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Washingtoville Rededicates Cemetery 160th Anniversary of Gettysburg Orange Blossom Soldier Sacrifice

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Washingtonville soldiers as young as 14 fought at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863

Cemetery monuments and gravestones were carefully restored

This young man, Mitchell Oliver went to fight at only 14 years of age.

The Orange Blossom Soldiers were 10 regiments, many of whom were so young they were just "blossoming", and form "Orange" County.

LeVonne Inspirations provided the flowers and Orange Tree commemorating the brave efforts of the soldiers.

Numerous speeches were given including Helene Spear and Presbyterian Pastor Martha Carlson and can be seen along with some more pictures and several videos on the Washingtonville Cemetery page.

Senator James Skoufas brought a Proclamation for the commemoration, and had his young daughter with him for the event

Blooming Grove Town Historian, Johanna Kiernan gave an official reading of the names.

Luminaries were placed around the Cemetery for visitors during the evening.

Battle of Gettysburg (Text and photos from Washingtonville Cemetery)

It was the second day of fighting at Gettysburg 2 July 1863, and the Battle of Little Round Top proved to be an important victory for the Union forces. The Confederate forces totaled 650 men, who were led by Colonel William Calvin Oates. The Union forces on the extreme left of the Union line was 360 men of the 20th Maine led by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who knew that if they fell back then the Union lines would be flanked. Colonel Oates regiments were of the 47th and 18th Alabama, and Oates was ordered by General Hood to take the heights of Little Round Top and turn on the flanks. When the two sides met on that hill the carnage was fierce.

The Confederates - who out numbered the Union forces - kept trying to flank the line by performing several charges. The 20th Maine held their ground and heavy casualties were taken on both sides. When finally almost out of ammunition and have only half of their original numbers, Chamberlain ordered his men to execute a bayonet charge. The Confederates were so surprised by such a maneuver that they broke ranks and retreated. Colonel Chamberlain was later promoted for his courage under fire, and was awarded the Medal Of Honor.

Chamberlain seemed to have been blessed with both good timing and luck. He not only had made the right command decisions but also had managed to survive when by all rights he should have been dead. Others who merited more credit than they received were Gouverneur Warren, who conducted one of the best reconnoitering jobs of the war in discovering the Little Round Top was undefended, and Strong Vincent, who unhesitatingly put his brigade on Little Round Top and rallied that brigade under intense fire until he fell mortally wounded. Colonel Patrick O’Rorke was also one of the heroes, as his 140th New York reinforced Vincent’s brigade and saved it from early defeat. Both Vincent and O’Rorke gave their lives at Gettysburg, and if not for those two men and others, Chamberlain probably would be remembered today as only a minor figure in a major Union disaster.

Equally important on that day were the defense of both Culp Hill and East Cemetery Hill, both where the fighting was fierce. But the valorous defense of Little Round Top will always belong to the 20th Maine Infantry and to Joshua L. Chamberlain as the regimental commander. But after weighing all the evidence, it seems fair to say that without the contributions of the 2nd Maine Infantry, Andrew J. Tozier, Company B and Holman Melcher, Chamberlain clearly and convincingly would have been defeated. Strong Vincent, Patrick O’Rorke and Ellis Spear also deserve greater recognition for their contributions. Camp PI.

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