9th Massachsetts Battery

9th Massachsetts Battery

Esteemed member wayne111@concentric.net contributes:

As I am putting the finishing touches on my two hour walk (for the FNPG annual meeting and the GDG muster) on the 9th Mass Battery let me answer your questions. It was the 9th Mass. Battery of light artillery organized in July of 1862 in the Boston area.

1. Two of the 12 pound Napoleons were removed and the remaining four were captured temporarily by the 21st Miss.

2. There were 6 horses for each gun. Each caisson also was drawn by 6 horses and the caissons were withdrawn farther back so five of the six were saved although some of their horses were lost. While the unit lost 80 of 88 horses they were not all lost in the Trostle barn yard. Some of the horses were hit and lasted long enough to haul two guns away. On relatively level ground a single horse could pull a gun so it would not take too many . The two guns of the left section (# 3 & 4) were withdrawn early as the room was cramped in the fence corner. The first gun went behind the line and out of the small gate in front of the Trostle house and overturned blocking escape for the next gun till it could be righted. Not waiting, the crew of the second gun threw some stones off the top of the wall behind the battery and over they went, horses, gun, limber and all!

3 & 4. The history of the 9th lists the following casualties:

Killed 7
Wounded 16
Captured 2

It should be remembered that although there were over 100 men on the rolls that some of the men were in support rolls and did not go forward with the battery. There were 10 men on each gun plus three Lts. as section commanders and Capt. John Bigelow the battery commander. The battery bugler was also along although he had been told to go to the rear. So that gave a total of 65 men but some others came forward from the rear during the fight so the total engaged was higher by at least one that I am aware of.

Esteemed member DShultz180@aol.com contributes:


The 9th Mass was commanded by 22 year old Brevet-Captain John Bigalow. He was wounded at the position you speak of, which was the battery's second action on July 2nd. This being their maiden battle. All six cannon were eventually recovered by the Federals. Two escaped being overrun at the site you speek of, making it back to Cemetery Ridge. on July 2nd. The remaining four were captured along with four pieces from the 5th U.S., Battery C. The latter being in position about 300 yards to the right (southeast) of the farm house pictured.

All eight cannon from the two batteries were repatrioted when a brigade (Lockwood's) from the XII Corps advanced to collect the pieces at dusk. The Confederate infantry (21st Miss) actually withdrew after being issolated in the 5th U.S.'s position by canister fire. They fell back to the Emmitsburg Road, failing to take their prizes with them because of this enfilading point balnk fire from two Federal batteries (Dow 6th Me. & Lt. Seeley's 1st NY Batt B.), as well as one section of Phillip's 5th Mass Arty. Lt. Robert James's section from the 4th U.S., Batt K in rear of Dow. Im not sure they engaged.

All eight cannons were returned to Cemetery Ridge on the night of the 2nd. The four from the 9th Mass were placed with Dow; the four from Batt. C placed with James. At 4:30 a.m. Dow and james retired to the rear for refiting, taking the cannon with them.

24 year old Brvt 1st Lt. Richard S. Milton had assumed command on Bigalow's wounding, the remaining two section commanders having been mortally wounded. Milton was consolidated at 12:30 a.m. with the remaining servicable section from the 3rd U.S., Batt F, commanded by 19 year old Brvt-1st Lt. John Turnbull.

It was this consolidated unit, commanded by Milton, who replaced Dow when he pulled back. The four recaptured pieces from the 9th were placed with the four (also having been ocerrun and captured) from the 3rd U.S. Both battery forges and smith's worked side by side to salvage what they could. Thats another story.

Milton would eventually be sent north to the Bryan farm;Turnbull east of the inner Angle. Milton's section helped in the repulse of Pickett's Charge on July 3rd.

The 9th lost 11 killed and 11 wounded. Only three men were wounded on the 3rd, thus 19 were casualties at the 1st and 2nd positions on july 2nd.

