Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote this week 150 years ago in the Civil War to the president of the Confederacy as his battered army continued its recovery from defeat at Gettysburg. Both North and South had experienced heavy bloodletting in the fight and were bidding to regroup after what would turn out to be the pivotal battle of the war. In a letter dated July 31, 1863, Lee told Confederate President Jefferson Davis that the adverse turn of events at Gettysburg for the South cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. “No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me, nor should it be censured for the unreasonable expectations of the public. I am alone to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess & valour,” Lee wrote Davis. In the same letter, Lee added: “Our loss has been heavy, that of the enemy’s proportionally so.” And he concluded that his plan could have worked if all the elements of his war strategy had come together as expected: I still think if all things could have worked together it would have been accomplished.” Many letters were going back and forth between Davis and Lee at this point in the war, with Davis at the time promising to rapidly furnish more fighters for the badly depleted Army of Northern Virginia.
Posts Tagged With: Gettysburg
On the second day of fighting at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee listened to scouting reports, scanned the battlefield and ordered his second-in-command, James Longstreet, to attack the Union Army’s left flank.
It was a fateful decision, one that led to one of the most desperate clashes of the entire Civil War — the fight for a piece of ground called Little Round Top. The Union’s defense of the boulder-strewn promontory helped send Lee to defeat at Gettysburg, and he never again ventured into Northern territory.
Why did the shrewd and canny Lee choose to attack, especially in the face of the Union’s superior numbers?
While historians have long wrestled with that question, geographers and cartographers have come up with an explanation, by way of sophisticated mapping software that shows the rolling terrain exactly as it would have appeared to Lee: From his vantage point, he simply couldn’t see throngs of Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys.
“Our analysis shows that he had a very poor understanding of how many forces he was up against, which made him bolder,” said Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, whose team produced the most faithful re-creation of the Gettysburg battlefield to date, using software called GIS, or geographic information systems.
Developed for the Smithsonian Institution to mark Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary, the panoramic map went live on the Smithsonian website Friday, giving history buffs a new way to look at the Civil War’s pivotal battle, which took place July 1-3, 1863.
“Our goal is to help people understand how and why commanders made their decisions at key moments of the battle, and a key element that’s been excluded, or just not considered in historical studies before, is sight,” Knowles said.
Long before the advent of reconnaissance aircraft and spy satellites, a general’s own sense of sight — his ability to read the terrain and assess the enemy’s position and numbers — was one of his most important tools. Especially at Gettysburg, where Lee was hampered by faulty intelligence.
“We know that Lee had really poor information going into the battle and must have relied to some extent on what he could actually see,” Knowles said.
The geographer applied GIS to find out what Lee could see and what he couldn’t.
To reconstruct the battlefield as it existed in 1863, researchers used historical maps, texts and photos to note the location of wooden fences, stone walls, orchards, forests, fields, barns and houses, as well as the movement of army units. High-resolution aerial photos of the landscape yielded an accurate elevation model. All of it was fed into a computer program that can map data.
But a GIS-generated map, with illuminated areas showing what Lee could see and shaded areas denoting what was hidden from his view, indicates the terrain concealed large numbers of Union soldiers.
“What really came through as a new discovery for us in this project was seeing how few federal forces Lee could see, particularly on Day 2, when he decides to send Longstreet,” Knowles said.
Historian Allen Guelzo, who wasn’t involved in the project, agreed that Lee’s view probably misled him. Guelzo, director of Civil War-era studies at Gettysburg College, took a visitor up to the school’s cupola and motioned toward the peak of Little Round Top, just visible in the distance.
“You can see a lot from up here, and Robert E. Lee might have thought on July 2 that he had seen everything,” said Guelzo, who has written a new book on the Battle of Gettysburg. “But, in fact, the dips and folds of the ground, the foliage as it was on the ground in various groves and woods, all of that concealed what turned out to be the deadly truth.”
Conversely, the Union Army occupied higher ground, and used it to great advantage.
Union Gen. Gouverneur Warren spied Longstreet’s troops just as they were about to launch their attack on an undefended Little Round Top. Frantic, Warren dispatched an officer to round up reinforcements. They got there just in time, and withstood the Confederates.
In Warren’s case, GIS confirmed what historians have long known.
For Knowles, the mapping project and the mysteries it revealed helped Gettysburg come alive.
“Commanders always had to make decisions with really limited information … committing men’s lives to scraps of information or intuition, or what you can see at a certain day or a certain time,” she said. “This analysis, for me, is making the battle more human.”
North Carolina native Emeline Pigott offered her services to the Confederate Army as a spy. Single and 25 years old, Pigott hosted parties for local Union soldiers and gathered information about their plans. In the folds of her voluminous skirts she hid important papers and other contraband, which she later passed on to the local Rebels – until 1865, when she was arrested and jailed.
Emeline Pigott was born in December 15, 1836, in Harlowe Township, Carteret County, North Carolina, and spent her youth there. When Emeline was 25 years old, just after the Civil War began, she and her parents moved to a farm on Calico Creek at Crab Point on the coast – what is now part of Morehead City.
Soldiers of the Confederate 26th North Carolina Division soon arrived to defend the coastline and made their camp just across the creek from the Pigott home. Emeline had a passionate desire to assist the Confederate cause. She offered her services as a spy and gathered food and clothing for the soldiers. She hid these items in designated hollow trees, so the soldiers could retrieve them later. She cared for wounded soldiers who were brought in from the battlefields, sometimes nursing them back to health in her home.
Working in three neighboring counties, Emeline distributed mail and supplies to the soldiers and gathered information about Federal ships, their tonnage and cargo, and passed it on to the authorities across Calico Creek.
The Confederate troops left coastal North Carolina and moved up the river to New Bern. The Battle of New Bern was fought on March 14, 1862, led by Union General Ambrose Burnside and accompanied by armed vessels, opposed by an undermanned and rather badly trained Confederate force of North Carolina soldiers and militia. The Union won the battle.
