For Liberty and Justice, The Life and Times of
Wladimir Krzyzanowski.


The Agony And the Infamy (by James S. Pula)

I: The Agony (Chancellorsville)

        Friday, April 10, 1863. Only two days remained before the war entered its third year. The rising sun illuminated a cold, clear morning over the Virginia countryside. A biting wind stung Colonel Krzyzanowski's ears as he walked down the ranks of his assembled brigade. Next to his men, drawn up in formal order, stood Schimmelfennig's brigade. Beyond that, rows and rows of troops comprising the remainder of the Eleventh Corps. Across the wide, wind swept field stood a solitary reviewing stand that contained a host of high-ranking officials and governmental dignitaries. Krzyzanowski paused, looking toward the assembled entourage. His eyes hesitated momentarily, examining the stern features of the new commanding general, Joseph Hooker. Quickly Kriz moved his gaze to the center of attraction on the podium, the thin, towering profile of the President of the United States.
        Lincoln spent several days examining the revitalized Army of the Potomac. He conferred extensively with blond, blue-eyed Joseph Hooker, his choice as a replacement for Ambrose Burnside following the Fredericksburg debacle. A son of Massachusetts, Hooker possessed an abundance of self confidence which often led him to criticize superiors and subalterns alike. He joined the army with a reputation as a connoisseur of the fairer sex, a notoriety whose luster never diminished despite the other adversities of war. Although some were quick to criticize these quirks of personality, Lincoln saw in Hooker a man who performed as well on the battlefield as he did in his social endeavors. The President hoped the same drive and devotion which won Hooker the nickname "Fighting Joe" would infuse an aggressive, winning spirit into the whole army.
        As far as the troops were concerned, "Fighting Joe" began the way a general should begin. He set a priority on improving food supplies, after which he managed to procure new uniforms and foul weather gear for the veteran units whose original issue of these basic commodities long ago wore out. These reforms, combined with the establishment of a furlough system, led to an improvement in morale and a corresponding decline in the desertion rate. In the Eleventh Corps, however, a new change in field commanders offset the effects of many of these positive alterations.
        Exasperated by a series of rebuffs from the War Department, Franz Sigel finally tendered his resignation. While this move caused considerable relief in Washington, it generated much chagrin within the Eleventh Corps. This chagrin turned to consternation when the War Department named Sigel's replacement. Carl Schurz acted as the corps' interim commander, everyone naturally assuming that his promotion would become permanent. Instead, the authorities assigned General Oliver Otis Howard to lead the Eleventh Corps. This meant that Schurz reverted to his divisional command. Schimmelfennig, who commanded Schurz's division in the latter's absence, found his authority reduced to that of his former brigade. To complicate matters even further, Howard brought with him Generals Devens and Barlow to replace McLean and Orland Smith, two very popular officers who returned to their former commands.
        By the time these changes took place the strength of the Eleventh Corps stood at nearly 13,000. Although only 5,000 of these could be counted as Germans or "foreigners," the new modifications in leadership affected the entire command. While the overall morale of the troops remained high, as evidenced by their maintaining the lowest desertion rate in the army, the troops acquired a personal dislike for their corps commander. They blamed him, rather unjustly, for the departure of Sigel and the reduction of Schurz, McLean and Smith. Nor did Howard's peculiar personality engender any particular allegiance among the rank and file. At the age of thirty-four the Maine general possessed a spotless military record including habitual instances of daring that finally cost him an arm at Fair Oaks where he won one of the nation's first awards of the Medal of Honor.
        Beyond this distinguished service record, however, Howard possessed personal prejudices and intolerances that offended many members of his new command. A deeply religious man, the "native Americans" in the Eleventh Corps came to dislike his excessively pious attitudes and pronouncements. To the German free-thinkers his demeanor exuded a much despised clericalism. Throughout the corps, men gathered about their evening campfires to amuse themselves with witticisms revolving around such lines as "Boys, let us pray!" and "Tracts now, instead of sauerkraut!" Worse still, company and regimental officers found it impossible to elicit from their men that "spontaneous" cheer which traditionally greeted general officers as they rode before their troops.
        Suddenly the boom of guns echoed across the field as artillery batteries began a salute from right to left. Rapid staccato drumbeats pierced the deep bass tones of martial brass as the infantry bands struck up "Hail to the Chief." Hurriedly completing his inspection, Krzyzanowski assumed his place at the head of his brigade. Emotions filled him with a sense of excitement as unit after unit marched off to impress the President with their soldierly elan vital.
        Last in the long line of marchers came Schurz's division. Kriz waited patiently for the first brigade to file past before ordering his own men, the last in that long blue line, to move out onto the field. Stiffened with pride, the troops strode past the reviewing stand as the massed bandsmen sent strains of martial music surging through the wind. Drums, trumpets and fifes pierced the gloomy chill of the afternoon, bringing a smile to the lips of the Chief Executive. Lincoln loved the martial flair of the Eleventh Corps' German bands, generally acknowledged as the best in the service.
        Admiring looks of approval illuminated many a previously stoic face on the reviewing stand. With near unanimity the dignitaries singled out Krzyzanowski's command as the best appearing brigade, while the 26th Wisconsin won laurels as the best drilled regiment. Many officials echoed the sentiments of Noah Brooks who commented that "These men impressed us as the best drilled and most soldierly of all who passed before us during our stay."
        Lavish praises once again fell upon the colonel Kriz felt justifiable pride in these men who, despite a history of repeated adversity, worked so hard to mold themselves into such a crack unit. he formally thanked the men for their outstanding efforts. Later, he further honored the western regiment in his brigade by personally lauding it in the presence of Wisconsin's Governor Salomon who visited their camps on April 19. The governor, serenaded by former members of the Milwaukee Sangerbund with songs such as "In Der Heimat ist es Schoen" and "Des Treue Deutsche Herz," showed obvious signs of emotion. "In my whole life," he declared, "I have never been so proud of my German descent as I am now in the camp of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment."
        The festivities now at an end, warmer weather beckoned the contending armies to renew their hostilities. Blessed with the largest, best equipped Union army to date, Hooker felt safe in promising to capture Richmond during his first campaign. Across the Rappahannock from the Federal camps, Robert E. Lee certainly had cause to worry. While the Northern army received continuous reinforcements during the winter months, his own Army of Northern Virginia mustered less troops to begin the third year of campaigning than it had the previous spring. With the meager forces at his disposal Lee would certainly be hard pressed to hold his positions against Hooker's plan to put half his army across the upper Rappahannock, in position to cut off Lee's supply lines and threaten the rear of the Confederate army at Fredericksburg.
        Hooker's campaign began ominously on the rain soaked morning of April 27, 1863. Krzyzanowski rose early, making sure that his brigade was in line by the announced starting time of 5:30 A. M. From their camps at Brooke's Station, the order called for them to proceed, in company with the Twelfth Corps, twenty-seven miles to Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock. About 9:00 A. M., as Krzyzanowski passed through Grove Church, the intermittent rains developed into heavy thunderstorms. Pushing on toward Morrisville, the troops found the slippery road rapidly turning into a deep, muddy morass. Despite this adverse weather Krzyzanowski noted that the men's spirit remained high. Frequent interludes of laughter and singing helped relieve the fatigue of the march. Shortly after midnight on the morning of April 29, joined along the way by the Fifth Corps, the brigade crossed the rain swollen Rappahannock on a pontoon bridge at Kelly's Ford.
        Though he awoke after only a brief sleep, Krzyzanowski did not receive orders to continue the march until about 10:00 A. M. The column soon came under a brief artillery fire from two light guns belonging to Stuart's Confederate horse artillery. Federal cavalry quickly drove the nuisance away. The column continued south, reaching Germanna Ford on the Rapidan River about 4:00 P. M. Kriz rested his men briefly while scouts investigated the far bank to guard against surprise. Thus assured that no ambush awaited, the brigade crossed, under a light rain around 11:00 P. M. On the far side of the stream the colonel posted a heavy picket line, then allowed his men to get some rest while the remainder of Hooker's troops crossed the waters.
        April 30 found Kriz and his troops on the move once again, reaching Locust Grove sometime near noon. There they halted, forming line of battle around the Chancellor House, located in a small clearing surrounded by a desolate wilderness of second growth pine and scrub oak. Since leaving their camps, Krzyzanowski and his comrades-in-arms covered some forty-five miles along muddy, rains wept roads, and crossed two major rivers. They arrived with manpower and spirits unabated, on the exposed left flank of Lee's position at Fredericksburg.
        Krzyzanowski's men fully realized the importance of their movement. Morale soared with the knowledge that they succeeded in catching the rebels off guard. From his headquarters at Falmouth, Hooker added to their jubilation by issuing General Order No. 47.
        It is with heartfelt satisfaction the commanding general announces to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly or come out from behind his entrenchments and give us battle on our own ground where certain destruction awaits him.
        The operations of the 5th, 11th, and 12th Corps have been a succession of splendid achievements.
        The following morning, May 1st Hooker ordered a general advance to press his advantage upon Lee's flank. At noon Krzyzanowski received orders to move his command toward the enemy. This was the moment they had waited for so long. Excitement animated the troops as they fell into line. The anticipation of combat shown in the tenseness of their faces. Eyes forward, the ranks gazed upon their colonel as he stood before them on his jet-black steed. Quickly, but calmly, he spoke to them, impressing upon them the importance of the task before them. The Eleventh Corps, he told them, would hold the position of honor on the right wing of the army. Theirs would be the position that the enemy would no doubt choose to attack. Then, ordering his men into columns to provide greater mobility and freedom of action, the colonel led them down the Plank Road to begin their work.
        About the time that Krzyzanowski began his movement, the leading Northern infantry ran into Confederate skirmishers at Tabernacle Church. A sharp fight quickly developed. Rather than press the issue, as his combat commanders urged, Hooker ordered a withdrawal. "The major general commanding," he explained, "trusts that a suspension in the attack to-day will embolden the enemy to attack him."
        By halting his advance at Tabernacle Church, Hooker forfeited an excellent opportunity to destroy Lee's army in detail. Furthermore, by relinquishing the initiative which his troops were keenly aware they possessed, he subjected his own men to the psychological effects of a check or repulse. General Couch, watching the disappointed infantrymen marching back to their original positions, commented that "the observer required no wizard to tell him... that the high expectations which had animated them only a few hours ago had given place to disappointment."
        Dawn on May 2 found the Eleventh Corps strung out for roughly one and one-half miles along the turnpike leading through the famed Wilderness area west of Chancellorsville. Devens' division held the extreme right, followed by Schurz and von Steinwehr. The men dug rifle pits and erected some light works facing south, but the far right flank appeared completely neglected. Indeed, the exposed flank lay protected by only two small regiments from Leopold von Gilsa's brigade of Devens' division.
