The Battle of Gettysburg

July 2nd, 1863

"The Movement down to the left in afternoon of 2nd day, when we came under direct fire was a time, that tried men’s courage— There was no personal bravado, no cheers of excellent troops, it was looking possible death in the face & each man recognizing to himself, his own helplessness to avoid it and fate pushing him on quietly to take it all." - William R. Warner.

Edwin Forbes painting of the Rebel charge on Cemetery Hill, July 2nd.

The Charge of Ewell's Corps on the Cemetery Gate and Capture of Rickett's Battery" [July 2nd] by Edwin Forbes.  See Austin Stearns for some anecdotes about this charge.



Table of Contents

Prologue; Sarah Broadhead's Diary - July 2nd

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

Sarah Broadhead

July 2. — Of course we had no rest last night.  Part of the time we watched the Rebels rob the house opposite.  The family had left some time during the day, and the robbers must have gotten all they left in the house.  They went from the garret to the cellar, and loading up the plunder in a large four-horse wagon, drove it off.  I expected every minute that they would burst in our door, but they did not come near us.  It was a beautiful moonlight night, and we could see all they did.

July 2. — The cannonading commenced about 10 o'clock, and we went to the cellar and remained a little while until it ceased.  When the noise subsided, we came to the light again, and tried to get something to eat.  My husband went to the garden and picked a mess of beans, though stray firing was going on all the time, and bullets from sharpshooters or others whizzed about his head in a way I would not have liked.  He persevered until he picked all, for he declared the Rebels should not have one.  I baked a pan of shortcake and boiled a piece of ham, the last we had in the house, and some neighbors coming in, joined us, and we had the first quiet meal since the contest began.  I enjoyed it very much.  It seemed so nice after so much confusion to have a little quiet once more.  We had not felt like eating before, being worried by danger and excitement.  The quiet did not last long.

Charles Reed sketch of a shell

About 4 o'clock P.M. the storm burst again with terrific violence.  It seemed as though heaven and earth were being rolled together.  For better security we went to the house of a neighbor and occupied the cellar, by far the most comfortable part of the house.  Whilst there a shell struck the house, but mercifully did not burst, but remained imbedded in the wall, one half protruding.  About 6 o'clock the cannonading lessened, and we, thinking the fighting for the day was over, came out.  Then the noise of the musketry was loud and constant, and made us feel quite as bad as the cannonading, though it seemed to me less terrible.  Very soon the artillery joined in the din, and soon became as awful as ever, and we again retreated to our friend's underground apartment, and remained until the battle ceased, about 10 o'clock at night.  I have just finished washing a few pieces for my child, for we expect to be compelled to leave town tomorrow, as the Rebels say it will most likely be shelled.

I cannot sleep, and as I sit down to write, to while away the time, my husband sleeps as soundly as though nothing was wrong. I wish I could rest so easily, but it is out of the question for me either to eat or sleep under such terrible excitement and such painful suspense.  We know not what the morrow will bring forth, and cannot even tell the issue of to-day.  We can gain no information from the Rebels, and are shut off from all communication with our soldiers.  I think little has been gained by either side so far.David Troxell House, Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg  Has our army been sufficiently reinforced?  is our anxious question.  A few minutes since we had a talk with an officer of the staff of General Early, and he admits that our army has the best position, but says we cannot hold it much longer.  The Rebels do so much bragging that we do not know how much to believe.  At all events, the manner in which this officer spoke indicates that our troops have the advantage so far.  Can they keep it?  The fear they may not be able causes our anxiety and keeps us in suspense.

This photograph was copied from the website "Gettysburg Daily."  It is believed the Joseph Broadhead Family was living at 217 Chambersburg Street, pictured on the right.  The grey building next door, is the David Troxell House.  During the afternoon artillery duel, Troxell's neighbors, including Sarah and her husband, gathered in the basement of this home for safety.  A shell struck the Troxell house, which can still be seen today.  "This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2009."

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Introduction

General George G. Meade

While the battle raged at Gettysburg, July 1st, Commanding General George G. Meade remained at Army Headquarters in Taneytown, Maryland, to direct the concentration of the rest of the army at Gettysburg.  He sent trusted subordinate, General Winfield Scott Hancock to the battle-field in his stead, to take command of the troops, monitor the day’s events, and report back to headquarters whether or not the ground there was favorable for a battle.  But in the afternoon, before hearing directly from Hancock, and once he was convinced that the enemy, General Robert E. Lee, was bringing his whole force to Gettysburg, General Meade issued orders to his several corps commanders to do the same.

In just 4 days, upon assuming command of the Army of the Potomac, Meade had gathered information, maneuvered the great scattered Army of the Potomac north, and planned for various contingencies depending on the enemy’s moves.  A tremendous accomplishment.  Now a great battle was imminent.

He remained at the Taneytown headquarters until midnight, hoping to meet with General Sedgwick of the 6th Corps before departing, but delayed no longer.   He had to get to Gettysburg 12 miles away, and prepare for the next days fight.

He rode up to the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse on Cemetery Ridge about 1 a.m. and was greeted by several of his generals with favorable news.  This was a good place to fight.

Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse

He was glad to hear that for “it was too late to leave it.”  General Meade spent the rest of the night, until early morning, riding the lines of his army, accompanied by a staff engineer who mapped the terrain and noted the commanding general’s intended troop placements.  Chief of 1st Corps Artillery, Colonel Charles Wainwright recorded in his journal: 

"General Meade came along our line between one and two o'clock this morning.  General Hunt was with him, and I explained to him, as well as I could, the dispositions I had made here.  It was not light enough to see much and they did not stop long."  

Meade worried that the enemy would attack before all was ready.  He needed day light to properly maneuver his several arriving army corps into battle positions.

 Initially General Meade’s idea was to make a strong attack on the Confederates’ left flank from the area around Culp’s Hill.  In the morning he sent his chief engineer, General G. K. Warren off to examine the ground and report whether such an attack would be favorable.  Then, he sent his son, George, as Aide, to check on the 3rd Corps deployment at the left of the Union line.  It was the only corps that had not yet reported to headquarters.  As fate would have it, the fortunes of the Federal Army on July 2nd, derived from the actions of 3rd Corps Commander, Major-General Daniel E. Sickles.

General Sickles reported to General Meade’s son that he was unaware, of where precisely he was to deploy his troops.  A quick round-trip ride back to Headquarters, and the general’s son quoted Meade’s instructions for General Sickles.  “The Third Corps was to go on the left of the Second Corps and prolong its line to Geary’s position of the night before. (Little Round Top).  This was to be done as rapidly as possible.” 2

Major-General Daniel Sickles

But, General Sickles was not happy with the ground General Meade assigned the 3rd Corps.  That morning, he had agreed with one of his aides that the high ground near the Emmitsburg Road was preferable.  Sickles rode to headquarters about 10 a.m., and voiced his concerns.  He requested General Meade accompany him to examine the preferred ground.  Meade refused being too busy, but gave permission for his Chief of Artillery General Henry Hunt to go.  Before riding off, Sickles asked Meade if he could place his troops where he saw fit.  Meade replied, “Certainly, within the limits of the general instructions I have given you; any ground within those limits you choose to occupy, I leave to you.,” 3

Major-General Daniel Sickles, pictured.

The Chief of Artillery saw some advantages to the advanced position that Sickles wanted to occupy, but he also saw its fatal flaw, it was twice as much ground to hold as that which was assigned, and it would take many more men than Sickles had to hold it.   Hunt gave Sickles some suggestions as to where artillery might be placed if the forward line was utilized,  then left to tend to his own matters.  On the way to Cemetery Hill Hunt stopped at Headquarters and reported to Meade that Sickles' position ‘taken on its own’ was strong, but that Meade should see it for himself. 4

As morning gave way to mid-day, a continuing series of miscarried communications between his own staff and head-quarters irritated General Sickles.  He believed his line was a better one to fight off an enemy attack, and that head-quarters was ambivalent to the concerns of the 3rd Corps and its commander.

When skirmishing broke out in the woods opposite his favored position about 1 p.m. Sickles abandoned Meade's intended line and decided to advance his troops mile, to the high ground on the Emmitsburg Road near the Sherfy family Peach Orchard.

The new 3rd Corps line over extended itself.  It covered too much ground.  It had gaps.  It was made without the knowledge of the troops that  connected on the right, and it severed that connection.  When General Meade, who was not known for his mild temper, finally learned what had happened, he blew a gasket, so to speak.  An aide wrote, "I have never seen him so angry."  Meade rode to General Sickles'  line and correctly observed, it could not be held by the 3rd Corps alone.  Sickles agreed, but continued to assert that in his opinion it was the best line. An Aide to General Meade remembers his answer to Sickles as, “General Sickles, this is neutral ground, our guns command it as well as the enemy’s.  The very reason you cannot hold it applies to them.” 5

Gettysburg Battle Map, July 2

General Sickles was ordered to anchor his line at the Round Tops and connect with General Hancock's line on Cemetery Ridge.  The map at left shows the advanced line that General Sickles took up without General Meade's knowledge.  Consequently General Meade had to rush troops onto the field to bolster Sickles' vulnerable position.  (Ewell's attack as depicted occured in the evening.)  The map is by Hal Jesperson, www.posix.com/CW; from Wikimedia Commons.

Hearing this, General Sickles offered to return to the ground first specified.  But the boom of enemy cannon announced it was too late.6   It was after 3 p.m.  The fight was about to begin.

The rest of the afternoon, during the course of intense fighting on the 3rd Corps front, General Meade desperately shovelled troops from the 2nd and 5th Corps into the battle ground chosen by General Sickles.

If General Meade’s staff was negligent for not directing Sickles into position, Sickles advance was insubordinate.  Fortunately for General Meade, things weren't proceeding smoothly for those people across the lines.

The Confederate Army had its own problems with planning and deployment on the morning of July 2nd.  General Robert E. Lee’s planned assault on the Union left was based upon a deeply flawed reconnaissance report done very early in the morning.   Once begun, the attack had to be altered on the battlefield.  General James Longstreet, whose corps was to do the fighting, was against making the attack at all.  He considered the Union defenses too strong to break.  Confusion and poor supervision delayed the deployment of Longstreet’s troops as they moved south into battle position.  The hours of the day passed away.  It took six hours before the planned Confederate attack began.  But once underway, the Rebels pushed hard and soon broke General Sickles’s salient at the Sherfy Peach Orchard along Emmitsburg Road. The rest of the 3rd Corps line eventually collapsed.  In spite of success, the Rebel attack sputtered out as darkness fell.  For, after the tired but victorious Confederate troops swept the Federals from the ground Sickles occupied, they faced another Union line in a strong position along Cemetery Ridge.  It was the line General Sickles had initially been ordered to hold by General Meade.  It was General Meade and his able subordinates who patched the new defensive line together, and saved the day for the Federals.

In the evening, another crisis would emerge to the north, on the right of the Union lines at Culp’s Hill, but more on that later.


NOTES
1.  Coddington, Edwin B., "Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command", First Touchstone Edition, 1997;  p. 323.   Author Coddington cites: General O.O. Howard for this comment, OR, XXVII, pt. 1, p. 705.
2.  Pfanz, Harry W., "Gettysburg, The Second Day, The University of North Carolina Press", 1987; p. 83.  Author Pfanz cites "Meade, Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade," 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913. p. 67;  Meade, "With Meade at Gettysburg," Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1930.  p. 101; Meade Testimony, "Committee on the Conduct of the War", p. 338.
3.  Pfanz, p. 93.  Author Pfanz cites: "With Meade at Gettysburg", p. 106; Meade Testimony, "CCW Report", p. 328; Sickles' Testimony , "CCW", p. 298.
4.  Coddington, p. 345. Author Coddington cites: CCW Report, vol. 1, p. 449-451.
5. Pfanz, p. 144.  Author Pfanz cites: Major James C. Biddle to Meade, 18 Aug. 1880, Gettysburg Letter Book. George Gordon Meade Collection, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, p. 27; Meade, "With Meade at Gettysburg", p. 114.
6. Meade at Gettysburg etc.

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What's On This Page

This Gettysburg page was another difficult page to assemble. Not  too much source material exists from the 13th Mass., and that which exists is a bit vague in terms of battle-field deployments.  Once again, the problem was solved by looking beyond the regimental resources for information.   The page begins with a citizen's perspective of the battle;-- Sarah Broadhead's prologue.  It is followed by a brief introduction that sets the stage for the day's battle by looking at the controversy of General Sickles' 3rd Corps deployment.  Then, an analysis of men and losses in Robinson's division from the first day's fight is presented to show how depleted these regiments were on July 2nd.  The 13th Mass., now numbered about 98 men, present for duty, down from 284 that entered the battle.  Following this is a brief look at the new First Corps Commander, Major-General John Newton.  Newton's life & career up to the  time of his appointment is summarized in the section titled, 'A New Corps Commander.'  And then comes some stories from the 13th Mass.

