Historic Markers Across Alabama

Civil War

Marker ID:  
Location: 200 Monroe Street Northwest, Huntsville AL
County: Madison
Coordinates: N 34° 44.103    W 086° 35.312
  34.73505    -86.58853333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


I am Private Patrick O'Hara of the 20th Main Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Before the war I was a fisherman working on a boat out of Bar Harbor, Maine. I didn't volunteer for the Army until well into the second year of the war because it was way down south and frankly I figured if they didn't want to be in the Union, let'em go. However, my friends convinced me it would be the adventure of a lifetime. I trained with what would become Company C of the 20th Maine when it was mustered into Federal service on August 29, 1862. I saw the elephant, (my first battle) in September at Antietam Creek, Maryland. Actually I only"heard” the elephant since the regiment was held in reserve. Much worse was the battle of Fredericksburg in December when our foiled attack on the Rebel lines forced us to remain overnight in freezing cold. I saw Lieutenant Colonel, Joshua Chamberlain; shield himself with a dead man so I did too. Next April and May we were unable to participate in the Chancellorsville Battle because of a quarantine prompted by a tainted small pox vaccine that had been issued to us. It was beginning to look like we were not going to see much action! All this changed near the little town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. The battle started on July 1, 1863 when Lee's Confederates, moving on Harrisburg, encountered some Union Cavalry west of town Lee's leading Division pushed then and infantry reinforcements back through the town into a line from Cemetery Hill at the north end to a hill known as Little Round Top to the south. We were assigned to hold Little Round Top on the extreme left flank of the Union battle line at all costs. We were soon attacked by the Confederate 15th and 47th Alabama Regiments. We continuously fought for hours. Seeing rebel infantry forming again for yet another push at us and knowing we didn't have enough ammunition left to stop them, newly promoted Colonel Chamberlain ordered a charge! He later said,"One word was enough,"Bayonet!” Whooping and hollering we charged downhill with fixed bayonets, surprising the Confederates and capturing hundreds. If the 20th had not held, we could have lost the battle; and the Confederates could have marched on to Washington D.C. and won the war. For their actions, Colonel Chamberlain and the Color Sergeant Andrew Tozier were awarded the Union's highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor. Although we continued to fight bloody battles for almost two more years, this was the greatest. My regiment's victory has been credited with helping to turn the tide and reunite our country.

I am Private Hiram Ledbetter of the 19th Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company I, the Cherokee Rangers. My regiment fought in the western theater (west of the Appalachian Mountains). I was trained in the Huntsville, Alabama Camp of Instruction in the late summer of 1861 by colonel Joseph Wheeler. I must admit that being a volunteer I thought patriotism was all I needed to be a soldier. Whew, I was dead wrong! Luckily, Colonel Wheeler was a West Pointer and really knew his stuff. Although I didn't know it at the time, his precision and discipline kept us alive many times later on in the war. After we were declared fit to be called soldiers, we were sent to Dog Creek just below Mobile. It was a pretty sorry place but the worst thing was that we didn't even get muskets 'till February of 1862, which made the boys somewhat ornery. We received English muskets called Enfield's, model 1853. These were rifle-muskets which were fired using the percussion system. They used small brass cops that were placed over a cone with a hole leading down inside the barrel. When the trigger was pulled the hammer slammed down on the cap sending a tiny bit of fire into the barrel touching off the powder and shooting the bullet. We used conical bullets called Minie balls which with the rifling made the musket much more accurate and waterproof than the old smooth-bore flintlocks. I fought in many battles over the next three and a half years: Shiloh, Munfordville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Tunnel Hill, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Jonesboro, Nashville, and finally Bentonville where we surrendered. I don't know which was the most hellish, but I reckon they all were. The worst things were the death and crippling of my friends and neighbors and the desolation of the countryside. I can remember thinking early on that I was fighting for my state and country but after all this time I don't rightly know any more. I do know that hell hold no terrors and misery that I and my brothers-in-arms on both sides have been through. The war will always be with me until the day I die.

Erected 2013.

End of Civil War