Bibliography (last altered June 25, 2006)
John A. Oates Links
For relevant book reviews, go to the Tom Chamberlain and John Oates "Reviews" page.
Corrections, comments and additions are always welcome.
To e-mail the author, click here.
(Main article last altered June 25, 2006: Slightly revised and expanded in the light of Glenn W. LaFantasie's new biography of William Oates.)
notes at end of article
On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, as the second day of battle raged at Gettysburg, the two regimental commanders who faced each other at the southern end of the line, on Little Round Top, both had their younger brothers fighting alongside them. With Joshua L. Chamberlain's 20th Maine was Tom Chamberlain, and with William C. Oates' 15th Alabama was John Oates. Coincidentally, both young men were first lieutenants of their respective regiment's Company G, but their fates that day were very different. Tom was lucky enough to suffer nothing worse than a few scratches, but John was mortally wounded and died in enemy hands twenty-three days later.(1)
John Alva Oates (who usually spelt his last name without the 'e') was one of a family of at least eight children born to William and Sarah Oates, the owners of a poor farmstead near Troy in Pike County, south-east Alabama. Their oldest son, William Calvin, was born in November 1833, and John was his junior by just over two years, being born on Christmas Eve 1835. The pair were great playmates, liking nothing better than to hike and explore the countryside together; another favourite game was to pretend to be preachers, leading an imaginary congregation in hymn and prayer.(2) Father William, however, was strict to the point of abusiveness, and his namesake offspring rebelled, leaving home at the age of sixteen after a particularly bad beating. Young William came back, but the following year he got into what was to be just one of countless fights, this time with the father of a fake medium. When a warrant was issued for his arrest, William fled the state and travelled through Florida, Louisiana and Texas, having many adventures and developing a particular knack for eye gouging. Eventually, a couple of years on, he tired of wandering and decided to return to Pike County to face the music. At roughly the same time, mother Sarah had sent the teenage John in search of his brother, and the two met up in Henderson, Texas. On the way home, in East Texas, they got themselves into another fight over a card game and once again William used his eye gouging skills profitably.(3)
The War Begins
Astonishingly, after such a wild early history, both brothers then proceeded to qualify as lawyers and became pillars of their community. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, John and William had set up a joint practice ("Oates and Oates") in Abbeville, Henry County; and John was considered "a gentleman of fine habits and character", who was, according to William, "very bright and popular with all who knew him". John was the first of the Oates boys to go to war: he was so eager that he caused his brother, left to run their business on his own, some difficulty, as William admitted to a friend.(4) John enlisted on May 11, 1861, and five days later was mustered into service as a private in Company A (the "Henry Grays") of the 6th Alabama Infantry, signing up in Abbeville for twelve months. He was twenty-five, and described in the muster rolls as 5'9" tall, with what must have been a striking combination of black hair, black eyes, and fair skin (sadly, no extant pictures of him have been traced). The Captain of Company A, Alexander C. Gordon, was yet another of the many who had come to blows with William Oates, but his grievances don't seem to have extended to John, an altogether quieter and less abrasive character than his brother. With its unusual quota of twelve companies, the 6th Alabama was amongst the largest regiments in the Army, and as it marched into action, its Major was an officer who would later become one of the greatest of all Confederate generals: John Brown Gordon.(5)
Action was, in fact, frustratingly hard for the regiment to find during the Battle of First Manassas on July 21. Along with the rest of Richard S. Ewell's Brigade, it seems to have spent the entire day moving backwards and forwards under contradictory orders, with the result that it never actually came into contact with the enemy. "I never was so entirely worn out in all my life", wrote Michael Holmes, a soldier in the Henry Grays. The final attack order did not reach Ewell, and John B. Gordon encountered him: "chafing like a caged lion, infuriated by the scent of blood. He would mount his horse one moment and dismount the next. He would walk rapidly to and fro, muttering to himself, 'No orders, no orders'".(6) This was hardly an auspicious start to John Oates' army career, and it was followed over the ensuing weeks by the boredom of camp life; "Drilling everyday...a very dull routine it is", as another private in the 6th put it. There was a lot of illness amongst the Henry Grays: "a low grade of fever if not Typhoid nearly as bad". Anything up to thirty men at a time from Company A were not fit for duty and, on September 1, John's was one of the names on the sick list.(7)