 The section titled 'Battle Impressions of 3 Soldiers', presents some brief reflections from Sam Webster, David Sloss and William R. Warner on the first days battle.  Each account is short but considering how few men of the regiment actually made it to Cemetery Hill to participate in the battle on the 2nd and 3rd days, I am grateful to have them.  Lieutenant Warner made a list of Company K men present at  Gettysburg.  I must thank Warner's step-descendant Eric Locher for allowing me to use this excerpt of Warner's manuscript on my website.  The Gettysburg pages are infinitely stronger in content because of it.  Another highlight of this section is the 1911 photograph of survivors of Company K, taken from William Warner's scrapbook. Warner's scrapbook came up for sale at an auction house in the fall of 2015, and I was fortunate to get a good copy of this image.  The page continues with some excerpts from the writings of Major Abner Small.

Stonewall south of the Bryan Barn

  Major Abner Small, was a lieutenant in the 16th  Maine at the time of the battle. This regiment, somewhat of a 'hard luck' unit, served in the same brigade with the 13th Mass, for a long time.  The fortunes of the two units were often intertwined.  And, Major Small's descriptive narrative is exquisite.  He was ordered to serve as Adjutant for Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11th PA, who transferred out of Baxter's 2nd Brigade to take command of Paul's 1st Brigade.  Major Small gives some amusing insights into Coulter's character.  After the introduction to Colonel Coulter the narrative for July 2nd, from the 13th Mass., regimental history is given.

Charles Davis, Jr., borrowed heavily from William Warner's diary for the brief passage about July 2nd, so I include Warner's diary entries to begin with.  But, both accounts are vague and I would say that Davis's brief statements are downright confusing for someone trying to track  the regiment's positions on the field of battle this day.  To remedy this, a series of hourly maps from battle-field historian John B. Bachelder (1825-1894), are presented in the section, 'So, Where exactly Were They on July 2nd?'  The maps show the specific locations of Robinson's division during the day, as recorded by Bachelder.  The essay also discusses in general terms, the progress of the battle and why the regiment/division was moved around so much. 

Position, Evening of July 1st

This image shows the position held by Paul's (Coulter's) Brigade the night of July 1st until the morning of July 2nd.  Part of the brigade was out front at the blue line.  The rest formed along the wall in the foreground, up to the Bryan house and barn, seen in  the first picture.  This was the view the boys had when they awakened on the morning July 2nd, surrounded by troops of the 2nd Army Corps.  It also happens to be the point on the Federal line reached by Rebel soldiers in Pickett's Charge on July 3rd.   Notice the Codori barn along the Emmitsburg Road in the background.  That is the place where the regiment had turned from the road and rushed over the fields towards the Seminary on the morning of July 1st.  Click to view larger.

Pickett, Pettigrew Charge Marker

The page changes gear for the final articles.  

The interesting narratives of Private Bourne Spooner and Sergeant Austin Stearns describe their different experiences as prisoners of war.  Spooner is corralled with the rest of the Union Army captives, but Stearns, is wounded, and so remained at Christ Church Hospital on Chambersburg Street.  He was free to ramble about the town within limits, and describes his wanderings and encounters with Rebel soldiers.   After looking in on the prisoners, the narrative turns back to head-quarters with the section titled, 'Council of War.'  This is a follow up to the introduction, with a look at Meade's gathering of Corps Commanders following the heavy fighting of July 2nd.  The article is written by one of the participants, Brigadier-General John Gibbon of the 2nd Corps.  

After this, the page concludes with a short story "Lost Among the Dead" found in Bivouac Magazine, 1885.

It is a fictionalized account of a soldiers experience based on the real experiences of author G.F. Williams, who was both a soldier and a war correspondent.  The story reinforces the idea, often lost amid stories of valor, that this war was in fact a horrible thing.  -- I hope you will enjoy this page.


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",   http://theebonswan.blogspot.com/2013/06/sarah-broadheads-battle-narrative-of.html;  The David Troxell House from Gettysburg Daily, http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/gettysburgs-david-troxell-house-artillery-shell/;   Cemetery Gate House, & battle-field dead, (Sepia photos by Timothy O'Sullivan) from the Chrysler Museum of Art, Digital Photograph Collection;   Gettysburg Battle Map, July 2nd by Hal Jesperson, accessed by Wikimedia Commons.   Portrait of David Sloss was shared with me by Mr. Scott Hann; Charles Reed sketch of canteen burdoned soldier accessed digitally from "Hard Tack & Coffee," by John D. Billings; accessed digitally via google books.  Major Abner R. Small, 16th Maine, from "Road To Richmond" edited by Harold A. Small, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 1939;  Frank Schell's sketch of an exploding shell and John Allen Maxwell's sketch of a Rebel Soldier (in Austin Stearns section)  from Civil War Times Illustrated;  Copies of the Bachelder Maps are from Mr. Bob George and Mr. Steven Floyd of Gettysburg;  Evening photographs by Buddy Secor, his pseudonym 'Ninja Pix" used with permission.  Other snapshots of the battlefield were taken by Susan Z. Forbush, June, 2016;  Sergeant Bourne Spooner presented by his descendant, Mr. Will Glenn; "Louisiana Pelican' by artist A.C.Redwood, & Edwin Forbes sketch, 'Confederate Attack on Cemetery Hill,'  from Battles & Leaders of the Civil War, Century Publications, 1887-1888;  Portrait of John Flye and Dan Warren,  from author's private collection;  Charles Reed sketch of soldiers sharing a canteen from the New York Public Library digital collections; ALL IMAGES HAVE BEEN EDITED IN PHOTOSHOP.

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Robinson's Division; Strengths & Losses  

Scrambling over a fence

The first day's fight at Gettysburg was looked upon as a Union defeat, although the First Corps troops fought brilliantly against a superior force of the enemy and gained time for the Union Army to consolidate at Cemetery Hill.  It was a delaying action.  Though they took a licking, the First Corps soldiers never considered themselves whipped.  Their comrades in the army also knew that they had fought well.  In fact, as Charles E. Davis, Jr. wrote of the first day’s battle, “We saw at once that we had stayed at the front a little too long for our safety.  Some 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.”  First corps losses figure about 49.6 % in killed wounded and missing men.

General Robinson's 2nd Division suffered a loss of 56.4% in men killed, wounded,  captured or missing.  The loss in captured or missing men from Robinson’s Division accounted for over half these numbers.

Eleventh Corps casualties by comparison, were lower.  Once again like at the battle of Chancellorseville, this unlucky corps was caught in an indefensible position, and hit hard on the flanks by a superior enemy force.   And, like at the Battle of Chancellorsville, it was abruptly compelled to leave the field.  Because the majority of troops in the 11th Corps were of German ancestry, it earned the unwelcome sobriquet of  “The Flying Dutchmen.”  It would have to suffer its bad reputation a while longer.  As the tattered remnants of the First and Eleventh Corps scrambled on to Cemetery Hill, in the late afternoon hours of July 1, an officer directing the troops into their new respective positions was heard to say, “First Corps goes to the right and Eleventh Corps go to hell.”1

In Consequence, of the heavy losses racked up in the first day's battle, the shattered troops of the First Corps, were held in reserve during the 2nd and 3rd days' fighting.

Union losses for the day, were dutifully reported at the regimental level, though they were done so with, not unexpected errors.  From these reports, brigade and division losses could be generally determined.  But unit strengths going into the battle at the regmental and brigade level are a trickier thing to tabulate.  In order to give an idea of First Corps' losses, and those of General Robinson's 2nd Division, a few sample tallies are hereby presented. 

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Official Reports for the battle give army strengths at corps and division levels.  It is more difficult to determine unit strengths at the smaller brigade and regimental level.  

confused man looking at papers

Several attempts to determine division and brigade strengths at the Battle of Gettysburg have been made over the years.  General John Robinson himself, reported his division went into battle with 'less than 2,500 men, and lost 1,667 in killed, wounded and missing.'  As time passed, others took pains to compute the actual numbers of men engaged in the great battle.

Among these are John Mitchell Vanderslice, an Executive Board Member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.  The Association formed in 1864, dedicated to preserving the historic battle-ground and its legacy for future generations.  In 1895, Vanderslice was chosen by the Board of Directors of the association to write a concise history of the battle due to the knowledge he gained working with veterans on the GBMA monument commission.2

In his work, Vanderslice admitted that the numbers reported during the battle were inaccurate, but in many instances corrections were made to the battle-field monuments, within certain restrictions.  The following chart includes numbers taken from the monuments.   Other sources used in the chart below include Century Publications historic work "Battles & Leaders of the Civil War," 1884-1887.   And, John Vautier's work, "A Discursive Chapter on the First Day at Gettysburg", a careful study of the battle that is included within the regimental history of the 88th PVI.3  In more recent times, historians David G. Martin with John W. Busey attempted a serious analysis of the data and came up with their own numbers.  The 'Busey & Martin' numbers presented here were printed in Steven  A. Floyd's book, "Commanders and Casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg."

The following charts are presented to give a general idea of the numbers and losses of Robinson's Division and to show the discrepancies in a select sampling of source material.

Robinson's Division; Strength & Losses

Source Strength Killed Wounded Missing Total Losses
General Robinson's Report 2,500 x x x 1,667
Busey & Martin 2005 ed. 2,995 91 616 983 1,690
Battles & Leaders of the CW x 90 613 933 1,681
John M. Vanderslice 3,248 707  k/w 982 1,629
Gettysburg Monuments 3,133 116 592 972 1,680
John Vautier 2,764 x x x 1,525

I've compiled data to make the following charts which show the discrepancies in regimental strengths as recorded in a variety of sources.  The source list is provided below the charts.

General Paul's 1st Brigade, Regimental Strength;

Regiment O.R. Vanderslice State Commissions Regimental History Monument Busey & Martin
16 ME x 298 30/350* 25/267 25/250 298
13 MA 260 x x 284 284 284
94 NY x x 30/415 x 445 411
104 NY x x 330 x 309 285
107 PA 25/230 255 25/230 x 25/230 255
Totals x x x x 1,568** 1536***

General Baxter's 2nd Brigade, Regimental Strength;

I could not find any mention of unit strength for any of Baxter's regiments in the O.R.

Regiment O.R. Vanderslice State Commissions Regimental History Monument Busey & Martin
12 MA x x x about 200 301 261
83 NY x x 215 less than 200 215 199
97 NY x x 255 24 officers/? men 255 236
11 PA x 292 292 212 23/269 270
88 PA x 296 296 less than 300 294 273
90 PA x 208 208 208 208 208
Totals



1,565 1,451***

The 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

Charles Davis, Jr. wrote in the regimental history of the 13th Mass., "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."


*In Maine at Gettysburg, Major Abner Small writes, "It will be observed that the list above given presents a total of 100 more men and six more officers than the numbers given respectively in the inscription on the monuments.  ...in regard to the officers...those of the field and staff were inadvertantly omitted in making up the account for the inscription"  Major Small says that one of the six officers on staff was absent sick. He continued, "With regard to the discrepancy in the two reports of men present, ...the numbers given in the inscription are those reporting present for duty at the last roll-call before the battle.  It is certain that men came up at some time during the three days battle.  But it is believed to be more nearly just to... [include] ...some who were not in the battle than to leave off some because there is no other proof of their being present..."

**Mostly on the First Day.

***The Totals add up to 1,533 for Paul & 1,447 for Baxter.  3 & 4 extra officers and men respectively, on staff and command, are added to the totals.


SOURCES:
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 27. Part 1; p. 289-312.
 Gettysburg Then and Now, by John M. Vanderslice, A Director of the Memorial Association, New York, G.W. Dillingham Co., Publishers; 1899; p. 124.

State Commissions: Maine at Gettysburg, Report of Maine Commissioners prepared by the Executive Committee, 1898; p. 42, & 51-58.  New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga.  Final Report On The Battlefield of Gettysburg, Albany, J.B. Lyon Company, Printers 1900, Vol. 1., p. 108. Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Battle-field Commission, 1914, Vol. 1, p. 172-173.

Regimental Histories: The Sixteenth Maine Regiment in the War of the Rebellion 1861 - 1865, by Major A. R. Small; B. Thurston & Company, Portland, Maine, 1886;  p. 114.   Three Years in the Army, The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, by Charles E. Davis, Jr., Estes & Lauriat, Boston, Mass. 1894; p. 229.  History of the Twelfth Massachusetts Volunteers (Webster Regiment), by Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin F. Cook, Published by the Twelfth (Webster) Regiment Association, Boston, 1882;  p. 102.    History of the Ninth Regiment- N.Y.S.M. - N.G.S.N.Y. (Eighty-Third N.Y. Volunteers.) 1845-1888.  Historian George A. Hussey. Editor William Todd, Published under the auspices of Veterans of the Regiment. New York 1889; p. 287.   History of The Ninety-Seventh Regiment New York Volunteers, ("Conkling Rifles,") In The War For The Union, By Isaac Hall, Utica, NY, Press of L.C. Childs & Son, 1890;  p. 142. note: if Major Hall gave numbers of enlisted men engaged, I missed it, when copying pages from the regimental history - B.F.   The Story of the Regiment,  By William Henry Locke, J.B. Lippencott & Co., 1867;  p. 243.   History of the 88th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War For The Union, 1861-1865, by John D. Vautier, Co. I, 88th P.V.;  1894;  p. 105.   Reunions of the Survivors of the Ninetieth Penna. Vols. (Infantry) on the Battle-field of Gettysburg., Survivors Association, Gettysburg, 1888-89; (90th Pennsylvania Volunteers.) By Colonel A. J. Sellers, President of the Association;  p. 32.

Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg, by John W. Busey and David G. Martin, 2005 edition, as cited in "Commanders and Casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, by Steven A. Floyd.


NOTES:
1.  John D. Vautier Diary, July 1, 1863, Vautier Papers, USAMHI.  As cited in, Gettysburg - The First Day, by Harry W. Pfanz, p. 332.
2.  Gettysburg Then and Now, by John M. Vanderslice, A Director of the Memorial Association, New York, G.W. Dillingham Co., Publishers; 1899; p. 24.    Vanderslice's position and responsibility for most of sixteen years was as a member of the Executive Committee and Secretary on the Location of and Inscriptions on Monuments.  In 1895 the GBMA selected Vanderslice 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."
3.  History of the 88th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War For The Union, 1861-1865, by John D. Vautier, Co. I, 88th PV, 1894. p. 152.

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A New Corps Commander

Brigadier-General Abner Doubleday

Major-General John Reynolds was killed and the First Corps needed a new leader.  General Meade appointed Major-General John Newton to the command.  In doing so he superseded  General Abner Doubleday, the ranking First Corps officer.  Doubleday commanded the corps in battle on July 1, following Reynolds’ death.  But Meade had doubts about Doubleday's ability to command a corps.

These doubts likely were reinforced by two dispatches from the battlefield received at Headquarters at Taneytown on July first.

The first dispatch came from General John Buford, the exceptional cavalry commander whose skilful deployment of troopers opened the battle.  Buford wrote at 3:20 p.m. July 1st,  “…a tremendous battle has been raging since 9:30 a.m. with varying success… General Reynolds was killed early this morning. In my opinion there seems to be no directing person.  P.S. We need help now.”

Buford’s dispatch reveals his lack of faith in Generals Doubleday and Howard the senior officers then commanding the field.   The 2nd paragraph in the following message probably didn’t help Doubleday either:

July 1, 5.25.

General:

When I arrived here an hour since, I found that our troops had given up the front of Gettysburg and the town.  We have now taken up a position in the cemetery, which cannot well be taken; it is a position, however, easily turned.  Slocum is now coming on the ground, and is taking position on the right, which will protect the right.  But we have as yet no troops on the left, the Third Corps not having yet reported; but I suppose that it is marching up.  If so, his (Sickles's) flank march will in a degree protect our left flank.  In the meantime Gibbon had better march on so as to take position on our right or left, to our rear, as may be necessary, in some commanding position.  Gen. G. will see this despatch.  The battle is quiet now.  I think we will be all right until night.  I have sent all the trains back.  When night comes it can be told better what had best be done.  I think we can retire;  if not, we can fight here, as the ground appears not unfavorable with good troops.  I will communicate in a few moments with General Slocum, and transfer the command to him.

Howard says that Doubleday's command gave way.

Your obedient servant,
                    Winfield S. Hancock,
                                             Maj. Gen'l., Com'd'g. Corps.

General Warren is here.

A multitude of other pressures upon General Meade at this time, coupled with his own suspicions about Doubleday,  convinced him to make a change.  Meade was given the power from authorities in Washington D.C. to appoint whomever he wished to command, regardless of seniority, 

At 4:30 Head-quarters sent out an order to the 6th Corps instructing General Newton to come forward and take command of the 1st Corps.

Coming from another corps, General Newton was an unknown commodity to the men.

General John Newton

Major-General John Newton

Newton was a Virginian, born August 24, 1823.  His father was a long time member of the House of Representatives.  John Newton showed a proficiency in math at an early age and was tutored with the intent of becoming a civil engineer.  At age 18 he entered the military academy at West Point.  He graduated 2nd in his class in 1842.  He served the military in the Corps of Engineers and spent most of his pre-war years in the planning and construction of military forts from the New England Coast to the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.  One of his earliest construction assignments was at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor.  He slowly gained rank during his long military service.  He was Captain of Engineers when the war broke out in April, 1861, and he made the distinctive decision to remain loyal to the Union.  In his own words regarding this decision he made the following statements to artist James E. Kelly in January, 1895:

“The Regulars [before the war] used to have great discussions about disunion.  I remember we used to talk it over and I said: “There is no use arguing.  Let us think it over for a month.”  We did so, and we met and I said: “Now for the Constitution, it doesn’t matter what it says – it is a quarrel of patriotism.  I don’t care what George Washington says; I don’t care what John Adams says; I must think for myself as a man. The country has ceased to be a collection of individual states, and has become one country.  I must judge things as they are, not as they were, and I propose to stand by the Union.”

Captain Newton continued to serve as Chief Engineer in the Department of Pennsylvania, and later in the Department of the Shenandoah. During the winter of 61-62 he was involved with the planning and construction of forts for the defenses of Washington. But he left the engineers in the Spring of 1862 to take part in the Peninsula Campaign with the Army of the Potomac.  With the rank of Brigadier-General of Volunteers he commanded a brigade and proved himself particularly adept at handling troops in the field in June of that year.

Battle of South Mountain from Harper's Weekly

A great field success for him, came at South Mountain on September 14th, at the Battle of Cramptons’ Gap.   General Newton led his brigade in a bloody bayonet charge that in co-ordination with others, helped to rout an obstinate Confederate enemy from their stronghold.  It was a decisive victory for the Union.  General William B. Franklin, his Commanding officer recommended Newton for promotion in his official report:

“While fully concurring in the recommendation offered in behalf of Colonels Bartlett and Torbert, who have certainly earned promotion on this as on other occasions, I respectfully and earnestly request that Brigadier-General Newton may be promoted to the rank of major-general for his conspicuous gallantry and important services during the entire engagement.”

Pictured is, "Franklin's Corps Storming Crampton's Pass" by A.R. Waud, Harper's Weekly, October 25, 1862.

A month later General Newton was given the command of a Division in the 6th Corps.  But following the disastrous defeat of the army at Fredericksburg, he stepped outside the bounds of good conduct and military discipline.

At the time there was abundant loose talk in the high command on the lack of faith in the abilities of commanding general Ambrose Burnside to lead the Army of the Potomac.  Burnside was planning another river crossing when General Newton and one of his brigade commanders decided to voice their concerns to authorities in Washington.  This was against military protocol, in which it would have been better for the senior commanding officers to worry about such matters.  During an awkward interview with President Lincoln, General Newton tried to explain the de-moralization of the army under Burnside’s command.  The gentleman with him,  brigade commander, John Cochrane, was more direct and critical of Burnside during the interview with Lincoln.  The difficult meeting added to President Lincoln’s worries regarding divisive factions within the Army of the Potomac at a time of crisis, when repeated military defeats caused Northern morale to slip, and opponents of the war to become more vocal.  Burnside was eventually removed, and General Newton remained, but his part in the drama would later hurt his military career.1

Nonetheless, he was promoted Major-General of Volunteers in March 1863.  To quote from John Hoptak’s short biography of General Newton :

“…he led his division in attack against the Confederate position along the base of Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg during the Chancellorsville Campaign. He was slightly wounded during the storming of the heights, and his men suffered tremendous loss with casualties in his three brigades exceeding 1,000 killed, wounded, and missing, about one-third the division’s total number.”2

This was his career so far, when General Meade calld upon him to replace John Reynolds in command of the First Corps.

NOTES:
1.  A year later when the army was re-organized, General Newton was temporarilly left without a command.  A week later the recommendation for his promotion to Major-General was withdrawn.  He later obtained a command with Sherman, etc.  It is possible he was removed for being 'squishy.'
2.  [John Hoptak's blog]   http://48thpennsylvania.blogspot.com/2009/04/major-general-john-newton.html

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Battle Impressions of 3 Soldiers

There is not a lot of source material in my collection from the ninety-nine men of the regiment that made it to Cemetery Ridge on July 1st.  But the three accounts I have are very good - if all too brief.  Here are Sam Webster, Company D, David Sloss, Company B, and William R. Warner, Company G & K.

Diary of Sam Webster

Diary of Samuel Derrick Webster;  (HM 48531) Excerpts of this diary are used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA 

Thursday, July 2nd, 1863
        Second Corps came up last night, and was placed to our left, extending toward the Round Top.  This afternoon, as the 5th Corps was arriving, the rebels opened toward Round Top, and a heavy fight took place there, they being beaten woefully.  The 12th Corps got here last night also, and were put to the right of the 11th Corps, with their right flank drawn back towards the Baltimore turnpike. The Sixth Corps (6th) came up late in the evening, and was held in reserve.  Our fellows, likewise, were withdrawn to reserve, in rear of cemetery.  Morris, Color Sergt, was killed yesterday, and Davie Schloss, of the State flag was knocked down by the arm of one of 14th Brooklyn, who was torn to pieces by a shell.  His brains were scattered over the flag.  Davie got up again, and took his colors, however.  Quite a number of our officers were taken yesterday.


Letter of David Sloss, Company B

Mr. James Perry, David Sloss's descendant, found this letter and shared it with me.  Its source is the book Life and Letters of Alexander Hays, Pittsburgh, PA, privately published 1919 p. 708;  Fleming, George Thornton, ed; Hays, Gilver & Adams, Company; Pittsburgh PA.  Mr. Perry still has a piece of the State Flag his ancestor faithfully carried in battle.

Gettysburg Battlefield, July 5, 1863.Color Sergeant David Sloss

Dear Mother:

I wrote you a few lines about the first day’s fight in which our corps was engaged, but could not get it off until yesterday, so I thought I might tell you some more about this battle, as it is ended now, the ‘Rebs’ having left last night.

After getting out of the fight of the first day we were brought back of the town to support batteries in the cemetery until the 2nd day of July, when just about dark the Johnnies tried to turn the left, and came very near being successful, but our division — eight hundred men — were brought to bear on them and had a good effect by our presence.  As we went down the line everything looked like Bull Run, ‘Johnny Reb’ was trying his best to make it one by his fierce shelling.  The regiment ahead of us had seven men taken out by a solid shot.*  Caissons and artillery stood out in bold relief against the sky, without a horse or man near them.  The remnants of regiments were taking off disabled guns, and everything looked blue for our side, but the Rebels had been severely punished as well, and they could not follow up their advantages.  Our presence had been sufficient, so we went back to the graveyard and laid near the town road.  After night their pickets were very troublesome, but, as we were behind  a stone wall, they did us no damage.

In the morning they commenced on the fifth, and had some very hot work with the Twelfth Corps.  About noon they commenced a terrible cannonading, and swept the hill upon which the graveyard was, so that our safest place was right in front of our batteries, and their batteries played on us and their sharpshooters troubled us from the tops of the houses in the town.  We lost two men by them.  Added to this the sun came out terribly hot, and a lot of the division were affected by it.  They commenced a charge about this time, and we were ordered under there fire to double-quick, and away we went around the hill to help the Second Corps.  Colonel Coulter was hit, but not bad.  He is in command of our brigade since Paul was shot.  We just got in in time to see the ‘Rebs’ break.  It was a glorious sight to see, even if the canister and shell were coming in thick,  ‘old Hays,’ as his boys call him, ride up and down the lines in our front, with a Rebel flag trailing on the ground.  Such a wild hurrah I have never heard, nor saw such a sight, and never expect to see it again.

We immediately threw out skirmishers to cover the field, but did not advance.  We laid flat on our faces so that they could not trouble us.  They tried to advance on our left after this, but succeeded no better, as our line was so short across that we could easily reinforce from left to right.

Dave.

*The shell fell amongst the men of the16th Maine.  More on that later on this page.


Diary of Lieutenant William R. Warner

Warner's step descendant Mr. Eric Locher gaciously allowed me to present the following Gettysburg excerpts from Warner's unpublished memoirs.  Warner's reminiscences skip around a bit from day 1 to day 2 and so forth, so I have made a few edits to give them a little more order.


In view of the fact that our Division on 2nd & 3rd day, though constantly under fire were owing to their severe losses on 1st day and reduced numbers, not placed in front lines of battles, except as temporary supports, the writer has not attempted any detailed Account, even of matters which came directly under his observation.  — His aim has been to record a few impressions, leaving descriptions to those who had a more active part.  He following his experience about going under fire each day at Gettysburg.  And I judge it was the same with each of his comrades. On 1st day, I think, when we heard of Reynold’s death, every man made up his mind, a battle was surely to be fought, but events followed so rapidly — the hasty throwing up of entrenchments at Seminary, — the brisk move to Oak hill, and we were under fire almost before we knew it.

Then busy work put an end to much thought about danger.