Confederate soldiers were rushed out of town by flatcar to Kinston, North Carolina – 40 miles inland. Emeline went along to care for the wounded on the last train out before the Northerners occupied the town of New Bern. Many residents fled. When the Yankees arrived, the houses were empty, and the army used them as barracks, offices and hospitals.
New Bern was an important shipping port and a stop on the Atlantic and Northern Railroad, and it became the center of Union operations in eastern North Carolina for the rest of the Civil War. The Confederates tried to take it back twice, but failed.
Emeline and a soldier named Stokes McRae and fell in love, but decided not to marry until after the war was over. When McRae went to the battlefield, he took along a special Confederate flag that Emeline had made just for him. He survived the Battle of New Bern but lost the flag. McRae was killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July 1863. Devastated by the news, Emeline rededicated herself to helping the Southern cause.
When Emeline returned home to Calico Creek, she found the Yankees had occupied the entire area. She continued to gather intelligence about Northern blockade ships in port. She also carried letters and other items from family members to Confederate soldiers, and made numerous dangerous journeys to New Bern and other locations.
She narrowly escaped capture several times, and disregarded her own safety in order to complete her mission. She sometimes carried up to thirty pounds of supplies and intelligence information in huge pockets inside her hoop skirt.
She obtained valuable information while entertaining Union soldiers in the parlor of her home, while her brother-in-law Rufus Bell dispensed food from her pantry to hungry Rebel soldiers out the back. Local fishermen also gathered information as they sold fish to the Yankees and then reported to Emeline.
Emeline Pigott became North Carolina’s most famous spy and smuggler. In 1865, as the war was ending, Union officials were watching Emeline and Rufus Bell very closely. One day she and Bell got into his carriage and headed toward Beaufort to deliver the supplies they had collected. Along the way, however, they were stopped, arrested and sent to jail by Union soldiers, and they confiscated the carriage.
While the Yankees were trying to find a female to search Emeline, she ate some of the papers she had tucked inside her blouse which contained important information and tore up others. She shredded some of the mail she carried, but the Unionists discovered the large amount of supplies that were hidden in the pockets inside her skirt.
Though she faced the death penalty, after two months she was inexplicably released without going to trial. She had been nothing but trouble to the soldiers who guarded her. She was, however, watched and harassed until the end of the war. was . She returned to her family’s farm. She never married; her heart was always with Stokes McRae.
After the war, Emeline greatly enjoyed telling others about her escapades, but she never revealed how she came to be released from prison. She remained active in the community until her death.
Emeline Pigott died on May 26, 1916, at the age of 80. She was buried in the family cemetery on the north side of Calico Creek. It is open to the public, and is appropriately located on Emeline Place in Morehead City.
This photo was taken at the Gettysburg Battlefield….in the first photo a strange image shows up to the right of the building…section was cropped and magnified….ghost?, blur on camera, a digital camera was used, several photos taken that day, but this is the only one that had an addition image in the photo…you decide what is there…..
Bodies were stacked three and four deep, according to James I. Robertson, Jr., professor emeritus of history at Virginia Tech. The reason: a small battlefield and stubborn generals who knew the outcome of the Civil War was at stake. General Robert E. Lee was invading North, while Gen. George B. McLellan was trying to halt Lee’s successes.
“It was a key turning point,” Robertson said. “It took the military momentum out of the South.”
A week after the battle, President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves throughout the United States.
The George Armstrong Custer Gettysburg battle report is filled with the heroic exploits of the brash young Union cavalry general
September 9, 1863
Report of Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade of, and Third Division. Battle of Gettysburg
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, September 9, 1863.
Captain ESTES, A. A. G., Third Div., Cav. Corps, Army of the Potomac.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagements in which my command participated during the Pennsylvania and Maryland campaigns. Owing to the frequency with which this brigade encountered the enemy, my report assumes the form of a diary:
FIRST MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
On June 30, the regiment was ordered to support Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, at Hanover, Pa. No loss was sustained by the regiment here, as it was not actively engaged.
On July 2, at the battle of Hunterstown, one squadron, under command of Captain Duggan, was detailed to hold the road leading into the town from the right front of it. One platoon was deployed as skirmishers on the left of the road leading into town from the rear. This platoon was actively engaged and did good service. The regiment sustained no loss upon this day.
On July 3, engagement 2 or 3 miles to the right of the Two Taverns, in which this regiment charged in close column upon Hampton’s brigade, using the saber only, and driving the enemy from the field, with a loss to this regiment of 6 officers and 80 men.
On July 4, the regiment moved with the division toward Monterey Gap. At Fountain Dale, was sent upon a road leading from the right of the town to Fairfield Gap, where the enemy was found occupying it. A charge was made by one squadron, under command of Lieu-tenant-Colonel Stagg, with success and against superior numbers. The enemy were driven out and the Gap held until the entire column and train had passed. Here the regiment sustained a heavy loss. Colonel Stagg, in leading the charge, had his horse killed, and was himself seriously injured by the falling of the same. Here Capt. William R. Elliott was mortally wounded, and Lieut. James S. McElhenny killed; 17 men also lost. At Monterey Pass, the regiment lost 2 officers and 6 men.
On July 5 and 6, at Smithsburg, the regiment supported Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, sustaining no loss.
At Boonsborough on July 8 the regiment was often under fire, but met with no loss.
On July 12, this regiment had the advance to Hagerstown. Five companies were deployed as skirmishers before the town. One squadron, by order of Brigadier-General Kilpatrick, charged into the town, capturing several prisoners, one man only of the squadron being injured
On July 13, the regiment was on outpost duty, and engaged with the enemy most of the day. Loss, 3 men severely wounded.
