WITH THE SIXTH WISCONSIN AT GETTYSBURG.
By Rufus R. Dawes,
Brevet Brigadier-General United States Volunteers.
When General James S. Wadsworth's division of the First Army Corps marched toward Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863, the regiment which the writer had the honor to command was the last in the order of march for the day. It belonged to the First Brigade, better known as the Iron Brigade, a designation which has become historic. The brigade guard, two officers and one hundred men, marched immediately behind us, which accounts for their assignment to the regiment for duty when we became involved in battle. The column moved on the Emmettsburg Road. Three hundred and forty officers and enlisted men marched with the regiment. All were in the highest spirits. Intending to make a show in the streets of Gettysburg, I had brought our drum corps to the front and the colors were unfurled. The drum-major had begun to play "The Campbells are Coming," and the regiment had closed its ranks and just fairly swung into the step, when we heard the cannon of the enemy, which were firing on the cavalry of General Buford. The troops ahead of us turned across the fields to the left of Gettysburg, toward the Seminary Ridge. We stopped our music, which had probably done something to arouse the martial spirit of old John Burns, who joined our brigade, and turned to engage in the sterner duties involved in war. When the head of the regimental column reached the crest of Seminary Ridge, an aide of General Meredith came on a gallop with the order, "Colonel, form your line, and prepare for action at once." I turned my horse and gave the necessary orders. The evolution of the line was performed on the double-quick, the men loading their muskets as they ran. We hastened forward fairly on a run to get to our position on the left flank of the Iron Brigade, which, regiment after regiment, en echelon, was dashing into the McPherson woods. Another aide, Lieutenant Martin, came up and said, "Colonel, General Doubleday is now in command of the corps, and he directs that you halt your regiment."(1) The men were halted and directed to lie down on the ground. The brigade guard(2) now reported for duty in the impending battle, and, dividing them into two companies of fifty men each, I placed them upon the right and left flanks of the regiment. The situation on the field of battle of all the troops now engaged can be made clear by a little diagram. Two brigades of each army confronted each other. Archer's brigade opposed the Iron Brigade, and Joseph R. Davis's brigade opposed the other brigade of Wadsworth's division, which was commanded by General Lysander Cutler. Hall's battery was with Cutler.
Excepting ourselves, the whole line of Wadsworth's division was now hotly engaged in battle with the enemy. Lieutenant Martin came again with orders from General Doubleday. He said, "General Doubleday directs that you move at once to the right." I immediately gave the order to move in that direction at a double quick. Other staff officers came urging me to move at the utmost speed, saying the rebels were "driving Cutler's men." The guns of Hall's battery(3) could be seen driving to the rear, and Cutler's men were manifestly giving ground.
The following diagram illustrates the movement and the change of front made to throw the regiment on the flank of the advancing enemy. Just across our track, as we hurried on, passed some officers carrying the body of our corps commander, General John F. Reynolds. But we did not then know that he was dead.
Suddenly my horse reared and plunged. It did not occur to me that she had been shot, and I drew a tight rein and spurred her sharply when she fell heavily on her haunches. I scrambled quickly from the ground, where I had been thrown sprawling, and the men gave a hearty cheer. The gallant old mare also struggled to her feet and hobbled sturdily to the rear on three legs. She had been struck in the breast by a minnie ball, which penetrated seventeen inches. For many years she carried the bullet, which could be felt under the skin behind the left shoulder blade-- but woe to the man who felt it, as her temper had been entirely spoiled. For the rest of the battle I was on foot. The regiment halted at the fence along the Cashtown Turnpike, and I gave the order to fire. In the field, beyond the turnpike, a long irregular line of yelling Confederates could be seen running forward and firing, and our troops were running back in disorder. The fire of our carefully aimed muskets, resting on the fence rails, striking their flank, checked the rebels in their headlong advance. We could see that the thin regiments of Cutler's brigade, beyond the turnpike, were being almost destroyed. The rebel line swayed and bent, and the men suddenly stopped firing and ran into the railroad cut, which is parallel to the Cashtown Turnpike. I now ordered the men to climb over the turnpike fences and advance upon them. I was not aware of the existence of a railroad cut, and mistook the maneuver of the enemy for a retreat, but was soon undeceived by the heavy fire which they began at once to pour upon us from their cover in the cut. Captain John Ticknor, a dashing soldier, one of our finest officers, fell dead while climbing the second fence, and others were