Prologue; Sarah Broadhead's
Diary - July
of a Lady of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from
June 15 to July 15,
By Sarah M. Broadhead.
3. -- Today the battle opened with fierce
cannonading before 4 o'clock A.M. Shortly after the battle began we
told to leave this end of the town, for likely it would be
shelled. My husband declared he would not go while one brick
remained upon another, and, as usual, we betook ourselves to the
cellar, where we remained until 10 o'clock, when the firing
ceased. We could not get breakfast on account of our fears
the great danger. During the cessation we managed to get a
bite. Again, the battle began with unearthly
Nearly all the afternoon it seemed as if the
were crashing together. The time that we sat in the cellar
long, listening to the terrific sound of the strife; more terrible
greeted human ears. We knew that with every explosion, and
scream of each shell, human beings were hurried through
pain, into another world, and that many more were torn, and mangled,
and lying in torment worse than death, and no one able to extend
relief. The thought made me very sad, and feel that, if it
God's will, I would rather be taken away than remain to see the misery
that would follow. Some thought this awful afternoon would
come to a close. We knew that the Rebels were putting forth
their might, and it was a dreadful thought that they might
succeed. Who is victorious, or with whom the advantage rests,
one here can tell. It would ease the horror if we knew our
were successful. Some think the Rebels were defeated, as
has been no boasting as on yesterday, and they look uneasy and by no
means exultant. I hope they are correct, but I fear we are
hopeful. We shall see to-morrow. It will be the 4th
and the Rebels have promised us a glorious day. If
the battle and drives them off it will be glorious, and I will rejoice.
To Table of Contents
What's On This Page
This page opens with the diary of Sarah
Broadhead a resident of the town who lived on Chambersburg Street. It
is accompanied by the excellent illustration of artist Don Troiani.
Sarah's diary records events with the uncertainty and worry
bystander held hostage to a great war. The introduction that
follows, outlines the fighting done by
Ewell's Confederates on Culp's Hill; a
counter-punch to the more famous attacks of General Longstreet's Corps
on July 2nd & 3rd. The fighting on Culp's Hill was
dramatic as Pickett's Charge, though this part of the battlefield is
less well-known and visited. The events there greatly
influenced the moves
General Robinson's Division on the 2nd & 3rd days' battle,
so awareness of them adds a little context to Robinson's change of
positions. The introduction
followed by the essay, "Robinson's Division on July 3rd," which
the various locations upon the battle-field occupied by the
Mass' during the
day. Gettysburg battlefield
historian John Bachelder's sequential maps are examined in conjunction
several regimental writings, to clarify the division's whereabouts
July 3rd. There were some discrepancies in the narratives of
Mass' and other regiments, with regard to 'place names' and
locations upon the battle-ground, and these are briefly discussed in
spill-over essay, "Where the Heck is Ziegler's Grove?"
within all this exposition is a substantial number of
quotes from the reports and histories of men who were present, which
helps keep it all exciting. One last observation is made
General Alexander Hays presence on the battlefield, which inspired many
of the soldiers who witnessed it. If all this exposition has
exhausted the reader the primary source material follows.
Davis's narrative, re-iterates much of what is described in the essays
that precede it. But the essays correct some of his
I've titled his narrative from the regimental history, "A Ray
Intelligence" for reasons that will
become obvious. Up next, Major Abner Small of the 16th
presents an exceedingly entertaining character study of
temporary Brigade commander, Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11th PA.
You will enjoy it.
page continues with the narratives of two Union prisoners, who
lengthy accounts of their experiences as captives behind enemy lines.
These are Sergeant Austin
Stearns and his wanderings through the town as a prisoner of
war, and Private
experiences as a prisoner in the field.
The two accounts are the longest excerpts from the '13th
Mass' rank and
for the day's events.
Charge,' more correctly called 'Pickett's, Pettigrew & Pender's
Charge,' if you are from North Carolina, was the main event of the day,
and of the battle, and it is presented as it was described in the
the '9th New York
Militia' (83rd NY Vol. Inf.). The
of the '9th NY' as they liked to be called, were a bit
like the '13th Mass' in character, and the two units, with the 16th
Maine and '12th Mass', shared many common experiences during the war.
Yes! There is more source material from
the regiment on this page, and
waited a long time to get to it! With most of the soldiers
captured, there are only a few short glimpses into the experiences of
the '13th Mass' on the battlefield July 3rd. William Warner's
short but graphic description of the day's moves, and the emotions
experienced while in
action, are a highlight, as is Edward Rollin's description of picket
duty at night. Sam Webster had a few choice comments to add
precede Rollins. These stories close the narrative for July
3. Several stories from
of the regiment will be presented on a future page, titled "Aftermath
of Battle." Happy reading.
All images & Maps are from
the Library of
Congress digital images collection, with the following
exceptions: Don Troiani's illustration of townspeople
taking shelter in a basement is from the book, "Days of
Uncertainty & Dread," Gerald R. Bennett, 1994, Gettysburg
Foundation, PA; "Steuart's Brigade at Culp's Hill" is from, "Century
of Civil War Art," 1974, American Heritage Publishing Company, NY,
(originally used in Battles & Leaders of the Civil War) ;
Historic images of Ziegler's Grove were accessed at Gettysburg Daily
of September 22, 2011.
and also at, The blog of Gettysburg National Military Park, May 21,
2015 entry titled "Rehabbing Cemetery Ridge."
Copies of the Bachelder maps were provided to me by Mr. Bob
George and enhanced in photoshop; Detail of Gettysburg Map
showing Ziegler's Grove is from McElfresh Map Co., 1994,
LLC, PO Box 565, Olean, NY 14760; The Gen. Alexander Hays
illustration is from "General Alexander Hays
at Gettysburg" by George Thornton Fleming, Pittsburgh, 1913 accessed
via the web.; Major Abner R. Small, 16th
"Road To Richmond," edited by Harold Small, University of California
Press, Berkeley, CA 1939; The following (cropped)
from 'Deeds of Valor', accessed on the web: H. W. Stilson,
'soldiers on the double-quick', & 'battery in action'; Charles
Copeland, 'two seated soldiers'; C.D. Graves,
(color), and cropped image of 'soldiers advancing
comrades'; Colonel Richard Coulter's image,
(post-war) is from Tim Fulmer's blog,
Division, First Brigade' flag,
& the color image of the Gettysburg Cyclorama, were accessed at
Wikimedia Commons; The picture of men arguing in the cropped
illustration by Francis Schell is from Boston College, 'The
Becker Collection', Drawings from the Civil War Era,
'Rebel Soldier' is from "Some of My Good Stuff", compiled Hank
Harrison, Starbur Press, 1990; Portrait of Sergeant Austin C.
Stearns is from
"Three Years with Company K", AUP Press, 1976;
General Henry J. Hunt, & 'Confederates waiting
for the End of the Artillery Duel', from Battles & Leaders
of the Civil War, Century Publications 1887-1888; The John Allan
Maxwell illustration is
from Civil War Times; Edwin Forbes illustration, 'After the
from "Thirty Years After", LSU Press, 1993;
ALL IMAGES HAVE
BEEN EDITED IN PHOTOSHOP.
to Top of Page
Introduction - The Battle on
At day-break, July 3rd, the ‘ball
opened’ at Culp’s Hill,
where Confederates of Brigadier-General
Edward Johnson's two brigades, resumed their attacks to carry
Union lines where they had gained a foothold the night before.
occupying the town of Gettysburg on July
first, the Rebels had
been wanting to gain a lodgment on
the high ground of Cemetery Hill or Culp's Hill which was the
stronghold of the Union position just south of town.
General Lee was inclined to shift his
troops from the town towards Seminary Ridge, to concentrate his
forces on the Union left, which seemed
more vulnerable. With questionable evidence that Culp’s Hill was
un-occupied, General Ewell, (whose corps controlled the town),
General Lee that he could occupy the hill, and force the Federals out
their strong position. But, to both Ewell and Lee’s
disappointment, General Edward Johnson’s troops failed to move in force
upon the hill
during the night of July 1st. Members of
party were surprised to find that there were
troops on the hill. Some of the scouts were captured and
Johnson postponed his attempt to take the Hill to the next
toward Culp's Hill from the
Baltimore Pike; a Union perspective.
By early morning, July 2nd, the Union lines were heavily
re-enforced. Strong earthworks went up in the night,
Culp’s Hill nearly impregnable. With their first opportunity
lost, Lee and Ewell decided the planned attack against the fortified
hills on the Union
right would have to wait. Only a joint effort in concert
with Longstreet’s planned assault on the Union left would
success. Accordingly, General Ewell’s troops advanced against
the hills in the evening of July 2nd.
As described on the previous page of this website, the Louisiana Tigers
of General Early’s Division had some success on East Cemetery Hill when
they briefly breached Rickett’s & Weidrich’s batteries, before
they were driven back by Union re-enforcements. The Union
was complete, and the Confederates retreated to the town. But General
Johnson’s early evening attack on Culp’s Hill met with some success.
Artist Edwin Forbes painted
this image of Union Troops in their Breastworks on Culp's Hill.
Johnson’s division advanced, “and found only one
brigade - Greene’s -
of the Twelfth Corps in position, the others having been sent to the
aid of Sickles at the Peach Orchard. Greene fought with skill
and determination for two or three hours, and, with re-enforcements of
eight hundred men from the First and Eleventh corps, succeeded in
his own entrenchments, the enemy taking possession of the abandoned
works of Generals John Geary and Thomas Ruger who had gone to support
the Union left. The confusion of darkness and close proximity
of the opposing sides, helped close the fighting for the
night, but Johnson's Confederates now occupied lower Culp's Hill near
the Baltimore pike. When
Ruger’s division returned from Round Top, and Geary’s from Rock Creek,
they found Johnson in possession of their defensive earthworks, and
immediately prepared to drive him out at
daylight.” - [Quotes from 'Meade at Gettysburg.']
General Lee was encouraged from the results of the bloody
attacks ordered on July 2nd, and he resolved to
continue them the next day. The assaults of Longstreet on the Union
left, and Ewell's Corps at Culp's Hill, were planned to be
simultaneous. Troops were sent to General Johnson in the
strengthen his lines and help him carry Culp's Hill in the
morning. The brigades
of Colonel Edward O’Neal and Brigadier-General Junius Daniels who
fought against the '13th Mass'
Oak Ridge, July 1st, were among those sent.
Conversely, Union generals planned a
counter-attack to rid the hill of the Confederate interlopers.
The Union plan to drive Johnson off the hill was to begin
artillery bombardment, followed by a charge from Brig-General John
White Geary’s Division. Fans of the ‘13th Mass,’
may recall Col. Geary, from the early days of the regiment’s service at
Harper’s Ferry. It was then that Colonel Geary’s bluster,
the feathers of the regiment's usually unflappable Major Jacob Parker
Gould considered Geary to be,
basically, a self-promoting
‘wind-bag.’ Disregarding his
personal charms, Geary
was a brave soldier, and now commanded a division of the 12th Corps,
and in the wee hours of July 3rd, 1863, he was set to lead a
counter-attack against the Confederate intruders on
Culp’s Hill, as soon as first light glimmered upon the horizon.
The blast of 26 guns startled the boys in gray awake at 4
That is, if any of them slept at all knowing they were to resume the
attack at first light. After an hour of furious fire, that
crashed through trees and smashed around Johnson's position,
force was about to step-off out of the Federal breastworks, when the
Confederates beat him to the punch and launched their own
attack. There would be no artillery support for the
Rebels, because they were fighting too close in to the enemy.
The promontory crowned with breastworks on the right of Johnson’s line,
was near impregnable and only faint attempts were made against this
position. Other attacks opposite the positions of
Greene and Geary, were repeatedly repulsed with heavy
loss. Unfortunately for the Confederates, General
Ewell had learned 1/2 hour after his assault was underway, that General
Longstreet's attack would not begin for several hours. So much for the
plan of a simultaneous assault. Ewell's men had to battle it
on their own. It
was too late to recall his troops. The battle at Culp's Hill
continue to rage for several hours and rack up heavy
defenders were well
within their works and their losses there were comparatively
small. Most of their casualties came when men left the works
replenish ammunition. Supporting troops took turns manning the
The continuous roar of musketry and unremitting
fire along the 12th Corps
line was heard by General Meade who wondered if Geary was not wasting
too much ammunition! A soldier of the 147th New
‘that the men of the regiment had each fired 200 rounds by 10:00 A.M.
and that it was relieved four times to clean its guns, get more
ammunition, and obtain rations.’1
About 8 A.M., General Johnson ordered 3 of his
brigades to try a third
time to charge the enemy's works, hoping to break the Union
lonely feeling of dread must have crept over those selected
to do what had been tried and failed twice before. “It was
nothing less than murder to send men into that slaughter pen,” said
Major William Goldsborough commanding the 1st Maryland Battalion of
Steuart’s brigade. He was told General Steuart agreed with
him, but the order from General Johnson was imperative.2
It wouldn’t have comforted them to know that the
breastworks had been re-enforced with fresh troops from the 6th Corps.
Brigade at Culp's Hill" (morning of July 3rd) by Allen Redwood.
Redwood served in the Confederate Army at Gettysburg.
later met several of the men in Steuart's command after the war and
wanted to paint this picture for Century Magazine.
The third assault lasted less than an hour. One of the
participants, private Louis Leon of the 53rd North Carolina wrote his
company went in with sixty men and left with sixteen. 'One
man’s head was shot off, another was cut in two, one soldiers’s brains
oozed out, and so forth.’3
Some of the brave attackers came very close to the
being pinned down or wounded, but the third attack
failed. The Confederates had to accept defeat and
under fire to Rock Creek. The 12th Corps troops of Generals Geary and
re-occupied their old works and re-established their defensive line.
A sad coda to the battle for the boys in blue was
the fatal charge of
the 2nd Massachusetts and 27th Indiana. After
a successful defense of the hill, these two
regiments were ordered across an open meadow about 150 yards wide, to
drive the enemy, now occupying their former breastworks, from that
position if possible. Against a murderous fire the 2
regiments charged over an open field and up a hill toward the
breastworks. They were cut
down with enormous losses in officers and men. Captain Thomas
B. Fox of the 2nd Mass. was among the 45 men of this
regiment killed in the charge. He was the brother of Charles
B. Fox, former lieutenant, in the 13th Massachusetts.
General Johnson reported the loss of 1,823
men. This did not
include the casualties from 3 brigades outside his division that
supported the attacks.
During the morning's conflagration on the hill,
remained on the far right of his line, riding to
various parts of the field strengthening his troop positions.
At 8 a.m. he sent a brigade from the 6th Corps to aid the
soldiers fighting on Culp's Hill. By 10 A.M. it was clear the
enemy were massing their artillery along Seminary Ridge from the town
of Gettysburg to the Peach Orchard. An attack was being
prepared opposite the center of his line. An hour later
the intense fighting on Culp's
Hill ended. This sanguinary episode of the battle
would be over-shadowed by ‘Pickett’s Charge”
still to come later in the day.
1. Harry W. Pfanz,"Gettysburg, Culp's Hill and Cemetery
UNC Press, 1993; p. 306; (regarding the ammunition comment, Commanding
General Meade knew an assault would be coming against the center of his
line). 2. Pfanz, p. 314. 3. Pfanz, p.
from Louis Leon, 'Diary of a Tarheel Confederate Soldier',
Charlotte: Stone Publishing Company, 1913, pages 36-37.
To Table of Contents
Robinson's Division on July
Tracing the moves of the '13th Mass.' on July 2nd
& 3rd is difficult. The soldiers' writings can be
vague. Once again, the reports and writings from other
regiments in the division are useful in sorting things out.
But these other writings differ greatly in describing the same moves,
which adds another level of difficulty to the
interpretations. With the help of maps created by Gettysburg historian
Bachelder, some clarity is discerned. Once an understanding
achieved, the reports can be re-examined, and suddenly a cohesive
narrative emerges from the confusion.
It appears the division held 3 distinct positions
on July 3rd with slight variations. Writings from various
regiments in the division bring the day to life. I have cut
and pasted together descriptive accounts from the different commands to
tell the story. Click
on the maps
to view larger.
Early in the evening on July 2nd, General
division (about 900 men) was in position along Cemetery Ridge near
Little Round Top,
bolstering the patched up Union line, while disorganized
the second day's battle re-grouped. They were here because General
Sickles' advanced line had collapsed during the afternoon fighting.
Some of Robinson’s men were thrown
to pick up rifles and equipment left scattered over the
battlefield. Corps Commander General John Newton wrote:
on, and active operations closing here for the day, parties were sent
to the front to bring in such guns as had been left. They were
successful to some extent, but the number thus reclaimed has never been
John Vautier, of the 88th PA gives a good account
"The ground had
all been fought over, the fields being strewn with the dead and wounded
of both armies, the latter crying piteously for help, calling the names
of comrades, company, or regiment, in their frantic appeals; one
officer, said to be General Barksdale, of the Confederate army,
alternately cursed and begged for aid. Help was given to all the
wounded within reach until the regiment was relieved in the night, and
marching to the vicinity of the cemetery, rested there until the
morning of the 3d..."
Sometime in the evening, past 9 o'clock, General
Robinson's division returned to Cemetery Hill. The crisis of
the 3rd Corps was ended. General Meade's defensive line along
Ridge toward the Roundtop mountains was stabilized, and Robinson's
troops were no longer needed there. Another threat, on the
the Union lines precipitated their move back to Cemetery Hill.
Confederate General Richard Ewell's Corps attacked
Union fortifications on Culp's Hill, and, the batteries on East
Cemetery Hill, in the evening of July 2nd, between 7 p.m. and 10
gained a lodgement on the former, and briefly broke through the
defenses of the latter. Hand to hand combat
climaxed the desperate charge around the
batteries of Captain Michael Wiedrich and Captain R. Bruce Ricketts on
East Cemetery Hill. Robinson's division
was ordered over to help and moved quickly to their support.
But the fighting had ended before they
Samuel S. Carroll's Brigade, 2nd Corps, had preceded them, and pursued
retreating Rebels down the hill to capture as many of the rear guard as
possible. Carroll's brigade then took up a forward position
at the base of East Cemetery Hill behind a stone wall and remained
there to protect the batteries, through the night and following
Pictured is the
monument to Cooper's Pennsylvania Battery B, on East Cemetery
Hill. Ricketts' battery (6 rifled guns) occupied
Cooper's position after the late afternoon artillery duel July 2nd.
was attacked at night July 2nd and briefly breeched by Confederates of
Avery's Brigade. During the repulse Carroll's Brigade arrived
and later took position along the stone wall just visible in the front
of the hill.
In "Meade at Gettysburg," the son of the famous
general who was an aide to his father during the battle, wrote
that General Howard requested
re-enforcements at the time of the attacks. Meade ordered
General Newton to
send Robinson's Division back to the cemetery. Then Meade
rode to McKnight's Hill and sent a message to
troops on Cemetery Hill to hold fast, that re-enforcements would soon
be there. Robinson's Division shortly afterward filed
through the cemetery to the Baltimore Pike, but Carroll's men had
already done the work required.
It seems after this, Robinson's Division returned
to a position on
the west side of Evergreen Cemetery, nearby the position they had
occupied in the afternoon.* There
would be good cause to place the soldiers here, for Confederate General
Robert Rodes' Division was
close by and had threatened attack from the south west end of town
earlier in the evening. Rodes was supposed to support General Ewell's
attacks against East Cemetery Hill, but by the time he drew his troops
out of the town and formed them to advance, Ewell's attack had ended.
It was deemed too late and not advisable to attack so Rodes
of General Howard's troops in this area had been sent
away to help defend East Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill and it is
reasonable to suggest that Robinson's men were plugging a temporary gap
in Howard's line. General Howard did write:
the moment my left was weakened, [evening, July 2nd] as also at other
times during the engagements, General Newton was ready with
re-enforcements from the First Corps."
more specific information is found about their exact location except
that during the night the soldiers in Colonel Coulter's brigade
[formerly Paul's brigade] laid in position behind a stone wall, in
front of the 11th Corps batteries on Cemetery Hill, facing the town,
and were subject to enemy sniper fire. Several men of the
different regiments wrote about it. In the early morning,
say at daybreak, they scrambled from their forward position facing the
town, to a safer position behind the hill they fronted. See
Bachelder Map #6 below.
Here’s what some of the officers
reported in the
Official Records for the night-time move on July 2nd :
"At about 10
p.m. were placed in position on the Emmitsburg and Gettysburg road in
and front of the cemetery, to support a portion of the Eleventh Corps,
from which duty we were relieved at daylight on the 3d." - Colonel
Richard Coulter, commanding the brigade.
our position on the right, and were ordered to the front of the
batteries and near the town. July 3. -- At daylight were
ordered to the rear of the batteries." - Lieutenant-Colonel
N. Walter Batchelder,
commanding 13th Massachusetts.
"When the battle
closed, [July 2] we were again marched to the right,
and formed in line
behind a stone wall on the west of the cemetery, and nearly down to the
town; lay on our arms during the night. The next morning
we marched, under the fire of the enemy’s sharpshooters, to
the rear of the cemetery, to support a battery, as on the day
before." - Colonel Gilbert Prey, commanding 104th
"We returned to
our position on the right, and about 9 p.m. moved on the hill in front
of the batteries and near the town, where we were much annoyed by the
enemy’s sharpshooters firing from the windows and houses.
July 3. – Soon after daylight we were ordered to the rear of the
batteries. As we rode up from behind the stone wall, we
received a volley from the enemy’s pickets, but fortunately did us no
damage." - Lieutenant-Colonel A.B. Farnham, commanding 16th Maine.
"After dark, I
should say about nine o’clock, [July 2] we were
moved down the front of
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." -Major Abner Small, Col. Coulter's staff, from, "The Road to
9.30 p.m. it
resumed its former position, and
was subsequently formed in rear of a stone wall between the hill and
along the road, where it remained until the morning of the 3d, at
when it was moved to the position it formerly occupied in the rear of
cemetery.” - Captain Jacob J. Bierer, commanding 11th Pennsylvania.
lay on our arms [July 2]
until about 6.30 p.m., when we were marched to the
left, toward the Round Top, under a heavy and effective fire, to assist
in driving the rebel hordes back in the famous charge of the second day
of the fight. After the charge, we marched back to near the
cemetery, and were ordered to lay in rear of a stone fence, being a
protection for the men from the enemy's sharpshooters in our front....
July 3. - At 4.30 a.m. we were posted in the rear of Cemetery Hill, in
support of the batteries stationed on that point, remaining in that
position until 1.30 p.m., when the enemy opened upon us with a heavy
and furious artillery fire." - Captain E. D. Roath,
Position, July 3rd; (pre-dawn - mid-day).
As Captain Bierer has estimated
move of July 2nd
back to Cemetery Hill at 9:30
p.m. and, Captain Roath
has given us an approximate time of 4:30 a.m. for the move from the
front of the hill to the rear of the hill, it is interesting to note
this time period falls exactly between a gap in Gettysburg historian
John Bachelder's hourly maps.
Davis, Jr. gives a memorable account of the
move from the front of the hill, to the rear, on the morning of July
3rd, in his history of the
13th Mass. regiment:
"At a given
signal we were to rush from our position in front to the rear of the
batteries with as much confusion and zigzagging as possible, the
purpose being to confuse the enemy and to prevent the men becoming a
mark for the sharpshooters. The movement was made so suddenly
that it was all over before the enemy had time to recover from their
surprise. It was always gratifying to the rank and file to
see a ray of intelligence exhibited, even in a general officer."
The reason the troops were massed behind the hill,
as depicted in Bachelder’s Map #6 is given in Brigadier-General John C.
morning, 3d instant, the division was massed, and held ready to push
forward to the support of the Twelfth Corps, then engaged with the
enemy on our right.”
The battle for Culp’s Hill had resumed at
Robinson’s troops might be wanted there. This then is the 'first'
position the division held on July 3rd as
depicted on Bachelder's map, with allowances for the
division being posted in front of the batteries during the wee hours of
Once the fighting ended on
about 10 a.m., there was not much
to do but wait, and as the morning drifted on, many dropped asleep
assisted by the relentless rays of the sun. For the soldiers,
it was a quiet lull in the fight, barely mentionable in their
remembrances of the day’s historic events.
were held in reserve in readiness to
be sent to any part of the line. About one P.M. after a long
lull & almost complete cessation of firing on both sides,
during which many of our Brigade had dropped asleep, where we laid,
unsheltered from the sun, a cannon from the rebel right was fired…”
William Warner, 13th Massachusetts.
engagement a painful quietness
ensued, but it proved to be the calm before the storm. ….the tired
soldiers rested as best they could in the hot sun until about one P.M.”
- John Vautier, 88th PA.
silence on Cemetery Ridge was broken by the
rapidly-moving artillery, which took positions all along the line from
the cemetery to Little Round Top. Guns were sighted, caissons passed to
the rear, and men posted for action. In terrible suspense,
moments crept by until one o’clock, when the stillness of the air was
suddenly broken by an explosion in the wheat field on Oak Hill, and a
huge Whitworth shell, with lightning quickness, came crashing through
the Union lines." – Major Abner Small, (16th ME history).
The artillery fire that erupted at mid-day, was the
tremendous cannonade that preceded “Pickett’s Charge.”
Private John Vautier of the 88th PA, and Major Isaac Hall of the 97th
NY, give a good description of the beginning of the
tremendous artillery duel, just before the division sought safety in
their move to East Cemetery Hill. Major Hall mentions a clump
of trees where the soldiers took temporary refuge, and Vautier
identifies the trees as Ziegler’s Grove,
which is incorrect.**
rumble shook the earth as the cannon of the enemy
simultaneously opened on the Union position, the sky soon being
obscured by heavy clouds of white smoke, while the air was full of
hissing, shrieking, bursting shells, which appeared to fall everywhere
in the Federal lines. For a few moments our cannoneers failed to
respond, but then opened furiously, and in this iron tempest, amid the
hissing and screaming projectiles, the regiment was called to arms,
being marched down the hill to a clump of trees known as Ziegler’s
Grove.” – John Vautier, 88th PA
The closeup map
at right, shows a
grove of trees at the foot of the Evergreen Cemetery.
these are the trees referenced by John Vautier, above.
Robinson's Division was laying around near where the 4 trees
indicated just below the cemetery, when the artillery duel began.
Ziegler's Grove is to the west, across the Taneytown Road.
Robinson's Division would move there later on in the
but first, they moved from their position on the west side of
Evergreen Cemetery over to the right, across the Baltimore
Road to East Cemetery Hill.
See Map # 7, below.
Major Isaac Hall (97th PA, Baxter’s Brigade)
described the initial
cannonade, followed by the move to East Cemetery Hill.
immediate front, at the base of the hill and a little up its slope,
stood a clump of large trees, of primitive growth, and when the
cannonading began, the incessant whiz, the loud reports of bursting
shells and crash of solid shot from more than a hundred of the enemy’s
guns and the deafening roar from as many of our own - which shook the
earth – in close proximity, could not be considered at all soothing to
the feelings of men who had left nearly a half of their comrades on the
battle grounds the two preceding days. Yet were nothing but
these scenes and the din of conflict to be taken into consideration,
these men could look calmly on; but when the foliage and the heavy
limbs of trees, with this bursting tempest of missiles came crashing to
the ground, and ghastly furroughs through columns of men began to
appear, a look of inquiry toward their officers ran along these meager
lines. Such men under the eye of their officers could not
break and run; their discipline and moral force chained them more
firmly than could fetters of steel, to the ground. But no
column could long exist uncovered amid this desolating storm, and the
order came quick and sharp to move to the right of the hill, where in
support of a portion of the Eleventh Corps, in rear of a stone wall, it
was halted and ordered to lie down.
“Exposed here to the fierce rays of the sun, with scarcely a breeze to
mitigate its power, the men began to be sun-struck…” – Major Isaac
Hall, 97th NY.
At the same time the famous artillery duel opened, General Robinson
prepared to make a move towards East Cemetery Hill, as ordered by
commanding General George G. Meade. Robinson’s report says:
“About noon, I was informed by the major-general commanding the army
that he anticipated an attack on the cemetery by the enemy’s
forces massed in the town, and was directed to so place my command that
if our line gave way I could attack the enemy on his flank. I
proceeded to make this change of position at the moment the enemy
commenced the terrific artillery fire of that day. Never
before were troops so exposed to such a fire of shot and shell, and yet
the movement was made in perfect order and with little loss.”
Here’s what Colonel Coulter, commanding Paul’s
Brigade, and thus, the
'13th Mass.', wrote about the move to the right in the midst of
the torrent of shells. Keep in mind, time is always
difficult to determine in these situations, so the hours given always
vary to some degree.
“About 2 p.m. of the 3d, the artillery fire becoming heavy
and general along the line, the brigade was moved quickly to the right,
to the support of Captain Ricketts’ and other batteries operating on
the right of the cemetery. Here we remained about an hour,
and were exposed to both the front and rear fire of artillery and the
enemy’s skirmishers.” - Col. Richard Coulter.
General Henry Baxter wrote of moving his brigade at about 1 p.m.
“We were now
ordered to the right and front of
Cemetery Hill, in support of the batteries, sustaining a heavy fire
from the enemy’s batteries for nearly two hours.” -Brig.-Gen. Henry
Captain Emanuel Roath (107th PA) & William
R. Warner, (13th Mass) give a more
descriptive account of the danger when moving.
“July 3. - At 4.30 a.m. we were posted in the rear of Cemetery
Hill…remaining in that position until 1.30 p.m., when the enemy opened
upon us with a heavy and furious artillery fire. Our division
was moved to the right of Cemetery Hill, at the same time lying under
two direct fires of the enemy’s sharpshooters and one
battery. The strife became terrific and the artillery firing
terrible. At this crisis… …the regiment was marched with
others along the crest or brow of the hill in rear of the batteries,
through the most deadly fire ever man passed through, it appearing as
though every portion of the atmosphere contained a deadly missile.”
-Report of Capt. Emanuel Roath, 107th PA.
“Shells were dropping all around us – We were hastily removed from this
position which seemed to be the point where random shells from any part
of the enemys lines were falling, to a field nearer to our Infantry
lines but under the ridge & less exposed to Artillery fire” –
William R. Warner, 13th MA.
Position, July 3rd; (about 1 - 3:30 p.m.)
Bachelder's Map # 7 gives the time
as 8 - 11 A.M., Robinson's Division did not move into the position
shown until mid-day, after the massive artillery duel had commenced.
Many of the soldiers described this as 'the north side of the
hill.' Relative to their previous position this is correct.
Click to view larger.
The new position is the division’s second major
position of July
3rd. This is the position Charles E. Davis, Jr. referenced in
his regimental history for the 13th Mass., "Three Years in the Army."
But Davis thought
the regiment had been in this position since the evening of July 2nd.
The regiment was indeed now near the batteries of
Weidrich and Ricketts as he wrote, except it was later in the
day and under different circumstances. [See
photo of East Cemetery Hill above. The Division lay on the southeast
slope of the hill which would be down the hill, out of frame, on the
right side of that photo.]
Robinson's Division remained here seeking shelter
as best they could
while the batteries raged about them. Here are a two
descriptions of the most terrific cannonade of the war.
“…While the Confederates were hurling the bolts of death from nearly
one hundred and fifty guns, room could be found for but eighty pieces
on Cemetery Ridge, but these eighty replied with good effect,
… ...The fire of so many pieces of artillery had cleared
Cemetery Ridge of all save the men who lay in their ranks, behind stone
walls, and such rude defences as they had hastily
constructed. The artillery suffered severely, some of the
batteries having to be replaced after the cannonade ceased.
Caissons were blown up, and horses killed by the score. The
infantry suffered but little, and were not in the least demoralized by
the terrible storm of shot and shell that fell all about
“During this time Baxter’s brigade was subjected to the storm of
battle, and many were the grim jokes uttered during its
continuance. As boys in the dark sometimes whistle to keep
their courage up, soldiers, when under fire and unable to reply in
kind, manage to comfort and cheer each other in passing remarks upon
the enemy’s marksmanship.” – William Todd, History of
the 9th Regiment; 83rd NY Vols.
and fifty guns were discharged as if by electricity, and tons of metal
parted the air, which closed with a roar, making acres of earth groan
and tremble. The hills and the huge boulders take up the
sound and hurl it back, to add its broken tones to the long roll of
sound that strikes upon ears thirty miles away. For two hours
the air was filled with a horrible concordance of sounds – a roar,
echoing the passions of hell loosed among men. The air, thick
with sulphurous vapor and smoke, through which comes the sharp cry of
agony, the hoarse command, and the screaming shell, almost suffocated
those supporting the batteries. Men cover the ground
in fragments, and are buried in detail beneath the iron hail.
Guns are dismounted, and rest their metallic weight upon quivering
flesh. Caissons explode, and wheels and boxes strew the ground in every
direction. Horses by the score are blown down by the terrible
hurricane, and lie shrieking in agony almost human in its
expression. One battery in our immediate front lost forty
horses in twenty minutes. In the vicinity of Meade’s
headquarters shells exploded at the rate of sixty per minute.
Solid shot would strike the ground in our front, cover a battalion with
sand and dirt, ricochet, and, demon like, goes plunging through the
ranks of massed men in the rear. For a mile or more a lurid
flame of fire streams out over the heads of our men in long jets, as if
to follow the tons of metal thrown through the murky air, which parts
to receive it, and shudders as if tortured by screaming
furies. Roar answers roar, and, meeting in the valley,
doubles the awful din which reels into the Devil’s Glen, and holds high
carnival for hours." - Major Abner Small, History of the 16th ME.
An officer of the 97th NY made the following observations during
men of his regiment, brigade and
division…were getting badly mixed by changing positions as
a solid shot or shell chanced to drop among them.” - Major
Hall's history of the 97th NY.
Charles Davis, Jr., and Abner Small, wrote this new position
tough spot to be in.
“We stayed an hour in our new position, exposed not only to shelling
from both east and west, but also to the galling fire of rebel
skirmishers.” – Major Abner Small, from "The Road to Richmond."
“It seemed like jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire,
so far as danger was concerned, as we were now facing the sharpshooters
and pickets on that side, who were swarming behind fences and stone
walls, making it lively for the gunners in our rear. We
sheltered ourselves as well as we could by hugging the ground or taking
advantage of any object that would stop or ward off a bullet. It was a
hard place, inasmuch as it was impossible for us to do any firing,
situated as we were. While we were lying here our artillery all along
the line suddenly stopped firing, exciting in us grave apprehensions of
failure and retreat.” – Charles E. Davis, Jr., "Three Years
in the Army."
The artillery duel ended. The Union batteries were
ordered to stop responding to the enemy’s fire to save ammunition for
the expected infantry attack that was to follow. William
Warner, and Isaac Hall described the brief silence before the storm.
“Then a gradual dropping off of fire & so complete a quiet,
that it was noticeable” – William R. Warner, 13th Mass.
“Finally the well known sound of firing grape and canister by our guns
was heard. This was the first signal to Robinson’s division - which was
out of sight of this charging force - that the Confederates were
coming; next came the Confederate yell and the rattle of our infantry
in quick succession followed.
“Amid all these tumultuous sounds of infantry and of artillery, and the
din of conflict, the practiced ear and eager eye of the veteran
listened, or peered to the left to catch the cheer of success or the
first sight of disaster demanding help. The suspense, which was more
trying than all this surrounding turmoil, was finally broken by the
boys in blue, with the familiar cheer which arose from among the tombs
of the cemetery and was born along the lines of the Second
colors of Robinson’s division were now placed in line
at a distance apart, apparently of the length of a corporal’s guard,
and then rang out the order of General Robinson to “fall in,” and in
three minutes every man was in his place and on a march by the left
flank to the support of the right of the Second Corps. In passing to
this position the division was under the fire of the sharp-shooters
from the houses in town and of the Confederate cannonading – still
going on - one of the most destructive ever witnessed.” – Major Isaac
Hall, 97th NY.
Robinson’s Division was ordered to move, this time to the support of
the 2nd Corps on Cemetery Ridge. This is the 3rd and final
position the division took on July 3rd. General Robinson
“Later in the day, the enemy having made his attack on our left instead
of the center, I was ordered to the right of the Second Corps…”
Position; July 3rd; (3 p.m. - next day).
Colonel Coulter wrote of his brigade:
“About 3 p.m. moved rapidly to the left, under a severe fire, to the
support of the Second Corps, upon which the enemy appeared to have
concentrated their attack, and took position in support of a battery on
the right of the Third Division, Second Corps. Brisk
skirmishing was kept up with considerable loss on both sides until 9
General Baxter wrote:
“We were then ordered to the left and rear of Cemetery Hill,
where we had but just formed line of battle, throwing up breastworks.
“In taking this position, we passed under one of the most galling fire
of artillery ever witnessed. The main attack had been repulsed, but we
were sorely annoyed by the enemy’s skirmishers and sharpshooters, and,
by order of General Robinson, I at once threw out skirmishers to meet
them. The Twelfth Massachusetts Volunteers and a detachment
of the Ninetieth Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered forward to drive
them back, which was done promptly and with deserved credit to those
engaged, moving steadily forward to a point where the ground sloped
toward the enemy, though not without considerable loss, and there
holding their position.
On the regimental level, Colonel Gilbert Prey and Lt.-Col. N. Walter
Batchelder had this to report regarding the move to support the 2nd
“…we were marched, through a galling fire of shot, shell, and
bullets, across the cemetery and to the left and formed line in front
of a brass battery in the woods immediately to the left of the
cemetery. Sent out skirmishers.” - Col Gilbert Prey, 104th NY
“…we were sent
to support the center, which the enemy were making
desperate efforts to break.
Reached the point of attack as the enemy were handsomely forced back
by the Second Corps. Relieved the troops that had been engaged, built
earthworks in the edge of the woods, and, after detailing a strong
picket, bivouacked.” - Lt.-Col. N. Walter Batchelder, 13th
Pictured is part of General
Alexander Hays 2nd
line just north of the Bryan Farm buildings, at the edge of Ziegler's
Grove. Robinson's Division would have moved toward this line
from the distant background around the center of this photo.
monuments for the 90th PA Vols and the 88th PA Vols of Baxter's
Brigade, are just out of sight in the woods, beyond the 126th NY
monument. The 12th Mass marker is beyond these in the parking lot for
the old Cyclorama building. This view is
looking north east.
According to Bachelder's map, Coulter and Baxter's
Brigades were now positioned on the edge of, and also in front of a
woods on Cemetery Hill called Ziegler's Grove. The forward
line constructed breastworks from near the Bryan Farm buildings, north
to the edge of the grove. Brigadier-General Alexander Hays,
commanded troops of the 3rd Division, 2nd Corps, on
this part of the field, but he was short of Carroll's Brigade, which
went to support the batteries on East Cemetery Hill the night of July
2nd, and remained there through July 3rd.
When General Robinson arrived he sent out pickets.
His division remained here until the morning of July 5th.
above, shows the division's line. Judging from the placement
of the few monuments here for Baxters' Brigade, Coulter's Brigade lay
closest to the Bryan Farm Buildings on the curve of the line..
Here is a tower view of the
line of monuments pictured in the snapshot above. The
following information is quoted directly
the caption for this photograph on the Gettysburg Daily Website entry
of September 22, 2011.
"The image is titled, "016576 Gettysburg From Cemetery Ridge,
Gettysburg, PA." It was taken from the top of the Ziegler's
Grove Observation Tower looking northward to the town of Gettysburg.
In the bottom left of the photograph is an artillery piece
marking the location of the 9th Massachusetts Battery on July 3, 1863.
At the bottom of the photograph is the top of the monument to
the 108th NY Infantry Regiment. Notice the trees recently
planted in Ziegler's Grove. The monument most clearly seen in
the grove is for the 126th NY Infantry Regiment. Also visible
through the grove is the monument to the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry
Regiment. The road on the left is Hancock Avenue.
Parallel with Hancock Avenue including the curve is the
electric trolley line. This view by the Detroit Publishing
Company was taken facing northwest circa 1900-1906. It is
part of the Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection in the
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. The
reproduction number & Call number, is LC-D4-16576."
Robinson's line would have
extended NE from the 90th PA Monument, through
woods pictured, and following the curve of the road.
Monuments to the 88th PA and 12th MA are there. For
more information, see the following essay, "Where the Heck is Ziegler's
Jr, the author of the 13th
Mass. regimental history, wrote that the regiment were supporting
Ricketts' batteries during the
night of July 2nd, but this would be incorrect. All the other
regiments in the division mention returning to a position near the one
occupied in the afternoon of July 2nd. The maps of Gettysburg
historian John Bachelder
place the two brigades of Robinson's Division in position a little to
of Evergreen Cemetery on Cemetery Hill, which would be in agreement
with those reports.
Bachelder researched the battle for years, interviewing many
of the participants, almost as soon as the battle ended.
**See the essay below titled.
"Where the Heck is Ziegler's
Grove?" for a further discussion of this
SOURCES: Harry W.
Pfanz,"Gettysburg, Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill", UNC Press, 1993;
Report of Major-General John Newton, OR 27.1:260-263; John D. Vautier,
"History of the Eighty-eights Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War for
the Union, 1861-1865", Philadelphia: J.B. Lippencott, 1894;
Report of Colonel Richard Coulter, (1st Brigade) OR
27.1:292.; Report of Lt.-Col. N. Walter Batchelder, (13th MA), OR
27.1:299-300.; Report of Colonel Gilbert Prey, (104th NY), OR
27.1:300.; Report of Lt.-Col. A. B. Farnham, (16th ME), OR
27.1:295.; A.R. Small, "The Sixteenth Maine in the War of the
Rebellion, 1861-1865, Portland, Maine: B. Thurston & Company,
1886.; Harold Small, ed., Major Abner
Small, "The Road to Richmond", by Major Abner R.
Small, University of California Press, 1939; Report
of Captain Jacob Bierer, (11th PA), 27.1:302.; Report of
Captain Emanuel Roath, (107th PA), OR 27.1:304.; Charles E.
Davis, Jr., "Three Years in the Army", Boston: Estes & Lauriat,
1894.; William R. Warner, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of
Mr. Eric Locher.; Major Isaac Hall, "History of the
Ninety-Seventh New York Volunteers, Utica Press of L.C. Childs
& Sons, 1890.; Report of Brigadier-General Henry
Baxter (2nd Brigade), OR 27.1:307.; William Todd, ed., "History of the
Ninth Regiment (83rd New York Volunteers) 1845-1888, New York: George
to Top of Page
Where the Heck is Ziegler's
Discrepancy in the Source Material
Much of my time researching Gettysburg focused on
the July 1st battle for Oak Ridge between General Robinson's Division
and General Rodes'
Division, so I was more familiar with the ground of the first day's
fight than other parts
of the battlefield. When I began researching the positions of
the '13th Mass' on July 2nd & 3rd, I ran into some
difficulties. Naturally my first resource was Charles
E. Davis, Jr.'s regimental history, "Three Years in the
But there are several errors in this brief text, that have to
do with locations. This is not to disparage Davis's work,
there are many brilliant passages in his Gettysburg
narrative. From Davis, I knew the regiment
occupied a position on Cemetery Hill the night of July 1, but
where this was. It was satisfying to discover they held the
famous point of
the line known as the angle for a brief moment, although at the time of
their occupation, (the night of July 1st) all was quiet. On
2nd, it was equally gratifying to discover they were far down the Union
line on Cemetery Ridge not far from Little Round Top, supporting troops
near some of the heaviest
fighting on that day. The positions occupied by General
at these times were clearly mapped by Gettysburg historian John
Bachelder, who carefully researched the battle. But
the regiment's position through the night of July 2nd until dawn of
3rd there is a discrepancy in location and time, between what
Davis wrote and where Bachelder
placed the division on his map. Davis wrote:
in the evening [July 2]
we returned to Cemetery
Hill to support Ricketts’ and Wiedricks’s batteries, which were being
by the Louisiana Tigers. We were thrown in the front of these guns,
to hug the ground as closely as possible while the batteries fired over
us. ...At daylight we found ourselves in
front of the batteries on Cemetery Hill facing the town; an
uncomfortable position on account of the sharpshooter who were posted
in houses fronting the hill, and, like the man at the Donnybrook Fair,
wherever they saw a head, were there to hit it."
I visited the battlefield in June, 2016 with this
passage in mind,
and my guides took me to the positions of Wiedrich's and Ricketts'
batteries on East Cemetery Hill. This is not where Bachelder
placed the division on the morning of July 3rd. The reports
histories of other regiments in the division are more in agreement with
Bachelder's map. The division was in position to the west of
Evergreen Cemetery. But there is another discrepancy here.
There is a gap in Bachelder's hourly maps between 9 p.m. July
and 4 a.m. July 3rd. The gap corresponds precisely to the
in which the regiments of Robinson's Division were lying behind a stone
wall, facing the town, in front of a line of batteries.
does not show this. It must be assumed they were on the front
slope of Cemetery Hill facing Rodes' Confederates.
At dawn they
were assembled in the rear of the hill as shown on Bachelder's
were in this position when the raucous artillery duel began.
Shortly afterward the division was moved over to East
Hill, near the
batteries of Wiedrich and Ricketts. This is
Charles Davis probably picked up the aforementioned error in his
narrative. His sources must have confused matters of time, or
been vague enough to suggest the regiment spent the previous night in
this location, on East
Cemetery Hill, which they did not come to occupy until after noon on
July 3rd. All of the reports and histories from other
regiments in the division, and from the officers commanding the troops,
state the move was made shortly after the cannonade began which was
about 1 p.m. Bachelder's map puts the division in this
position between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., July 3rd.
something is amiss. Perhaps Bachelder decided to limit the
number of maps he made and concerned himself with the broader picture,
but it adds a little more confusion in trying to unravel the moves of
Robinson's Division on this day. Still, the accounts are
reliable, that Robinson moved
to the right, after the bombardment
commenced, and Bachelder's map shows them in the right place, at the
wrong time. The next puzzle for me, was visualizing their
final position, the place where the two brigades built earthworks at
the edge of the woods known as Ziegler's Grove.
Ziegler's Grove was familiar to me, for the 90th PA placed a
beautiful monument at the sight.
marks the spot where the 90th Regiment, Pennsylvania
Volunteers, stood on the afternoon of July 3d, 1863, at the time
Pickett's Division made its famous charge across the plain..."
-From the Dedication of the Eagle Monument, Ziegler's Grove,
What I wasn't prepared for was the realization
that the spot where I
parked my car upon my visit to the battlefield, was Baxter's battle
line of July 3rd. It is a parking lot, and several monuments
scattered about its medians.
above is the 90th PVI's Eagle Monument, in
Ziegler's Grove, marking their position July 3rd. Note the
parking lot in the background.
line extended through the parking lot. The much smaller stone monument
to the 88th PA is just visible to the right of the canteen design, in
the background, before the tree trunk. The 12th Mass. marker,
further on, embedded in one of the parking lot medians.
I had incorrectly
thought the battle line was several yards in the front of these markers.
The site has been a parking lot for many years.
This doesn't conjure up visions of the
described by William R. Warner of the '13th Mass.', when he wrote in
"As we came over
the rebel line which had charged
was broken. Through
the throng of men
pushing to rear, half were rebel prisoners who had thrown down their
others were wounded & troops changing positions.
General Hayes with his
hands full of rebel
flags which he was trailing in the dirt, was rushing his horse up
the line near the house that stands to the left of the grove.
Braced up against the
trunk of a tree was a
soldier (living) whose body had been split open so that his bowels
protruded. Some one
cried out, “What are you doing
there, - pick up your guts & help finish this thing.”
in the fields over which the enemy
had charged were rebs trying to come in to our lines – others endeavoring
to go back. It was
a Moment of Wildest
Confusion & of intensest feeling, yet over all, was that sense,
Union Soldier, which expressed itself in every way, - by cheers, by
all sorts, that a great victory had been won."
When I walked the battlefield, I had
imagined the line of
Robinson's Division running north from the Bryan Barn, and the
breastworks being built in the field beyond. The fact is the
breastworks ran from the house, not the barn, to the current parking
lot. It took me some time studying the Bachelder maps to come
terms with this. The good news which everyone
Gettysburg would know, is that a restoration of this part of the
battlefield has been happening for several years now. The
parking lot will be one of the last things to go.
Cyclorama building dating from 1963 and the old visitor center
already long gone and the ground around them is
re-graded. Some monuments are
being moved back to their original positions before the 1960's
development. Much of the field
is already restored to what it once was, and the parking lot, I have
heard is going to be reduced in size by half.
is Ziegler's Grove as it once was, view looking north. There
ravine running through it. The monument to the 88th PA is
in the middle-ground to the left. Note the absence of parking lots.
order to better interpret the battle maps, which were given to me
during my visit in June, I transposed the 3 positions of Robinson's
Division onto a satellite image of the terrain. Wiedrich and
Ricketts batteries are marked, as are the Bryan Farm buildings and
other points of reference. If you are reading this, chances
you have a decided interest in the topic, and perhaps the map will help
you too, should you ever get to walk the ground.
The satellite map is a
composite of the three main
positions held by Robinson's 2nd Division of the First
Corps on July 3rd.
The center grouping is the morning position, close in to the
Taneytown Road. The men were in front of the batteries until
(not shown) and then moved back over the hill to this position.
Brigade is on the left, Baxter on the right. The division
over to East Cemetery Hill during the mid-day artillery barrage.
They were near Weidrich's and Ricketts' batteries.
position of their pickets is the curved line running north from the
Buildings. The monument markers indicated in yellow
the division formed at the edge of Ziegler's Grove. Click to
view in higher resolution.
to Table of Contents
The most graphic description of General Robinson's
troops moving across Cemetery Hill to the scene of "Pickett's
Charge" comes from
Major Isaac Hall, of the 97th NY Volunteer Infantry.
“Just in advance
of the 97th, a soldier wounded by a sharpshooter, falling out to the
front from the files of his regiment, dropped upon the ground. His
comrade came to his assistance, and as the 97th approached, bending
over him, was struck by a bullet on the back of his head, and with his
brains oozing from his forehead, fell across his companion and the
column passed on; but the crack of that man’s skull was long retained
in memory by the beholder.
“As the division
took position in front of the guns of Hayes’s command, on the slope
southwest of the town, an indescribable scene of confusion and disorder
presented itself. The havoc upon the field in our front was appalling;
the dead lay at intervals one upon another, torn and mangled; and were
strewn over the field in every conceivable condition. From among the
slain arose the wounded, who struggled to reach our line; some in their
vain endeavor, fell to rise no more; others who could not rise cried
for help and for water.
mounted and with a large Confederate flag trailed in the dust, rode in
front of his line, which made the fields echo again with shouts. These
demonstrations of course were in sight of the enemy and were made for
effect. Rails were soon brought with which temporary works were built
in front of our line.” – Major Isaac Hall, 97th NY.
Alexander Hays, commanding the 3rd
Division of the 2nd Corps, burned quite an
impression into the minds of all who witnessed him riding
along the lines that
Many of the soldiers nearby mentioned him in
their letters. One
in particular, from
Chaplain Philo G. Cook, of the 94th NY, appeared
in print in the
Courier; Letter of Chaplain P. G.
Cook, 94th NY
From the New York Military Museum
and Veterans Research Center; 94th NY pdf files; Transcribed
THE BATTLEFIELD AT GETTYSBURG.
the Rebels treat North Carolina Soldiers – A
Battle – Brig. Gen. Hays – Fiendish Outrage by the Rebels – Taking Care
Wounded – The 94th Regiment.
- Since I wrote you last, which
epistle contained a promise of a future fuller account of the great
that, for three days and nights, raged around this pretty village, the
has become to you, undoubtedly, somewhat rusty, so that any attempted
of its progress, from one whose part in it was simply to do his duty in
line of a single regiment would be quite “stale and unprofitable.” -
Hence I abandon my plan
and break my promise.
But there are
connected with this conflict, which
have come under my personal observation, that are perhaps worthy to be
down. One very
prominent is the fact,
long suspected that North Carolina is, at this day, as much a Union
Maryland or Kentucky, if not, indeed, more truly so. Never was this so
fully brought out as in
these battles. Everywhere
were put into the front of the conflict, and at all points they
themselves by regiments and brigades. The language of their wounded and
was all tuned to the same
key. They whined,
said they were forced
to fight, that Mississippi
soldiers were put in their rear with bayonets fixed when they had to
charge, whom they feared more than they did our forces.
Not by me alone was this noticed. Last Saturday night I
stood in a broad field
covered with rebel wounded, when Gen. Alex. Hays, of the 3rd
Division, 2nd Corps, than whom a more gallant
soldier breathes not,
rode up, and hearing a poor fellow tell me that he was forced into the
conflict, asked him what State he was from. – When answered, “North
Carolina,” – “There it is
again,” said the General, “all the
whiners are North Carolinians.”
feeling seems to
exist nowhere but in the Pine-wood State.
Our prisoners from the Gulf States
are as impudent as you please, not in an
objectionable way – rather independent.
They say they are rebels to the back bone;
men to the last pinch of their
hearts. And I must
say, in all candor,
that the average of their rank and file are better appearing men than
ours. They are not
one tithe as profane. Indeed,
some of our boys, whom they captured,
were reproved by them for swearing while with-in their lines.
Very many of them are real
Methodists, sandwiching their fights between a prayer for preservation
of thanksgiving. All
this was a singular
revelation to me, quite contrary to my ideas, but it is, to a great
real state of the case. Of
have their rowdies, their Mississippi
and their New
plug-uglies, but the large majority of their rank and file are
pure-heated, courageous men, with unbounded confidence in God and
I have spoken
of our Gen. Hay. – I wish you could
have seen a picture, just at the close of last Friday’s battle, on the
our centre, of which his splendid figure formed a prominent
Our little brigade, which
had been lying on
Cemetery Hill, was ordered over to the position that was so valiantly
unsuccessfully charged by Pickett’s rebel division.
We hurried there through a storm of shot and
shell, but only arrived in time to see the grand finale, the tableaux
['living picture'] and, alas, mourants,
[dying] at the close of the drama. The
enemy’s batteries were
briskly, and their sharpshooters kept up a lively fire, but their
slain and wounded and routed, were pouring into our lines throughout
whole extent. Then
enter Alex. Hay,
Brigadier General U.S.A., the brave American soldier.
Six feet or more in height, and as many
inches the length of his mighty mustache, erect and smiling, lightly
well in hand his horse – the third within an half-hour, a noble animal,
flanks bespattered with blood, tied to his streaming tail a rebel flag
drags ignominiously in the mud – he dashes along our lines, now rushing
into the open field, a mark for a hundred sharp-shooters, but never
now quietly cantering back to our lines to be welcomed with a storm of
cheers. I reckon
him the grandest view
of my life. I
bar not Niagara. It was the arch spirit of
wildly triumphing over the fallen foe. [General Alexander Hays, pictured]
after, I met
Gen. Hay again. After
the fight of Friday afternoon, we held
the battle-field, our skirmishers forming a line on the outer edge of
it. This field was
strewn with rebel wounded. It
was impossible for us to bring them in
Friday night, every apology for a hospital being crowded, our own
many cases, lying out all night. But
Saturday morning bandsmen were sent out with litters to bring in the
fellows, and were fired
upon by the rebel sharp-shooters so briskly
that it was
impossible to help them. Stories similar to
had often heard, but never believed.
This came under my own observation. So all day
Saturday the poor fellows
lay there, praying for death. When
fell, another officer of my regiment and myself got a few volunteers to
with us, thinking there might be some who could creep into our lines,
on either side, by one of us. May
preserve me from such a position again!
We could do almost nothing. Of a thousand
wounded men we found one whom
four of us carried into our lines in a blanket.
Other poor souls would think they might
accomplish it, but at the
slightest change of position, would fall back, screaming in awful
Litters we had none. Then appeared Gen. Alex.
Hay in another
light, less of the bravado, perhaps not less of the hero. He
sent out two companies,
who cleared the
rebel sharp-shooters from a position they held in a ruined building,
himself in procuring litters and officers, and before morning
of the poor fellows were
safe within our
lines. It is not my
good fortune to be
personally acquainted with this Gen. Alex. Hay, but I wish every one,
as far as
I can effect it, to honor him as the bravest of soldiers, and love him
best-hearted of men. A
true chevalier he
must be, sans peur et
In our regiment (the 94th N.Y. V.,) affairs stand
about the same as when I wrote you last. In the Buffalo
company nothing has been heard of the seven that I reported as “missing
(probably killed),” except that Edgar S. Rudd, of Alden, lies in the 2d
Division Hospital nearly dead. I leave to other hands, and
days not far distant the task of exposing the drunkenness in high
positions that caused our terrible defeat of Wednesday, for much it
was, however glossed over. –
We could not have hoped for victory, pitted
against a force so far superior, but had Gen. Reynolds lived our
repulse would have been of another sort. When fifteen
thousand men retreat in confusion for two miles, exposed to a severe
fire from three sides, some one is to blame. A day of
reckoning will yet come.
Col. Root, with 160 prisoners of his regiment, was
paroled on conditions. The men attend to the wounded, and
agree not to bear arms until exchanged, their present parole to be
considered in force, if accepted by our government, but if not they are
to give themselves up again as prisoners of war.
The Colonel has gone to Washington to put this business through, and
the men remain here, where they are much needed. The town is
crowded with citizens, both sight-seers, and those who, in connection
with the Sanitary Commission, attend to the wounded and sick. Of this
latter class is the Rev. J. Hyatt Smith, formerly of Buffalo.
A large number of Sisters of Charity, worthy of the name, are here from
Emmettsburg, Md., where they have a great convent.
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"A Ray of Intelligence"
In the regimental history of the 13th
Massachusetts, "Three Years in the Army", Charles E. Davis, Jr. writes:
services became unnecessary, and later in
the evening we returned to Cemetery Hill to support Ricketts’ and
which were being charged by the Louisiana Tigers. We were thrown in the
of these guns, with orders to hug the ground as closely as possible
batteries fired over us."
This gives the
that the regiment
spent the night in support of these batteries on East Cemetery
Hill. All of the other regiments in Robinson's Division
that they returned to a position west of Evergreen Cemetery.
statement is probably incorrect. See the essay
above, 'Where the Heck is Ziegler's Grove?' for more information.
The regiment did
move to the area he mentions, but it was
in the early afternoon
of July 3rd, after the artillery bombardment had begun; according to
other writings and reports from the division. William R.
Warner wrote the following,
about the move on July 2nd:
"Our lines were being re-formed and later
evening, [July 2]
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."
manuscript was one of the primary source materials Davis used when
writing the regimental history in 1893. (Davis was not at
Gettysburg.) Perhaps this statement, or something from one of
other sources suggested the regiment remained in front of Wiedrich and
Ricketts' batteries during the night. Col. Coulter suggests
were lying near the Emmitsburg Road, in front of the Cemetery.
This is still vague, and other officer's reports don't help much.
General Newton commanding the 1st Corps wrote:
3. - The dawn of day found the position of the First Corps as follows:
...The Second Division on Cemetery Hill, ready to support the Eleventh
Corps or the Second Corps..."
General Howard, Commanding the 11th Corps wrote:
the moment my left was weakened, [evening, July 2nd] as also at other
times during the engagements, General Newton was ready with
re-enforcements from the First Corps."
Regarding the position
Robinson's men took up in front of the batteries - the reports of the
11th Corps' battery commanders and troops are silent on the
historian John Bachelder, placed the division, in the morning, near the
position Colonel Coulter described. It must be assumed they
in front of this hill facing the town, during the night.
have removed a paragraph of Davis' narrative regarding the shell that
dropped within the thin ranks of the 16th Maine, during the division's
move across Cemetery Hill on July 3rd. The incident took
July 2nd, where it is included on this website, in the narrative for
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. Pages 235-237.
Friday, July 3.
daylight we found ourselves
in front of the batteries on Cemetery Hill facing the town; an
uncomfortable position on account of the sharpshooter who were posted
in houses fronting the hill, and, like the man at the Donnybrook Fair,
wherever they saw a head, were there to hit it.
after daylight we receive what, for the moment, seemed a very singular
At a given signal we were to rush from our
position in front
to the rear of the batteries with as much confusion and zigzagging as
the purpose being to confuse the enemy and to prevent the men becoming
for the sharpshooters. The
made so suddenly that it was all over before the enemy had time to
their surprise. It
was always gratifying
to the rank and file to see a ray of intelligence exhibited, even in a
We were now held in reserve, in readiness to be
sent at once to any part of the lines that might need
strengthening. As a lull had occurred in the fighting, a good
many of the boys occupied the time in sleep, while some visited
officers, and friends in other regiments, swapping gossip, etc.
1 o’clock the silence was suddenly broken by the discharge of
signal-guns by the enemy. Immediately following this was the
continuous discharge of one hundred and thirty-eight pieces of
artillery, answered by eighty pieces of our own, making a roar such as
the world has rarely heard.
The air was full of projectiles,
while bursting shells were carrying havoc among supply-trains,
ambulances and reserve batteries, the men in the meanwhile hurrying for
shelter behind the slightest elevation of ground. It seemed
During this excitement our division, under General
Robinson, was removed from its exposed position to the north-east side
of Cemetery Hill, where it was placed in support of some batteries at
that point. It seemed like jumping out of the frying-pan into
fire, so far as danger was concerned, as we were not facing the
sharpshooters and pickets on that side, who were swarming behind fences
and stone walls, making it lively for the gunners in our
sheltered ourselves as well as we could by hugging the ground or taking
advantage of any object that would stop or ward off a bullet. It was a
hard place, inasmuch as it was impossible for us to do any firing,
situated as we were. While we were lying here our
along the line suddenly stopped firing, exciting in us grave
apprehensions of failure and retreat. In fifteen minutes or
they began again, and shortly we were ordered to hasten to the support
of the Second Corps, now engaged in repulsing Pickett’s
We ran along the crest of the hill amid a
continued shower of rebel
shell, while the noise was increased by musketry-firing and the
shouting and yelling of troops on both sides. Our speed was
retarded by the broken caissons, gun-carriages, and other debris,
and also the bodies of men and horses lying dead or
wounded, many of the later crawling or limping to hospitals in the rear.
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.
The tide of battle had turned just as we arrived,
the remnant of Pickett’s corps could be seen hurrying back to their
lines, while men were bringing in squads of prisoners, some willing and
others unwilling to be captured.
Thousands of Union men and
officers, many of whom were begrimed with powder or stained with blood,
were shouting themselves hoarse at their success.
and down the line coatless, waving his hat and shouting like the rest
of us, was General Hays, dragging in the dust a lot of rebel banners
whose staffs he held with the other hand. The rebel artillery-firing
continued; but no one thought of exploding shells at a moment like
this. The army was boiling over with enthusiasm. It
as though the pent-up feelings of two long years had been suddenly
released, so boisterous were its demonstrations. Everywhere in that
much-abused army was expressed the wish to be led forth to finish up
the bloody business.
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Colonel "Dick" Coulter
The following biographical
notes are from the
National Tribune, as reprinted in 13th Regiment Association Circular
#21, December, 1908.
Richard Coulter was born in Greensburg, Pa, Oct.
1822. His father was a well-known business man, and his
daughter of Col. John Alexander, of Carlisle, an officer in the
Revolutionary Army. After leaving college he became a law
in the office of his uncle, but left in December, 1846, to enlist in
2nd Pennsylvania for the Mexican War. He served through the
and was engaged in all the principal battles fought by General Scott's
column advancing upon the city of Mexico. At the conclusion
the war he re-entered the practice of the law and became distinguished
it. At the outbreak of the Civil War he took his company into
11th Pennsylvania and became lieutenant-colonel of the
At the conclusion of the three months' service he reorganized the 11th
Pennsylvania for three years and commanded it until promoted to
brigadier-general. He was wounded at Fredericksburg,
and Spotsylvania. At Second Bull Run his horse was shot
him, and in the Wilderness he lost two horses in succession.
Charles Davis, Jr. of the 13th Mass had this to
On reading this notice of "Dick" Coulter, the
members of the 13th will be reminded of one of
most picturesque characters they had the pleasure of meeting during the
war. When we first saw him at the head of the 11th
he did not impress us as a man of culture and refinement. His
exuberant and impetuous nature certainly violated many of the canons
of taste and refinement that were commonly accepted in New England at
that time. We have learned a good many things since and our knowledge
of the world was considerably accelerated by service in the army.
was a very brave soldier, tender-hearted, a highly intelligent officer,
prominent in his profession and much respected in Pennsylvania, where
was highly honored. In the establishment
of the National
Soldiers' Home he was appointed, with the Chief Justice of the United
States and others, one of the trustees. On his visits north
had the pleasure of meeting him many times. Though we could
see him on horseback clothed in a linen duster, a conspicuous figure in
battle, shouting his orders and urging men forward, he seemed to have
undergone some transformation. "Dick" Coulter seemed to have
disappeared and we found ourselves in the presence of a highly cultured
and attractive gentleman.
While in the service he was always to be found in
the thickest of a fight. As soon as his wounds were dressed
back again urging his men forward and directing their fire.
of these occasions he was remonstrated with and begged to
"To Hell with retiring! I've a surgeon to save my body and a
chaplain to save my soul; let them 'tend to their business and I'll
attend to mine." We always had a sincere affection for Dick
Coulter, who was a man worth knowing.
Abner Small of the
16th Maine was assigned
Richard Coulter's staff when Coulter assumed command of General Paul's
Brigade. Major Small presents an amusing anecdote of the
brigade commander in action.
"The Road to
Richmond", by Major Abner R.
Small, University of California Press, 1939; p. 104-106.
At daylight of July 3d, we were withdrawn and
left. As we came up the hill, we heard to the east
cannon on the morning air; a little later we heard musketry; and by
snatches we caught the noise of fighting until late in the fore
noon. Near us, all was quiet. Colonel Coulter established
headquarters on the brow of the hill, at the left of the cemetery,
pitching his tent in the edge of a small grove of trees and planting
defiantly in full sight of the rebels the brigade flag.
From this point I could see almost all the Union
position from Cemetery
Hill to the Round Tops, two miles to the south, and the opposing curve
of Seminary Ridge, now held by the rebels, and the valley
between. The skirmish lines in the valley were clearly
streaks of curling smoke that faced upwards in the shimmering
heat. A false calm possessed the field.
Noon came, and the sun blazed fiercely hot, and
silence fretted us. Time was counted through minutes that seemed hours
and an hour that seemed an eternity. Then
away down the
Emmitsburg road a rebel cannon flashed, and a puff of smoke blew and
hung on the still summer air; then another, and then from all the rebel
line there was one vast roar, and a storm of screaming metal swept
across the valley. Our guns blazed and thundered in reply.
earth groaned and trembled. The air, thick with smoke and
sulphurous vapor, almost suffocated the troops in support of the
batteries. Through the murk we heard hoarse commands, the
bursting of shells, cries of agony. We saw caissons hit and
up, splinters flying, men flung to the ground, horses torn and
shrieking. Solid shot hit the hill in our front, sprayed
battalions with fountains of dirt, and went plunging into the ranks,
crushing flesh and bone. Under that awful fire, continuous,
relentless, our brigade and all our line held tight and unfaltering.
About two o’clock our brigade was moved from the
the right of
the cemetery and placed in support of batteries there. How
short march was made, I don’t know. The air was all murderous
iron; it seemed as if there couldn’t be room for any soldier upright
and in motion. We stayed an hour in our new position, exposed
only to shelling from both east and west, but also to the galling fire
of rebel skirmishers.
Colonel Coulter, tearing up and down the line to
impatience, all of a sudden drew rein and shouted:
“Where in hell is my flag? Where do you
that cowardly son
of a bitch has skedaddled to? Adjutant, you hunt him up and
him to the front!”
Away I went, hunting for the missing flag and man
nowhere; and returned in time to see the colonel snake the offender out
from behind a stone wall, where he had lain down with the flag folded
up to avoid attracting attention. Colonel Coulter shook out the folds,
put the staff in the hands of the trembling man, and double-quicked him
to the front. A shell exploded close by, killing a horse, and
sending a blinding shower of gravel and dirt broadcast. The
colonel, snatching up the flag again, planted the end of the staff
where the shell had burst, and shouted:
“There, Orderly; hold it! If I can’t get
killed in ten
minutes, by God, I’ll post you right up among the batteries!”
Turning to ride away, he grinned broadly and
poor devil couldn’t be
safer; two shells
don’t often hit the same
place. If he obeys, he’ll be all right and I’ll know where my
Recklessly he dashed down the line. In a
minutes he returned,
with one arm dangling. I recall the expression of his
pain-distorted face when I, in my anxiety, asked him if he would not
dismount; it was almost one of reproof.
“No, no,” he said; “not now. Who in hell
sharpshooter would hit a crazy-bone at that distance?”
His pain drove him to have the wound
command of the
brigade was transferred to Colonel Lyle of the 90th Pennsylvania, but
for a short time only; Colonel Coulter remained with the brigade and
resumed the command.
About three o’clock we were again moved to the
from the hill to
the ridge. Many of the Union guns were now ceasing their
damaged batteries were going to the rear, and others were hurrying up
from the reserve. Shot and shell from the enemy still pounded the hill.
The ground was strewn with dead horses. Here and there were dead
men. We wondered, as we passed through the cemetery, that we
weren’t smashed into earth to mingle with mouldering citizens of peace.
As we hastened toward the ridge we heard a thunder
and musketry that wasn’t the crash of volley or the harsh rattle of
scattered firing, but one continuous din. The long-awaited assault had
come. As we topped the ridge we caught another tone of
uproar, strange and terrible; a sound that
came from thousands of human
throats, yet was not a commingling of shouts and yells, but rather like
a vast mournful roar.
Down the slope in front of us the ground was
every conceivable vehemence of action, and agony, and death.
in grey, surrounded and overwhelmed, were throwing up their hands in
surrender. Others were falling back into the valley. Many
lying in the trampled fields, dying and dead. The assault had
failed. I felt pity for the victims of that ruined hope.
down on the scene of their defeat and of our victory, I could only see
a square mile of Tophet.
Our brigade moved forward as the enemy fell back,
took part in a
general skirmish fire that was kept up by both sides until after dark.
We threw up breastworks; and when it was learned about eleven
o’clock, that the rebels in our front were taking down fences, perhaps
to clear the way for another attack, we strengthened our works with
rails from fences within our reach. The brigade was busy with this
labor almost all night.
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Sergeant Austin Stearns -
Prisoner in the Town
Sergeant Stearns was wounded slightly in the arm on Oak Ridge on the
first day's fight. He took refuge in Christ Church on
Chambersburg Street, then being used as a First Corps Hospital.
There he spent the next few days in captivity, yet he was
allowed to wander
about the town freely.
This excerpt is from, Three
with Company K, edited by Arthur A. Kent, p. 192-197.
The morning of the third was a
most beautiful one, and as I had nothing to do, no dressing, no
breakfast to get or eat, I was early on the street to get the news and
see if there was any change, but could hear of none. All the
movements of the rebels were kept from us; all we knew of their
contemplated arrangements were what we saw.
Up the street but a
few steps was an old, unoccupied house, and as I passed by it I heard
some talking, and stepped in to see what was going on. There
about an equal number of rebs and union men, and they had found some
concentrated water, and having imbibed quite freely, each was trying by
argument to convince the other that he was in the wrong.
was fast failing and they were about to try the only other way known to
took it all in at a glance, and was glad to
from such a rable. A rebel officer happened to ride
time, and as some of the disputants had reached the sidewalk, he
stopped and ordered all the rebels to their respective commands, and
the union soldiers to keep within their limits. Later in the
the same officer, who was of the Provost Guard, rode down the street,
and found one of the rebel soldiers who had not received as much
satisfaction as he wished from the morning’s debate trying to get up a
row with some one. None of the union men wanted
to do, or say to him, and he, thinking that we were afraid of him, had
become very insolent and abusive, and was insulting everyone he met.
The officer saw him, and rode down so he could hear what the fellow was
saying. Finding none of the union men saying anything, but
trying to avoid him, he spoke up sharp and told the fellow to go to
regiment immediately. The soldier, not fully
what was being said, seized the horse by the bitts and commenced to run
him back. The officer told him to hold on, at the same time using the
spur, but the fellow, with a fearful oath, still persisted.
officer drew his pistol, and holding it within an inch or two of the
fellows head, told him he would give him just one moment to let
go his hold of the horse or he would drop him there on the
sidewalk. By this time the fellow began to realize his
and who was speaking to him, and quickly dropping his hold of the horse
he slunk away down the street and we saw no more of him.
now feeling as though we should like something to eat – could, as the
saying is, “eat a raw dog” – for we had had nothing since the morning
before when we had cleaned out my haversack. Fay and myself
sitting on the door-steps of a house when a rebel soldier came along
with his arm in a sling, he having a slight wound. He stopped
commenced to talk with us. After talking a few moments we
“We wished they would give us something to eat.” He
hadn’t received any rations yet.” We said “no.” He
hand in his haversack and took out two cakes made of flour, such as I
have seen my mother make on top of the stove, and said “he would divide
with us.” We said “we didn’t wish to rob him” but he told us
take it, which we did without further urging, and, thanking him for
his kindness, Fay and I ate it.
In the church where the boys
were was another reb who was a nuisance. He was an Irishman,
done every thing he could to make it unpleasant for them. I
in there when he was walking up and flourishing his fife, and telling
what they could, and what they would do with them. I went to talking
with him to draw his attention from the boys, and asked him why he was
away from his regiment, that all good soldiers would be with their
command in times like these and not be up in a hospital taunting
wounded men, and added that perhaps he might bring up yet in the guard
He was mad with me in an instant, and turned on me
way and manner that a man will when he knows that the other cannot help
himself. He said he was never in the guard house but once in
life, and that was not because he straggled behind, but because he
straggled ahead, and that he was not expected to go into battle for he
was a musician. He flourished his fife in such close
my head, and was so loud and boisterous that I left the church, he
following me, for I knew I could shake him off on the street, or that
some rebel officer would pick him up and march him off. I
relieved them of his presence for only a few moments, when he came back
and was more insolent than ever. He was bearing down so hard
it was unendurable, or at least so thought ---- of Company G, who was
wounded in the breast. He seized a gun and told him
didn’t leave immediately he would shoot him on the spot. The
had found his match, and took himself away pretty quick amidst the
cheers of the wounded men.
About noon an Officer rode through
the street, surrounded by a numerous and brilliant staff, that we
thought might be Gen’l Lee. I asked a reb who was near if he could tell
me who that officer was, and he said he didn’t know. He was a
about sixty, quite grey, with a closely shaven face with the exception
of a mustache.
In the afternoon, about the time the battle
began, a rebel Quartermaster rode along pretty drunk and ugly; he was
just spoiling for a fight, and said he could lick any ten dammed yanks
there was in the town. As there was none that felt like
him, even if we would be let – for if we had shown the least desire for
a fight, we would have been shot down like sheep – he rode on down the
street continuing his abuse.
There was a public house up on the
Diamond that was the headquarters for quite a crowd of rebel officers,
and they were lounging around in front of the place. Bullets
the skirmishers were coming over constantly, and one of the officers
was wounded in front of the house; some of them swore it was one of our
boys that did it, and were going in to clear the streets of the d---d
yanks, but the soberer portion thought it was hardly a safe thing to do
on so sleight an excuse. The Quartermaster was a fair
some of them.
The fighting had been considerable at different
times and places all through the day, and bullets had whistled merrily
around with occasionally a shot of larger size, which would strike a
chimney or roof and send the bricks and kindling wood around into the
streets below. About three o’clock it broke out like
blast. We that were shut up in the town could see and know
nothing of the mighty preparation that had been going on, so we were
not prepared for the most terrific yells and deafning noise of the
three hundred guns and the continual roll of musketry that suddenly
broke upon us. We held our breath in awe while the dreadful
went on [and] hardly dared to speak to each other, fearing for the
results. We all wished for victory, and so we sat, or
looking into each others faces, and listened to the dreadful, dreadful
noise. I remember now of sitting on a doorstep that hot July
afternoon, and heard the roar and din of the mightiest battle ever
fought on the continent of America. The earth fairly shook,
it did seem as though the heavens and the earth were grinding
together. It was simply fearful. Moments seemed
and hours ages, and still the fearful carnage went on. The rebs had
with few exceptions deserted the streets only one now and then was to
be seen. We in the village were comparatively safe, being
the two ridges, but the uncertainties that hung over us made it a worse
place than if we could see and hear all that was going on.
the longest day will have an end, and at length the fire slackened, and
there was only an occasional gun. We breathed freer, and
with each other as to the results. What was to become of us?
the question uppermost in our thoughts. If our army was
where would we go, and if victorious, would we be taken away with the
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Sergeant John Boudwin
& Private Bourne Spooner,
Prisoners in the Field
of Sergeant John Boudwin, Company A
The 1863 diary of Sergeant John
for documenting his captivity at Belle Isle Prison in Richmond,
Virginia following the battle of Gettysburg. The cruel
from starvation and exposure, during his captivity in the
and Fall of
1863 is recorded for posterity. Those interested are
to obtain a transcription from the Pearce Civil War Collections Museum,
Narvarro College, Corsicana, Texas.
pleasant. The Rebel
officers told us
to form in to line and those that wished to take the parole to step to
the front and l/2 of the Regiment done so- and wer sent to Carlisle
with 1000 others. We wer kept to the same old spot.
fighting all day lots of Rebel wounded coming in.
Infantry Fighting all night. Drew rations of flour and fresh
- flour-a Tea Cup full to a Man. Rations a scarce article in
place. See Warren Freeman and he was all right and Took the
Parole and was sent to Carlisle - sent word by him to Write to Mother
he should get a Chance. Nothing else occurred during the day.
Bourne Spooner's Memoirs
Private Bourne Spooner,
Company D, was captured on the retreat from Oak Ridge on July 1st.
His unpublished memoirs relate some of his war time
experiences in great detail. They were
shared with me by his descendants. This excerpt, continues
his narrative from the entries posted on the July 1st and
July 2nd pages of
this website. In contrast to Sgt. Boudwin, Private Spooner
the 'illegal' parole, and thus avoided months of suffering in Rebel
Sometime during the forenoon of the second day
3rd) a rebel surgeon, a native of Richmond, and another field or staff
officer came down to have a look at the Yankee captives. They
down upon the ground and got into conversation with one or two of our
officers. The officer accompanying the surgeon had a
fair and pleasant face, and his handsome grey uniform was neat and
well-fitting. The countenance remarkably resembled a certain
playmate of mine when a young lad at Harrison Square, whose name I
cannot recall. The surgeon was tall, sallow, with dark,
eyes, and soft and rather affected manner. Among the things
discussed was horses, the surgeon maintaining that those of the South
were superior in blood, style and endurance to the northern
animals. While they were talking, there was a little
occasioned near at hand by the finding of a snake or some other reptile
in the grass, and a little knot of men composed of both rebs and
prisoners gathered in a most fraternal manner to see the
curiosity. At this the surgeon remarked, “How strange it is
army life tends to make men so simple and childish in their habits -
they are ‘pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.’
The subject of camp life with its rough, dirty style of
was somehow brought up, when one of our officers remarked that he had
got used to it and did not dislike it. The surgeon then
“For my part I don’t like it and can’t get used to it; I have no
propinquity for dirt.” His use of this word struck me as
odd and has stuck in my remembrance ever since. After some
further conversation which I cannot recall, the surgeon finally
remarked to his friend that “he guessed they’d better go to the front
to see what was going on,” when they two, bidding our union officers
“good-day,” went to where their horses were tethered, unhitched, and
mounted them, and rode away.
Shortly after noon severe fighting began, and at
that terrific cannonade - the greatest of the whole war. From
position we could see a ridge, possibly it was Seminary Ridge, along
which the enemy had several of their batteries posted. We
see the clouds of cannon smoke hanging above the spot where each was
located, but could not see the pieces owing to intersecting woods or
trees. As the cannonade increased in fury all desultory
conversation ceased, and the crowd stood watching with eager interest
all that was visible of the battle. We saw no actual troops,
remember, in motion, or at least but few, but imminent trains hurrying
to and from the front. Still, after all, I have some dim recollection
of seeing masses of the enemy moving up into action. The
movements of the troops in action, of course, was shielded from view,
as the battle was all in the valley beyond the ridge.
as the cannonade progressed, a caisson would be exploded
by a hostile shot with the same phenomenon, as before described, of a
sudden column of smoke shooting vertically upwards a short distance and
then opening like an umbrella. At every instance of this kind some of
our men would set up an exultant shout. One of the enemy’s
was of much heavier calibre than the rest and was said to be a
Whitworth gun. Every time its thundering boom was heard the
would remark, “There goes another Whitworth shot.” The
visitations of cold metal from this battery, I since learned, were very
annoying to our men. Occasionally one of our Yankee shells
spin over to the hither side of this ridge, but they always fell far
short of where we were. The cordon of rebel artillery
for the most part, the terrible musketry which was going on beyond
them. My dominant desire, while all this was going on, was
our forces should succeed in breaking through the Confederate lines or
drive them down among us, and we could get mixed up in the
rout. How gloriously we 5,000 prisoners could have
contributed to increase
the confusion in such an event! But such was not to
old soldiers may be defeated, but scarcely ever routed.
During the afternoon we were given our choice
take the parole or go to Richmond. At this time the Southern
prisons had not got the bad reputation they afterwards had.
had also been read the previous spring, when Hooker took the command, a
general order forbidding anyone if he should happen to be captured to
take the parole and stating that they would not be considered valid if
taken. Having this order in mind, three of the five thousand
prisoners chose to go to Richmond. We were drawn up in line,
regiment by itself, and rolls were made out containing the names and
rank of all. The only evidence of discourtesy which occurred
during our captivity was while this was being done. A Colonel
Smead, who had charge of this work, betrayed a very savage dispassion
and threw a large stone at some of the men for not getting into line
with sufficient promptitude to suit him. This officer,
was a tyrant to his own men and was most cordially hated by them. Most
of the regiments went in a body one way or the other, but ours split
up. Company D, of which there were some nine or ten
split, the majority choosing to go to Richmond. I, however,
Burton and one or two others took the parole. The liability
being put back into the ranks, recaptured and executed was rather too
improbable to give me any annoyance.
It required some hours to complete this work, but
it was done
those who elected to got to Richmond were marched off to an adjoining
field with a fence and a line of sentries between us. A good
of good-natured banter took place between the two camps, and some of
the old cries are called up like “Why don’t you come o-v-e-r
many jocose remarks about Richmond, etc. After the division
been made, a couple of commissary wagons came up with rations for us
paroled prisoners - the first and last to be given us while in
hands of the enemy. We were divided into squads of ten or a
dozen, and one of our servants doled out the rations to each.
man’s share consisted of about a pint of flour and an little piece of
smoked bacon-side fat, soft and flabby, weighing about two
ounces. For me, however, this bacon was always more palatable
than our salt pork. We prisoners then built up little fires,
there being an abundance of flat stones about we heated them in the
fires and, mixing our flour with water, baked it on the hot
stones. As my haversack had become completely depleted, this
was hugely enjoyed - indeed, in any event, the flour and bacon would
have been preferable to our own pork and hardtack. Though
this time a great battle was going on so near us, we knew nothing of
its progress and how it was turning.
About sundown we paroled prisoners were moved off
another place and
bid the Richmond prisoners a hearty “good-bye” as we marched
away. We marched, I should think, a mile or two and at dark
turned into a field of lush, rank grass beside the Carlisle road to
bivouac. Just as I was sinking to sleep the rattle of distant
musketry was borne to my ears - the last sound to reach us of the great
to Top of Page
call it Pickett's charge. He was not there. He was
kind of man. It was Longstreet's charge. He directed it.
was not in it. All the officers that were in it were killed."
General Alexander Webb to James Edward Kelly, November, 1905.*
Captain David Ballenger of
the 26th Alabama Infantry, O'Neal's Brigade,
wrote his mother describing the battle of Gettysburg on July 18, "I
consider that our loss was the heaviest in this battle
that we ever sustained on one battlefield. And I further
think that it
was the worst piece of generalship I ever knew General Lee to exercise,
in undertaking to storm the enemy's fortifications. The whole
was like a volcano of artillery and small arms."**
charge on the
Union centre at the grove of trees about 3 P.M." by Edwin Forbes.
the historian of the '9th NY' has compiled a good account of 'Pickett's
Charge' for his history of that regiment. As the '9th NY' men
were part of Baxter's Brigade, and many of the men were friends with
many of the men in the '13th Mass', I include it here,
complete with quotes from Confederate histories.
Excerpts From "History of Ninth Regiment
Volunteers) 1845-1888, New York: George Hussey, Ed. by
Todd. 1889; pages 275 - 284.
Lee had made two attempts to pierce the Union line
and on the left – and had failed in both; but he determined to make one
more effort, and decided to attack the center. He could
after having entered upon a campaign of invasion, to retreat without
fighting a decisive battle. All his troops, except Pickett’s division
of Longstreet’s corps, had been engaged during the battles of the 1st
and 2nd, and to Pickett – with his three brigades of Virginians, under
Generals Garnett, Armistead and Kemper – was assigned the
This column was to be strongly supported on both flanks by other
General Hancock had been entrusted with the command of the Union
center, defended by the Eleventh, Second, First and Third corps, in the
order named, from the right. During the forenoon the enemy
making the necessary preparations for the assault.
About daylight of the 3d the Ninth
moved with the brigade to the same
position occupied the previous afternoon in support of a battery of the
An opportunity is now given to know what took
behind the Confederate line, and from their standpoint to witness the
Colonel Owen, in The
Washington Artillery, says:
P.M. this note was brought by a courier to Colonel
Warton, as we were sitting on our horses in a grove of oaks on the
Emmetsburg Pike, opposite the Peach Orchard.
Headquarters, July 3, 1863.
- Let the batteries open; order great
firing. If the batteries at the Peach Orchard cannot be used
the point we intend attacking, let them open on the Rocky Hill.
To Col. Walton,
"Instantly orders were given to Major
Eshleman (commanding the
Washington Artillery) to fire the signal guns which was done; and then
began the most furious cannonade the world ever saw. The one
and thirty-seven Confederate guns were belching fire upon the enemy’s
lines, who replied with eighty guns more. Our
two hours, when the enemy’s guns suddenly slackened their fire, until
they hardly returned shot for shot.
"Soon all was
still as death itself. It
was but the
calm before the
storm. Pickett’s division, heroes of many battles, had been lying down
during the cannonade.
from Battles & Leaders of the Civil War; "Confederates Waiting
for the End of the Artillery Duel."
"They now arose
and dressed their lines,
fully comprehending the serious work before them. Many were
bidding good-bye to comrades a few files from them.
"Upon a signal
from Colonel Alexander, who had been
observing the effect
of the artillery fire upon the enemy, under the direction of General
Longstreet, the whole line moved forward out of the woods in common
time. They had nearly a mile of open plain to cross in full
the enemy, and in range of his artillery, which had opened again, and
to ascend the Cemetery Hill and attack the works theron.
moved forward. McDonald’s
The enemy were in their ranks, and, from behind stone fences, poured a
storm of lead into them. Men fell by scores. Still
without faltering. Heth’s division, commanded by General
now emerged from the woods in echelon, going to Pickett’s support. They
went in steadily at first for the purpose, but soon were shaken by the
storm of shot and shell that met them. Presently a small
enemy emerged from the woods and began to form on their flank. The men
saw it, wavered, stopped, and then fell back in a panic, getting
terribly punished as they did so. In vain were all efforts to
them. Longstreet, who had seen the threatening move, sent
warn General Pettigrew, but the rout had commenced before he could meet
him. His horse was shot under him as he rode across the
Pickett, whose men were now well in, rally. Many other
the same; but it was all in vain. It was a panic such as will
strike the best and bravest troops, and no efforts could induce them to
form anew while under the terrific storm of fire. The
frightfully, but the worst effect was that Pickett’s men, who had
behaved so gloriously, were now left to fight alone against
overwhelming odds." [End quote from 'Washington Artillery'].
Colonel Walter Harrison, of Pickett’s staff, in
in describing the scene at its culmination says:
"The enemy again
opened fresh batteries, at short
which had been
reserved for this moment, and their infantry, from behind their
sheltered position, poured a destructive fire of musketry right into
the faces of the men as they rushed up their breastworks.
"Like a narrow
wedge, driven into a solid column of
oak, they soon broke
through the outer barrier of resistance, crushed in an inner ring of
defence, and penetrated even to the heart. They touched the
point; they made the lifeblood flow. They stretched out a
grasp a victory at that moment; but alas the blood-red hand was not
sufficiently strong. It was fierce to seize, but too feeble to retain.
The nerve and spirit to strike was there; but the force to hold was
impotent." [End quote from 'Pickett's Men'].
While the Confederates were hurling the
from nearly one
hundred and fifty guns, room could be found for but eighty pieces on
Cemetery Ridge, but these eighty replied with good effect, until the
ammunition, running low, General Henry J. Hunt, the Chief of Artillery,
ordered the firing to cease, well knowing that he would have need of
the remaining cartridges to fire grape and canister at the enemy’s
infantry when they should advance. The fire of so many pieces
artillery had cleared Cemetery Ridge of all save the men who lay in
their ranks, behind stone walls, and such rude defences as they had
hastily constructed. The artillery suffered severely, some of the
batteries having to be replaced after the cannonade ceased.
were blown up, and horses killed by the score. The infantry
but little, and were not in the least demoralized by the terrible storm
of shot and shell that fell all about them.
During this time
Baxter’s brigade was subjected to
storm of battle,
and many were the grim jokes uttered during its continuance.
in the dark sometimes whistle to keep their courage up, soldiers, when
under fire and unable to reply in kind, manage to comfort and cheer
each other in passing remarks upon the enemy’s marksmanship.
When the artillery ceased firing, the men in the
quietly completed their preparations to meet the onset of the
Confederate infantry. Extra cartridges had been provided, and many of
the men laid out little piles of them in convenient places.
not excitement; but a grim determination to hold their ground or die at
their post. It was not known upon what point of the line the
would fall – perhaps it would be a grand advance of the enemy’s whole
line! But all doubt was soon set aside. From over
Emmetsburg road came a division, apparently of three brigades, of five
regiments each, and advanced steadily in column of brigade
this leading column had got well into the plain, the supporting
divisions- one on each flank – were noticed following. From
fifteen thousand men were moving towards the Union line, threatening to
strike it like a wedge, and with force enough to break through all
General Hunt, meanwhile had placed fresh batteries
the line, with
full limber-chests and caissons, and the Union troops waited with
confidence the issue of the conflict.
As the Second and Third divisions of the Second,
and Third division of
the First corps, were destined to receive and repulse the attack, let
us see how their ranks were formed: On the right, resting on
Emmetsburg road, in front of Ziegler’s Grove, was Hay’s Third division
of the Second corps, Colonel Smyth’s brigade on the left of the
division, its left (Fourteenth Connecticut) joining – except for an
interval, occupied in rear of the line of infantry by Arnold’s battery
– the right of the Second division. The Second division was
command of General Harrow – Gibbon, its permanent commander –
temporarily in command of the corps. General Alexander Webb’s
the Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One Hundred and
Sixth Pennsylvania, was Harrow’s right brigade; then came Colonel
Hall’s brigade, and next Morrow’s brigade, under Colonel Heath.
The posted map depicts many
of the brigades mentioned in this description. The artillery
units are represented but without the battery commanders names.
Robinson's Division is highlighted in blue.
On Heath’s left was the Third division of the
First corps, under
General Doubleday. The First division of the Second corps was
Doubleday’s left. Woodruff’s, Arnold’s, Cushing’s, Cowan’s
batteries were posted along Hay’s and Harrow’s front. Hay’s division
and Webb’s brigade were behind a low stone wall. Cushing’s
in rear of Webb. But few of the guns of the batteries named
anything but grape and canister to use, having expended their
long-range projectiles during the cannonade.
While engaged in the artillery duel the guns of
Cushing’s battery – A,
Fourth U.S. Artillery – were posted in rear of the left wing of the
Seventy-first and right of the Sixty-ninth. Who occupied the front line
behind the stone wall. The Seventy-second Pennsylvania was in rear of
the battery. As the Confederate divisions were advancing to the
assault, Cushing ran his six guns down to the stone wall, thereby
compelling the left wing of the Seventy-first and right of the
Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania to fall back behind his pieces. The
of the guns now pointed over and beyond the stone wall.
When the enemy came within grape range, Cushing’s
had full play,
and the men of the two regiments, which he had displaced, were thankful
that they were in no danger from canister cases, which, had the pieces
been fired from their rear, would doubtless have injured many, as would
also the flame and grains of unburned powder – so close were they to
the muzzles of the guns in their original position. The
infantry, to the right and left of Gibbon’s division, also opened upon
Pickett’s supports; the men of Hay’s division – Smyth’s brigade
especially – being close enough to pour in a destructive fire.
But through this decimating storm the assaulting
pressed on up
the gentle slope, the point of the wedge aimed at Webb’s brigade of
Pennsylvanians. As the enemy comes within two hundred yards the
infantry pour their volleys of musketry into the advancing
Picketts’ right support - Wilcox’s division - owing
has failed to connect properly with the leading troops, and a wide gap
opens between them. Into this gap Stannard’s brigade of
and the Twentieth New York State militia (80th vols.) and One Hundred
and Fifty-first Pennsylvania (under command of Colonel Theodore B.
Gates of the Twentieth) of Doubleday’s division, are pushed out to the
front and perpendicular to the Union line, and fire into Pickets’ right
flank, thereby forcing his men to crowd towards the left and center of
the advancing column, and producing more or less confusion in their
ranks. Colonel Gates follows up the stricken flank and
make it interesting for the enemy, while General Stannard turned his
attention to Wilcox. Some accounts say – in fact General
himself so described the movement – that he counter-marched
two regiments of his brigade by the left, and brought the lines to face
the left flank of Wilcox, who, by this time, had begun to fire at
Caldwell’s First division of the Second corps, which occupied a
position on Doubleday’s left. This bold movement was entirely
successful; the Vermonters poured such a destructive fire into the
unprotected flank of the enemy that Wilcox was compelled to retreat in
The head of Pickett’s division, had, by this time,
become much shattered by the destructive fire of the artillery and
and General Armistead – commanding the rear brigade when the division
first started – had surged to the front; a crowd follows him, straight
for Webb’s front and Cushing’s guns; he reaches the stone wall;
Cushing’s gunners, now behind and between their guns, are using
handspikes, sabers and sponge-staffs, while the men of the Sixty-ninth
and Seventy-first Pennsylvania are mixed up with the artillerists in a
hand-to-hand fight with the enemy, whose colors crown the stone
stylized picture shows soldiers of Doubleday's division firing into
General Armistead's attacking Confederates, near Cushing's Battery.