On the 14th, this regiment was engaged in the action at Falling Waters, and had the honor of capturing 2 battle-flags and so much of the Forty-seventh Regiment Virginia Infantry as was upon the field, being 5 officers and 56 men. Captain Snyder, of this regiment, was mortally wounded while gallantly leading a squadron of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry in the streets of Hagerstown, July 6. Since the engagement at Falling Waters this regiment has been under the command of Maj. M. Brewer, and has participated in the following engagements: At Newby’s Cross-Roads, Va., July 24; lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, 7 men. A portion of the regiment was engaged in a skirmish at Barbee’s Cross-Roads on July 25.
FIFTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.–Was engaged in severe skirmishing with the enemy near Hanover, Pa.
July 3.–At 10 a.m. moved out, and met the enemy on the right, at Gettysburg. The regiment was dismounted to fight on foot on the left of the brigade. Major Ferry was killed. Participated in the several charges made on that day.
July 4.–Participated in the engagement at Monterey Pass, where part of a large tram and many prisoners were captured. July 5.–Was in the engagement at Smithsburg. July 6.–In engagements at Hagerstown and Williamsport.
July 8.–Moved out on the pike toward Funkstown; deployed as skirmishers on the right, on foot. Colonel Alger was wounded here. Charged and drove the enemy in force from a piece of woods, which was afterward hotly shelled by the enemy while we held possession. Subsequently the enemy fell rapidly back while the regiment pursued them closely until dark.
July 10 and 11.–Picketed in front of Funkstown. July 12.–Was in the charge at Hagerstown. Lieutenant-Colonel Gould wounded. Five squadrons of this regiment dismounted on the left of the city, and drove a superior force from its position. July 14.–Led the advance toward Williamsport, and charged into the town, meeting no considerable force, and driving the enemy s rear guard across the river, capturing a number of prisoners. July 17.–After sharp skirmishing with the enemy, drove them from Snicker’s Gap, and occupied the same, capturing several prisoners. July 20.–Occupied Ashby’s Gap after slight skirmishing. July 24.–Had the advance to Newby’s Cross-Roads; were at the extreme front during the engagement there, and acted as rear guard when our forces engaged were ordered to fall back.
SIXTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.–This regiment, with the Fifth Michigan Cavalry, occupied Littlestown, Pa. Company A was sent on a reconnaissance to Westminster. The remainder of the regiment proceeded to Hanover. Here we met the enemy’s skirmishers; drove them to their guns, which we found supported by a heavy force of cavalry. A sharp engagement followed, in which we were outnumbered by the enemy six to one. Our loss was some 15 or 20 captured. The enemy lost several wounded and captured. Later in the day, Company A, of this regiment, had an engagement with a considerable force of the enemy.
July 2.–This regiment, being in the advance, encountered the enemy’s cavalry at Hunterstown. Here Company A, Capt. H. E. Thompson, charged a brigade of cavalry. Though suffering great loss, he checked the enemy, so as to enable our battery to be placed in position. The other squadrons of the regiment drove the enemy back, when the guns of the battery caused them precipitately to surrender the field.
July 3.–Were in engagement at Gettysburg. July 4.–Were deployed as skirmishers on either side of the road in the attack on Monterey Pass. Loss, slight. July 5.–The regiment was employed in supporting a battery in the engagement at Smithsburg. July 6.–Were ordered to the front at Hagerstown. On arriving there, General Custer, having driven the enemy, ordered us back. Same day, were engaged with the enemy at Williamsport, losing 1 officer killed and 3 men wounded. The First and Sixth Michigan Cavalry were the last to return from the field, protecting our guns and holding the enemy in check while the remainder of the command fell back toward Boonsborough.
July 8.–Met the rebel General Stuart and his forces at the left of the Hagerstown road, near Boonsborough, repulsing and routing his forces, and driving them until night closed the pursuit.
July 11.–Regiment on picket duty before Hagerstown. During the entire day was engaged skirmishing with the enemy’s sharpshooters. Loss, 2 wounded. The enemy was seen to carry several of his dead and wounded from the field.
July 12.–Participated in the capture of Hagerstown. July 14.–Was in the engagement at Falling Waters. Two companies–B and F, commanded by Major Weber–charged the enemy, who were in position behind earthworks on the crest of a hill. Major Weber and Lieutenant Bolza, with many valuable men, were killed.
July 20.–The regiment participated in the capture of Ashby’s Gap; also encountered the enemy strongly intrenched on the opposite side of the Shenandoah, near Berry’s Ford. Loss, 3 wounded.
July 21..–Engaged in reconnaissance from Amissville to Newby’s Cross-Roads. Loss, slight.
SEVENTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.–Engaged at Hanover, Pa.
July 2.–The regiment, excepting one squadron, was advanced as dismounted skirmishers in the engagement at Hunterstown. July 3.–Charged the advance line of the enemy’s skirmishers at Gettysburg. Held the field until the advance of the First Michigan Cavalry.
July 4.–Was engaged at Monterey Pass. July 5.–The regiment supported Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, at Smithsburg. July 6.–Participated in the engagement at Hagerstown. Same day at Williamsport. July 8.–Deployed as skirmishers at Boonsborough. July 12.–Being temporarily attached to the First Brigade, with it entered Hagerstown under a sharp fire from the enemy, and in the afternoon was advanced to the extreme right of the town, to support the infantry. July 14.–Was engaged on the right at Falling Waters, capturing from the enemy a 10-pounder Parrott gun, 400 prisoners, the battle-flag of the Fifty-fifth Virginia Infantry, and the colonel of the abovenamed regiment, with several other officers
BATTERY M, SECOND U. S. ARTILLERY.
June 29.–The battery was assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. G. A. Custer.
June 30.–While between Hanover and Abbottstown, Pa., a limber-chest of one caisson exploded, mortally wounding 1 man, killed 2 horses and wounded 2. At Hanover met a battery of the enemy, which was withdrawn after twenty minutes’ firing.
July 1.–Was engaged with the enemy at Hunterstown, silencing his battery, and having 4 horses killed, 3 wounded, and 1 wheel disabled.
