Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Hand of Friendship.

I grew up in the South. I have Confederate soldiers for ancestors. I love the South. And, I have no qualms about saying that. Throughout my travels and studies, I’ve come across many interesting people, such as Southern re-enactors who would never don the blue (“Grandpa would roll over in his grave,” they might say, while I’ve always been more interested in what is right historically.) And I’ve met people who have this notion that all Southerners hated all Yankees. Period. End of story. While this was true for some who donned the gray 145 years ago, it was not true for most, at least I don’t believe it was. To adopt and adhere to such an attitude would be un-Southern, un-Christian. We as Southerners believe that we should lend a helping hand to everyone, even if they are wrong.

Today, I am posting a story of one old Tar Heel Confederate soldier who was willing to extend the hand of friendship to a man, a Northerner, who had tried to kill him on the hills of Gettysburg.

Rather a Romantic Scene: Col. Lane sees Man Who Shot Him” Charlotte Observer 24 May 1903.

Raleigh, May 23—A romantic scene was witnessed here this morning when Col. John R. Lane was introduced to Mr. Charles H. McConnell, of Chicago, and Col. Lane grasped the hand of the man who shot him down upon the field of Gettysburg 40 years ago and almost killed him. Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn, of Weldon, arranged this meeting between the two scarred veterans and introduced them. Mr. Connell served in the 24th Michigan Regiment of the Iron Brigade of the Potomac. His company was almost annihilated at Gettysburg and he has been much interested in that great battle. A few years ago he wrote to Col. A. M. Waddell, of Wilmington, to secure some information, and his letter was referred to Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn, of Weldon. This led to correspondence between Col. Burgwyn and Mr. Connell. Later they met in Richmond, Va., when Mr. Connell remarked that he fired the last shot of his company and brought down the color-bearer of the 26th North Carolina Regiment. “Then you are the man who shot Col. Lane,” declared Col. Burgwyn. Arrangements were then made for the meeting which took place here to-day, and Mr. McConnell said this afternoon: “Yes, I have come all the way from Chicago and brought my wife for no other purpose than to grasp the hand of the gallant man I tried to kill and thought then that I succeeded.” The heaviest losses recorded on any modern battle field were the 26th North Carolina Regiment which had a loss of 90 percent, and the 24th Michigan with 80 per cent loss. Col. Lane and Mr. McConnell are survivors of these gallant regiments.

In reply to a reporter’s question Mr. McConnell gave this account of the shooting of Col. Lane. “The battle was nearing its close at Gettysburg,” he said “and only 8 men of the 54 in our company in the 24th Michigan Regiment were left. Our ammunition was exhausted, but I had one cartridge left which was to be the last shot we fired at Gettysburg. As I loaded my rifle my lieutenant commander said, ‘Charlie, see that splendid color-bearer, cannot you knock him over?’ and he pointed at the colonel not as far as across this street from me. ‘I have my last cartridge and I am going to try’ I replied as I rested my rifle against a small tree and took careful aim at the man waving his colors and shouting to his men. I fired, saw him fall and then hastened to join my comrades retreating through Gettysburg to Culp’s Hill.”

“He is the man who shot me,” interposed Col. Lane, laying his hand affectionately on Mr. McConnell’s shoulder. “It was just as the battle ended and I had turned to cheer on my handful of men and was waving our colors that the ball struck me.” Colonel Lane raised his black locks and showed the ugly scar on his neck, just below the base of the brain where the well nigh fatal ball passed. Col. Lane is the only surviving colonel of the illustrious 26th Regiment, Col. Harry K. Burgwyn, brother to Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn, was killed in the same battle that came so near costing Col. Lane his life.
This morning Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn took Col. Lane and Mr. McConnell on a drive over the city. They went out to Crabtree where the 26th North Carolina Regiment was organized and Col. Lane saw his first service as a private in Company E. The camp was then under Col. Burgwyn as a commander. They then went to the cemetery to view the monument to Col. Burgwyn, visited the Soldiers’ Home and spent an hour with the old veterans, then to the State library to see the painting of the three colonels of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, Vance, Burgwyn and Lane. Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn then gave them a dinner party at the Yarboro. This evening Col. Lane left for his home in Chatham. To-morrow Mr. and Mrs. McConnell go to Weldon to visit Col. and Mrs. Burgwyn. Mr. McConnell is president of the Veterans’ Association of the Iron Brigade of the army of the Potomac at Chicago and is a highly successful wholesale druggist. He is six feet tall, well proportioned, with his hair and mustache almost white, stands perfectly erect and appears as agile as a youth.

You can learn more about Colonel Lane by checking out theis link.


Jubilo said...

Dear Sir,
Superb post, thank you.

mary2shoes said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your article
about Col. Lane and Mr. Connell.
Col. Lane was my great great
grandffather. Many times I have
heard from my gramother about her
father being shot in the mouth
by Connell and how they became
good friends. we were all
amazed. Wouldnt it be nice if we
could see comradeship like that
again. Sadly, most likely not.