The Battle of Gettysburg was a vital turning point in the Civil War. The Southern troops were invading the North, and the outcome of this battle would likely significantly affect the war as a whole.
General Robert E. Lee had Lt. Gen. James Longstreet charge forward and capture Cemetery Hill from the Union.
Cemetery Hill was defended by Union General George G. Meade and his men. One of his brave men was Joseph H. DeCastro.
DeCastro was the Union’s 19th Massachusetts Infantry flag bearer and would soon be the first Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient. However, if flags were damaged, they were often not repaired.
This made the position of the flag bearer important. It was their job to protect the regimental flag at all costs. It was a sign to all that they were in the midst of battle, and even if they were unable to hear the orders, at least they could see the flag.
Pride Of The Flag
It was a very honorable position in the military. The flag bearer would be at the very front facing the enemy. However, even though the flag bearers were not armed, they could not shirk their responsibilities.
If they ran, the unit might follow them. Basically, Joseph H. Castro and other flag bearers were sitting ducks. Castro spent more time in that predicament than others, which gave him an advantage.
The 19th Virginia infantry flag bearer did not know what he was up against when he charged into DeCastro. The two fought like everyone around them, except they fought with their flags.
DeCastro obtained the 19th Virginia’s flag by hitting the flag bearer with the staff of his flag. He then took it to Gen. Alexander Webb.
The color bearer resumed his position with his flag. He made it through the battle and the Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for his masterful and brave retrieval of the enemy’s flag.