from the 8th Virginia Infantry, 2nd Edition, by John E. Divine.

On July1, as the great battle began at Gettysburg, Garnett's brigade was busily engaged in destroying railroad property and government supplies. Major Edmund Berkeley was ordered to destroy the shops of the Cumberland Valley Railroad. Using heavy iron rails as battering rams, holes were punched through the walls of the principal buildings. "Boys, remember Haymarket" was shouted each time a rail would pierce that wall. Many of these men had come from Haymarket, Virginia, a town that had fallen victim to burning and looting by Union General Blenker's men the year before. A large turntable withstood repeated attempts at destruction until practical farmer Berkeley used cordwood to build a fire on it; then as it cooled it warped and cracked.

(Aside) The 8th Virginia Infantry was under General Garnett's brigade that was under General Pickett's Division. To read more on General Pickett, visit the following link: http://www.nps.gov/gett/getttour/sidebar/pickett.htm

Pickett's Division left its camp at Chambersburg and headed east to Gettysburg on July 2. The next day they had reached Gettysburg at Seminary Ridge. The 8th Virginia Infantry, participated in the ill-fated "Pickett's Charge" the next day. With Colonel Eppa Hunton leading the charge the 8th proceeded across Emittsburg Pike (Rt. 15). Colonel Hunton's was riding immediately behind the 8th when he was struck in the leg about 100 yards before reaching the Codori (red house). The bullet that went through Hunton's leg penetrated his horse causing a mortal wound to his horse. Hunton made it safely back to the aid station.

Lt. Col. Norborne Berkeley and his brother, Capt William Berkeley of Company D, went to the right of the Codori house and suffered wounds as they ascended the slope. Major Edmund Berkeley, leading a battalion around the left side of the house, suffered a serious leg wound. Still the momentum of the charge carried many of the men on toward the Union defensive line. The flag of the 8th Virginia Regiment went down several times, but each time there was someone to pick it up; finally it lay when there were no hands left to carry in on.

Six of men of the 8th reached the wall in front of the "copse of trees" including Lt. Charles Berkeley but shortly thereafter surrendered to Union forces. Lt. Col. Norborne and Capt. William Berkeley were also captured as prisoners. Major Edmund Berkeley, though wounded, made it back to safety.

Approximately 200 men from the 8th Virginia Infantry made the charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1963. Approximately 39 died, 79 were wounded, and 60 or so were missing. General Garnett was killed. Eppa Hunton would be promoted to replace him.

The 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment suffered a near fatal blow that day. Only the character and strong will of Eppa Hunton and the Berkeleys would keep it alive...


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