He Wasn’t Glad to See Him!

During the Civil War, it’s often said that it was brother versus brother and friend versus friend. This is sadly true, and when battles would occur during that savage conflict, sometimes family and friends would be forced to meet each other in the most unlikely circumstances.

Here at Gettysburg on the first day of battle on July 1st, 1863, an encounter between two acquaintances would take place during the morning’s action. Early in the day near a stream called Willoughby Run which passes through Herbst Woods or Reynolds or McPherson’s Woods, Confederate Brigadier General James Jay Archers’ brigade would fight against the famed Union’s Iron Brigade. The fighting was extremely fierce, and Archer’s Brigade was pushed back. However, a Union soldier found Archer hiding in the woods in a thicket and promptly took Archer prisoner.

When Archer was escorted under guard back to the rear of the Union lines, he was surprised to stumble across an old acquaintance of his. That acquaintance was Union Brigadier General Abner Doubleday. Accounts vary concerning how the two men knew each other before the war, but they were most definitely acquainted.

Whatever the circumstances of their acquaintance, they knew one another, and Doubleday recognized his old friend immediately. “Glad to see you, Archer,” allegedly said Doubleday.

Archer was not nearly as cheerful. “Well, I’m not glad to see you by a damned sight!” he retorted before being led away.

Archer would go on to have the distinction of being the first Confederate General captured during the Battle of Gettysburg. Held in custody for many months afterward, he was eventually returned to the South as part of a prisoner exchange, though not until after succumbing to illness and privation in Union custody. He unfortunately never recovered, passing away October 24, 1864.

— Blog By Jordan Kroeze