Armistead is represented with his hat upon the tip of his
sword so as to be visible to his men during the deadly advance.
Webb hurriedly re-formed the men of these two
regiments, who have
fallen further back up the slope, and, with the Seventy-second
Pennsylvania, who had been posted in rear of the front line, moves
forward to repulse the attack. At the same time, two regiments of
Hall’s brigade – the Nineteenth Massachusetts – Colonel Devereaux – and
the Forty-second (Tammany) New York – Colonel Mallon – under command of
the former, and who had been in the rear of the other two regiments of
the brigade, move forward through and to the right of the “copse of
trees,” and add their fire in aid of Webb. Armistead had
as he reached the stone wall, and in front of the muzzle of No. 3 gun
of Cushing’s battery. His brave followers also crowd up to
and across this line Union and Confederate fight desperately for the
mastery. It is the supreme moment ! Who shall yield
those who shall move forward ! A cheer – a rush – and the
crowd towards the stone wall! The battle is won!
Pickett, who had so proudly said to Longstreet: “I shall lead my
division forward, Sir!” when he reached the ridge his men had so
gallantly charged, had but to look around him to see that the ground
could not be held. His supports all gone, his men falling
his trusted Generals, Garnett, Armistead, and Kemper, and all the field
officers dead, or wounded unto death, his men fighting over the guns
with clubbed muskets and banner staved, the enemy in front and on each
flank, and crowding upon them in overwhelming numbers, he threw away
his empty pistol, and, with his great soldier heart almost bursting,
gave the order for his remaining braves to fall back.
Washington Artillery, page 251.)"
Soon after the great artillery duel ceased
brigade was sent a short distance to the left - still on Cemetery Ridge
- but had hardly formed line of battle before it was ordered still
further to the left, where it took position upon the right of the Third
division - General Hays - of the Second corps. Meanwhile
charge had been repulsed and the enemy had again opened a heavy
artillery fire, to which the brigade was subjected during this last
movement. The enemy's sharpshooters, too, sent their bullets
about the moving column. When line had been formed the
Massachusetts and a detachment of the Ninetieth Pennsylvania - preceded
by skirmishers - moved forward and drove the enemy's sharpshooters and
skirmish line back. The brigade remained here during the
At seven o'clock the little handful composing the
regiment was sent out on picket, and posted on ground in front of
the ridge. The dead and wounded were still lying where they
had fallen, and the groans and cries of the latter were heard through
the entire night. Shortly after midnight the men of the Ninth
were relieved from outpost duty.
During the night relief parties went over the
field bringing in many of the wounded, but at daylight of the 4th the
enemy began picket firing and the humane labors were suspended.
Light showers had cooled the air somewhat, and, fortunately
for the wounded yet remaining on the field, the morning was cloudy.
*Quote from "Generals in
Bronze" ed. by William B.
Styple, Belle Grove Publishing, NJ, 2005. Interview with General Webb,
November 26, 1905. Page 156-157.
David Ballenger Letters, July 18, 1863, Camp Near Martinsburg, from the
University of South Carolina Library. Gettysburg National Battlefield
to Top of Page
of Lieutenant William R. Warner
again I must thank Warner's step descendant Mr. Eric Locher, for
allowing me to share this excerpt from Warner's unpublished manuscript.
Friday, July 3rd 1863
forenoon, were held in reserve in readiness to be sent to any part of
the line. About one P.M. after a long lull & almost
cessation of firing on both sides, during which many of our Brigade had
dropped asleep, where we laid, unsheltered from the sun, a cannon from
the rebel right was fired and in less than a minute, every gun in
position on both sides were engaged. Shells were dropping all
around us – We were hastily removed from this position which seemed to
be the point where random shells from any part of the enemys lines were
falling to a field nearer to our Infantry lines but under the ridge
& less exposed to Artillery fire – Then a gradual dropping off
fire & so complete a quiet, that it was
Soon cannon & musketry opened again, and in a few minutes we
ordered to the left, in support of Haye’s Division of 2nd Corps at a
little grove of trees.
Close up of the
Cyclorama, Cemetery Ridge near the Bryan Farm looking north east.
Robinson's Division would have approached the battlefield
the right beyond the trees in the background.
As we came over the brow, the rebel line
which had charged was broken. Through the throng of men
to rear, half were rebel prisoners who had thrown down their arms,
others were wounded & troops changing positions.
Hayes with his hands full of rebel flags which he was trailing in the
dirt, was rushing his horse up & down the line near the house
stands to the left of the grove.
Braced up against the trunk
tree was a soldier (living) whose body had been split open so that his
bowels protruded. Some one cried out, “What are you doing
- pick up your guts & help finish this
Beyond, in the fields over which the enemy had charged were rebs trying
to come in to our lines – others endeavoring to go back. It
Moment of Wildest Confusion & of intensest feeling, yet over
was that sense, to every Union Soldier, which expressed itself in every
way, - by cheers, by clamor of all sorts, that a great victory had been
Return To Table of Contents
Austin Stearns Continued...
This excerpt is from, Three
with Company K, edited by Arthur A. Kent, p. 198-200.
As the night advanced and I saw so few of the
to feel certain that victory had not perched upon their
Their very silence was an answer, for I had
seen and heard enough in the last three days to know that they would
us know in more ways then one of their success.
I was sitting along an a doorstep
thinking of the events of
the last three days, and watching a company of rebel soldiers under
an officer as they came down the street, halting every few rods and
backyards and other places picking up all the rebel soldiers and all
they could find, loading the guns into a wagon that accompanied them,
soldier passed up the street that I thought I knew. He,
and thinking the same as I did,
stopped and came back, we shook hands, and each in turn enquired where
other had been. He was a sergeant in Co. I. I told him I had
on the street every
which he was much surprised and wondered that I had not been sent
He said he had been hid up in a cellar since
the 1st, and this was his first appearance
out. He was
anxious to learn all I knew about the
boys, and also about the fight.
While we were thus engaged, two rebel
soldiers came along
loaded down with things that they had confiscated from a drug
store. Each had a large basket filled to the
overflowing with things obtained there, besides pockets were
filled. One had a large jug in his hand, and the
other a large open mouthed jar under his arm.
On seeing us they stopped and bade us good
My comrade who had not been out was a little
uneasy and said nothing. I wished
a good evening, at the same time rising. They sat their bundles down,
commenced to talk about the events of the day. They
were very intelligent fellows and knew more
then they chose to tell
us, but gave us to understand that although they had got the worst of
today, they were by no means licked, and when we hinted that perhaps
preparing to retreat, they indignantly denied all thoughts of such a
said we would hear more from them in a few days. All
the time they knew they were making
preparations for this end, and they, being familiar with drugs and
had come into the village to replenish their stock that they were in
of. After talking a few moments they
asked if we wished to have something to drink. They said they had some
could not be beat, in the army at least. We both declined, thinking
to play a trick on us; they, suspecting, and wishing to relieve us from
such fears, took the large open mouthed jar up and drank our health in
draught there from, then they passed it to me with the request that I
disappoint them but drink their health as hearty as they had ours.
As they had not told what kind of
liquor the jar contained I
drank rather sparingly at first but still without fear, and passed it
comrade, who followed my example. Then we
sat down and talked as only soldiers can; they passed the jar, and we
until they were rested, when they rose to go, and – wishing to empty
the jar –
they passed it again for a final pledge, and we knowing it was our last
took a good long pull, and after [our] shaking hands and bidding each
good night [they] took up their things and departed. They were young
from New Orleans
worked in a drug store.
They said the liquor was French brandy.
I never drank any
such before and am very sure I never have since.
My comrade, being a little uneasy, left
me. Not wishing to take any risks, he
to go with him, but I declined as I was not quite satisfied with all I
After he left me I walked up and down the streets
I thought there was nothing more to be learned, so, selecting a place
somewhat retired, I lay down and was soon asleep.
to Top of Page
Duty on the Battlefield at Night
Pictured is the field
just north of the barn, of the Bryan Farm, looking to the west
and slightly north. This is the area occupied by pickets from
Baxter's and Coulter's Brigades, the night of July 3rd, and held
through July 4th. The main line of these two brigades was
several yards behind the camera position. The tip of the
in the bottom left corner is
the 107th PA of Coulter's / Paul's brigade, who occupied this spot the
evening of July 1st to the morning of July 2nd. The
Emmitsburg Road runs through the photo.
Several men went out on
picket duty the night
of July 3rd. It is fortunate to have two remembrances from
'13th Mass'; Sam Webster's brief comments and Lt. Edward Fay Rollins
what the '9th NY'
o’clock the little handful composing the Ninth
regiment was sent out on
picket, and posted on ground in front of the ridge. The dead and
wounded were still lying where they had fallen, and the groans and
cries of the latter were head through the entire night.
Shortly after midnight the men of the Ninth were relieved from outpost
night relief parties went over the field bringing in many of the
wounded, but at daylight of the 4th the enemy began picket firing and
the humane labors were suspended for the wounded yet remaining on the
field, the morning was cloudy."
of Samuel D. Webster
Webster's comments were written in the margins of his
journal. Sam was not present during the fighting, being a
he requested leave and left the ranks before the battle began on July
1st, to look up some
relatives in the town. The relatives were not there so he
re-joined the regiment on Cemetery Hill after briefly helping out at
the First Corps hospital in town. Finding he could do nothing
at the front he
moved to the rear the night of July 2nd and observed the battle from
The following typed note
was tucked between pages
234 and 235 of vol. 2 of Sam's post war memoirs.
Gettysburg, Pierce* said the ranks were depleted by men who went back
with prisoners, as well as by direct loss; that he stood on the ridge,
and could see men marching from over toward the 11th Corps right (say
Carlisle Road), facing to the left, climbing a fence and advancing,
line after line, against Schurz's and Barlow.
His attention was
given to a column marching past where he was, almost within a stone's
throw going around toward the others (away past our right) and that he
fired at them, in column. Also that he took a long shot, just
the fun, at those moving directly against the 11th Corps.
fell back on Gettysburg.
Was on the skirmish line night after
Pickett's Charge and right on that ground. (only 4 of B
at Cemetery Gate July 1st). Was sent back with another to
announce to headquarters (Meade) that the rebs appeared from the noise
to be removing fence near the front of the pickets. Gathered
canteens as they went. Filled them, and as they came back,
the wounded rebs, with water, making them comfortable, etc.
Helped one attend to a call of nature -- not able himself.
are several men named Pierce, in the roster of the regiment,and, they
are in several different companies too. Since Sam did not
specify, a guess must be made to the soldier's identity. The
reference to Company B, suggests the soldier is William H. H. Pierce, a
recruit of 1862, who served with the regiment until muster out in
August, 1864. W. H. H. Pierce settled in Chicago after the
and remained a close friend of David Sloss, another post-war Chicago
resident. David carried the State Colors at Gettysburg.
Duty on the Battlefield at Night
Edward Fay Rollins'
reminiscence is from the
regimental history, "Three Years
in the Army."
sunset a detail of
fifty men from the Thirteenth were sent out in front to establish a
skirmish line in connection with the troops on the right and left, at a
point just beyond the Emmitsburg pike, about midway of the plain
between the armies, on the ground over which Pickett made his charge.
with other officers, was detailed to take fifty men of my regiment and
establish a skirmish line in connection with the troops on our right
and left, at a rail fence beyond the Emmitsburg pike, and about midway
of the plain, over which Pickett’s charge had taken place. As
this line made its way to its destination through the trampled
unmown grass, we often stumbled over dead bodies, and were exhorted by
the wounded who had life enough to peak, “For God’s sake don’t step on
us!” or to give them a drink of water, or to turn them over, or other
like entreaties. Though strict orders had been given to pay
attention to the wounded, with an explanation that the
stretcher-bearers would follow the skirmish line, still flesh and blood
could not refuse these offices, even to our late
thought came to me of my own comrades, wounded two days before on
Seminary Ridge, who must have asked the same favors of them.
also had a feeling of admiration for these brave men who had composed
that charging party of 17,000 men marching close en masse,
and who closed up the gaps as our solid shot and shell
ploughed through their ranks, and who still came on so magnificently
that they almost deserved success, even in a bad cause.
at the rail fence, we saw beyond a pile of dead and wounded, struck as
they exposed themselves clambering over, while on the charge.
scattering fire had annoyed us as we advanced, but no determined effort
was made to stop us.
From the rebel line beyond, in the darkness
we could hear the sound of chopping and driving stakes in the ground;
and this was intermingled with groans and shrieks of the wounded and
dying, all around us. Indeed, neither time nor inclination will allow
me to describe the horrors of that night. At 11
of surgeons and assistants from our line came out, giving the wounded,
so far as I could learn, not much but morphine. One
would pass the word along to another, who begged for it to drown his
sufferings. I arranged with an officer of the Ninety-fourth
New York to
call him when it was time for his relief to go on, and he showed me
where he was going to lie down with one of his men on the same
“relief,” he wishing to get a little sleep. When the time
for me to call him I groped around and found him. On
began to shake his blanket companion and told him to get up, it was
time for their “relief” to go on duty. He could not start
and greatly surprised were both of us when we discovered that he had
made a mistake in the darkness, and had been sharing his blanket and
sleeping beside the body of a dead rebel.
This whole night a
wounded and probably insane rebel, in the rear of the skirmish line,
walked back and forth like a sentinel, singing religious hymns, in a
clear, calm voice, and paid no attention to requests to keep
quiet. We rejoined the regiment at daylight.
Page: "13th Mass Casualties"
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