"Captain Frank" Kenfield


Image The Second Vermont Brigade was made up of short-term enlistees - "nine months men." Frank Kenfield enlisted as a private, but was immediately elected an officer in Company E, the "Morristown Company," of the 13th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers.

On the third day at Gettysburg, the Second Vermont was positioned forward and to the left of the main Union force, near the Codori House. First Lieutenant Frank was in command of the company, Captain Davis having been felled by heat exhaustion the day before. As Pickett's Charge engaged the main line near the Clump of Trees and The Angle, the 13th Regiment -- apparently unnoticed during the two-hour artillery barrage that preceded the attack -- rose up, wheeled right, and let loose into Pickett's unprotected right flank at point-blank range. It was joined by the 16th Regiment. On the opposite flank, troops from Ohio and New York also attacked. Pickett's force was squeezed and caught in a vicious cross-fire. In hand-to-hand fighting at The Angle and The Clump of Trees, Pickett's Charge was stopped.

From the Richmond, Virginia Sentinel, July 1863: "A flanking party of the enemy, marching in column by regiments, was thrown out from the enemy's left on our extreme right, which was held by Kemper's Brigade, and by an enfilading fire forced the retirement of our troops."

Historian Kathleen Georg Harrison: "Stannard's Vermont Brigade . . . was responsible not only for a major part of the repulse of the Virginians . . . but was the major factor in driving Pickett's Division into each other and compressing them into a confused and disorganized mass."

One of Pickett's men: "I told my Captain that the Yankees were out on our flank, but he said we had nothing to do with that. Those in the rear would attend to them. All we had to do was go forward. He said, 'Follow me!' and I tried to do so when I suddenly felt the muzzle of a revolver pressed against my head and heard a Vermonter say, 'wall naouw, I guess you won't go any farther in that direction!' and I didn't."

The Second Vermont was mustered out, their enlistment period up, just days after Gettysburg. Captain Frank later helped recruit the new 17th Vermont Regiment, commanding Company C, which saw service at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. He was seriously wounded at Gettysburg, and wounded again, less seriously, at the Wilderness. He rejoined the company at Petersburg, where he was captured, spending several months in various prisons before being paroled. After the war he returned to farming, producing "a superior butter" and managing "a good sugar place" with 1,100 trees. For four years he was President of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, and held a variety of local and state offices.

Sources:  Coffin, Howard, Nine Months to Gettysburg: Stannard's Vermonters and the Repulse of Pickett's Charge(1997);  Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, vol. II; "Personal Sketch by Captain Frank Kenfield" in The Thirteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers