When Abraham Lincoln called for additional volunteers to join the war effort in 1862, Vermont responded with the creation of the 14th Vermont Infantry. Volunteers from Addison, Rutland and Bennington Counties joined including many of the Slate Valley’s volunteers. Welsh immigrants working in the slate quarries fought alongside men whose families lived in the Slate Valley for generations. Together they experienced the 14th Vermont Infantry’s most trying moment, the Battle of Gettysburg.
Theregiment marched to Hunting Creek on November 5, where it stayed until November 26. Private John H. Williams, a welsh slate worker, described their new home in his journal, “Our Tents came here today and we got a good place to set them up[;] we the Welsh are in the squad belong to Joel Hamilton. We got a good tent and planted pretty pine trees around it.
Originally recruited to only serve nine months, the 14th regiment did not see action until the Battle of Gettysburg. They played a pivotal role in Pickett’s Charge when they joined the 16th Vermont to stop the advance of Cadmus M. Wilcox’s Confederate brigade and captured hundreds of Virginia soldiers. Despite the success, another Welsh slate worker, Private John Rowlands recorded in his journal, “well this is the most terrible day that has ever been upon me and I do not wish to see another of its sort again, Lieutenant Bosworth was injured and G. Meuling was killed.” Williams also wrote of the battle, “at last their infantry came on toward us, we charged them, we fell back, and, for the second time, on we went and we made them Skedaddle, killed them, and took their Colours, and hundreds of prisoners.”
A memoir from K Company of the 14th Regiment, which descended through the Nelson family of Rising and Nelson Slate Company, describes the feeling the men had of their conduct during Pickett’s Charge; “Every man in the 14 I am shure [sure] done his verry [very] best not many of us held our Gun at the face as they could by taking aime [aim] hav [have] hit their mark every time, for the rebs were in solid mass.”