May 23

In Savannah, Georgia’s Laurel Grove Cemetery there is a section for Confederate soldiers. This area has been variously called “Confederate Field” or “Gettysburg Field.” Of the approximately 700 Confederates buried in this section of the cemetery, comparatively very few are Gettysburg casualties. Most of the Gettysburg dead are buried near the “Silence” monument. We are seeing what information that we can gather on the men that fought and possibly died at Gettysburg. We are looking at an individual on the front row, the second stone from the left. This view was taken facing east at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The Gettysburg Daily took a journey to the Savannah, Georgia area in April, 2011. One of our purposes for the visit was to find Civil War events/personalities associated with Gettysburg.

In our first Savannah post we showed the monument and the grave of Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws.

In our second Savannah at Gettysburg post, we showed the monument and the grave of Colonel Francis S. Bartow. They are very similar to the monument and grave of Lafayette McLaws.

In the third Savannah at Gettysburg post, we gave an overall view of “Gettysburg Field” in Laurel Grove Cemetery and concentrate on the statue “Silence” in the midst of Confederates removed from Gettysburg to Savannah.

In our fourth Savannah at Gettysburg post, we looked at how difficult it is to match one of the soldiers buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery with his unit that fought at Gettysburg.

In today’s Savannah at Gettysburg post, we look up information about another individual buried in Laurel Grove, and whose headstone is somewhat misleading.

This map shows the two areas in Savannah featured in these posts. #1 is the area of the Confederate Monument in Forsyth Park. #2 is Laurel Grove Cemetery. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:30 PM on Friday, April 29, 2011.

This is the brochure given out to those who visit Laurel Grove Cemetery is which southwest of Savannah’s Historic District. It is a handy size and points out some of the important people buried in the cemetery. There is another map which we were given that lists each burial plot, but that was too big for our scanner. In our previous Savannah posts we walked from the Circle surrounded by Cypress, Cedar, Willow and Elm Streets to the McLaws grave in the northeast quadrant, with the red star and the “M.” In our second post we continued our walk to the grave of Francis Bartow, which is the red star with a “B.” In today’s post we walked to the most well known Confederate section of Laurel Grove Cemetery which is marked with a “C.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 5:30 PM on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

The stone for Major P. Brenan has a few problems with it. At first glance, one might think that this is someone who was mortally wounded at Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862 and died the next day. Also, the stone states “Co. A.” Companies have lieutenants and a captain as its officers, not a Major. Also, this individual, according to the available records, was never in a unit designated as Company “A.” However, this person is buried in the Gettysburg section and we decided to look him up anyway. We are glad that we did. The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion show that Major Peter “Brennan” appears on a list of killed, wounded and missing, of Early’s Division, during the campaign in Pennsylvania and Maryland, June and July 1863. The list shows that he was “killed” on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. So he was at Gettysburg and was either killed on July 1, 1863 or was mortally wounded on July 1, 1863 and died the next day. G. W. Nichols history of the 61st Georgia Infantry also states that he was killed on July 1, 1863. So who was Peter Brenan? This view was taken facing east at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The 1860 Federal Population Census for Quitman County, Georgia, District 811, shows that Peter “Brennan” was white, that he was 19 years old, that he born in Ireland and that he was a Merchant. He lived in the same dwelling and was part of the same family with Edward Brennan (1838-). The 1860 census states that Edward Brennan, probably his brother, had a personal estate worth $14,000. The 1860 federal population census shows that Peter Brennan’s real estate did not have a value and that his personal estate was valued at $5000. The talents in being a young, successful and “efficient” merchant seemed to help Peter Brenan in his military career. When Colonel William Stiles recommended that Brenan be promoted to Major in the spring of 1863, he stated that Brenan was a “good” soldier and an “efficient” officer. G. W. Nichols in his history of the 61st Georgia stated that Brenan was a “brave man; efficient officer.” The October 31, 1861 Muster Roll of Company E, of the 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment (Starke Guards) showed that Captain Peter Brennan enlisted as Captain of the Starke Guards on September 23, 1861 at Camp Lamar, Georgia. He was enlisted/appointed by Colonel C. A. L. Lamar for the “war.” The Starke Guards (Company E, 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment) subsequently became Company F, 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment. The regiment was successively designated as the 26th Regiment (Lamar’s) Georgia Infantry, 7th Battalion Georgia Infantry and 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

