Letter Describing Florida Brigade's Retreat from Gettysburg, 1863

From: Bryan, Council A., Papers, 1862-1902, Collection M87-35

Letter Describing Florida Brigade's Retreat from Gettysburg, 1863

About This Document

Council A. Bryan was born in Washington County in 1830 and moved with his family to Leon County two years later. He served in the military during the 1849 Indian Scare and was Leon County Clerk of Court from 1855-1861. Bryan enlisted in Company C of the Fifth Florida Infantry, known as the Trapier Guards, in February 1862, and the next year he was promoted captain. The Fifth Florida served in the Army of Northern Virginia from the summer of 1862 until Appomattox. Bryan resigned his commission late in 1864 after being elected to the Florida House of Representatives. After the war he served as county clerk of Leon County.

The following letter was written by Bryan to his wife, Cornelia Screven Bryan, in the aftermath of the 1863 Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania, which had ended in defeat at Gettysburg. During this campaign, the Second, Fifth, and Eighth Florida Regiments had comprised a brigade, under the command of Colonel David Lang, that was part of Richard Anderson's Division of A.P. Hill's Corps. The Floridians were heavily engaged on both July 2 and 3, and participated in the assault on the Union center on the final day's fighting. At Gettysburg, the Florida Brigade suffered perhaps the highest percentage of casualties of any similar unit in the Confederate army. In the letter, which was written on very small-sized paper, Bryan described the retreat into Virginia, listed the names of survivors and sick left along the route, and expressed his frustration over the heavy casualties and the lack of recognition the Florida Brigade received. Interestingly, he makes a number of derogatory comments about the conduct of some of the troops in George Pickett's Division of Virginians.


Enroute near Winchester
July 22/63

My dear Wife
I hasten to drop you a line to let you see I am still alive & well. Yesterdy took up line of march & arrived two miles South of Winchester, camped & are now all ready to move again.

Some suppose we are bound for Richmond some that we will stop at Staunton. I have a leaning to the former opinion - just as we got hear orders came to move and I'll continue this as I go along until I have a chance to send it

Marched hard all day - arriving at