Greetings on the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1903

John Randolph Lane meets Charles H. McConnell
Col. John R. Lane (left) poses with Sgt. Charles H. McConnell by monument to 24th Michigan at Gettysburg in 1903.

Within these woods on that fateful afternoon of the first day of July 1863, perhaps in less than an hour, the 26th North Carolina of Pettigrew’s Brigade suffered more casualties than any regiment on either side, in any battle, during the entire Civil War. But the 24th Michigan and the other regiments of Meredith’s Iron Brigade, standing in the path of the 26th, yielded ground just as stubbornly as the aggressor fought for it. During their bitter fight to the finish courage knew no bounds. Both sides were American to the core.

Therefore, in honoring one we honor the other, and we do so in the same spirit in which Colonel John Randolph Lane of the 26th North Carolina and Colonel Charles H. McConnell of the 24th Michigan exchanged greetings on this battlefield eighty-two years ago. It was their second meeting, and the [photo above] bears faithful witness. They first met 40 years earlier, in this immediate vicinity, on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg when McConnell shot and severely wounded Lane, leaving him for dead on the battlefield. Only moments earlier, the gallant Colonel Henry King Burgwyn, Jr., had been mortally wounded. Major John T. Jones succeeded Lane in command of the 26th. The command of this regiment changed hands three times before Meredith’s Iron Brigade finally abandoned those woods and fell back on Seminary Ridge.

–from remarks by Archie K. Davis at dedication of a monument to the 26th North Carolina Regiment at Gettysburg National Military Park on 5 October 1985. Davis’s remarks are part of “Gallantry Unsurpassed”: Proceedings of the Dedication Ceremony for a Monument to the 26th North Carolina Regiment, Gettysburg National Military Park, 5 October 1985. According to Lane family lore, McConnell once visited Lane at his home in Chatham County, but Lane’s wife refused to allow McConnell to enter the house.

Hatteras’s unlikely flotsam: 10,000 stovepipe hats

“[In March 1867] the steamer Flambeau drove ashore on Hatteras Island near New Inlet….No lives were lost, but the ship was destroyed [and] her cargo floated out and washed ashore.

“She was laden with 10,000 stovepipe hats! They were beaver hats, no longer stylish, having been replaced by silk high hats, and they were practically unsaleable. Two promoters had bought up all they could find and shipped them to South America, whee they were still in fashion.

“Cape Hatteras wrecked their plans. The promoters, unwilling to give up their sartorial coup, turned to political influence. Every man, woman and child on Hatteras had one or more of those hats until the officers of the Military Government, on orders from Washington, began a house to house search, intent on returning the hats to their rightful owners. One Hatteraser was quoted as saying that even the porpoises wore stovepipe hats that spring.

“The final accounting of the promoters’ hat venture is not known.”

– From “The Civil War on the Outer Banks” by Fred M. Mallison (1997)