The Battle of Gettysburg

July 1st 1863

Photograph by Buddy Secor

Fredericksburg Photographer Buddy Secor, captures the heat of battle at a re-enactment.

Table of Contents

Prologue - Before the Battle

"Diary of a Lady of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from June 15 to July 15, 1863."
By Sarah M. Broadhead.

Sarah Broadhead

July 1.  I got up early this morning to get my baking done before any fighting would begin.  I had just put my bread in the pans when the cannons began to fire, and true enough the battle had begun in earnest, about two miles out on the Chambersburg pike.  What to do or where to go, I did not know.  People were running here and there, screaming that the town would be shelled.  No one knew where to go or what to do.  My husband advised remaining where we were, but all said we ought not to remain in our exposed position, and that it would be better to go to some part of the town farther away from the scene of the conflict.  As our neighbors had all gone away,  I would not remain, but my husband said he would stay at home.  About 10 o'clock the shells began to "fly around quite thick,"  and I took my child and went to the house of a friend up town.  As we passed up the street we met wounded men coming in from the field.  When we saw them, we, for the first time, began to realize our fearful situation, and anxiously to ask, Will our army be whipped?  Some said there was no danger of that yet, and pointed to Confederate prisoners who began to be sent through our streets to the rear.  Such a dirty, filthy set, no one ever saw.  They were dressed in all kinds of clothes, of all kinds and no kind of cuts.  Some were barefooted and a few wounded.  Though enemies, I pitied them.  I, with others, was sitting at the doorstep bathing the wounds of some of our brave soldiers, and became so much excited as the artillery galloped through the town, and the infantry hurried out to reinforce those fighting, that for a time we forgot our fears and our danger.  All was bustle and confusion.  No one can imagine in what extreme fright we were when our men began to retreat.

A citizen galloped up to the door in which we were sitting and called out, "For God's sake go in the house!   The Rebels are in the other end of town, and all will be killed!"   We quickly ran in, and the cannonading coming nearer and becoming heavier, we went to the cellar, and in a few minutes the town was full of the filthy Rebels.  They did not get farther, for our soldiers having possession of the hills just beyond, shelled them so that they were glad to give over the pursuit, and the fighting for the day was ended.  We remained in the cellar until the firing ceased, and then feared to come out, not knowing what the Rebels might do.  How changed the town looked when we came to the light.  The street was strewn over with clothes, blankets, knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, dead horses, and the bodies of a few men, but not so many of these last as I expected to see.  "Can we go out?" was asked of the Rebels.  "Certainly," was the answer;  "they would not hurt us."  We started home, and found things all right.  As I write all is quiet, but O! how I dread to-morrow.

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Introduction:  A Short Summary of Events Before General Robinson’s Division Arrived on the Battlefield

General George G. Meade

The following brief synopsis is offered to 'set the stage' for readers by providing some idea of events at Gettysburg before the 13th Massachusetts Infantry arrived upon the scene with Brigadier-General John C. Robinson's 2nd Division.   Thirteenth Massachusetts veteran George Jepson's article, "Gettysburg," goes into much more detail later on this page.

In command of the Army of the Potomac for just a few days, General George G. Meade did a fine job moving his army quickly to oppose General Robert E. Lee's Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania.   Not being certain of the Confederate Army's whereabouts or intentions, Meade considered what his strategy would be, while he awaited more specific information from his cavalry scouts.

June 30 - Preparing a Plan of Action

In the afternoon of June 30th, General Meade learned two Confederate Corps were at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and a third was at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  With this information he decided to strengthen the left wing of his army a little and shift the rest of his troops accordingly.    The First Corps moved a little north, on the road to Gettysburg, and the 3rd Corps moved a little west.  Meade was hoping for an opportunity to attack General Lee's army in sections, while preparing for other contingencies as well.  His corps commanders were instructed to familiarize themselves with local roads and be prepared to move quickly at a moments notice as plans developed.  To facilitate this, he gave overall command of the 1st, 3rd, and 11th Corps of the army to Major-General John F. Reynolds, an officer who had Meade’s confidence.

General Reynolds 1st Corps troops clustered around the town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, and awaited orders from head-quarters.  When he learned strong elements of the enemy were posted  not far away to the north and northwest in the direction of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, he shifted some of his troop positions to guard against a possible attack from those directions.  Reynolds stayed in close communication with his aggressive cavalry officer, Brigadier-General John Buford, whose troops were  then scouting the areas  around the First Corps camps.   Buford's troops rode into Gettysburg  at 11 a.m.,  and reported spying Confederate infantry in town.  The Rebels withdrew to the west without opposition.  Then, Buford posted pickets to guard approaches to the town from the Northeast, North and West, - the directions where the Rebel army was known to be present.

At night on June 30th, at the Moritz Tavern 5 miles south of Gettysburg, General Reynolds and 11th Corps Commander Major-General Oliver O. Howard, still awaiting orders from General Meade, talked over various scenarios that might unfold the following day.

Orders still hadn't arrived at 11 p.m. when General Howard rode back to his headquarters in Emmitsburg.  General Reynolds retired for the evening at midnight.

Meade meanwhile, had received more information about the enemy that night.  He drew up orders for portions of his army to advance in the direction of Gettysburg the following morning.

July 1st; The 1st Corps Marches to Gettysburg

General John F. Reynolds

An aid presented Meade’s marching orders for the 1st and 11th Corps to General Reynolds at 4 a.m. the morning of July 1st.   After studying them a while, Reynolds woke his staff and prepared his troops for the march.  To expedite the advance of the 1st Corps,  the divisions closest to Gettysburg would step off first.  General Reynolds rode to General Wadsworth’s 1st Division, a mile to the north of Moritz Tavern, and started them moving on the road to Gettysburg, about 7:30 a.m.  Between 8 and 9:30 a.m. all 3 divisions of the 1st Corps were under way.  The morning was hot and muggy.  General Reynolds and his staff lead the way.

Two miles from Gettysburg a messenger from General Buford arrived and reported the Rebels were advancing toward Gettysburg from the west, along the Chambersburg Pike, and that Buford’s cavalry was engaged.  General James S. Wadsworth was ordered to close up the ranks of his two brigades, and to hurry them to Gettysburg to assist Buford.  General Reynolds then road ahead to the town to reconnoiter.  He found General Buford on McPherson ridge west of the village about 10 a.m.  The enemy was advancing in force from the west.    Reynolds told Buford to hold his position opposing the enemy until Wadsworth's 1st Division of  Infantry arrived.  He then galloped 1/2 mile south on the Emmittsburg Road to hurry his troops to the front.

Escorts began to tear down fences and remove other obstructions, to clear the way for the infantry to the battlefield.  A message was sent  to general Meade reporting the enemy's presence, and another message was sent to General Howard to hurry his 11th Corps troops to Gettysburg.  Wadsworth's 1st DIvision troops soon began to arrive, General Lysander Cutler's brigade in the lead, followed by six 3 inch guns of Captain James Hall’s 2nd Maine battery. General Reynolds led Hall’s battery to a dangerous forward position on the Chambersburg Pike where Buford’s cavalry was starting to give way.   Captain Hall was instructed to harrass the enemy’s artillery while the arriving infantry deployed, after which he could move back to a safer place.  General Wadsworth was  instructed to send a strong infantry support to protect the battery.   The strategy worked.   The infantry support kept Confederate flankers at bay while Hall’s guns scattered some of the Rebel artillery.  Lysander Cutler’s infantry deployed on both sides of the Chambersburg Pike just in time to meet a concentrated Confederate attack.  After instructing Wadsworth and Hall, General Reynolds rode south again to place Wadsworth's "Iron Brigade," just arrived,  into position in the woods south of the Chambersburg Pike.

Don Troiani Herbst Woods

"For God's Sake Forward!"  Don Troiani's painting shows General Reynolds leading the 2nd Michigan Infantry of the 'Iron Brigade', forward into Herbst Woods to relieve Buford's Cavalry Troopers.

General Reynold's Death

Reynold's directed Brigadier-General Soloman Meredith's Iron Brigade onto the field where the attack of  Confederate General James Archer’s infantry, was about to take hold of McPherson's woods south of Chambersburg Pike.  The charging Rebels had crossed Willoughby Run, the geographical barrier between the opposing lines.  “Forward men, forward for God’s sake and drive those fellows out of these woods!”  said Reynolds  as he led the Union regiments through the trees.  A concentrated volley was exchanged.  General Reynolds reeled in his saddle and fell to the ground.  He was said to be still living, when asked by an aid if he was all right.  A slight smile, a gasp for breath, and he died.  His death is timed between 10:30 and 11 am.  He was the highest ranking officer to fall in the battle.

Meredith’s ‘Iron Brigade’ was successful in repulsing Archer's attack.  The retreating Confederate general and a considerable part of his brigade were captured when they got hung up trying to re-cross Willoughby Run.  Meredith’s intrepid soldiers, with the help of Buford’s troopers,  overwhelmed  the defenseless Johnnies and ordered them to surrender.   Soon after this fight Major-General Abner Doubleday learned of Reynold’s death, and assumed command of the First Corps.

Don Troiani "Fight for the Colors"

"Fight for the Colors" by Don Troiani.  A member of the 6th Wisconsin, sent to re-enforce Culter's Brigade, grapples for the flag of the 2nd Mississippi, at the railroad cut; near the Chambersburg Road.

General Abner Doubleday

To the north, Cutler’s brigade straddling the Chambersburg Pike, struggled to repulse the enemy on their front and flank.   General Doubleday [pictured]  sent his last remaining troops to assist them; 100 men of the 1st Division rear guard, and the 6th Wisconsin regiment.  These aggressive soldiers advanced, and happened to arrive on the enemy’s flank at a crucial moment, when Confederate General Joseph R. Davis' brigade was driving his Union opponents to the rear.  The arrival of fresh troops proved enough to turn the tide of battle in favor of the Union.  The re-enforcements ripped the Confederate flank with a deadly volley.  Suddenly the Rebels disappeared, taking shelter in an unfinished railroad cut north of the Chambersburg Pike.  The cut offered a natural breastwork from which to shoot into the approaching Yankee re-enforcements.  A steady determined charge against a withering fire, brought the newly arrived Yankees to the brink of the rail road embankment.  This trapped the Confederates forcing them to surrender or flee.   All of a sudden, the strong Confederate attacks against General Wadsworth's 1st Division, north and south of the Chambersburg Pike and in McPherson Woods were repulsed.    It was about 11:30 a.m.  A lull fell over the battle-field, except for a slow steady artillery barrage, kept up by Confederates posted one ridge to the west.  During this lull, the other 2 Divisions of the First Corps arrived and deployed to strengthen, and extend the Union line of defense.

Arrival of Re-enforcements

The map below shows the situation about noon as re-enforcements for both sides arrived.  Brigadier-General Thomas Rowley's 3rd Division has arrived and Brigadier-General John C. Robinson's 2nd Division is held in reserve.  General Wadsworth's two brigades are deployed north and south of the Chambersburg Pike. Rodes Confederate Division is arriving in the north where Lt-Colonel Thomas H. Carter's Artillery starts shelling the Union line.  The map comes from General James S. Wadsworth's biography; see photo credits.

Map of the field about noon

Brigadier-General Thomas Rowley’s 3rd Division of the First Corps was the next to arrive on the battle-field near the Lutheran Seminary.  To relieve traffic on the Emmitsburg Road, part of  this division took a different route from the south, zig-zagging west and north on side roads toward Gettysburg.  One brigade of this division actually approached the Union lines from the west, on the Fairfield Road,-- behind the enemy's position, and had to sneak past the right flank of the Confederate battle-line.   General Doubleday anxiously greeted these troops and hurried them into position to bolster the thin Union lines.  One brigade was deployed to extend General Meredith’s line south of McPherson Woods, the other rushed north to re-enforce troops on the Chambersburg Pike.  They all took a beating from Confederate artillery as they deployed.  While Rowley's troops were spreading out, General Robinson’s 2d Division came up on the Emmitsburg Road.  This was the third and last division of the First Corps to arrive.  The '13th Mass' was in this division.  They followed the same route to the battlefield as their predecessors; the Emmitsburg Road.  They turned off at the Codori House (where Reynolds staff had cleared the way), then proceeded across the fields toward the Lutheran Seminary opposite McPherson Woods. The rest of the story is told on this page.

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What's On This Page

This page opened with excerpts from Sarah Broadhead's diary.  At the time of the battle,  Sarah, age 30, lived with her husband Joseph, and their 4 year old daughter Mary, at 217 Chambersburg Street.  "The Broadhead house was then situated near the western limits of the town - - with an excellent view of Seminary Ridge and the buildings of the Lutheran Seminary."*   Her narrative provides a resident's perspective on the horrible events which overturned the ordinary routines of daily life for so many civilians during the Civil War.  Sarah's diary entries will lead off each successive page of this website, concerning the battle and its aftermath.  The experiences of  the '13th Mass' soldiers during the battle, begin here, with Charles E. Davis, jr.'s narrative from the regimental history, 'Three Years in the Army".

This classic narrative sets the scene, but gives little in the way of detail.  It includes some vagaries and inaccuracies.  Davis' chronicle is followed by George E. Jepson's equally noted article "Gettysburg,' which appeared in the Thirteenth Regiment Association Circular #15, in December, 1902.  Jepson's article has the oft cited story of the death of beloved Color-Sergeant Roland Morris, as told anonymously, by First Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe.  Together, Davis and Jepson provide the best known sources for the '13th Mass' at the battle of Gettysburg.  But like Davis, the Jepson account leaves out a lot of detail.

In an effort to create a better understanding of the part enacted by the '13th Mass' at the battle, I have written and posted the essay, 'Robinson's Division on Oak Ridge.'  I wrote a more in-depth analysis of the source material which is slated to be published in the July 2016 issue of Gettysburg Magazine.  Both articles use privately owned and previously unpublished source material to interpret the specific part the regiment played in the battle on Oak Ridge July first.   The new source material found on this page, provides a very significant supplement to the available literature concerning the '13th Mass' at the battle.  Following my article is a sampling of exploits from three regiments in the same brigade [General G. R. Paul] as the '13th Mass.'

Brigadier-General G. R. Paul's First Brigade included the 104th NY, the 94th NY, and the ill-fated 16th Maine.  A glimpse of their experiences is provided in the section titled, "Who Is In Command?"

The truly great material follows, with the aforementioned unpublished memoirs from several soldiers in the regiment.  Each of these accounts compliments the others. 

I am grateful to Mr. Eric Locher for sharing the graphically succinct memoir of Lt. William R. Warner, appearing here for the first time.  Mr. Will Glenn shared the  lengthy and thoughtful memoirs of Private Bourne Spooner which also premier here.  The unpublished letter of Sergeant George Henry Hill, dated August 4th, was discovered in the attic of a New Hampshire house, and shared with me by Mr. Fred Richardson.  These 3 new sources are gems.  But there are still more experiences to be shared, from Drummer Sam Webster, Sergeant John Boudwin, and, the inimitable Sergeant Austin Stearns.  Sergeant Melvin Walker gives a brief description of the suffering that took place in Christ Lutheran Church, which was used as a Hospital in town.  Here, several wounded '13th Mass' captives spent the last days of their lives.  

Austin Stearns narrative concludes the page.   Stearns brings immediacy to the gloomy scenes at Christ Church which were introduced in Melvin Walker's story.

And so this page ends, - but more stories from this epic day will follow.  They include a letter of Sergeant Charles Drew, who assisted frightfully wounded Brigadier-General Gabriel R. Paul from the battlefield.  General Paul recovered at the home of Jennie McCreary next door to the Christ Church hospital.   Colonel Leonard, and Surgeon Edgar Parker were also at Jennie's home recovering from wounds.   More stories will be posted on a supplementary web page.

NOTE:  *Sarah's diary and biographical information come from a typescript of her original manuscript, of which only 200 copies were printed.  Reprints are available from Gary T. Hawbaker, PO Box 207, Hershey, PA 17033.

I'd like to give a special thank-you to all those mentioned above who shared their materials with me, and one also for the great photographer Buddy Secor, who graciously allowed me to use his incomparable photographs on my webpage. His photographs can be found under the pseudonym 'Ninja Pix' on facebook and other websites - Brad Forbush, January 8, 2016.

PICTURE CREDITS:    All images & Maps are from the Library of Congress digital images collection, with the following exceptions: Sarah Broadhead is from the blog, "In The Swan's Shadow",; Major-General John Fulton Reynolds, From 'Photographic History of the Civil War in 10 Vols.', Francis Trevelyan Miller & Robert S. Lainier,  NY, Review of Reviews Company, 1911;  Artist Don Troiani's, 'For God's Sake Forward', &  'The Fight For The Colors, were accessed digitally;  'Mummansburg Road', 'Emittsburg Road', & 'View from Observation Tower on Oak Hill', From 'Gettyburg, Photographs by W.H. Tipton, L. H. Nelson & Company, 1905;  Photograph of Seminary Building, From the Chrysler Museum of Art Digital Photograph Collection;  Charles W. Reed's sketch of soldiers climbing over a fence, Edwin Forbes' sketch,  'Awaiting the Enemy', William L. Sheppard's illustration, 'Reveille,' &  H. A. Ogden's illustration 'Union Officers',  From New York Public Library Digital Collections,  [];  Dale Gallon "Time to Fight" & 'Fighting on the Ridges print, accessed digitally at;  Pennsylvania Bucktails Postcard image was digitally accessed from the article 'A Wolverine at Gettysburg', by Robert Havey at Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan,; 1st-Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe, Colonel Adrian Root, Lieutenant William Cary, Captain  J. O. Williams, Sergeant Morton Tower, From Carlisle Army Heritage Education Center [AHEC], Mass MOLLUS collection; Portraits of  Roland Morris, &  Charles E. Davis, Jr., From Mr. Tim Sewell;  Colonel Edward A. O'Neal accessed digitally from, 'House Divided, the Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College', scanned by John Osborne, Scan date 04/22/2013, [Original from Photographic History of the Civil War in 10 Vols.];  Generals Robert E. Rodes &  Stephen Dodson Ramseur, digitally accessed from Wikipedia;  Portraits of Colonel Gilbert Prey, & Colonel John R. Strang, From The New York Military Museum,;  Portaits of George Henry Hill, David Sloss, From private collector and Antietam Expert Mr. Scott Hann;  Map of 1st Corps positions on Oak Ridge, From James S. Wadsworth of Geneseo' by Henry Greenleaf Pearson, NY, Scribners, 1913;   "First Corps on Seminary Ridge at 3:30 p.m. July 1st 1863," From 'Marching to Victory', by Charles Carleton Coffin, Harper & Brothers, 1888;  Map of the16th Maine's positions on Oak Ridge, From 'Maine at Gettysburg', 1898;  Portrait of Colonel Charles Tilden, 16th Maine, from the article, 'Requiem for a Hero', by Brian Swartz, January 30, 2014, at the website, 'Maine at War', [];  Portrait of William R. Warner from Westboro Historical Society; Unknown Artist, 'No Libby Prison For Me',  Henry Bacon Illustration soldiers charging, From 'Deeds of Valor', compiled by Walter F. Beyer and Oscar F. Keydel, The Perrian Keydel Company, Detroit,  1901, accessed digitally at google books; 104th NY Monument, From New York [State] Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga, J.B. Lyon & Company Printers, Albany, 1902 Vol. II; p. 750;   Portrait of  Sergeant Bourne Spooner From his descendant, Mr. Will Glenn;  Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum illustration of soldier shooting a horse, guache, 1897, accessed digitally at auction house;    'Wounded Soldier', oil study by artist William Trego, 1884, From James A. Michener Museum of Art;  Photo of George Henry Hill in Uniform courtesy of Mr. Alan Arnold;  Photo of  Colonel Samuel H.  Leonard From 'Maine Historical Society', [] accessed digitally;  Photograph of McCLean's Barn was accessed digitally from Heritage Auctions, it came from the scrapbook of '13th Mass' officer William R. Warner;  Artist Frederic Ray's illustration of Union Soldiers, &  Rufus Zogbaum's illustration of fighting Rebels, were photographed from various issues of Civil War Times Illustrated;  Alfred Bellard sketch of  Surgeons at work, From 'Gone For a Soldier', Little Brown Company, 1975;  Austin C. Stearns, From, 'Three Years with Company K', 1975 Fairleigh Dickenson, ed. By Arthur Kent.  ALL  IMAGES have been edited in photoshop.

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Charles Davis, Jr.'s Narrative

The following narrative is from "Three Years in the Army, The story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers from July 16, 1861 to August 1, 1864."  by Charles E. Davis Jr.,  Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1894.

The First Corps was composed, like other corps of three divisions; each division taking its turn in marching at the head of the column, as brigades also do in their respective divisions.

The First, Third and Fifth Corps were under the immediate command of General Reynolds.  The First was at Marsh Creek, the Eleventh at Emmitsburg, and the Third at Taneytown, under orders to relieve the Eleventh Corps at Emmitsburg.

Wednesday, July 1, 1863.
        According to the official report of our adjutant, we started from the camp at Marsh Creek at 6 A.M. for Gettysburg, under no pressure of haste.*

One could scarcely imagine a more peaceful scene than this lovely valley through which the road wound its way to Gettysburg. The slight shower which we encountered shortly after starting, disappeared, having washed the dust from every blade of grass and from the leaves of every tree; the sun shone brightly and the air was fragrant with woodland odors. On either side of the road were thrifty farms, whose ample crops had already begun to show the effects of the summer sun.

As we approached the town of Gettysburg, we saw on our right the two round tops, as yet unknown to fame, though soon to be inscribed on the indelible page of history; while still farther along we passed the “peach orchard” where the Third Corps so bravely fought on the following day.Emmitsburg Road, right, Codori Farm in foreground

Pictured is the Emmitsburg Road [10]; The Codori Farm [11]; and the Peach Orchard where General Sickles would fight July 2nd [13].  The view is looking South, about a mile south of the Seminary.