July 3.–Took up a position on the right of the line at Gettysburg, and was engaged with Stuart’s cavalry; battery engaged all day.
July 4.–Was in an engagement at Monterey Pass, where a large portion of Ewell’s train and a large number of prisoners were captured.
July 5.–Battery placed in position at Smithsburg, but not used.
July 6.–Marched to Hagerstown; thence to Williamsport, where the battery was engaged. Sergeant Frain was here wounded in the head, and 3 privates were also wounded. July 8.–Engaged the enemy near Boonsborough. July 12.–Marched to Hagerstown, and shelled brigade of the enemy’s cavalry, our force taking possession of the town.
July 14.–Marched to Falling Waters, via Williamsport, shelling the enemy at the latter place, he being on the opposite side of the river. At Falling Waters the battery was employed throughout the day.
July 24.–Was engaged with the enemy at Battle Mountain, near Newby’s Cross-Roads, Lieutenants Clarke, Woodruff, and Hamilton in this, as in every other engagement, performing their duties with skill and judgment.
The non-commissioned officers–Sergeants Morris, [Nicholas] Hasenzahl, and [Michael] Frain, and Corporals [Charles K.] Galligher, [William] Dowdes, [William M.] Baker, and [Robert] Burke directed their pieces with coolness and precision, doing their duty handsomely in every engagement.
Respectfully submitted. G. A. CUSTER, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
The Winfield Hancock Gettysburg battle report goes a long way toward describing the actions of both armies during the battle. It’s a must-read for anyone looking for a clean and concise report.
Gettysburg campaign – June 28 to July 5, 1863
Report of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock,
U.S. Army, commanding Second Army Corps.
Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command from June 28 until July 5, inclusive:
On the morning of June 28, the Second Corps marched from near Sugar Loaf Mountain, Md., with orders from Major-General Hooker to encamp at Frederick. When near Monocacy Junction, the corps was ordered into camp near that place by Major-General Meade, who had that day assumed command of the army.
On the morning of the 29th, orders were received for the corps to march at 4 a.m. and move to Frizellburg. An accident delaying the delivery of the order, the command was not in motion until 8 a.m.
At 10 p.m. the command was halted for the night 1 mile beyond Uniontown, having accomplished with its entire train a march of over 30 miles. Frizellburg was not reached, owing to its being considerably farther from Monocacy Junction than indicated by the maps.
At Uniontown I ascertained that Stuart was at Westminster with a heavy force of cavalry and a number of guns, which information I communicated to the major-general commanding.
The corps remained in camp at Uniontown on the 30th.
On the morning of July 1, the command marched to Taneytown, going into bivouac about 11 a.m. I then proceeded in person to General Meade’s headquarters, and, on reporting to him, was informed as to his intention with reference to giving battle to the enemy, the orders for preparatory movements being then ready for issue.
A few minutes before 1 p.m., I received orders to proceed in person to the front, and assume command of the First, Third, and Eleventh Corps, in consequence of the death of Major-General Reynolds. Having been fully informed by the major-general commanding as to his intentions, I was instructed by him to give the necessary directions upon my arrival at the front for the movement of troops and trains to the rear toward the line of battle he had selected, should 1 deem it expedient to do so. If the ground was suitable, and circumstances made it wise, I was directed to establish the line of battle at Gettysburg.
Turning over the command of the Second Corps to Brigadier-General Gibbon, under instructions from General Meade, at 1.10 o’clock I was on the road to Gettysburg, accompanied by my personal aides, Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, chief of staff, Second Corps, and the signal party of the corps, under command of Captain Hall.
At 3 p.m. I arrived at Gettysburg and assumed the command. At this time the First and Eleventh Corps were retiring through the town, closely pursued by the enemy. The cavalry of General Buford was occupying a firm position on the plain to the left of Gettysburg, covering the rear of the retreating corps. The Third Corps had not yet arrived from Emmitsburg. Orders were at once given to establish a line of battle on Cemetery Hill, with skirmishers occupying that part of the town immediately in our front. The position just on the southern edge of Gettysburg, overlooking the town and commanding the Emmitsburg and Taneytown roads and the Baltimore turnpike, was already partially occupied on my arrival by direction of Major-General Howard. Some difficulty was experienced in forming the troops of the Eleventh Corps, but by vigorous efforts a sufficiently formidable line was established to deter the enemy from any serious assault on the position. They pushed forward a line of battle for a short distance east of the Baltimore turnpike, but it was easily checked by the fire of our artillery. In forming the lines, I received material assistance from Major-General Howard, Brigadier-Generals Warren and Buford, and officers of General Howard’s command.
As soon as the line of battle mentioned above was shown by the enemy, Wadsworth’s division, First Corps, and a battery (thought to be the Fifth Maine) were placed on the eminence just across the turnpike, and commanding completely this approach. This important position was held by the division during the remainder of the operations near Gettysburg. The rest of the First Corps, under Major-General Doubleday, was on the right and left of the Taneytown road, and connected with the left of the Eleventh Corps, which occupied that part of Cemetery Hill immediately to the right and left of the Baltimore turnpike. A division of the Twelfth Corps, under Brigadier-General Williams, arrived as these arrangements were being completed, and was established, by order of Major-General Slocum, some distance to the right and rear of Wadsworth’s division. Brigadier-General Geary’s division, of the Twelfth Corps, arriving on the ground subsequently, and not being able to communicate with Major-General Slocum, I ordered the division to the high ground to the right of and near Round Top Mountain, commanding the Gettysburg and Emmitsburg road, as well as the Gettysburg and Taneytown road to our rear.
The trains of all the troops under my command were ordered to the rear, that they might not interfere with any movement of troops that might be directed by the major-general commanding.
