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.

5 thoughts on “Greetings on the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1903”

  1. Perfect story for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Col. Lane’s wife sounds like she was a handful (or a very patriotic Southerner!)

    1. Difficult to find Bush river Baptist on Google Maps. That’s where the colonel is buried, yes?

      1. Mr. Morton,
        I noticed that your comment misidentifies the church where John Randolph Lane is buried. The church is Brush Creek Baptist Church. Please note that it’s brush and not bush, and that it’s creek rather than river. The church has a website: https://www.brushcreekbaptistnc.org/about/church-history.html. Additionally, you can find the church and cemetery via Google Maps. It’s near Siler City, North Carolina. I’ve included a link below.

        Best,
        John Blythe
        Assistant Curator
        North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill Library

        https://www.google.com/maps/place/Brush+Creek+Baptist+Church+Cemetery,+Bear+Creek,+NC+27207/@35.652854,-79.5283953,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x88534fc82d79d64b:0x9adc34c79a01dd94!8m2!3d35.6527181!4d-79.5241616

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