Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lt. Col. Henry Chew's Hottest Battle

I've been researching the military service of Lt. Col. Henry Chew with the idea of highlighting his actions at the Bliss Barn during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Among the first details I learned of his war experience was how he came perilously close to being struck by a cannon ball at Gettysburg, and how he had been involved in keeping Confederate sharpshooters in check at the Bliss Barn until overwhelmed by superior numbers.

I continued working the Bliss Barn story, poring over various accounts, while also tracking down other source material related to other events in Chew's civilian and army life.

Last week at the Library of Congress, I requested History of the Men of Co. F, With Description of the Marches and Battles of the 12th New Jersey Vols., by Pvt. William P. Haines, a member of the company. Hoping to find more detail about Chew, I felt the request was a bit of a long shot, for Chew never served in this company.

Turns out Co. F is a remarkable read, chock full of detail. It is divided into three parts: A history of the battles in which it participated, profiles of every man who served in Company F, and an update on what became of them. The second part is most unique, for the profiles are detailed and interesting without overwhelming the reader. However, the first part caught my attention, as various writers from the company and regiment penned chapters about each battle. Chew wrote the chapter on Ream's Station. He noted that of all the battles in which he participated in, this was the hottest.

Instantly I knew that my profile of Chew would focus on his role at Ream's Station. Thanks to Pvt. Haines and his most excellent Co. F.

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