William R. Warner's Scrapbook, came up for auction in the Autumn of 2015.  This image of  'Survivors of Company K, Taken at Westboro', 1911 was among those digitized.  I have cropped the image.  
William Warner & members of Co. K, 1911

Pictured left to right, are J. C. Thurston, W. R. Warner, Lyman Haskell, Ira L. Donovan, Melville Walker, A. E. Chamberlain, John D. Plummer, Frank Brigham, Frank Wilson, C. W. Comstock, A.C. Stearns, Lowell T. Collins, Warren W. Day, & George W. Cliffords.  Some of these men are listed in Warner's journal under his roster of Company K men present at Gettysburg.


Members of Co K, present at Battle of Gettysburg

Captain Charles H. Hovey – On Staff duty – Wounded
1st Lt. David Whiston    Taken PrisonerCaptain William B. Kimball
1 st Lt. Samuel E. Cary,  “              “
1st Lt. William B. Kimball, Former Member but transfer to Co. A [pictured, right]
2nd Lt. William R. Warner                                  Co. E  [pictured above]
Sergeant Willard Wheeler —  Killed
Sergeant A. C. Stearns      Slightly Wounded.  [pictured above]
Corporal M. H. Walker  Wounded  [pictured above]
H. A. Cutting — Wounded —  Died
John Flye        Wounded — Died
M. O. Laughlan       Wounded —  Died
Frank A. Gould   — Wounded —  Died
George E. Sprague  — Wounded —  Died
Charles M. Fay — Wounded Slightly
L. Vining — Wounded Slightly
Harvey C. Ross — Wounded
Sergeant William Rawson  Taken Prisoner
Corporal James Slattery    Taken Prisoner
Corporal A. L. Sanborn    Taken Prisoner
John F. Bates    Taken Prisoner
George W. Clifford    Taken Prisoner [pictured above]
Samuel Jordan    Taken Prisoner
George W. Hall    Taken Prisoner
Charles F. Rice    Taken Prisoner
George H. Seaver    Taken Prisoner
Henry C. Vining    Taken PrisonerCharles Reed sketch, Going For Water
Edwin C. Dockham
Frank P. Wilson [pictured above]
Otis Drayton
John M. Hill
L. Haskell [pictured above]
C. W. Comstock [pictued above]
 John Glidden — Pioneer.
A.L. Sawyer — Drummer
Michael Lynch — Detached duty in Battery.

While halted near the Seminary, Lt. Whiston detailed Charles M. Fay & Otis Drayton to fill the canteens of the Company. (K)

Fay’s recollection of it in 1885 is that there were 27 of them, which nearly accords with this list.  It is possible that several had all the water they wished.

Fay states that they found a well at Seminary & a crowd getting water.

 Leaving Drayton to watch the pile, he filled them, a few at a time.  When they had left [for] the Regt. they found it gone, and followed on with their immence load of 27 canteens catching up, in the woods.

 As showing in one instance, how well the men stood up to their work.  I recall that when order was given, by which the Regiment came into line of battle & immediately under heavy fire, Company K being the extreme left  Company had quite a distance to run, & in coming into line, the files crowded each other rather closely.  George Seaver of Co K, a little fellow, familiarly known as  “Unkle Nat” lost his place & ran up & down, past his own & also Co G, at least twice, trying to get into his place.  Finally some one grabbed him, made an interval & he took his stand.

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Colonel Coulter Takes Command of Paul's Brigade

Major Abner R. Small, 16th Maine

The morning of July 2nd, Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11th PA was ordered by General Robinson to take command of General Paul's 1st Brigade.  General Paul was permanently out of  action with a fearful wound to his head. Colonel Leonard of the 13th Mass., and Colonel Root of the 94th NY, the two senior colonels of the 1st Brigade, were also away, wounded and captured.  Coulter transfered his regiment with him, and ordered Lt. Abner Small, the adjutant of the 16th Maine, to his staff.

After the war, Major Small, authored the 16th Maine regimental history, and his own personal memoirs, 'The Road to Richmond.'  The latter was written for his family but was published post-humously in 1939 by his son Harold A. Small, one time editor of the University of California Press.  The fortunes of the 16th Maine were intertwined with the 13th Mass., and Major Small's expressive writing adds detail left out by soldiers of the 13th.  His depictions of Colonel Coulter are priceless.

The following narrative borrows from both of Major Small's writings, beginning with an excerpt from 'The Road to Richmond.'


July 2d our corps had a new commander, General Newton, whom we didn’t know; an old regular, rather quiet in his bearing, and with a large, kindly face and level eyes.  Doubleday had earned the command, but was returned to his division. 

Towards noon, we were moved to the right and placed in support of batteries on Cemetery Hill.  All around our front and along the ridge beyond our left there was a continuous stir of preparation for more fighting. Colonel Coulter acquainted himself with the condition of the brigade, and made some staff appointments.  I had a change of duty by the following order:

The following order was announced: —
General Order, No. 44.
  Adjutant A.R. Small, 16th Me. Vols., is hereby detailed as Acting Assistant Adjutant-General of this Brigade…  He will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

By command of Col. R. Coulter,
Com’dg Brigade.

Until mid-afternoon the day was not noisy; only the movements of troops near by, the occasional bark of a gun on the hill, and father away the scattered rattle of skirmish fire, disturbed the sultry quiet.  Our men caught snatches of rest.  About half-past three some rebel guns east of the town opened fire against batteries not far from us, which replied, and the quarrel was kept up through more than an hour.  At the same time we began to hear other cannonading away to our left, and towards evening we heard from that direction the confused uproar of battle.

About sundown our brigade was hurried to the scene of action. Our way was swept by rebel artillery fire.  As we passed the little house on the Taneytown road that was Meade’s head-quarters, a shell burst in our regiment and severely wounded Lieutenant Beecher and seven men.  

The Leister House & Taneytown Rd where the shell exploded

General Meade's Head-quarters, the Leister House on the Taneytown Road, — where the shell exploded as the 16th Maine  passed by.  Note the dead horses in the road.  The soldiers of Coulter's Brigade came down this  road, toward the viewer.   David Sloss, William R. Warner & Charles Davis, Jr. of the '13th Mass.' mention the incident of the shell landing in the ranks of the 16th Maine.

The brigade dashed on at the double quick.  We heard the shouted command, “By the right flank-march!”  In line of battle we hurried on through smoke, over rough ground, into the uproar, just as the rebels were driven back.  The rush of grey had swept up through a battery.  If I remember rightly, two of the guns were brought off by our men.  The enemy did not renew the attack.  We were marched back to our position on the right.

After dark, I should say about nine o’clock, we were moved down the front of the hill, under our batteries and near the town.  Rebel sharpshooters were firing from the windows of houses near by.  A stone wall offered some protection to our brigade, and the men lay on their arms until morning.1


Colonel Coulter established his quarters in an “A” tent, pitched by his orders on the brow of the hill at the left of cemetery, in the edge of a grove, just in rear of the brigade’s last position on the second day, and planted in clear view of the rebels the brigade flag.  From this point I took in nearly the whole line from the cemetery to Weed’s Hill.  The position of the national line of skirmishers was clearly defined by a streak of curling smoke that lazily faced into thin vapor. The sky was clear, and a quiet aspect pervaded everything  --‘t was a moment of rest before a battle.  The lazy attitude of men and horses, the apparent indifference of all the army appointments, as the sun went down, afforded but slight indication to a looker-on of the terrible storm gathering for the morrow – a day ever memorable in American history.  During the night eighty thousand men concentrated behind the rocky ridge in Lee’s front.2

NOTES
1.  "The Road to Richmond", by Major Abner R. Small, University of California Press, 1939; p. 103-104.
2.  "The 16th Maine Regiment in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865", By Major A. R. Small,  B. Thurston & Company, Portland, Maine, 1886;  p. 121.


Buddy Secor, Ninja Pix, Gen'l Lee at Night

General Lee's Statue at Night, Gettysburg.  Photo by Buddy Secor.

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The '13th Mass' on July 2nd

When writing the Gettysburg narrative for the regiment in his history of the 13th Mass., Charles Davis, Jr. borrowed heavily from the journal of William R. Warner which was at his disposal.  The two accounts overlap, but both gentleman add personal anecdotes.  Both mention the shell which exploded among the remnant of the 16th Maine during the hurried march to support the Union left in the early evening.  Davis made a poignant comment on the affair but mistakingly inserted it into his entry for July 3rd.  I have included it here in its proper place.  

I found both accounts vague as to getting specific information as to what the regiment did on July 2nd.  The essay which follows these entries titled, "So where exactly were they on July 2nd?" was the result of my research to learn more.

Diary of Lieutenant William R. Warner

Once again I must thank Warner's step descendant Mr. Eric Locher for allowing me to share this excerpt from Warner's unpublished manuscript.   Also - thanks to Buddy Secor for the incredible photographs.  His work can be seen at 'Ninja Pix" on facebook & instagram.

Very early in the morning, in the gray dawn, we were all astir – Fresh troops were coming into position, and we felt assured that the entire Army of Potomac was close at hand.  A party of Officers came toward us, among whom was Gen Hancock. Some of our boys were exposing themselves on top, & other side of the slight breastworks we had thrown up, and Hancock called out pleasantly, “Keep down, boys that is the way with you Massachusetts boys – too much damned curiosity – Keep down.”

Buddy Secor Photo depicts Rebel artillery at night

The day passed, without any active Movements on the part of our Brigade & Division which was so reduced in numbers, it was only available as supports to other troops.  When Sickles was pushed back at nightfall, Robinson’s Division was hurridly sent to the left, as re-inforcements.  Before we reached there, it had grown so dark, that the smoke & fire of the rebel artillery lighted up like sheets of flame —

Marching Brigade front, a shell struck in line of adjoining Regiment where the men had swayed closely together, knocking over I should think nearly a dozen men.   How many were killed, we knew not.  We passed a Battery on our right from which nearly every horse and at least half the men were gone – The tide had turned, and the rebel infantry had gone back.  Our lines were being re-formed and later in evening, Our Division returned again to Cemetery Hill, where Hay’s Louisiana Brigade had attempted  To take possession of Ricketts & Wiedrick’s Batteries by an Evening Charge.


The Movement down to the left in afternoon of 2nd day, when we came under direct fire was a time, that tried men’s courage—  There was no personal bravado, no cheers of excellent troops, it was looking possible death in the face & each man recognizing to himself, his own helplessness to avoid it and fate pushing him on quietly to take it all.

 On Evening of 2nd day, after Sickles repulse, as we passed the Artillery which was being dragged from the field by men, the horses being killed, we passed several men drawing off by the legs, what appeared to be the headless body of an Officer. —  Colonel Coulter of 11th Penn. was in his best fighting mood.  It was a weird scene — darkness was fast settling down, and when a Cannon of the Enemy was fired, it showed a flame instead of smoke, until it seemed we could almost look into their Muzzles.

Buddy Secor Photo, Gettysburg Battery at Twilight

Col Coulter was shouting, “Let us Charge —  Let us give them Cold Steel by Moonlight.”  (photo by Buddy Secor).


The following 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 and Lauriat, 1894. p. 233-234.

General Winfield Scott Hancock

Thursday, July 2.
        By reason of our hard work of yesterday, we were to-day held in reserve.  It often happens that this kind of duty turns out to be more arduous than being stationed in line of battle, inasmuch as you may be called upon to march to any point that needs strengthening, as it happened with us on this particular day.

Upon waking in the morning, we found everything astir with excitement and preparation. Thousands of troops had gathered during the night, presenting a formidable appearance in the gray morning light. As we were gazing about, a party of officers were seen approaching, among whom was General Hancock. Some of the boys, regardless of danger, were exposing themselves on top and at the sides of the earthworks that we built last night, when, in a mild, pleasant voice, General Hancock said, “Keep down, boys; that is the way with you Massachusetts boys – too much damd curiosity; keep down !’

In the afternoon, as Sickles’ corps was being pushed back at the peach orchard, our division was sent hurriedly to his support. 

While we were formed in line, marching brigade front, a shell exploded in the midst of an adjoining regiment, knocking over a dozen men. 


Frank Schell Illustration, "Blown to Bits by a Shell"

Historian Davis commented on the incident of the shell exploding amidst the 16th Maine troops in his narrative, but he mistakenly assigned the event to July 3rd;  the wrong date.   Here is what he wrote:

"During the movement, an incident happened to show the hard luck that followed a gallant regiment.  The Sixteenth Maine, during the first day’s fight, was assigned the very difficult duty of holding on and delaying, if possible, the advance of the enemy until the rest of the division could get to the rear; and it did its work bravely and with great credit to itself, its colonel and most of the men being take prisoners in the endeavor.  The remnant of about twenty men that escaped were just ahead of us as we double-quicked along the ridge.  Suddenly a Whitworth shell from one of the enemy’s batteries exploded in their midst, and it seemed to us, as we hurried on over the mangled bodies, that every man must have been killed.  Our entire division at this time, consisting of eleven regiments, numbered only about nine hundred men, and we felt sorry enough to see the remnant of this excellent regiment so completely wiped out.

While these sights were such as are commonly observed on all battlefields, they seemed more hideous than any seen before, even to those familiar with such scenes."