As the brigade moved leisurely along, the Thirteenth on the right, we at last came in sight of the church-steeples of Gettysburg to the north of us, when we halted near a house for a rest, the men scattering themselves on the grass or searching for water, as their comfort suggested. During this time the sound of firing was plainly heard from beyond the town, but as yet we knew not what it meant. Presently a staff officer came galloping up in great haste, making anxious inquiries for General Robinson, and with great excitement gave orders to hurry forward all troops.  Immediately “Attention!” and “Fall in” were heard all along the road, and without delay we started for the front in quick time.

Within a mile of the town, not far from the Codori house, we turned from the road, pursuing a northwesterly course across the fields, afterward made famous by Pickett’s charge, to the westerly side of the Lutheran Seminary on Seminary Ridge, where we arrived about 11 o’clock, immediately forming in line of battle facing to the west, while the first division of the corps was already engaged near Mummasburg road to the north of us. As we approached the Seminary, news was received that General Reynolds was killed, whereupon we involuntarily quickened our step. By an order from General Doubleday we proceeded at once, with vigor and haste, to throw up earthworks, which became very useful to others before the day was over.

Fields in front of the Codori House

The fields in front of the Codori Farm looking towards the Seminary.  This photo is taken from the Emmitsburg Road, directly in front of the Codori House, looking west.  The troops crossed these fields and headed towards the steeple in the right center of the picure.

While we were on Seminary Ridge, spent cannon-balls could occasionally be seen rolling slowly along the earth from the battle-ground to the north of us. Such a sight was common enough during battles, as every soldier knows, and once in a while a man was seen who was foolish enough to try stopping one. While we were busy with our earthworks, such an incident happened close to us. One of our officers saw a soldier of a Wisconsin regiment, with great glee, boldly put out his heel to stop a ball that was rolling toward him, supposing it to be the easiest thing in the world to do. Those who saw his purpose yelled with all their might; but it was too late, for when their remonstrances reached his ear his leg was off. The poor fellow cried like a child to think he had lost his leg in such a manner, when, as he said, he would gladly have lost it in action. It was pitiable to see his grief as he exclaimed, “I shall always be ashamed to say how I lost it.”  It is so difficult for a person un acquainted with the fact to appreciate the latent force in a cannon-ball as it rolls innocently along the ground, that old soldiers took pains to caution new recruits about the danger of attempting to stop one with the foot.

The Lutheran SeminaryIn about half an hour after our arrival on Seminary Ridge, orders were received to move to the front, whereupon we filed round the front of the building, then east a short distance to the bed of an unfinished railroad, then north and north-west to an oak grove near the Mummasburg road, where we were faced, at first to the north-west in line of battle.

Pictured is the West facade of the Lutheran Seminary Building, in front of which the '13th Mass' helped construct a breastwork.  From here the regiment moved east and north.  

As we came into position we saw the rebel line advancing by brigades found en masse. The work of our division now began in earnest. Firing as rapidly as possible we drove the enemy back, while we slowly advanced toward the Mummasburg road. Each time the enemy advanced we drove him back, while up and down the line officers were encouraging the men, while the men themselves cautioned each other not to fire to high, but make every shot tell.

Photo by Buddy Secor - Union Soldiers firing in line

Photo  by Buddy Secor

On our left the rebels were seen coming down the slope, while on our right flank came another fire, to meet which we faced more to the north, leaving the troops on the left to take care of the enemy on that flank. The Eleventh Corps had just arrived. Forming on our right, it left a dangerous interval of nearly half a mile between its left and our right. We now began to have our hands full of work. About this time a charge was ordered, but luckily abandoned before our weakness was shown. Pretty soon a rebel brigade advanced and charged into the road in front of us, which was a sunken one, and we let them have it in good shape as they ascended the bank nearest us. They tried to get back to the other side of the road, but they were in a pocket, and we had them at our mercy. “Give it to ‘em for Fredericksburg!” shouted some one, whereupon they threw up their hats to stop firing, and the Thirteenth bagged one hundred and thirty-two prisoners, including seven commissioned officers, all belonging to a North Carolina regiment.**  We had no time to lose, for along came another line outnumbering any of the preceding ones.  An officer in our rear was shouting for us to hold on as long as we could, while on our right the Eleventh Corps were making tracks to the rear, leaving the flank of the First Corps, of which we were the flanking regiment, unprotected. So many men had fallen that our line looked ridiculously small to be contending with the large army corps now approaching us. The only thing we could do was to stand still and fire, though the rebel batteries were now getting in their work and making it very uncomfortable for the First Corps, already nearly gone to pieces.

Still no orders came to leave, nor were we re-enforced.  It was now four o’clock and our ammunition nearly gone-- in some cases all gone; General Paul, our brigadier was shot through both eyes, while the dead lay all about us.  As we glanced to our left we saw one division after another breaking away and making for Cemetery Hill;  we saw the end was near and fell back towards the hill, each man for himself, it being impracticable to do otherwise without losing still more men.  The order was given to rally on Cemetery Hill.  While some of the boys fell back along the railroad cut, others went directly through the town to the hill. Those who went through the town were obliged to run the gauntlet of the side streets, already filled with the men of Ewell’s corps, who were endeavoring, with artillery and musketry, to prevent our escaping. We saw at once that we had stayed at the front a little too long for our safety.  Charles Reed Sketch, July 1 1863Some of us were to be gobbled and sent to rot in rebel prisons. Over fences, into yards, through gates, anywhere an opening appeared, we rushed with all our speed to escape capture. The streets swarmed with the enemy, who kept up an incessant firing, and yelling, “Come in here, you Yankee ---------  ------------ -----------!” Still we kept on, hoping to find a chance of escape somewhere.

The great trouble was to know where to run, for every street seemed to be occupied by the “rebs,” and we were in imminent danger of running into their arms before we knew it.  There was no time to consider; we must keep moving and take our chances; so on we went until at last, completely blown, we reached the hill now occupied by the batteries of the Eleventh Corps.  In spite of our efforts, ninety-eight of the Thirteenth were captured.  We appreciate how easy it oftentimes is to be taken prisoner, and frequently men have taken advantage of opportunities thus afforded to escape fighting; but whoever ran the gauntlet of Gettysburg can be relieved of any stigma of this kind.

Here we saw the division color-bearer standing alone. Some of the boys then took the flag, and waving it in turn, shouting and swinging their caps, soon succeeded in establishing the division headquarters.

While this was going on, others of the boys went actively to work bringing rails or digging, until we had a well-formed rifle-pit in readiness to again meet the enemy’s attack; but we remained undisturbed during the night. It was now between 6 and 7 o’clock, and we had eaten nothing since early morning, so we munched away on our hardtack. Worn out with fatigue and excitement, many of the boys dropped off to sleep at once, insensible to the firing that was going on at our right, near Culp’s Hill.  As the Eleventh Corps had done less work than the First, it was sent out on the picket line. About dusk our hearts were gladdened by the approach of Stannard’s Vermont brigade of five regiments, each a thousand strong.  To our delighted vision it seemed like a great army, and brought vividly to our minds the time when we were a thousand strong, now, alas ! a mere handful of men.  As they approached, Colonel Dick Coulter, of the Eleventh Pennsylvania, now commanding the brigade, remarked; “If those fellows will fight as we do, we’ll give the Johnnies hell to-morrow;” and they did fight well.

Edwin Forbes "Awaiting the Enemy"      From now until long after midnight, brigade after brigade, corps after corps, came marching in to take its position on Cemetery Hill.

In the meantime we lay down to sleep, insensible to the tramp and clatter of an approaching army.

A mile away to the west, on Seminary Ridge, were the wounded of the First Corps, in the hands of the enemy.

Of the two hundred and eighty-four men and officers we took into the fight, only ninety-nine now remained for duty, the casualties being seven killed and eighty wounded, a total of eighty-seven.  In addition to this number ninety-eight men were taken prisoners on their way back through the town.

The following letter of instructions was sent to General Reynolds on the 1st of July, and was probably the last he received from General Meade, and is interesting to us in settling definitely all the theories as to what his instructions were:

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
July 1, 1863.

Major-General Reynolds, Commanding etc., Gettysburg;

   General:  The telegraphic inteligence received from General Couch, with the various movements reported from Buford, seem to indicate the concentration of the enemy either at Chambersburg or at a point situated somewhere on a line drawn between Chambersburg and York, through Mummasburg and to the north of Gettysburg.

     The commanding general cannot decide whether it is his best policy to move to attack until he learns something more definite of the point at which the enemy is concentrating.  This he hopes to do during the day.  Meanwhile he would like to have your views on the subject, at least so far as concerns your position. If the enemy is concentrating to our right of Gettysburg, that point would not at first glance seem to be a proper strategic point of concentration for this army.

     If the enemy is concentrating in front of Gettysburg or to the left of it, the general is not sufficiently well-informed of the nature of the country to judge of its character for either an offensive or defensive position.  The numbers of the enemy are estimated at about 92,000 infantry, with 270 pieces of artillery, and his cavalry from 6,000 to 8,000.  Our numbers ought to equal it, and with the arrival of General French’s command, which should get up to-morrow, exceed it, if not too much weakened by straggling and fatigue.

     The General having just assumed command, in obedience to orders, with the position of affairs leaving no time to learn the condition of the army as to morale and proportionate strength compared with its last return, would gladly receive from you any suggestions as to the points laid down in this note.  He feels that you know more of the condition of the troops in your vicinity and the country than he does.  General Humphreys, who is at Emmitsburg with the Third Corps, the general considers an excellent advisor as to the nature of teh country for defensive or offensive operations. If near enough to call him to consultation with you, without interference with the responsibilities that devolve upon you both, please do so.  You have all the information which the general has received, and the general would like to have your views. The movement of your corps to Gettysburg was ordered before the positive knowledge of the enemy’s withdrawl from Harrisburg and concentration was received.

                  Very  respectfully, &c.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(Copy to Major-General Howard.)

It is no disparagement to the men of the First Corps who gave up their lives to-day, when we say the bravest of all was Gen. John F. Reynolds, our commander.  His loss to the Army of the Potomac was very great, and must have been keenly felt by Meade, whose confidence he had more completely than any other officer under him, and upon whose judgment and advice he would, very likely, have relied.  To the men of his corps, whose admiration for him was enthusiastic and devoted, his loss seems irreparable.

During our service there were two officers who excited in us an affectionate devotion, --- General Hartsuff and General Reynolds.  It is difficult to describe the kind of personal magnetism which these men, so much alike in many respects, possessed.  The Fall of General ReynoldsThey were both disciplinarians of the strictest kind, making no effort to gain our good-will by clap-trap or humbug, reserved and each had acquired the most perfect control over his men-- that kind of control which prompts men to willingly obey orders without hesitation, deeming it an honor to have been called upon.  No danger or duty was considered too great to undertake under their leadership. To the First Corps, General Reynolds was the beau ideal of a soldier.  His great abilities and his bravery the world has acknowledged and expressed its admiration therefore, but the love we had for him is beyond expression.


*Although up early, the division didn't step off until about 9 a.m.  See 16th Maine sources.  

**Author Davis states the captured prisoners were North Carolina troops.  Lt. William R. Warner's diary states the troops captured were from Alabama.  Historical evidence and data would suggest Warner was correct.  It is curious as to why Davis reported North Carolina, when the Warner manuscript was one of his sources in writing the regimental history.

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George Jepson, of Company A, served 3 years with the '13th Mass.'  The following article appeared in 13th Regiment Association Circular #15, December, 1902.  There are a few minor inaccuracies but it presents an excellent overview of the actions of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers at the battle of Gettysburg, and with Charles E. Davis, Jr.'s "Three Years in the Army," this article was until recently, one of the few primary sources available for the regiment's actions July 1st, 1863.  It's noteworthy for its description of Color-Sergeant Roland Morris's death.  Jepson's prose can be superfluous and difficult at times, but his articles are always worth the effort.

In an especial sense the National capital will always be a centre of interest to the veteran of the Civil War, on whichever side he may have fought.  Washington and Richmond, in the popular view the respective centres of the opposing political theories whose clash precipitated the appeal to arms, the Alpha and Omega, as it were, of the Rebellion, are but a few hours' ride apart.  And many of the "old vets" who got within sight of the steeples of the latter in war time and through its vicissitudes got no nearer - of which the present writer was one - will find in their latter-day pilgrimages thither no insuperable obstacles interposed between their deferred longing to visit, inspect, and in a sense recapture the erstwhile rebel stronghold.

Virginia was debatable ground during the entire struggle, from Big Bethel to Appomattox, and from the Potomac to the James and beyond, its sacred soil being everywhere deeply furrowed by the plough-share of war.  Throughout the broad area, of which the rival capitals may be said to form the antipodal points, are located many of the most famous battlefields of the war - Bull Run, Harper's Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Appomattox - not to mention countless minor conflicts - these are familiar names which, whether significant of defeat or triumph, are alive with sacred and heart-stirring memories.

National Monument at Gettysburg

Places of such varied and abiding interest, all easily accessible from Washington, naturally attract many visitors. But above them all, Gettysburg, where the tide of rebellion reached its highest flood and was beaten back in defeat and dismay, is the magnet of greatest attraction.

The little Pennsylvania hamlet that few ever heard of before 1863, and which the wildest imagination had never included within the probable scope of the strife, nestling in the fancied security of its charming isolation in the Cumberland valley, has become the Mecca not only of the Union defenders and their posterity, as well as of their one-time foes, but of countless pilgrims from home and abroad who turn their footsteps thither as to a nation's shrine of glory and sacrifice.

Pictured, National Monument, Gettysburg.

Gettysburg is and will remain a classic among battlefields, standing out on the historic page as Mt. Washington dominates the New England landscape.  There American valor, proved against many a foreign foe, clashed against itself in a Titanic contest for supremacy.

With due consideration of the distinction accorded to old world battles, and without disparagement to the great conflicts waged in the West where the Union armies, unlike the Army of the Potomac, were not unaccustomed to have victory perch on their banners, it may be said that in the vital issues at stake, the desperate and persistent valor displayed by the combatants, the immense sacrifice of life, and because of the decisive character of its results on the destiny of the republic, the battle of Gettysburg is of preeminent interest and importance.

Waterloo, its only parallel, merely overthrew a dynasty while confirming the monarchical principle.  Gettysburg gave to the nation a new birth and enforced a new creed, that "government of the people, by the people, for the people" should "not perish from the earth."

The study of this great battle is a fascinating one, and eminently instructive as well.  But its literature has attained to mammoth proportions, and this profusion is forbidding and confusing to most readers.  For the present purpose it will suffice to touch briefly upon the causes that brought the opposing armies in contact at this point, together with the circumstances relating to their respective numbers, the lay of the land, and to summarize the main features of the operations;  and this, it is believed - especially if supplemented by a visit to the place itself, and every American who can do so should see this monumental battlefield at least once before he dies – will enable one to mentally fix a distinct and permanent impression of the greatest military conflict of modern times.

Batchelder Map of Gettysburg Battlefield, cropped

It is related that a distinguished British officer, visiting Gettysburg about the time of the Mexican war, on beholding the scene exclaimed:  "What a place for a great battle!"   But one need not be an inspired seer, nor even a trained military genius, to perceive the remarkable adaptation of the spot to the strategic and tactical manoeuvres of great armies. The fact is obvious to any intelligent observer.  Yet, notwithstanding this, the choice of Gettysburg was largely accidental.

Standing upon one of the many elevations that abound in the region, one will perceive a narrow valley with a general direction bearing north and south, running between two nearly parallel ridges of varying height and at an average distance apart of about three-quarters of a mile.  The eastern rampart is known as Cemetery ridge; the western is Seminary ridge. Cemetery ridge is considerably shorter than the other, and is shaped something like a fishhook, Culp's hill at the north end forming the barb, while the southern extension is terminated by two eminences, Little Round Top and Big Round Top.  Seminary ridge has no similar distinguishing marks.

This amphitheatre practically comprises the field of Gettysburg, excepting that on the first and a part of the second day its limits were extended somewhat to the west and also to the north of the town.  At the northerly end of the valley, on a slightly rising ground, is seated the town.

From the latter radiate several roads and highways, the important ones consisting of the roads to Harrisburg and Mummasburg, respectively, going north, Chambersburg and Hagerstown going west, the Baltimore pike, which crosses Cemetery ridge to the southeast, and the Taneytown and Emmittsburg roads running south.

Such is the field; let us now see why the two armies were concentrated at this point.

In the month of June Grant's victorious army was surrounding Vicksburg, the city's fall being a foregone conclusion unless a diversion could be effected by the Confederate government to stay Grant's hand by causing the withdrawal of a portion of his troops.  An invasion of the North, it was believed, would accomplish this result, and there existed other reasons why such a project would assist the Southern cause.  The army of northern Virginia was in fine fettle.  Its succession of victories, especially the recent one in May at Chancellorsville, had inspired the men with confidence in their invincibility.  If  Lee could outwit and outmarch Hooker, and ultimately again defeat him, the rich cities of the North would fall into the former's hands.  He might even dictate terms of peace on the steps of the Capitol.  This was, in fact, no mere idle dream.

The movement was accordingly ordered and Lee started on his march with a splendid army of nearly 80,000 men, concealing the withdrawal of his troops by various subterfuges for a time.  Hooker, watchful and wary, soon discovered that his adversary had stolen away, and put the army of the Potomac - about 90,000 strong - on his track, skilfully interposing it between his foe and the national capital.

The Confederate general had sent his advance under Ewell into Pennsylvania, Early's division, on the 28th of June, having reached York, when Lee learned that Meade, who had succeeded Hooker in the chief command, had crossed the Potomac, and was close on his heels.  Alarmed for his communications, Lee ordered the immediate concentration of his army on Gettysburg.

Map of Opposing Armies on June 30th 1863

The situation of the Union army on the night of June 30 was this:  The First Corps (Reynolds) was at Marsh creek, six miles south of Gettysburg; the Third (Sickles) at Bridgport, twelve miles south; the Eleventh (Howard) at Emmittsburg, ten miles south. These corps formed Meade's left wing, and were under the superior command of Gen. John Fulton Reynolds.  The remainder of the army of the Potomac was camped at distances varying from twenty to forty miles away.

Click Map to View Larger.

The present writer was one among the 150,000 or more human atoms composing the two mighty forces that, during those fateful July days in 1863, hurled themselves upon one another to dispute the right of way at Gettysburg.  A member of an organization that formed a part of the advance column of the First Corps that struck and checked Lee's foremost legions as they debouched upon the plain west and north of the town from the Chambersburg pike, his reminiscences of Gettysburg, perhaps, may prove of interest, especially as he recently revisited the battlefield and refreshed them by retracing his footsteps of nearly forty years ago, walking over the entire field, starting from a point near the Coderi house on the Emmittsbnrg road, where Cutler's brigade, deploying along Seminary ridge, almost immediately delivered the first infantry fire that opened the general engagement.

The First Corps broke camp about 6 A.M. on July 1, 1863, and proceeded along the Emmittsburg road toward Gettysburg, six miles away.*

The conspicuous features of the landscape previously alluded to were all presented to our gaze as we reached a point on the Emmittsburg road, - a slight rise, - and a mile or so ahead the little town came in sight.  But the parallel ridges between which the road ran, the two Round Tops, the peach orchard, which was then coming into view on the right, the cluster of great rugged rocks, seemingly hurled down by some Cyclopean hand, and which we were to hear of afterward as the Devil's Den - none of these renowned objects had any other significance to us than as picturesque variations in an otherwise striking prospect.

My recollection perfectly revives the beauty of the morning, the rural charm of the little valley, smiling under the radiance of a cloudless sky.  A slight early morning shower had washed the entire landscape, but the road surface, soon to be baked by the hot sun and beaten into powder by the tread of thousands of human feet and horses' hoofs, was as yet free from dust.

Little concerning the situation of affairs was known to the rank and file. Vague rumors, indeed, were rife of the rebel invasion, of Lee's demands on the terror-stricken towns and the indiscriminate looting of his soldiers. We did not indeed then know of Early's exactions at Chambersburg and York, nor that Lee only the previous day had sent extravagant requisitions for goods and money on the citizens of Gettysburg, nor that the unexpected arrival of Buford's cavalry had prevented this extortion. We certainly had no information upon which to base a supposition of the propinquity of the entire rebel army or that we were almost immediately to be precipitated upon its advance columns and open the greatest conflict of the age.

It is true as we proceeded there were heard a few muffled shots away to the north of and beyond the town.  It was known, however, that the cavalry had preceded us, and these indications of skirmishing, as we supposed them to be, were too common to our ears to cause any anticipation of an impending battle.

Dale Gallon "Time To Fight"

Suddenly the corps was halted, and while, the sounds of more rapid carbine firing and the dull boom of a distant cannon-shot came to our ears, two horsemen were discerned riding furiously toward us from the direction of the town. In brief time they had reached the knot of staff and general officers, who were grouped in animated discussion about General Reynolds.  At that moment our corps, about 8,000 strong, comprised the only troops on the ground within close call.

The hurried conference was soon ended and General Reynolds, accompanied by a staff officer and his orderly, was seen to detach himself from the group and gallop swiftly toward the town.  It was the last time we ever saw him in life. This gallant and much-loved commander, who had passed unscathed through many a combat, a hero of two wars, was to meet a soldier's death within the hour.  But not, however, until his military eye and trained intelligence had grasped all the essential facts of the situation and made such dispositions and dispatched such information and recommendations to General Meade, then at Taneytown, as unquestionably had important weight in determining the issue of the battle.

It may be stated here as an interesting fact that General Reynolds, like his confrere, General Wadsworth, both being men of large means, turned his pay as a major-general into the national treasury, declining to receive any emolument for his services; and there was a pervasive rumor at the time of General Hooker's resignation, that the command of the Army of the Potomac was first tendered to Reynolds, who with characteristic modesty declined the honor, and with a generosity equally characteristic recommended the appointment of his friend Meade instead.

