On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, into the maelstrom of fighting around the Wheatfield came Union reinforcements in the form of the V Corps, including the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves. As they moved forward, their flank was harassed by a contingent of Confederates concealed in a cabin owned by John T. Weikert. Recognizing the threat posed to his unit, Sgt. George Mears of Company A began gathering volunteers for a dangerous mission. The six-man party moved quickly across a muddy field, bursting through the cabin door and taking those inside prisoner.
The process of honoring all members of the group for their participation in the gallant charge was complicated by the spontaneous nature of the action. As Mears wrote in 1900, “The thing was done with such a rush, names or the number of men were not thought of and …the squad was disbanded as hurriedly as it was called together each returning to his company and place in line of battle, which was then raging.”But thanks to the strong sense of community among the veterans, all six men were eventually identified and recognized.
The attack upon the rebel works at New Market Heights, Va., September 29, 1864, one of the most stubborn in the history of the war, was delivered by the Fourth and Sixth U. S. Colored Troops, who lost more than half their men in that bloody charge.
LT John Patterson of the 11th US Regulars earned the Medal of Honor for his actions at Saunders Field on May 5, 1864. Patterson had raced out into Saunders Field to rescue a wounded comrade before he was consumed by nearby fires.
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