As the rebel infantry were being driven back at the moment of our arrival, our services became unnecessary, and later in the evening we returned to Cemetery Hill to support Ricketts’and Wiedricks’s batteries, which were being charged by the Louisiana Tigers.  We were thrown in the front of these guns, with orders to hug the ground as closely as possible while the batteries fired over us. There is no more trying situation for a soldier than to be lying down in front of a battery.  He is only a few yards in front of the guns, and the concussion from each discharge seems to travel up his spinal column to the top of his head. The noise is terrible and appalling. The testimony of men who have undergone such an experience is, that they endure more mental suffering than when standing in line of battle. You are being constantly pelted with the packings, as they become dislodged from the shells when they leave the muzzle of the gun.  These pieces are not dangerous though they often make an uncomfortable contusion, the size of a walnut, if they hit you.  If a piece strikes you on the head you will think, as the boy did, that “you might as well be killed as scared to death.”

A.R. Waud Sketch; Attack of the Louisiana Tigers

A.R. Waud Sketch titled, "Attack of the Louisiana Tigers on a Battery of the 11th Corps."

All the afternoon we listened to the sound of battle at our right on Culp’s Hill, dreading defeat and another retreat.  It made us sick at heart to think of what might occur in such an event, and glad we were when night came and put a temporary stop to the fighting.  Evidently we had not held our own at this point.*

So far as exposure to danger is concerned, our division may be said to have had very good luck. There was hard fighting, at different points all day, and even into the night, without apparently any advantage having been gained by the Union army.  During our absence to the left of the line, where we were sent to help the Third Corps, there was hard fighting at Cemetery Hill, and by the time we got back the fighting was practically over at that point; so we escaped loss in both instances.


*NOTE:  I find this comment very confusing as far as the narrative goes.  Although there was an afternoon artillery duel between Union artillery on East Cemetery Hill and part of a battery posted on Culp's Hill, with Confederate artillery on Benner's Hill,  the Confederate infantry assault did not begin until the evening, and the '13th Mass' were at another part of the field which is quite distant.  I believe Davis was trying to relate the emotions included in the source material from William R. Warner and E. F. Rollins into his narrative.  The Warner Manuscript jumps around in its commentary so I can see how Davis became unintentionally confused.  See the following essay for more information.

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So, Where exactly Were They On Day 2?

View looking west towards the enemy; from the position held by part of Robinson's Division, the night of July 1st, through morning, July 2nd. The Emittsburg Road is in the middle-ground.

View West from Robinson's position, morning, July 2nd

Having read the entry as written above, in the regimental history, along with William R. Warner's journal, I was still very confused about what the regiment did on July 2nd.  While puzzling over this question I was fortunate to meet some very knowledgable historians from Gettysburg, who offered to walk the field with me to try and sort things out.  A few weeks later we did this. 

I am grateful to Bob George who printed out these cropped versions of the John B. Bachelder maps of the battle for my reference.  And, to  Steven Floyd, an expert on the Gettysburg Monuments, and Craig Berkeley, who provided information about the town at the time of the battle.  We all walked  over the ground together, and shared our knowlege of the battle.  The following essay is the result of all this study, and specifically shows where and what the regiment did on July 2nd.  An unintended result of the research, is that it provides insight on General George Gordon Meade's laudable command of the army during several extreme emergencies on the 2nd day of battle.  Click on any map to view it larger.

Map, Robinson's Position, Evening, July First

So far, we've heard from Adjutant Abner Small, of Colonel Coulter's staff, and William R. Warner and Charles E. Davis, Jr., of the 13th Mass., regarding the movements of Coulter's Brigade on July 2nd.  But where was Coulter's Brigade, and the 13th Mass. Regiment  actually positioned on the battle-field this day?

The soldiers used phrases like, 'we moved to the right near the cemetery,' or,'we moved to the left as reinforcements.'  To add to the confusion, Warner jumped around in his journal when he wrote his entries for day 2, and Davis, who was not at the battle, followed the same pattern in his narrative.  The soldiers on the field made note of the impressions that were important to them, and these small shifts in position were routine.

The following essay is presented to sort things out, and show that these troops were much more active than they suggested.  The hourly battle maps by Gettysburg historian John B. Bachelder are used as reference.  Bachelder made a life-long study of the battle, and began gathering up information about troop positions by interviewing participants as soon after the battle as he could.  He spent time in the camps of the Army during the winter of 1863-64.  According to these hourly maps, Coulter's brigade, (Paul's) held five positions on July 2.  

Map, Robinson's Division, July 2, 9 a.m.

Starting with the position the regiment took up after their retreat to Cemetery Hill, the evening of July 1st, we see them in line just south of the Bryan Farm, extending south on  Cemetery Ridge to the angle in the Union line.  They were probably near the Bryan Farm where, as they wrote, "Here we saw the division color-berarer 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 un-disturbed during the night." 

Early next morning, they woke up to General Hancock riding the lines.  Hancock's 2nd Corps moved into their position, making it much stronger.    Map #2 shows Coulter's and Baxter's brigades still in position just south of the Bryan Farm at 9 a.m., July 2nd.  But now, they are surrounded by troops and artillery of the 2nd Corps.  Fortunately, things still remained quiet throughout the morning, giving the troops time to form their lines un-molested.  When the 2nd Corps was ready, Robinson's Division moved a little to the east to join General Doubleday's Division, in reserve.

Here, these two First Corps Divisions remained at rest behind  troops and batteries of the Eleventh Corps on Cemetery Hill.  (Wadsworth's 1st Division of the First Corps had taken a position on Culp's Hill, farther to the east, and remained there throughout the battle.)

Map 3, Robinson's Division, 4p.m. July 2.

Map #3 shows Doubleday and Robinson in reserve.  The time is 4 p.m. in the afternoon, which marks the beginning of an artillery duel between Union guns on East Cemetery Hill, and Confederate artillery that moved up to Benner's Hill, not pictured on this map.  Neither William Warner or Charles Davis referred to the afternoon artillery duel, and Adjutant Small of the 16th Maine merely mentions it. -- But it was close by their reserve position.  Col. Charles Wainwright, Chief of First Corps Artillery, left a vivid description of the contest in his journal, which follows.  (Wainwright's guns can be seen north of  the Cemetery Gate, east of the Baltimore Road, on these maps.)

"About four o’clock the enemy planted four twenty-pounder and six ten-pounder Parrotts on a high knoll opposite our north front, and opened with a well-directed fire.  To this I was able to reply with thirteen three-inch guns, so that the weight of metal was about equal, when you add an occasional shot which Stevens was able to get in from his left section.  In every other respect the rebel guns had the advantage of us.  They were on higher ground, and having plenty of room were able to place their guns some thirty yards apart, while ours were not over twelve; and the two faces of our line meeting here, the limbers stood absolutely crowded together.  Still we were able to shut them up, and actually drive them from the field in about two hours.  Their two right guns we could see them haul off by hand; they left twenty-eight dead horses on the ground, while we did not lose over a dozen.  How it was they did not kill more horses I cannot understand, huddled together as we were, for their fire was the most accurate I have ever seen on the part of their artillery, and the distance was just right, say 1,400 yards.  Some of their guns afterwards took position more to our left, at about 2,000 yards, but were soon silenced.  I being reinforced by a section of twenty-pounder Parrotts which took position in the cemetery.

artillery graphic

"I saw during this artillery duel two instances of the destruction which can be caused by a single twenty-pounder shot:  both of which happened  within ten yards of me as I sat on the stone wall between Cooper’s and Wiedrich’s batteries, along with General Ames.  One of these shot struck in the centre of a line of infantry who were lying down behind the wall.  Taking the line lengthways, it literally plowed up two or three yards of men, killing and wounding a dozen or more.  Fortunately it didn’t burst, for it struck so near where we were sitting that it covered us with dust. The other was a shell which burst directly under Cooper’s left gun, killed one man outright, blew another all to pieces, so that he died in half an hour, and wounded the other three.   Here  I had a specimen of the stuff this battery is composed of, and forgave Cooper and his men their utter unmilitariness and loose ideas of discipline in camp.  So soon as the shell burst I jumped from the wall, and told Cooper to put on another detachment, that General Ames would let some of his men carry off the wounded; not a murmur was uttered, but five other men at once took place over their dead and wounded comrades, and fired before they could be removed.  I was very proud of it.  The man who was so badly blown to pieces lost his right hand, his left arm at the shoulder, and his ribs so broken open that you could see right into him; he was removed to the well, just inside the cemetery gates, and died there.  Cooper came to me and asked permission for his brother, who was their bugler, to go and remain with him while he lived.  The bugler, who had nothing to do, would not go sixty or seventy yards from his battery to see his brother in his last moments without permission, nor would his captain give the permission without asking mine.  Yet were they in camp, hardly a man in the battery would go off for all day without permission to see a well brother, and Cooper would think it all right.   

Robinson's Division, 7 p.m., July 2nd.

"Our artillery duel here was a mere divertissement, the rebels making their charge on our left, where Sickles had thrown his corps in advance of the rest of the line.  I saw nothing of the affair, so shall say nothing, save that from what I can learn, the position chosen by Sickles was a bad one.  He lost a leg.  Our men were at length driven back to where they should have been at first, and held their own there, a good part of the Fifth and Twelfth Corps being sent over there."1

The artillery duel wasn't far off from the bivouac of the 13th Mass.  But if they were safe from exploding shells perhaps they just slept through the noise.  They were tired.  (Did you ever say you to yourself, you were so tired you could sleep through a war?)   The artillery duel lasted perhaps an hour and 1//2.  Major Small said, 'more than an hour,' and Wainwright said, 'about 2 hours.'

By 7 p.m. both Doubleday's and Robinson's troops were in motion to support the hard pressed troops further to the left of the Union lines.  Sickles' salient had collapsed.  Hard-pressed Federal troops were trying to reform their lines on Cemetery Ridge, where they should have been in the first place.  General Meade was ever present directing troops to fill in dangerous gaps in the line before the enemy breached the position.  General Newton was ordered to hurry  his reserve troops to the gap.  The attacking Confederates continued to gain ground.  Meade's son, an aide to the general at the time of the battle,  tells the story:

"For a few minutes affairs seem critical in the extreme.  The Confederates appear determined to carry everything before them.  A vigourous attack is made by them at various points along the whole front.  Gibbon’s line becomes heavily engaged along his whole front, while on his left, …there is the space still unoccupied.

Meade at Gettysburg, by H. A. Ogden

"At this gap, waiting for the coming of Newton, surrounded only by a few of his aides and orderlies, stands Meade.  The crash of musketry and the shouts of the contending troops resound on all sides, and the air seems filled with shot and shell.  At this moment Meade sees at a short distance off a line of enemy making straight for the gap.  Will nothing stop these people?  He glances anxiously in the direction of the cemetery, whence succor should come.  It will be a disaster unless something can stop these troops, if only for a brief space of time. The general realizes the situation but too well.  He straightens himself in his stirrups, as do also the aids who now ride closer to him, bracing themselves up to meet the crisis.  It is in the minds of those who follow him that he is going to throw himself into the breach – anything to gain a few moments’ time.  Suddenly some one cries out, “There they come, general!” and, looking to the right, Newton is seen galloping in advance of Doubleday’s division, at a sharp double quick, with muskets at a right shoulder, the two divisions sweep down the Taneytown Road, swing around to the right, and as, amid the wildest excitement and shouting, they press forward to the line of battle, Meade rides ahead with the skirmish line, waving his hat, saying to those about him, “Come on, gentlemen,” and some one remarking that it seemed at one time pretty desperate, it is pleasant to hear him reply in his hearty way :  “Yes, but it is all right now, it is all right now.”

"A sharp fusillade follows. The Confederates, exhausted by their long, brave, and fruitless struggle for the mastery, are unable to make head against these fresh troops. The Federal lines advance, the enemy is driven back across the Emmettsburg Road, all the guns that have been abandoned are recovered, and as darkness comes over the scene the musketry firing gradually dies away."2

Legend has it, (because polite society didn't talk about such things in those days) that General Newton, who enjoyed his comforts, when he rode up to General Meade, offered him his flask, and asked if he would not like a drink.  General Meade, who had been under tremendous strain, —up all night and the previoius day, took a generous sampling of the flasks contents, — so the story goes.

Gettysburg Map, July 2nd 8-9 p.m.

Bachelder's map 5, shows Coulter's and Baxter's respective brigades in position along the new Union line until 9 p.m.

Pictured on the map in front of Robinson's line are indications of the troops of Brigadier-General Andrew A. Humphrey's retreating division, (near Baxter) and Colonel George R. Willard's Brigade, in front of Coulter.

Humphreys division had held a line on the Emittsburg Road in support of Sickles salient at the Peach Orchard.  But when the Peach Orchard fell to the enemy, Humphreys' position became indefensible and he was ordered back to Cemetery Ridge.  He was being hotly pursued by the Confederate brigades of Brigadier-General Cadmius Wilcox and Colonel David Lang, who were making for the gap in the Union line. (Lang's Floridians are listed on the map as Perry's brigade)

Colonel Willard's brigade was moved down the ridge to oppose the rapid Confederate advance from the Wheatfield.  Brigadier-General William Barksdale's attacking Confederates were also approaching the broad gap in the Union line.  Both Colonel Willard and General Barksdale fell in the bloody close combat that followed.  