Meanwhile, back in Henry County, William Oates was recruiting men for the "Henry Pioneers", which would become Company G of the 15th Alabama Infantry, a three-year regiment. It left Abbeville on July 27, with William as its Captain "by common consent", and went into camp a few miles from the 6th Alabama.(8) Some weeks later, John managed to arrange a transfer to be with his brother, and he joined Company G of the 15th at the end of November. John was still a private, but the following Spring he was elected to the position of Third (Junior Second) Lieutenant, when First Lieutenant Isaac T. Culver resigned, resulting in the promotion of the company officers below him. January 1, 1863, saw another change in Company G as First Lieutenant Cornelius V. Morris became regimental commissary, thereby raising Henry C. Brainard to First Lieutenant, and John Oates to Second Lieutenant. William Oates remained Captain throughout this period, until the beginning of May 1863, when he was promoted to command of the regiment (to date from April 28). Brainard was then the new Captain of Company G, John his First Lieutenant, and young Barnett H. Cody the Second Lieutenant.(9)
The 15th Alabama, with Brigadier General Isaac R. Trimble's Brigade of Ewell's Division, joined Stonewall Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley for the start of the 1862 campaigning season, then moved with Jackson to help defend Richmond from General George B. McClellan's forces on the Peninsula. In a letter written a year later, on April 22, 1863, John listed the battles and actions he had, by then, been in with the 15th. They were: "Front Royal [May 23, 1862], Winchester [May 25], Strasburg [June 1], Port Royal [presumably he meant Port Republic, June 9], Coal [Cold] Harbor [Gaines' Mill, June 27], Malvern Hill [July 1], Cedar Run [August 9], Hazel River [August 22], 2nd Manassas [August 28-30], Germantown [Chantilly, September 1], Capture of Harper's Ferry [September 15], Sharpsburg [September 17] & Fredericksburg [December 13-14]".(10) The regiment saw hard fighting in many of them, particularly at 2nd Manassas and in the cornfield at Sharpsburg, though John managed to avoid injury. At the first Battle of Cold Harbor (Gaines' Mill), a private in Company G, William A. McClendon, described how they ran out of ammunition and "lay flat upon the ground...while the bursting bombs and solid shot were crashing through the trees tearing the limbs off, and it was necessary sometimes to dodge out of the way of a falling limb... General Ewell rode up in our rear, with hat in hand, where he was met by Lieut. John A. Oates, who informed him of the cause of our inaction. Ewell told him to fix bayonets and hold his position until he could send for the Texas brigade to reinforce us". In his report of the battle, Ewell was generous in his praise: "I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of these troops [from the 15th Alabama and 21st Georgia], which were immediately under my observation. They were opposed to constantly renewed forces of the enemy, and held their ground against vastly superior numbers, advantageously posted, after the troops immediately to their right had fallen back..." In terms of regimental casualty figures, Gaines' Mill was the worst of all the fights (including Gettysburg) which John would see with the 15th.(11)
In January 1863, the regiment was transferred to a new all-Alabama brigade, under Brigadier General Evander M. Law, in Lieutenant General James Longstreet's Corps. Soon they were sent south of Richmond, on Longstreet's supply-gathering expedition near Suffolk, Virginia. John Oates may have escaped every battle so far unscathed, but the physical stress of army life was catching up with him and he must have welcomed the opportunity, in February, to return to Alabama on recruiting service. He wrote that he found "...the people in good spirits. The novelty & enthusiasm of the war have worn away - the idea of recognition & hope of an early peace no longer delude the people. The general impression now is that the war will last during Lincoln's administration - farmers feel that all is at stake & are planting large provision crops[,] raising stock &c so as to supply the army, but hopeful of the final result".(12)
John's skills as a lawyer served him well at this time, for one particular recruit, David W. Merrett, was in jail in Abbeville, having killed a man in a fight. John managed to get Merrett bailed out and he enlisted with the 15th where he proved a good soldier until January 1865, when "unpleasant reports about his domestic relations" caused him to desert. After the War, William Oates defended Merrett on the murder charge and obtained his acquittal.(13)