Our halt was a long and and anxious one.  The sounds of conflict increased in volume and seemed to be drawing nearer.  At last a staff officer came flying down the road, and delivered some message whose purport was immediately made plain, for there followed the hurried words of command:  "Fall in!" and then:  "Forward, double quick!"

The leading brigade, Cutler's, of Wadsworth's division, was nearing the Coderi house on the left of the road, when the men were directed to tear down the rail fence, and thereupon were deployed into the field and across the ridge, taking the direction of the Chambersburg pike, where Buford's cavalry were desperately struggling to check the rebel advance.

At some little distance to the left could be seen McPherson's wood and the ridge beyond where the cavalry fight was raging, while at the right, like a sentinel at the outpost, was perceived the Lutheran seminary, from whose tower Generals Reynolds and Buford but a few minutes before had observed the advancing hosts of the enemy and became convinced that the bulk of Lee's army was at hand and a pitched battle must ensue.

Cutler's troops were at once formed in line of battle, and, briskly advancing, soon encountered the foremost of the rebel column - Davis' Confederate brigade, the Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Regiment delivering in their faces the first infantry fire that opened the engagement. The battle of Gettysburg was on! 

Bucktails of Stone's Brigade fighting in front of the McPherson barn

And at once the conflict was fiercely raging, as the troops on either side rapidly arrived and went into action. The thunder of the batteries, the crashing of exploding shells, and the continuous rattle of the musketry filled the peaceful valley with unwonted sound, while the clouds of smoke that quickly overspread the field blotted out the beauties of the landscape that had charmed us but so brief a period before.

This would be the place perhaps to depict the varying changes of battle, to rehearse the thrilling episodes and hairbreadth escapes that pass before a soldier's eyes, or of which he may be himself the subject, and to analyze the world of sensations that he is supposed to experience when under fire, but I forbear to encroach on the historical novelist's domain or risk giving umbrage to the shade of Stephen Crane, whose imaginative genius has supplied in his much lauded "Red Badge of Courage" so minute and circumstantial a thesaurus of such mental and physical vicissitudes as to make the "real thing" seem trite and commonplace.  Besides, only a rapid survey of the main features of the battle can now be permitted.

Our small force, already encountering double its own number, was now being hard pressed by the enemy, when Meredith's "Iron Brigade," Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana regiments, came up, and charging with a "Wild West" yell into McPherson's wood, held by Archer's rebel brigade, swung around the latter's right, capturing 1,200 of the "graybacks," together with their chief.  It was at this moment that General Reynolds was killed, whose fall was mourned by the whole army;  and it was well said of him as of an old-world hero:  "No man died on that field with more glory than he. Yet many died there and there was much glory."

Sight where General Reynolds was killed

The monument on the left of this photograph marks the spot where General Reynold's fell, while leading the Iron Brigade onto the battlefield.  The McPherson Barn, near the Chambersburg Turnpike, where Cutler's troops opened the battle, (see illustration above) is present just beyond the woods.  It does not show well as its white color blends into the sky, but the arrow points directly toward the roof.

The writer was standing near by as Archer's disconsolate "Johnnies," under Federal guard, were being marched off the field and into the road; and despite the seriousness of the moment, with shot and shell whizzing through the air, and wounded and dying comrades all around us, there was a general laugh as the officer at the head of the column, in the shrill accents and inimitable patois of the South, yelled out this unique command, which could not certainly be found in "Hardee's Tactics":  "By twos, into fours, right smart - git! "

First Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe

It was during this battle that our comrade Roland Morris, color sergeant, was killed.  His death was unusually pathetic, inasmuch as the colors had been taken away from him a few days prior to the battle because of his leaving the ranks, without permission, to visit some friends he had made during our early service in Maryland.  The morning of the battle, with tears he begged the colonel to return the colors to him, and after being admonished not to repeat the offence they were returned to him.   He was a student in Heidelberg when the war broke out and hastened home to join the Thirteenth and went with it to the front.  He was an attractive young fellow, of great popularity among his comrades, so that his death made a deeper impression than ordinary.

It will be recalled that Company A was the color company at the time, and the commanding officer of that company, whose modesty makes it a condition that his name shall not be specifically mentioned, though we all know and love him,* has furnished me with the following account of the event and of other occurrences of that memorable day which is herewith transcribed in his own words:

*Pictured is First Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe, Company A, the un-named  officer whose narrative follows - 

    "The writer will ever remember how our beloved comrade, Color-Sergeant Morris, on the morning march from Marsh creek was the life of the company, full of fun and making us all feel "gay and happy" with his jokes and high spirits. How little did he or any of us imagine that in a few short hours he would answer to the last roll-call on the field of honor!  As we approached Gettysburg we could hear firing ahead of us. We were advanced across the field to the Lutheran seminary and there heard with deep regret that our esteemed commander, General Reynolds, had been killed.

    "We hastily threw up breastworks here, but did not long occupy them, as orders soon came for us to advance to the front. We reached an oak grove near the Mummasburg road. Across the road was a barn occupied by some of the rebels who made us their mark; and it was here and from one of their sharpshooters that Morris received his mortal wound. I saw him when he was shot; he leaped into the air and fell to the ground, struggling and crying in agony. The rebel bullet passed through his breast apparently. I detailed two comrades to take him to the rear, and I never saw him again.

Color Sergeant Roland Morris, pictured below, right.

Color Sergeant Roland Morris

    "There was a sunken road in our front, and in this a rebel brigade found themselves involved as they attempted to charge us. But they couldn't stand our fire when they ascended the bank, and a large number of them threw down their arms and surrendered. I remember, as one of those comical sights that will intrude even in the most serious of moments, perceiving Sergeant Whiston, of Company A, holding in each hand two rebel officers' swords which in their eager haste to surrender, their owners had thrust upon him, his face wearing such a look of helpless bewilderment and his attitude denoting such utter incapacity to know what to do with his prizes, that it was impossible to subdue the temptation to laugh.  I have often wondered what became of those four swords, but could never learn.  It was now getting late and the regiment was being thinned in numbers, when a staff officer rode up and asked who was in command. I found that I was the ranking officer and was told by him to order the men to fall back. This we did as far as the railroad cut, where we received a heavy fire. A corporal who had the colors was severely wounded here and I took the flag and carried it along to the main street of the town where I had to run the gauntlet of the rebels, who were now pouring in in large numbers. In the doorways of the houses were many of our officers and men who offered to make room for us, but I felt that having command of the color company it was my duty to save the colors. I finally reached Cemetery hill, where I found a small number of the regiment who, like myself, were worn out with the fatigue and excitement of the day."

The story of the First Corps' heroic struggle to hold Seminary ridge until Meade could concentrate his scattered army on Cemetery ridge, which Reynolds' last report advised, and which recommendation Hancock later in the day confirmed, is written in history indeed, but it cannot be too often repeated as an instance of persistent courage and intelligent and deliberate self-immolation.

With but a little more than 8,000 men it held Seminary ridge against three times its own number for hours of almost incessant fighting, until the Eleventh Corps came to its assistance, and it left nearly one-half of its men dead and wounded on the field.  Even after the Eleventh Corps had retreated to Cemetery hill, it obstinately refused to yield until, with its flanks enveloped and pressed by the Confederates in overwhelming numbers, it sullenly fell back.

In the first day's battle Massachusetts was represented by three regiments only, the Twelfth, the Thirteenth and the Thirty-third, veteran organizations, whose losses speak for their soldierly conduct;  that of the former being 119, of the latter 45, while the Thirteenth lost 185 out of a total of 284 officers and men reporting for duty that morning. This last far exceeded the losses of any one of the 34 organizations of this State that took part in the actions of the following days, though all were quite decimated.

Illustration from Deeds of Valor, Soldier running from Rebs

It may not be out of place to state here, nor is it a mere figure of speech to say, that the blood of the sons of the old Bay State, which has been so freely spilled in the cause of American' liberty heretofore, was poured out in torrents on the aceldama of Gettysburg, the total sum of Massachusetts' killed and wounded there being 1,318, with 319 missing, exceeding the casualties respectively of all other States excepting those of New York and Pennsylvania.

How the remnants of the First Corps reached Cemetery hill, the haven of refuge they were ordered to seek, is mainly a history of individuals which only the survivors can tell.  It was not as an army corps, nor as brigades, hardly even as regiments, that they got there, but for the most part singly or in twos and threes, some rushing through the town and right into the arms of the Confederates, who were already pouring into its streets; others following the railroad cut outside the village, which proved a safe avenue of escape.  

Once on the hill, by that law of attraction and cohesion which makes like seek like, each of the various organizations gradually gathered its own together. The Eleventh Corps was already there, and its batteries in position; apparently our foes had no stomachs for following up their victory on discovering such to be the fact.  At all events we were not disturbed, although at our right toward Culp's hill sounds of a fierce conflict were heard.  But at last night fell, and so closed the first day of Gettysburg.

Second and Third Days Fights

Thus far our regiment had had its full share in the glorious work of the First Corps, and had duly rendered its meed of sacrifice. What remained for it to do was done in the same spirit of devotion, although our part henceforth was to be blended with the collective energies and movements as of a vast machine, the workings of whose inner elements, however useful and essential, are mainly unseen.

During the night the various scattered army corps began to pour in and assume their assigned positions on Cemetery ridge.

   The dawn of the second day presented a formidable sight to the Confederates on the opposite heights.  Meade's army was seen strung along from Cemetery hill to Little Round Top, a distance of three miles, his cannon occupying the high points of advantage, while strong entrenchments, showing the Herculean labors of the night, and bristling with infantry, presented an embattlement front that seemed impregnable.

Shepard "Reveille on the Field of Battle"

And so did it appear, according to their testimony, to more than one of Lee's generals if it did not to himself.  But Lee had no alternative than to pursue the offensive to the bitter end.  It was not until four o'clock in the afternoon of the next day, however, that the first of the elaborate movements he had planned began by Longstreet's assault on our left. The action gradually extended along the entire line, resulting in a general repulse except only at Culp's hill, where a temporary success was gained.

Supporting batteries, being shifted from one part of the line to another to meet emergencies as they arose, always exposed, but relieved from participating in the actual fighting on account of our hardships of the previous day, these constituted our chief contributions to the operations of July 2 and 3.

No one who observed it will ever forget the dramatic event of the last day.  All that morning the mutual preparations for the final struggle were apparent to both the contending armies.  That a re-newed assault on our lines was intended and was inevitable was the general expectation, but where was it to fall and how?

We had long to wait, but the delay, every moment of it, was precious to General Meade, and was taken advantage of to strengthen our lines, get extra ammunition to the front, and bring up fresh troops.

The long silence that preceded the rebel advance was wearing to the strained nerves and oppressive to the mind.  It was literally felt, like the ominous stillness which frequently precedes some tremendous convulsion of nature when the elements seem to be gathering their forces for some awful outburst. At last, at one o'clock, the signal came, the blow fell; one hundred and fifty rebel guns thundered from Seminary ridge and Meade's ninety cannon replied.

It is a waste of words to try and convey an adequate impression of that hideous volume of sound that for two hours rolled through the little valley and prolonged its reverberations among the surrounding mountains.  When it ceased, long lines of gray-clad men were seen filing down from the opposite slopes and forming into columns of assault.  

Edwin Forbes painting of Pickett's Charge from the Confederate Side

Pickett's Charge - From the Confederate side  by Artist Edwin Forbes.

The story of Pickett's magnificent charge has been told repeatedly, both in verse and in prose, and is too familiar to require recital here.  We witnessed a portion of the assault and had nearly taken part in its repulsion, but arrived at the point which we had been summoned to strengthen only in time to see the remnants of the shattered rebel brigades flying across the fields to the shelter of their lines.

We shared, however, in the mad cheering and shouting of our comrades in celebration of the victory their valor had so signally won.  For, although there was still some desultory fighting in different parts of the field, Pickett's defeat was the deathblow to Lee's plans and practically ended the battle of Gettysburg.

No battle decisive of a campaign or of a war was ever more beset with afterdoubts and recriminations than that of Gettysburg.  The mistakes of generals are always fruitful themes for criticism.  Both Meade and Lee have been condemned, the first for not following up the repulse of Pickett with a counter-assault, and the latter for having ordered that ill-fated attempt, and also for delivering battle at all at Gettysburg.

Gettysburg Statue of General Meade

However pertinent the strictures in the latter instance may be, it should be remembered in Meade's favor that he had held command of the army of the Potomac but two days when the battle opened, was known to only a small portion of his troops, and was obliged to master, and at a supreme moment, the details and plans of a most important campaign of which he could previously have had but an imperfect knowledge.

Under such circumstances and considering the tremendous responsibilities he must assume if he imperilled his assured victory by an attempt to extend it where the chances of success were clouded by extreme doubt, it is no wonder that the Union commander hesitated to order the return stroke at the moment when it could only be effective – and that was at once - and so lost his opportunity.  In less than an hour Lee had strengthened his lines and reformed his battalions, and was prepared for the assault that he fully expected would follow.

Some critics, too, have sought to belittle Meade by ascribing the credit of the victory to this or that general, rather than to him.  The axiom is well established, however, that the commanding officer who plans or approves the various operations of a battle or campaign is entitled to claim the superior honors if victory is the result, as he must suffer the discredit in case of defeat.  (Statue of General Meade, pictured).

The discussion of this question developed considerable acrimony some years ago, which was typically and humorously illustrated by a little ballad that went the round of the newspapers at the time, entitled,  "The Hero of Gettysburg."

It represented a stranger meeting several old soldiers on the battlefield, each of whom claimed that title for his favorite corps commander, Meade's name, much to the bewildered visitor's surprise, not being mentioned at all.  He thereupon expresses a thought that will be satisfying and convincing to a very large class of the people when in the concluding stanza he says:

"So I have come to the conclusion
That the hero of the fight,
Was each man who did his duty,
And I know you'll say I'm right."

The losses of both armies at Gettysburg have been variously computed, but the following is believed to be a fair statement:  Meade's returns give Federals killed, 3,072; wounded, 14,497; missing, 5,434; total, 23,003.   Lee reported Confederates killed, 2,592;  wounded, 12,709;  missing, 5,150; total, 20,451.

As an instance of Lee's defective returns, however, we actually held over 13,000 prisoners, 8,000 more than he admits; and some Confederate generals since the war have acknowledged that their total losses amounted to fully 35,000 men.

13th Mass Monument, Gettysburg

The striking feature of the field of Gettysburg to-day is the impressive and imposing array of monuments which characterizes its remarkable embellishment.  Each of these memorials has a heroic as well as a pathetic history.  They mark with an accuracy never before attained in battlefield preservation the positions held by the different organizations engaged on the Union side during the three days' engagement.  The Confederate positions have likewise been indicated by markers.

The patriotic liberality of the general government, together with that of the 18 States represented by troops engaged in the battle, has accomplished in this spot of hallowed memories one of the most unique, decorative, and preservative effects ever conceived for perpetuating an historical event.  There are over 600 of these monuments and markers, all of them strikingly appropriate, and some of them are costly works of art.  Massachusetts has 24 of these memorials.

[Pictured is the monument of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers, placed on the battlefield at the spot where Color-Sergeant Roland B. Morris fell during the battle].

It is worthy of note that one of our own regimental associations, the Second Massachusetts, first suggested the idea of marking these positions by placing a stone there commemorative of its part in the action. This was dedicated in 1879, and excited a spirit of emulation with the result as stated.

In the national cemetery, which contains 17 acres, and is situated on Cemetery hill, the government in 1869 erected a granite memorial shaft, which is 60 feet high and 25 feet square at the base. This magnificent monument dominates the scene, and fittingly stands in the centre of the impressive rows of headstones that mark the 3,575 graves of Union soldiers resting there, and of which 1,608 compose the unknown dead.  Massachusetts has 159 of her patriot sons buried in the national cemetery.

This beautiful burying-place of the nation's heroes was dedicated on the 19th of November, 1863, when Edward Everett delivered the scholarly oration that has been long forgotten, and Abraham Lincoln spoke the simple, tender, unstudied prose poem — so like himself — that is immortal.

         * Although Jepson presents the men of the First Corps awaking early-  It was General Wadsworth's Division which led the march.  Wadsworth started about 7:30 a.m.  General Robinson's Division and the '13th Mass' did not get under way until about 9:30 or 10:00 a.m.  arriving near the seminary about 11:30.   Between General Robinson's two brigades, General Paul's Brigade marched first, followed by Genral Baxter's Brigade. Approximations of time vary significantly, so it is difficult to decipher when events occured other than in general terms.

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Dale Gallon - The Fight on Oak Ridge

Dale Gallon Painting, "The Fight on Oak Ridge" depicts Baxter's brigade meeting Iverson's attack.

Robinson's Division on Oak Ridge

The following discussion seeks to shed light on the actions of the 13th Massachusetts and 104th New York regiments of General G. R. Paul's Brigade, of General John C. Robinson's Second Division, First Corps, at Gettysburg July 1st, 1863.  Many primary sources were examined to present what I believe to be the correct interpretation of events.

Robinson's Division of the First Corps Arrives at Seminary Ridge

When Major-General  John C. Robinson’s two brigades arrived at the Lutheran Seminary on the battlefield, the Confederate attack north and south of the Chambersburg Road had fizzled out, save for the slow and steady artillery barrage that pounded re-enforcements as they deployed to strengthen the thin Union lines. It was between 11:30 a.m. & 12 noon when Brigadier-General G.R. Paul’s Brigade arrived near the seminary.1  The following statements support this idea:

Charles Davis, Jr., 13th Massachusetts, wrote,
“Within a mile of the town, not far from the Codori house, we turned from the road, pursuing a northwesterly course across the fields, to the westerly side of the Lutheran Seminary on Seminary Ridge, where we arrived about 11 o’clock…”2
Captain Walter T. Chester, 94th New York, says,
“Yesterday, about noon, we reached here, in the midst of a fierce battle.”3
Colonel John R. Strang, 104th New York, says,
“So we were pushed on as rapidly as possible, our brigade having the rear of the corps that day, and coming in sight of the seminary Ridge about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, we learned that General Reynolds had been killed.” 4

Chaplain P. G. Cook, 94th New York, wrote,
“The 1st Division went in about 10 o’clock, A.M. Gen. Reynolds, the Commander of the Corps, was killed at the very outset. Up to about 12 o’clock the fortunes of the day seemed to be with us.  The 2d Division arrived on the ground soon after 12 o’clock.  The 94th after a very few moments rest, were ordered to advance to the field of strife.” 5

The regiments of General Paul’s 1st Brigade were brought around to the west side of the seminary building and ordered to throw up a semi-circle of breastworks, using dirt, fences, and whatever materials were readily at hand.  Meanwhile Brigadier-General Henry Baxter’s 2nd  brigade, closely following General Paul’s, arrived on the scene.  After a short halt of unknown duration Baxter’s troops were ordered forward to extend the Union lines north of the railroad cut.  It was probably about 1 o’clock.  About the same time, advance troops of the 11th Corps arrived and deployed northwest of the town to connect with the right of the 1st Corps.

The 11th Corps Arrives at Gettysburg

General O. O. Howard

It is reported that between 12 & 12:30 p.m., lead elements of the 11th Corps arrived at Cemetery Hill, a strong elevated position selected and held by Corps Commander Major-General Oliver O. Howard, as the headquarters and point of rendezvous, for the Federal Army.  General Howard, commanding the 11th Corps, was the ranking Union General on the field and assumed control of the battle.  With a light force holding the hill, Howard hurried the brigades of his arriving troops through the town, to deploy in the fields north of the village, to oppose the expected arrival of more Confederate divisions coming from the north, and to link up his troops with those of the First Corps.6 With too much ground to cover, the best that could be done, was to form a line of sharpshooters, with artillery support,  about a 1/4 mile east of the First Corps line on Oak Ridge.  It is safe to say that Baxter's Brigade from the 1st Corps, and the troops of the 11th Corps, arrived in the fields northwest of town at about the same time. They would all be needed because General Robert Rodes’ large Confederate division of 5 brigades had descended upon the battlefield from the north, ready to do battle.  Major-General Oliver O. Howard, pictured, right.

General Rodes' Confederate Division Arrives on the Field

Rodes' Position on Oak Hill

General Robert Rodes reported:
“The …Division finally arrived at a point - a prominent hill on the ridge – whence the whole of that portion of the force opposing General Hill’s troops could be seen.  To get at these troops properly, which were still over half a mile from us, it was necessary to move the whole of my command by the right flank, and to change directions to the right.

While this was being done, Carter’s battalion was ordered forward, and soon opened fire upon the enemy, who at this moment, as far as I could see, had no troops facing me at all.”7
Confederate Division Commander Robert Rodes

Major-General Robert E. Rodes, pictured, right.

When he arrived, About 11.30 a.m.,  Rodes noticed he was on the right flank of the Union lines, visable far to the southeast, near the McPherson Barn and woods. (Herbst Woods).   He decided to shift his division west, and deploy in the cover of woods on the high ground of Oak Hill, to attack the Union flank in force, directly from the north.Major-General Richard Ewell,  Rodes' superior,  approved the attack plan.  There is speculation that had Rodes simply continued his march directly south at the time of his arrival, he’d have had better success getting in the flank and rear of the thin Union line then posted north and south of the Chambersburg Road.  He lost time instead, maneuvering to the west as Federal re-enforcements from General Robinson's division arrived.  While changing position, Rodes announced his arrival with an artillery barrage on Federal troops to the south.

 The arrival of  the 11th Corps troops, and Baxter’s Brigade in his front, somewhat changed General Rodes’ attack plan.  He stated in his report:

“before my dispositions were made, the enemy began to show large bodies of men in front of the town, most of which were directed upon the position which I held, and almost at the same time a portion of the force opposed to General Hill changed position so as to occupy the woods on the summit of the same ridge I occupied…”

…Being thus threatened from two directions, I determined to attack with my center and right, holding at bay still another force, then emerging from the town, with Doles’ brigade which was moved somewhat to the left for this purpose.”9

Map showing Rodes' Deployment

This map shows General Robert Rodes deployment of Iverson's Brigade, O'Neal's Brigade, and Doles' Birgade, across Oak Hill.   Carter's Battery, which is positioned where the color photograph above was taken, is shown at the bottom, center left.

