Report of the part taken by the 1st Brigade Vol. Div. Artillery Reserve and other batteries under my command in the battle near Gettysburg Pa. July 2nd and 3rd 1863.
Brigade proper comprised of the following named batteries viz(?) : Battery "F" and "C" Consolidated Penn Arty, Capt Thompson. 9th and 5th Mass Battery, Captains Bigelow and Phillips. 15th NY Ind. Battery, Captain Hart Gen. R. O. Tyler, Commanding Artillery Reserve A of P.
General: I have the honor to respectfully report that my brigade being in park, at a central position near our line of battery at about half past 3 oclock P.M. on the 2nd of July, I received an order from yourself to report to General Sickles, with one 12 Pdr Lt and one Rifled Battery.
The 5th Mass. Battery, Capt Phillips and 9th Mass Battery Capt Bigelow, were marched
immediately to a position occupied by Gen Sickles near a belt of Oak woods, considerably in front of the prolongation of the natural line of defenses of our Army on the left center in which Gen. Sickles commands was then engaged with the enemy. By Gen. Sickles order I made examination of the grounds and placed the two Mass Batteries in a position that commanded most of the open country between the woods held by our troops on the left center, and high ground occupied by the enemy on their right. A New Jersey Battery immediately on the right of the two Mass Batteries was receiving the most of the fire of two or more rebel batteries. Harts 15th NY battery reporting at that time, I placed it in position in a Peach orchard on the right, and a little in front of the NJ Battery.
The four Batteries already unlimbered presented a front nearly at right angles with the position occupied by our troops forming towards our left. The fire of which I concentrated on single rebel batteries and five or more
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were driven in succession from their position. Capt Thompson "F" & "C" Consolidated Penna battery of my Brigade, took position on the right of the 15th NY battery, two sections of which battery, fronted and fired in the direction of those heretofore mentioned, and the right section fronted to the right, and opened fire on a section or more of rebel artillery posted in the woods at canister range, immediately on the right of the batteries under my command. The enfilade fire of which was inflicting serious damage through the whole line of my command. At about 5 oclock a heavy column of rebel infantry made its appearance in a grainfield about 850 yards in front, moving at quick time towards the woods on our left where the infantry fighting was going on . A well directed fire from all the batteries was brought to bear upon them which destroyed the order of their march and drove many back into the woods on their right, though the main portion of the column succeeded in reaching the point
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for which they started and sheltered themselves from the Artillery fire. In a few minutes another and larger column appeared at about 450 yards presenting a slight left flank to my position. I immediately trained the entire line of our guns upon them and opened with various kinds of ammunition. The column continued to move on at, double quick, until its head reached a barn and farm house immediately in front of my left battery, at about 450 yards distant where it came to a halt. I gave them canister and solid shot with such good effect that I am sure that several hundred were put hors de-combat in a short space of time. The column was broken, part fled in the direction from where it came, part pushed on into the woods on our left, the remainder endeavored to shelter themselves in masses around the house and barn. I visited the position after the battle where the column in its confusion massed up around the house and barn heretofore mentioned and found 120 odd dead, belonging
to three South Carolina Regiments, this mortality was no doubt from the effect of the artillery fire.
The asperities of the ground in front of my batteries were such as to enable the enemys sharpshooters in large numbers to cover themselves within very short range. At about quarter to six oclock the enemy infantry gained possession of the woods immediately on the left of my line of batteries and our infantry fell back both on our right and left when great disorder ensued on both flanks of the line of batteries at this period of the action all of the batteries were exposed to the enemy Infantry fire from both flanks and front where upon I ordered them to retire 250 yards and renew their fire. The New Jersey battery mentioned being out of ammunition, retired to the rear. The 15th New York Battery also retired from the field.
Captains Bigelow and Phillips who were under my observation about all the time evinced great
coolness and skill in retiring their batteries. Capt Phillips, Lieut Scott and four men hauled one of his pieces off by hand, every horse on the limbers having been shot down, at which work Lieut Scott received a serious wound in the face and it is a mystery to me that they were not all hit by the enemys fire as they were surrounded and fired upon from almost every direction. Captain Bigelow retired by prolongs firing canister which with Captains Phillips and Thompson firing on his right in their new position, the enemy was checked efficiently in his advance for a short time. Captain Thompson having all the horses killed belonging to one of his limbers of one of his pieces whilst retiring was compelled to leave the piece which fell into the hands of the enemy. The crisis of the engagement had now arrived. I gave Capt Bigelow orders to hold his position as long as possible at all hazards in order to give me time to form a new line of artillery and justice
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demands that I should state Capt Bigelow did hold hid position and execute his firing with a deliberation and destructive effect upon the enemy in a manner such as only a brave and skillful officer could, until one officer killed and the others wounded and more than half his men either killed or wounded and his horses all shot down at the limbers, he was forced to leave four guns and retire. Two guns under command of Lieut Milton were taken safe to the rear.
