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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign)
Page 454 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

unteers, remained continuously in protection of our front along the stone wall and in support of our line of skirmishers. Throughout the 2d, the enemy kept up a desultory fire from their artillery, posted on the skirts of the distant timber, frequently shifting their batteries and opening suddenly on our line. In no case were they enabled long to retain position, but were relieved or driven off by the effective fire of our artillerists. The ensuing night passed in comparative quietness, our men resting on their arms. The daylight of the 3rd was a signal for renewed hostilities, and during the forenoon was a repetition of the practice of the previous day, excepting that their skirmishers appeared more pertinacious in their assault. About 11 a. m. an entire lull occurred, which was continued until nearly 2 p. m. Anticipating the movement of the enemy, I caused the house and barn in our front, which interrupted the fire of our artillery, to be burned. At the hour last named, they opened upon our front the most terrific and uninterrupted fire from artillery. I cannot believe there were less than eighty pieces bearing on us within good range. It was continued uninterruptedly until 4. 30 o'clock, when a heavy column of the enemy moved forward in three lines, preceded by a strong line of skirmishers, debouched from the wood opposite our line. Their march was as steady as if impelled by machinery, unbroken by our artillery, which played upon them a storm of missiles. When within 100 yards of our line of infantry, the fire of our men could no longer be restrained. Four lines rose from behind our stone wall, and before the smoke of our first volley had cleared away, the enemy, in dismay and consternation, were seeking safety in flight. Every attempt by their officers to rally them was vain. In less time than I can recount it, they were throwing away their arms and appealing most piteously for mercy. The angel of death alone can produce such a field as was presented. The division captured and turned into corps headquarters fifteen battle-flags or banners. A number of other flags were captured, but had been surreptitiously disposed of, in the subsequent excitement of battle, before they could be collected. I transmit the report of Lieutenant W. E. Potter, * showing a collection by him of 2, 500 stand of arms, besides an estimate of 1, 000 left upon the ground for want of time to collect them. From my own personal examination of the field, I am satisfied the number estimated is not too great. Of the prisoners which fell into our hands, I regret that no accurate account could be kept but by estimate, which cannot be less than 1, 500. Colonel Smith, commanding Second Brigade, was severely wounded in the head and face by a shell, which, however, did not prevent his return to duty next day. I commend to the notice of the general commanding and the War Department the gallant conduct of my commanders of brigades and regiments, trusting that they, in return, will not be forgetful of meritorious subordinates. When all behaved unexceptionably it is difficult to discriminate. The coolness and determination evinced by our officers and men reflect back credit on their former commanders. I cannot omit the high recommendation of credit which is due Dr. Isaac Scott, medical director of the division, and all his assistants. No case of neglect or evasion of their duties has come to my notice.

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*Omitted.

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Page 454 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign)
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