        Throughout the day reports arrived at the various Eleventh Corps divisional headquarters indicating Confederate infantry on the move. Dust raised by their columns became visible at many places along the Union line. From McLean's headquarters officers clearly observed, through clearings in the forest, Southern infantry heading off toward the southwest. General Daniel E. Sickles, commanding the Third Corps, now in line on the Eleventh Corps' left flank, sent a warning to General Howard as early as 9;00 A. M. Soon thereafter, at 9:30 A. M., a similar note arrived from General Hooker. The reports multiplied during the afternoon, but Howard paid them no heed.
        Hooker, besieged by a multitude of such reports, became convinced that his plan was succeeding. He interpreted the sightings as evidence that Lee knew his defeat was imminent. Obviously, Hooker reasoned, this was an attempt by the Southern genera] to escape toward Gordonsville. It all fit so well with his preconceived notion of the campaign that he dismissed any other possibilities from his mind. He ordered Sickles out to intercept Lee with the Third Corps, and required Howard to detach Barlow's brigade to support the move. Sickles rushed forward, only to find the quarry already beyond his reach. He contented himself with a brief rear guard action in which he made prisoners of a number of Southern stragglers.
        Robert E. Lee would have been the first to acknowledge the tenuous situation he found himself in that day. But Lee was never one to panic. Hooker viewed Lee's move as a precipitate withdrawal. In reality, what his men saw were 28,000 infantry commanded by Stonewall Jackson. Supported by 1,450 cavalrymen, 2,240 artillerymen, and 112 guns, Jackson planned to move southwest until such time as he could turn north undetected to fall upon the unprotected flank of the Union Army. Hooker's belated half-measures only served to make Jackson's task that much simpler. Sickles' movement successfully isolated the Eleventh Corps from its nearest support by more than a mile of dense wilderness undergrowth. The committing of Barlow's brigade to support Sickles deprived the Eleventh Corps of its only tactical reserve. As the afternoon wore on, Howard's men thus became isolated, without support, in a potentially disastrous position.
        Behind the lines of the eleventh Corps General Schurz discussed the continuous stream of sightings with his brigade commanders. As he spoke, still more reports filtered in. Schimmelfennig reported them to the corps headquarters, only to be ordered to stop reconnoitering and hold his position. General Devens held a long standing dislike for McLean, whom he replaced as divisional commander. When McLean arrived at Devens' headquarters he met with rebuff. When he persisted, Devens accused him of cowardice and ordered him back to his unit.
        At 2:30 P. M. opposing skirmishers ran into each other out beyond the right flank. Shots rang out. Neither Hooker nor Howard, nor even Devens appeared concerned. Carl Schurz was. He requested permission to place his entire division facing west toward the exposed flank. Howard refused. Instead of investigating, the commander of the Eleventh Corps retired for a nap.
        By 5:00 P. M. Jackson completed his movement. 0ut beyond the exposed Union flank he formed 31,690 men into three parallel lines that stretched for a mile on either side of the turnpike. Seventeen regiments stood in the first line, supported by nineteen in the second: a total of over 17,000 men about to strike 9,000 isolated troops in the eleventh Corps. Behind these two lines, in reserve, stood 11,751 men of A. P. Hill's division. Two hours of daylight remained as seventy-four Southern regiments moved slowly into position for their attack on twenty-three ill-prepared blue units. 23
        Along the turnpike, men of the Eleventh Corps lay about with stacked arms. Here and there they prayed cards, slept, or cooked their evening meals. Horses and beeves grazed lazily behind the lines. The sound of laughter rose from around the campfires. At the Hawkins Farm Colonel Krzyzanowski supervised the movements of two of his regiments, the 58th New York and 26th Wisconsin. He put them into position facing west, a move ordered by General Schurz despite Howard's earlier refusal of his request to do so. At the Dowdall Tavern General Schimmelfennig nervously scanned the terrain with his field glasses.
        "If they should come in on our flank," he confided to his aides, "we will be in a hell of a fix."
        Suddenly the report of a musket echoed through the woods. Then another. Before anyone had time to move, a volley of thunder burst from the underbrush, spreading death before it. Thousands of high-pitched, wavering yells punctuated the rattle of musketry as Doles' Georgians and O'Neal's Alabamans sprang from the woods to engulf von Gilsa's hopelessly outnumbered regiments. Caught end-on, the Northern units had no chance of making a meaningful defense. Against a hurriedly prepared front of one or two regiments at a time, 30,000 Confederates overlapped the beleaguered Federals so far that they threatened imminent encirclement to any who attempted a stand. All along the line Federal regiments found themselves stacked up like so many dominoes.
        In front of the advancing Confederate line surged a swirling, howling, cursing mass of noncombatants unwittingly caught up in the flight. The turnpike, the only avenue of escape, bulged with horses, wagons, mules and all of the other paraphernalia of an army corps in the field. Near the Dowdall Tavern this mass of hysterical animals and befuddled civilians tore into the 119th New York, smashing apart its neatly arranged ranks. Colonel Peissner, the old professor whose scholarly defense of Northern political principles placed him in the forefront of Abolitionism, rushed about trying to restore order amid the chaos. Miraculously he reestablished his lines in time to meet the Southern onslaught. Lethal volleys swept the clearing from both directions. The colonel fell from his horse with two fatal bullets imbedded in his lifeless body. Lt. Colonel Lockman took command as shot and shell dealt death and destruction on all sides. A fatal bullet found Captain Henry Schwerin. A shell fragment struck Private Adolph Stahl in the head, causing him to suffer from epilepsy for the rest of his life.
        Farther north, at the Hawkins Farm, Krzyzanowski ordered his regiments into line of battle with the Polish Legion on the left and the Sigel Regiment to its right. The Hawkins Farm was an important position. Aside from being General Schurz's headquarters, it marked the only place along the axis of the Confederate advance where troops were deployed north of the turnpike to meet the assault. General Schurz ordered Kriz to command the position in person, signifying its importance. If it fell quickly, Confederate infantry could swing in behind the embattled Federals along the turnpike, cutting off their avenue of retreat and capturing all the artillery and baggage wagons. The line had to be held at least until this vital equipment could safely withdraw and the other units rally upon the reinforcements that were sure to double-quick to their rescue.
        Krzyzanowski advanced one hundred men into the woods as skirmishers under Captain Charles Pizzala and Lieutenants Albert Wallber and Charles Doerflinger. Soon the Confederates appeared in force By the time they reached the Union skirmishers the Southern line of battle overtook the skirmish line, merging the two into a single' massive, seemingly irresistible force. Pizzala's men fired, then fled for the safety of their own battle line. A musket ball pieced the captain's skull, killing him instantly.
        Bursting out of the woods, Lieutenant Doerflinger found himself opposite the color guard of the Polish Legion. For a second his heart stopped as he glimpsed the barrels of their rifled muskets, poised, awaiting only the order to hurl forth messengers of death. He ran toward them, hoping they would recognize him. A bullet from his pursuers sliced apart the shoulder strap of his haversack. Half-way to the Union line he could hear the New Yorkers yelling for him to hurry up. Another shot dented his scabbard. With this incentive he felt sure that he annihilated all previous records for the seventy-five yard
        Panting for breath, Doerflinger ran past the color-guard, turned left, and headed for his own regiment. 1ooking back on his experience at a later date he felt fortunate that "no kodaks or kodak-fiends existed in those days to perpetuate such interesting and often ludicrous events for the edification of posterity."
        Seconds after Doerflinger's escape the rebel line emerged from the woods. Captain Frederick Braun yelled for his regiment to fire. A sheet of framing smoke greeted the Confederates, followed by a second and a third. Ironically, the assailants that the Polish Legion sought to forestall included Captain Leon Jastrzemski's "Polish Brigade" - the 14th Louisiana of Nicholls' brigade. The former countrymen, some now in blue and some in grey, met in a deadly struggle for a small farmyard in a desolate Virginia woods. On the one side Captain Jastrzemski fell with a painful throat wound. On the other, a minnie ball found Captain Braun as he sat atop his horse directing his regiment. This courageous officer, only recently returned from a Southern prison, fell to the ground fatally.
        To Krzyzanowski, watching the New Yorkers battle against overwhelming odds, the fight appeared hopeless. One after another of the brave men fell. Private Stephen Bengel - wounded. Dr. Henry Root - wounded. Raked by fire from their unprotected left flank as well, men began falling in groups. Asbach, Kantzmann, Thiele and Handelbaum - all wounded. George Pfeffer suffered his third wound of the war. With barely 250 men in line to meet the massive grey tide, the gallant command absorbed the initial shock of the assault for several critical minutes.
        In an exposed position with no one to support their left flank, Kriz could ask no more of them. He sent word to Captain Emil Koenig to retire several paces beyond a small bluff that afforded some protection. Firing as it went, the Polish Legion responded. Slowly, they gave ground back to their new position. There they halted to support the left flank of the 26th Wisconsin.
        The crisis to his left thus momentarily resolved, Kriz turned his attention to the Sigel Regiment. the Badgers, fighting in their very first engagement, received simultaneous attacks on their front, and obliquely on their right flank. Skillfully placed by Colonel Krzyzanowski behind a small hedge, the regiment nevertheless enjoyed little cover. The tremendous numerical superiority of the Confederates made resistance a costly affair. One determined rush by the rebel infantry could not possibly have failed to annihilate the small regiment. But the unexpected resistance of these 471 men momentarily halted the advanced elements, causing the impetus of the assault to wane.
        The left flank of the Southern line overlapped Krzyzanowski's position by a quarter of a mile. All of his men were on the firing line. He had no reserves to meet the thrust. Deadly enfilading volleys raked the lines from the exposed right.
        Amid the turmoil Adam Muenzenberger rammed charge after charge into his musket, firing as fast as he could load. All about him his friends, relatives and neighbors in Company C crumpled to the ground. All of the officers fell dead or wounded. Sergeant Jacob Michel suffered a mortal wound. Louis Manz received a painful head injury. A quick glance to either side disclosed the broken, maimed bodies of men named Springling, Burkhard, Deany, Stirn, Bigalke, Luther, Weiss, Krueger, Beres, Fritz, Urich, Hermann and Koch.
        A musket ball smashed the shoulder of Private Lastofka. Three separate missles struck Peter Lorsch. A minie hall shattered Friedrich Puls' knee, and another inflicted a painful wound on John Waskowicz. Company E lost twenty men. Thirty-two fell in Company G. The silence of death mingled everywhere with the cries of the wounded as the Confederates regrouped to press home their attack. Colonels Krzyzanowski and Jacobs rushed about amid the debris of battle issuing orders, cheering their men, and looking nervously over their shoulders for the help that never came.
        A continuous stream of stretcher bearers carried the wounded to the Hawkins farmhouse. There they placed the injured on the bare floor, packed so tightly that the two available surgeons could scarcely move between them.
        Losses mounted to staggering proportions. Over one-third of the Badgers were already hit. Desperately seeking to hold his position, Kriz sent Lieutenant Louis H. Orlemann to General Schurz with an urgent appeal for reinforcements. There were none. Barlow's brigade was off chasing ghosts with the Third Corps and the remainder of the army still lay a mile away wondering what all the commotion was. Mercifully, Schurz ordered the remnants of the two regiments to retreat.

        Krzyzanowski ordered Jacobs to face his men about. The Badger colonel refused to order his men to abandon the field they paid for with their blood. It was a brave gesture, but Confederate skirmishers already fired at them from behind. Any further delay, perhaps even a minute or two, might spell doom for the whole regiment. With virtually all of the company officers incapacitated, the men fired, reloaded, and fired again in rapid, mechanically repetitive motions. With time of the essence, Kriz spurred his horse in among the embattled infantrymen to lead them to safety. In Company K, Lieutenant Doerflinger lay on the ground, his ankle shattered by a musket ball. As he looked out over the scene of destruction where his company lost more than thirty men, his eyes focused on Krzyzanowski "galloping along leaning forward on his black steed under the hail of lead in the fashion of his Polish countrymen."
        "For God's sake, men," the colonel pleaded with the stubborn Badgers, "fall back."
        A good general, it is said, knows when to retreat. At Chancellorsville Krzyzanowski proved himself worthy of a star.
        While Kriz led his men in a hasty but orderly retreat, Lieutenant Doerflinger counted six distinct ranks of Confederates passing over him before he passed out. The tattered blue regiments moved slowly, pausing several times to fire on pursuers who kept at a respectable distance. About 400 yards to the rear they fell in with Buschbeck's brigade manning a shallow trench. There, for over half an hour, they exchanged fire with the rebels until this position also became flanked by the long Southern lines. Covered by Captain Hubert Dilger's Ohio Artillery, the retreat continued.
        Carl Schurz, accompanying Dilger's rear guard, walked slowly into the woods east of the embattled clearings. He glanced at his watch. It read 7:15 P. M. The Eleventh Corps fought against odds well over three to one for more than two hours. Not a single man from another command came to its aid. Schurz turned to look at the battlefield. No one pursued them. The Confederate assault stopped at the Buschbeck line where the attackers halted in the gathering dusk to regroup their scattered ranks.
        The brilliant stand of Krzyzanowski's small force bought the time necessary for the escape of the Federal artillery and the reforming of the remainder of the troops into a makeshift defensive line. Their stubborn resistance, together with that of Schimmelfennig's brigade, took the impetus out of the Confederate offensive, while denying to Jackson's men the objectives which they sought to achieve before dark. Indeed, one might even argue that this fanatical resistance was at least partly responsible for the confusion in the Southern ranks that led to the death of Stonewall Jackson at the hands of his own troops. General Schurz commended Kriz highly for the firmness with which he received the enemy. The same thoughts echoed in the official report of General Howard.
        But the end was not achieved without great sacrifice. Looking at the after action reports of his regiments, Kriz no doubt found it difficult to conceal his grief at their losses. Thirty-one men did not respond to the roll call in the Polish Legion. Fifty-nine were absent from the 75th Pennsylvania. Peissner's gallant stand cost 120 casualties. The men from Wisconsin, under Krzyzanowski's immediate command, lost 204. Indeed, of all the regiments engaged at Chancellorsville during the next few days, the 26th Wisconsin ranked seventh in total casualties. Its fatality rate of eleven percent constituted one of the highest in the battle.
        The Battle of Chancellorsville did not end on May 2. Following Jackson's surprise attack, Hooker ordered the Eleventh Corps to the left flank of the army near the Rapidan River. For the next three days Krzyzanowski's men duelled with sharpshooters while the outnumbered but relentlessly aggressive Confederates succeeded in pushing Hooker's remaining corps from one position after another. Gradually the Federals found themselves driven closer and closer to the river. Finally, on the evening of May 5, Hooker ordered a general retreat back across the Rappahannock River.
        The retreat began in great haste, under a drenching rain, on the morning of May 6. Alerted to the imminent move, Kriz formed his brigade into ranks at 1:20 A. M. They waited, wet to the skin, as minutes turned into hours without the arrival of their orders. Finally, at 6 00 A. M. the movement began. Ahead of them lay the long, muddy, rain swept roads to Brooke's Station. Roads that they and their departed comrades so cheerfully traversed only a few days earlier.