It was into this gap that General Meade anxiously awaited the arrival of General Newton's men.  Once the battered troops of the 2nd and 3rd Corps re-established their position on Cemetery Ridge, Robinson's division was once more called away to another part of the field in crisis.  It may have been shortly before 9 p.m., or shortly after, reports vary.


The aforementioned artillery duel in the afternoon at East Cemetery Hill was the pre-cursor to a Confederate attack on the Union right

 During the crisis on the Union left, 12th Corps commander, Major-General Henry Slocum pulled a whole division, and another brigade, from his defensive line on Culp's Hill, and sent them to support the beleagured Federals on Cemetery Ridge.  The brigade arrived there in time to engage the enemy and help in the repulse of Longstreet's attack, but the division (General Ruger's) wasn't needed, for Robinson's division had already come up about 15 minutes earlier, and filled the gap.  Slocum had sent too many troops, and now the defenses of Culp's Hill were under-armed.  At about sunset, 3 Confederate Brigades attacked the hill.

  Defending it was the remnant of General James S. Wadsworth's 1st Division of the First Corps, (badly cut up on July 1st) and a single brigade of Slocum's 12th Corps, commanded by Brigadier-General George S. Greene.  Greene's right flank received the brunt of the attack.  Fortunatelly defensive breastworks built earlier in the day provided cover for Greene's men while he sent to Generals Wadsworth and Howard for help.  Both commanders responded quickly by sending several regiments to Greene's aid.  These troops relieved Greene's men as they ran low on ammunition.  The strong defensive works, the difficult hilly terrain and the reinforcements were enough to repel the Confederate attack by 9 p.m.

Illustration by G. S. Reinhart

On East Cemetery Hill, where the artillery duel took place in the afternoon, another simoultaneous attack was under way. Colonel Wainwright describes the situation:

"About an hour after sundown, the moon shining brightly, the enemy made a push for our position.  Dr. Mosser, who was in the town, tells me that the attack was made by the “Louisiana Tigers” and another brigade, the lines being formed in the streets running north and south, and marching out by the left flank.  So soon as I caught sight of the head of their column coming out, I sent Lieutenant Matthewson over to Stevens’s battery to direct him to open on them, and had the other batteries do so as the advancing columns came into view.  They marched straight out of the town, and then facing to their right rushed for the hill.  So soon as the rebels began to fire, the two lines of Deutschmen in front of the batteries began to run, and nearly the whole of them cleared out.  As the enemy advanced we commenced firing canister, depressing the guns more and more, until it was one continual shower straight down the hill. The night was heavy, and the smoke lay so thick that you could not see ten yards ahead; seventeen guns vomiting it as fast as they can will make a good deal of smoke.  Feeling sure that no enemy could get up that front, I now passed down the road beyond Stewart’s four pieces, so as to get a view townward, for I could not get over my fear of an attack from that quarter. All was quiet, and Stewart keeping a sharp lookout…

This attack made some inroads into the Union Artillery position where hand to hand combat ensued.  Wainwright continues:

"I pitied General Ames most heartily.  His men would not stand at all, save one.  I believe not a single regiment of the Eleventh Corps exposed to the attack stood fire, but ran away almost to a man.  Stewart stretched his men along the road, with fence rails! To try to stop the runaways, but could do nothing.  Officers and men were both alike.  Stewart’s men however got a supper (they had been without food all day) for when they knocked a Deutschman down, they took his haversack from him.  But on the other hand, the men of “I” Battery, also Germans, fought splendidly, sticking to their guns, and finally driving the rebs out with their hand-spikes and fence rails.  Dr. Mosser tells me that a rebel soldier whose wounds he dressed in town that night said that he was on the hill, and that he saw one of the battery men snatch a musket out of the hands of one of their men and drive the bayonet right through his (the rebel’s) captain.  

Map 6, Robinson's Division, July 3rd, 4-8 a.m.

As the Confederate attack on the right intensifiied, General Hancock back at Cemetery Ridge, heard the fight growing in ferocity towards the cemetery, and ordered a brigade over to help out since things had quieted down on his imediate front.  General Carroll's brigade was sent.  Wainwright's journal entry continues:

"As the attack was now evidently over, I ordered firing to cease so that the smoke might  clear off.  While I was passing this order along the line, and cautioning them at the same time to be prepared for a second attempt, a lieutenant-colonel rode up and desired me to cease fire as Carroll’s brigade of the Second Corps was going to charge down the valley along my front on the rebel flank.  I told him it should be done, the order to cease firing having been already given, but that I did not think he would find many live rebs there.  Which proved to be the case, though Carroll did strike the rear of the retreating column, and brought off perhaps a hundred prisoners…" 3

General Meade had also heard the battle raging on the Union right and ordered General Newton to send  Robinson's division over to the sound of the conflict to help out.  Once again the 13th Mass, and others in their brigade changed position.   It was dark but they soon filed past Evergreen Cemetery to the Baltimore Road, beyond which was East Cemetery Hill.  Because the fighting had ended for the day, they remained at the cemetery in reserve the rest of the night.  It would appear from Map #6, they were not thrown out in front of the guns of Wiedrick's & Rickett's batteries until much later in the morning, July 3rd. The next map in the Bachelder series shows this, but will be presented on the July 3rd page of this website.

What these maps, in conjunction with the soldiers words do indicate, is that the 13th Mass regiment, with the other troops in their division,  played a very important role in the battle of July 2nd,  even though they were not engaged.


NOTES:
1.  A Diary of Battle. The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, 1962. p. 243 - 244.
2.  "With Meade at Gettysburg" by George Gordon Meade, published by the War Library and Museum, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Philadelphia, PA, 1930; p. 127-128.
3.  Wainwright, p. 245 - 246.

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Sergeant John Boudwin & Private Bourne Spooner, Prisoners in the Field

Diary of Sergeant John Boudwin, Company A

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

Thursday, July 2.  1863
        Came in pleasant.  Still a prisoner inside the Rebel lines.  Skirmishing all along the line and at Noon a General Engagement took place and it was a very heavy one - I could not tell which side got the best of it but from some of the Rebels I heard that our forces had the advantage.

My Rations all out and no chance to get any toward dark the Rebs killed some Beef and I got a small piece after hard work.  The Rebel officers wanted to parole us and our officers told us to Refuse it and we done so as it was an illegal parole and would not be Recognized by our Goverment.  some have taken the parole and will be sent to Carlisle tomorrow and if not taken will be marched back to this place.  turned in for the night and slept soundly.

The policy of exchanging prisoners on the battlefield, and shortly afterwards, was beginning to come into question at this time, over at the Lincoln Administration.  The two 'governments' would not agree on policy for several reasons.  Eventually it would cease altogether and thousands would die in enemy prisons, especially in the South.  One wonders if Sgt. Boudwin and others realized the refusal to accept the 'illegal' parole might cost them their lives, that they might have more readily taken it.

Private Bourne Spooner's Memoirs

Private Bourne Spooner, Company D, was captured on the retreat from Oak Ridge on July 1st.  His unpublished memoirs written for his family several years after the war relate some of his experiences.  They were shared with me by his descendants.  This excerpt, continues his narrative  from the entries posted on the July 1st page of this website.  In contrast to Sgt. Boudwin, Spooner accepted the 'illegal' parole.

Bourne Spooner

The following morning was remarkably quiet. We remained in that field I should think until along towards the middle of the forenoon, and up to that time I do not recollect of hearing a single hostile shot - not even any dull, sleepy, straggling, intermittent picket firing.  The atmosphere was mild and sunny, and the preparations of the great battle went on without din or confusion. At the point where we were we saw almost nothing of the enemy’s forces.  Indeed, all the while I was a prisoner I did not see above three regiments of troops, and these were just subsequent to my capture.  While we remained in the field we are kept in check by a small guard of slouchy sentinels and a small mounted patrol beyond.

Some time near the middle of the day we moved from our rather crowded quarters to a more eligible spot.  We moved out and passed out somehow to the left through a huge piece of woods to a spot I should think somewhere in the right-rear of the enemy’s position.  We were guarded in our march by a body of cavalrymen.  I recollect of feeling sort of chagrin at our situation as we moved along, there being as I recollect little if any conversation between captors and prisoners.  Our new quarters were a hollow in a wheat field through which flowed a brook.  Towards afternoon the cannonade proclaimed that the battle had been renewed, and it was a novel and not altogether unpleasant sensation for us to know that a battle was going on around us and that we shouldn't be called upon for duty.

We remained at this place through this and the following day, and of some of the incidents I recall I cannot distinctly remember which day they occurred on.  We roamed about at will within our circumscribed limits, though in a measure each regiment kept by itself.  The Thirteenth were mostly on a gravelly side hill.  The wheat was soon completely trampled down;  but, as the rebs were not at all lavish of their provender, some of the men who had been captured with empty haversacks made some attempt to extract the kernels from the wheat with which to appease their hunger.  

I recollect seeing some finely mounted and stylishly caparisoned officers ride by where we were, one of which was pointed out as an English officer, who was a guest at Confederate headquarters.*  Ammunition and commissary trains went to and from the front along a road near, and occasionally there passed a section or so of artillery.  Some of us engaged in conversation with the guards who appeared but little amenable to discipline.A.C. Redwood "Louisianna Pelican"  They sat or stood as best pleased them or entered into a full discussion of the questions of them.  They defended slavery, the southern cause, etc., while we opposed them.  They also talked of the events of the war.  One, I remember, maintained that General Ewell worthily filled the place of “Stonewall” Jackson and also gave it as his opinion that the latter was not killed by his own men but by our troops.  Two of the guards I also recollect got into an altercation, and one threatened to shoot the other, but afterwards calmed down.  Indeed the temper of these men seemed to be more violent and a disposition more to resort to extreme acts in settling disputes than is customary with our more temperate people.  However, their treatment of us during our brief captivity was all that could be desired.  Nor were they at all rampant on the subject of their own prowess; they maintained a quiet but complete confidence that they were to triumph in the battle.

Among us prisoners were a few Pennsylvania militia, distinguished from the others by their new uniforms and rather ill-at-ease manners.  A very large force of these “home guards” were called out on Lee’s invasion to hold him in check, but of course did little or nothing to interpose his progress.  A reb officer laughingly related to some of us prisoners that a small scouting party of horse to which he was attached, together with one piece of artillery, suddenly came across a brigade of these militia drawn up in battle array near a bridge on the south bank of the Susquehanna.  One or two shells, he said, was all that was necessary to send the whole crowd “skedaddling” across the stream.

*The Foreign Visitor was Sir Arthur James Lyon Freemantle, who spent 3 months traveling in the South on his own bill.  He made a point to meet General James Longstreet who agreed to  let him accompany the Confederate Army for a while.  Freemantle wrote of his experiences in a book titled Three Months in the Southern States, published in 1864.

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Sergeant Austin Stearns - Prisoner in the Town

Christ Church on Chambersburg Street

Sergeant Stearns was slightly wounded on July first, and claimed the privilege of being a wounded soldier at the First Corps Hospital in town rather than a prisoner, confined with others elsewhere to be marched south to Rebel prisons.  The hospital was at what is today Christ Lutheran Church on  Chambersburg Street, but was then known as the College Church.  This excerpt is from his memoirs, Three Years with Company K, edited by Arthur A. Kent, p. 186-192.  Used with permission.

On the morning of the 2d I was astir early, and did what I could to make Harvey comfortable, then went down and saw the other boys, and with Charlie Fay started out on the street to see and hear what we could and if possible get something to eat.  It was still quite early, but there were soldiers moving all around.  We went to several houses and rang their bell but could raise no one.  At last we saw a lady cross the street and enter a house, [so] we knew there was someone there and went directly and rang the bell. An elderly lady came to the door, and we asked her if we could get anything eatable there.  She said [we] could not.  Seeing a pump near, I asked her if she could loan us a towel.  I don’t know what she thought of that request, for without saying a word she went and brought one for us, but her actions showed that she thought us cheeky.  Perhaps she thought us rebs, and if so her actions are very excusable.  We went to the pump and gave ourselves a good wash and wiped ourselves on that clean towel, then, going to the door again, we rang the bell and with many thanks returned it to the lady.

There were rebel soldiers everywhere, in the streets, backyards – all around you could see them.