struck, but the line pushed on. When over the fences and in the field, and subjected to an infernal fire, I saw the Ninety-fifth New York regiment coming gallantly into line upon our left. I did not then know or care where they came from, but was rejoiced to see them. Farther to the left was the Fourteenth Brooklyn Regiment, but we were ignorant of the fact. The Ninety-fifth New York had about one hundred men in action. Major Edward Pye appeared to be in command. Running hastily to the major, I said, "We must charge," and asked him if they were with us. The gallant major replied, "Charge it is," and they were with us to the end. "Forward, charge!" was the order given by both the major and myself. We were now receiving a fearfully destructive fire from the hidden enemy. Men who had been shot were leaving the ranks in crowds. Any correct picture of this charge would represent a V-shaped crowd of men with the colors at the advance point, moving firmly and hurriedly forward, while the whole field behind is streaming with men who had been shot, and who are struggling to the rear or sinking in death upon the ground. The only commands I gave, as we advanced, were, "Align on the colors! Close up on that color! Close up on that color!" The regiment was being broken up so that this order alone could hold the body together. Meanwhile the colors were down upon the ground several times, but were raised at once by the heroes of the color guard. Not one of the guard escaped, every man being killed or wounded. Four hundred and twenty men started as a regiment from the turnpike fence, of whom two hundred and forty reached the railroad cut. Years afterward I found the distance passed over to be one hundred and seventy-five paces. Every officer proved himself brave, true, and heroic in encouraging the men to breast this deadly storm, but the real impetus was the eager, determined valor of our men who carried muskets in the ranks. The rebel color could be seen waving defiantly just above the edge of the railroad cut. A heroic ambition to capture it took possession of several of our men. Corporal Eggleston, of "Co. H," a mere boy, sprang forward to seize it, and was shot dead the moment his hand touched the color. Private Anderson, of his company, furious at the killing of his brave young comrade, recked little for the rebel color, but be swung aloft his musket and with a terrific blow split the skull of the rebel who had shot young Eggleston. This soldier was well known in the regiment as "Rocky Mountain Anderson." Lieutenant Remington was severely wounded in the shoulder while reaching for the color. Into this deadly melee rushed Corporal Francis A.' Waller, who seized and held the rebel battle flag. His name will remain upon the historic record, as he received from Congress a medal for this deed.
It would require many pages to justly recount the heroic deeds of all, but one incident is so touching in its character that it should be preserved. Corporal James Kelly, of Company B, turned from the ranks, and stepped beside me, as we both moved hurriedly forward on the charge. He pulled open his woolen shirt, and a mark where the deadly minnie ball had entered his breast was visible. He said: "Colonel, wouldn't you please write to my folks that I died a soldier?"
My first notice that we were immediately upon the enemy, was a general cry from our men of: "Throw down your muskets. Down with your muskets." Running quickly forward through the line of men, I found myself face to face with at least a thousand rebels, whom I looked down upon in the railroad cut, which was here about four feet deep. Adjutant Brooks, equal to the emergency, had quickly placed men across the cut in position to fire through it. I have always congratulated myself upon getting in the first word. I shouted: "Where is the colonel of this regiment?" An officer in gray, with stars on his collar, who stood among the men in the cut, said: "Who are you?" I said: "I am commander of this regiment. Surrender, or I will fire on you." The officer replied not a word, but promptly handed me his sword, and all his men, who still held them, threw down their muskets. The coolness, self-possession, and discipline which held back our men from pouring in a volley saved
a hundred lives, and as my mind goes back to the fearful excitement of that moment, I marvel at it. The fighting around the rebel colors had not entirely ceased when this surrender was demanded. I took the sword. It would have been the handsome thing to say, "Keep your sword, sir," but I was new to such occasions, and, when six other officers came up and handed me their swords, I took them also, and held the awkward bundle in my arms until relieved by Adjutant Brooks. I directed the officer in command, who proved to be Major John A. Blair, of the Second Mississippi Regiment, to have his men fall in without arms. He gave the command, and his men, to the number of seven officers and two hundred and twenty-five enlisted men, obeyed. To our major, John F. Hauser, I assigned the duty of marching this body to the provost-guard. Major Hauser, a thorough soldier, had been educated at a military school at Thun, Switzerland, and be had served with Garibaldi. His shout of, "Forwarts, forwarts," as we charged, is well remembered by all of us who yet survive.