II: The Infamy

        May 7 brought the beginning of a new trial for Kriz and his men. Not a physical exertion, but the more lasting pain of mental abuse. For the first time in quite a while recent newspapers circulated through the camps of the Eleventh Corps. Eagerly the men scanned the pages for some account of their desperate stand, some accolade for a job well done. Instead, their eyes fell upon shocking, incomprehensible stories describing in glowing detail how Schurz's men abandoned their positions behind prepared breastworks to rush in panic toward the rear. The New York Times noted that the Germans ran too fast to suffer many casualties. It credited General Hooker's superb generalship with saving the bulk of the army. All over the North from Milwaukee and Indianapolis to Pittsburgh and New York, newspapers echoed the same sentiments.
        Stunned at first, reactions quickly turned to pain followed by anger. Invectives and blatant threats filled the air as newspapers passed from campfire to campfire. It was not the first time that journalists blamed the "foreigners" for a defeat it happened frequently - but the maligned men always remained silent. Until now Kriz and his compatriots blamed themselves for not achieving better results. But Chancellorsville was different. Placed in a terrible position through the ineptitude of their commanding generals, the men fought desperately. They purchased crucial time with the blood of one-quarter of their number. Now, instead of praise, the newspapers castigated them more severely than ever.
        Papers in hand, men appeared at the tents of their officers seeking some explanation. They received none, of course, for the officers felt as startled and appalled as their men. Schimmelfennig wrote a scathing letter of protest in which he attributed the stories to "the prurient imaginations of those who live by dipping their pens in the blood of the slain." Schurz complained to Hooker, maintaining that in fact the only fighting done on May 2 was by the "foreign" brigades of Krzyzanowski, Schimmelfennig and Buschbeck. When his protest bore no fruit he published a letter in The New York Times calling for a Congressional investigation.
        Swamped with complaints, Krzyzanowski passed along the protests of his men after adding his own endorsement. The effects of these callous charges must have made an indelible impression on a man as dedicated to the cause as the colonel. After the passage of a full twenty years, when he wrote his memoirs, he noted sarcastically that "'Fighting Joe' showed very little ability." Coming from the pen of one who consciously attempted not to hurt anyone by his reminiscences, one can imagine the deep resentment that he held even at that late date. In his view, Hooker completely lost his head, and with it an opportunity to exploit the confusion within the Confederate lines on the evening of May 2.
        Harangued with anathemas by not only the newspapers but General Hooker as well, few were willing to stand by the maligned "foreigners." Generals Couch and Warren ventured the opinion that no troops placed in the positions of the Eleventh Corps could have held their ground. More to the point, General Abner Doubleday commented that the Germans were being made the scapegoat for the defeat. He called for justice to be done because the abusive censure could only injure the men's morale and esprit-de-corps.
        Theodore A. Dodge, adjutant of the 119th New York, wrote an in-depth study of Hooker's actions, or inactions as the case may be. With the perception and insight of an established military scholar, he pointed to the real source of the defeat the ineptitude of Joseph Hooker. Surely, he mused, the defeat of May 2 served as but a prelude to the fighting of the next two days. These later days witnessed the rare sight of:

...a slender force of 20,000 men who had been continuously marching and fighting for four days, pursuing in their own defenses an army of over sixty thousand men, while its commander cries for aid to a lieutenant who is miles away and beset by a larger force than he himself commands.

        Dodge's plea, like those of Schurz, Schimmelfennig, and the others, fell on deaf ears. Worse still, the men gradually came to ask the horrible question: "What are they thinking back home?" Day after day this single query plagued their minds.
        "I deem it my duty as a husband and father," wrote Adam Muenzenberger, "to write to you again and more particularly because the newspapers have published so much trash about the 11th Corps which no doubt disturbed you as well as others."
        Incensed by an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Christliche Beobachter, Charles Wickesberg wrote home to defend his comrades. "We stood firm," he insisted. And they say we ran away out of our trenches. I would like to see some trenches. We were standing in front of a bush.... All of the papers write lies. There are a few of those drunken scoundrels who have those things put into the paper. In time the truth will come out.... It was all General Howard's fault. He is a Yankee, and that is why he wanted to have us slaughtered, because most of us are Germans. He better not come into the thick of battle a second time, then he won't escape.

"A Portrait of Hell"

        Despondently, Krzyzanowski surveyed the results of a general roll call held on May 21, 1863. On paper his brigade contained 2,141 officers and men. In reality, only 1,205 reported as present and fit for duty. Nearly half of his command lay in hospitals suffering from the effects of wounds or disease. Some were recuperating at home while awaiting confirmation of their disability discharges. Furthermore, these grim figures did not reflect the scores of men who lost their lives on the deadly field at Chancellorsville. Despite this dejection over the losses his brigade suffered, Kriz felt motivated by a stronger emotion. The characterization of his men as cowards evoked in him a consuming sense of indignation. He, like those about him, remained adamant in his belief that the results of the fighting on Flay 2 were produced by the prejudiced and pusillanimous nature of General Joseph Hooker.
        Soon after the roll call of May 21, Krzyzanowski received welcome reinforcements with the arrival in camp of the 82nd Ohio Infantry. The Buckeye regiment enlisted 931 men at Kenton, Ohio, on the last day of December, 1861. Veterans of many a battlefield, the 82nd Ohio lost its colonel, James Cantwell, at Groveton. After fighting as an unattached regiment assigned to Schurz's division at Chancellorsville, the unit now mustered only 350 men under Colonel .lames S. Robinson. Their addition lifted the active strength of the brigade to 1,555.
        Following his military faux pas at Chancellorsville, General Hooker moved his huge army into a defensive position to meet an anticipated follow-up assault by the Army of Northern Virginia. Realizing the folly of attacking Hooker's men in their prepared positions, General Lee decided upon a bold movement toward the north. The Southern commander reasoned that an invasion of the North itself might accomplish three goals. It would allow his legions to gather recruits in Maryland and much needed supplies in the rich farmlands of Pennsylvania. Such a move would certainly draw Hooker out into the open where he might be attacked with greater opportunity for success. Finally, a victory on Northern soil might convince many Northerners that the war was hopeless, thus precipitating peace negotiations that would ensure an independent Southern Confederacy. Leaving a token force at Fredericksburg, Lee set his regiments in motion with the alacrity that came to be the trademark of his campaigns. Striking northwest toward the Shenandoah Valley, then north toward the Potomac, Southern infantry easily outdistanced the snaillike movements of its ponderous adversary.
        nitially, when Lee's strategy became apparent, Hooker proposed moving his army South. After overwhelming A. P. Hill's corps at Fredericksburg, he planned to continue south until he had Richmond in his grasp. 11orrified at the thought of Lee's army romping through Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as fearing for the safety of the capital, both Lincoln and Halleck vetoed the idea in no uncertain terms. Slowly, and with some aggravation, Hooker began moving west to follow Lee. At last realizing, on June 13, that Lee's objective was not the Shenandoah Valley but an invasion of the North, 11ooker belatedly turned his columns north. The race for Pennsylvania was on.
        Tormented by a constant barrage of vicious anathemas heaped upon it by the press and by prejudiced or insensitive staff officers, Krzyzanowski's brigade welcomed the opportunity to leave some of these mental scars behind them. Never really considered a part of the original Army of the Potomac, the Eleventh Corps began to exhibit collective symptoms of the "Cinderella syndrome." An aura of disappointment, compounded by thinly disguised and barely repressed feelings of anger and hostility, hung about the entire corps as it moved north.
        Krzyzanowski's brigade left Brooke's Station on June 12, marching via Hartwood Church and Catlett's Station to Centreville. Clear skies magnified the June heat. Virginia's roads turned into dust bowls that all but asphyxiated men marching at the rear of the columns. During their brief rest stops men broke ranks to assault nearby cherry orchards, ripping whole trees to the ground in the process. Plentiful strawberry and blackberry patches were left naked as the troops indulged themselves in these juicy, seemingly exotic treats. Harassed now and then by a Southern bushwhacker, Krzyzanowski found his worst enemy to be the Army of the Potomac. Whenever his men met units from other corps along the crowded pathways, a predictably one-sided dialogue ensued.
        "I fights mit Sigel," a man would remark, his tone of voice indicating no particular reverence for the proud rallying cry of the German-Americans.
        "... und runs mit Schurz!'' came the taunting conclusion of a fellow-conspirator farther back in the ranks.
        After two days of rest at Centreville Kriz led his brigade on to Goose Creek. A suffocating heat engulfed the sweating men in an unrelenting cloud of dust. Finally arriving at the small creek-bed, the men made the best of this opportunity to cool off and cleanse their bodies of irritating coats of sticky paste.
        Several days of much-appreciated rest followed as General Hooker decided upon a course of action. The brief respite enabled the brigade's mail to catch up with it, cheering, at least temporarily, the mood of the troops. One exception was Adam Muenzenberger. His letter brought distressing news of the death of his son Ernst. Only a few months ago he opened a similar letter to learn of the death of another son. Twice within the space of a year tragedy entered his life. While his friends prepared to resume the march, he once again took up his pen in an effort to comfort his wife.
        ''Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth," Adam wrote. "Be comforted, dear. After the rain comes the sunshine."
        On June 24 Kriz marched his men to Edwards' Ford on the Potomac River. The following morning, amid great rejoicing, musicians struck up lively tunes while the regimental color guards unfurled their battle-torn flags. Cheerfully the men broke into song as they followed their colors across the undulating pontoons. Delighted to leave Virginia's bloody soil behind them, they formed the first elements of the Army of the Potomac to cross back into Northern territory. Marching on to their camps near Jefferson, Maryland, the troops acquired a new determination to rid the North of its Southern invaders.
        While Krzyzanowski led his men north with the renewed determination that animates men fighting to defend their homes, another significant change took place. Piqued by his disagreements with the War Department, "Fighting Joe" gave up the fight. He asked to be relieved of command. Secretary of War Stanton, with Lincoln's hearty endorsement, eagerly accepted the request. On June 28, command of the army passed to George G. Meade, a sad-eyed Pennsylvanian with the stature and bearing of a clergyman. Never one to seek advancement at the expense of others, Meade protested that his appointment represented an affront to General John Reynolds, a personal friend and senior officer who led the First Corps. Reynolds, to his credit, lodged no complaint. With some misgivings, Meade applied himself to the enormous task of assuming command of an army on the eve of battle. Hooker, without briefing Meade on his plans or dispositions, departed with more vigor than he exhibited in any of his previous campaigns. The Eleventh Corps displayed anything but sorrow over his departure.
        Plodding along over the rain soaked roads, Krzyzanowski brought his troops into Emmitsburg on June 29. The First Corps, marching in the wake of the Eleventh, soon arrived and encamped nearby. That afternoon the leading officers of the two army corps visited General Meade's headquarters to congratulate their new commander on his appointment. Ranged about his tent, they posed before a photographer to record the occasion for posterity.
        The bimonthly muster fell on June 30. The Eleventh Corps recorded 9,841 officers and men present for duty. Of all the corps in the army, only the Twelfth contained fewer. During the day Krzyzanowski dispatched fifty men of the 75th Pennsylvania to act as a guard for the reserve ammunition train. The rest of Krzyzanowski's men made their camps on the grounds of the St. Joseph's College nunnery near Emmitsburg. Adam Muenzenberger joined several of his friends in receiving Communion at the convent. Witnesses noted that the troops behaved themselves in exemplary fashion. Gathered about their campfires, the men reflected over their lost comrades. They speculated on the battle about to be joined. The growing darkness provided an eerie background for "Morgenrot," always a favorite song in the brigade. On this occasion it proved prophetic.

