Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
CITIZENS OF GETTYSBURG IN THE UNION ARMY.
General Wadsworth's division was sent to occupy a height to the right and rear of our position. In passing through the town we lost many prisoners, but the enemy, perceiving the strength of our position on the heights, made no further attempts to renew the engagement that evening.
"About 7 P.M. Generals Slocum and Sickles arrived at the cemetery. A formal order was at the same time put into my hands placing General Hancock in command of the left wing. But General Slocum being present, and senior, I turned the command over to him. and resumed the direct command of the Eleventh Corps, whereupon General Hancock repaired to the headquarters of General Meade. The eventful day was over. The First and Eleventh corps, numbering less than eighteen thousand men, nobly aided by Buford's division of cavalry, had engaged and held in check nearly double their numbers from 10 in the morning until 7 in the evening. They gave way, it is true, after hard fighting, yet they secured and held the remarkable position which, under the able generalship of the commander of this army, contributed to the grand results of July 2d and 3d."
CITIZENS OF GETTYSBURG IN THE UNION ARMY.
For twenty-three years we have heard it asserted that the people of Gettysburg were lacking in patriotism because they did not spring to arms en masse, and assist in repelling the invaders. I am glad to see young Weakley cited, in addition to old John Burns, as one who volunteered in the defense of his home during the battle; but these are not all.
Upon the first indication of an invasion of Pennsylvania, the 26th Regiment, P. V. M., was organized and mustered into the United States service at Harrisburg, under the command of Colonel W.W. Jennings of that city. Company A of this regiment, to which I belonged, was composed of students from the Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Pennsylvania College of Gettysburg, and of citizens of the town; one other company came from Hanover, but a few miles distant.
On June 23d we left Harrisburg for Gettysburg, to be used, I believe, as riflemen among the hills near Cashtown. A railroad accident prevented this plan from being carried into effect, and kept us from reaching Gettysburg until the 26th, by which time General Early had reached Cashtown. In accordance with orders received from Major Granville 0. Hailer, (1) in command of the post, we were marched out on the Chambersburg pike at 10 A.M., June 26th, for a distance of about three and a half miles, accompanied by Major Robert Bell, who commanded a troop of horse, also raised, I understand, in Gettysburg. Having halted, our colonel, accompanied by Major Bell, rode to the brow of an elevation distant several hundred yards, and there saw General Early's troops a few miles distant. Early says in his report: "I sent General Gordon with his brigade and White's battalion of cavalry on the pike through Cashtown toward Gettysburg, and moved with the rest of the command to the left through Hilltown to Mummasburg. The object of this movement was for Gordon to amuse and skirmish with the enemy while I should get on his flank and rear so as to capture his whole force." We, a few hundred men at the most, were in the toils; what should be done ? We would gladly have marched to join the Army of the Potomac, under Meade, but where was it? Our colonel, left to his own resources, wisely decided to make an effort to return to Harrisburg, and immediately struck off from the pike, the Confederates capturing many of our rear-guard after a sharp skirmish, and sending their cavalry in pursuit of us. These latter overtook us in the afternoon at Witmer's house, about four and a half miles from Gettysburg on the Carlisle road, where after an engagement they were repulsed with some loss. After many vicissitudes, we finally reached Harrisburg, having marched 54 out of 60 consecutive hours, with a loss of some 200 men.
It should be added that Gettysburg, small town as it was, had already furnished its quota to the army. Moreover, on the first day of the battle hundreds of the unfortunate men of Reynolds's gallant corps were secreted, sheltered, fed, and aided in every way by the men and women of the town.
READING, PA., November 2d, 1886.