With Dole’s brigade positioned to hold the 11th Corps troops in check, General Rodes planned to attack Robinson’s front with his two advanced brigades; those of General Alfred Iverson’s four North Carolina regiments, and Colonel Edward A. O’Neal’s brigade of five Alabama regiments.  A third brigade commanded by General Junius Daniel, would advance in support of Iverson.

Edward A. O'Neal, in later years, governor of Alabama

O’Neal’s leadership abilities at the brigade level were un-trusted.  The 44 year old lawyer/politician was a battle-scarred regiment commander, who had been appointed to brigade command out of necessity.  To compensate for his lack of experience, General Rodes micro-managed O'Neal’s attack formation, and thus, through  misunderstandings and inexperience, Colonel O’Neal attacked with only 3 of his 5 regiments in line of battle.   Edward A. O'Neal, pictured, right.

Very little is written about this attack except that it was bloody, -- and repulsed quickly.

Col. S. B. Pickens of the 12th Alabama wrote:
     “We were then ordered forward to engage the enemy.  We attacked them in a strong position.  After a desperate fight of about fifteen minutes, we were compelled to fall back, as the regiment on our left gave way, being flanked by a large force.  I rallied my regiment about 300 yards in the rear, and formed a line.   My regiment suffered severely in this attack.  It was impossible for us to hold the position we had gained any longer without being cut to pieces or compelled to surrender, the enemy having advantage of us in numbers and position.  In half an hour after we fell back we were again ordered forward, together with the entire division.”10

A Discussion

The common consensus today is that Brigadier-General Henry Baxter’s Brigade quickly dispatched Colonel Edward A. O’Neal’s Confederate attack from the north, then turned [changed front] to face west, and destroyed Iverson’s brigade of North Carolina troops.  Stopped dead in their tracks by a murderous cross fire, with nowhere to turn, Iverson’s shattered troops hugged the ground in the open field where they fell, then raised white handkerchiefs to signal surrender.  Several men of Baxter’s regiments charged toward them to gather in Confederate prisoners.   But while doing so, they took fire on their right flank from the north.   Brigadier-General Henry BaxterWhen Baxter's men returned to their line, General Paul’s brigade had arrived in support columns.  A while later, Baxter’s tired brigade, out of ammunition moved south on the ridge, toward the railroad cut and troops of General Wadsworth's Division, to support Lieutenant James Stewart’s 4th U.S. Artillery, Battery B, while Paul’s Brigade remained in place and opposed General Robert Rodes’ final Confederate assault.  For this last push Rodes had all 5 of his brigades attack in unison.    This massive assault drove both Paul and Baxter’s men from the field, around 4:30 p.m.11  The 11th Corps lines to the east had already retreated under heavy assault.  Soon Robinson’s Division, the last Union troops on the field, were surrounded, and broke for the town, and the safety of the high ground at Cemetery Hill, where General Howard’s Federal Reserves held the line.  Hundreds of Union soldiers were captured during the retreat.  Brigadier-General Henry Baxter, pictured, right.

Confusion still clouds the details of these events, but the general narrative holds true, Rode’s last powerful attack broke the Union lines on Oak Ridge, about the same time the remaining Federals on the Chambersburg Road, and near the Seminary, were overrun by reinforced Confederates attacking from the west.  But I have a different opinion as to the role the '13th Mass' played in the battle. 

The current interpretation brings regiments of Brigadier-General Gabriel R. Paul’s Brigade, into the action quite late in the fight, after Colonel O’Neal’s attack was already beaten back by General Baxter's men.  But because Confederate casualty reports, and logic, dictate the 13th MA and 104th NY regiments opposed General O’Neal’s Alabama troops on the battle-field,  repeat attacks by the Alabamans, must be invented for this interpretation to work.  Historians have to do contortions with the source material to make it fit the above narrative.

Author David G. Martin, in “Gettysburg, July 1,” the first recent vintage detailed study of the battle, often struggled to define events:

“The exact order of events during Rodes’ initial assault is not entirely clear.  Some sources indicate that O’Neal attacked first, while others seem to indicate that Iverson moved to the attack first.” 12

Author Martin, comes up with 3 - 4 separate attacks during the day by O’Neal, when reports suggest only two occurred. 13

Author Harry W. Pfanz, likewise wrote in his book, “Gettysburg - The First Day”:

“Like the Alabamians, Baxter’s men left little information about O’Neal’s attack.”14

This is because Baxter's men didn’t repulse O’Neal’s attack.

That is, to say, the correct story is this:  Baxter’s Brigade first deployed facing north along the Mummasburg Road.  It encountered Confederate skirmishers, which were driven into the woods with light loss.   Then, General Robinson [commanding both Baxter and Paul’s brigades], observed Iverson’s and Daniel’s Confederate troops approaching from the west, and ordered Baxter’s Brigade to change front to oppose them.  General Baxter did this as Iverson advanced.  Meanwhile, O’Neal’s Brigade advanced from the north.  O’Neal’s attack was repulsed by part of the 90th PA, and 12th MA regiments, of Baxter’s Brigade, which bent back [refused their right flank] to face north, while the 13th MA and 104th NY of Paul’s Brigade, came forward with destructive volleys to assist.  So, O’Neal’s bloody attack was sent reeling back, by two regiments of Baxter’s Brigade, and two regiments of Paul’s brigade, after Baxter had changed front west to face Iverson.  The 45th New York and Hubert Dilger’s 1st Ohio artillery [11th Corps] assisted Baxter and Paul with heavy fire on the left flank of Colonel O’Neal’s advancing line.   It is interesting to note this interpretation is not new.

In “Gettysburg, Then and Now,” published in 1899, John M. Vanderslice, a member of the Executive Committee of the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association, published a concise history of the battle for the Association.  For 33 years the GBMA was responsible for maintaining the battle-field and placing the monuments there, until the National Park Service assumed these responsibilities in 1895.  Vanderslice was a member of the Executive Committee of the GBMA for 16 years, most of that time associated with the Location and Inscriptions of Monuments Committee.  The GBMA elected him to write the history of the battle because of his familiarity with the work.  Vanderslice described his mission in the forward of his history.

General Alfred Iverson, CSA

“It is proposed to briefly and accurately describe the position, movement, services, and losses of every regiment and battery engaged in the battle, as established by the information gathered and collated by the Association by the official reports, and by statements of officers and men of both armies, who, by its invitation upon several occasions, met and conferred upon the field for the purpose of marking the lines of battle, which statements have been most carefully examined, compared and verified.”

General Alfred Iverson, pictured right.

What follows is Vanderslice’s brief description of Colonel O’Neal’s attack.

“Baxter’s brigade moved rapidly to the Mummasburg Road and formed along it in this order:   90th Pennsylvania, 12th Massachusetts, 88th Pennsylvania, 83rd New York, 97th New York, and 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, just as O’Neal’s Alabama brigade was advancing to it.  Baxter’s command had just encountered the Alabama brigade when it had to change front to the left to meet an attack by Iverson’s North Carolina brigade, - 12th, 23rd, 20th, and 5th Infantry.  Taking position behind a stone wall along the crest of the hill, it poured destructive volleys into the North Carolinians and then charged them, while the right regiments of Cutler’s brigade, which had been withdrawn to the ridge, swung around upon their flank”

“…O’Neal’s brigade was now advancing against the right, when the 90th Pennsylvania was put in position along the Mummasburg Road at right angles to the rest of the brigade, and Paul’s brigade of the division - 13th Massachusetts, 104th New York, 16th Maine, 107th Pennsylvania, and 94th New York Infantry – moved to the support of Baxter’s,  extending and strengthening its line, a portion of the line being nearly parallel with the Mummasburg Road and the rest at right angles with it along the ridge.  O’Neals’s Alabama brigade – 12th, 26th, 6th, and 5th Infantry – attacked the right and was driven back in confusion.” 15

The destruction of Iverson’s Brigade by General Baxter is well documented in regimental histories and the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.   But General O’Neal’s attack is not.  The source material is conflicting, and often lacks detail, but I think careful analysis of reports and regimental writings, along with some recently discovered primary source material from the '13th Mass', reveals a different narrative from the one commonly accepted today; one supported by the majority of primary accounts, and similar to the summary of events as described by John M. Vanderslice.  What follows is an examination of some of these reports compared with primary source material from the rank and file of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers.

Lt-Colonel N. Walter Batchelder, wrote the official  regimental report for the '13th Mass', at Gettysburg.   He states the regiments of General G. R. Paul's brigade were deployed individually, as needed, to bolster Baxter's line of defense.  The 104th NY advanced north toward the Mummasburg road a short time after the '13th Mass' moved out.  This created a gap between the two units as they deployed.  The other regiments of Paul's brigade were deployed facing west, and consequently fought the enemy on a different front.  Soldiers accounts from the '13th Mass' mention the intense fire received from the enemy on their left and front,  as they pressed on towards the Mummasburg Road.  At the road Color-Sergeant Roland Morris was killed, which is where the regiment's monument, in his likeness, stands to-day.  Sergeant Melvin Walker, Company K, was one of the men hit.  Wounded early in the fight, he was assisted to Christ Church Hospital in the town, where Sergeant Austin Stearns and other wounded soldiers of the regiment ended up.  Soon after arriving near the road, the '13th Mass' and 104th NY charged it, and captured about 130 Rebels, from an Alabama brigade.

Charles Davis, Jr. Historian of the 13th Mass
  Charles E. Davis, Jr., the regimental historian of the '13th Mass", erred when he wrote:
     "the Thirteenth bagged one hundred and thirty-two prisoners, including seven commissioned officers, all belonging to a North Carolina regiment.”16

Half the prisoners referenced by Davis were brought in by the 104th NY, and mixed together with those captured by the '13th Mass,' before being marched to the rear.  Lt.-Colonel Batchelder,  in his official report to the War Department and the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, either consciously or by mistake, took credit for the take of both regiments.  Charles Davis repeated this error from Batchelder’s official report, when he wrote the regimental history in 1893.  The correct take for the 13th is reported by both Lieutenant William Warner and Sergeant George Hill, who concur, 80 prisoners were captured by the '13th Mass', in the road.  This also agrees with the report of Colonel Gilbert Prey, of the 104th NY [included on this page].  Prey claimed his regiment, "captured over 60 prisoners, which we sent to the rear.  Lieutenant Colonel Batchelder of the Thirteenth Massachusetts took them from our detail as they passed his regiment and reported them captured by the Thirteenth."  Also, Davis probably erred in stating the captured men were from North Carolina.   They were more likely from Alabama, as recorded in Lt. William Warner’s diary when he wrote, "we swept in a body of rebel prisoners of an Alabama Regt."  Sergeant George Hill and Private Bourne Spooner estimated the tough fighting during the regiment's advance to the road lasted about 1/2 an hour.  This is consistent with Confederate reports from Colonel Edward A. O'Neal's Alabama Brigade.

Colonel O’Neal states:
     “Our artillery having been withdrawn, we were ordered forward (that is, the Sixth, Twelfth, and Twenty-sixth Alabama Regiments), and found the enemy strongly posted and in heavy force, and, after a desperate and bloody fight of about half an hour, we were compelled to fall back."17

The aforementioned charge brought the regiment to the apex of the ridge where it intersects with the Mummasburg Road. The soldiers, exhillarated by their success, - some from Baxter's Brigade, and some from Paul's, were all jumbled up without organization.   A short, distinct lull in the fighting followed the charge and repulse of the enemy, which according to Confederate reports lasted about another 1/2 hour.  During this interval General Robert Rodes reformed his Confederate brigades for another charge.  The lull is described by Private Bourne Spooner.  To date, Spooner's memoir is the most complete account of the regiment's role in the first day's battle of which I am aware.   A fairly clear narrative emerges when it is compared with the detailed memoirs of  Lt. William Warner and others.

Brigadier-General Stephen D. Ramseur

During this brief lull, Brigadier-General Stephen D. Ramseur's Brigade, of Rodes' Division came up and deployed for a renewed assault on General Robinson's position.  Ramseur's Brigade was General Rodes' best, and the young 26 year old General Rodes supported Ramseur's attack with all of his troops for a combined push which would eventually sweep Robinson's Division from the ridge, and the battle-field.  While Rodes was preparing his attack, more Confederate troops were arriving upon other parts of the battle-field.  [General Ramseur, pictured left].

Across the plains to the far right, General Jubal Early's Division emerged from a Northeastly direction on the Harrisburg Road, to confront the 11th Corps.  Looking east from the promontory of Oak Ridge, the soldiers of the '13th Mass' could see, much to their dismay, General Early's Division drive the 11th Corps troops from the field, toward the town.  This was probably General Gordon pushing General Barlow off of  'Barlow's knoll.'    Expressions of anger and disgust burst forth from the soldiers of the '13th Mass,' as they watched their supporting troops to the right melt away, but matters in their direct front took precedence soon enough.  

A battery of Rodes' artillery, opened with grape and cannister and pressed the regiments of General Paul's Brigade back into the woods along the ridge to a stone wall, where a new defensive line was formed.

By this time, the regiments of Baxter's Brigade had already fallen back towards the railroad cut and were supporting Lt. Stewarts' 4th US Battery B, as it faced a renewed Confederate assault from the west.  All the regiments of the division were now quite jumbled up making it difficult to give an account of individual units.  Some still faced west, others including the '13th Mass", and 104th NY, maintained a northerly orientation.  The following excerpts describe the action.

     Colonel Gilbert Prey of the 104th New York, [pictured] described the move:
Colonel Gilbert Prey"Upon passing up to the crest of the ridge I saw a column of Confederates passing into the McLean timber, and caluculated they would be too many for us, as we had thus far three to one against us.  I reported the fact to General Robinson, and that we would need reinforcement to hold our position.  The Sixteenth Maine was sent to the angle, and while it was moving the order came to fall back to the timber near the railroad leading to Chambersburg."18
     Colonel O’Neal in his report says, Captain C. W.  Fry’s battery assisted in driving the enemy during this final assault:
"A few minutes after we had fallen back, General Ramseur with his brigade arrived.  I had sent my aide (Lieutenant [A.H.] Pickett) for him before I gave the order to fall back.  An advance and charge was immediately ordered.  Captain [C.W.] Fry moved up his battery, and by his energy, coolness, and skill aided materially in driving the enemy across the plain and through and beyond the town.”19
     Colonel S. B. Pickens commanding the 12th Alabama reported:
“In half an hour after we fell back, we were again ordered forward, together with the entire division.  We then drove the enemy before us with little loss, and were among the first to enter the town, and passed through it.  Fought no more during the day, although exposed to a heavy artillery fire.”20

From this new positon behind the wall, before they were driven from Oak Ridge to the town, the troops of Robinson's Division made a determined stand, but were eventually surrounded by the enemy.  Bourne Spooner and George Hill both estimate the retreat from the ridge as being very slow, lasting about an hour, where as William Warner is vague as to time.

The stone wall where the Robinson's Division made its stand, is mentioned in Major W. W. Sillars’ report;  30th North Carolina, Ramseur’s Brigade.

     Major Sillars wrote:
      “The part taken by the Thirtieth Regiment North Carolina troops in the battle of Gettysburg having been under the eye of Brigadier-General Ramseur, it is unnecessary to go into details.  The regiment (excepting as to its sharpshooters) was actively engaged only during the early part of the afternoon of Wednesday, July 1.  It participated in the charge upon the enemy which resulted in driving him from a strong position behind a stone wall on elevated ground to the plain below in front of Gettysburg.” 21

Part of the hour long retreat included another movement backwards from the stone wall, toward a third position, [as described by Sgt. George Henry Hill], and which William Warner describes as "the first piece of woods we passed through and where part of our brigade then faced in another direction.  It was while the remnant of Robinson's Division and the '13th Mass' were here, that the entire First Corps line collapsed.

Both Warner and Hill mention the line giving way over at the Seminary where men from the First and Third Divisions of the First Corps had been fighting all day.  Fresh Confederate troops attacked in force and overwhelmed the tired soldiers near the Seminary, and along the Chambersburg Pike.

Sergeant George H. Hill
 Sergeant George Henry Hill observed:
     "We now heard terrific firing on our left where our first & third division had been engaged all day.  It came nearer and nearer and we knew our left was giving way but we had no orders to fall back and would not be driven.  Soon we saw our men and artillery rushing down by the Seminary and down to the R.R.  closely followed by the enemy."

To the east the 11th Corps line was broken and the Confederates were now in the rear of General Robinson's line.

     Lieutenant Warner wrote:
   "We knew it could only be a question of a few minutes before the orders must come for removal from this exposed position.  When orders came, flags were followed (Ours in the hands of Capt. Howe & David Schloss) but Regimental Organization was impossible.  When we came in full sight of  Seminary the last Battery was retreating at full speed toward the town."

Here's what the General in Command, Major-General O. O. Howard wrote about the collapse of the First Corps:

 "It is stated by General Wadsworth in his official report that the portion of the Eleventh Corps nearest to us, unable to stand the pressure, had fallen back some time before this, and that our right flank was thus uncovered, so far as that corps was concerned.  Biddle’s brigade about this time again changed front to meet the strong lines advancing from the west.  I now gave orders to fall back, this and Meredith’s brigades covering the movement by occupying the intrenchments in front of the seminary, which I had directed to be thrown up as a precautionary measure to assist in holding the new position.  Coopers’ battery was assigned by the chief of artillery on the north, and Stevens’ battery (Fifth Maine) on the south of the seminary, and the shattered remnants of the Iron Brigade also fell into line.  From behind the feeble barricade of rails these brave men stemmed the fierce tide which pressed them on three sides, at bay until the greater portion of the corps had retired.  The One hundred and fifty-first, One hundred and forty-second, One hundred and twenty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the Twentieth New York State Militia, of Biddle’s command (the last two under Colonel Gates, of the Twentieth New York State Militia), and the Second and Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana, of the Iron Brigade, here made their final stand. Captain [Hollon] Richardson, acting assistant inspector-general, of Meredith’s staff, rode up and down the lines, waving a regimental flag and encouraging the men to do their duty. 

[The map below, From 'James S. Wadsworth biography, see photo credits.]

Map of action about 4 p.m.

"The troops, with the assistance of part of Stewart’s battery, under Lieutenant Davison, poured in so deadly a fire as to wholly break up and disable the first line of the enemy approaching from the west;  but the other lines pressed on, and soon commenced a flank attack, which it was no longer possible to answer. When all the troops at this point were overpowered, Captain Glenn, of the One hundred and forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, in command of my headquarters guard, defended the building for fully twenty minutes against a whole brigade of the enemy, enabling the few remaining troops, the ambulances, artillery, &c., to retreat in comparative safety.

The batteries had all been brought back from their advanced positions and posted on Seminary Hill.  They greatly assisted the orderly retreat, retarding the enemy by their fire.  They lost heavily in men and horses at this point, and, as they retired to the town, were subjected to so heavy a fire that the last gun was left, the horses being all shot down by the enemy’s skirmishers, who had formed line within 50 yards of the road by which the artillery was obliged to pass."22

General John C. Robinson

Second Division Commander, General John C. Robinson wrote this about the retreat:

"The division held this position on the right, receiving and repelling the fierce attacks of a greatly superior number, not only in front, but on the flanks, and, when the enemy’s ranks were broken, charging upon him, and capturing his colors with his men, from about noon until nearly 5 p.m., when I received orders to withdraw. These orders not being received until all the other troops, except Stewart’s battery, had commenced moving to the rear, the division held its ground until outflanked right and left, and retired, fighting."23

As for the remnant of the '13th Mass' regiment, it was now 'each man for himself' as Charles Davis, Jr. wrote in the regimental history.  Lieutenant Warner made it to the Union lines on Cemetery Hill.  He had heard the order to withdraw and was able to follow the flags carried by David Sloss and Lt. Jacob Howe, of Company A, along the railroad tracks to the village, then through private yards to the town square, and from there, under the protection of 11th Corps batteries, up Baltimore Street to Cemetery Hill.  Sergeants George Henry Hill,  John Boudwin, and Private Bourne Spooner were captured with 95 others of the regiment, and made prisoners of the victorious Confederates.   The chaos and confusion of the retreat is well described in the individual narratives on this page.  I have included a memoir from the 16th Maine Regiment, which was sacrificed so others of General Robinson's Division might escape. 

Because General Paul, and Colonel Leonard, were wounded early in the fight, a precise report was never submitted regarding the actions of the First Brigade.  This adds to the confusion of interpretations for these events.  The First Brigade report that was filed, was written by Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11thPA, who assumed command of Paul's Brigade at the end of the days fighting.  Coulter had been busy with his own regiment during the fighting.  Subsequently, he had to rely on the reports of the several regimental commanders for particulars.  The following section of this page, "Who Is In Command?" illustrates this circumstance.

