Eyewitness Pickett’s Charge From 40th New York Infantry
David Coon enlisted in the 40th New York Infantry regiment in Syracuse in 1861 at age 16. He was wounded at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and again at The Battle of Gettysburg when a fragment of shell hit him in the right hand. At Cold Harbor, a part of his hand being torn off, he was disabled, which led to his being discharged on October 28, 1864.
David Coon’s eyewitness account, from July 8, 1863, to Gettysburg and specifically Pickett’s Charge.
“The harvest that Gen. Lee intended to reap in Pennsylvania has terminated and he’s getting a most confounded whipping…the worst one that he has had for some time, and has proved a glorious thing for the cause of the Union (Yankees) as they term us…The stars and stripes are once more waving over the boasted on great Rebel stronghold Vicksburg. Gen. Grant has been a long time a doing this great job, but he has made of sure thing of it and has the honor of holding the Rebel Gen. Pemberton with this whole army prisoners of war. General Meade our new commander of the Army of the Potomac has cut the retreat of the Rebel army off, has captured and burned about 3 miles in length a supply train, has destroyed their pontoon bridges in numbers and the Potomac is so high that they cannot ford it so they will have to fight or surrender before long. At the late battle in Pennsylvania, the Rebel Gen. Lee sent the flag of truce to General Meade asking 24 hours, as is his old game you know, to bury his dead. Gen. Meade’s reply was, not 24 minutes will I give you for any such purpose, we understand your style of burying the dead et cetera.
“Our army has most of them been furnished with new colors lately and at the great battle near Gettysburg, as our men lay under cover of a hill and a stone wall in front of them with their new colors a waving, the Rebels taking them for new state militia advanced out of the woods in solid column to within 50 yards of the stone wall, when our men rose up from their laying down position and to poor Johnny’s surprise they found the old Army of the Potomac once more to contend with. They immediately right about faced (officers with the rest), hollered the old Army of the Potomac is in front. They dug for the woods again repeating the old Army of the Potomac. At every jump our boys saluted them by firing their deadly volleys into them, piling them up in windrows. The artillery also sent the grape and canister into them with disdainful vengeance.”
The granite monument to the 40th New York stands just over six feet high. It depicts a soldier concealed behind rocks, rifle in hand. Bronze tablets in the diamond shape of the symbol of the Third Corps are on the front and left side, while a circular bronze inset of the Seal of the State of New York is on the right side.
The monument was dedicated by the State of New York on July 2nd 1888. A quarter of the money to create the monument came from the State of Massachusetts, who provided four companies when the regiment was formed.
The 40th New York at the Battle of Gettysburg
The 40th New York was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Thomas W. Egan, a clerk from New York City. He was slightly wounded on July 2nd but remained in the field. The regiment’s name comes from it being formed under the auspices of the Mozart Hall Committee, a New York City political group. It brought 606 men to the field.