Lyon (William D.) Papers, 1863, 1 Item

Administrative Information

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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet:

Cite As:William D. Lyon Papers, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-E10-b

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: No

Accession Number: 2000-197

Processed by: Emily Brickhouse June 2002

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: William D. Lyon writes to his brother about his experiences as a Confederate soldier during the Gettysburg Campaign (8 quarto pages; July 18, 1863).

Biographical/Historical Sketch

William D. Lyon served the state of Alabama in the Civil War. He was in Brigadier-General John B. Gordon’s Brigade, Brigadier-General Jubal A. Early’s 3rd Division, and Lieutenant General Richard Stoddard Ewell’s II Corps during the Gettysburg Campaign. On June 17, 1863, Ewell’s Corps marched across the Potomac River into Maryland. On June 26, Early’s division met light resistance from local militia west of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania but soon dispersed the troops. When the Confederates reached York, Early demanded one hundred thousand dollars from the inhabitants but took only twenty-eight thousand dollars, which was readily available. At Wrightsville, on the Susquehanna River, a militia group burned a bridge that spanned the river between Wrightsville and Columbia and the town caught fire. Gordon’s brigade helped to put out the flames. From Wrightsville Early marched his division to Gettysburg to join Ewell. In the three days at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) Early’s troops were involved in the attacks on Cemetery Hill. Lyon survived the battle of Gettysburg.

Scope and Content Note

In a letter to his brother George (July 18, 1863; 8 pages) Lyon wrote about the operation to protect the bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. “Separated from the main army, and on to save if possible the bridge which crosses the Susquehanna River between Columbia and Wrightsville. I never enjoyed myself more than I did on that march. We passed through the most beautiful and highly cultivated country that I ever saw. It was literally a land of plenty. The people, who were all Dutch, were very much frightened of our appearance, and full expected to be the victims of the most horrible atrocities.”

Lyon also wrote about his opinion of General Robert E. Lee’s decision to attack Cemetery Ridge on the last day at Gettysburg. “The battle of Gettysburg was by far the most bloody and obstructive battle that Gen Lee’s army was ever engaged in. The Yankees had every advantage and were forced to act on the defensive. Gen Lee made a great mistake in storming the heights. It is said that he acted upon what he considered reliable information of the topography of the hills, but which was really unreliable.”

The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: