Eight million shots fired. Some of that lead actually hit its intended targets. And that lethal storm of projectiles doesn't count artillery fire, or the toll exacted by sword and fixed bayonet. The Battle at Gettysburg was a killing floor. It was also a place of creation. The 1st Gettysburg Invalids were born from that battle. This is their story.
Mr. Lincoln's Men, some called them. Created from the aftermath: carnage the father, ingenuity the mother, and God only knows the additions and subtractions of bits and pieces of horribly wounded men now ruined and can't go home. A battalion of the unlucky, unfortunate, and hard to kill: blind men, men without legs, men missing arms, men bereft of reason, shell-shocked and howling mad men. Sorry looking men individually. But collectively, a true fighting force and something the world has never seen before.
From rack and ruin, they come. To hell, they run. Soldiers of the line carried, dragged, and pushed onto the battlefront. Invalids all, gun fodder and a joke if they didn't look so terrifying: 'tin cup' men, white cane and sideshow freaks armed, resolute and those many sightless eyes staring holes in space, screaming Bellamus Aeterni as they killed, as they died. They are one with their motto: forever we fight. For the terribly wounded, the war never ends in victory or defeat: only death changes anything.
Hail the 1st Gettysburg Invalids. They are on the march. And wherever they go, their colonel leads them. He is the man with no face. He wears the black velvet bag of command, and from the ruins of his lips, words slither into life. His men call him The Cobra. He is that and more. Colonel Goliath Entwhistle, the tallest man in America, first a traitor to the Union and then a traitor to the 'Cause,' forsworn twofold and yet promoted and entrusted by President Lincoln and General Meade with a battalion of ruined men. A Confederate officer commands the 1st Gettysburg. He is savagely wounded.