1.  Martin, David G.,  "Gettysburg July 1," p. 185.  Pennsylvania: Combined Books, 1995.
2.  Davis, Jr., Charles E., "Three Years in the Army,"  p. 225 - 226.  Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1894.
3.  Buffalo Courier, date unknown, letter signed WTC  (Probably Captain Walter T. Chester) dated July 2nd [misprinted as July 20th]. letter dated July 2nd [misprinted as July 20th].  Accessed at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center website:
4.  [NYG]  "New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga."  3 Vols, Albany: J.B. Lyon Co., 1902.   p. 752. Oration by Colonel John R. Strang.
5.  Letter of Chaplain P.G. Cook  July 15, 1863, from unknown newspaper,  [Probably Buffalo Courier] Accessed at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center website:
6.  Martin,  "Gettysburg, July 1,"  p. 200;  his reference is, Schurz, Carl.  "The Reminisences of Carl Schurz" Vol. 3,  p. 7. which gives time as 12:30. 
7.  OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 552.  Report of Maj. Gen. R. E. Rodes.
8.  Martin, "Gettysburg, July 1," p. 206.
9.  OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 552.  Report of Maj. Gen. R. E. Rodes.
10.  OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 601.  Report of Col. S. B. Pickens 12th Alabama Infantry.
11.   Martin, "Gettysburg, July 1," p. 591.  Appendix IV, Chronological and Meteorological.
12. Martin,  "Gettysburg, July 1,"  p. 220.  O’Neal’s First Attack.
13.  Martin,  "Gettysburg, July 1,"  p. 251, mentions O’Neal's 3rd attack; p. 253 mentions a fourth attack with Ramseur.  also, OR.  Vol. 27, Part 2,  p. 591-593.  Col. E. A. O’Neal’s Report.
14.  Pfanz, Harry W.,  "Gettysburg – The First Day," p.166.   UNC Press: 2001.
15.  Vanderslice, John M.,  "Gettysburg Then and Now," p. 22-27.   New York: G.W. Dillingham Co., Publishers.
16.  Davis, "Three Years in the Army," p. 227.  Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1894.
17. OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 592. Report of Col. E.A. O’Neal.
18.  NY AT GETTYSBURG  (The ordeal of the 16th ME is presented below).
19.  OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 593. Report of Col. E.A. O’Neal.
20.  OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p. 600.  Report of Col. S. B. Pickens 12th Alabama Infantry.
21. OR, Vol. 27, Part 2, p 591.  Report of Maj. W.W. Sillars, Thirtieth North Carolina Infantry.
22. OR, Vol. 27, part 1, p. 250-251.  Report of Major-General Oliver .O. Howard.
23 OR, Vol. 27, Part 1, p. 290.  Report of Brigadier-General John C. Robinson.

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Who Is In Command?

The rapid loss of commanders in General G. R. Paul's First Brigade contributes to the uncertainty of proceedings on Oak Ridge, particularly in regard to this brigade.   General Paul fell early in the fight, quickly followed by Colonel Leonard of the '13th Mass,' and Colonel Adrian Root of the 94th NY.  Colonel Gilbert Prey of the 104th NY was appointed to temporary command by order of General Robinson.  After the retreat  to Cemetery Hill, the 11th PA, was transfered from Baxter's 2nd Brigade, to General Paul's 1st Brigade, and its Colonel, Dick Coulter took command.  Colonel Coulter wrote the action report for Paul's Brigade, but he had little idea of their maneuvers on the battle-field that day.   He wrote,

"My regiment [11th PA] was transferred from the Second to the First Brigade about 5 p.m. on the 1st instant, when the division was formed in the cemetery.  I was directed to assume command on accout of the disability of General Paul and loss of other field officers.  I can, therefore, state but little of the part taken in the enggement of the earlier part of the day on the west side of the town, excepting what is contained in the reports of the several regimental commanders, which accompany and are made part of this report."

The following narrative by Colonel Gilbert Prey, 104th NY, exemplifies the confusion of command on Oak Ridge.  It is followed by a remembrance of Colonel John R. Strang of the 104th NY. 

  Both  Colonel Prey and Colonel Strang's orations were given at the dedicaton of the regiment's monument at Gettysburg, September 4, 1888.  A short newspaper account from Colonel Root, 94th NY, is included.


Colonel Gilbert Prey. 104th NY

The 30th of June, 1863, found our corps near Emmitsburg, Md.  Wadsworth’s Division was within five miles of Gettysburg;  Robinson’s, with which was the One hundred and fourth, bivouacked that night at Emmitsburg.  On the morning of July 1st, orders came to move.  General Wadsworth’s Division had the lead in the march.  General Doubleday’s followed, with General Robinson’s in the rear.  Our march was north, towards Gettysburg, on the Emmitsburg Pike.  A mile from Gettysburg we obliqued to the left, crossing the field towards the Seminary and striking Seminary Ridge near the Hagerstown Road, taking position on the north side of the grove and on the west slope of the ridge.  Here we were first under fire at Gettysburg. Soon we were moved father north towards the railroad track, with orders to keep our guns unloaded.  The day had become quite showery.  At this place Colonel Root of the Ninety-fourth was wounded by an exploding shell.  From this point we moved still father north.  In this movement our brigade became so mixed with Baxter’s that when we were across the railroad the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment was in line fronting the Mummasburg Road on the east slope of Seminary Ridge, the One hundred and fourth on the left of the Thirteenth, obliquing across the ridge westerly to a stone wall.  This wall  made an acute angel with the road, laving a very obtuse angle in the battle lines.  To our left on and along the ridge southerly was the Ninety-seventh  New York of Baxter’s Brigade.  Joining the Ninety-seventh was the One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania, then the Sixteenth Maine, and the Ninety-fourth New York.  The Ninety-fourth and the Ninety-seventh had exchanged brigades.

While the brigade was awaiting orders and the regiments were taking position I received an order from General Robinson in person to form on the right, and so moved obliquely to the line of the Thirteenth, when there came from the crest of the ridge a stentorian voice:  “Colonel Prey, ------   ---------   you, where are you going?  Form on the left.”  I glanced to the rear and saw at once that I was just in position so that by flanking to the left I would form on the left of the Thirteenth as nicely as if on brigade drill.  Remembering that the guns were unloaded, and knowing that we would be engaged immediately, I gave the command to “March! Load at will!”  The One hundred and fourth formed on the left of the Thirteenth on that occasion in as good style as General Robinson ever formed a regiment, or that he ever maneuvered in a brigade drill.

Not until this time did General Paul appear on the field, and while riding up in the rear of the One hundred and fourth was shot through the face, destroying one eye and coming out under the other, but not injuring it.  My horse was hit at the same time, obliging me to dismount, which General Robinson said he very much regretted as he wanted all his regimental commanders mounted;  yet, I remember seeing all of the regimental commanders unmounted during that fight.

The brigade was getting demoralized by having no brigade commander.  I saw General Robinson near where he had given me his forcible command, and asked who was in command of the brigade, as General Paul had been taken from the field wounded.  He said, “Where is Colonel Root?”  “Don’t know; not here.”  “Where is Colonel Leonard?”  “Not with his regiment.”  “You are next in rank, take command of the brigade!”

Illustration from Deeds of Valor, by artist Graves

The firing was tremendous from the angle of the road and the stone wall.  Seven color bearers had already been shot down.  Upon coming up from the right and reaching the angle I saw that in  a few minutes we would have no men left, and gave the command to the left wing of the regiment to charge on the wall or they would all soon be dead men.  Do you remember it, comrades?  Do you remember that you hesitated?  That was the only time I ever knew the One hundred and fourth to hesitate.  I stepped in front and said, “I’ll lead you, boys.”  You followed. The wall was taken and you were safe.  I went back to the right wing;  we made a similar charge on the Mummasburg Road, and not only took our position but captured over 60 prisoners, which we sent to the rear.  Lieutenant Colonel Batchelder of the Thirteenth Massachusetts took them from our detail as they passed his regiment and reported them captured by the Thirteenth.

Upon passing up to the crest of the ridge I saw a column of Confederates passing into the McLean timber, and calculated they would be too many for us, as we had thus far three to one against us.  I reported the fact to General Robinson, and that we would need reinforcement to hold our position.  The Sixteenth Maine was sent to the angle, and while it was moving the order came to fall back to the timber near the railroad leading to Chambersburg.  We fell back forming in good shape except the One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania, which was in command of  its lieutenant colonel.  We next received an order to fall back further, as the portion of the Eleventh Corps, north of Gettysburg, was running like scared sheep.  We were obliged to fall back across the valley and just got through the lower part of the town “by the skin of our teeth,” running the gauntlet through a storm of bullets.*

*I have edited out the rest of Colonel Prey's oratory which  continued regarding other subjects. -B.F., webmaster.

Where is Colonel Root ?

Colonel Adrian Root commanded the 94th NY Volunteers of Paul's Brigade.

Colonel Adrian Root

Buffalo Courier;
Date Unknown (mid July )

From Col. A. R. Root. - The following extract from a letter from Col. Root, to his mother, has been handed to us for publication.  It should have appeared yesterday morning, but the gentleman to whom it was entrusted forgot to deliver it:

“During the action of the 1st inst., I was unhorsed by the explosion of a shell directly in front of me, and by which I was so stunned as to have remained quite helpless for several hours.  During this time the 1st Corps was driven back a mile with heavy loss, leaving me a prisoner in the hands of he enemy.  I was however treated with great kindness during the five days of my captivity, and when the enemy retired I was left on parole.  * * * * My old friend Col. Albert G. Myer, on my arrival at Washington, insisted upon my making my home at his house, and I have accepted his kind offer.  With the exception of severe pains in my head consequent upon concussion of the brain I am in good condition,  although not fit for duty.  I hope to be soon exchanged and able to again lead my brave Regiment in the field.  Have no fears for my safety.”

Colonel Root left a very detailed record of his experiences which can be read on the 'Aftermath of Battle' page of this websight; [Gettysburg section, page 3]

Colonel John R. Strang

Excerpts from NY at Gettysburg;
Colonel John R. Strang,  September 4, 1888;
104th New York “Wadsworth Guards” Monument Dedication speech.

I believe Colonel Strang's narrative provides the most plausible and accurate description of the movements of the 13th Mass & 104th NY, in relation to the troops of Baxter's Brigade, on Oak Ridge, July 1st, and so include it here.

The photograph of Colonel Strang is the property of the New York State Military Museum where it is housed.  It is made available by New York Heritage Digital Collectons.

“The regiment had become reduced in numbers, so that only about 330 officers and men were in line when the battle began; and of that number nearly two-thirds did not return with the corps over Cemetery Hill that night, but are accounted for by the figures upon this monument, - 11 killed, 91 wounded, 92 captured and missing. These figures are taken from the official report made at that time, to which we are confined by the rules of the Commission, and before it was possible to ascertain the fate of many who were reported wounded or missing, as we had no access to this portion of the battlefield, nor to the hospitals in the town until the 5th day of July.  The actual loss of the regiment, as finally ascertained, and including the casualties of the second and third days; battles, was:  Killed in action or died of wounds, 25; other wounded officers, 8; enlisted men, 73; captured or missing, and not otherwise accounted for, 93; making a total of 199.

104th New York Monument on Oak Ridge

Of the killed and wounded 7 belonged to the color guard, which consisted of 8 men, one only escaping unhurt.  Color Sergeant Maurice Buckingham of Company C, was shot dead early in the engagement, and Color Sergeant William H. Shea of Company I was mortally wounded.  The State flag presented to the regiment by Mrs. General Wadsworth, was borne in safety from the field by Sergeant David E. Curtis of Company D, notwithstanding he was slightly wounded; and he afterwards carried it, until severely wounded, at Spotsylvania.  The United States colors were passed from one to another as the bearers were successively killed or wounded, until they came into the hands of Sergeant Moses Wallace of Company E, by whom they were torn from the staff and destroyed to prevent capture by the enemy.  Lieut. Thomas Johnston of Company D, was the only officer killed, and while it is impracticable here to give the names of all those who were killed or severely wounded, I may mention in the latter class the names of Lieut. Col. H. G. Tuthill, Captain H. A. Wiley, and Lieut. James W. Dow, without invidious distinction.

…On the evening of the second day our division had a part in recovering the line, and saving some of the artillery near the “Peach Orchard,” where General Sickles’ desperate engagement had taken place just before.  On the third day we were just in rear of Cemetery Hill during the furious cannonade, which none of us who were there will ever forget, and at its close were rapidly moved to the right, and then across Cemetery Hill to the left, arriving there just in time to see Pettigrew’s Division, which was to have supported Pickett, broken and put to flight by our artillery fire, and to witness as silent but anxious spectators a part of the splendid charge of Pickett’s Division, and its crushing repulse by the Second Corps.

But my memory of the first day’s scenes is tolerably clear, and having refreshed it by the recollection of others, among whom I may mention Colonel Prey and Captain Starr, it has seemed to me appropriate to recount those scenes more fully here.  We had bivouacked, for a day or two before the battle, in the vicinity of Emmitsburg, Md., leaving there in the early morning of July 1st, under the command of Gen. John F. Reynolds, with orders to proceed to Gettysburg.  Before reaching the town, General Reynolds learned that Buford’s Cavalry was already engaged with Rebel infantry and needed support. So we were pushed on as rapidly as possible, our brigade having the rear of the corps that day, and coming in sight of Seminary Ridge about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, we learned that General Reynolds had been killed.  Wadsworth’s and Doubleday’s Divisions were already all engaged, and our division, under General Robinson, was placed in reserve near the Seminary building, being employed for a part of the time until afternoon in the construction of temporary breastworks from rails and other movable materials, a little to the west of the building.

The rapid and continuous advance of the Rebel force under Gen. A.P. Hill, from the west, and General Ewell, from the north, soon made it necessary to extend our line of battle to the north in order to cover the Mummasburg Road, along which  Ewell’s forces, if unopposed, would gain the right and rear of the First Corps, and cut it off from the town.  About 1 o’clock the Second Brigade of our division, under General Baxter, was thus used to prolong the line of battle to the right, along the ridge and to the west of it, finding the Rebel troops already nearing, and in position to prevent their further advance along the road.  At about the same time the Eleventh Corps began to arrive upon the field, and leaving a division upon Cemetery Hill as a reserve, two of its divisions were pushed out on the north of the town to oppose the expected advance of Ewell’s Corps from that direction.  This disposition left a long space between the right of the First Corps and the left of the Eleventh, and right through the middle of that space ran this Mummasburg Road, by which Rodes’ Division of Ewell’s Corps was seeking to reach the town.  Iverson’s Rebel Brigade had the advance down the road, but was handsomely repulsed by Baxter’s Brigade, aided by Cutler’s Brigade of Wadsworth’s Division, a large part of Iverson’s men being killed, wounded or captured.  The check was, however, only temporary, and reinforced by the brigades of Daniel and O’Neal the Rebels again advanced, and partly seized the stone wall running along the ridge, southerly from the road.

Seminary Ridge 3p.m. July 1

To repel their attack and hold the line at this point the First Brigade under General Paul, which was the sole remaining reserve of the First Corps, was double-quicked to the right, and ordered to take position to the right of Baxter’s Brigade, facing partly to the west and partly to the north. The Thirteenth Massachusetts was on the right of the brigade, with our regiment next to it.  Coming rapidly into line we encountered a destructive fire from the Rebel forces sheltered in the grove and behind the stone wall, and a considerable part of our loss in killed and wounded was sustained while we were in this position. Finally, under the personal lead of Colonel Prey, we charged over the stone wall, dislodging and driving back the Rebel forces in confusion, quite a number of prisoners being taken by the companies of our regiment under command of Captains Wiley and Dixon.  It was now nearly 3 o’clock, and the whole plain to the north and west of town seemed to be filled with the advancing Rebel forces.  The angle between the First and Eleventh Corps was once more made the scene of a determined attack, but without success, the Rebels being driven back.  We followed them for a short distance beyond the wall, returning immediately, however, to our former position, in view of their overpowering numbers, and keeping up a constant and well-directed musketry fire upon such of them as were within reach.  The brunt of this attack fell mainly upon our brigade; but we were aided in repulsing it by the enfilading fire from two of the regiments of Baxter’s Brigade.

Prior to this time General Paul had been severely wounded, losing the sight of both eyes.  The two senior colonels were successively wounded, and the brigade had been practically without any commander for some time, until at this point Colonel Prey took command, by order of General Robinson, and retained it until the close of the first day’s engagement.

An open space of 300 yards or more still remained between the right of the First Corps and the left of the Eleventh, perceiving which, part of Rodes’ Division was massed for attack under shelter of the McLean buildings and shrubbery, north of the Mummasburg Road.  We had no reserve left to fill this gap, and I was now directed by Colonel Prey to find the nearest brigade or division commander of the Eleventh Corps, and represent to him the position of affairs, and the danger which was apparent, that the enemy thus massing at McLean’s would penetrate our lines through this opening, which if done in sufficient force would immediately render the position of both corps untenable.  I was unable to find either of those commanders, but delivered my message to a staff officer, and the commanding officer of the nearest  Eleventh Corps troops and then returned to the regiment.

View From Nearest 11th Corps Troops

This photograph is taken from the postion of the 45th NY and Dilger's 1st OH Battery, looking toward the McLean Barn and the position of the '13th Mass' and 104th NY on Oak Ridge.  [View looking West].  The Mumasburg Road is on the left.  Colonel Strang would have come over this way for help.  The 45th NY & Dilger's Battery were instrumental in helping to repulse O'Neal's attack directing their fire at the flank of O'Neal's advancing lines near the barn.

Before reaching it, on looking back, I saw that the right of the Eleventh corps was rapidly being driven back, and its brigade nearest us was changing front to the right in order to protect its flank and line of retreat, instead of coming to our aid.  The anticipated advance upon our right immediately took place, and being left without any protection on that flank, we were subjected to a murderous enfilading fire, and obliged to fall back and change front to the right in order to protect our rear.  The Rebel advance from the west was also renewed with resistless numbers, Gen. A.P. Hill’s Corps, comprising about one-third of Lee’s army, closing in upon the First Corps, from that direction, while two divisions of Ewell’s Corps assailed us from the north.  We were slowly driven back to the town and through its streets, and having been at the extreme right of the corps, a good many of our men were cut off and captured before they could reach the town.

Ramseur's attack about 4 p.m.

Arriving at the rear of Cemetery Hill about 6 o’clock, we gathered together what remained of our regiment and found that we numbered 3 officers and 43 men.  Of course, in the confusion of the retreat a good many men had become separated from their commands.  Others who had been cut off and captured in the streets, or in the hospitals where they had gone with wounded friends, made their escape and rejoined us, so that on the morning of the second day, our numbers had increased to about 100, officers and men.  According to General Robinson’s report the total loss of our division in the first day’s fight was 1,660 out of about 2,500 engaged, or two-thirds of the whole command.

Map shows the breaking of the 11th Corps Lines about 4 p.m.  The Confederate lines are tinted red, the Union lines are blue. Click to view larger.

Comrades, I have thus given you in a brief, and perhaps somewhat imperfect way, the record of our regiment on that eventful day.  I am proud of it, and so is each one of you. We did our duty and we did it well.  Many of  our best and bravest officers and men went down to death that day, giving their young lives for their country and the flag they loved so well; many more received grievous wounds from which they are yet suffering;  others, by the fortune of war, were prisoners in the hands of the enemy, and after days of alternate hope and fear, as they were held almost in sight of the battlefield, were at last hurried along across the Potomac and into the horrible prison pens at Richmond, Salisbury, and Andersonville, where starvation and disease were more deadly than the storm of iron and lead upon the battlefield, and where even death was welcomed as a benefactor.

We gather here to-day at the end of a quarter century, proud in the memory of the past;  thankful to God for the results of the day we commemorate, and rejoicing as we realize all that our favored land is to us, a worthy heritage to those who fought and bled for her, and to their children to all generations.  The day is not without its feeling of sadness, as we recall the names of the patriot dead and the deeds which they did here.  The ties were strong which bound us together as we stood side by side in many battles, and endured the trials and privations of a soldier’s life. Instinctively our eyes and our thoughts turn to yonder beautiful but silent city of the dead, where so many of our comrades lie, filling honorable, though they may be unknown, graves.  We dedicate to their memory this stone of enduring granite, and we give it over to the care and keeping of our great State of New York.  Watch over it tenderly, O Empire State!  Crown it with flowers on each Memorial Day, and with laurel for the deeds of the living and the dead, as we, who were friends and comrades, keep their memory green, until, one by one, we are gathered home, and greet each other upon the distant shore of eternal peace and rest."

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The Ordeal of the 16th Maine

So Far we've heard narratives from the 104th NY, and 94th NY of Paul's Brigade.  The 107th PA didn't leave much written material behind, but here is a story from the 16th Maine.

The 16th Maine was a 'hard luck' regiment.  Throughout the war this brave band of volunteers suffered through bad management and happenstance.   At Gettysburg, Division Commander John C. Robinson ordered the 16th Maine  forward, to hold the salient of Oak Ridge against hopeless odds, while the rest of the brigade fell back to safer ground.  It was a suicide mission.  The men of the 16th Maine did not refuse.  Major Abner Small tells the tale.  

Excerpt from "The Road to Richmond," the Civil War Memoirs of Major Abner R. Small, Sixteenth Main Volunteers.  Edited by Harold Adams Small, UC Berkeley, 1939.

The map is a colorized version of the positions of the 16th Maine during the battle, from "Maine at Gettysburg."  The movements of the regiment  from the Seminary are outlined in blue, its positions in dark blue.

Map of 16th Maine Positions

We returned to the grove, and presently we moved around to the right and took up a position by a stone wall near the crest of the ridge.  We joined with Baxter’s brigade there and beat off an attack.  I remember the still trees in the heat, and the bullets whistling over us, and the stone wall bristling with muskets, and the line of our men, sweating and grimy, firing and loading and firing again, and here a man suddenly lying still, and there another rising all bloody and cursing and starting for the surgeon.  Lieutenant Deering picked up a musket and fired without first removing the rammer, and the rammer went hurtling away with a crazy whizz that set the boys of his company to laughing.  It was strange to hear laughter there, with dead men by.

After the attack was beaten off, Baxter’s brigade, now wanting ammunition, was withdrawn, and our brigade took over that part of the ridge, the extreme right of the corps line.  It was a hard place to hold, the rebels half surrounding it;  but a skillful defense was made under the direction of General Robinson.  I don’t know who was in command of the brigade.  General Paul had been disabled, shot through both eyes; and Colonel Leonard, succeeding him, and Colonel Root, succeeding Colonel Leonard, had both been wounded.  Our regiment was under the direct orders of the division commander.

As the afternoon wore by, the rebel forces increased and ours didn’t;  their army was coming fast towards Gettysburg, crowding the roads from both west and north, and their lines formed and moved in with overpowering strength. All along the ridge behind our left the battle was still raging.  The defense was stubborn against repeated attacks from the west.  But east of the ridge in the fields beyond our right the fighting was soon over;  Howards’s troops there were driven back rapidly towards the town.  Our right flank was exposed.

I should say it was after four o’clock when our regiment moved yet farther along the ridge.  My recollection is that we crossed the Mummasburg road.  We saw a  brigade of rebels coming against us, and we looked around for support, and saw none, and were falling back for a more favorable position, when an aide came from General Robinson with an order for us to advance and hold the ridge as far north as possible. A few moments later the general himself rode up to Colonel Tilden and repeated the order.  The colonel protested that our regiment without support couldn’t hold the ridge; we numbered fewer than two hundred, all told; as well set a corporal’s guard to stop the rebel army; but the general insisted:

“Hold it at any cost!”

Colonel Charles W. Tilden, 15th Maine

“You know what that means,” said Colonel Tilden, turning to us, and in the same breath he gave the commands that sent us hurrying back towards the Mummasburg road again.  [Col. Charles W. Tilden, pictured]  The stone wall came along on the left, and bent sharply ahead of us to face the road.  (Or was it a fence by the road?  It doesn’t matter.)  We made a dash for the corner, and planted our colors in the angle. We got there just as a flag and a line of battle showed up across the way; we heard distinctly the commands of a rebel officer directing his men to fire; and a volley crashed, and we saw some of our men fall.  Our line blazed away in reply, and the rebel flag went down, and the officer pitched headlong in the stubble.  In the field across the road were dead men and scattered equipments, wreckage of a rebel repulse earlier in the day; and now there were more.  But the attacking line came on, and following behind it was another, and we knew that our little regiment could not withstand the onset.  With anxious hope we looked again to the rear for support – and saw that the other regiments of our brigade, our division, were falling back rapidly towards the town. The rebels were sweeping in through the fields beyond our right.  The ridge could be held no longer.  We were sacrificed to steady the retreat.

How much time was then passing, I can’t say;  it was only a matter of minutes before the grey lines threatened to crush us.  They came on, firing from behind the wall, from fences, from the road;  they forced us, fighting, back along the ridge;  and Captain Lowell fell, and some of our men.  We got to the railroad cut, which offered a means of defense against the rebels following us, but just then we saw grey troops making in from the west, and they saw us.  We were caught between two fires.  It was the end.  For a few last moments our little regiment defended angrily its hopeless challenge, but it was useless to fight longer.  We looked at our colors, and our faces burned. We must not surrender those symbols of our pride and our faith.  Our color bearers appealed to the colonel, and with his consent they tore the flags from the staves and ripped the silk into shreds; and our officers and men that were near took each a shred.  I have one with a golden star.

Though the rebel lines were fast closing in, there was yet a chance for some of us to escape, and nothing now forbade our risking that desperate hazard. We that took the chance bolted across the Cashtown pike, and made our way, in a fever of anxiety, to a hill south of the town.  There were batteries on the hill, in a cemetery;  and Howard’s reserve division, with some of his troops that had been driven through the town; and what remained of Reynolds’ corps, under Doubleday. Directing the placing of troops where we turned up was Hancock, whose imperious and defiant bearing heartened us all.  We found a remnant of our brigade, with what was left of the 11th Pennsylvania added to it, and Colonel Coulter of that regiment in command.

Once more we formed in line; more gap than line.  The survivors of the 16th Maine then numbered only thirty men, four line officers, and myself.  Captain Marston, our one captain present, assumed command of the regiment.  The brigade was moved to the left, to Cemetery Ridge, and placed in position facing west, and overlooking the Emmitsburg road, not far from where we had left that road in the morning. We threw up breastworks and stayed there in support of a battery until fresh troops relieved us, late in the forenoon of the next day.  Hancock’s corps, under Gibbon, had come up on our left.

In the afternoon of the next day a shell exploded in the small remnant of the 16th Maine when they were summoned to action with the rest of their brigade.  The shell severely wounded another 8 men.  This incident is retold on the next page of this narrative.

From 'Maine at Gettysburg,' is the following anecdote:

A tall skirmisher from Alabama, seeing Colonel Tilden standing with his sword drawn, drew up his musket, and at a distance of not over 100 feet shouted "Throw down that sword or I will blow your brains out."  Sticking his sword into the ground, Colonel Tilden passed to the rear, a prisoner.  He was taken South to Libby Prison and there became one of the daring band who escaped through the famous tunnel.* - Report of Maine Commissioners, prepared by the Executive Committee, 1898.

*The famous escape from Libby Prison occured in February, 1864.

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William R. Warner's Account of the Battle

Sergeant William R. Warner's promotion to 2nd Lieutenant came the night before the battle of Gettysburg. This excerpt from his detailed memoir adds another excellent source of information to the literature of the '13th Mass' at Gettysburg.  Warner's recollection of the prisoners captured by the regiment in the Mummasburg Road as being from an Alabama regiment is an important distinction for the interpretation of events on Oak Ridge.  I am extremely grateful to Mr. Eric Locher, the current custodian of the memoir, whose grandparents were Warner's descendants, for sharing this excerpt, and allowing me to use it here.  [Photo of Warner in camp near Mitchell's Station, 1864].

Near Marsh Creek Tuesday, June 30th.  Noon.
Lieutenant William R. Warner, winter camp, 1864     Moved about 10. A.M. & Was delayed in the Streets of Emittsburg by the 11th Corps.  Marched between one & two miles out on the Gettysburg Turnpike, then turned into a field & stacked arms where we now remain.   We hear that the enemy have been discovered between us & Gettysburg which is the reason of the delay.

The Marching has been very hard, on account of the mud &c,  it has rained every day except Sunday.

The 11th & 12th Corps are marching on roads near us, but the balance of Army, we hear nothing of.

My boots gave out yesterday, and I bought a pair at Emittsburg.

Though the Marching is severe & some days, of extraordinary length, we enjoy some features of it.  All through Maryland, the inhabitants were very free & generous, & loyal, -  All the food they had in their houses was given freely or sold cheaply.   Yesterday, at many houses we passed, the women were at the road side with pails of water, milk, bread, pies & cakes, giving it away.

Tuesday, June 30th 1863.
        Our Corps is composed of three Divisions, and on the march, our Division leads the Column, one day, & another the next. -  The Division Generals march their Brigades in the same manner & so, also, do the Brigade Commanders.

Captain WIlliam Cary, Company G

Yesterday, Our Division was in the advance.  Our Brigade, the Advance of the Division, and the 13th the 2nd Regt.,  so we were about the first to part  & the first to go into Camp.  To day we are in the Rear of the Corps.

        After Stearns1 & myself had laid down for the night and were having a little quarrel of our own, Col. Leonard came to our tent & calling me out, notified me of my appointment as 2nd Lieut. of Regt. and assigned to Co. G.

Appointment to date to July 1st.

Wednesday, July 1 1863
        Started on march to Gettysburg about  _ A.M.  In obedience to orders from Col. Leonard, I turned over my gun & equipments to Co. K, and reported to Capt. Cary of Co. G, as 2nd Lt. but minus sword or arms of any kind.  [Captain William Cary, Company G, pictured at right]    Gettysburg was distant about nine miles.  We had a shower while on way.  The 1st [Brig-Gen James S. Wadsworth] & 3rd [Maj-Gen. Abner Doubleday] Divisions of our Corps marched in advance of us.

Some distance before reaching Gettysburg, we began to hear the guns opening the conflict, and later we were met by an Aid with Message “that we were wanted & that Buford [John Buford] with Cavalry was engaged.”

Captain J. Otis Williams, 12th Mass.

Soon, in some way rumor reached us that Gen. Reynolds was wounded and before we entered the outskirts of Gettysburg we heard that he had been killed.  We turned off of pike to the left, at a brick house (I think) through an orchard and pushed on towards a large Seminary on the crest of a ridge.   Here we halted perhaps half hour but long enough to throw up some breastworks of considerable strength, for hearing brisk fighting, not far in front of us, & extending well to our right, and seeing (as well as feeling) every indication that a great battle was about to be fought, every man worked willingly & rapidly, in effecting some slight protection.  Then, orders came to move, and we quickly crossed a road (on our right from Seminary) keeping under the slope which was thinly covered with woods.  Here, by the roadside, I noticed the first man, whom I knew, belonging to our Division, who was wounded, Capt. J. O. Williams of 12th Mass. [pictured, right]  Passing through the woods, we attempted to form a line at a stone wall – possibly we were halted there a few moments to allow stragglers to get up – then across an open field to another piece of woods, and hardly before we could realize it we were in the midst of a battle.

I had thought very little about it, I mean in the matter of dwelling upon it, & dreading it, and when once engaged, had no time to think.  My first impulse, was to pick up gun & some cartridges, and I loaded & fired several times.  Sergeant Wheeler of Co. K. was almost the first man I saw struck. -  He fell over backwards, a ball having ploughed his forehead – About the same moment, six or seven of the tallest men of Co. K, on the right were wounded, Harvey Ross, H. Cutter, John Flye,2 M. O. Laughlin, Melville Walker.

Photograph of the Regiments Position July 1      Pictured at left is a photograph from the scrapbook of William R. Warner.  It represents the position of the 13th Mass regiment during the battle on Oak Ridge.  Warner marked the regiment's placement in red ink.  The Mumasburg Road runs through the foreground. The structure on the hill is a post-war  building.  The remains of the  Forney Farm wood-lot can be seen to the left and center.  The woods were thicker at the time of the  battle.

In Company G, which I was stationed with, I noticed Corp. H. A. Sanborn who had just returned to Regt, on recovery from a wound at Antietam.  As he was struck, he turned to the rear, & stood as if hesitating a moment and then fell.  In Co. H,   S. A. Hayes, a middle aged man (who had been detailed as Teamster, until within a short time) was shot & cried out, “Who will take care of my children now.”

In same Company J.M. Brock, a tall slim young man with very black hair & dark features fell & I recall vividly the ghastliness of his face, contrasted with his dark hair, as I noticed him for a moment.  In fifth Company to right, which was the color Co. Sergeant Roland B. Morris carrying the Colors was shot down.

Major Jacob Parker Gould

Every man in the Regiment will recall the piercing shrieks of agony, which were wrung from him.  I mention these men, Among the many others of the Regt. who fell at same time, because I happened to notice them, more especially.

At the left of the Regiment passing back & forth was Major Gould.  His voice, could scarcely be heard Amid so much noise of firearms & tumult, but when it could be heard, it was, “Do your duty – you noble sons of Massachusetts – do your duty – “Remember your State &c &c.”

One can hardly tell how long we remained at this point, but at the time Morris fell we were pushing toward the road which lay in front of us, & where we swept in a body of rebel prisoners of an Alabama Regt.  As the fire slackened, with numbers largely reduced by killed, wounded & those who had gone to rear with wounded & prisoners, we withdrew from extreme advanced position back across the open field to the first piece of woods we passed through & where part of our Brigade then faced in another direction.  From the crest of the ridge, we saw considerable bodies of the enemy, moving to our left (toward Seminary) where from the heavy firing, we knew our Troops were being badly pushed.  Looking to the front & more especially to the right  where there had been a gap between us & 11th Corps, - we could see the 11th Corps withdrawing closely followed by long lines of the enemy.  We knew it could only be a question of a few minutes before the orders must come for removal from this exposed position.  When orders came, flags were followed (Ours in the hands of Capt. Howe & David Schloss) but Regimental Organization was impossible.  When we came in full sight of Seminary the last Battery was retreating at full speed toward the town.

Making as strait a cut as possible, toward Gettysburg, we came to a Rail Road embankment, on top of which we attempted to push our way.  As a volley would come from one side, numbers would leave embankment in hope of shelter on other side, - then a volley from that side, (Seminary side) and others would rush down the left side. –

Running to a Cutout under the track, We noticed it already packed full with stragglers & men who hesitated to go farther. 

Color Sergeant David Sloss, Pictured.Color Sergeant David Sloss

Before we reached cutout, Schloss (David Sloss) carrying State Flag was knocked down by the arm of a soldier of 14th Brooklyn, who was torn to pieces by a shell & whose brains were scattered over the flag.

On one of the streets of Gettysburg I met Lt. Whiston, (David Whiston)  with half dozen or more swords in his hands which he [had] taken from prisoners.  He offered me one, but having already picked one up, I declined his offer.  Why he failed to escape I cannot see, unless his bundle of swords overloaded him, but he was taken prisoner & carried to Richmond.

Before reaching the centre of Gettysburg, - with others, I left the street & passed through some back yards.  Seeing a ??? of rain water, without stopping for cup, We dipped our heads into the water & drank.  A shell came shrieking over, and we ducked still lower.  With water dripping we rushed on, into the street & dense throng, all pushing toward Cemetery Hill.

Lieutenant Sam Cary

In the Square, I saw an officer mounted upon a fine horse (equipments yellow) struck by a shell & throwing horse & rider against the sidewalk up to the side of the house.  No one stopped to look at him, Bullets shot & shell were pouring in from both directions and looking up the side streets we could see the reb soldiers standing & firing.  As we approached the Cemetery we came under cover of the guns of 11th Corps, already in position & out of the reach of the enemy’s fire, so our pace slackened.  We finally rallied around our Division flag.

That night we spent on Cemetery Hill to the left of the Cemetery facing towards the town.  Our Regt. numbering ---  Men.

Our Brigade
       The Officers of Co. K,  Lt. Whiston & Lt Samuel Cary, both having been taken prisoners, I was assigned to that Company again.3

2nd Lieutenant Samuel Cary, pictured.

1.  Stearns is Sgt. Austin Calvin Stearns of Co. K whose  memoirs are on this page.
2.  Austin Stearns gives a different account of the death of John Flye in his memoirs.  It will be posted on this website with the 2nd and 3rd days fight.
3.  According to the roster in "Three Years in the Army," 1st Lieutenant David Whiston was age 28 when he enlisted as 1st Sergeant, Co. A, July 16, 1861.  He was promoted to 2nd Lt., July 26, 1862 and 1st Lt. on Feb. 14, 1863.  Taken prisoner at Gettysburg, he was held until released, March 1, 1865, seven and 1/2 months after the '13th Mass' mustered out of service.  He was assigned the rank of Captain on March 4, 1864.
2nd Lt. Sam Cary (age 22) was captured at the battle of Gettysburg, and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond.  From Libby he was sent to Salisbury Prison near Charlotte,  NC;  then Augusta, Macon,  & Savanna, in Georgia; then, Charleston, Columbia, and Florence, in South Carolina, and finally, Raleigh, NC.  He was released, March 1st 1865, the same day as Whiston, seven and 1/2 months after the regiment mustered out.

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Private Bourne Spooner's Memoir, "In The Ranks"

Private Bourne Spooner of Company D, wrote his memoirs about 1871.  His descendants, Maxine Glenn and Alan Bergeron made a careful transcription of the fragile family heirloom in 1984.  In the spring of 2014, Mr. Will Glenn shared this document with me; the occasion being that his daughter was using the narrative for a school project.   Spooner's document proved to be an invaluable reference for the actions of the '13th Mass' at Gettysburg on July 1st.  It fills in important gaps left by other narratives. - Brad Forbush.

Bourne Spooner, 1892

On the morning of the first of July, if I remember rightly, we were given ample time to cook our coffee and hardtack breakfast ere we again took to the road.  The morning I think was lowering, and it rained a little at intervals.  The roads, however, were in good condition, just wet enough to be firm and springy but not muddy.  The only incident I can recall of the early part of the march was in passing through a covered bridge which crossed the stream, possibly Marshe’s Run as I see it on the map.  Over the entrance to the bridge were painted the rules against fast driving, etc., which, as the men came under, they repeated aloud, and their reading of this mingled with some attempts at witticism made a strange medley of voices.

As we were nearing Gettysburg, however, there suddenly came to our ears the “boom” of a cannon - then a succession of two or more reports.  This was the first intimation we had of our proximity to the enemy.  The sound sent a thrill through every bosom.  “Close up, close up, men,” said the officers nervously as we brought our files together more compactly.  We pressed on.  Soon we reached the southern hem of the town.  Stretcher-bearers then trotted past us to the front with their ghastly reminders.  Now we met fugitive citizens of the town fleeing “the wrath to come.”  The faces of men, women and children were alike haggard and pale and suggestive of these lines of Byron on Waterloo:

Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;


And there was mounting in hot haste - the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war-
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips - “The foe!  they come! they come!”

Some of our boys made some not very effectual attempts at banter or wanted to know why they were running away, while others proffered such counsel as this:  “Why don’t you get into your cellars;  if you leave your houses you’ll be likely to lose everything.”  This was on the whole very sensible advice, but then it involved something of a risk to personal safety, but not probably as much as the people imagined.

After reaching a point where the houses were somewhat thick, we then turned diagonally off to the left of the town and traversed a broad field leading toward Seminary Ridge.  While we were crossing this space the most unwelcome intelligence came to us that General Reynolds was wounded and, immediately after it, that he was killed.  The firing was now heavier, but as yet none of the missiles had fallen our way.  We then entered a dark piece of woods and saw to the left in its most secluded recesses a large body of cavalry horses in the care of a limited number of men, most of the force having dismounted and gone forward to fight afoot with their carbines.  A few shells now began to crash into these woods striking among the frightened animals and their attendants.  Then we moved forward again along the ridge and next halted at a sort of rocky opening.  Here we had a brief rest and loaded our pieces.  Two divisions of the First Corps had already gone into battle, and ours (Robinson’s) was temporarily in reserve.  Where we rested, as it happened, we were not molested by the flying metal.  I have no recollections as to the length of time we were in reserve, for this is a thing impossible to determine amid the great strain and excitement of actual battle.

Illustration from Deeds of Valor, prostrate men being shelledWe next shifted ground, and our brigade was doubled up by regiments on the slope just behind the Seminary building. As I recollect we got no tidings as to how the battle was progressing.  However, in our new position we had emerged from the friendly shelter of the trees, and the right flanks of our regiments, though all were lying upon our faces, were exposed to the view of the rebel artillerists, as the enemy’s lines, owing to their superiority of numbers, were steadily overlapping our right.  Those howling, terrible ammunitions of shells now began to fall around us.  Still we lay and hugged the ground.  All we could do was to “grin and bear it” - however there was more of the grim than the grin about our situation.  Not a very pleasant experience to lay quiet and be made targets of, yet just that is the general experience in battle - to one time firing, it is a score of times being under fire.

We were not destined to repose a great while at this spot.  Soon came an order for one regiment of the brigade to act as skirmishers.  As we had generally performed this service, I trembled lest the 13th should be called upon again.  It is undoubtedly less dangerous to do this duty than to advance in solid, compact lines of battle, but then it is doubly as trying and requires vastly more nerve and steadiness.  It so happened, however, that the 16th Maine was selected.  Soon after they were gone we were again ordered to “fall in.”  All knew we were now to enter the thick of the fight.  It was now probably between eleven and twelve o’clock.  We moved out in column into the open space beyond the ridge and in full view of the enemy.  It was a rough, plowed field, and it was difficult to move without stumbling.  Then we marched by the right flank along the field, exposed the while to a severe artillery fire directed apparently at ourselves alone.  Our progress was impeded by one or two fences which were quickly pulled down to admit our passing through.  This marching by the flank across the battlefield under a heavy fire was a maneuver which in the early days of the war was considered a great thing and is certainly a very dangerous experiment to try with raw recruits, but we war-worn veterans knew the virtue of hanging together and keeping our columns intact

 Well, after moving a piece to the right we then turned more to the right and formed an extension of the line of battle in the form of an obtuse angle, the missiles still flying thickly around us.  The 13th was the right regiment of the brigade, and we halted and faced to the front on the right slope of the ridge and just behind a small grove in which the trees were large and widely separated.  After waiting a moment for the skirmishers to get in, we opened fire with muskets - first a sudden crash, and then a continuous roar.  Owing to my nearsightedess I could not discern the enemy but was probably none the less useful on that account. The boys say that when the action opened there were two or three cows between the opposing lines and that their carcasses were afterwards seen riddled with bullets.  However, I was not a witness to this incident.

The exact spot on which our fight took place can be readily seen on any plan of the battlefield.  It was along the apex formed by the Mummasburg Road and Oak Ridge, an extension of Seminary Ridge, and about a mile northwest from the village of Gettysburg.   No sooner  had the firing begun in real earnest than my previous nervousness completely vanished, and the very idea and words came into my mind, “I rather like this.”  The firing, however, was not all on one side.  Our opponents, it seemed, fired very low, and I could see that a large proportion of their bullets struck in the ground and among some rails lying a rod or two in front of us.  Company D formed the right of the regiment and fortunately did not suffer proportionally with the rest of the regiment.  As the men on our left were being rapidly killed and wounded we are continually closing up to keep our line intact.  “Close to the left, close to the left” was the constant order.  As we sidled to the left we soon got in the region of the killed and wounded.  Some were lying prone on back or face, dead with bloody gashes in their heads, others were severely wounded and imploring aid to take them to the rear.  I recollect one in particular sort of half recumbent upon his side, who was looking with a very piteous and disturbed expression at his cartridge-box which in some way had caught fire and was smoking.  He was evidently shot through hip or legs and could not help himself.

We still kept up our fusillade and closing to the left, but our ranks gradually became more and more disintegrated.  I recollect about this time seeing Blanchard, and at the same time there were several appeals from the wounded for help to move to the rear.  “No, no, I can’t attend to the wounded now,” said Blanchard, his whole soul aroused to the fighting, and though I did not say the same I acted upon the same principle.  General orders, which had more than once been read to the army at the evening parades, expressly forbid soldiers, not connected with the ambulance department, from helping off the wounded from the field during an action; and these orders, were pretty well observed in the latter part of the war, the soldiers knowing that the regulation, though harsh and rigorous, was necessary.