Going up a street that led by the court house, we came to a line of rebels with their guns stacked.  Not thinking but what they told us last night was true about our army, we kept right on through their line, going about a rod, when one of them with a gun in his hand said:  “Hello Yanks; where you at?”  We told him “We’re going this way just a little.”  "Hello Yanks"He said with a smile, “If you Yanks don’t wish to get shot, you hadn’t better travel that way any farther.”  We told him we wished to keep within our limits, and were sorry that we had passed them.  As he seemed inclined to talk, we felt to take the liberty to ask a few questions, and the first one was:  “Where is the union army?”  He laughed again and pointed to the hill, said “Look there.”  We looked in the direction he pointed, and there, sure enough, was the old stars and stripes waving in the morning sunlight, with a battery its muzzles pointing directly at us.  We said, some of your fellows told us last night that the union army were ten miles away, [and] he said “he wished they were, but he thought the fellows had not been where he was.”  Thinking that the locality might under certain conditions be extremely unhealthy, and not caring to stay so near, or as we were outside their lines, we concluded not to stay there longer and started to go back.  We crossed the street and just then a reb came up with a barrel about half full of little crackers; the crackers were an inch square. He turned them down on the sidewalk and cried out as loud as he could yell, “Fall in for rations.”  The rebs jumped up from all around and came running for their share; other rebs were coming bringing barrels.  As they did not extend the invitation to us, we thought it best not to help ourselves, so we passed on.

When we got back to the church we made an examination of our haversacks to see what they contained.  In mine I found a piece of pork and about a double handful of hardtack crumbs.  Fay could find nothing in his.  We fried the pork, and then the crumbs in the fat, and made a pot of coffee using the last we had.  We ate this with a relish.

I then went into the church to see the boys.  I found there in addition to Ross, Serg’t  M.H. Walker wounded in foot, Privates G. E. Sprague in chest, M. O’Laughlin, in knee, Frank Gould in hip and back, Horatio Cutting in head, Albion Vining in foot.  Cutting, Gould, O’Laughlin, and Sprague all died in a few days.  All the boys were in as good spirits as could be expected, and were all pleased to know that the old flag was still in sight. With the exception of Ross they were all in the same room, the vestibule of the church.  In the vestry proper was the amputation room.  I went in there for a few moments to see how they were doing the business, but it was so full, and the weather so warm, and such an unpleasant odor of ether that I was glad to come out.  While there I saw a stout young soldier, whose arm had been taken off near the shoulder, just as he began to realize what had been done to him – the puzzled look, and then the tear that filled his eye when he realized that his good right arm was gone.

While out behind the church in the yard cooking our breakfast, there were rebs and union men, and there two brothers met, one dressed in blue, the other grey, and with the exception of their uniforms both looked just alike.  Both were little, red-faced, red-haired, stubby Irishmen, and both blubbered, and cried, and hugged each other as only Irishmen can who have a “drop of the sweet cratur in.”  The union man wanted the reb to go with him and leave the cause of the south, while the reb didn’t see how he could go when the union man was a prisoner and would perhaps have to go south whether he wanted to or not.  How they decided it I never knew, for I left the yard and never saw them again.

Baltimore Street, Looking South from the Diamond

I went up the street to the “Diamond,” as they called it – we at home would call it the “Square” – to see and hear what was going on.  As I was going along I saw a door open, and thought I would just look in and see how trade was, as it was a country grocery store.  As I stepped in I saw it was in possession of a half dozen rebel soldiers, and they were having things all their own way.  Some stood on the counter, others were behind, and all were busy; such things as they wanted they laid aside in a pile and the others they gave a toss on to the floor. One of them looking up said,  “What does that dammed Yank want?”  Thinking my presence might not be agreeable to them, I turned to go out, while they gave one of their peculiar yells.

Pictured is Baltimore Street, view south from the Diamond.  The Court House on the left of the image. 

On going back towards the church I saw a rebel ambulance standing before the door with several of our Surgeons standing besides it earnestly talking. On getting near I heard they were talking about some one in the ambulance.  On looking in I saw there, dressed in a rebel uniform and very weak from the loss of blood, John Flye, the first man or our company hit.  I told the surgeons that I knew that man, that we were of the same company, and they immediately ordered him to be taken in.  Flye was left on the field, and the rebs finding him, and seeing his cloths covered and growing stiff with blood, had exchanged his pants for one of their own and brought him in.  The surgeons, seeing him in grey, could not believe he was a union soldier.  Flye died in a few days.

Dan Warren & John Fly, 1862

(Pictured, left to right, Dan Warren and John Flye, Company K, Williamsport, MD., Winter, 1862)

The rag-tag and bob-tail of the rebs came straglin along down the street, and they composed almost every nationality and were of themselves quite an army.  I was surprised to see so many in the southern army, for I had thought they had none; this army that I saw I suppose comprised some of the officers servants, for their talk and appearance indicated it.  Their outfit comprised almost everything you could think of, from the great Penn farm horse that they [had] stolen from some farmer, and then loaded with whatever pleased their fancy, and almost invariably mounting on top of the whole there were bed blankets, and all kinds articles, useful as well as ornamental.  Tin dishes and straw hats they seemed to have a great liking for.  I saw one fellow that had his horse almost loaded down with tin dishes, and another with straw hats, and several that had from one to a dozen.  One darkey had three black silk hats on his head and as many more under his arm. One fellow that had an eye to ease and comfort had a horse and wagon and seemed to be taking comfort.  I talked with a few of them, but they were very insolent, and were full of the braggadocio, so I refrained from talking and simply looked on.

In the afternoon while [I was] in the church with the boys, the surgeons came around to make an examination of Mike O’Laughlin’s wound; he was shot through the knee, and the bone was badly smashed.  They gave it a pretty thorough looking over, and concluded it must be taken off.  Mike cried like a baby when the surgeons made their decision, and plead his poverty and an aged Mother that was dependent on him as a reason why he could not part [with] it.  I pittied him, as did all the surgeons, and they promised to wait a few days before taking it off, but poor Mike, he lost his limb and his life as well.  We had found out now that the union army was but just outside the town, that from some points we could see the old flag, and indeed our experience of the morning had shown it to our view.

Bullets came whistling over and around, to tell that there was life in the old army still and that they were but a short distance away; but what an insurmountable barrier lay between.

The firing through the day had not been very heavy, only occasionally a shot being fired to feel the enemy, till just at night it broke out like a tornado in the vicinity of Cemetary Hill.  Being wholly unprepared for such a storm, we were taken by surprise and awaited with anxious hearts the results.  We knew not how many, or what condition the old army was in.

We could not know whether the new levies of troops had arrived and were taking part, whether it was our men who were attacking or the rebs.  All we knew was, that there was a terriable struggle going on near.  Our suspense was of short duration for soon the rebels came swarming back down, even as far back as we were, and as I was out on the street at the time, I saw them as they came along and a madder set of men I never saw.  They cursed their officers in a way and manner that showed experience in the business, and one that would completely eclipse the best endeavors of a union soldier.  It was simply fearful.

Edwin Forbes illustratin, Confederate Attack on Cemetery Hill

Artist Edwin Forbes did this illustration titled, "Confederate Attack on Cemetery Hill."  Although it is not as dramatic as Waud's sketch, 'Attack of the Louisiana Tigers on a Battery of the 11th Corps,'  shown above, this picture gives another view  of the Confederate assault Austin Stearns heard about in town.  Forbes artist's studies were made after the battle and from eyewitness accounts and his own examination of the battlefield two days after fighting ended.

I enquired the nature and cause of all this outburst of feeling of some of the quieter ones, and this is the story they told me.  They belonged to Hays’ brigade of Texas troops and were laying close up under Cemetary Hill when they were ordered to the charge.*  They said they went up the hill before the gunners had time to depress their pieces to fire at them, and drove the gunners away and were trying to turn the pieces, when the infantry supports of the batteries came up and they had a short hand to hand conflict.  But our boys were too many for them, and they, not receiving any support, were driven back with considerable loss.  They said it was always so;  if there was to be any hard fighting, they were always the first to be brought in, and then there was no help given them.  They said their officers didn’t care how many were killed, and especially old Hays, who was receiving his share of the curses.  The truth of the story I cannot vouch for;  I only tell it as it was told me by a crowd of rather excited Texan soldiers at the close of a hot July day.  At any rate, it was a sharp fight with no advantage to the rebs.

*Brigadier-General Harry T. Hays, CSA in command of a Brigade in Lieutenant-General. Richards S. Ewell’s (Second) Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

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General Meade's 'Council of War'

An hour after General Meade wrote to General-in-Chief, Henry Halleck in Washington, he called a meeting of his corps commanders.  Meade had reported to Halleck, that he intended to stay in his present position.  Whether his operations would be of an offensive or defensive character would depend upon information he recieved about his army.  The commanders gathered in the small front room of the Leister house to discuss matters.  General John Gibbon of the 2nd Corps wrote an account of it.

From Battles & Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 3, p. 313, Century Company, New York, 1884, 1888


The Council of War on the Second Day

By John Gibbon, Major-General, U.S.V.

Soon after all firing had ceased a staff-officer from army headquarters met General Hancock and myself and summoned us both to General Meade’s headquarters, where a council was to be held.  Generals Barlwo, Birney, Gibbon & HancockWe at once proceeded there, and soon after our arrival all the corps commanders were assembled in the little front room of the Liester House – Newton, who had been assigned to the command of the First Corps over Doubleday, his senior; Hancock, Second; Birney, Third; Sykes, Fifth; Sedgwick, who had arrived during the day with the Sixth, after a long march from Manchester; Howard, Eleventh; and Slocum, Twelfth, besides General Meade, General Butterfield, chief of staff; Warren, chief of engineers; A.S. Williams, Twelfth Corps, and myself, Second.  It will be seen that two corps were doubly represented, the Second by Hancock and myself, and the Twelfth by Slocum and Williams. These twelve were all assembled in a little room not more than ten or twelve feet square, with a bed in one corner, a small table on one side, and a chair or two.  Of course all could not sit down; some did, some lounged on the bed, and some stood up, while Warren, tired out and suffering from a wound  in the neck, where  piece of shell had struck him, lay down in the corner of the room and went sound asleep, and I don’t think heard any of the proceedings.

[Pictured, Generals, Barlow, Birney, Gibbon, & Hancock, who is seated].

The discussion was at first very informal and in the shape of conversation, during which each one made comments on the fight and told what he knew of the condition of affairs. In the course of this discussion Newton expressed the opinion that “this was no place to fight a battle in.”  General Newton was an officer of engineers (since chief-engineer of the army), and was rated by me, and I suppose most others, very highly as a soldier. The assertion, therefore, coming from such a source, rather startled me, and I eagerly asked what his objections to the position were.  The objections he stated, as I recollect them, related to some minor details of the line, of which I knew nothing except so far as my own front was concerned, and with those I was satisfied; but the  prevailing impression seemed to be that the place for the battle had been in a measure selected for us.  Here we are; now what is the best thing to do?  It soon became evident that everybody was in favor of remaining where we were and giving battle there.   General Meade himself said very little, except now and then to make some comment, but I cannot recall that he expressed any decided opinion upon any point, preferring apparently to listen to the conversation.  After the discussion had lasted some time, Butterfield suggested that it would, perhaps, be well to formulate the question to be asked, and General Meade assenting he took a piece of paper, on which he had been making some memoranda, and wrote down a question; when he had done he read it off and formally proposed it to the council.

I had never been a member of a council of war before (nor have I been since) and did not feel very confident I was properly a member of this one; but I had engaged in the discussion, and found myself (Warren being asleep) the junior member in it.  By the custom of war the junior member votes first, as on courts-martial; and when Butterfield read off his question, the substance of which was, “Should the army remain in its present position or take up some other?” he addressed himself first to me for an answer.  To say “Stay and fight” was to ignore the objections made by General Newton, and I therefore answered somewhat in this way: “Remain here, and make such correction in our position as may be deemed necessary, but take no step which even looks like retreat.”  The question was put to each member and his answer taken down, and when it came to Newton, who was the first in rank, he voted in pretty much the same way as I did, and we had some playful sparring as to whether he agreed with me or I with him; the rest voted to remain.

The next question written by Butterfield was, “Should the army attack or wait the attack of the enemy?”  I voted not to attack, and all the others voted substantially the same way; and on the third question “How long shall we wait?’  I voted, “until Lee moved.”  The answers to this last question showed the only material variation in the opinion of the members.

When the voting was over General Meade said quietly, but decidedly, “Such then is the decision”; and certainly he said nothing which produced a doubt in my mind as to his being perfectly in accord with the members of the council.


In 1879 artist James Edward Kelly began a study and interviewed several of the generals present at General Meade's gathering of field commanders.  The result of his research is the following sketch. I have not been able to find proper attribution for all the generals depicted but offer my best educated guess.

Meade's War Council by James E. Kelly

Pictured left to right, Cavalry Corps Commander Major-General Alfred Pleasonton, who was not there,  Chief Engineer G. K. Warren, 1st Corps Commander Major-General John Newton, General Meade, Chief of Staff Major-General Daniel Butterfield, 6th Corps Commander Major-General John Sedgwick, standing in back - 11th Corps Commander Major-General Oliver O. Howard, & 12th Corps Commander Brigadier-General Alpheus S. Williams, seated in front Chief Quarter-master Rufus Ingalls who was not there, then, Wing Commander Major-General Slocum, Wing Commander Major-General Hancock,  2nd Corps Commander Brigadier-General John Gibbon, (standing), 3rd Corps Commander, Major-General David B. Birney, and  5th Corps Commander Major-General George Sykes.