Corporal Waller now brought me the captured battle-flag. It was the flag of the Second Mississippi Volunteers, one of the oldest and most distinguished regiments in the Confederate army. It belonged to the brigade commanded by the nephew of Jefferson Davis. It is a rule in battle never to allow sound men to leave the ranks. Sergeant William Evans, a brave and true man, had been severely wounded in the thighs. He had to use two muskets as crutches. To him I intrusted the keeping of the battle-flag. Wrapping the flag around his body, he started for Gettysburg. Weak and faint from loss of blood, he became exhausted in the street. Brave and faithful friends came to his relief. Two young women assisted the wounded soldier to their home, and placed him upon a bed. The Union troops had then begun to retreat in confusion through the town, and the cheers of the victorious enemy could be plainly heard. Evans begged of his friends to hide the rebel flag. They cut a bole in the bed-tick beneath him, and, thrusting in the flag, sewed up the rent. The flag was soaked with Evans's blood, where he had lain upon it, but it was safely concealed until the enemy had retreated from Gettysburg, and on the morning of July 4th he brought his precious trophy to Culp's Hill.
Adjutant Brooks buckled on one of the captured swords, but the other six were given to a wounded man to be delivered to our chief surgeon. The enemy, when they took the town, captured the hospital and the swords. No discredit to the doctor is implied, as his hands were full of work with wounded men.
There was now a lull in the battle. Our comrades of the Iron Brigade, who had charged so brilliantly into the McPherson Woods, had been, according to their usual custom completely victorious. They had routed Archers brigade, capturing its commander and many of its men, and then changed front to move to the relief of Cutler; but the charge upon the railroad cut, and its success, prevented that necessity. By this charge upon the cut Joseph R. Davis's brigade was scattered or captured. Wadsworth's division(4) had bravely opened the battle. They had fairly defeated, upon an open field, a superior force of the veterans of the army of General Lee. It was a short, sharp, and desperate fight, but the honors were with the boys in blue. In his official report General Doubleday says that when Cutler's regiments were overpowered and driven back, "the moment was a critical one, involving the defeat, perhaps the utter rout, of' our forces." Defeat was never more swiftly turned to victory.
The general falls into the time-honored line of battle fiction, when he says that the cut was "carried at the point of the bayonet." Not a single bayonet was fixed for use in the regiment. He says also that "two rebel regiments, with their battle-flags," were captured. There was really only one regiment captured as an organization, and only a part of that. One of our punsters, however, has said it was a "major" part. The Ninety-fifth New York took prisoners, as did also the Fourteenth Brooklyn. All the troops in the railroad cut threw down their muskets, and the men either surrendered themselves, or ran away out of the other end of the cut. Later in the day we marched through this railroad cut, and at least one thousand muskets lay in the bottom of it.
During the brief period of quiet on the battle field, we moved into a piece of timber on the Seminary Ridge, just north of the deep railroad cut through that ridge, and here half an hour was spent in organizing the shattered companies. Seven of the twelve company commanders had been shot in the battle:
(5)Captain John Ticknor, Company K, killed.
Lieutenant 0. D. Chapman, Company C, killed.
Lieutenant Howard F. Pruyn, Company A, wounded.
Lieutenant W. N. Remington, Company K, wounded.
Lieutenant John Beeley, Company H, wounded.
Lieutenant Lloyd G. Harris, Brigade Guard No. 1, wounded.
Lieutenant Levi Showalter, Brigade Guard No. 2, wounded.
