Numbers 135. Reports of Brig. General J. H. Hobart Ward, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade and First Division.
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., FIRST DIV., THIRD CORPS, August 4, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to transmit a report of the action and movements of my brigade on July 1, 2, 3, and 4. This brigade with the other brigades of the division arrived at Emmitsburg, Md., on July 1, at 3 p. m., and, while making dispositions for bivouacking for the night, received orders to proceed to Gettysburg, 10 miles distant, to support the First and Eleventh Corps, then engaged with the enemy. The command arrived at Gettysburg about dark by a forced march over horrible roads, and bivouacked for the night. On the morning of the 2d, by direction of Major-General Birney, the brigade took a temporary position about 1 mile in rear of the Emmitsburg road, which was subsequently changed to a position at right angles with the Emmitsburg road, the left resting on a rocky eminence near Round Top or Sugar Loaf hill, that being the extreme left of the army. previous to this the two regiments of sharpshooters and the Third Maine Regiment, all under command of Colonel Berdan, were detached to make a reconnaissance. Colonel Berdan's report is hereto annexed. After placing my brigade in the position assigned, Major Soughton, of the Second U. S. Sharpshooters, reported to me with his command. I directed him to advance his command as skirmishers across the field in front of mine for half a mile and await further orders. they had scarcely obtained the position designated before the skirmishers of the enemy issued from a wood in front, followed by heavy lines of infantry. Captain Smith's battery of rifled guns, posted on the eminence on my left, opened on the advancing enemy, as well as Captain Winslow's battery on my right, the enemy replying from a battery near the Emmitsburg road. The supports of the first two lines of the enemy were now coming up in columns en masse, while we had but a single line of battle to receive the shock. Our skirmishers were now forced to draw back. My line awaited the clash. To the regiments on the right, who were sheltered in a wood, I gave directions not to fire until they could plainly see the enemy; to those who were on the left, no to fire at a longer distance than 200 yards. The enemy had now approached to within 200 yards of my position, in line and en masse, yelling and shouting. My command did not fire a shot until the enemy came within the distance prescribed, when the whole command fired a volley. This checked the enemy's advance suddenly, which gave our men an opportunity to reload, when another volley was fired into them. The enemy now exhibited much disorder, and, taking advantage of this circumstance, I advanced my right and center with a view of obtaining a position behind a stone wall, about 160 yards in advance, and which the enemy was endeavoring to reach. While advancing, the rear columns of the enemy pressed forward to the support of the advance, who rallied and again advanced. This time our single line was forced back a short distance by the heavy columns of the enemy. In this manner for the space of one and a half hours did we advance and retire, both parties endeavoring to gain possession of the stone wall.