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(NECN: Mike Cronin) – One hundred and fifty years ago, American soldiers pitted against each other were in the midst of fighting what would become the deadliest battle of the civil war. The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1 and lasted three days. High estimates put the total casualties at over 50,000 men. One of those who died was Colonel George Hull Ward of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.
“He gave his life for the country and I think he did it very willingly,” says Holy Cross head of archives Mark Savolis.
A civil war hero was remembered in Worcester on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and his own death.
“Here was a man that had the belief of saving the country,” he says.
Savolis says Colonel George Hull Ward was one of the top ranking officers in the Worcester area when war broke in 1861. Ward trained the 15th Massachusetts regiment here in what is now the south Worcester neighborhood center and St. John's cemetery.
“And the civil war really was the foundation for this neighborhood. It brought families to our community and it makes it a residential neighborhood,” says Ron Charette.
Ward's leg was amputated in one of the first battles he saw. He went back to Worcester because of the injury. He would return to his regiment less than two years later. Ward was promoted to commander and led his soldiers into the battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
“George Ward and his men were coming back this way and that's where he was wounded somewhere in this vicinity here,” says Savolis.
Ward was hit in the leg and died in the hospital. He was 37.
“Most likely it was because of loss of blood.”
Ward is buried at rural cemetery. His picture hangs in the Worcester historical museum's library.
“More soldiers died in the civil war than in any other war in this country,” says curator Holly Izard.
She says Ward's brother was also at Gettysburg. He described the carnage of tens of thousands of dead soldiers.
“He writes home. You just can't believe all of these bodies, all of these people who have given their lives for this cause on both sides.”
One hundred and fifty years later, Savolis says it's important to remember those who sacrificed their lives for what they believed in.
“And I think that's something that we should think about and honor those men and women who died for their country.”