The men of the Brigade Guard were dismissed to their several regiments, and there remained for service less than two hundred men all told. We next advanced, by order of General Wadsworth, to the ridge west of the Seminary. Here we encountered a heavy line of rebel skirmishers upon whom we opened fire, and drove them into Willoughby Run. But the enemy turned upon us the fire of at least six pieces of artillery in position just south of the Cashtown Turnpike beyond Willoughby Run. The shells flew over us , and burst around us so thickly, that I was obliged to beat a hasty retreat, and have the men lie upon the ground under the brow of the ridge. The Iron Brigade was in McPherson's Woods. The space between us and that brigade was occupied by Colonel Roy Stone's Pennsylvania Bucktails. General Lysander Cutler's(6) brigade was upon our right. This was our position when the general attack was made by the army corps of Hill and Ewell combined, at half past one o'clock in the afternoon. The first brunt of the attack struck the gallant brigade of Bucktails. They wore fighting on Pennsylvania soil. Their conduct was more than heroic, it was glorious. I can not describe the charges and countercharges which took place, but we all saw the banner of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania planted in the ground and waving between the hostile lines of battle, while the desperate fight went on.
Under pressure of the battle, the whole line of troops on our right and on our left was at length ordered back to seminary ridge. We received no orders. Being a detached regiment it is likely that we had been overlooked. The enemy (Ewell's corps) were getting around our right, so that the low ground between us and the Seminary Ridge in our rear was swept by their fire. It would evidently cost many lives to attempt to march in line of battle through this fire. I accordingly adopted the tactics of the enemy earlier in the day, and ordered my men to run into the railroad cut, upon which we had made our charge. Then instructing the men to follow in single file, I led the way, as fast as I could run, from this cut to the cut in the Seminary ridge. About a cart full of dirt was ploughed over us by the rebel shells, but otherwise not a man was struck. The ranks were promptly reformed in this protected position, and we marched up into the woods on the Seminary Ridge to the same position from which we had advanced. The whole First Army Corps was now in line of battle on the Seminary Ridge, and here that grand body of veteran soldiers made the most desperate effort in the history of the war to stay the overwhelming tide that swept against them. The losses sustained by that corps and those inflicted upon the corps of General A. P. Hill justify this statement.
In 1882, I visited the ground with a commander of one of Hill's brigades, General Scales, of North Carolina. He said, pointing to the ground occupied by Battery B, Fourth United States Artillery, "The fire of your battery planted there was terribly destructive to my men." The graphic story of the cannoneer, who fought in this battery, recently printed in the National Tribune, has made its readers familiar with its service and the quality of its commanders and its men.
Shortly after I took position in the woods, Battery B, which was partly manned by Wisconsin
men, and under command of Lieutenant James Stewart, came up, and General Wadsworth
ordered me to support it with my regiment. Stewart was as brave and efficient a man as ever
fought upon a field of battle. Quoting General Doubleday's report:"About four P. M., the enemy
advanced in large numbers every-where, deploying in double or triple lines overlapping our left
for a third of a mile, pressing heavily upon our right and overwhelming our center." During much
of the time while this attack was progressing, I stood among the guns of Battery B. Along the
Seminary Ridge, flat upon their bellies, lay mixed up together in one line of battle the Iron Brigade
and Roy Stone's "Bucktails." For a mile up and down the open fields before us the splendid lines
of the veterans of the army of Northern Virginia swept down upon us. Their bearing was
magnificent. They maintained their alignments with great precision. In many cases the colors of
regiments were advanced several paces in front of the line. Stewart fired shell at them until they
appeared on the ridge east of Willoughby Run; when on this ridge they came forward with a rush.
The musketry burst from the Seminary Ridge; every shot was fired with care, and Stewart's men,
with the regularity of a machine, worked their guns upon the enemy. They came half way down
this slope, wavered, began to fire, then to scatter and then to run, and how our men did yell,
"Come on, Johnny, come on." Falling back over the ridge they came on again more cautiously,
and pouring upon us from the start a steady fire of deadly musketry. This killed Stewart's men
and horses in great numbers, but did not seem to check his fire.