In the meantime I formed a new line of artillery about 400 yards to the rear close under the woods and covering the opening which led into the Gettysburg and Taneytown road of the following batteries and parts of batteries. Battery "I" 5th Regular and a volunteer Battery which I have never been able to learn the name of Captain Thompsons Penn Battery and commenced firing on the enemys line of infantry and artillery which had formed in the open field
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only about 7 or 800 yards. In our front a brook running through low bushes parallel to our front midway between ours and the enemys lines was occupied by rebel sharpshooters. As soon as the 6th Maine Battery reported which was just before sun down, I ordered canister to be use on the low bushes in front, which compelled them to retire. About this time Pettits
N. Y. Battery reported and changed position on the right of the 6th Maine . At this time the enemys artillery fire was very heavy and rapid. The unknown volunteer Battery heretofore mentioned left the field (;) the guns of Battery "I" 5th Regulars were abandoned Captain Thompsons guns being out of ammunition was sent to the rear Pettits 1st N. Y. Battery remained only a few minutes and left while I was directing the fire of the 6th Maine and a section of the 5th Mass Capt Phillips.
Lt Dow of the 6th Maine and one section of the 5th Mass Capt Phillips remained in
position and kept up a well directed fire upon the enemys lines until they had ceased firing which was about 8 oclock. I then placed Capt Seeleys Regular Battery, Lieut James, in position near Lieut Dows Battery with instructions to watch the enemy closely and fire upon an advancing column or reply to any artillery that might be opened upon us. Here ended the engagement of the 2nd of July at 8 oclock P. M. A detail was made from the 6th Maine and Seeleys Battery to go to the front and haul off the guns of Battery "I" 1st Regulars (sic). Lt Dow I instructed to procure an infantry detail and haul off the four guns of the 9th Mass all of which was accomplished.
The guns of the two batteries numbering eight were brought safely to the rear and arrangements immediately made to secure their safe transportation in the event of any contingency that might necessitate a retreat or other movement. During the engagement my horse was hit four times, in the fore
shoulder and breast by musketry, once on the fore leg by shell, and once on the hip spent solid shot of which wounds he soon after died. During the night I ascertained the whereabouts of all my batteries and early on the morning of the 3rd of July, brought them into line on the low ground on our left center fronting the woods and elevated position occupied by the enemy along the Gettysburg and Emmettsburg (sic) road, a point which was plain to be seen they were massing artillery in great force. The line of batteries under my command commencing on the left which on an Oak woods occupied by our infantry were in numbers and kind of guns as follows: Ames Battery 6 Lt 12Pdrs Dows 6th Maine Battery 4 Lt 12Pdrs A New Jersey Battery - 6 3in guns - one section New York Lieut Rock, 2-3in guns - 1st Con (sic) 4 James Rifled and 2 Howitzers Harts 15th New York Ind Battery 4 Lt 12Pdrs - Phillips 5th Mass 6-3in Rifled - Thompsons Battery "F" & "C" Consolidated
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Penn Arty 53in Rifled Total 39 guns. In front of these guns I had a slight earthwork thrown up which proved sufficient to resist all the projectiles which struck it, and the commanders of batteries were repeatedly ordered that in the event of the enemy opening a cannonading upon our lines to cover their men as much as possible and not return the fire until ordered. At about half past 12 oclock the enemy opened a terrific fire upon our lines with at least 140 guns. this fire was very rapid, and inaccurate, most of the projectiles passing from 20 to 100 feet over our lines; about one-half hour after the commencement some General commanding the infantry line ordered three of the batteries to return the fire after the discharge of a few rounds , I ordered the fire to cease and the men be covered, after the enemy had fired about one hour and a half and expended at least 10,000 rounds of ammunition with but comparatively little
damage to our immediate line. A slow well directed fire from all the guns under my command was concentrated upon single batteries of the enemy of those best in view, and several badly broken up and successively driven from their positions to the rear. At about 3 P. M. a line of battle of about 3 or 4000 men appeared advancing directly upon our front which were completely broken up and scattered by our line before coming within musket range of our lines. Immediately after appeared three extended lines of battle of at least 35,000 men advancing upon our center. These three lines of battle presented an oblique front to the guns under my command and by training the whole line of guns obliquely to the right we had a raking fire through all three of these lines. The execution of the fire must have been terrible as it was over a level plain and the effect was plain to be seen; in a few minutes instead of a well ordered line of battle they were broken and confused
masses and fugatives (sic) flying in every direction. This ended the operations of the batteries under my command at the battle of Gettysburg. In conclusion I feel it a duty to state that the officers and men of the batteries in my brigade behaved in the most gallant manner on the 2nd of July where the battle raged most furiously. Part of the 5th & 9th Mass and "C" and "F" Consolidated Penn Arty contested every inch of ground and remained on the field to the very last. The 6th Maine Battery came into action in a very opertune (sic) time and rendered very valuable service.
Captain Irish of Battery "F", Penn Arty acting voluntary Aid to me, was hit on the thigh in the early part of the engagement by solid shot, but would not leave the field until ordered by me to do so, to have his wound dressed and not withstanding a serious contusion which he was suffering under, he reported to me on the morning of the 3rd of July and remained with me during the day ready
to discharge any duty.
Captains Phillips and Bigelow (sic) conduct was gallant in the extreme.
(signed) F. McGilvery
Lieut Col Comdg Brigade
General R. O. Tyler
Comdg. Artillery Reserve
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