There are several good articles on this battery available, the best being a little pamphlet writen by Bigalow himself. It is titled "The Peachorchard." You can pick it up through Morningside. Eric Cambel authored a very good article for "The Gettysburg Mag., issue no. 5. It is titled "Baptism of Fire': The Ninth Mass Batt at GB. In issue no nine, you can read James Wood's excelant article titled, "Defending Watson's Battery." He tells about the 5th U.S., Batt C and its relitive positions in relation to Bigalow. The two Mag articles give you an excelant perspective of went on in the batteries on July 2nd.

Esteemed member DShultz180@aol.com contributes:

Another apology and correction; To much excitement!

In a posting concerning info about the 9th Mass Batty., I mistakenly named 1st Lt. Francis Seeley as being in command of the 1st NY. Batt B. I ment to say;1st lt. Albert Sheldon. Although James Rorty (14th NY Arty) had assumed command of Batt B on the eve of July 1st, Hancock refused to allow him the command until he had showed 1st Lt. George L. Dwight about the handling the Corps ammunition trains.

Aparently Hancock was not satisfied until the eve of July 2nd. It was Rorty who, upon assuming command from Sheldon, pulled Batt. B out of McGilvery's line ( disecting todays U.S.ave northwest of the Weikert house) without reporting to anyone. Perhaps it was on Hancocks orders. I have failed to find info on this, or understand why he left a gap in McGilvery's line when his four parrotts were so desperatly needed . Maybe someone in the group can elaborate on the subject?

Lt. Seeley was the senior officer in command of the 4th U.S.Batt K that I mentioned. He was wounded at the Klingle house; Lt. Robert James assumed command. It was was James, with one section, who entrenced north of the Weikert barn, that anchored the line we refer to today, as "McGilvery's line." This after Rorty pulled out.

(Is it possible that Rorty did not report because McGilvery had rode north to fetch James?) James'other claim to fame came earlier from Hancock when the former led Batt K back from the Emmitsburg Road,crashing through the advancing ranks of 19th Maine, led by the latter. (Hancock mis-inidentified James for Weir). Again. I apologize for my mistake. Great postings on the 9th.

3rd U.S., (consolidated) Batt., F & K,

Esteemed member DShultz180@aol.com contributes:

>>"I say, let Ted Turner do his next movie about bigalow and his men'<<

I agree with all about the 9th Mass Battery's stand at the Trostle farm, but I cannot agree that it should be singled out. Like Chamberlin, Bigalow was an educated man, and exceptional orator. A great photo enhanced his story.

One third mile north of Bigalow, at exactly the same time he was unimbering at the Trostle farm, the 3rd U.S., (consolidated) Batt., F & K, began a 400 yard long prolonge to the east. The enemy within 40 paces of their guns. Their initial position was along the Emmitsburg Road, supporting Carr's brigade. They successfully pulled back at fixed prolonge to the Plum Run, where as the gun caissons were sent away. 1st Lt. John G. Turnbull ordered his guns back in battery with the Plum Run thickets to his immediate rear. His fight with Wilcox and Lang was equal to Bigalow's conflict the 21st Miss. Like Bigalow, Turnbull was overrun after two pieces escaped to the north, they being captured near the Codori barn by Wright's people. It was Turnbull who bought Hancock the time he needed to secure the 19th Me & 1st Minn. Ironically, one section from each of these batteries would be consolidated on July 3rd .

4th U.S., Batt G

On July 1st, the 4th U.S., Batt G, posted on either side of Blocker's Knoll, retired at fixed prolonge for nearly one mile, keeping at bay advancing confederate infantry from overwhelming the XI Corps line on that part of the field.

1st OH. Batt., K

Heckman's (1st OH. Batt., K) battery stand between the Carlisle and "Old" Harrisburg Roads on July 1st was as brutal as was Bigalow's at the Trostle farm, and just as strategically important. We could go on about others to no avail. Like Chamberlin, Bigalow will long be remembered for his writing, (movie) and the infamous photo of his battery position. The others; well, they were just there.