My aide, Major Mitchell, was then sent to General Meade to inform him of the state of affairs, and to say that I would hold the position until night. Shortly after, I addressed a communication to the major-general commanding, sending it by Captain Parker, of my staff, giving in detail the information in my possession, and informing him that the position at Gettysburg was a very strong one, having for its disadvantage that it might be easily turned, and leaving to him the responsibility whether the battle should be fought at Gettysburg or at a place first selected by him.
Between 5 and 6 o’clock, my dispositions having been completed, Major-General Slocum arrived on the field, and, considering that my functions had ceased, I transferred the command to him The head of the Third Corps appeared in sight shortly afterward, on the Emmitsburg road.
About dark I started for the headquarters of the army, still at Taneytown, 13 miles distant, and reported in person to General Meade. I then ascertained that he had already given orders for the corps in the rear to advance at once to Gettysburg, and was about proceeding there in person.
The Second Army Corps had marched from Taneytown toward Gettysburg at 1.30 p.m., and bivouacked for the night about 3 miles in rear of the town. The march was resumed at daylight, and I rejoined the corps before its arrival on the field, which took place about 7 a.m. of the 2d. The troops were soon placed in position, the right resting near the Emmitsburg road, to the west of Cemetery Hill, connecting there on the right with the Eleventh Corps and on the left with the Third Corps, the line of battle extending along the crest from the left of Cemetery Hill to Round Top Mountain, the ground being less elevated, as near Round Top. The Third Division, Brigadier-General Hays commanding, was placed on the right; the Second Division, Brigadier-General Gibbon commanding, was placed in the center, and the First Division, Brigadier-General Caldwell commanding, was on the left. The batteries of the corps were disposed from right to left as follows: Woodruff’s I, First U.S. Artillery, Arnold’s A, First Rhode Island, Cushing’s A, Fourth U.S. Artillery, Brown’s B, First Rhode Island, and Rorty’s B, First New York. Each division had one of its brigades in rear as a reserve.
Sharp skirmishing occurred at intervals during the morning, particularly in front of Hays’ division, where quite a number of prisoners were taken from the enemy. The artillery was also frequently engaged, but no severe fighting took place until about 3 p.m., when the Third Corps advanced from its position toward the Emmitsburg road and became heavily engaged. Subsequently the Fifth Corps became engaged in the vicinity of Round Top, in support of and some distance to the rear of the Third Corps.
Having been directed by General Meade to send a division to the assistance of the Third Corps, with orders to report to General Sykes, commanding Fifth Corps, the First Division, under Brigadier-General Caldwell, was dispatched to the scene of conflict. The division was assigned to its position by one of Major-General Sykes’ staff officers. As soon as it could form line of battle, the division advanced, the left along the foot of Round Top Mountain, and drove the enemy steadily before it until, from the want of any connection on its right, the right flank of the division was turned by a column of the enemy, which had passed unobserved at a considerable distance to its right and almost to its rear, where it formed line of battle and soon forced the division to retire, with a loss of nearly half its numbers. Three out of four of the brigade commanders were disabled, Brigadier-General Zook, a gallant officer, being killed early in the action; Col. E. E. Cross, Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, whose intrepid bearing had been so often exhibited on the battle-field, was mortally, and Col. J. R. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania, commanding Fourth Brigade, slightly, wounded.
The orders of General Meade were that this division should return to its original position after being relieved by the Fifth Corps. It was reformed some distance in rear of the line of battle, but did not return until after dark, when I ordered it to the position it held in the morning.
The Third Corps having advanced far beyond the original line of battle, and Caldwell’s division having been detached, a large interval remained on the left of the Second Division without troops. To remedy this in part, General Gibbon extended his line to the left by adding to it his reserve brigade. The right of the Third Corps rested near the brick house, near the Emmitsburg road, a considerable distance in front of Gibbon’s division, the general direction of the line being parallel to that road. To strengthen the point between the right of the Third Corps and his left, General Gibbon sent two regiments of General Harrow’s brigade, the Fifteenth Massachusetts, Col. G. H. Ward, and the Eighty-second New York Volunteers, Colonel Huston to occupy a crest on the right of the brick house, which position was considerably strengthened by a slight breastwork of such materials as the adjoining fences afforded. Brown’s battery B, First Rhode Island occupied a position in rear and somewhat to the left of these two regiments.
Owing to the advanced position of the Third Corps, a very considerable gap was made between its left and the right of the Fifth Corps, through which the column of the enemy which turned the right flank of Caldwell’s division appears to have passed.
About this time, General Meade informed me that General Sickles had been wounded, and directed me to assume command of the Third Corps in addition to that of my own. By this arrangement, the immediate command of the Second Corps devolved again upon General Gibbon, and that of the Third upon General Birney. I had just before received an order from General Meade to send a brigade to the assistance of General Birney, whose division had occupied the extreme left of Sickles’ corps, and to send two regiments to General Humphreys, who commanded the right of that corps.
I immediately led the brigade Third Brigade, Third Division, under Colonel Willard, intended for General Birney toward the left of the original line of battle of the Third Corps, and was about proceeding with it to the front, when I encountered General Birney, who informed me that his troops had all been driven to the rear, and had left the position to which I was moving. General Birney proceeded to the rear to collect his command. General Humphreys small command yet remained in position. The force which had turned General Caldwell’s right and driven the left of the Third Corps now approached the line of battle as originally established. Humphreys’ command was forced back, contesting the ground stubbornly. The two regiments sent from the Second Division to General Humphreys’ assistance Nineteenth Massachusetts, Colonel Devereux, and Forty-second New York, Colonel Mallon, both under command of Colonel Mallon had not arrived on the ground, though under musketry fire, when, observing that General Humphreys’ command was rapidly retiring, they formed line of battle, delivered a few volleys at the advancing enemy, and themselves retired in good order to their position in line in the Second Corps, having suffered a heavy loss. The enemy pushed them so closely that a number of prisoners were captured by these regiments. The two regiments and battery referred to above as having been advanced by General Gibbon to the vicinity of the brick house did excellent service in protecting the flank of General Humphreys’ command and in preventing it from being cut off from the line of battle. The enemy’s attack being on their flank, the two regiments were, however, forced to retire, having met with heavy losses, Colonels Ward and Huston both being killed. One gun of the battery they had supported, and which was served to the last by the cannoneers, fell into the hands of the enemy temporarily.
