War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0321 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

ing down the Hagerstown road on my left, to cut me off from Gettysburg, I gave the order to fall back, and the troops slowly retired in the direction of the seminary, fighting so obstinately as they moved off that the enemy's pursuit was cautious and tardy. Reaching the barricade near the seminary, the two regiments were immediately formed in rear of it and on the left of the other regiments of the brigade. The enemy advanced in heavy lines across the field in front, and when they got within short range, we opened on them with such affect that they retired over the ridge. They soon, however, advanced again in greater force, the right of their lines extending across the Hagerstown road and sweeping entirely around our left. The fighting for some time was most desperate.

Colonel Biddle received a wound in the head, and turned over the command of the brigade to Colonel Gates, whose horse was shot under him five times during this brief contest. Colonel Biddle (who but temporarily left the field), after consultation with Colonel Gates, ordered a retreat. At this time nearly, if not quite, all our troops were in full retreat upon Gettysburg, and our brigade was exposed to a murderous fire in front and on both flanks. It was impossible to hold the position longer without sacrificing the brigade. The troops moved off in tolerable order, passing the seminary and taking the railroad into Gettysburg. The Twentieth New York State Militia marched in rear of the brigade, covering the movement, which was executed under heavy fire. Reaching Cemetery Hill, the brigade was posted in line along the Taneytown road, where it remained until 11 a. m. the next day, when it was relieved. About 5 p. m. on July 2, the brigade was ordered to the left center, to support the Second Corps, which had been advanced to the relief of the Third. Two regiments only of the brigade - the Twentieth New York State Militia and the One hundred and fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, the latter under command of Captain Owens-reached the front line, where they were halted on the last and lowest of the ridges running nearly north and south between the Taneytown and Emmitsburg roads. Some 300 yards on our right was a bluff, on which were standing a few trees and a battery. The trees on the westerly face of the bluff had been felled to clear a range for the guns. A rail fence cite at the foot of the bluff and extended along the ridge southerly. A little in advance and to our left was a small grove. The ground in front descended gradually to a little valley, wet and marshy, and then by a corresponding ascent reached the Emmitsburg road and the position occupied by the enemy. Some 300 yards in rear of me was a ridge, running parallel to the one I was on, but much higher. On my right was one regiment of Stannard's brigade; on my left two others, and one in rear and partly to my left. Receiving no orders, and finding myself the senior officer of the brigade present, I assumed command of the two regiments, and in the course of the evening constructed a breastwork of the fence heretofore mentioned and of such other material as could be procured. About 5 a. m. on the 3d, the enemy opened with artillery, and for some time kept up a brisk fire upon our position. This finally ceased, and until about 1 p. m. no further firing took place on this part of the line. During this interval, the Vermont troops threw up a breastwork to my left and about 100 feet in advance of my line, masked by the small grove before mentioned. The regiment of that brigade on my

R R - VOL XXVII, PT I