                Morgenrot, Leuchtest mir zum fruhed Tod?
                Bald wird die Trompete blasen,
                Dann muss ich mein Leben lessen,
                Ich und marcher Kamerad!

                Kaum gedacht, War der Lust ein End' gemacht.
                Gestern noch auf stolzen Rossen,
                Heute durch die Brust geschossen,
                blorgen is das kuhle Grab!

                Ach, wie bald Schwindet Schonheit und Gestalt!
                Tust du stolz mit deinen Wangen,
                Die wie Milch und Purpur prangen?
                Ach, die Rosen welken all!

                Darum still Fug' ich mich, wie Gott es will.
                Nun, so will ich wacker streiten,
                Und sollt' ich den Tod erleiden,
                Stirbt ein braver Reitersmann.

        Dawn made its appearance early on July 1. Before it grew old Captain Emil Koenig led the bulk of the Polish Legion off toward Creagerstown, on the road to Frederick, in search of Confederate marauders reported in that vicinity. At 8:00 A. M. the drowsy campsite became a hub of activity. A courier brought news that rebel infantry was on the outskirts of a small crossroads known as Gettysburg. Another rider brought news of skirmishing. General Reynolds was about to go into action, he said, and the Eleventh Corps should move forward to support the First.
        Activated by these reports, Kriz hastened his men into line, formed his regiments into columns, and moved them off along the Taneytown Road. Even though this route was two miles longer than the direct route, the shorter route lay crowded with the baggage trains of the First Corps, thus making it impassable. A driving rainstorm quickly turned the earthen roads into a quagmire. Many of the men marched barefoot, their shoes having worn out on the tedious trek from Brooke's Station. Those with footwear slogged along, water filling their shoes while the mud sucked at their feet in an effort to tear the coverings from them. They marched at a regular pace so as not to become exhausted, but forsook their normal ten minute break each hour.
        At 10:30 A. M. Krzyzanowski reached Homer's Mill. There the rain ceased, revealing a bright, sultry July day. Just past the mill, a messenger brought the brigade orders to hurry up. Kriz pushed his men forward at the quick-step. The troops fought to maintain their footing in the slippery mud. From above, an unshielded sun beat down upon them without mercy. Bernhard Domschke considered it the most difficult and exhausting march he ever made. There were few who would have disagreed.
        Spurring his horse on ahead of the laboring infantry columns, General Howard arrived near Gettysburg at 11:30 A. M. General Reynolds, he learned, was dead. As the senior officer present, Howard took command of the field from General Abner Doubleday, acting commander of the First Corps. Howard immediately sent word to Schurz to assume command of the Eleventh Corps. Entrusting his division to the care of Schimmelfennig, Schurz hastened on ahead to get a first-hand look at the situation before his troops arrived.
        Krzyzanowski's brigade came within sight of Gettysburg at 12:30 P. M. after covering the thirteen niles from Emmitsburg, a good day's march in that era, in only four and one-half hours. Huffing and puffing, their feet already heavy with the weight of many miles, their ears picked up the rattle of musketry beyond and to the left of the village. Rushing toward the sound of the firing, Kriz raced his men the last mile into town at the doublequick.
        The sounds of battle brought to some a new surge of energy. Adjutant Theodore A. Dodge in the 119th New York sensed his blood surging faster, his pulse pounding loud enough to hear, and his nerves becoming more sensitive to the most subtle of nuances. Charles Wickesberg, in the Sigel Regiment, felt wet as a cat and hungry as a wolf.
        Panting for breath, their faces streaming with sweat, the men entered the southern edge of town. As they trotted through the hamlet citizens waved and cheered from their windows and porches. Some obliging Samaritans rushed forward offering buckets of water for the men to quench their thirst. Here and there people held out loaves of bread or rolls to the famished men. Two or three civilians ran forth with warm greetings for Lieutenant Henry Hauschildt, a former resident of Gettysburg now serving with the 75th Pennsylvania.
        As the regiments poured into town, Howard ordered Schimmelfennig's and Barlow's divisions to support the endangered right flank of the First Corps north of Gettysburg. Von Steinwehr's division, together with the reserve artillery, went into line on Cemetery Hill, a position that Howard determined to hold as a likely spot upon which to form the primary defensive works. Howard hoped to hold the lines north and west of town as long as possible, then retreat to Cemetery Hill where the Twelfth and Third Corps would form. The former, under Henry Slocum, lay at Two Taverns, some five miles south of Gettysburg. The latter, led by Daniel Sickles, was at Emmitsburg.
        North of the town Krzyzanowski rested his weary men briefly in the shade of an apple orchard while the first sergeants called the roll. To their left, the contest already raged with unremitting fury. With the sounds of battle growing closer by the moment, the infantrymen knelt in silent prayer. They were a resolute group of men. Only too well aware of the past abuses heaped upon them, they were determined to cleanse their record. Aware, as well, of the crucial significance of this invasion of the North, and the battle about to be joined, Kriz resolved to fight as never before.
        An artillery shell burst nearby. Then another. Confederate gunners on Oak Hill began finding the range. Krzyzanowski deployed his brigade in a double line to the right of von Amsberg's brigade [formerly Schimmelfennig's]. At that moment Barlow's division arrived on Krzyzanowski's right, prolonging the line all the way to Rock Creek. Moving forward under the colonel's command, Krzyzanowski's men drove back the rebel skirmish line endangering the right flank of the First Corps. Kriz continued his advance to a line parallel with the almshouse near the Carlisle Road. Shells from Carter's twenty-four gun Confederate artillery battalion on Oak Hill began falling about them. One shell from a ten-pounder rifled gun landed next to the 75th Pennsylvania killing one man and injuring two others. The dead man was the one-time resident of Gettysburg, Henry Hauschildt.
        Dilger's and Wheeler's batteries clamored forward to bring their ten guns into play against the Confederates. Their fire brought some relief as they forced Carter's guns to change position, thus reducing their rate of fire. Schurz had 6,000 men north of Gettysburg, not enough to adequately fill the gap between the First Corps and Rock Creek. About 2:30 P. M. Barlow, without authorization, moved his division forward to take possession of a small knoll north of the almshouse. This forced Schurz to advance Krzyzanowski and von Amsberg, thus extending the gap between the First and Eleventh Corps to nearly a quarter of a mile.
        Krzyzanowski directed his men forward at a steady pace against the opposition of skirmishers from Doles' brigade, the same unit that led Stonewall Jackson's assault at Chancellorsville. Colonel Franz Mahler, leading his Pennsylvanians forward, was nearly crippled when his mangled horse fell on top of him. He insisted upon remaining on the field to direct his troops. Mirroring Mahler's determination, the remainder of the brigade went into line to the right of the Carlisle Road, on the left flank of Barlow's division. Von Amsberg halted on Krzyzanowski's left, with his own left located along the Mummasburg Road.
 

