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Orrin L. Gatchell was a Private in Company D of the 72nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Excelsior Brigade, which fought valiantly in the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30 – May 6, 1863). Company D, under the command of Major General Daniel E. Sickles, III Army Corps, marched to and crossed the Rappahannock River to join the front lines of battle on May 2nd; after initial heavy skirmishing, the 72nd was overrun by the Rebels in the ensuing fighting and suffered heavy casualties in the vicinity of Dowdall’s Tavern and the Old Wilderness Church on May 3rd. 

Among the 101 casualties incurred by the 72nd, 24 enlisted men were wounded in battle, 22 of whom recovered. Soon after the battle, Orrin wrote to his family in Anson, Maine on May 8th that: “… the first shot I fired at the rebels, I received one in return through the stock of my gun between the barrel and rammer within about two inches of my left hand. It [a Minié ballpassed through and over my left shoulder, sending the lead and splinters into my hand and face, making them bleed a little, …” Although it is not known if Orrin was listed among the wounded, it was fortunate that the Minié ball did not hit his left hand directly, which would likely have resulted in amputation. The metal and lead splinters that hit his face would likely have resulted in facial scarring and possibly eye injury and blindness. The only evidence that we have that Orrin’s facial wounds may have been severe enough to result in permanent facial scarring is that in his picture taken at the turn of the century (see Related Images below), he apparently did not shave his beard growing over his left cheek. Orrin was fortunate to survive the Battle of Chancellorsville with what were relatively minor wounds. His resolve to preserve “The Union Now and Forever” would soon be tested again in the upcoming Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863.

Related Images

  • Chancellorsville:  Orrin is wounded


Monday, October 06, 2014 3:44 PM
His generals also let him down with their lack of lsaierehdp and courage. But for a fence, who knows?Lee's generals never lacked courage, Lee was left in a position where the Union had the high ground and were the defenders. I think if there was blame to go out it would definitely be General Stuart that let him down chasing after his ego strokes and leaving Lee blind in enemy territory. Up to that point the South had always had the advantage of choosing ground and being on the defensive and they kicked butt. I also think if General Ewell had took Lee's orders and acted on Day 2, Pickett's Charge would not have been, as they would have been defending the high ground instead. Ewell assumed that Lee sent a suggestion rather than an order. Lee should have never asked him to take that hill if practical , as it left him to determine that it wasn't practical . I think General Ewell returned to service too soon after losing his leg, because his behavior at Gettysburg was documented as somewhat bazaar. Nope minuteman, I would not say the South's generals ever lacked courage. Lee was operating blind without his cavalry and that is what screwed him.I have been to Virginia many times to visit with my step-children. My favorite place to stay is Lexington where General Lee settled after the war and was President of Washington College (Now Washington and Lee University). It is an awesome town. VMI, W L Univ, Lee's museum and burial site, Lee chapel, Stonewall Jackson cemetery and just a beautiful location.

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