13th Vermont InfantryBiography
Sergeant Sullivan French Gale
I was born in the town of Plainfield, Vermont, February 11, 1842, and volunteered in August, 1862, and counted on the quota of my native town. Joined East Montpelier company, so called, and actively took part in the recruiting and organization of this Company. Lewis l. Coburn was elected captain and the company was not called Company C. The captain appointed me second sergeant and later when first Sergeant William A. Cooper was promoted to a lieutenancy, was promoted to first sergeant, in which position I served until the regiment was discharged July 21, 1863. Was a student at Barre Academy when the war cloud hovered over our fair county, working hard for an education. Was young but comprehended the impending disaster. Books and instruction lost their charm. Duty said volunteer and fight for home and country first, and education later. With faithful zeal gave at once my attention to the necessary preparation of becoming a useful soldier in the pending crisis. Was extremely ignorant of all matters pertaining to the life of a soldier. My position in the company commanded strict and careful attention that I might properly instruct and maintain discipline, and in all haste make ready for the march, camp, picket line and battle at the front, in the vicinity of Washington, D. C. I was only a boy of 20, and hitherto with an ambition only for an education. It was evident that my country was in deadly peril and it must be saved at any cost of life and treasure. I was young, active, able-bodied and nothing to hinder my responding to the urgent call of President Lincoln of August 4 for 300,000 volunteers to serve 9 months. It was said and all believed, with such an addition to our then great army the war would be over before the end of our term of service. Thence forward it was drill, study of tactics in manual of arms and military movements in battle. All were raw recruits fresh from the farm, shop, store and school, sturdy sons of horny handed, God fearing and loyal men and women, born and bred on the hills and in the valleys of the state they dearly loved, and with pride called home. The second battle of Bull Run had just been fought and lost, Antietam too, was only an even drawn battle and General Lee was in the Shenandoah valley menacing Washington. President Lincoln and his cabinet and generals were extremely anxious for the capitol of the nation was in danger of capture. In a few brief days we were transferred to Washington and placed on the outer picket line to do duty as veteran soldiers. Company C boys were as I recall, large, strong and courageous and not afraid to meet the enemy in a fight. Our one thought was, save the Union, and to this we freely offered our lives as a sacrifice. Was mustered in at Brattleboro October 10 and November 10 were doing duty on the front picket line in Virginia between Mount Vernon and Bull Run battlefield, taking the places of veteran soldiers. Our officers to be sure (some of them) had seen service. Naturally felt that Company C was the best in the regiment but as a matter of fact and pride, all were much alike in the business that at hand. All seemed to have buckled on the armor determined to meet the foe and die if necessary. It is with great satisfaction I call to memory the names of my comrades of Company C, brave and true, generous and kind. Who would care for better associates, more sympathetic men ready to stretch forth the hand to assist and serve then these noble heroes of Company C.
A goodly number of Company C boys proudly and justly, no doubt trace their descent from those who were associates of Ethan Allen, Seth Warner and Remember Baker. All were quickly made into good soldiers, and the manner in which they discharged their duties in camp, drill, parade, march and especially on the seven days' march from Camp Carusi, Va., to Pennsylvania, and in the great battle of Gettysburg demonstrated their fitness for soldiers. They carried the colors on that wonderful and successful charge against General Pickett's advancing columns and did their part in securing victory over General Lee and his brave heroes. The second Vermont Brigade on this field of fame and glory and in this charge turned the tide of battle and secured victory. The eagle eye of General Stannard saw the opportunity and the open space before him, and promptly sent his Vermont Brigade down into the valley of Plum River and against General Pickett's right flank, killing, wounding and capturing thousands and thus General Lee was vanquished and the awful battle of three days of desperate fighting ended, and General Mead and the Union army victorious. General Stannard and the Green Mountain Boys of his command at the close of this eventful day, July 3d, 1863, had won; not by chance or on account of circumstances, but because General Stannard and his command were equal t the opportunity before them. General Stannard was an intuitive military genius who saw, comprehended, decided and acted, and hence the unique orders conceived, uttered and executed, that saved the day.