        Doles attempted to force a Federal withdrawal by exploiting the weakness of von Amsberg's left flank. As his Georgians advanced across the field, Kriz perceived the imminent danger. Quickly he dispatched reinforcements to the threatened area. A few effective volleys sent the attackers back across the fields in some disorder. Cheers went up all along the Federal line as the Confederates withdrew to reorganize. Spirits soared with the afternoon's successes, despite the precarious situation that still existed. Alone and virtually unsupported, Schurz's men pushed Doles from his advanced positions, eased the pressure on the First Corps, and rebuffed Doles' attempt to push them back. Yet while the men congratulated themselves, the decisive event of the day began to unfold.
        Marching toward the sound of distant guns, Jubal A. Early's division of grey-clad infantry began to arrive on the battlefield about 3:00 P. M. Their arrival not only placed the Eleventh Corps at roughly a two-to-one disadvantage in manpower, but their positioning could not have been better if planned well in advance. They arrived across Rock Creek, beyond the far right flank of the Eleventh Corps. It was Chancellorsville all over again.
        Jones' artillery battalion, from Early's division, placed twenty-four guns across Rock Creek from Barlow's exposed flank, many of which were actually behind the Union lines. Together with Carter's battalion on Oak Hill, these forty-eight guns caught the entire length of the Eleventh Corps lines in a terrific crossfire of exploding shells and deadly shrapnel.
        Shot and shell continued to tear into the thin blue ranks as Early sent Gordon's brigade of six Georgia regiments into action against Barlow. To Gordon's left, the brigades of flays and Hoke threatened total envelopment of the Northern position. Behind them, Smith's brigade waited to exploit their successes. Taken at the same instant in flank and rear, nearly encircled, Barlow's embattled infantrymen remembered Chancellorsville. They gave ground grudgingly, even in the face of almost certain extinction. A soldier in Gordon's brigade later paid testimony to their mettle when he wrote:
        We met the enemy at Rock Creek. We attacked them immediately, but we had a hard time in moving them. We advanced with our accustomed yell, but they stood firm until we got near them. They then began to retire in fine order, shooting at us as they retreated. They were harder to drive than we had ever known them before. Men were being mown down in great numbers on both sides.
        We drove them across a fence, where they stopped and fought us for a while. We advanced and drove them into and out of a deep road cut and on to the almshouse, where the Yankees stopped and made a desperate stand. Their officers were cheering their men and behaving like heroes and commanders of the "first water".
        Krzyzanowski paid little heed to the commotion on his right. His ranks already tattered and torn by shot. and shell, he peered across the smoke enshrouded fields at advancing lines of Confederate infantry. Quavering rebel yells pierced the roar of bursting shells as Doles' Georgians and O'Neal's Alabamans closed on the outnumbered blue defenders. Kriz spurred his horse back and forth behind the line, shouting orders and encouragement to his men.
        Looking to the left of his line, the colonel's gaze fell upon the 119th New York. Quickly, methodically, the men fired volley after volley with the precision gained from past experiences. Sergeant Louis Morell raised his ramrod to reload his musket. Two bullets struck him simultaneously, one passing through his body while the other destroyed his left eye. As he lay in agony upon the ground a third ball cut its way into his left thigh. Flying lead snuffed out the lives of Julius Frederici, Adam Hoesch, Thomas Hinterwald, Franz Hager, Gottlieb Dilpert and Heinrich Drober. Sharpshooters singled out the officers for special attention. Down went Captains Trumpleman and Volkhausen - wounded. Lieutenants Raseman and Trost died under the fusillade of bullets. Adjutant Theodore A. Dodge, an excellent gymnast and cricket player, lost a leg. Colonel Lockman fell with a grievous wound. Lt. Colonel Edward F. Floyd succeeded him in command of the regiment. In fifteen minutes the battle line lost over one hundred casualties. Responding to the appeals of Floyd, aided conspicuously by Lieutenant Leopold Biela, the men held their positions.
        Next in line, the 82nd Ohio suffered even worse. Fatalities in the first few minutes included Captains Costen and Mitchell, Lieutenants Burnham, McGary, Stowell, Meredith and Jacoby. Of the 258 men who marched into action, over 150 remained there when the regiment finally withdrew.
        To the right of the buckeyes stood the 75th Pennsylvania. Fighting on their home soil, the Pennsylvanians displayed an obstinate determination. Colonel Mahler, cheering his men under a severe fire despite his painful injuries, fell mortally wounded. Near him lay the lifeless body of Lieutenant Louis Mahler, the colonel's brother. Gently, Lieutenant T. Albert Steiger carried Colonel Mahler to the rear. Carl Schurz, a longtime friend who served with Mahler at Festung Rastatt in 1849, bent over the injured officer to bid him a sad farewell. One hundred and ninety-four men stood in the ranks of the 75th that July afternoon. In fifteen minutes less than ninety remained. Major August Ledig rallied the survivors to face the enemy.
        Looking toward the right flank of his line, Krzyzanowski found the 26th Wisconsin caught in a crossfire between Doles' infantrymen and Jones' artillery firing from beyond Rock Creek. Lt. Colonel Hans Boebel lost a leg. Major Henry Baetz fell wounded. Command of the regiment passed to Captain John Fuchs who inherited a nightmare of whistling minie balls punctuated by exploding shells. The bullets appeared as thick as a hailstorm to Charles Wickesberg, who felt the sting of a hostile missle upon his right wrist. Men fell by the scores, adding their names to the long list of maimed: Frank Benda, John Kunkel, Frank Suchara, August Puls, John Simonek, Frank Rezac, Henry Lew, John Swoboda and Charles Grochowski. They were lucky. Flany never recovered: Friedrich Rohrig, Philip Berlandi, Friedrich Zuehlsdorff, Francois Stopples, Andreas Pfau, Joseph Zbitowsky, George Chalaupka. Barely half the regiment survived, yet not a German nor a Pole, not a Hungarian nor a Czech lay dead upon the field. They were all, in the truest sense of the word, Americans.
        Two small companies of the Polish Legion held the extreme right of the line, shielded somewhat by the Badgers and part of Barlow's division. Although the bulk of the regiment remained on detached service under Captain Koenig, the color guard gave a good account of itself. Leading his men, Captain Gustav Stoldt received a mortal wound. Other casualties included Jacob Eitel, Rudolph Asbach, Henry Thumann, Paul Linsbach, William Ottmer and George Rodder.
        Amid the tumult of battle Kriz felt a sense of desperate helplessness. Tortured cries from the wounded penetrated the continuous bedlam of musketry. He could do nothing to aid their plight. Spurring his horse along the lines he yelled encouragement to those who could hear. Despite the urgency of the situation he could not help being struck by the peculiar picture of these men defying death in an obstinate stand against hopeless odds. Sweaty from the day's travail, the men appeared possessed by some animal-like thirst for blood. Motivated by revenge, blackened by the gunpowder, their bolldshot eyes painted a horribly grotesque picture, "a portrait of hell."
        In Dole's brigade a Georgian lifted his musket to his shoulder. Pointing it toward the Federal line, he pulled the trigger. Piercing the shroud of smoke which hung ominously over the laboring battle lines, the lead ball tore its way into Krzyzanowski's horse. The stricken animal reared into the air, emitting a shrill scream of agony before plunging to the earth. Hurled through the sir, the colonel came down hard upon his chest. Pain shot through his body. He fought for breath, each convulsion of his chest bringing a torment of agony.
        Charles Stein, assistant surgeon in the Polish Legion, rushed to his colonel's aid. Feverishly he worked to relieve Krzyzanowski's impaired breathing. Carl Schurz bent gently over the fallen officer to ascertain the nature of his injuries. With a look of concern upon his face, Schurz suggested that Kriz go to the corps hospital for treatment. The colonel refused. Struggling to his feet, he hobbled off to direct his men in their deadly struggle.
        With more Confederates arriving by the minute, the situation deteriorated from hopeless to suicidal. Schurz sent a desperate plea for a brigade to halt Early's envelopment of the Union right. A similar note arrived at Howard's headquarters from General Doubleday whose First Corps became flanked on the left by Pender's brigade. Howard had only two brigades in reserve. He did not want to risk losing Cemetery Hill so he sent word to the two beleaguered commanders to retreat, rallying upon his position. Howard then ordered his reserve brigades forward to cover the withdrawals.
        Schurz fell back to the almshouse to shorten his lines and avoid encirclement by the brigades of flays and Hoke. There the Eleventh Corps rallied, holding its own against renewed Southern efforts until it received Howard's order to retreat.
        Krzyzanowski faced his men about, retiring slowly. Dr. Franz Hubschmann of the Sigel Regiment stayed behind with nine volunteers to administer to the needs of some 500 Federal wounded. For three days the courageous physician went about his business behind the Southern lines. When the Confederate forces finally withdrew they allowed him to remain behind and rejoin his command.
        Closely pressed by the surging grey infantry, disengaging proved difficult for the battered Northern regiments. Krzyzanowski covered the retreat, losing several good men in the process. Colonel James S. Robinson fell wounded on the outskirts of town as the 82nd Ohio duelled with its pursuers. At the foot of Washington Street the remaining handful of men in the 119th New York beat back repeated assaults, allowing a large number of wagons to escape capture. In the center of town, at the public square, Kriz supported a section of guns from Dilger's omnipresent battery as it blasted the heart out of Doles' pursuit.
        The Eleventh Corps retreated into Gettysburg in excellent order. Confederate General Gordon later marveled that any of the Federals escaped from the precarious salient they initially held. Once the units reached town, however, order gave way to chaos. The two retreating corps came together with a crunch in the middle of town. Organization rapidly disintegrated, the confusion being heightened by several dead-end streets. Few officers knew which roads led where. Captain August von Cleodt and Lieutenant William Moore surrendered several men from the 119th New York in one such cul-de-sac. In the Polish Legion Lieutenant Edward Kundel fell victim of another. A contingent of men from the Sigel Regiment led by Adjutant Wallber found themselves similarly trapped. The unfortunate captives included radical editor Bernhard Domschke and luckless Adam Muenzenberger. Charles Wickesberg fared better. Wandering about the unfamiliar streets, blood gushing from his injured wrist, he attracted the attention of a sympathetic citizen. Rushing from her house, she dragged the wounded soldier into her home. There she gently washed his wound, bandaged it, and fixed him a hearty supper.
        Caught in similar circumstances, General Schimmelfennig vaulted over a high fence and secreted himself in a small woodshed to avoid capture. For three days he listened to the sounds of battle. He emerged only upon hearing a band playing "Yankee Doodle" on July 4.
        Schimmelfennig's immobilization leads to the obvious question of who assumed command of his division. Howard relinquished command of the field to General Hancock later that evening. Schurz then reverted to command of his old division as Howard assumed command of the Eleventh Corps. The interim included the crucial time when the retreating army rallied on Cemetery Hill. Who directed the units of Schurz's division during this critical period? Who rallied the various commands, pieced them together, and placed them in positions to hold the vital hill? As the senior officer present, it had to be Krzyzanowski.
        One of the first regiments to reach Cemetery Hill was the 17th Connecticut of Barlow's division. Catching sight of its approaching flag, General Howard spurred his mount toward the color bearer. Grasping the tattered standard, he placed it upon a stone wall as a guide for the men to rally upon.
        Krzyzanowski's regiments began to arrive about 4:45 P. M. The colonel directed them into position along a stone wall near the gatehouse to the cemetery from which the hill derived its name With Schimmelfennig among the missing, it was probably at this point that Krzyzanowski assumed command of the division. He rushed about rallying troops, seeking to create the strongest possible defensive line along the crest of the hill. From below, the make-shift positions appeared strong. Darkness rapidly approached. The Confederate brigades needed time to reorganize and deploy. The hours that the Eleventh Corps purchased with its blood precluded any Southern attempts on Cemetery Hill that evening.
        Losses were severe. Every one of Krzyzanowski's regimental commanders lay among the casualties. Quietly, sergeants went about calling the roll of the missing.

