Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Lydia Ann Meals account of the Battle of Gettysburg

Pickett’s Charge, Battle of Gettysburg 1863 by Charles Prosper Sainton.

Lydia Ann Meals was 20 years old in July of 1863.  This account was written late in her life, and is relatively short.   In her memories she recalls having to evacuate her home, and recounts the occupying Confederates sacking her house and ruining her possessions, which gets her mad enough to go toe to toe with a soldier.

Reminiscences of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863

Lest we forget kindness shown us

After seeing the Army of the Potomac as they marched across what is now called "Confederate Avenue" and having seen a large number of Union Cavalry cutting across the fields, in order to join the main Army on the Chambersburg Pike, as well as hundreds of the Union Infantry on the same way, we decided to leave our home and go to a relative living quite near us. 

Several of our men who had stopped to fill their canteens with water asked if they might leave their knapsacks with us, which they did. I should imagine at about three o'clock the place at which we were stopped was surrounded by Rebels who were trying to rob two or three bee hives, how I did wish them all to be stung, (nice of me was it not?) but on a second our attention was taken up by the sight of a fire in the direction of our home. 

When mother [Nancy Meals] said "Lydia, I believe that is our place, and we will have to see. I said "among the Rebels," not knowing that we were surrounded by them. Some one back of me said, "where do you live miss?" I told him. "No, it is not your home, it is further away (as I found out afterward it was a house that was fired by the Confederates to oust some union Sharpshooters), but I will go with you if you are afraid." 

So we started. It took us about fifteen minutes, when we found our home in the hands of the enemy, who left the house when they saw us. Mother went up stairs with a pair of tongs. I picked up the remains of my best hat and parasol. I was very angry, one of the young rebels standing by eating an onion as we would eat an apple, said "have you any friends in the Army?" "Yes" I said "a brother in the Artillery no doubt fighting against you: The rebel was in A.P. Hill's Corps, just below in camp. Said the soldier, "how I would like to capture him. Said I, "it would take braver blood than you have to capture a brother of mine." 

Then mother came to the door with a lot of clothes in her tongs, which the rebels had left in exchange for clean clothing of my brothers who were in the Union Army and we had forgotten in our flight from home. "Hush" she said, "they might kill you," After a while a soldier who was in the yard, came to the door. We did not go to the door but looked through the window. In a moment there was not a Rebel to be seen. General Lee on horseback with two or three guards.

From In the Swan's Shadow