I directed General Humphreys to form his command on the ground from which General Caldwell had moved to the support of the Third Corps, which was promptly done. The number of his troops collected was, however, very small, scarcely equal to an ordinary battalion, but with many colors, this small command being composed of the fragments of many shattered regiments. Three guns of one of its batteries had been left on the field, owing to the losses of horses’ and men. I established Colonel Willard’s brigade at the point through which General Birney’s division had retired, and fronting the approach of the enemy, who were pressing vigorously on. There were no other troops on its right or left, and the brigade soon became engaged, losing its commander, Colonel Willard, and many officers and men.
At this juncture, re-enforcements, for which I had previously sent to General Meade by a staff officer, consisting of a part of General Newton’s corps Doubleday’s division and the remnant of Robinson’s, arrived, established themselves on the line, meeting the enemy at once, and doing good execution.
Proceeding along the line, I met a regiment of the enemy, the head of whose column was about passing through an unprotected interval in our line. A fringe of undergrowth in front of the line offered facilities for it to approach very close to our lines without being observed. It was advancing firing, and had already twice wounded my aide, Captain Miller. The First Minnesota Regiment coming up at this moment, charged the rebel regiment in handsome style, capturing its colors, and driving it back in disorder.
I cannot speak too highly of this regiment and its commander in its attack, as well as in its subsequent advance against the enemy, in which it lost three-fourths of the officers and men engaged. One of the regiments of the Vermont Brigade afterward advanced upon its right, and retook the guns of one of the reserve batteries, from which the cannoneers and supports had been driven.
The enemy was now attacking our whole front at different points. On the right advancing from the direction of the brick house on the Emmitsburg road toward Gibbon’s division, where he was promptly checked and driven from that portion of Brown’s battery temporarily captured. In this last operation the Nineteenth Maine, Col. F. E. Heath commanding, bore a conspicuous part.
On the left of the Second Corps, the line being still incomplete, and intervals existing through which the enemy approached our line of battle, General Meade brought up in person a part of the Twelfth Corps, consisting of two regiments of Lockwood’s brigade, under Brig. Gen. H. H. Lockwood, which formed line, and advanced against the enemy, then closely engaged with us, and he was soon driven from the field. By the advance of these regiments, the artillery which had been left on the field in the Third Corps line was recaptured from the enemy. Humphreys’ division participated in this advance and in the recapture of its guns.
Brigadier-General Barksdale, of the rebel service, was left on the field, mortally wounded.
The Third Brigade of the Third Division, commanded by Colonel Sherrill, after Colonel Willard’s death, made a gallant advance on the enemy’s batteries to the right of the brick house, in which the One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers, under Colonel MacDougall, bore a distinguished part. This brigade lost nearly one-half its numbers.
It was nearly dark. Proceeding to the right of the Second Corps, near Cemetery Hill, and hearing a heavy engagement on General Howard’s front, the firing seeming to come nearer and nearer, I directed General Gibbon to send Colonel Carroll’s brigade, Third Division, to that point, to report to General Howard at once. I was gratified to hear subsequently, from General Howard in person, that it arrived at a very critical time, and that this unexpected re-enforcement materially assisted him in driving the enemy from his front. Hearing firing farther to the right, and believing it to be on General Slocum’s front, and fearing that the troops he had sent to me had left him without sufficient force, I directed General Gibbon to send two regiments to that point. The Seventy-first Pennsylvania, Col. R. Penn Smith, and the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania, Lieut. Col. W. L. Curry, were dispatched, but they also reported to Major-General Howard. The One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers remained until relieved next day, doing good service. The Seventy-first returned to its command about midnight, without having received orders to do so, after suffering some loss.
In addition to the troops specially mentioned heretofore as being on the line of the Second Corps on July 2, I would mention Battery C, Fourth U.S. Artillery, commanded by Lieut. Evan Thomas. This officer is particularly mentioned for bravery and good conduct. A battery of the Artillery Reserve, commanded by —, was also on the line during this action.
During the night of the 2d, the batteries were supplied with ammunition as far as practicable. Having brought but half the ammunition train of the corps, we were dependent somewhat on others The battery ammunition was supplied by the train of the Artillery Reserve, though not to the full extent required.
For details of the important service rendered by the First Division of the Second Corps, during the time it was detached in the afternoon of the 2d instant, I refer you to the clear and concise report of its commander, Brigadier-General Caldwell, which is herewith transmitted. Between 500 and 600 prisoners were captured by this division on that occasion.
The corps had been so weakened by its losses on the 2d, that on the 3d instant it required every available man in the line of battle to cover the ground held the previous day. Colonel Carroll’s brigade, of General Hays’ division, was retained by General Howard, and, with the exception of the Eighth Ohio, was not engaged with the Second Corps during the day.
The early morning passed in comparative quiet along our front, but the heavy and continued firing on the right indicated that the efforts of the enemy were being directed on the Twelfth Corps. Trifling affairs occurred at intervals between the enemy’s skirmishers and our own, and the artillery of the corps was frequently and successfully engaged with that of the enemy.