        Frederick Wendler
        Matthias Rasemann 
        Emil Trost 
        Otto Trumpelmann 
        George Engelhard
Over one-half of all those present on the firing line that afternoon did not answer to their names.
        James Austin 
        George Adams 
        Jacob Coles 
        William J. Sill 
        Julius Frederici
The loss was not in vain. Northern troops held Cemetery Hill, the key to the battlefield.
        Joseph Zbitowsky 
        George Chalaupha 
        Francois Stopples 
        Adam Hoesch
        Franz Hager
        That night Krzyzanowski's survivors slept under the open sky surrounded by the cemetery's grave markers. A profound silence hung about the recent battlefield' broken only by the beating of horses hoofs and the dull tramp of new troops moving into position.

July 2

        Dawn found Krzyzanowski kneeling with his men behind the stone walls enclosing the cemetery. With less men than would normally fill out a full-size regiment, Kriz occupied the strategic center of the battlefield. The position held vital importance because artillery posted on the hill could command the entire Federal line which spread out to the left along Cemetery Ridge. To the right, the position dominated Culp's Hill where the Union flank rested against Rock Creek. Despite its significance, Cemetery Hill remained probably the weakest point along the Northern lines throughout the three-day battle. Not only did it form a salient, notoriously weak for defensive purposes, but excellent positions surrounded it from which Confederate batteries could direct an enfilading crossfire. A sunken road, in addition, gave attacking forces adequate cover to well within 500 yards of the hill.
        Throughout the morning and early afternoon Krzyzanowski listened to the sounds of battle echoing down the line from the Round Tops where Confederate infantry launched a desperate attempt to flank the Union line. From the outlying buildings of Gettysburg, including a church steeple, Southern sharpshooters {rained their weapons on Federal officers moving about Cemetery Hill. Twelve volunteers from Schurz's division, their rifles fitted with Swiss-made telescopic scopes, silenced the rebel snipers.
        Shortly after 3:30 P. M., fifty-five guns from A. P. Hill's corps began shelling Cemetery Hill. Although firing at extreme ranges, the gunners proved quite accurate. Shells began bursting all over the hill. Some caused considerable damage to horses positioned on the reverse slopes, while others exploded with enough force to crack the headstones in the cemetery. A rain of shrapnel fell upon the Polish Legion, killing Krzyzanowski's adjutant, Lieutenant Louis Dietrich. Flying pieces of jagged metal killed Private Louis Krause and fatally wounded Captain Edward Antoniewski. The men crouched nervously behind the stone walls and grave markers, seeking what little protection they offered. Still the incoming barrage sought them out, wounding Daniel Hecht, Sebastian Vassoldt and half-a-dozen others. Amid the cacophony of bursting shells and ricocheting fragments they gradually became aware of a new, comforting sound. Incongruously out of place, the rhythmical strains of waltzes and polkas drifted their way across the plain from some unseen Confederate band. Intended, no doubt, to relieve the tensions of sweating artillerymen, the ironically appropriate tunes calmed the frayed nerves of Krzyzanowski's infantrymen.
        As the sun fell near the horizon, Confederate infantry fell upon Culp's Hill. While this attack progressed, the brigades of Hays and Hoke, the latter under Colonel Isaac E. Avery, formed into lines out of sight of the Federals near Gettysburg. Using the town, a small ridge, and as cover, they approached within a the Northern lines. Suddenly, they he out-manned troops of Ames and von Gilsa at the hill. The defenders got off one volley overwhelmed.
        Pausing briefly to reform their lines, the Confederates surged up the hill in pursuit of the fleeing fugitives. At the crest of the hill lay six guns of Ricketts' battery along with four belonging to Wiedrich's German battery. Led by the 6th North Carolina, Avery's brigade headed for Ricketts' battery. Alongside them Hays' famed "Louisiana Tigers," resplendent in their colorful zouave uniforms followed the 9th Louisiana toward Wiedrich's position. Retreating up the slope ahead of this host, Ames and von Gilsa rallied behind the batteries. The gunners, however, could not depress their muzzles enough to bear on the advancing enemy lines.
        The Tarheels quickly achieved their objective despite the death of Colonel Avery. Hays' Tigers burst into Wiedrich's emplacements, only to be met by gunners determined to defend their pieces with their bare hands if necessary.
        "This battery is ours!" shouted a triumphant zouave.
        "No," replied a German gunner as he brained the intruder with his sponge-staff, "dis battery is unser!"
        The 7th and 8th Louisiana poured into Ricketts' battery, seizing the three left hand guns with a loud cheer. They succeeded in spiking one of the pieces in the face of fanatical resistance by men employing swords, handspikes, rammers and even rocks. The attackers gained the guns, but in the growing darkness of July 2 a few determined men fighting with everything from clubbed muskets to fence posts succeeded in holding them for a few critical moments.
        During those crucial moments the sounds of battle reached Colonel Krzyzanowski at his small headquarters beyond the cemetery gatehouse. Unaware of the source of the commotion, he only knew that something was amiss. Most of his survivors stood on the picket lines, or occupied positions on the outskirts of town to discourage Southern snipers. Ranged about him were considerably less than 400 men, members of the 58th and 119th New York regiments. Nevertheless, Kriz did not hesitate for an instant. Mustering his two skeleton regiments into line, he ordered the men to fix bayonets. As he turned to lead them forward, General Schurz ran toward him accompanied by his aide, Captain Julius Szenowski. Schurz brought an order from Howard to ascertain the source of the trouble.
        Accompanied by Schurz and Szenowski, Kriz led his men off into the growing darkness at the doublequick. To the surprise of everyone, they arrived at Wiedrich's battery to find a general melee in progress. Kriz knew that firing a volley was impossible. To fire into the tightly packed masses of struggling men would indiscriminately strike down friend and foe alike. Without halting to form conventional lines Kriz led his men into the batteries to engage the zouaves in a Civil War rarity, hand-to-hand combat.
        Bayonets reflected the setting sun. Occasionally a bright flash illuminated the area as a pistol or musket blasted away at point-blank range. In the vanguard of Krzyzanowski's attack, the Polish Legion engaged in a life or death barroom brawl with an enemy often difficult even to identify. Bayonets slashed and jabbed. Musket butts became lethal clubs in the hands of maddened warriors. Down went Michael Bauer and Adolf Baum. Charles Camberton, Henry Keller and George Felicien followed, as did several others. For brief moments that seemed an eternity, the issue remained in doubt. The fate of the Union hung in the balance. Imperceptively at first, the Polish Legion pushed forward. The 119th New York crowded in from behind, adding weight to the contest. By the sheer physical force of body pushing upon body, the defenders gradually expelled the Tigers from tile emplacements.
        Suddenly it was all over. The zouaves broke, escaping down the hill from whence they came. No longer did the shrill rebel yell pierce the evening calm. Now deeper tones resonated from the throats of jubilant gunners. Low, steady Union 'hurrahs" drifted through the night as Krzyzanowski and Ames, along with Carroll's "Gibraltar" brigade from Hancock's Corps, pursued the fleeing Confederates down the slope.
        Back in town Michael Jacobs, professor of mathematics at Gettysburg College, wrote in his diary:

