The 4th Maine in Devil’s Den

During the fight on July 2 in Devil’s Den, the 4th Maine helped push Rebels back from the guns of James Smith’s 4th New York Independent Battery, but the 124th New York to the right had been decimated, its colonel and major both dead, and had been forced to retreat. The 4th Maine had to follow suit. “Our flag was pierced by thirty-two bullets and two pieces of shell, and its staff was shot off, but Sgt. Henry O. Ripley, its bearer, did not allow the color to touch the ground, nor did he receive a scratch, though all the others of the color guard were killed or wounded,” reported Col. Elijah Walker. Capt. Edwin Libby remembered how Ripley defiantly waved the flag at the advancing enemy—but defiance wasn’t enough. The soldiers of Ward’s brigade on this part of the line were forced to retreat, ceding Devil’s Den to the Rebels.

John W. Lokey of the 20th Georgia later recalled an encounter with a wounded sergeant of the 4th Maine somewhere among the boulders of Devil’s Den. The Georgia regiment belonged to Henry Benning’s brigade, which had followed Robertson’s into the maelstrom. Lokey had just clambered up on the rocks to take aim at the Yankees when a bullet went through his right thigh. “I felt as if lightning had struck me,” he said. Lokey was attempting to hobble to the rear when he came across a wounded Yankee. The man identified himself as a sergeant in the 4th Maine (historian John Michael Priest identified him as Zuinglas C. Gowan of Company E). Lokey asked for assistance. The Mainer had the Rebel throw his arm around his neck so he could hold him up. The two enemies then stumbled out of harm’s way through a storm of bullets that “were striking the trees like hail all around us.” They were behind Rebel lines, so the Union soldier knew he would be taken prisoner. “If you and I had this matter to settle, we would soon settle it, wouldn’t we,” he said. Lokey replied that they would probably come to terms pretty quickly. After the unlikely duo reached a place of relative safety, Confederate soldiers took the Maine man to the rear. “If he is living, I would be glad to hear from him,” Lokey wrote years later. 

MRGCover

Maine Roads to Gettysburg is available for purchase now! You can find it on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or at any fine bookseller near you.

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