John was having increasing physical problems with rheumatism in his right hip, thigh and knee "from prolonged exposure in camps", and feared that he might become permanently disabled. On April 4, his friend and erstwhile mess-mate, Barnett Cody, mentioned when writing home that "Lt. Oats is here, but is not exactly well. He complains a little". A mile from Suffolk, where the regiment had been "in line of battle for eight days" amidst "sharp picket fighting & desultory cannonading", John sent a letter on April 22 to Alabama Congressman James L. Pugh (in whose legal offices brother William had studied, back in 1858), saying: "I am suffering considerably & fear that it will injure me unless I can be so situated as to take care of myself for a while. I cannot think of quitting the service & regret that I have to ask for a change of places". John hoped Pugh would help him to obtain a position as Judge Advocate in the military courts, and added that "I have some experience in Courts Martial having acted as Judge Advocate several times. I am tolerably familiar with military law & the customs and usages of war". Pugh gave him a glowing reference when passing his letter on to Secretary of War, James Seddon. John was, Pugh said, "a gentleman of great personal merit" in whose success he felt "a deep personal interest".(14)
John was still with his regiment in June, however, when it marched north with the rest of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia on its invasion of Pennsylvania. The 15th Alabama arrived at Gettysburg in the afternoon of July 2, after a forced march by Law's Brigade of more than twenty-five miles in the gruelling sunshine. James Longstreet described their "twenty-eight miles in eleven hours" as "the best marching done in either army to reach the field of Gettysburg".(15) Many men dropped out on the way, and John Oates, unsurprisingly in view of his rheumatism, was among them. William heard that his brother had fallen behind and sent back one of his horses for him. Later he found John lying down, with a high fever, in rear of Company G as it waited in line of battle to go into the fight. The conversation which followed could obviously not be recalled by William exactly when he compiled his great history of the War forty years later. He reported it twice there, in slightly different words.
"[I] saw at once that he was sick," William wrote. "I thereupon told him not to go into the action, but when we advanced to remain where he was, because he was unable to bear the fatigue. He replied, with the most dogged and fiery determination, 'Brother, I will not do it. If I were to remain here people would say that I did it through cowardice; no, sir, I am an officer and will never disgrace the uniform I wear; I shall go through, unless I am killed, which I think is quite likely.'" Alternatively, with "his black eyes flashing fire", John said, "'No, brother, were I to do that it would be said that I avoided the battle and acted the coward. No, sir; I will go in with my company though I know it may cost me my life!'"(16)
Whatever precisely passed between them, the poignancy of the scene stayed with William thereafter, for these were the last words the brothers exchanged. Even before a water detail had returned with the 15th's canteens, they and the rest of John Bell Hood's Division were ordered forward.
Law's five Alabama regiments formed the right flank of the Confederate line, and the 15th began the advance in the middle of the Brigade, with the 44th and 48th to its right. Soon these two units were sent to the left to fill a gap, leaving the 15th on the extreme south. William, in command of the regiment, seems to have had instructions to skirt (Big) Round Top and join in rolling up the Federal forces in the vicinity of Little Round Top and Devil's Den. The 15th, however, quickly encountered enemy fire from some companies of the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, positioned behind a stone wall at the foot of Round Top. Not wanting to risk being enfiladed by this force of unknown strength, and also being crowded on the left by the 47th Alabama, Oates' men began to climb the southern face of Round Top. The Sharpshooters fled before them, stopping from time to time to fire on their pursuers before melting away completely (some joined with Company B of the 20th Maine and would face the 15th again before long).(17)
Round Top is a large and rocky hill - William referred to it as a "mountain" - and by the time the 15th and 47th Alabama had reached the summit, many men were exhausted and some had collapsed from the effects of the heat and lack of water. William ordered a brief rest but was almost immediately sent forward again by a staff officer from General Law. When the 15th clambered down the other side of the hill, they discovered that the 47th had already engaged the middle companies of Joshua L. Chamberlain's 20th Maine, the left flank regiment of Strong Vincent's Brigade, from the Federal Fifth Corps. Vincent's regiments had just managed to get into position on Little Round Top before Law's and Robertson's Brigades reached it. The 15th Alabama came in on the 47th's right, and attacked immediately. The next hour or so was a desperate time for both sides, with the battle line swaying this way and that as the 15th charged again and again. The fighting was often hand to hand, and Chamberlain described how "At times I saw around me more of the enemy than of my own men".(18)