Lieutenant Clayton E. Rogers, an aide on General Wadsworth's staff, came riding rapidly up to us. Leaning over from his horse, he said, very quietly: "The orders, colonel, are to retreat beyond the town. Hold your men together." I was astonished. The cheers of defiance along the line of the First Corps, on Seminary Ridge, had scarcely died away. But a glance over the field to our right and rear was sufficient. There the troops of the Eleventh Corps appeared in full retreat, and the long lines of Confederates, with fluttering banners and shining steel, were sweeping forward in pursuit without let or hindrance. It was an even race which could reach Gettysburg first, ourselves, or the troops of Ewell's Corps, who pursued the Eleventh Corps. Facing to the rear, we marched in line of battle over the open fields toward the town. We were north of the railroad, and our direction separated us from other regiments of our corps. If we had desired to attack Ewell's twenty thousand men with our two hundred, we could not have moved more directly toward them. We knew nothing about the Cemetery Hill, but we could see that the oncoming lines of the enemy were encircling us in a horseshoe. But with the flag of the Union and of Wisconsin held aloft, the little regiment marched firmly and steadily. As we approached the town, the buildings of the Pennsylvania College screened us from the view of the enemy. We could now see that our troops were retreating in a direction almost at right angles to our line of march. We reached the street extending through Gettysburg from the college to Cemetery Hill, and crossing it we were now faced by the enemy, and turned our course toward the Cemetery Hill, although then unconscious of the fact. The first cross street was swept by the musketry fire of the enemy. There was a close board fence, enclosing a barn-yard, on the opposite side of the street. A board or two off from the fence made what the men called a "hog hole." Instructing the regiment to follow in single file on the run, I took a color, and ran across the street, and jumped through the opening. Officers and men followed rapidly. Taking position at the fence, when any man obstructed the passage-way through it, I jerked him away without ceremony or apology, the object being to keep the track clear for those yet to come. Two men were shot in this street crossing. The regiment was reformed in the barnyard, and we marched back again onto the street leading from the Pennsylvania College to the Cemetery Hill. To understand why the street was crossed in the manner described, it should be remembered that men running at full speed, scattered in single file, were much safer from the fire of the enemy than if marching in a compact body. By going into the inclosure, the regiment came together, to be at once formed into compact order. It was in compliance with the order, "Keep your men together." The weather was very sultry. The sweat now streamed from the faces of the men. There was not a drop of water in the canteens, and there had been none for hours. The streets were jammed with crowds of retreating soldiers, and with ambulances, artillery, and wagons. There were cellars crowded with men, sound in body, but craven in spirit, who had gone there to surrender. I saw no men wearing badges of the First Army Corps in this disgraceful company. In one case, at least, these miscreants, mistaking us for the rebels, cried out from the cellar, "Don't fire, Johnny, we'll surrender." These surroundings were depressing to my hot and thirsty men. Finding the street blocked, I formed my men in two lines across it. The rebels began to fire on us from houses and cross-lots. Right here came to us a friend in need. It was an old citizen with two buckets of fresh water. The inestimable value of this cup of cold water to those true, unyielding soldiers, I would that our old friend could know.
After this, in response to my call, the men gave three cheers in honor of our capture of the rebel regiment and battle flag, and three cheers for the good and glorious cause for which we stood in battle. The enemy now fired on us sharply, and the men returned the fire, shooting wherever the enemy appeared. This firing had one good effect. It cleared the street of stragglers in very short order. When the way was open I marched again toward the Cemetery Hill. The enemy did not pursue us; they had found it to be dangerous business. We hurried along, not knowing certainly that we might not be marching into the clutches of the enemy once more. But the colors of the Union, floating over a well ordered line of men in blue, who were arrayed along the slope of Cemetery Hill, suddenly became visible. This was Steinwehr's division of the Eleventh Army Corps, left in reserve by General Howard. With swifter steps we now pressed on up the hill, and, passing in through the ranks open to receive us, officers and men threw themselves in a state of almost perfect exhaustion on the green grass and the graves of the cemetery. The condition of affairs on Cemetery Hill at this time has been a subject of discussion. It is likely that if fresh troops had attacked us then, we would have fared badly. The troops were scattered over the hill in disorder, while a stream of stragglers and wounded men pushed along the Baltimore Turnpike toward the rear. But this perilous condition of affairs was of very short duration. There was certainly no condition of panic on the Cemetery Hill. After a short breathing spell our men again promptly responded to the order to "fall in." Lieutenant Rogers brought us orders from General Wadsworth. They were to join our own brigade, which had been sent to occupy Culp's Hill.(7) As we marched toward the hill our regimental wagon joined us. In the wagon were a dozen spades and shovels. Taking our place on the right of the line of the brigade, I ordered the regiment to intrench. The men worked with great energy. A man would dig with all his strength till out of breath, when another would seize the spade and push on the work. There were no orders to construct these breastworks, but the situation plainly dictated their necessity. The men now lay down to rest after the arduous labors of this great and terrible day. Sad and solemn reflections possessed, at least, the writer of this paper. Our dead lay unburied and beyond our sight or reach. Our wounded were in the hands of the enemy. Our bravest and best were numbered with them. Of eighteen hundred men who marched with the splendid brigade in the morning, but seven hundred were here. More than one thousand men had been shot. There was to us a terrible reality in the figures which represent our loss. We had been driven, also, by the enemy, and the shadow of defeat seemed to be banging over us. But that afternoon, under the burning sun and through the stifling clouds of dust, the Army of the Potomac had marched to the sound of our cannon. We had lost the ground on which we fought, we had lost our commander and our comrades, but our fight had held the Cemetery Hill and forced the decision for history that the crowning battle of the war should be at Gettysburg.
