War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0665 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

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Numbers 224. Reports of Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright, U. S. Army, commanding First Division.


August 7, 1863.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit, in pursuance of orders from corps headquarters, the following report of the operations of this division in connection with the battle of Gettysburg, on the 2nd and 3rd ultimo: Just before dark on the evening of July 1, the corps being in camp near Manchester, orders were received to move to Taneytown, and the troops were immediately put in motion. During the night, and some time after crossing the Baltimore and Gettysburg pike, other orders were received, changing the destination of the corps, and directing it to proceed by rapid marches to Gettysburg. The column, after some delay, was extricated from the narrow road on which it was then moving, and formed on the broad and excellent pike leading direct to Gettysburg. Without halting, except for a few moments each hour to breathe the men, and one half of about half an hour to enable the men to make coffee, the corps was pushed on to Gettysburg, where it arrived about 4 p. m., after a march variously estimated at from 32 to 35 miles. The corps here halted for about two hours, when orders came for it to move up with all dispatch, and support the Second, Third, and Fifth Corps, then actively engaged on the left center of the line. On our arrival, a portion of our line was falling back before the determined attack of the enemy's columns, and the Third Division and the Second Brigade, of my division, were promptly moved into position, while my First and Third Brigades were massed and held in reserve. This timely arrival of re-enforcements, with the determined resistance made by the troops already in position, and which had borne with such heroic valor and so severe loss the brunt of the battle, forced the enemy to retreat, and put an end to the contest of July 2. During the night of the 2d, the brigades of this division held their positions as above noticed. On the morning of the 3d, at an early hour, under instructions from Major-General Sedgwick, I posted Torbert's brigade near the center of the line, to fill up a gap on the left of the First Corps, when, leaving it attached temporarily to the command of Major-General Newton, I proceeded with Russell's brigade to the extreme left, and assumed the command of the troops at that point, consists of the brigade just mentioned, the Vermont Brigade, of Howe's division, and two batteries of artillery. About 5 p. m., orders having been received from Major-General Sedqwick to re-enforce the line on the right of the Fifth Corps against an apprehended attack at that point, I proceeded at once to the spot, but on reaching it the enemy had fallen back repulsed, and the brigade was held in reserve. The other brigades held mainly their positions of the morning through the entire day, neither being actively engaged, though constantly under fire. On the morning of the 4th, Russell's brigade was posted to the left of the Fifth Corps, on the ascending slope of Round Top Mountain, where it remained during the day and night, the two other brigades holding their positions of the previous day.