War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0543 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

to be near at hand, I immediately ordered the division under arms, and took up the line of march toward Gettysburg, leaving one battery and the Third Brigade (commanded by Colonel George C. Burling) at Emmitsburg. When about 1 mile from that town, General Humphreys joined the division, and resumed command. The column was guided by a civilian (a doctor) from Emmitsbaurg and Lieutenant-Colonel Hayden, assistant inspector-general of the corps. When about 3 miles from Gettysburg, we crossed Marsh Creek and advanced on the left-hand road about a mile, when we were suddenly halted by General Humphreys as a measure of precaution. Lieutenant-Colonel Hayden, who had been in advance with the guides, soon after rode up to General Humphreys, and stated that we were but 200 yards from the enemy's pickets. General Humphreys rode forward to the Black Horse Tavern, on the road from Fairfield to Gettysburg, and finding the information to be correct, and that the enemy occupied the road in heavy force, and believing that an engagement with him at the distance of 3 miles from the rest of the army, with the enemy between the army and his division, would be inconsistent with the plan of battle, faced the division about, and marched to the rear until striking the main road, upon which we proceeded to Gettysburg, reaching that place and going into bivouac at 1. 30 a. m. on Thursday, July 2. This position I retained until 12. 30 p. m., at which hour I was ordered to move to the front and form line of battle on the prolongation of a line composed of the First Division of the Third Corps, connecting on its right. After disposing of my command as above directed, the position I occupied, as nearly as I can judge, was the left center. About 11 a. m. I had sent out a regiment as skirmishers (the First Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Baldwin commanding), and this regiment now covered my front. At 4. 08 p. m., by order of General Humphreys, I advanced my line 300 yards to the crest of a hill, and at the same time detailed 100 men from the Sixteenth Massachusetts Volunteers to occupy an old building, situated in an orchard on the left of my line. This detail perforated the house in several places, and materially aided in checking the advance of the enemy. My left first became engaged, and its position was held until the regiment on my left (the Collis Zouaves, of the First Division) gave way, when the enemy advanced in considerable force on my left flank, which compelled me to change my front; but no sooner was it accomplished than the enemy made his appearance on my right flank, pouring in a most destructive cross-fire. Notwithstanding my apparent critical position, IS could and would have maintained my position but for an order received direct form Major_General Birney, commanding the corps, to fall back to the crest of the hill in my rear. At that time I have no doubt that IS could have charged on the rebels and driven them in confusion, for my line was still perfect and unbroken, and my troops in the proper spirit for the performance of such task. In retiring I suffered a severe loss in killed and wounded. After I had reached the position designated by General Birnedy the Brigade was rallied by my assistant adjutant-general and aides, and moved forward, driving the enemy and capturing many prisoners. I continued to advance until I again occupied the field I had but a few moments previous vacated. Here my command remained until morning, the officers and men assisting in removing from the field as many of the wounded as the time and facilities would admit of.