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Cattaraugus County lawmaker relives Battle of Gettysburg

LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County Legislator Steven Teachman got a chance to experience what it would have been like at the Battle of Gettysburg earlier this month when he participated in the 150th anniversary re-enactment.

Teachman, R-Olean, brought along a flag resembling the one that flew over the New York 154th Volunteers, a blue field with a white crescent, when they marched into Gettysburg.

He was accompanied by a couple of county residents to get a first-hand feel of some of the bloodiest days of the Civil War and to honor the memory of some of the fallen.

Mark Loveless, a Cattaraugus County employee and 10-year veteran re-enactor, and Cutco employee Bill Moore joined Teachman in trekking onto the battlefield to experience the very things that county residents experienced.

“The heat was intense, unbearable,” Loveless said. “It was much like it would have been at the time the battle took place. We were hydrating with electrolytes and sports drinks. To think that those soldiers were using puddles where they could find them.”

The battle took place July 1-3, 1863, with the heat bearing down on the soldiers from both sides, wearing dark wool uniforms with more weight on their backs. According to several primary sources, the heat spiked around 87 over the three days of battle, with average temperatures being around 70. On the day after the battle, July 4, the skies opened up and made the Confederate retreat more difficult.

“The weather was very similar to those days,” Moore said. “I was part of Pickett’s Charge on July 4. I was wounded early. After the battle, as we were all getting up and leaving, it started to sprinkle, as we walked further, the rain started to really fall. It was almost like there was something above looking down, saying ‘It was just like this.’ ”

As he recounted the re-enactment, the emotion weighed heavily on his words.

An infantry assault against Union forces, Pickett’s Charge was ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The charge is named after Maj. Gen. George Pickett, who led the attack.

In addition to participating in the re-enacted battle, the men took the time to go to the monument of the New York 154th Volunteers and down to a memorial stone to the man who was once the unknown soldier of the battle, Amos Humiston.

Humiston was killed on the first day of the battle. When his body was found days later, its only identifying feature was the picture of his children he had clutched in his hands. A search finally located his family in Portville. His wife went on to live in the National Homestead at Gettysburg until she remarried three years later. She was part of a group that helped in the creation of the Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Gettysburg.

Teachman donated the flag he took with him, created by a seamstress in Cattaraugus County, as well as pictures of the banner with Teachman, Moore and Loveless at the two memorials, to Brian McClellan, curator of the Cattaraugus County Museum in Machias.

“It was truly a chance of a lifetime to be present and part of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg and the 154th NY volunteers at the battle,” Teachman said.