At Gettysburg, the 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment was in Brigadier General John Brown Gordon’s Brigade, Major General Jubal A. Early’s Division, Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell’s Corps. This plaque is located in the area of Blocher’s Knoll/Barlow’s Knoll. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

This map shows some Gettysburg areas related to Major Peter Brenan and the 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment. The star with the “B” shows Blocher’s Knoll/Barlow’s Knoll. The star with the “K” shows the Jacob Kime Farm where Major Peter Brenan was buried at Gettysburg. This map was created facing north at approximately 8:30 AM on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

As Gordon’s Brigade began their attack at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, towards Union positions on Barlow’s Knoll (out of sight behind the trees in the right background), they were on the right or west side of the Harrisburg Road, on the same side as the Josiah Benner Farm, which is in the right background. Major Brennan had been present on all the previous muster rolls for the 61st Georgia Infantry, and he had been wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas on August 28, 1862. He had recovered in time to be present on the Muster Roll of October 31, 1862. He commanded the regiment, as a Captain in December, 1862 and January, 1863. He was promoted to the rank of Major on April 29, 1863 effective as of February 12, 1863. His rank of Major was also confirmed on April 29, 1863. General Robert E. Lee and Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon approved his rank. Peter Brenan accepted his rank on May 13, 1863. A report of officers of Gordon’s Brigade for April 30, 1863 shows that he was absent with leave for 25 days. He was probably not at the Battle of Chancellorsville. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Rock Creek is marked by the bridge on the Harrisburg Road as the road curves to the left in the background. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The Josiah Benner Farm (here we are showing the barn  — the house was used as a hospital for many in Gordon’s Brigade). It does not appear, however, the Major Brenan was brought to these buildings after he was mortally wounded/killed. Brigadier General John Brown Gordon wrote in his report of the battle: “About 3 p.m. I was ordered to move my brigade forward to the support of Major-General Rodes’ left. The men were much fatigued from long marches, and I therefore caused them to move forward slowly until within about 300 yards of the enemy’s line, when the advance was as rapid as the nature of the ground and a proper regard for the preservation of my line would permit.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Because a group from the 17th Connecticut occupied the buildings around the Benner Farm, it appears most of Gordon’s Brigade moved to the right of the buildings. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Gordon states that his men moved “forward under heavy fire over rail and plank fences…” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Gordon’s Georgians, and Major Brenan, if he had not yet been hit, would have moved into the woods along Rock Creek. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Again, they would have been to the right (west) of the Josiah Benner House. Gordon did not state in what order his regiments were positioned when they made their advance, except to say that the 26th Georgia had been detached to provide support to Jones’ Artillery Battalion. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Gordon said that his Georgians crossed “a creek whose banks were so abrupt as to prevent a passage excepting at certain points, this brigade rushed upon the enemy with a resolution and spirit, in my opinion, rarely excelled.” This is the view that the 54th New York had of Rock Creek as the Georgians charged towards them. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 5:00 PM on Monday, September 15, 2008.

Gordon’s Georgians advanced up the slope of Barlow’s Knoll/Blocher’s Knoll. We are standing at the top of the knoll. The trees are along Rock Creek. The Confederates moved towards the position of the camera. This view was taken facing east at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

