Archive for July 1st, 2011

4th US Artillery Battery G

4th US Artillery Battery G (2)

When my friend let me know she had arranged a tour of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo for me, she asked me if there was anything specific I wanted to see. I knew next to nothing about the cemetery and so just mentioned my general interests. Then I went to findagrave.com and skimmed their listing of famous interments and one caught my eye – Bayard Wilkeson. I have a good memory for recognition – I may not be able to recall a specific name out of the air, but if I see it again I’ll know I’ve heard it before. I knew the tale of Bayard Wilkeson from one of Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Gettysburg books.

What is now called Barlow Knoll is a little hill north of Gettysburg town, near where the Adams County poorhouse sat and still the location of the Alms House Cemetery. On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, 1863, it was the extreme right flank of the Union army. Lt. Bayard Wilkeson of New York, only nineteen years old, commanded Battery G of the 4th United States Artillery. Astride his white horse, he was highly visible as he enthusiastically and efficiently commanded the battery. That visibility cost him dearly, as a Confederate shell blew him off the horse. As Nesbitt describes, “His leg was virtually amputated by a shell and hung only by sinew. It slowed him as he crawled to the Alms House for medical help, so he took out his picket knife and finished the job.” (Nesbitt 81)

Wilkeson died of his wounds on the Alms House grounds as Confederates broke the Union line. In a particularly cruel twist of fate, his father Samuel Wilkeson was the New York Times reporter covering the Battle. He reported his own son’s death, collected his body, and laid him to rest in the family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Wilkeson Bayard

Wilkeson Bayard 1

Lieut. Bayard Wilkeson killed at the extreme front of the Battle of Gettysburg in the first day’s fight, July 1, 1863, Commanding Battery G 4th US Artillery

Wilkeson Bayard 3

Promoted after death by order of the President of the United States Mar. 13, 1867, as follows: to be Brevet Captain for gallantry and skill in the Battle of the Deserted House, Va.  To be Brevet Major for gallantry and meritorious services in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.  to be Brevet Liet. Col for gallantry and meritorious services in the Battle of Gettysburg, Penn.

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