The rebels returned to our street at ten P. M., and prepared their supper; and soon we began to hope that all was not lost. Some of them expressed their most earnest indignation at the foreigners -the Dutchmen - for having shot down so many of their men. This led us to believe that the Eleventh Corps, of whom many were foreign Germans, and whom, on the previous evening, they tauntingly told us they met at Chancellorsville -had done their duty and had nobly redeemed their character.
        Krzyzanowski could be proud of the success scored by his men. During those first two days at Gettysburg the Eleventh Corps, at a horrible price, certainly earned the right to hold its collective head high. The loss of the Cemetery Hill position on July 2 would have been a disaster. In Confederate hands, Cemetery Hill cut the Union line in two placing both segments under direct fire from the captured guns near the cemetery. Commenting on the incident from the Southern point of view, noted historian Douglas Southall Freeman lamented that: "The whole of the three-days' battle produced no more tragic might-have-been than this twilight engagement on the Confederate left."

Conclusion at Gettysburg

        The early morning hours of July 3 offered little opportunity for rest. Frequent flurries of musket fire from pickets dueling with Confederate snipers kept men in a state of semi-consciousness most of the night. In an effort to halt the sniping Krzyzanowski ordered a company of skirmishers to take possession of a group of houses to the left of the Baltimore Pike. At 6:00 A. M. Lieutenant Schwartz led a group of men from the Polish Legion into the outskirts of town to carry out the colonel's instructions. Confederate sharpshooters opened fire. Schwartz moved his men forward carefully, taking advantage of the cover available to them. In a few minutes they accomplished their goal without loss to themselves, although one Southern bullet did find a target. Passing through a doorway, this errant shot killed twenty year old Jenny Wade as she stood baking bread in her kitchen.
        Throughout the morning Krzyzanowski moved about Cemetery Hill directing fire upon occasional snipers. Early that afternoon some 150 guns opened fire upon Cemetery Ridge. Confederate gunners directed their fire to the left of Krzyzanowski's position, but some rounds, fired upon the ridge from oblique angles, missed their target thus pouring shot and shell into Cemetery Hill. While the front lines escaped serious losses, the areas to the rear of Cemetery Ridge and on the southernmost portions of Cemetery 11ill received considerable damage. Errant shells exploded caissons parked behind the lines, indiscriminately striking down both horses and men. Others fell upon the cemetery, shattering bodies and gravestones. One shell killed six horses, while another caused twenty-seven casualties in a single regiment.
        The lengthy bombardment was a trying experience because the men had no opportunity to retaliate for the punishment they received. Kriz moved about trying to ease the men's nerves with a few words of encouragement. To keep their minds off the holocaust about them, the troops resorted to cleaning their "unlocks, polishing their buttons and sewing their tattered clothing. No one doubted that General Lee would soon launch yet another attack upon their position. When it finally came, everyone was relieved to see the assault directed at another portion of the line. Throughout the climactic moments of "Pickett's Charge," Krzyzanowski stood upon Cemetery Hill prepared to defend it once again if the need arose. He listened anxiously to the alternating shouts and cheers to his left as the two contending armies once again met in a life or death struggle. He watched from atop the hill as the two forces fought for possession of a stone wall and a small clump of trees. He sighed with relief as the disorganized remnants of the once powerful rebel host recoiled back across the fire swept fields to safety within their lines.
        Southern sharpshooters renewed their activities with a vengeance throughout the evening. Nevertheless, by morning a strange silence hung over the battlefield. With his curiosity aroused, Kriz detailed Lieutenant Schwartz, with ten men from the Polish Legion, to reconnoiter the town. Lieutenant Lauber followed with an additional twenty soldiers. Gradually the two patrols inched their way along the streets of Gettysburg. No shots rang out. They looked into barns and outbuildings, behind rail fences and stone walls. They found nothing. As they passed by homes residents came forward to point out buildings used by rebel sharpshooters. Working quietly, the patrols entered the structures to find willing captives, many of whom were asleep after a long night of sniping at Cemetery Hill. Altogether Krzyzanowski's thirty-two men brought back 280 prisoners. More importantly, they brought the welcome news that Gettysburg lay devoid of hostile Southern troops.
        About 8 00 A. M. Kriz led the 119th New York and 26th Wisconsin across the wide, flat plains toward Seminary Ridge. 11e approached the rise with caution, trying to determine whether General Lee's forces might still be lurking about. Moving forward with his men spread out in skirmish order, Kriz ascended the low, sloping ridge to find the enemy gone. He made prisoners of forty-seven stragglers, then reported the welcome news to headquarters. The Battle of Gettysburg was over.
        Reflecting back on the past few days, Krzyzanowski's fatigued infantrymen could be justly proud of the achievements their sacrifices brought. Between July l and July 4 the brigade saw constant service in the forefront of the Union lines. On the first day it inflicted severe punishment on Doles' brigade. During this afternoon engagement the brigade endured the fire of forty-eight Confederate guns aimed at it from in front, flank and rear. Caught in a crossfire between two Southern brigades, Krzyzanowski lost over half of his men -considerably more than the famed "Light Brigade" lost at Balaclava - in just a few short minutes. Still the brigade maintained its discipline, retiring into town as the corps' rear guard. Then, together with the remainder of the Eleventh Corps, the brigade created such a havoc in Jubal Early's division that the Southerners were unable to press their attack upon Cemetery Hill. Seldom does a unit take such horrible losses and remain actively in the fight. Krzyzanowski's brigade did. Because it did, it helped preserve the strategic eminence upon which the Federal army anchored its line of battle during the next two days.
        Battered and bruised, the men never lost hope. Determination drove them on in spite of their losses. On July 2 Kriz personally led two of his decimated regiments in hand-to-hand combat to save Federal artillery emplacements on Cemetery Hill. The added weight of their assault helped tip the balance of power in favor of the North. For the second time in as many days they saved the heart of the Federal position from capture. In his official rEport of the action, General Howard lauded Krzyzanowski for his "bravery, faithfulness and efficiency in the discharge
        Forty-three Federal infantry brigades saw action at Gettysburg. Some of these were much larger than the depleted ranks that Kriz led north after Chancellorsville. Nevertheless, when historians tabulated the butcher's bill for Gettysburg Krzyzanowski's brigade ranked thirteenth in the number of casualties. The percentage of losses that it sustained, while remaining actively in the fight, was nearly three times above the average percentage that statistician Thomas L. Livermore calculated for the battle.
        The official records usually cited by historians list 669 casualties in Krzyzanowski's five regiments. Of this staggering total, seventy-five were killed, 388 wounded, and 206 captured or missing. But these figures are notoriously conservative. Compiled on July 4, they are also very inaccurate in reflecting the true number of men killed and wounded. Many who later died, for example, were first reported as wounded, captured, or missing. Although later changed on the muster rolls, no one ever transferred these changes to the official records. Using the figures of independent researchers, it becomes evident that Krzyzanowski suffered not seventy-five killed, but at least
        Gettysburg was the largest battle ever fought on the North American continent. It marked, as later events unfolded, the geographic "high tide" of the Confederacy. It was the last serious offensive by the Army of Northern Virginia. Had it not been for Colonel Krzyzanowski and his maligned, but determined "foreign" infantry the results might have been quite different. If Winston Churchill had been present at Gettysburg, he would certainly have agreed that for Krzyzanowski, the Eleventh Army Corps, and the Army of the Potomac, this has truly "their finest hour."

("For Liberty and Justice, The Life and Times of Wladimir Krzyzanowski." by James S. Pula)

More on "The Sigel Regiment"