Comrade Sturtevant in his circular letter as historian invited me to elate incidents of army life and give experiences while a soldier and write relative to any matters of interest while in the service and since the Civil War. Your invitation was generous and the subject fertile with happy, loving and glorious recollections of the days when we were following the Stars and Stripes, fighting for the Union. It is embarrassing to be person but often proper in matters of history. I have with pride written of my company comrades in a general way, and what has been written of them applies to each as if mentioned by name. My old comrades have my love and respect and the memory of them has been cherished as among the dearest recollections of an active and public life as a minister of the Gospel of Peace. As a company they were kind hearted, honest, upright and generous as soldiers, zealous, brave and patriotic. I loved and honored them and have ever been (justly I am certain) proud of the record they made at Gettysburg. I hesitate to mention my career since the Civil War and only do so because the historians earnestly request it.
I delight to say that no company of the gallant 13th that at Gettysburg did better and more valiant fighting than Company C. They carried the colors and took special pride in protecting them from capture. I was alert and where I could see and hear. The 13th received the order first, to charge front and forward on first company. This order was first given to the 13th Regiment and then to the 14th and 16th. The 13th was on General Pickett's flank, first at close range, causing fearful slaughter before the other regiments got into position. General Stannard and Col. Randall were standing near to each other when this unique order was born and uttered. Rah! for the gallant 13th. I consider myself fortunate that I served in Company C and the 13th Regiment, and that I was at Gettysburg.
I returned home as soon as discharged and opened my books where I closed them at enlistment, graduated from college and was assistant principal at Barre Academy for two years, then in Theological Seminary, New York three years. In the Gospel Ministry until 1869; superintendent of the Congregational Home Missionary Society, Florida, since 1883. My calling has necessitated residence in widely separated places and most of the time outside of my native state. Have devoted my time and energy to the advancement of Christianity and education. Am officially connected with several colleges and seminaries and other public institutions. Was department chaplain G.A.A., Florida, and chaplain of Florida Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution. I have been a very busy man and with all my might sought to advance the welface of my country, and the kingdom of my Father in Heaven. My dear comrade excuse this disconnected sketch for it is not worthy of a place in the book of the history where you design it. You have full permission to change it or lay it aside entirely. Circumstances have separated me from my comrades of the 13th and thus have been deprived of association and calling to mind the dear faces of the old days when we marched side by side and with heart to heart disclosed our hopes and ambitions. The majority of those we served with have passed on and are at rest and waiting for you and I to join their glorious increasing ranks.
Rev. Sullivan French Gale, D.D.
Rev. Sullivan French Gale, D.D., born in Plainfield, Vt., Feb. 11, 1842; married Elizabeth Taylor Felt, born in Temple, N.H., in 1847; their children, Frank Harvey Gale, married Julia Eugenia McMillan; Elizabeth or Bessie Gale, teacher of piano; Arthur Sullivan Gale, married Mary Cotton Walker Luke; Louisa Fisk Gale married George Chester Bedell; Laura Taylor; their grand children, Elizabeth and Abbie, Harvey and Robert, children of Frank and Eugenia; Francis Marland, son of Arthur and May; Chester, son of George and Louise Bedell.
Sullivan French Gale, son of Sullivan Boutwell (and Rhoda Athelia French Gale,) son of John (and Rebecca Boutwell) Gale, son of Josiah, Jr., (and Elizabeth Rice) Gale, son of Josiah (and Elizabeth). Josiah made the campaign to Sheffield for the relief of Fort William Henry, August, 1757, with his brother, Lieut. Isaac Gale. Josiah was son of Abraham Gale Jr., (and Rachel Parkhurst) son of Abraham (and Sarah Fiske) son of Richard and Mary Gale, the founders in 1640 of Watertown, Mass., of the Gale family in America.
Source: Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial history: Thirteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, privately printed c1905, pp. 162, 483-484.