In his report, Gordon stated that as his regiments advanced, “The enemy made a most obstinate resistance until the colors on portions of the two lines were separated by a space of less than 50 paces, when his line was broken and driven back…” The Bugler stands atop the monument to the 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry. This view was taken facing west at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The Confederates then poured over Barlow’s Knoll. On the left is the plaque to Adelbert Ames’ Brigade. Monuments at the top of Blocher’s Knoll include from left to right: 153rd Pennsylvania, 25th and 75th Ohio, Francis C. Barlow, Battery G, 4th United States Artillery, and the 17th Connecticut. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Gordon’s report states that an effort was made by the division of Brigadier General Francis C. Barlow to “check our advance, but the effort failed, and this line, too, was driven back in the greatest confusion, and with immense loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Among the latter was a division commander (General F.C. Barlow), who was severely wounded.” The Barlow statue is on the left. This view was taken facing east at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Barlow, in a letter to his mother on July 7, 1863 did not give his men the credit that Gordon’s report did. Barlow writes: “A force came up against our front in line of battle with supports in the rear. We ought to have held the place easily, for I had my entire force at the very point where the attack was made. But the enemies skirmishers had hardly attacked us before my men began to run. No fight at all was made. Finding that they were going I started to get a head of them to try to rally them and form another line in the rear. Before I could turn my horse I was shot in the left side about half way between the arm pit and the head of the thigh bone.” At the bottom of the hill, to the left of the curve in Howard Avenue is the plaque to Gordon’s Brigade. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Gordon’s Brigade advanced towards the camera from the treeline along Rock Creek. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Gordon had approximately 1813 men engaged, and suffered losses of 537 or 29.6%. Most of their losses were on July 1, 1863. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011

The 61st Georgia had 288 men engaged, with 111 casualties, or 38.5%. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

It is not known where Major Peter Brenan fell in this advance. We are looking at the back of the plaque to Gordon’s Brigade. To the front left is the marker to Barlow’s Division. Behind the marker is the Alms House Cemetery. In the left background is the monument to the 107th Ohio. The red barn above the plaque is the McLean Barn below Oak Ridge. This view was taken facing west at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

This view of the plaque shows its relationship to the monuments at the top of the knoll from left to right: 25th/75th Ohio, Barlow, 153rd Pennsylvania behind the flagpole, the guns of Battery G, 4th United States, and the monument to the 17th Connecticut. This view was taken facing north at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The artillery pieces belonging to Battery G, 4th United States Artillery were not captured. They began to move off the knoll as the Confederate attack reached Rock Creek. This view was taken facing south at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011

Although they lost their commander at this position, Lieutenant Bayard Wilkinson, the guns did make it safely back to Cemetery Hill. The light green/blue East Cemetery Hill water tank is visible among the tallest trees in the background. This view was taken facing south at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Hays’ and Avery’s Brigades of Early’s Division attempted to cut off the retreat of Ames’ Division towards Gettysburg. The Confederates advanced from left to right out of the area now occupied by the North Gettysburg Shopping Center. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

A view from the North Gettysburg Shopping Center across the Harrisburg Road to Barlow’s Knoll. The flagpole on Barlow’s Knoll is visible in the left background. Gordon said that it was not “possible for me to take any account of the prisoners sent to the rear, but the division inspector credits this brigade with about 1800.” More than a few of those were probably captured in the fields to the left (west) of the Harrisburg Road. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Major Peter Brenan was brought to the Jacob Kime Farm. The farm is located approximately three miles north of Gettysburg on the west side of Table Rock Road. If he was still alive or conscious when he reached this spot, one of his last memories might have been of riding in an wagon or ambulance down this lane/driveway to the farm buildings. According to the Official Records, Major Peter Brenan and Lieutenant S. H. Rice were the only two officers killed in the 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment at Gettysburg. Dr. John W. C. O’Neal’s unpublished manuscript on Confederate burials at Gettysburg shows Major P. Brenan 61st Georgia and W. Young, Co. A. 61st Georgia were buried on this farm. This view was taken facing west at approximately 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The sign marking this as a hospital site is becoming overgrown. Dr. O’Neal spelled the family name “Keims” in his burial notes. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 7:30 AM on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

The house sits a distance from Table Rock Road. It is not known if Major Brenan was killed instantly on July 1st, or was mortally wounded, brought back to this house, and died that night or the next day, July 2, 1863. If he was killed outright, we believe he would have been buried where he fell since the Confederates controlled that part of the battlefield. So it is more likely that he was mortally wounded and he was brought back behind the Confederate lines approximately two miles to this location. This view was taken facing west at approximately 7:30 AM on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

The Kime Farm and the Josiah Benner Farm were both used as hospitals by Gordon’s Brigade. We also do not know how long Major Brenan’s body stayed on the farm before it was removed to Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery. This view was taken facing west at approximately 7:30 AM on Sunday, May 22, 2011.


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