Col. William A. Christian

As some of you may know, Car­man only very obliquely men­tioned Christian’s deser­tion as his brigade was going into action. Here is a sam­pling of the descrip­tions from men in the brigade:
George Wat­son, 90th PA said he “heard Chris­t­ian say ‘He had a per­fect hor­ror of these shell’ and shortly after he passed to the rear.” Lt. W.H. Hol­stead, 26th NY, remem­bered “…as shells burst over our heads … he (Chris­t­ian) would duck or dodge his head and go crouch­ing along. He soon resigned on account of this.“
William Gif­ford, also of the 26th NY described “Col. Chris­t­ian, who com­manded the 26th “showed the white feather, and when we received the first fire he turned and fled to the rear and almost caused a stam­pede among troops in the rear.” Per­haps the most col­or­ful is John Vau­tier, 88th PA, who wrote this; “…when the fire got very hot he (Chris­t­ian) ‘walked span­ish;’ cut and ran, an exam­ple that for­tu­nately was not fol­lowed by the brigade.” Yet Car­man only says the shelling “demor­al­ized some senior offi­cers of the brigade.” Again, is he being too kind, or rec­og­niz­ing that every­one in com­bat has a break­ing point? Inter­est­ing.
Fur­ther research shows that Chris­t­ian was lead­ing his brigade towards the fight at Sec­ond Man­as­sas when he seen by the brigade sur­geon sit­ting in the shade,complaining of heat stroke. The sur­geon rec­om­mended Chris­t­ian rest in the shade while his brigade entered the fight. After his per­for­mance, or lack thereof, at Anti­etam he resigned. Many years later Chritian’s widow applied to the Pen­sion Bureau for a pen­sion. She men­tioned Chris­t­ian had died in 1888 from “insan­ity” and stat­ing his sun­stroke at Man­as­sas had ruined his health. After exten­sive tes­ti­mony a final state­ment in 1901 denied her claim.

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  1. Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Merely wanna admit that this is invalu­able, Thanks for tak­ing your time to write this.

  2. Tom
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.

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