from The Worcester Spy, 15 July 1863 (Volume 92 #27),
| Editorial On the Death of Col. George H. Ward
Col. George H. Ward who was buried yesterday, was one of those patriotic, noble, and heroic officers of our army, whose memory should be kept green and fragrant. He entered the army from a sense of duty and a consciousness that he could render useful service, and he continued in it under circumstances that would have constrained many others to retire; for he was much disabled by the loss of a leg at Ballís Bluff, the stump of which had not become entirely sound when he returned to his regiment. While at Falmouth he had serious trouble with it as compelled him to go to Washington and remain for a time under surgical care.
Col. Ward was a well trained and skillful soldier before he went to the war with the 15th regiment. For years he had given his attention to military matters. He was an active and leading member of the Worcester City Guards, an organization that has given other able and accomplished soldiers to the service; and having served in our volunteer militia in various positions, he was one of its brigadier generals at the time when he was commissioned lieutenant Colonel of the fifteenth.
Our cadets at West Point become well instructed in engineering, artillery practice, and other specialties of the science of war; but they do not become better instructed in the matter of handling men on the field than the best and most assiduous of the officers of our volunteer militia; for, while their studies give them no more instruction in this matter, they have much less practical experience of the handling of regiments and brigades. When the war broke out none of the younger officers of the regular army were better qualified to command a regiment than Col. Ward; and, certainly, many of them were much inferior to him. He was an able, accomplished, and most gallant officer.
When the fifteenth was organized Col. Ward rendered zealous and effective service. He went with it to the seat of the war as its lieutenant Colonel. he was unwearied in his endeavors to give it the most effective discipline, and make it what it has been, one of the very best and most effective regiments in the army. In this respect Col. Devens found him a most faithful and valuable coadjutor.
While the regiment was stationed at Poolesville, Md., it won a most enviable reputation among people for discipline and good behavior. While it performed provost guard duty there, the people of the place could go and come, night or day, feeling sure of protection from soldiers bearing the badges of the Massachusetts fifteenth.
In the disastrous battle of Ballís Bluff, Col. Ward behaved with the greatest coolness and courage. he was badly wounded in that battle, so badly that his leg was amputated below the knee. This wound made him incapable of service in the field for several months. He came home; and , while yet suffering from the wound, he was very active and successful in securing recruits for the fifteenth; and he also rendered great assistance in the organization of several new regiments. His wound was troublesome and did not heal readily; and he was so much and so long disabled by it, that many of his friends advised him to resign.
But he could not think of doing so. He had the greatest solicitude to rejoin his regiment and be again in active service. His feeling in this respect was so strong that he finally rejoined the army on the Rappahannock, before he was really well enough for service in the field. On arriving there he was placed in command of a brigade. He probably went again to his regiment from Washington, with his wounded leg still in a bad condition. but he remained actively in command, and marched with the army from Falmouth to Gettysburg.
A letter from the fifteenth, just before the battle of Gettysburg, stated that Col. Ward was quite unwell; but he would not let this appear, when the conflict came. He commanded a brigade at Gettysburg, and was at the head of his men in the thickest and fiercest of the battles on Thursday. His brigade was in Gen. Gibbons division of the Second corps. The reports that have reached us say he handled his men with the utmost determined bravery. About six oíclock in the afternoon, a minie ball struck him in the thigh and severed the femoral artery. He bled to death, although he lived in an insensible condition until Friday morning. Some time passed before he could be removed from the field. The force with which he fought showed the greatest heroism and endurance; but it suffered severely, and no part of it more than the Fifteenth. It was a terrible battle; but our army won the day. Our brave men who died were victorious in death. All honor to them!
It is not easy for many of us who knew Col. Ward well, to realize that he is dead. But he has left us, dying a heroic death to save his country. He leaves in Worcester an interesting family, a wife and two young children, whose great bereavement does not need to be described. he leaves also a very large circle of personal friends, by whom his memory will be warmly cherished. And his name is given to the whole country, and it will be mentioned and honored wherever there is admiration for heroic patriotism.