Brave anonymous color bearer at Gettysburg
The time was about 4 pm on 1 July 1863 and the Federals were making their last stand on Seminary Ridge before being driven through the town. Cooper's Pennsylvania battery of three guns had just helped stop Scales' North Carolina brigade in front, and then battered the left regiment (14th South Carolina) of Perrin's brigade off to the left when they realized that their Union infantry supports were now falling back. It was time to limber up. Flimsy rail breastworks placed forty yards in front of Cooper's guns had been relinquished by the Iron Brigade at most a few minutes earlier. At this moment a lone Confederate color bearer appeared at the rail pile, according to Lt. James A. Gardner from Cooper's Battery. Colonel Wainwright, the First Corps artillery chief, was there as well, and noticed "a big rebel had planted the colors of his regiment on a pile of rails within 50 yards of the muzzles of Cooper's guns." Neither the color bearer nor his regiment has ever been identified so far as is known, however it appears he survived the day. Based on my calculations, the 34th North Carolina regiment, occupying the center of Scales' line, was directly opposite Cooper's position. Another possibility is that he came from the 16th North Carolina, the right center regiment in this brigade. Scales' brigade suffered severely on 1 July, and again on 3 July during Pickett's charge when it is reported that all but one of their regimental flags was captured. Perhaps the brave color bearer met his fate on the third day's fight at Gettysburg and his name has been lost to history. In any event I have not found a Confederate source that identifies the flag bearer who advanced alone to confront Union forces in the final assault on the first day, and his courageous act is attested only by his foes. However, his valor as an American soldier is not forgotten.