During one advance, probably about the time when William ordered his regiment to swing around and change direction to the left to enfilade the 20th Maine, amid "fire...so destructive that my line wavered like a man trying to walk against a strong wind", Captain Henry C. Brainard of Company G went down with a death wound. John Oates took command of the company, but less than five minutes later he, too, was hit by a number of bullets. An old school-friend of John's, Isaac H. Parks of Company I, ran and dragged him to relative safety behind a large stone, but while he did so John was hit by another bullet which took off his little finger. William said his brother was "pierced through by eight bullets", but John's records note seven wounds to his hip and legs. The eighth may have been the hand injury. Near John, yet another officer of Company G, Barnett Cody, had also fallen, his leg shattered. He would never see his nineteenth birthday.(19)
Finally, William concluded that there was nothing left to do but retreat, and, roughly concurrently, Chamberlain decided to order a bayonet charge. Exactly how much of either order was formally issued has been the subject of unabating argument over the ensuing decades, but the reality was that as the 20th Maine charged the 15th Alabama fled, many men being overtaken and captured, but others, including William, escaping over Round Top. Exhaustion, compounded, no doubt, by seeing his brother wounded and perhaps killed, caused him to collapse and he had to be carried down the hill to safety.(20)
After the Battle
That night many of the injured were left lying at the base of Little Round Top. The scene was terrible and there are numerous accounts of suffering and the efforts of men from both sides to give aid to the wounded: "some crying, some praying, some swearing and all wanting help", in the words of Sergeant E.R. Goodrich of the 44th New York (Vincent's Brigade), who spent his time on picket duty "attending to the wounded, giving them water, fixing them in easy positions, cutting off shoes and helping them in every way I could". Law's Brigade bivouacked west of Round Top, and in the darkness some soldiers from John Oates' Company G climbed back over the hill, without orders, to try to bring back John and Lieutenant Cody. They found the officers but were fired at by Union pickets before they could move them far. The brave fellows returned with nothing more than Cody's knife and pocket-book.(21)
Eventually John and Cody were taken prisoner by members of the Fifth Corps Second Division, who were stationed on Little Round Top throughout July 3. The injured men were removed to the Corps' field hospital on the Michael Fiscel farm about two miles south-east of the Round Tops, and were among some seventy-five Confederates in a total of around sixteen hundred wounded treated there during the following month. The Second Division's hospital was in tents near the Jane Clapsaddle farm, where the two men were looked after by Doctor Joseph A.E. Reed of the 155th Pennsylvania (Weed's Brigade); the kindly Dr Reed had them placed in cots close together. John Oates' injuries were quickly seen to be mortal, but he lingered for twenty-three days before dying of blood poisoning on July 25; two days after the death of Cody, who had begun a slow recovery from the amputation of his left leg before finally succumbing to typhoid.(22)
In an article ("General Farnsworth's Death") in the Philadelphia Weekly Times of December 30, 1882, Gettysburg historian John Bachelder said he visited John Oates in hospital and got the story of the famous supposed suicide of Union cavalry general Elon Farnsworth from him "in full and graphic detail". Since Farnsworth died near Big Round Top on July 3, the day after John Oates fell, there is no possible way he could have seen this happen, although Bachelder appeared to think that John's was an eyewitness account. According to Glenn LaFantasie, Bachelder said John "remembered that 'praises of his [Farnsworth's] gallantry and courage were on every lip', and that many men of his regiment possessed themselves of some memento of the event".(23) William Oates had, in fact, obtained the general's shoulder straps, and it was William who in later years publicised the story of Farnsworth's suicide, having heard about it from another officer who claimed to have seen it. William did not witness Farnsworth's death himself and seems to have been misled by his informant: Union soldiers who witnessed the death were unanimous in saying there was no suicide. If John Oates did indeed regale Bachelder with an account of the event, he must have picked it up as gossip from other patients in the hospital, or from visitors.
