On the retreat from Gettysburg...


Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2001
In July, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia suffered a defeat at the hands of the Yankees in a place called Gettysburg. As the southern army was preparing to return to Virginia, General Robert E. Lee suddenly realized that a member of his army was missing. The retreat came to a halt as the men looked for the soldier. The General himself joined in the hunt.

After sometime, the soldier was found - everyone, including Lee, rejoiced...and the retreat resumed.

The soldier's name? Nellie. You see, Nellie - sometimes called Hen - was just that...a chicken... She was a small, black hen, and arrived in Lee�s camp, sometime in early 1862, with a shipment of chickens sent to the Army of Northern Virginia for food.

Sensing that no good could come from staying with the flock, she escaped and ran, taking cover in a tent with an open flap. The tent was warm and chicken-killer free, so she stayed. As hens are wont to do, at some point she laid an egg under the cot in the tent, and settled herself down on it to see what would happen.

Fortunately, the tent to she sought refuge in belonged to General Robert E. Lee, and, fortunately, General Lee enjoyed a fresh egg for breakfast. These two pieces of incredible luck combined to save the life of the little black hen.

Little Nellie the Hen travelled with the Army of Northern Virginia for over two years, laying an egg for General Lee almost daily to earn her keep and safe haven. No doubt she brought solace and a memory of home in Arlington to the General with her faithful eggs and friendly clucking. But, to the approximately 11,400 Confederate casualties from the Battle of the Wilderness, there must be added one more: Nellie Hen.

On May 4, the eve of the fighting, General Lee invited some people over for dinner.....

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