Monday, July 3, 2023

Gettysburg Day 3 (July 3, 1863)

Let me introduce to you Lt. James Crocker of the Ninth Virginia Infantry. Crocker was a graduate of Pennsylvania College in Gettysburg. He was captured at the end of Pickett's Charge on the third day of battle. Only slightly wounded, he was granted a pass by his captors (mid-nineteenth century military commanders were remarkably relaxed toward prisoners of war) and, still wearing gray, walked off into his old college town. Soon enough he met his former professor of mathematics, Michael Jacobs, who greeted him warmly, and then crossed paths with the son of the college president, Henry Baugher, who extended to him a cordial invitation to dine with him and his father. The old Dr. Baugher had buried another son in Gettysburg Evergreen Cemetery, who had died of wounds at Shiloh. According to Lyon Gardiner Tyler, in his book Men of Mark in Virginia: A Collection of Biographies of Leading Men in the State, the venerable president "saw before him only his old student, recalled only the old days, and their dear memories." James Crocker eventually ended up in David's Island Prison, survived the war, and became a judge. 

Recalling his visit to Gettysburg College right after being captured, he wrote:

It was ... a peace episode in the midst of war. This experience of mine taught me that the hates and prejudices engendered by the war were national, not individual; that individual feelings and relationships were but little affected in reality; and that personal contact was sufficient to restore kindliness and friendship. 

Just another story that makes Gettysburg unique, special, and great ... even today.