Henry Bacon painting of a charge

Just how long we had been fighting in this manner it would be impossible for me to tell, but after a while there came a cry of  “Forward!  Forward!”  Whether it emanated from an officer or in the ranks I don’t know but it was quickly taken up by the men, and after being repeated once or twice the body moved forward with a rush.  I had got my piece partly loaded when the movement began, and, finding that with the gun in one hand and the iron rammer in the other I was in a rather awkward predicament, I stopped after running a few steps forward to finish the job.  Lieutenant Washburn came up to me and wanted to know why I was halting, but seeing it was not through any desire to shirk, and other things attracting his attention, he did not stay by me but a moment.  It took me but a moment to ram the charge “home” and then I was off with the rest.  Our sudden dash, it seems, had completely overpowered the rebs who were ranged behind a fence, and they succumbed at once.

Swinton in his “Army of the Potomac” speaks of the manoeuvre in these words:  “First, Baxter’s brigade of this division took position on the right of Cutler, resting its right on the Mummasburg Road, and then, as the needs became more urgent, Baxter’s command relieved Cutler, and the brigade of General Paul was brought up on Baxter’s right.  These troops opposed a vigorous resistance to Rodes’ attack, and early in the action, by a skillful movement, captured three North Carolina regiments under General Iverson”* 

The rebs threw down their arms, climbed over the fence towards us, and there at once began a general shaking of hands between captor and captured.  Our prisoners heartily praised our “charge” and said it had been “well done.”  After a brief interchange of these courtesies (rather out of place an unmilitary reader would suppose) they were directed to the rear as prisoners of war.  For a brief space there was a lull in the firing.  The rebel artillerists probably did not care to endanger friend as well as foe in promiscuous shooting, and so we had a breathing spell and time to look about us.  Several of the rebel dead and wounded were lying around us, and among the latter I noticed one fair-faced youth lying on his side and evidently mortally wounded. His face was perfectly placid but his mouth kept opening and shutting in a manner like the gasping of a dying fish.  I stooped over and offered him draught fro my canteen, but he sadly shook his head.  Though his hurt was probably mortal he did not evince any sign of acute suffering.

The spot where we found ourselves after this charge was at the very apex of where the ridge and road above mentioned join.  It was a sort of open promontory projecting a short space beyond the woods which covered most of the ridge in the rear.  Our brigade, however, was now completely disorganized.  

Mummasburg Road

Pictured is the Mummasburg Road running up Oak Ridge, circa 1890.  The monuments of the 13th Mass and 104th NY are present on the slope.  The view is looking to the west.

The several regiments were inseparably commingled, and there was no officer present with the sufficient skill to bring order out of the confusion.  General Paul was wounded in the fight and probably before this time.  There was a crowd of men in the midst of which were the several regimental flags, but there was no effectual attempt made to rally the men around their respective standards.  We were so flushed with the recent success, and the separate organizations having been broken up, we were for the time more inclined to fight “on our own luck” than otherwise. Some of the rebs tried to escape when the charge was made, and one fellow was bearing off a Confederate flag when Major Gould raised the attention of the men to him, and he at once fell, probably pierced by many bullets.  For myself, after the charge I went into the road which forms a cutting diagonally through the ridge, and, using the further bank as a protecting earthwork, I fired several shots at moving bodies of the enemy.

It seems that beyond us was quite a distance of cleared space and beyond that a line of woods.  The Confederates, having a force greatly superior to ours, were able to bring up fresh men to repair the disaster they had suffered at our hands, and, after I had taken up my position in this cut, I could see their regiments moving along the edge of the woods towards our right. I noticed in particular a mounted officer, probably a Colonel, riding to and fro.  I fired three or four shots at him, which he did not appear to notice in the least, though some of them must have whizzed near him.  After a few minutes I abandoned the cut, which was a short distance in advance of the majority of our men.  The men were still excited, disorganized, and there was a cry for re-enforcements.  About this time the 16th Maine, which temporarily retired from the fight after their skirmish duty, came up and were welcomed with great delight.**  I have some indistinct recollection of seeing General Robinson on his horse and hearing him say re-enforcements were coming and making an attempt to reorganize the brigade.

Up to this time things had all gone well.  Every portion of the First Corps had gone into the fight with spirit and captured its quota of prisoners. What was needed now was a fresh force to secure the advantages already gained. But General Howard was not the master of the situation.  After the First Corps had all been put into the fight the Eleventh Corps was brought up and posted on our right instead of thrown in to support the First.  We were the extreme right of the first Corps, and between us and the Eleventh’s left there was quite a gap.  From our position on the promontory we could look down and observe all the movements on the plains at our right, and a spectacle was soon presented to us like that which met the gaze of the seer of Culloden.  The Union troops below us on our right were Schurz’s division of the Eleventh Corps.  The rebels formed their attacking line and advanced.  Every movement could be as plainly seen as the movements upon a chessboard from our more elevated standpoint.  As the rebels moved forward the Federal line gave away, with hardly a show of resistance.  The only thing to relieve this disgraceful action was the heroic conduct of the Union batteries who kept up a vigorous firing until their “supports” had all left them, and limbered to the rear at the last moment.  The demoralization of Chancellorsville, it seems, still existed.

View from the tower on Oak Ridge

View From the Observation Tower on Oak Ridge; across the plains shown in the picture, General Ewell hurled the main body of his corps against the Federal lines of the 11th Corps.  Within one mile of the town the Confederates made a desperate charge.  The Federal line broke and was driven into the streets of Gettysburg. They soon reformed on the heights of Cemetery Hill a mile south of the town.  This is somewhat the view from which Bourne Spooner witnessed the collapse of the 11th Corps.  The monuments of the 104th NY and '13th Mass' are in the foreground.  Mummasburg Road runs across the corners of the picture.  The college buildings are in the center left background.  View looks SE.

As may be expected this sight aroused the greatest anger and chagrin among our men.  They yelled at, cursed, and damned the fugitives and called them “d—- cowardly  s—s of  b——-s.”  Our situation was now critical in the extreme.  The giving away of the Eleventh Corps had left us in a most exposed position, and in a few moments we again came in for a share of the enemy’s attentions.

But here let me give a little criticism upon this action.  Swinton says the great cause of the first day’s disaster was the attempt of Howard to cover too much ground - that he should have supported the First Corps with the Eleventh instead of forming an extension of the line with it.  It would have been an excellent thing if General Robinson had brought up a battery to the spot where we were and enfiladed the rebel line of attack on the Eleventh Corps - but there was no master mind on the field, and all that we had this far gained was balanced fourfold by our subsequent losses.

A.R. Waud sketch of Rebel Artillery at Gettysburg

Well after the Eleventh Corps had been driven a piece rearward a rebel battery was trained upon our position on the ridge.  Canister was the material mainly used, but as luck would have it, it crashed and whir-r-r-d into the branches over our heads and then fell harmless at our feet.  Had the pieces been aimed lower they would have undoubtedly done great injury.  Our men now drew back a few rods to where the woods were thicker and took up a stand behind a stone wall.  As there was no one controlling present to direct movements each one was left pretty much to his own resources.  A good many of course took so good an opportunity to skedaddle, but the great majority held their ground with considerable stubborness.  Some attempt was made to straighten out matters a little but with not much success.

One incident in particular I recollect with great vividness.  A little, short, stumpy officer with a long yellow beard, but of what regiment I know not, tried to rally the men behind a secondary wall.  With his large, slouch, regulation hat in his hand he cried out, “We may as well die here as anywhere; make a stand boys at this stone wall; this is as good a place to fight as anywhere.”  I cannot recall his words exactly but this was the tenor of them.  He was thoroughly wrought up, and with every appeal he would give his hat a full swing bringing it down and stooping his knees to emphasize.  His yellowing flowing beard, blue bulging eyes, and highly wrought condition made him for the moment a conspicuous object.  The men generally looked at him with unconcern - they were not in a condition just then to be easily “enthused” - but a considerable number availed themselves of his suggestions, and quite a stand was made at this place.

firing graphic

I find in my present writing that I cannot reproduce the spirit of this battle and so, when I can do no better, merely give a consecutive narrative of the events as I remember them.  Our retreat along this ridge was very slow.  There was no rearward movement to the body as a whole, but the crowd appeared to gradually thin out - drawing away by little knots of three or four as the hopelessness of the fight became apparent.  We must have been a good part of an hour in making our short retreat. All this while we were in woods and kept up a desultory firing as we fell back.  While standing among them and looking in the direction of the enemy a soldier a pace or two at my right suddenly received a bullet, probably in the groin.  He dropped his piece, clapped his arms around his stomach, uttered the exclamation “Oh!” and sank to the ground.  This incident so startled me and filled me with such dread of a similar injury that I at once abandoned further resistance, which had now, indeed, become wholly useless.

Only a small portion of our troops now remained at this place.  I turned about and passed down the slope into a railroad cut and thence along the railroad embankment towards the village of Gettysburg.  I first took the top of this grading but found the bullets whistling around me so lively that I proceeded down the right side in order to take benefit of it as a shelter.  Here, to my astonishment, I found the bullets were just as troublesome - and this fact proves that the rebels had broken through our lines to the left of our position before we had fully given up the fight.  Then I clambered over to the left side, but here it was just the same.  Finding that I could not use this embankment as a protection, I then got up on top again and proceeded along towards the town on the railroad bed.  There were not a half dozen beside myself on the railroad at the time.  In the retreat most of my comrades had probably gone direct to the rear, while I veered off to the left toward the town, using the railroad embankment. As I neared the more settled part of the village the bullets fell just as thickly around me and spatted into the sides of barns and houses with great force and spitefulness.

I next recollect of getting down from the bank again on the left hand side and halting for a moment or two in a sort of a culvert which passed under the bank.  Then I passed off a little into the field in front of the town, and in climbing over a slight fence I stumbled and fell in the tall, rank grass on the further side.  The extreme exhaustion consequent upon the great excitement of the battle and the change of circumstances from favorable to unfavorable had completely prostrated me, and I lay awhile where I fell recovering breath and strength.

Pennsylvania Hall, Gettysburg College

Pennsylvania College viewed from the railroad cut, just as Sergeant Spooner viewed it.  The the image viewed was captured by photographer Mathew Brady on or about July 15, 1863.

For a few moments the shells howled and shrieked above my head seemingly almost near enough to cut the grass, but a little later the firing suddenly ceased, and a lull ensued.  Feeling somewhat astonished at not finding the enemy marching past me, I got up again on my feet, now somewhat rested, and took an observation of the situation and especially a glance in the direction of the enemy.  I saw none of the latter but did see off in front and to the right a large mansion surrounded by trees, and there apparently being nothing to bar my way in that direction, thought it would be a good place to obtain rest, refreshment, and possibly food.  I see on the map a building about in this locality marked “college” which probably was the place I saw.

Graphic of Two Rebels

While I was thus standing cogitating with my gun in my hand, I heard a voice behind me yell out, “Throw down that gun!”  Supposing, of course, that it was one of our own troops, inasmuch as none of the enemy had passed me, I took no heed of the command, feeling rather vexed that  the individual calling to me could not tell from my “suit of blue” that I was a unionist as well as himself.  Seeing that I did not obey, he called out again, louder than before, “Throw down that gun!”   I thought now I would turn and see who it was who was so determined upon my disarmament.  I then saw to my astonishment that the embankment I had lately abandoned was occupied by a line of rebel skirmishers marching in Indian file, and it was one of the number, possibly the foremost one, who was yelling to me.  Just as I turned round he yelled again, with more emphasis than before, “Damn you; ain’t you going to throw down that gun!” at the same time bringing his piece to the shoulder to enforce his command with powder and shot.  Of course, I dropped the gun then as if it had been a hot potatoe, but everything was so sudden that I felt  no fear and stood squarely facing him and awaited the result.  I could see by the shortened barrel that the piece was aimed towards me, and an instant later there came the flash and report, and almost simultaneously with these the bullet struck the ground close by my right foot, throwing up a piece of sod.

I was now a prisoner.  And right here it is well for me to mention an incident apropos of this capture.  My father and Uncle Lindsley shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg together visited a “medium” in Boston to get intelligence from friends in the other world.   During the “seance” a visit was received from brother Arthur, who had died the previous spring and who told them that he had saved my life in battle - that a rebel demanded my surrender which I refused, and he then would have shot  me had he not turned aside the bullet.  This fact, I believe, was told me by Uncle Lindsley.  It does seem, however, in view of the easy speaking distance at which we were apart that the rebel should have hit me had not invisible power intervened.

Well, I was now a prisoner, and somehow thinking the disaster we had sustained much greater than it really was, it flashed through my mind that the Union cause was lost, and the cities of Washington, Philadelphia and New York were a sure prey to Lee and his Confederate followers.  After my capture the rebels called me up on the embankment again.  The skirmishers had now passed on along the track and directly behind them was a regiment, marching in column.  I asked what regiment it was, and they told me the Second North Carolina.  A fine-looking body of men they were, flushed with victory and full of spirit.

One or two made some remark to me as they passed along and in particular wanted to know, as occasional bullets were still whistling in our neighborhood, whether it was citizens or soldiers who were firing upon them from the building.  I replied that I supposed they were soldiers, and the reb retorted, “If they are citizens that’s doing it we’ll burn every damned house in the town!”  The line officers gave the frequent command, “Keep your places, men,” in order to keep the files in order and the command well in hand.

A moment or two later an officer had me go to the rear, pointing to the spot where our fight took place, where he said I should find more prisoners.  I then stepped down from the embankment again and proceeded toward the rear. I first moved towards the ridge and the woods we had fought through in falling back, but about this time one of our union batteries had taken up a position on the heights behind Gettysburg and began throwing shell into this very woods.  Not wishing to be killed by our own metal I avoided this woods and took a more beeline across lots to the rear.  I saw, however, a little incident worth relating. When this firing began one of th regiments in the wake of the Second North Carolina was just emerging from this woods upon  the railroad embankment, an as the shell came suddenly shrieking over their heads they all, with one accord, jumped down the bank to get out of danger.  Such wholesale dodging I had never seen or known to be tolerated in our own army.

Two wounded soldiers painted by William Trego

It was now late in the afternoon, and after these few shots silence ensued, and darkness began to settle over the field and the first day of the immortal battle of Gettysburg.  This day’s action was of itself most disastrous to the Union Army, as our losses were about 5,000 in prisoners alone, but by causing the main army to concentrate on a better line of defense in the rear it was in reality a blessing in disguise.  In proceeding to the rear I next took the Mummasburg road and found one of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment lying in it wounded.  He was a fine-looking, intelligent fellow and did not appear to be suffering from pain, though rendered helpless by a severe wound in the legs.  He wanted me to help him to some hospital in the town.  I told him I was a  prisoner and could not go in that direction but would assist him to the rebel hospital in the rear.  He would not agree to go that way, so I left him.

In proceeding further back I came upon the field where we had fought and where several of our dead were lying about.  There was also a party of rebel stragglers plundering them, and all around were knapsacks ripped open and their varied contents scattered about promiscuously.  Flannel shirts, stockings, bibles, cards, etc.  were among the articles.  I noticed one fellow in particular down on his knees beside a dead body which was lying upon its face. He then placed his two hands under one side of the body and pried it over on its back in order the better to “go through” his pockets.  The deceased had been shot squarely through the forehead, which showed a bloody orifice just in its centre.  Mr. Reb in his investigations came across a toothbrush.  He looked at it curiously for a moment or two as something of which he hardly knew the use, and then, as I was passing by, he looked up to me and holding out the article said, “Here, do you want this?”  I told him I had no use for it and passed on.  I believe, however, that I picked up a haversack, which contained one or two small, hard-baked biscuits, which I found very palatable after being so long confined to “hardtack.”

Passing then up near the open ridge where we had fought I found other prisoners.  Then, some officers taking us in charge, we moved over the further side down the Mummasburg road.  Here we found a great many more.  Among us were the Colonels of the Sixteenth Maine and the Ninety-Seventh New York Regiments, who looked thoroughly disgusted in finding themselves in such a predicament.  I came across quite a number of the Thirteenth boys and also some of my own company.  We very naturally got together as regiments.

After proceeding a piece down the road, and as our numbers were steadily increasing, we were then given over to the care of a small body of horsemen.  While we were halting in the road a few ambulances passed by driven by negroes, and, what appeared rather odd to our eyes, they were marked “C.S.” instead of “U.S.”  I was also surprised to see the negroes, supposing, of course, they would not remain with the Confederates after reaching northern soil.  The horsemen who guarded us prisoners were quite a stylish set of fellows.  They were all finely mounted, and their arms and dress, though the latter was of grey, had a fine appearance.  One of them in particular I recollect had a remarkable resemblance to Mr. Pope, of Dorchester, who was for a time a member of Company A and afterwards got a commission in another regiment.  The fellow, as we were walking along by the side of his horse, negligently threw one of his legs over the pommel and, pulling out a cigar from a case he carried in his pocket, lit it with the air of an habitué of the St. Nicholas or Fifth Avenue in New York.  He was quite communicative and said this command to which he belonged was a Baltimore organization and had as yet seen little or no hard service.  They were evidently among the elite of the Confederate cavalry and were independent of any brigade or division.  We discussed in a very pleasant, social way the war, its probably results, etc., he of course taking the southern view of the situation and we the northern.

R.H. Zogbaurm illustration Rebel shooting a horse

In a few moments we were back again to where the road crosses the ridge.  Here a rebel battery rattled past us and veered off through the fields to take up some new position.  The blackened mouths of the pieces showed that they had done hot work that afternoon.  Near the roadside in this vicinity were quite a squad of rebel dead huddled into quite a narrow compass, and our boys gloated in the fact of having done such excellent execution.  After reaching the ridge again we then turned down to the left into a sort of lane.  It had now become nearly or quite dark.  As we moved along some of the rebels were hunting in the rank pasture grass of this lower level for the bodies of their dead, and I recollect hearing one exclaim, who was a little apart from the rest, “Here he is; I have found him,” as the body of some particular comrade was found. There was also a horse limping about which had been badly injured in the fight, and one of the rebel officers as we passed was just dispatching him with large, navy revolver.

It was very still and quiet on the evening of the fight. Our own men and the rebs spoke of the certainty of a great battle on the morrow.  After marching not further than a quarter of a mile from the ridge and perhaps less we turned into an open field on the left of the road for our night’s quarters.  We were formed in our usual marching column, and an officer stood on one of the fence posts counting the forms as they passed in.  The members of each regiment had by this time gathered by themselves, and there was quite a little colony of the Thirteenth boys. There was no opportunity afforded us that night to gather sticks for fuel and to cook our coffee, and most then bunked down in the grass, well knowing they would not have to be disturbed for “roll call.’  A few who had parts of a shelter with them rigged up some kind of a covering with them.  However, there was some little attempt at hilarity on the part of some, who were not disposed to accept their situation as wholly unfavorable.  One in particular I recollect, Michael Doherty, I think of Company A, a peculiar sort of a fellow who, though his hair was considerably grey, affected the air and style of a young blood. He was remarkably hilarious and kept his comrades in a roar of laughter for some time.  “We have met the enemy,” he cried, “and they are ours.”  “The army marched up the hill and then marched down again.”  “Give ‘em hell, Todd.”  The last exclamation needs explanation.  There was, it seems, in one of the companies a drummer named Todd.  He made such ill success with the drumstick that it was often the practice of some of the fellows when he was beating the daily calls to cry out “Give ‘em hell, Todd.”  Well, Todd, it seems, was this day in the ranks, and while in the thick of the fight someone, observing his fighting with great ardor, cried out, “Give ‘em hell, Todd.”

Company D, I believe, had only one wounded in this fight, though the other end of the regiment suffered greatly.  Among the victims was Sergeant Morris, our color-bearer for some months, but not long before the Gettysburg battle he had been deprived of his stripes and post by some breach of military discipline and was only reinstated just before the battle.  His loss was felt by all.  Of course, before we went to sleep that night each one related his experiences of the fight or tried to learn who were the killed and wounded.

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Sam Webster's Account of the Day

Presented here are five more narratives of the battle, written by Drummer Sam Webster, Company D;  Sergeant George Henry Hill, Company B;  Sergeant John Boudwin, Company A; Sergeant Austin C. Stearns, Company K; and Melvin H. Walker, Company K.

Drummer Sam Webster starts things off.   He was ordered to the rear with the Drum Corps during the engagement when the regiment approached the town.   He went to work at the First Corps hospital at Christ Church, on Chambersburg Street.  Not wanting to be taken prisoner, he made a last minute dash for the Union lines.

Excerpts of Sam Webster's diary (HM 48531) used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

Wednesday, July 1st, 1863H.A. Ogden illustration of officer giving orders
        Gettysburg  Took the road to Gettysburg;  had a fine shower. 1st and 3rd Divisions ahead of us.  Some distance before we reached Gettysburg, were met by an Aid and told that we were wanted, as the cavalry were engaged and Gen. Reynolds killed, which last we did not believe until we had to, being told by those who had seen him.  Turned off the pike to left, at a brick house, through an orchard (peach, I think) to a ridge running across the Cashtown road, and along the ridge to the road.  Drum Corps being ordered to the rear, and everything looking quiet, got a pass to go down into Gettysburg now just behind us – to see an uncle (Dr. Dorsey) in company with Ike.  Couldn’t find the Dr. as he had shortly before moved to Urbana – Frd’k Co.  Heard that the Reg’t was engaged, couldn’t find the Brig. Drum Corps, and after a deal of hunting, found the Division Hospl. on a cross street, in a Church.  Went to work with the boys, a great number of whom were here wounded.  A crowd of prisoners was shortly after brought in under a detail of the 13th. 

