More on the 41st New York

While I plan to do one post a week, sometimes the urge strikes me to make additional postings.  Such is the case today; as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been re-reading John Hennessy’s Return to Bull Run.

He mentions that, towards the climax of the Confederate assault on Chinn’s Ridge on August 30, 1862, Franz Sigel sent the 41st on a “mission impossible” to at least delay the Confederates from reaching the Warrenton Turnpike at the Stone House intersection.

The 41st’s commander wisely saw that they couldn’t do this on their own, and waited for a brigade (Koltes’ brigade from von Steinwehr’s division–29th New York, 68th Pennsylvania and 73rd Pennsylvania) to come up as well. 

The 41st New York, a relatively untried unit, on their own initiative, made a direct charge on an overrun Federal artillery position.  They charged approximately 200 yards, “shredded” (Hennessy’s words) by musket and artillery fire, including friendly fire from Federal units in their rear who could not see them because of the smoke.  With no additional support, the 41st could not survive and fell back.

These are the same men who, because of their next major engagement (about eight months later), would forever be labeled cowards.  This causes one to pause and reflect on combat and the power of collective memory.

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