“It was about seven o’clock in the evening of
July 2, 1863,” Corporal Harrison Clark wrote, “as we moved down into the fight, the sun was
sinking low in the west and the heavens were
ablaze with its splendor, in marked contrast with
the lurid fires of death towards which we were
marching. We were halted amid a heavy cloud of
smoke in from of a swale and a new growth of
trees. Through the smoke covering the field we
could dimly see the outlines of men moving
about. We commenced to fire, but the word was
shouted: ‘firing on your own men,’ and the
command was given, ‘cease firing.’ We soon
learned of our mistake.”
“The color-bearer at my right fell, mortally
wounded, and before the old flag could touch
the ground, I caught it, and on we rushed with
loud cries; on, with bullets whizzing by our ears,
shells screaming and cannon balls tearing the air,
now bursting above and around us, laying many
of comrades either low in death, or bleeding with
terrible wounds. Most of our color-guard were
killed or wounded.”
The purpose was accomplished. The enemy had failed to break through our lines and Little
Round Top and Cemetery Hill were still ours. On the return march, as we were passing the
swale, where over one hundred of our brave men had fallen in the space of half an hour, the
regiment was again formed in line battle, the Colonel ordered me to step three paces in front of
the regiment, promoted me Color-Bearer and by his recommendation to Congress, I was
awarded a Medal of Honor.
At the battle of the Wilderness, Color-Sergeant Clark displayed rare bravery and continued
fighting, though shot in the leg. He was promoted Lieutenant on the battlefield.
Submitted by Lorraine, PDP, Woman’s Relief Corps, Aux. to the GAR, Camillus, NY
Source: “Deed of Valor”, Edited by WF Beyer and OF Keydel.
Originally published in 1903 and republished 1994, by Longmeadow Press, Stamford, CT 06904
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company E, 125th New York Infantry.
Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., July 2, 1863.
Entered service at: Chatham, NY. Born Chatham, NY.
Date of issue: June 11, 1895.
Citation: Seized the colors and advanced with them after the color bearer had been shot.
Source: Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1978. February 14, 1979
Prepared by the Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, United States Senate