Got sick while attending wounds and going out on the square, was admonished by the running of the 11th Corps, and the whiz of a couple of bullets which struck just over my head, in the fence, that the Johnnies were not far off, and accordingly went back to the Hospital.  Saw Ike; told him the state of the case, and that I had seen our own Corps flag, shot away, until but a small portion of the field and enough of the cross to show the ‘1’ on it, was left.  Left him going into the hospital with a pail of water – said he’d “give that out, anyhow,” – and went in below, through the yard, to the basement.  Soon a rush was made by stragglers to retreat through the yard, which was prevented by the guard.  I then picked up my knapsack, and Ike’s and my drums, and started out to join the corps, determined not to be taken prisoner.

  Joined the rear of the column, somewhat confused, and broken but still organized, as they moved with bullets pattering around from all sides, and went straight out the Taneytown road, passing in front of a battery supported by a division of the 11th corps.  Artillery re-organizing on Cemetery Hill by A. WaudFind the regiment shortly after, to the left of a small slip of woods, facing the Emmittsburg road, and reduced to 70 in number, under Lt. Col. Batchelder.  Col’s Leonard (13th) and Bates (12th Mass) are both wounded.  Gen. Paul is shot through the eyes, and nearly every Col. in the Division is wounded. Gen. Doubleday – of 3rd Division is in command of the Corps, and Gen. Howard of the 11th Corps commands the two corps here.  Bro. Ike undoubtedly, gone up.  Have lost heavily in every way.  (Learned afterward, but am not prepared to prove it, that out of 7000 men – or thereabouts – the 1st Corps lost, on that day 4300, killed, wounded, and missing.) 

Artist Alfred Waud sketched this scene of Union artillery being retired near the Cemetery.  Waud was present during the battle, but I'm not sure if this was sketched on July 1st.

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Letter of Sergeant George Henry Hill; Aug. 4, 1863; Part 1;

George Henry Hill, Company B      Around the year 2006, two letters written by George Hill of Company B, [pictured, left with his Corporal stripes]  were discovered in the attic of a New Hampshire home and generously shared by the finder.  Unfortunately the diagram Hill made of the battle to accompany this letter, is lost.   It referenced the regiments 3 positions during the battle.  I have divided this very long letter written in 'diary' style, into sections to fit the chronology.  The rest of it will be posted on the following pages of this section.

College Green Barracks
Annapolis Md
August 4-63

Dear Father
                     I wrote to you yesterday but only on business.  Now I will take time and write for pleasure.

        On the morning of the first day of July at 7 o'clock we struck our tents near Emmitsburg Pa. and started towards Gettysburg at about 9 we heard heavy firing in our front and we knew that we would soon be engaged.  As we moved on the sound grew more and more distinct and soon we arrived within sight of the town of Gettysburg. We could now see the smoke of the conflict about half a mile in advance. We left the road and marched across the fields and immediately took up our position in line of battle and commenced firing.  I find I cannot explain myself without the use of a diagram and therefore I have drawn out a quick one which will answer the purpose. At the place marked "A" the Rebel skirmishers were posted behind a stone wall. After about half an hours firing during which our Regiment suffered considerably the Rebels (what were left hoisted white towels and hankys and we rushed up and captured about 80 and obtained possession of the road in our front. Some of the boys went forward and took about a dozen Rebels out of the barn. We were now face to face with the Rebel line of battle. It was now that the 11th Corps fell back driven by the Rebel skirmishers. I say the Corps I should say one division of the corps. We held our position on the road about half an hour when the battery in the woods on the left opened upon us with grape and canister and as we were in complete range we fell back and took up position no 2. Here we fought over an hour and with good success little thinking that all this time the enemy was getting in our rear and into the town. A Rebel line advanced over the ground which the 11th corps had occupied and of course in that way forced us to change position again. We now took up position no 3 and we were now pretty well mixed up. Our Brigadier was wounded. Col Leonard wounded Col Root next in command also wounded. Many of our line officers killed or wounded. The different regiments of our Brigade were all mixed up with us but still we never thought of giving up but only wondered why we were not supported.

 We now heard terrific fighting on our left where our first & third division had been engaged all day. It came nearer and nearer and we knew our left was giving way but we had no orders to fall back and we would not be driven. Lieutenant Morton TowerSoon we saw our men and Artillery rushing down by the Seminary and down to the R.R. closely followed by the enemy. Where were we?  Cut off entirely and it was now each man for himself.  We started for the R.R. and if I ever ran I did it then. Bullets from the rear and from both sides flew thick and fast and when I got as far as the place marked T  I was confronted by five or six Johnies and ordered to halt and surrender. What else could I do? Nothing! And so I was a prisoner. I was marched to the rear over the same ground over which we fought. I saw our boys, dead and wounded, but could give them no help. I felt tired sick and discouraged. I was marched over the ground where the rebels fought and I tell you their dead lay thick proving that we had not fought in vain.   Can it be that I am the only one taken of our Co. was the question I asked myself. I soon saw a squad of prisoners coming and among them was John and two others of Co. B.  Thank God I am not alone!"  We marched about a mile to the rear where we halted and as squad after squad came in each bringing an addition to our little number until it swelled to 100 including Lieut Tower of Co B. Lieut Cary and Lieut Whiston of Co K.  I began to think that our regiment was all taken. You can imagine our feelings that night.

(Lieutenant Morton Tower, Company B, pictured above).

to be continued...

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Diary of Sergeant John Boudwin

Pearce Museum LogoThe 1863 diary of Sergeant John Boudwin in noteworthy for documenting his captivity at Belle Isle Prison in Richmond, Virginia following the battle of Gettysburg.  The cruel suffering from starvation and exposure, at that place during Summer and Fall of 1863 is recorded for posterity.  Visitors to this site are urged to obtain a transcription from the Pearce Civil War Collections Museum, Narvarro College, Corsicana, Texas. [click the graphic to visit that site].

July, Wednesday, 1.   1863
        Taken Prisoner

Came in with rain.  Left camp at Emmittsburg, Md., and Marched to Gettysburg, Pa and arrived at noon - and met the Rebels and fought them [?]    our corps had the left and the regt the Right. went in to the Battle our company having the colors and fought well.  Took more prisoners than we numbered and continued fight till we wer out of ammunition and picked up all the cartridges that we could find and continued fighting. the 11th Corps broke on our right  and run pell mell to the Town the Rebels after them.  we wer ordered to fall back and done so.  and on going around the town found our Retreat cut off -  I was ordered to surrender and I am so verry willingly for a Rifle was pointed at my breast and I was then a prisoner of one of  29th Georgia - I was taken to the rear and passed by the same old spot where my Regiment fought and when I found several of my own company & Regiment and several of the 11th Corps -  or flying dutchmen - we were taken into a large field and Bivouacked for the night sleeping soundly as I was pretty well used up  - Co A Loss - 11 wounded.  Genl Reynolds and Genl Paul were killed.*

*General Paul was not killed, but badly wounded, shot through both eyes.  He survived his wounds.

The Unfinished Railroad Cut to the town, taken by Brady

Pictured is the railroad cut viewed from Seminary Ridge, taken by Photographer Mathew Brady, on or about Juy 15, 1863, right after the battle.  Down this path came William Warner, David Sloss, and eventually Bourne Spooner who was captured near the college, just out of view on the left.  This is as close as it gets to viewing what the soldiers themselves actually saw.  The picture is cropped to focus on the cut, but click on the image to see the full two plate panoramic in large format which includes the Sheads House, and Chambersburg Road.

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Sergeant Austin Stearns' Memoirs

Visitors to this website should now be very familiar with Sergeant Stearns whose memoirs are a vital resource on the American Civil War.  Stearns' Gettysburg narrative is a well regarded and well used source concerning events at Gettysburg.  His chronicle of occurrances at Christ Church Hospital and in town during the Rebel occupation is an invaluable primary resource.

From "Three Years With Company K," Edited by Arthur Kent, Fairleigh Dickenson Press; 1976.  Used with Permission.

On the morning of the first day of July we marched, the first division [Wadsworth's] in the advance.  We had not gone far when we heard an occasional shot, but without thinking much about them, for they were of daily occurrence.  Colonel S.H. LeonardAs the day advanced and we drew nearer Gettysburg, the firing had a nearness that betokened mischief.  When about a mile from the village, and at the place where we turned into the field, we heard with sorrow that our beloved corps commander Gen’l Reynolds was killed, and that there was every prospect of a fight.  We moved down across the fields, leaving the town on our right, to a grove in which there was a battery posted, going just beyond, we halted near the Seminary.

    In the meantime there was firing going on quite briskly in the front of the first division.  We were halted but a few moments when we were ordered to cross the ridge to the other side of the buildings and to build a breastwork. We commenced to work with a will when an officer rode up with an order for Col Leonard.   [Colonel S. H. Leonard, pictured, right.]   “Fall in” was quickly given, and again throwing on our traps, we moved off to the right.  On the double quick we went on over the fields, through a grove and a gap in the fence at which lay an officer of the 12th Mass wounded, next a stouble field where John Flye was hit, [and] the bed of a railroad to another field, where we formed a line of battle, our brigade forming the right of the line, and our regiment the right of the brigade.  Here was indeed a sight, for away off over the fields in our front, partialy hidden by a large brown barn and an apple orchard, was a long line of men.  I thought at first that they must be our men, for I could not believe that the firing which was growing in fierceness on our left would be extended around so far in our front.  If these were union men, all was right, but if rebels, where was the men to oppose them, for surely our little short line could not do much in that direction.  All doubts were soon set at rest, and that long line began to move directly towards us; we could see their colors, and their dirty uniforms.

McLean's Barn from the Position of the 13th Mass     Pictured is the view to McLean's Barn as seen from the position of the '13th Mass' during the battle.  The apple orchard is on the slope in front of the barn.  The Mumasburg Road is in the foreground.

The skirmishers in our front commenced a brisk fire when we were ordered to advance into a piece of woods; this we did, and the firing became general in our front.

In advancing up, being near the turn in the line, the farther we advanced the greater would be the gap between the two regiments until there was quite a space, the other regiment partially facing the other way.  On our left but a little ways off was a little hill, or knoll; this was occupied by the rebels, [who] seeing our exposed position fired directly down our line. This was a most fatal fire for us.  Many of our brave boys fell at this time; we being so briskly engaged with those in front we had not noticed them till we received their fire.  My place being near the right of the company, I turned to see what had been the effect on old K.  The first thing I saw was Sergeant Wheeler laying on the ground but a short distance away.  There being so much noise and din, I could not tell by looking at him how bad he was hurt, for I could hear no sound.  I went up and spoke to him, but received no answer.  I saw that he was shot through the head, the bullet striking him in the left temple, and the blood and brains were oozeing out. Illustration by Frederic RayWhile [I was] looking at him he took his left arm and put it up to his forehead and tried to wipe it, [and] made a low gurgling sound with his lips at the same time.  There was no time now to be wasted on dead men, so leaving him, I turned my attention again to the fight and the boys who were firing away at a rapid rate.  The artillery had now opened on all sides and cannon balls were flying from all direction.  How the battle was going none of us could tell, for we had all we could attend to in our front.  Just at this time I was hit on the left shoulder by a bullet that cut through my coat and the skin enough to start the blood, and paralyzing my arm completely.  I could not lift my arm at all; it hung lifeless by my side.  As I was of no use, I gave my gun to one of the men who said his gun had got out of order, and went back and sat down trying to make my arm work. A man of Co I – wounded in both wrists – could not get his knapsack off, and, as he was bleeding considerable, he was afraid he would not hold out to get to the rear and carry it.  I helped him off with it.

That great long line had been advancing, and when I came out of the woods on my retreat, the plain on our right was filled with them, and they were slowly gaining our rear.  On our left our men were getting the worst of it and were being driven back.  Things looked gloomy enough.

I had noticed as we entered the town, quite an elevation, and now as I came out of the woods I saw with delight that the hill was crowned with batteries who were speaking in thunder tones and holding back that same long line on our right.  Gen’l Howard, on taking command after the death of Reynolds, had ordered a portion of the 11th corps to hold and fortify, and that was what they were doing.  This hill is now the famous “Cemetary Hill.”  I could distinctly hear the peculiar yell of the Jonnies as our boys fell back before them.

The victorious legions of Hill corps, outnumbering our boys four to one, were not only driving back the sturdy veterans of the old 1st, but came well nigh annihilating them, they offered such a stubborn resistance.

At a glance I saw that it was almost like running the gauntlet to get back to the town and the hill, beyond which seemed to be, as indeed it was, the only place of safety.

I started back.  The field was filled with wounded men and those who were not, all trying to escape the “anaconda” that had almost entwined us in its folds. Christ Church Steps with Medical Flag I took what I thought then was the direct route to town, by the Penn College which had been turned into a hospital.  I did not stop there, but had to turn more to the right to gain the town.  On entering the village from the west, I saw a barrel of water standing by the way and I paused a moment to take a drink.  I then hurried on, and came to a street running at right angles to the one I was on.  I turned up the street and had not gone far before I became aware that there were rebs at the end to which I was going; the bullets came singing down past as though they wanted to hurt someone.  Thinking I must be taken prisoner, and seeing our division hospital flag hanging out in front of a church, I went in at the main enterance and proceeded up into the body of the house;  there was quite a good number already there, wounded in all conceivable ways, rebs as well as union men.  I passed up the main aisle and took a seat in an empty pew about half way up.  I was hardly seated before a shell came tearing through, scattering the plastering and splinters around.

to be continued...

[Pictured is Christ Lutheran Church with the medical flag flying; the church Austin Stearns entered.]

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Sergeant Melvin H. Walker's Reminiscence

 Veteran Melvin H. Walker of Westboro, Mass., Company K, became a successful entreprenneur after the war, being a partner in Gould & Walker shoe manufacturers.    Organized in 1883 it grew to employ 300 people and manufactured 35,000 pairs of shoes in 1890.  The company folded in the early 1900's.  Walker presented a few papers to the 13th Regiment Association, this one appeared in Circular #24, December, 1911, for the 50th anniversary of the regiment.  Its primary focus was the story of John Parra, a Cuban freedom fighter, who joined the regiment in August, 1863, a hero amongst scoundrels that made up most of the other recruits assigned to the regiment at that time.   Walker encountered Parra upon his return to the regiment following his recovery from wounds received at Gettysburg.  The complete article will be reprised later on this site, but here is the beginning of Walker's story, which briefly relates a few of his experiences at Christ Church, where Austin Stearns took refuge.  Walker was wounded in the right foot during the battle.*

A Personal Experience
By Melvin H. Walker.

Melvin Walker, Company K

On the evening of June 30th the 1st Corps of the Army of the Potomac bivouacked on Marsh Creek near the Pennsylvania line. Early the next morning we marched up the Emmitsburg pike, reaching the Lutheran Seminary before noon, and found the battle already on and our 1st Division hotly engaged.

Just as we arrived we met the body of our beloved commander, General Reynolds, being borne to the rear.

In his leadership the battle had opened with brilliant success and his action had determined that the great decisive contest of the war should be fought around the quiet town of Gettysburg.

Of all the general officers under whom we served no one was held in so high esteem and so warm affection.

Our division, Robinson's, was soon put into the fight, our regiment holding the extreme right of the corps.

About eight thousand men of the 1st Corps, reinforced later by six thousand of the 11th, contended through the long summer after-noon with more than half of Lee's Veteran Army in the effort to hold the enemy in check until the remaining Union Corps should arrive.

Rufus Zogbaum illustration of Rebel line of battle     No more desperate fighting occurred during the war, and the losses on the Union side, in proportion to the numbers engaged, were never equaled.

The Confederate General, Imboden, says there was great curiosity felt whether the Federals would still fight, after the disastrous defeats of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, and, in answer to the question how did the Yanks fight, was told they fought like hell.

General Alexander Longstreet's chief of artillery also says: "I have heard survivors of the war say that some of the Federal fighting that day equaled or surpassed any they ever saw from first to last."

My position in the ranks was on the right of my Company K, which was on the left of the regiment. Of the first eight men four were mortally and three severely wounded. I was so fortunate as to be carried off the field by two comrades of the Twelfth Massachusetts, which regiment had just been relieved and was moving to the rear.

Wounded men in streams from all parts of the line were making their way to the town, beside many officers and others carried by comrades.

The fields were swept by the fire of the enemy from the ridges above, and many were struck down.

I was taken to a large church on Carlisle street, where our division hospital had been established on the ground floor.  The large vestry was fast filling and before night was packed with men covering the floor.  Alfred Bellard sketch of Surgeons working over a tableAn operating table was placed in an anteroom opening off the main hall and here our surgeons worked with knife and saw, without rest or sleep, almost without food, for thirty-six hours before the first round had been made.

About five o'clock the town was occupied by the enemy, the sentry was shot down.  A chaplain of a Pennsylvania regiment was killed on the steps leading to the room above, and one of our own surgeons was wounded.**  A Confederate guard was placed over the hospital, but otherwise we were left to ourselves.

After the surgeons' work was done we had no care save such as the few less seriously wounded comrades could give.  The weather was very hot; we were wholly without food; the floor was drenched with blood and water and men were dying on every side.  The First night twenty-three dead were carried from our room and laid beside the church awaiting burial.  While the suffering from inflamed wounds and burning fever was intense there was no loud outcry, only sighs and groans and calls for water.  Here for three nights and days we watched and waited, listening with almost breathless interest to the tumult of the fighting of the second and third days.  We heard the crash of guns, the long roll of musketry, the cheers and yells of the opposing lines as they swayed back and forth through the changing fortunes of the day.  Frequently Confederate stragglers dropped in to jibe and boast of certain victory on the morrow and the speedy success of the southern cause.

*Biographical information on Walker is from "The History of Westborough Massachusetts," H.P. Deforest &  E. C. Bates, published by the town, 1891.  And, "On The Beaten Path: Westborough, Massachusetts," by Kristina Nilson Allen, Westborough Civic Club and Westborough Historical Society: 1985.
** Chaplain Horatio Howell and Surgeon Edgar Parker.

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Sergeant Austin Stearns' Memoir, continued

After being seated I was touched by someone from the seat behind, and on looking around I saw a reb who was wounded on the arm.  He wanted to know how the battle was going;  I told him I did not know, and to be truthful I did not, although it had a very bad look, but just then I did not feel like telling him what I thought.  He enquired to what regiment and Corps I belonged. I told him and then put the same questions to him.  He said he belonged to a North Carolina regiment and was in Hills corps, and was amongst some of the first to be wounded.  He was a very intelligent man and we entered into conversation immediately, he doing most of the talking.  He said he was a union man before the war, and done all he could to prevent his state from going out.  He was one of the delegates to the convention that carried the old State out.  After the secession of his state he said he wanted nothing more to do with politics.  He carried on his farm and tried to live a peacefull life.  The first year passed, and in the second year more men were wanted, so they came and without saying “by your leave” they took him and put him in the army.  Since then he had tried to do his duty as soldier.

Interior of Christ Lutheran Church

He said according to his ideas there was no cause for war, but being a Southern man, with all his interests, home, wife, children, and property there, he should continue to fight till the end, if not for his own sake, for those left behind who were dependent upon him.

Pictured is the interior of Christ Lutheran Church where Sgt. Stearns settled.  This photo is contemporary to Stearns time when the Pews had a center aisle. Damage during the war initiated a restoration which included a remodeled pulpit and railing configuration, new pews, carpet and paint.  This 1867 image shows the church decorated for the 350th anniversary of the reformation.*

The noise that had been in the street in front of the church had now passed on, and comparative quiet reigned instead, when the North Carolina man arose and, looking around for a few moments said, “I reckon we’ve changed boots,” bade me good-day, and went out.

Two rebel soldiers came in and going down the aisle picked up everything that struck their fancy.  When down in front of the desk, they both saw and at the same time seized hold of an Officers haversack, each claiming it as his property, and getting very angry over it.  After cursing a good deal and trying to pull it away from each other, they were proceeding to blows when an officer stepping up, took hold of the strap, told each one to let go, and then threw the strap over his shoulder [and] walked off with his prize.  The real owner, a wounded union officer, [was] sitting in one of the pews.

A rebel officer now came around and took the name and regiment of each one, and cautioned us all not to go out of the church.

I now went through the room to see how many of the boys I could find, and see if I could help them.  I found quite a number of the regiment but only one from company K, Harvey Ross.  [Austin Stearns, pictured].

Austin StearnsHe was lying up in front of the desk, and had been for an hour or two. Nothing had been done for him and his wounds began to feel sore; he wanted me to look and see how bad he was hurt.  I looked and found that he was shot through the left arm above the elbow, the ball then entering his side.  I could not get him over enough to see if the ball went through; he asked me what I though of him, and I told him I would go for the Surgeon.  It was now dark and it was with difficulty that I made my way around. At length, going down into the vestry, I found him busy and quite a number of K men.  I asked him if he could just look at a man up stairs; he said he would but he must attend to his own men first.  I told him this was one of his men. It being dark he had not recognized me at first.  We went up stairs and he looked at the wound and told me to keep it wet with cold water, as that was all he could do till morning .  I had already wet it.  Some tallow dips had been brought in and we had quite good light.

There was another wounded man laying near, whose wound had become dry and sore, and in addition he had a bad diarrhea; there was no one to wet it or look after him in any way.  I wet his wounds and turned him around and placed him in as comfortable a position as I could, and thus the night passed away.

In talking with some of the rebels, I enquired how the battle had gone, knowing by their looks and actions that things were looking bright for them, and indeed they were feeling good and were fee to talk. They said they had driven our boys ten miles, and in the morning were going right straight on to Washington.

Not knowing how much of our army had been engaged, or even where it was, I did not know but it was so, from what I knew of the fight and the licking we got.

With the rebs all around us, and wounded men taking on, with the uncertainties of what was to be on the morrow, made an exceedingly gloomy night.

*NOTE:  The photograph of the church interior, and the information regarding its remodel comes from the booklet titled "A Sanctuary For The Wounded", published by Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 44 Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg PA 17325.  In the summer months the church conducts evenings of remembrance, a one hour program of music and narration, recalling the time when it was used as a hospital during the battle of Gettysburg.

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"S. A. Hayes a middle aged man was shot and cried out, Who will take care of my children now ?!”"