It is a troubled and dreamy sleep at best that comes to the soldier on a battle field. About one
o'clock at night we had a great alarm. A man in the Seventh Indiana Regiment, next on our right,
cried so loudly in his sleep that he aroused all the troops in the vicinity. Springing up, half
bewildered, I ordered my regiment to "fall in," and a heavy fire of musketry broke out from along
the whole line of men. At three o'clock in the morning, according to orders, the men were
aroused and made their coffee. The morning of the second day found us lying quietly in our
breastworks near the summit of Culp's Hill. We were in the shade of some fine oak trees, and
enjoyed an excellent view of nearly the whole battlefield. Our situation would have been
delightful, and our rest in the cool shade would have been refreshing, if it had not been for the
crack, crack, of the deadly sharpshooters on the rebel skirmish line. Owing, probably, to the
crooked line of our army, the shots came from all directions, and the peculiarly mournful wail of
the spent bullet was constantly heard.
LONGSTREET'S ATTACK ON SICKLES.
Our line faced toward the town of Gettysburg. For hours I watched the rebel troops with a field-glass, as their heavy columns of infantry marched toward our right. We could see them forming in the field beyond Rock Creek, and knew that they were preparing to attack Culp's Hill. But until four o'clock, but little sound was heard but the monotonous noise of the sharpshooter. At this hour, from the Cemetery Hill and from a long distance in that direction, the storm of battle suddenly broke out. Artillery and musketry thundered and crashed together. Amid the tumult we could plainly hear the rebel charging yell. We momentarily expected that the rebels in the valley of Rock Creek would advance upon us. But they did not come, and gradually our attention became absorbed by the awful combat on our left. We could plainly see that our troops were giving ground. Thousands were streaming to the rear.
Our suspense and anxiety were intense. We gathered in knots all over the hill, watching the battle. It seemed to us a long time that this savage, but to all appearances unfavorable struggle went on. The rebel line certainly was advancing. The rebel yell certainly was predominant. Brigade after brigade moved in, but the tide was against us. As the sun was low down a fine sight was seen. It was two long blue lines of battle, with twenty or thirty regimental banners, charging forward into the smoke and din of battle. To all appearances they saved our position. But a sound came now from the woods to our right, that made us jump for our breastworks. It was the rebel yell, sounded by thousands of voices. It was now dusk, and beginning to be quite dark in the woods. I ran to my post, and ordered: " Down, men, watch sharp, keep your eyes peeled. Shoot low now, shoot low, the hill is steep; quiet, now; steady." After these orders and cautions, the men peered sharply into the woods to "let them have it" as they came up the hill against us. But there is no attack upon us. The crash of Union muskets broke out on the right, and we know that the attack is on the Twelfth Corps. Soon a staff officer came along, calling: "Where is Colonel Dawes?' I answered; "Here." He said: "Take your regiment, sir, and report to General Greene." I said: "Where is he?" "He is right over in the woods where they are attacking." I commanded: "Attention, battalion, right face, forward by file right--march!', and we started for General Greene. Who he was I did not know, but the musketry showed where to go. The first mounted officer I saw proved to be General G. S. Greene, of the Twelfth Army Corps. Taking from his pocket a card, he wrote in the darkness his name and command, which he handed to me. He then directed me to form my regiment, and go into the breastworks; to go as quickly as possible, and to hold the works after I got there. I did not then understand that the rebels already had possession of these works. Facing the regiment to the front, I ordered: "Forward--run; march!" We received no fire until we neared the breastworks, when the enemy who had possession of them, lying on the lower side, and who were completely surprised at our sudden arrival, rose up and fired a volley at us, and immediately retreated down the bill. This remarkable encounter did not last one minute. We lost two men killed--both burned with the powder of the guns fired at them. The darkness and the suddenness of our arrival caused the enemy to fire wildly. We had recaptured the breastworks on our front, and the Fourteenth Brooklyn, which came in on our right, also got possession of the works. We remained here till about midnight, when we were relieved by troops of the Twelfth Corps, who had left these works to support General Sickles's corps against Longstreet's attack. We then marched back to our breastworks on Culp's Hill.
