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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 592 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

With regard to the conduct of officers and men, I can only say that they behaved in their usually brave and courageous manner. My especial thanks are due to Second Lieutenant E. S. Smith, Fourth New York Independent Battery, and to First Sergt. Gilbert H. Purdy and Sergt. Thomas Cusack, who each commanded a section, for the manner in which they performed their most arduous duties.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ROBERT JAMES,

Second Lieutenant Third U. S. Artillery, Commanding.

Captain A. J. CLARK,

Acting Chief of Artillery, Third Corps.


Numbers 187. Reports of Major General George Sykes, U. S. Army, commanding Fifth Army Corps.


HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Warrenton, Va.,

July 3l, 1863.

SIR: On the 28th ultimo, by the assignment of General Meade to the command of this corps. On June 29 and 30 and on July 1 and 2, I made long, rapid, and fatiguing marches, starting at Frederick, Md., and reaching the field of Gettysburg, via Liberty, Union Mills, Hanover, &c., about 8 a. m. on the latter date. My troops took position on the right of our line, but it being thought too extended, they were subsequently masse near the bridge over Rock Creek, on the Baltimore and Gettysburg pike, and within reach of the Twelfth Army Corps. While thus situated, I was directed to support the Third Corps, General Sickles commanding, with a brigade, should it be required. At 3 p. m. General Meade sent for me, and while myself and other corps commanders were conversing with him, the enemy formed, opened the battle, and developed his attack on our left. I was at once ordered to throw my whole corps to that point and hold it at all hazards. This, of course, relieved my troops from any call from the commander of the Third Corps. En route to the position thus assigned the Fifth Corps, various staff officer, asked for assistance. Explained to them that it was impossible for me to give it; the key of the battle-field was intrusted to my keeping, and I could not and would not jeopardize it by a division of my forces. A rocky ridge, commanding almost an entire view of the plateau held by our army, was on our extreme left. Between it and the position occupied, by Birney's division, Third, Corps, was a narrow gorge filled with immense boulders and flanked on either side by dense woods. It afforded excellent cover and an excellent approach for the enemy, both of which he promptly made use of. The rocky ridge commanded and controlled this gorge. In examining it and the ground adjacent previous to posting my troops, I found a battery at its outer edge and without adequate support. I galloped to General Birney, whose troops were nearest, explained to him the necessity of protecting the guns, and suggested that he should close


Page 592 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign)
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