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Gettysburg Concordance App Brings Battle to Life

Historian Tad Baker at Richards Grave in Portsmouth, NH

Finding Henry Richards

A few hours after I interviewed Tad Baker for this article he sent an email with a rarely-seen photograph of  Henry Lakewood Richards that he discovered online. Tad quickly pulled together a brief biography of Richards. Then he and his wife Peggy hopped in their car and found Richards' tombstone in Portsmouth's South Cemetery. They uploaded the digital info, including photos of Richards and his grave, to the Gettysburg Concordance. Now anyone using the app from anywhere on earth can track Richards' regiment (Company F, of the Second US Sharpshooters) from the weeks leading up to the battle and right into the breach.

" See how quickly you can add things to an app?" Tad noted proudly.

Now I was truly impressed. Henry Richards may be just one tiny statistic in a monstrous battle database, but his story brings the war dramatically home.

According to local history, Henry was a model of human bravery. morality, and kindness. When war broke out, he walked to Concord to sign up as a sharpshooter. When he was offered an army commission, Richards reportedly said, "No, I had rather be a good soldier than a poor officer." When the "noble -hearted man" was wounded at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, he returned to Portsmouth briefly to convalesce. According to one account, with his wounded leg, Richards "walked several miles to obtain flowers for a poor, sick woman." 

As soon as possible, he returned to his army unit, but was wounded in the knee by a Minnie ball on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. After lying on the battlefield all night in pain, Richards was carried to a makeshift hospital where his leg was amputated. The operation took place, according to the Portsmouth Journal "under the influence of chloroform, from the effects of which, he did not revive." He was 38 years old.

But the story doesn't end there. Richards' friend Joseph Foster traveled to Gettysburg to reclaim the body from among thousands and brought it back to Portsmouth for burial. The entire city mourned. Years before the war, Henry Richards had taken on a project of planting beautiful trees along both sides of what was then known as Auburn Street that led from Middle Street to South Cemetery. In his honor, the street was renamed Richards Avenue, and today it leads to the cemetery where Richards and other veterans are buried.

So how does Portsmouth remember these "saviors of their country" as the veterans of the Civil War were called during a memorial ceremony in 1893? At the ceremony at Goodwin Park, historian Frank Hackett worried that men and women "too young to have heard the echoing guns of the great struggle" might forget great men like Henry Richards. These local heroes were becoming obscure statistics.  

That's why, Hackett reminded his audience, that we build monuments. And that's why, he said, we must continually seek out and visit the graves of fallen heroes. And that's why, Tad Baker and his team might add, young people today should download the Gettysburg Concordance app.  

TO LEARN MORE search for "Gettysburg Concordance" on iTunes or YouTube, or visit pviMaine.com. CLICK HERE

 

Copyright © 2013 by J. Dennis Robinson, all rights reserved. Robinson’s history column appears in the Portsmouth Herald every other Monday and exclusively online at his independent Web site SeacoastNH.com. He is the author of 11 books including UNDER THE ISLES OF SHOALS and AMERICA’S PRIVATEER, available on Amazon.com and in local stores.

 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017 
 
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