During the whole day of July 3d, we occupied our own entrenchments on Culp's Hill. They seemed a coign of vantage. We had the zip of the sharpshooter's bullet, the "where is you" of cannon shot, the ringing whistle of the ragged fragments of bursting shell, all around us. At some hours of the day, especially during the great cannonade preceding Pickett's charge, the air seemed full of missiles fired by the enemy. But no man was touched, and we were devoutly thankful that such immunity was granted us.
On July 4th, I applied to General Wadsworth for authority to send to Wisconsin the captured
battle-flag. He said it could only be obtained, if at all, from General Meade, so to army
headquarters I went, carrying the flag folded loosely upon my arm. I passed over the ground
where Pickett's men had charged, and saw quite a number of wounded Confederates still lying
there. One of them called out to me: "You have got our colors; let me see them." This man and I
had quite an interview. He was badly, possibly mortally, wounded. He was a color-bearer in the
Second Mississippi Regiment. Those of his regiment who escaped capture in the railroad cut had
been in this charge with Heth's division. The poor fellow was quite afflicted to see his colors, and
I did all I could to comfort him. From him I learned the history of his regiment and the names of
its officers, which enabled me to report later on that day that Major John A. Blair was the officer
of whom I had received the surrender. No introductions took place in the railroad cut.
(Source: Sketches of War History, Ohio MOLLUS, volume 3, pages 364 to 388)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
1.General John F. Reynolds had been killed, but the fact was not disclosed to us.
2.The brigade guard comprised twenty men from each of the five regiments of the Iron Brigade. The two officers, Lieutenant Lloyd G. Harris, Sixth Wisconsin, and Lieutenant Levi Showalter, Second Wisconsin, proved themselves very capable men and excellent leaders, and both were shot and severely wounded. Eighty-one men of the other regiments of the brigade were thus, by the emergency of sudden and unexpected battle, brought into our ranks.
3.Captain Hall was obliged to leave one gun of his Second Maine Battery in the field between us and the enemy. Captain Rollin P. Converse, Company B, rallied a force and hauled it off. Converse and his first lieutenant, Charles P. Hyatt, were two of the best line officers in battle I met with in the war. Both were killed later in the war.
4.The activity, efficiency, and, if I may so express it, ubiquity, of General James S. Wadsworth in the battle was remarkable. He was of venerable and commanding appearance, and was absolutely fearless in exposing himself to danger.
5.The line officers in addition to this list were: Captain J. H. Marston, commanded Company E; Lieutenant Michael Mangan, Company E, lost a leg; Lieutenant Oscar Graete, commanded Company F; Captain Thomas Kerr, commanded Company D; Lieutenant James L. Converse, commanded Company G; Lieutenant John Timmons, Company G; Lieutenant H. B. Merchant, Company H, wounded; Lieutenant Earl M. Rogers, commanded Company I; Lieutenant Howard J. Huntington, Company A; Lieutenant Wm. Golterman, Company F; Captain R. P. Converse, commanded Company B; Lieutenant C. P. Hyatt, Company B.
6.General Lysander Cutler was of about the same age and of much the same appearance as General Wadsworth. He was one of the coolest, bravest, and most capable officers in the Army of the Potomac. His brigade was handled with remarkable skill in this attack. It captured large portion of Iverson's brigade, of North Carolinians.
7.Colonel W. W. Robinson, of Seventh Wisconsin Regiment, was in command of the brigade, having succeeded General Meredith, who was wounded.