As faithful readers of this blog know, I have often written about General William Rosecrans, Union general and zealous Catholic convert. One of the men who helped in the conversion process was Julius Garesché, who would serve under Rosecrans in the Civil War.
Rosecrans was fighting a huge battle at Stones River, go here to read about it, in Tennessee that would last from December 31, 1862-January 3, 1863. He succeeded in defeating Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and drove him from central Tennessee. It was an important victory, a needed shot in the arm for the Union after the disaster of Fredericksburg. Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:
“You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”
During that battle he was a man on fire, constantly charging to points of danger, heedless of risks to himself, rallying his men, inspiring them and beating off Confederate charge after Confederate charge. Rosecrans was in the maelstrom of particularly vicious fighting when his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesché , a fellow Catholic who had been made a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope Pius IX, warned him about risking himself to enemy fire. “Never mind me, my boy, but make the sign of the cross and go in!” A moment later, a cannon shell careened into the general’s entourage, beheading Garesche and spraying his brains all over Rosecrans’ overcoat. Rosecrans’ mourned his friend, as he mourned all his brave men who died in that fight, but that didn’t stop him an instant from leading his army to victory.
I was going to do a blog post on Garesché, but I decided that I could not improve on the one done by Pat McNamara at his blog. Go here to read it.