John's ultimate fate, and that of Barnett Cody, remained unknown to William Oates for several weeks until a 15th Alabama man in the same hospital wrote to him about them. William then sent a very personal and emotional letter to Cody's father, telling him of the death of his "brave little Son", "My Dear Brother John" and Captain Brainard; and adding: "I feel discomfited and exceed[ing]ly gloomy - even reckless and miserable. I have not only lost my dearest relative on earth, but two of my dearest friends". Many years later, in 1902, William wrote to Cody's nephew that: "Two more gallant and worthy boys never died together in any cause". A resolution praising their three much-missed officers was sent by Company G to the local newspapers: "[W]e...mourn the same as a sad and heavy loss to their Country and their Company... [A]s soldiers and officers they occupied a high position, as gentlemen and friends we recognized in them a high type of moral excellence and those whose virtues commend themselves justly to us for our imitation". The language may have been necessarily formal, but one senses that the sentiments were heartfelt. Soon afterwards, William received a packet from Dr Reed containing John's personal effects, including a gold watch and a blood-stained copy of The Poetical Works of Mrs Felicia Hemans, which John had used as a notebook.(24)
For years William tried to trace Dr Reed to learn more of John's final hours, and eventually he found him in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There followed "a very pleasant and satisfactory correspondence". Reed, who was by then in his sixties, wrote to him in November, 1896, saying: "Your brother suffered greatly at times. I was frequently brought to his bedside and it was at these visits I learned to know much of the nobleness of his character, and the intense love, affection, and respect he had for his own people". Reed's wife, sister-in-law and another lady were drawn to the two young men so far from home, and "Many little favors, in shape of such delicacies as could be procured in our camp or hospital, were given to your brother and his friend, thereby cementing a friendship so strangely begun". A Miss Lightner, "a Virginia lady and Southern sympathizer", also nursed them. Their visitors would read and talk to them daily, "and for this attention they frequently expressed thanks, and spoke of their homes the cruel fate of war had torn them from". Reed continued: "a short while before [John] died he requested my wife's lady friend and herself to sing for him; they sang 'Jesus, Lover of My Soul'. After singing they all joined in repeating the Lord's Prayer; feeling that his end was near, he said, 'Tell my folks at home that I died in the arms of friends.' These were his last words. Such was the end of a life of a devoted son and brother".(25)
John was buried near the Fifth Corps hospital, with his grave carefully marked by Dr Reed so that it could be identified at a future date; but, sadly, the headboard soon disappeared, leaving his remains indistinguishable from the other Confederates buried there. His body and Barnett Cody's were later reinterred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, part of a shipment sent from Gettysburg on September 9 or 10, 1872.(26)
John Oates left no sorrowing wife or children, but his friends and relatives mourned the passing of a decent and good man. None grieved more than William Oates who wrote: "We were not only brothers, near the same age, but had been reared together, and no brothers loved each other better". On December 24, 1900 - the 65th anniversary of John's birth - William wrote to his son Willie that every year on this date and on July 2, he would remember John's last words to him, and "feel sad over his fate": "He was a noble young man and died for his country and in a just cause as he and I both saw it".(27) Between 1902 and 1905, William made a prolonged attempt to have a 15th Alabama monument erected on Little Round Top, on the boulder which marked the regiment's point of furthest advance. "[W]hen I am dead and gone," he told the Gettysburg Park Commissioners, "I want to leave a little stone on the spot where my brother and others were killed". There was much argument over whether such a monument could be permitted on the battlefield and, if so, where it should be placed. William found himself fighting not only the authorities but also, once again, Joshua L. Chamberlain, who denied that Oates' troops had pushed the 20th Maine back so far. In desperation, at one point William even offered to pay for the stone out of his own pocket. Eventually the entire plan was turned down.(28) The memorial was never made, but the inscription which William composed for it survives. The first lines were to have been:
back to top
2. Ibid. Mark Perry, Conceived in Liberty: Joshua Chamberlain, William Oates and the American Civil War (Viking, 1997), pp.13,17-18. Glenn W. LaFantasie, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp.5,320. Glenn W. LaFantasie, "The Other Man", MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History Vol.5, Summer 1993, pp.70-71. John was a year older than the age listed in his Military Records.
3. William C. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy and its Lost Opportunities (1905, Morningside Press reprint 1985), Robert Krick's Introduction (no pagination). Perry, Conceived in Liberty, pp.27-36.
4. Letter of recommendation from J.L. Pugh to J.A. Seddon, April 28, 1863 (John A. Oates' Military Records, National Archives). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.674. Glenn W. LaFantasie, "The Inimitable William C. Oates" on the Gettysburg National Military Park web site (<http://www.nps.gov/gett/getttour/sidebar/genoates.htm>).
5. John A. Oates' Military Records (National Archives). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.674, Robert Krick's Introduction (no pagination). LaFantasie, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates, p.17-18. John Brown Gordon was not related to Alexander Gordon, but there was another "A. Gordon" in the regiment - Augustus Manly Gordon, First Lieutenant of Company I (later D) - who was John B. Gordon's younger brother. Augustus was seriously wounded at Seven Pines on May 31, 1862, but recovered and, "by his high soldierly qualities", became Major of the 6th later that year. He was killed, aged twenty-one, at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, "a grape-shot having penetrated his breast at almost the same spot where he had been formerly struck". Promoted posthumously to Lieutenant Colonel, he was described in General Robert E. Rodes' report on the Chancellorsville battle as: "a young officer of great promise and great purity of character" (Augustus M. Gordon's Military Records, National Archives. John B. Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War, 1903, Morningside Press reprint 1993, pp.56,58. U.S. War Department, War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies [OR], Washington D.C., 1880-1901, series 1, vol.25, pt.1, p.944).
6. OR, series 1, vol.2, pp.536-537 (Report of R.S. Ewell). Gordon W. Holmes Jr (ed.), "Letters from or to Michael and Edward Holmes, C.S.A. 1861-1865" on the 6th Alabama web site (<http://www.rootsweb.com/~alcwroot/6th_alabama_inf/letters/holmes.htm>) (Michael Holmes to Edward Holmes, July 24, 1861). Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War, p.38.
7. Ralph Lowell Eckert, John Brown Gordon: Soldier, Southerner, American (Louisiana State University Press, 1989), p.20. Holmes, "Letters from or to Michael and Edward Holmes, C.S.A. 1861-1865" (Michael Holmes to Edward Holmes, September 1, 1861).
8. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.68,671.
9. John A. Oates' Military Records (National Archives). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.673-676.
10. John A. Oats to J.L. Pugh, April 22, 1863 (John A. Oates' Military Records, National Archives).
11. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.119. OR, series 1, vol.11, pt.2, pp.605-606 (Report of R.S. Ewell). The Surgeon's Returns for Gaines' Mill recorded 35 killed and 115 wounded in the 15th Alabama: these numbers also covered Malvern Hill, but the regiment's casualties there were very light. The comparative figure for Gettysburg was 17 killed and 66 wounded (Thomas Desjardin's research has produced a revised total of 21 killed and 57 wounded, 10 of them mortally). At 2nd Manassas, 21 were killed and 91 wounded, while 9 were killed and 75 wounded during the Sharpsburg Campaign. (OR, series 1, vol.11, pt.2, p.975; vol.27, pt.2, p.330; vol.12, pt.2, p.562; vol.19, pt.1, p.813. Thomas A. Desjardin, Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign, Thomas Publications, 1995, p.195.)
12. Edmund Cody Burnett, "Letters of Barnett Hardeman Cody and Others, 1861-1864", Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol.23, 1939, pp.367-368 (Barnett H. Cody to Fransinia McGarity, February 2, 1863). John A. Oats to J.L. Pugh, April 22, 1863 (John A. Oates' Military Records, National Archives).
13. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.695.
14. John A. Oats to J.L. Pugh, April 22, 1863 (John A. Oates' Military Records, National Archives). Burnett, "Letters of Barnett Hardeman Cody and Others", p.370 (Barnett H. Cody to Mr and Mrs J.M.L. Burnett, April 4, 1863). J.L. Pugh to J.A. Seddon, April 28, 1863 (John A. Oates' Military Records, National Archives). Perry, Conceived in Liberty, pp.80-81. Apart from those otherwise specified, all of the quotations in this paragraph are from John Oates' April 22 letter.
15. J.Gary Laine and Morris M. Penny, Law's Alabama Brigade in the War Between the Union and the Confederacy (White Mane Publishing Co., 1996), p.77. James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox (1895, Da Capo Press reprint 1992), p.365.
16. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.226,674. There are echoes here of the final conversation between Augustus and John B. Gordon. Just before he was killed, Augustus told his older brother, "My hour has come...You need not doubt me. I will be at my post. But this is our last meeting" (Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War, pp.64-65, where it is cited as an example of "remarkable foresight of approaching death").
17. OR, series 1, vol.27, pt.2, pp.392-393 (Report of William C. Oates). William C. Oates, "Gettysburg - The Battle On the Right", Southern Historical Society Papers Vol.6, October 1878, pp.174-175.
18. Ibid. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, "Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg" in Hearst's Magazine, June 1913; reprinted in Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Bayonet! Forward: My Civil War Reminiscences (Stan Clark Military Books, 1994), where the quote is on p.28.
19. Oates, "Gettysburg - The Battle On the Right", pp.176,177. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.218,674,226,727. John A. Oates' Military Records (National Archives). Burnett, "Letters of Barnett Hardeman Cody and Others", pp.271,272.
20. OR, series 1, vol.27, pt.2, p.393 (Report of William C. Oates). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.222.
21. Eugene Arus Nash, A History of the Forty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, 1861-1865 (1911, Morningside Press reprint 1988), p.151. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.225.
22. Gregory A. Coco, A Vast Sea Of Misery: A History and Guide to the Union and Confederate Field Hospitals at Gettysburg, July 1 - November 20, 1863 (Thomas Publications, 1988), p.98. David L. and Audrey J. Ladd (eds), The Bachelder Papers: Gettysburg in Their Own Words, Vol. I (Morningside Press, 1994), p.464 (William C. Oates to John Bachelder, March 29, 1876). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.226. John A. Oates' Military Records (National Archives). Burnett, "Letters of Barnett Hardeman Cody and Others", p.272.
23. Glenn W. LaFantasie, "William C. Oates and the Death of General Elon Farnsworth", North & South, Vol. 8, No.1, January 2005, p.53.
24. Burnett, "Letters of Barnett Hardeman Cody and Others", p.372 (William C. Oates to Rev. Edmund Cody, August 30, 1863), p.272 (William C. Oates to Edmund Cody Burnett, July 11, 1902), p.374. According to the former letter, Captain Brainard died on July 3, a day after receiving his wound. This is a more likely scenario than the later, melodramatic version of events given by Oates in The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.673-674, which has Brainard crying "O God, that I could see my mother!" as he fell, and expiring immediately. LaFantasie, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates, pp.134-135. Glenn La Fantasie (ibid, p.341) records that the notebook was in the family library in Montgomery, Alabama, until its theft at some point in the last fifty years.
25. Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, pp.226-227,674-675. The 1880 US Census record for Dr J.A.E. Reed indicates that he was born c.1833 (he was forty-seven in 1880).
26. Desjardin, Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine, pp.221,112. LaFantasie, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates, p.135. Mary H. Mitchell, Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine (Library of Virginia, 1999), pp.155,148,90. Gregory A. Coco, Gettysburg's Confederate Dead (Thomas Publications, 2003), pp.23, and John Oates' entry in Coco's Roster of Confederate Burials. Mitchell gives September 9 and Coco gives December 10 as the date when the shipment left Gettysburg. Transported in the same box with John and Cody were the remains of two Georgians from Wofford's Brigade, Albert L. Allen and Reuben T. Almand, who had presumably died in the same hospital and been buried close to them (Mitchell, p.146). The third Company G. officer, Captain Henry C. Brainard, is not listed among the identified Confederate dead by Coco.
27. John A. Oates' Military Records (National Archives). Oates, The War Between the Union and the Confederacy, p.64. LaFantasie, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates, pp.264-265.
28. Gary Kross, "The Alabamians' Attack on Little Round Top", Blue & Gray Magazine, February 1996, p.60. Laine and Penny, Law's Alabama Brigade, pp.342-3. Perry, Conceived in Liberty, pp.415-418.
29. Kross, "The Alabamians' Attack on Little Round Top", p.61.
Copyright (c) 1999-2006 Rosemary
Pardoe. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Page last altered June 26, 2006.
back to top
back to Tom Chamberlain Home Page
Bar by the Civil War Spider