Adjutant Seymore F. Norton at Gettyburg
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Author:  Bill Skillman [ Wed May 29, 2019 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Adjutant Seymore F. Norton at Gettyburg

Fellow Sharpshooters,

On this morning's Civil War Talk website, Brian White posted a photograph of 2nd USSS adjutant, Seymour F. Norton, accompanying a description of his command decisions of the left wing of the regiment at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.

Long after the War, former Colonel of the 15th Alabama, William Oates, penned a letter to Col. Homer Stoughton. In the missive, Oates gave the 2nd USSS full credit for (a) disrupting his line of attack, (b) drawing his regiment and the 47th Alabama-that had been ordered to follow the right guide regiment, (c) exhausting his men by having to climb Big Round Top while being peppered by individual and comrades in battle skirmishers, (d) disappearing 'like magic', (e) one detail slipping behind his battle line (Norton and men from Michigan's Co. B) and capturing the 15th AL water detail-(the detail had been detached to get water from the Curren house well--meanwhile the attacked 'stepped off' and they lagged behind); (f) Norton and Co. B skirmishers joined the detached Co. B-20th ME along a stone wall 150-200 yards east of the lower slope of LRT (I used a laser range finder to map out exact distances from the rock formations that the 15 AL was deployed along--this was 'chip shot' shooting for a Sharpshooter); (g) Norton had the 2nd USSS color guard with him--when Oates heard firing and saw men falling, he looked behind him and was shocked to see a pair of flags silhouetted in the trees behind him; leading him to think a pair of regiments of fresh US troops were about to envelop his command. About that time, the 20th ME began their bayonet charge. Oates initially ordered his offices to 'sell their lives dearly' but promptly reversed the order and gave word to 'skedaddle'. In the mad rush to avoid the envelopment-Oates noted a few of his men captured a few 'cavalrymen'---more likely skirmishers; USSS or 16th Michigan 'fighting on their own hook'.

Col. Oates closed his letter with the recommendation that a monument be erected in honor of Col. Stoughton's sharpshooters for "winning the Battle of Gettysburg". Brian has provided us an image of the man whose inspired leadership garnered Col. Oate's respect and accolades.

Many years ago I retraced the route of Adjt. Norton and his platoon from their initial position across Plum Run and perpendicular to the Slyder Farm fields, conducting a 'fighting retreat' up the face of Big Round Top, circling around (capture the water detail), then retracing my footsteps to descend the western face to finally take position along the stone wall. It was an exhausting, but exhilarating experience. It also demonstrated on how a small detail of highly disciplined skirmishers can fight independently and change the outcome of a battle.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/a-shar ... rg.158447/

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess

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