This is James Johnston Pettigrew’s only book, privately printed in
Charleston in the first weeks of the War between the States and here for
the first time published. In the opening passage the author describes
himself crossing the Alps on his way to seek service in the army of the
king of Sardinia.
His mission was to take part in a struggle for
liberty, the liberation of Italy from the yoke of Austria.
That was 1859. By pure chance it was the Fourth of July, not only the
birthday of American independence but also, as it happened, Pettigrew’s
own birthday, his thirty-first. Exactly four years later (the Fourth of
July 1863), he was beside the Emmitsburg road near a Pennsylvania town
called Gettysburg, nursing a useless right arm which had been smashed by
grapeshot and waiting for an enemy counter-attack that never came.
All about him were the survivors of the North Carolina soldiers that
the day before he had led through a mile of frontal and flank fire to
within a few yards of the now eternally famous stone wall on Cemetery
Ridge. Pettigrew was, by his own lights, engaged in another struggle for
liberty, that of his own people from a Union that had grown hateful.
Two weeks later, he was dead of a wound received in a minor skirmish as
the rearguard of the Army of Northern Virginia recrossed the Potomac
back to the Confederacy.
In 1859 Pettigrew had caught up with the allied Sardinian and French
forces in northern Italy just a few days after the decisive battle of