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  • Gettysburg Where and How the Regiments Fought and the Troops they Encountered by John M. Vanderslice

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    Gettysburg Where and How the Regiments Fought and the Troops they Encountered - HIS 040

    Gettysburg - Where and How the Regiments Fought the Troops they Encountered an Account of the Battle Giving Movements, Position, and Loses of the Commands Engaged John M. Vanderslice, 1897 with fold-out map of the town and battlefield of Gettysburg.  The cover and spine have gilt lettering.  246 pages.

    John Mitchell Vanderslice (August 31, 1846 - March 12, 1915) was a United States soldier who fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War as a member of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He received his nation's highest award for valor, the U.S. Medal of Honor, for being the first man to reach the rifle pits of the Confederate States Army during a charge made by his regiment on CSA fortifications in the Battle of Hatcher's Run, Virginia on February 6, 1865.

    A practicing lawyer post-war, he also played an active part in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's memorialization of its role in the Civil War, persuading his fellow members of the Grand Army of the Republic and Gettysburg Battlefield Monument Association to place a small memorial stone at Little Round Top — the first of a series of monuments to be erected at the Gettysburg National Battlefield during the late 1800s and early 1900s."

    During the late 1800s, he also researched and published his book, Gettysburg Then and Now: The Field of American Valor, Where and How the Regiments Fought and the Troops They Encountered.

    While still a student at the Freeland Seminary, Vanderslice responded to a call by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin for volunteers to defend the state from the threatened invasion by the Confederate States Army during the summer of 1863. After enrolling for state militia service in early July, he mustered in as a private with Company F of the 49th Pennsylvania Militia, Emergency of 1863, and was honorably discharged just over a month later when state officials declared the emergency over. His unit disbanded during the first week of September.

    Less than six months later, he enlisted again — this time with a combat-hardened cavalry unit. After enrolling for service at Philadelphia on February 17, 1864, he mustered in that same day as a private with Company D of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry (also known as the 89th Pennsylvania Volunteers). Military records at the time described him as an 18-year-old native of Philadelphia who was employed as a clerk, and who was 5'5" tall with dark hair, blue eyes and a dark complexion.

    He had joined just in time to fight with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry during one of the Union Army's most significant phases of duty — the Overland Campaign in Virginia commanded by Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant. Beginning with the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5–7, 1864), he and his fellow cavalrymen fought continuously in a series of battles at: Todd's Tavern (May 7), Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21), Yellow Tavern (May 11), Haw's Shop (May 28), Cold Harbor (May 31–June 12), and Trevilian Station (June 11–12) before engaging in the Siege of Petersburg (June 9, 1864–March 25, 1865) and its battles at: Jerusalem Plank Road (June 21–23), St. Mary's Church (June 24), Deep Bottom I (July 27–29), Ream's Station II (August 25), and Poplar Springs Church (September 30–October 2).

     Four months later, Vanderslice performed the act of valor for which he would later be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor. On February 6, 1865, while fighting with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Battle of Hatcher's Run, he became the first man to reach the rifle pits of the Confederate States Army during a charge made by his regiment on CSA fortifications.

    Assigned next with his regiment to the war-ending Appomattox Campaign during the spring of 1865, he participated in the battles of Five Forks (April 1) and Sailor's Creek (April 6) before his fight was brought to a swift end at Farmville, Virginia during the April 7 Battle of Cumberland Church. Engaged at that time in a sabre charge, he was toppled from his saddle as the horse he was riding was killed. Captured by Confederate troops and held briefly as a prisoner of war until General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, he was then honorably discharged by General Order on July 12, 1865.

    Following his honorable discharge from the military, Vanderslice returned home to Pennsylvania, where he completed his studies at the Freeland Seminary, trained to become a lawyer, and became active in politics as a member of the Republican Party. Admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1869 after completing three years of legal studies with prominent Philadelphia lawyer Theodore Cuyler, Vanderslice also quickly rose to prominence as an attorney through his representation of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In 1870, he wed Caroline Cecilia Hamer, a daughter of Collegeville physician James Hamer. According to historian Ellwood Roberts, she was "not only a fine classical scholar, but an accomplished musician" who had graduated from the Pennsylvania Female College, and who was descended on her mother's side from Cotton Mather. Together, Vanderslice and his wife welcomed the births of: Miriam, Stanley, Ethel, Edith, Clarence, and Mabel. In 1884, Vanderslice was nominated by U.S. President Chester A. Arthur to be a Philadelphia-based pension agent for the federal government.

    An active member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), who served as a department commander during the 1880s, and under whose leadership the G.A.R.'s membership was expanded across Pennsylvania from 4,500 to 25,000, he was also appointed to the commission which helped establish the Soldiers' Home in Erie, Pennsylvania, and became a key member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Monument Association. According to historian Tom Huntington, "Vanderslice persuaded a GAR post in Erie, Pa., to erect the first monument on the battlefield, a small stone on Little Round Top honoring Strong Vincent, a Pennsylvania brigade commander mortally wounded on the battle’s second day." During his tenure of service with the GBMA, Vanderslice was ultimately appointed as director of the association, representing the association at the dedication of monuments to the 69th and 71st Pennsylvania Volunteers at the Gettysburg National Battlefield nearly a quarter of a century after the Battle of Gettysburg had been waged there, as well as five years later when the High Water Mark Monument was unveiled.


    Inventory Number: HIS 040 On-hold