In 1881  (eighteen years after the battle) I was shown in Philadelphia, by General Meade’s son [Colonel George Meade], a paper found amongst General Meade’s effects after his death.  It was folded, and on the outside of one end was written, in his well-known handwriting, in ink, “Minutes of Council, July 2d, 1863.”  On opening it, the following was found written in pencil in a handwriting [General Daniel Butterfield’s] unknown to me:

At the council of corps commanders held on this day the following questions were asked:

Minutes of Council July 2d, 1863.

Page 1, Questions asked:

1.  Under existing circumstances, is it advisable for this army to remain in the present position or to retire to another nearer its base of supplies ?

2.  It being determined to remain in present position, shall the army attack or wait the attack of the enemy ?

3.  If an attack, how long ?

REPLIES

Gibbon:
            1.  Correct position of the army, but would not retreat.
            2.   In no condition to attack, in his opinion.
            3. Until he moves.

Williams:
            1.  Stay.
            2.  Wait Attack.
            3.  One day.

Birney:
            Same as General Williams.

Sykes:
            Same as General Williams.

Newton:
            1.  Correct position of the army, but would not retreat.
            2.  By all means not attack.
            3.  If we wait, it will give them a chance to cut our line.

Howard:
            1.  Remain.
            2. Wait attack until 4 P.M. to-morrow.
            3. If don’t attack, attack them.

Hancock:
            1.  Rectify position without moving so as to give up field.
            2.  Not attack unless our communications are cut.
            3.  Can’t wait long; can’t be idle.

Sedgwick:
            1.  Remain.
            2.  and wait attack
            3.  At least one day.

Slocum:
            1.  Stay and fight it out.


[On the back, or first page of the sheet]:

Slocum stay and fight it out.  Newton thinks it a bad position;  Hancock puzzled about practicability of retiring;  thinks by holding on inviting to mass forces and attack. Howard favor of not retiring.  Birney don't know. Third Corps used up and not in good condition to fight.  Sedgwick doubtful whether we ought to attack.  Effective strength about 9000, 12,500, 9000, 6000, 8500, 6000, 7000.  Total, 58,000. 

[Endorsement:]

Minutes of Council, held Thursday, P.M., July 2d, 1863.  D.B., M.G., C. of S.  [Daniel Butterfield, Major-General, Chief of Staff].

The memoranda at the bottom of the paper were doubtless made while the discussion was going on, and the numbers at the foot refer probably to the effective strength of each corps.*

Several times during the sitting of the council reports were brought to General Meade, and now and then we could hear heavy firing going on over on the right of our line.  I took occasion before leaving to say to General Meade that his staff-officer had regularly summoned me as a corps commander to the council, although I had some doubts about being present.  He answered, pleasantly, "That is all right.  I wanted you here."

Before I left the house Meade made a remark to me which surprised me a good deal, especially when I look back upon the occurrence of the next day.  By a reference to the votes in council it will be seen that the majority of the members were in favor of acting on the defensive and awaiting the action of Lee.  In referring to the matter, just as the council broke up, Meade said to me,  "If Lee attacks to-morrow, it will be in your front."  I asked him why he thought so, and he replied, "Because he has made attacks on both our flanks and failed, and if he concludes to try it again it will be on our center."  I expressed the hope that he would, and told General Meade, with confidence, that if he did we would defeat him.

*A careful study of the orignal suggest that these notes "at the bottom" (on the back) were made before the questions were formulated. - Editors [B&L]

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Lost Among The Dead

I found the following article in "Bivouac, A Military Monthly Magazine;" Volume 1, pages 39-42.  It comes from the book "Bullet & Shell, War as the Soldier Saw It" by G. F. Williams.  The book is a fictional account of a soldier's experiences.  I'd like to believe Williams wrote this from a  personal account.  He was a soldier and a war correspondent during the conflict.

The horror of this story is tangible.  It echoes late author Gregory A. Coco's work "A Strange and Blighted Land,  Gettysburg:  The Aftermath of a Battle." A lot is said, appropriately so, about 'glory,' 'bravery,' and 'honor,' won on a battlefield, but it's still a battlefield, replete with tragedy and horrors once the smoke clears. 


LOST AMONG THE DEAD AT GETTYSBURG
From Bullet and Shell.  By G. F. Williams.

“I had proceeded but a short distance, when I became aware I was on new ground ; the rocks and bowlders over which I had stumbled being no longer in my path.  This was a dilemma for which I had little relish, for I was anxious to reach my command as soon as possible.  I knew it was dangerous to shout, for I might draw upon me the fire of my own pickets; and there would be little glory in being shot by Federal bullets.

Impatient and angry at my own stupidity in not having kept the bearings of my position, I took careful survey of the lights along our main line, hoping by that means to discover the rocks.  But the fires on the interior lines were smouldering as the army slept; so I was the more confused, not knowing which way to turn.  Walking cautiously towards such lights as I could see, I had not gone far when I suddenly tumbled headlong into a wide ditch.  Rising to my feet again, I was startled to find that I had fallen over some corpses. Then the dismal fact dawned upon my mind:  I had missed my way, and was lost, - lost among the dead of the battle field!

The sickening odor that rose from the bodies I had unwittingly disturbed by my fall, proved they had been dead some time.  The men had, no doubt, fallen early in the day when we were hurried from our reserve position to succor the Third Corps.  Still, this knowledge gave me no clew to my whereabouts for I did not remember having seen any ditch during the few minutes my brigade had remained in the glen.  The absence of rocks or outcropping ridges was proof that I had strayed:  so I endeavored to find my feet on familiar ground.  But this movement, instead of bringing me to the rocks I had left, carried me farther over the field; and I began wandering recklessly about, neither knowing or caring where my errant footsteps might lead me.

It was my first experience of a deserted battle-field in the darkness of the night; and, though not easily cowed, I became possessed by a feeling of nameless horror at being thus compelled, as it were to keep unwilling companionship with the dead.  Danger might be faced, - indeed would have been welcomed as a relief; but the feeling that I could not escape from this labyrinth of death was indeed an awful sensation.

Once I tumbled, at full length, over two bodies, my horror increased at finding my face close to the swollen and bloody features of the dead man who lay uppermost.  The corpses seemed to be everywhere, for at times I could not put my foot to the ground without a feeling some portion of a man’s body beneath it.  Then where I would, I found myself surrounded by these revolting evidences of man’s hatred and strife.  My head grew dizzy, and a feeling of sickness crept over me, as I staggered over the ground, carpeted, as it was, with the slain of both armies.

Timothy O'Sullivan, Union Dead, July 5

Here were confused heaps of dead men, Federal and Confederate, lying mingled as they fell fighting one another.  Feeling my way among them I found three or four lying close together, side by side, at their feet another body, at their heads two more. One poor fellow had evidently struggled a moment for life after receiving his mortal wound, then, pillowing his head on the breast of a dead comrade, lay passive as Death swept his dark wings over the plain.  Judging from the position of some other bodies I stumbled over a few paces beyond, a fearful shower of grape and canister must have torn the ranks of a regiment into shreds; for fifty or sixty bodies lay in a row, some on their faces, others on their backs, while the attitudes of a few betrayed the agony endured before death ended their sufferings.  Though these could be but dimly seen in the darkness, I fancied the glazed eyes of the dead were leering at me.  Leaving the sleeping battalion, I came across the corpse of a little drummer-boy, who lay with his arms still clasped around his drum, his head shattered by a shell.  Brave boy! he had beaten his last rataplan.  Now the scabbard of a sword jingled as my uncertain foot struck it, the wearer being in a sitting posture, his legs shattered by a round shot.

Death! Death everywhere, in all its horrid, awful forms!  The swift bullet and the cruel shell both had been at work; and I realized what a price is paid for victories.

Still, I could not find my picket-post, and was wholly ignorant of my whereabouts; for now I came to the scene of another desperate, bloody struggle, the bodies rapidly accumulating under my feet, as they lay in confused masses on the grass.  Tumbling over one of these ghastly mounds of half-rotten flesh, I was startled at finding a human hand thrust into my face.  For a moment I imagined I had found a living man amidst the dead, but on closer scrutiny I saw the hand was a lifeless one.  The soldier’s death had been so instantaneous, that, as he fell with outstretched arm, the muscles became rigid, the stiffening fingers remaining poised in death, pointing to the heavens whither the sprit had taken flight.  The man’s musket lay across his chest ; and, putting my hand on the weapon, I found it still clutched by the dead owner.

Half mad, with a feeling of fear tugging at my heart-strings, I dashed wildly from the spot, and, stumbling and falling, continued my career over the encumbered field.

Yet I did not escape the presence of the dead; for, as I subsequently discovered, I was going round and round, like a man entangled in the depths of a forest.  Owing to the darkness, I imagined I had traveled a mile, though in reality I did not leave the vicinity of the glen.  Besides the bodies, my feet encountered muskets and knapsacks in extraordinary confusion; and once I narrowly escaped a fall over the distended carcass of a horse, killed perhaps while his rider was bravely cheering on his men, or trying to restore order in a broken line. Next my knee struck an exploded caisson, and a moment after I ran full tilt against dismantled cannon.  Round the piece there had been an awful combat, for the sod was thickly covered with the dead.  Utterly exhausted by my unavailing efforts to extricate myself from this mass of mouldering corpses, I determined to halt where I was.

“I’ll go no farther,” I cried.  “If I must lodge with the slain, I’ll do it here.”

Seating myself on the broken field-piece, I waited impatiently for the dawn that was to drive away these wild fancies and restore me to my men.  But the darkness still held my senses enthralled; and, as I threw myself on the disabled cannon, I fancied that weird arms were pointing with shriveled fingers at the living, shrinking man in their midst.  Try as I would, I could not shake off the feeling that uncanny shapes were abroad; and I fell more and more under the influence of these ghostly fears, despite my better reason. The exciting duty I had performed since reaching the field of Gettysburg had so affected my nervous system that these hallucinations seemed dread reality ……

Nearly two hundred thousand men were sleeping around me, while I was sitting wakeful and alone among the dead.

When I began hoping that the day would soon break, strange lights appeared in the distance, disappearing as soon as seen.  Supposing them to be carried by ambulance-parties in search of wounded I rose to meet them.  But before I had taken many steps, I was surprised to see one of these mysterious lights quite near me, though there were no footsteps, no voices.  The flame grew brighter and brighter, and then suddenly expired.  Then the truth flashed upon my mind; the light was caused by the mephitic gases escaping from putrefying corpses.

“Help – help – water – water!”

These words were uttered a little way off, in a moaning voice ; and when I heard them I knew some wounded wretch needed succor. With a feeling of relief at the presence of some human life among the dead, I hastened towards the sounds.

“Water – water!  - My God! – is there no help! – Water – a little – wa-ter!”

The faint and weary cry was almost at my feet.  Dropping on my hands and knees, I crawled cautiously forward.

“Where are you?  I bring you water,” I cried cheerily, my nerves now firm as steel.

“Here,” said the voice more faintly. 

In a moment I was at the man’s side, finding him in the midst of a group of the dead.

Charles Reed sketch, Two Soldiers sharing a canteen     “Here you are,” said I, unslinging my canteen and holding it to his lips.

“But don’t drink too fast.”

The wounded man clutched the vessel, and soon I heard the water gurgling down his throat; when he stopped for breath I took the canteen from him, fearing if he drank too much it would kill him. …….

“Say, friend, I feel very weak.  Am I going to die?  Oh, say I am not dying !”  and the wretched man’s voice quivered with agony as he asked the question.

“I hope not, my man.  Keep quiet now.  It will soon be daylight.”

“All right,” he replied, resting his head on a corpse behind him.

By this time the first faint streaks of daylight began stealing over the field, enabling me to distinguish objects at a little distance. Still kneeling beside my new found charge, I watched the trees and rocks reveal their outlines. Next the corpses of men and horses, the broken cannon, the scattered muskets, all the debris of the battle, became visible in their rude deformity and confusion.  Little by little the light grew stronger, until my whereabouts could be ascertained.  I then found I had unwittingly moved to the right of our line, and so wandered in a circle scarcely a thousand yards from my little party.

Looking across the open plain, I could see the ground thickly strewn with the dead, the result of the Confederates' mad but heroic charge.  In rifts like new mown grass in the hay-field, lay long lines of slain men; while here and there were confused heaps of corpses, as though Death, the reaper, had already begun to reckon up and garner his harvest.  Everywhere, on either hand, before and behind me, was death, - death in all its diversity of form.

Averting my eyes from this broad expanse of slaughtered men, I turned my attention to the wounded one before me. Alas!  Death had added another victim to the long list to be made upon that bloody field; for he had expired, silently, peacefully while asleep.  If I had been too late to save him, I had at least the consolation of knowing that I had soothed his last hour.

I should never know who he was; and none of those who loved him would know that in the silence of night, with his head pillowed on a corpse, his life had ebbed away.

“And this is the glory of war!”  I exclaimed, rising from my knees to join my command.


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