From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. there was an ominous stillness. About 1 o’clock, apparently by a given signal, the enemy opened upon our front with the heaviest artillery fire I have ever known. Their guns were in position at an average distance of about 1,400 yards from my line, and ran in a semicircle from the town of Gettysburg to a point opposite Round Top Mountain. Their number is variously estimated at from one hundred and fifteen to one hundred and fifty. The air was filled with projectiles, there being scarcely an instant but that several were seen bursting at once. No irregularity of ground afforded much protection, and the plain in rear of the line of battle was soon swept of everything movable. The infantry troops maintained their position with great steadiness, covering themselves as best they might by the temporary but trifling defenses they had erected and the accidents of the ground. Scarcely a straggler was seen, but all waited the cessation of the fierce cannonade, knowing well what it foreshadowed. The artillery of the corps, imperfectly supplied with ammunition, replied to the enemy most gallantly, maintaining the unequal contest in a manner that reflected the highest honor on this arm of the service. Brown’s battery B, First Rhode Island, which had suffered severely on the 2d, and expended all of its canister on that day, retired before the cannonading ceased, not being effective for further service. The remaining batteries continued their fire until only canister remained to them, and then ceased.
After an hour and forty-five minutes, the fire of the enemy became less furious, and immediately their infantry was seen in the woods beyond the Emmitsburg road, preparing for the assault. A strong line of skirmishers soon advanced, followed by two deployed lines of battle), supported at different points by small columns of infantry. Their lines were formed with a precision and steadiness that extorted the admiration of the witnesses of that memorable scene. The left of the enemy extended slightly beyond the right of General Alexander Hays’ division, the right being about opposite the left of General Gibbon’s. Their line of battle thus covered a front of not more than two of the small and incomplete divisions of the corps. The whole attacking force is estimated to have exceeded 15,000 men.
No attempt was made to check the advance of the enemy until the first line had arrived within about 700 yards of our position, when a feeble fire of artillery was opened upon it, but with no material effect, and without delaying for a moment its determined advance. The column pressed on, coming within musketry range without receiving immediately our fire, our men evincing a striking disposition to withhold it until it could be delivered with deadly effect.
Two regiments of Stannard’s Vermont Brigade of the First Corps, which had been posted in a little grove in front of and at a considerable angle with the main line, first opened with an oblique fire upon the right of the enemy’s column, which had the effect to make the troops on that flank double in a little toward their left. They still pressed on, however, without halting to return the fire. The rifled guns of our artillery, having fired away all their canister, were now withdrawn, or left on the ground inactive, to await the issue of the struggle between the opposing infantry. Arrived at between 200 and 300 yards, the troops of the enemy were met by a destructive fire from the divisions of Gibbon and Hays, which they promptly returned, and the fight at once became fierce and general. In front of Hays’ division it was not of very long duration. Mowed down by canister from Woodruff’s battery, and by the fire from two regiments judiciously posted by General Hays in his extreme front and right, and by the fire of different lines in the rear, the enemy broke in great disorder, leaving fifteen colors and nearly 2,000 prisoners in the hands of this division. Those of the enemy’s troops who did not fall into disorder in front of the Third Division were moved to the right, and re-enforced the line attacking Gibbon’s division. The right of the attacking line having been repulsed by Hall’s and Harrow’s brigades, of the latter division, assisted by the fire of the Vermont regiments before referred to, doubled to its left and also re-enforced the center, and thus the attack was in its fullest strength opposite the brigade of General Webb. This brigade was disposed in two lines. Two regiments of the brigade, the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, were behind a low stone wall and a slight breastwork hastily constructed by them, the remainder of the brigade being behind the crest some 60 paces to the rear, and so disposed as to fire over the heads of those in front. When the enemy’s line had nearly reached the stone wall, led by General Armistead, the most of that part of Webb’s brigade posted here abandoned their position, but fortunately did not retreat entirely. They were, by the personal bravery of General Webb and his officers, immediately formed behind the crest before referred to, which was occupied by the remnant of the brigade. Emboldened by seeing this indication of weakness, the enemy pushed forward more pertinaciously, numbers of them crossing over the breastwork abandoned by the troops. The fight here became very close and deadly. The enemy’s battle-flags were soon seen waving on the stone wall. Passing at this time, Colonel Devereux, commanding the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, anxious to be in the right place, applied to me for permission to move his regiment to the right and to the front, where the line had been broken. I granted it, and his regiment and Colonel Mallon’s Forty-second New York Volunteers, on his right) proceeded there at once; but the enemy having left Colonel Hall’s front, as described before, this officer promptly moved his command by the right flank to still further re-enforce the position of General Webb, and was immediately followed by Harrow’s brigade. The movement was executed, but not without confusion, owing to many men leaving their ranks to fire at the enemy from the breastwork. The situation was now very peculiar. The men of all the brigades had in some measure lost their regimental organization, but individually they were firm. The ambition of individual commanders to promptly cover the point penetrated by the enemy, the smoke of battle, and the intensity of the close engagement, caused this confusion. The point, however, was now covered. In regular formation our line would have stood four ranks deep.
The colors of the different regiments were now advanced, waving in defiance of the long line of battle-flags presented by the enemy. The men pressed firmly after them, under the energetic commands and example of their officers, and after a few moments of desperate fighting the enemy’s troops were repulsed, threw down their arms, and sought safety in flight or by throwing themselves on the ground to escape our fire. The battle-flags were ours and the victory was won.
Gibbon’s division secured 12 stand of colors and prisoners enough to swell the number captured by the corps to about 4,500.
While the enemy was still in front of Gibbon’s division, I directed Colonel [General] Stannard to send two regiments of his Vermont Brigade, First Corps, to a point which would strike the enemy on the right flank. I cannot report on the execution of this order, as Colonel [General] Stannard’s report has not passed through my hands; but from the good conduct of these troops during the action I have no doubt the service was promptly performed. Just in time to increase the panic of the fleeing fugitives, Battery K, Fifth U.S. Artillery, Lieutenant Kinzie commanding, and Fitzhugh’s New York battery arrived, and opened on them. The enemy’s attack was feebly renewed immediately after his first repulse. A single line of battle, with its left running nearly along the line followed by the right of the preceding lines, and numbering about 3,000 men, advanced, but it was utterly broken by the fire of the batteries on my left before it arrived within musketry range. A large number of the enemy came in and gave themselves up as soon as their line was broken, and 2 stand of colors fell into our hands.
