3-second Men

From MetaFilter, which is better known as a link filter, comes this detailed story about one small but important part of the Battle of Gettysburg.

They smash into the oncoming lines and stop the Southern charge, but their success proves their undoing. As they push the center of the rebel lines back, the wings enfold them and they are soon caught in a sack. For every Minnesotan fighting, there are 6 Alabamans trying to kill him, sometimes from the distance of a handshake. The rebels are so thick around the 1st Minnesota that many Southerners are injured by friendly fire. The Minnesotans take cover behind trees and boulders as their world is reduced to smoke and screams, the ssszzz of bullets passing and the thock of bullets hitting home. Colvill is struck in the shoulder and foot. LTC Adams is hit six times. Maj. Downie is shot through both arms. Cpts. Muller and Periam, along with Lt. Farr, are all killed. Every officer is a casualty. The flag of the 1st Minnesota falls 5 times and is picked up 5 times. They fail to capture the enemy colors. They have stopped the charge, but they cannot retreat because they know that Hancock’s implicit orders were to hold the rebels until he can patch the hole in the lines above them. So they stand and die.