Bravery of Colorbearers at Gettysburg
The author quoted below states elsewhere that “the Confederate battle flag was always a target during combat; that when its bearer was shot another man picked it up, knowing that he would be in the sights of the same men who had shot his predecessor. At the Cornfield in Sharpsburg, the flag of the First Texas Regiment, when captured, had thirteen dead Texans lying around it.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Bravery of Colorbearers at Gettysburg:
“By 4PM the Federal forces had retreated to Seminary Ridge, where they formed a hastily constructed line with breastworks of rails and dirt on the slope fronting the west of the Ridge. The Confederate Brigades of Brig. Gen. James Lane, Brig. Gen A.M. Scales, and Colonel Abner Perrin, in Maj. Gen Dorsey Pender’s division of Hill’s corps, charged across an open field and then up the slope, encountering a storm of shot and shell from the batteries and the musketry of the infantry. In many cases the colors of the regiments were advanced several paces in front of the line. Despite taking severe casualties, they pressed on as ordered, without firing “until the line of [Northern] breastworks in front became a sheet of fire and smoke, sending its leaden missiles of death in the faces of men who had often, but never so terribly, met it before.”
One of the most incredible events of the battle occurred here, according to John B. Gordon, who fought with the army throughout is entire existence. Pvt. William Faucette, colorbearer of the 13th North Carolina, had the colors in his right hand when he received a mortal blow that almost severed his arm, tearing it from its socket. Without halting or hesitating,
“He seized the falling flag with his left hand, and, with his blood spouting from the severed arteries and his right arm dangling in shreds at his side, he still rushed to the front, shouting to his comrades, “forward, forward!”
A few minutes later Pvt. Levi Walker, the fifth colorbearer of the 13th to be hit during this charge, was shot in the left leg and knocked down. In the 12th South Carolina one colorbearer after another was shot dead until all four were down. Every one of the colorbearers that went into battle with Perrin’s brigade was killed, and several regiments had several men pick up the flag and then be wounded or killed.
The charge broke the Federal lines, and panic ensured. Federal troops fled off the entire line…and headed back to Gettysburg and the safety of Federal reinforcements on Cemetery Hill south of town. Perrin’s brigade followed the Federals into Gettysburg, with the 1st and 14th South Carolina in the lead. The Federals ran through the town of Gettysburg in a mad dash to escape capture. Chaos reigned in the streets, and men who had sought shelter and aid in the residences of citizens found themselves in danger of being taken prisoner.”
(The Damned Red Flags of the Rebellion, Richard Rollins, Rank and File Publications, 1997, pp. 106-108)