This great victory was not gained without irreparable losses. In addition to those previously mentioned, the following regimental commanders were killed: Col. Dennis O’Kane, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers; Lieut. Col. Max A. Thoman, Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers; Col. Richard P. Roberts, One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers on the 2d; Col. P. J. Revere, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, and Lieutenant-Colonel Steele, Seventh Michigan Volunteers. The number of casualties among the field officers was very great, many of the regiments losing them all.
Toward the close of the main contest, I had the misfortune to lose the valuable services of a distinguished officer, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, commanding Second Division, who was severely wounded. A short time afterward I was myself wounded, but was enabled to remain on the field until the action was entirely over, when I transferred the command to Brigadier-General Caldwell.
The services of the artillery during this engagement are particularly spoken of in the report of the commander of the artillery. Its losses in officers, men, and matériel will sufficiently attest the severity of the ordeal to which it was subjected. Three of the battery commanders, Captain Rorty and Lieuts. A. H. Cushing and G. A. Woodruff, all able, experienced, and distinguished officers, were killed, and another battery commander, Lieut. T. F. Brown, First Rhode Island Artillery, severely wounded.
The losses of the corps during the action at Gettysburg amounted to 4,323 officers and men killed, wounded, and missing. The strength of the corps in the action was about 10,000 officers and men. A statement of the losses in detail is herewith enclosed.
To speak of the conduct of the troops would seem to be unnecessary, but still it may be justly remarked that this corps sustained its well-earned reputation on many fields, and that the boast of its gallant first commander, the late Maj. Gen. E. V. Sumner, that the Second Corps had “never given to the enemy a gun or color,” holds good now as it did under the command of my predecessor, Major-General Couch. To attest to its good conduct and the perils through which it has passed, it may be stated that its losses in battle have been greater than those of any other corps in the Army of the Potomac, or probably in the service, notwithstanding it has usually been numerically weakest.
For the services of the commanders of divisions, Brig. Gens. John Gibbon, Alexander Hays, and John C. Caldwell, I need only to refer to the history of the deeds of their commands.
Brig. Gens. John Gibbon and Alexander Hays, being more particularly under my eye in the crisis of the battle, it is but just that I should state that their conduct was all that could be desired in division commanders.
Capt. J. G. Hazard, commander of artillery of the corps, performed his duty in a commendable manner, behaving in the field with gallantry and directing his artillery with skill and judgment.
I desire particularly to refer to the services of a gallant young officer, First Lieut. F. A. Haskell, aide-de-camp to Brigadier-General Gibbon, who, at a critical period of the battle, when the contending forces were but 50 or 60 yards apart, believing that an example was necessary, and ready to sacrifice his life, rode between the contending lines with the view of giving encouragement to ours and leading it forward, he being at that moment the only mounted officer in a similar position. He was slightly wounded and his horse was shot in several places.
Brigadier-General Webb; Col. N.J. Hall, commanding brigade; Colonel Devereux, Nineteenth Massachusetts; Colonel Mallon, Forty-second New York; Col. R. Penn Smith, Seventy-first Pennsylvania, and others, whom I regret I am unable to name, performed in like manner most distinguished services in leading their men forward at a critical period in the contest.
Captain Hall, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Lieutenant Taylor, both of the signal corps, are entitled to mention at my hands for their energy and usefulness displayed during the entire battle.
For the services of other officers who distinguished themselves, not heretofore mentioned in this report (there are many of them, I respectfully refer to the reports of division, brigade, and regimental commanders, and to the report of the commander of artillery, herewith transmitted.
Lieut. Col. C. H. Morgan, inspector-general and chief of staff, performed highly important services during the entire campaign. His intelligence on all occasions, his forethought, and fine conduct on the field of battle, entitled him to high praise.
Lieutenant-Colonel Batchelder, chief quartermaster, and Lieut. Col. J. S. Smith, chief commissary, ably conducted the services of their departments. Their duties were such as to cause them not to be present on the field of battle.
Surg. A. N. Dougherty, medical director of the corps, in the performance of his duties gave me entire satisfaction. No matter whether under the fire of the enemy or not, he was always at his post.
Maj. S. O. Bull, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, provost-marshal of the corps, was actively engaged during the action in taking charge of the prisoners captured from the enemy. During the time of the engagement, he was under the orders of the provost-marshal-general of the army.
Maj. W. G. Mitchell, my senior aide-de-camp and acting assistant adjutant-general, who distinguished himself on several perilous occasions during this battle; Capt. I. B. Parker, aide-de-camp, and Capt. W. D. W. Miller, aide-de-camp, twice severely wounded on the 2d, behaved with their usual gallantry, and added to the esteem their fine conduct has gained for them on many fields.
Capt. H. H. Bingham, judge-advocate, slightly wounded, and Captain Brownson, commissary of musters, acting as aides for me on the occasion, behaved with great gallantry, and shared all the dangers of the field.
My personal orderlies– Sergeant Owen McKenzie, Private James Wells, color-bearer Sixth New York Cavalry, and Privates Alvin Stearns and David Smith, Company D, Sixth New York Cavalry–behaved with their usual bravery, and always faithfully remained at their posts, no matter how dangerous their position.
I desire to bring particularly to the notice of the major-general commanding the case of Sergt. Frederick Fuger, first sergeant of Battery A, Fourth U.S. Artillery. During the action of the 3d, his conduct was such as to entitle him to promotion, and his character is such as to make this a proper method of rewarding his services.
In this connection I refer to the report of Brigadier-General Webb. Attached hereto is a tabular statement of casualties.
With reference to the number of colors taken from the enemy, it is proper to say that each division has been credited with the number actually turned in, and for which receipts are held, making the aggregate of twenty-seven. There were undoubtedly thirty-three colors captured, the balance having been secreted as individual trophies.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General, Commanding Second Corps.