the Battle of Gettysburg Resource Center
The Hatchet Wielding Officer from Vermont
At the battle of Gettysburg the 13th Vermont was a part of General Stannard's Vermont command (Third Brigade, Third Division, First Corps). The Vermont Brigade had been left on outpost duty in Virginia until the 3rd day after the Army of the Potomac had passed in pursuit of Lee's troops into Maryland and Pennsylvannia. The the brigade received orders to proceed by forced marches to rejoin the Army of the Potomac. The latter was also on a forced march, but in six days' time the Vermonters had overtaken the main body. On the evening of July 1 the regiment arrived at Cemetery Hill and was put in position with strict orders against leaving the ranks. Captain (Lieutenant?) Brown's men of Co.K of the 13th Vermont were in agony of thirst from their forced marches, some were near collapse. Unable to ignore their suffering, Brown collected some canteens, left his post and proceeded to a well where he found an armed guard. "You can't get water here," said the guard. "'Gainst orders." "Damn your orders!" said Captain Brown, and then with all the canteens of the men, and with only one man to help him, he thrust the guard aside and filled the canteens. His arrest followed, and he was deprived of his sword. When the battle began the next morning, Captain Brown was a prisoner. He begged for a chance to rejoin his company, and was allowed to go, however, his sword had been taken to the rear. His men were far away at the front and worst of all Brown had no weapons. He picked up a camp hatchet and ran all the way to the firing-line, reached it, rushed into the fray, singling out a rebel officer 50 yards away, penetrated rebel ranks, collared the officer, wrestling from him his sword and pistol, after which he dropped the hatchet, while his men cheered him.
During Pickett's Charge,the 13th Vermont was one of two Vermont Regiments located a short distance to the south of "The Angle" and the now famous "copse of trees" - to the south of the main thrust of the Confederate advance. General Stannard advanced these two regiments from the line and changed front to the north where they poured flanking fire into the advancing Confederate troops, thus helping to break the Charge.
When the design of the 13th Vermont Monument was made, it was the desire of the committee to have the statue represent Captain Brown, hatchet in hand. Accordingly, a model was prepared, but the federal government would not permit its erection. A second model was approved, showing Captain Brown holding a saber and belt in his hand, the hatchet lying at his feet as though just dropped. The saber depicted in the statue is an exact reproduction of the one captured.
This monument is on the east side of Hancock Avenue, near the large Stannard monument