Numbers 298. Report of Captain Edward Hayes, Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry.
IN THE RIFLE-PITS, NEAR GETTYSBURG, PA.,
July 4, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by the Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry during the brief space of time it was under my command in the action at Gettysburg, on July 3. Captain Stevens turned over the command to me at 5. 30 a. m. Shortly after this time I received from Colonel Candy, through Captain Gwynne, an order to move the regiment forward to the rifle-pits and relieve the One hundred and thirty-seventh New York Volunteers, Colonel D. Ireland, then engaged. As I did not know the exact position our regiment was to occupy, I did not feel justified in taking the regiment into action without first looking at the ground. I therefore crossed the ridge in front of our position, saw Colonel Ireland, and found and ascertained the position we were to occupy. Returned to my command, and, having briefly explained the work expected of us, gave the necessary orders. The regiment moved over the ridge at a run without firing a shot until fairly in the trenches, when it opened a heavy fire upon the enemy, under cover of which Colonel Ireland was able to withdraw his regiment with but small loss. Shortly after entering the rifle-pits, Lieutenant George Hayward received a ball in the neck, killing him instantly. The regiment entered the pits at 5. 45 a. m., and was under a heavy fire for two hours and ten minutes, being relieved by the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, under command of Captain John Flynn, who came forward in their usual gallant style. Under cover of their fire, I withdrew my command, and, assisted by Adjt. James B. Storer, formed again in the hollow in rear of our line of battle. This interval of rest was employed by the men in cleaning arms, &c. At about 9. 30 a. m. I received from Colonel Charles Candy an order to get into line, ready, if necessary, to repel the enemy, who were pressing the troops near the meadow on the right of our position. They were, however, repelled at this point without our assistance, Shortly after this time, Captain Horton, adjutant-general of the Third Brigade, came to me with a request that I would take my regiment forward and relieve the troops in the pits in front of us, as they were being hard pressed and were getting short of ammunition. Ordinarily I should not have felt justified in moving without an order from the commander of our own brigade, but the men in front were falling back by twos and threes, and there did not seem to be any time to lose. Besides, I Had been informed by Lieutenant Hitt, of Colonel Candy`s staff, that we would soon be ordered forward. The regiment responded to the order in the most splendid manner, cheering as they charged; but, rapid as was the movement, it was not effected without severe loss. Lieutenant John G. Marsh fell, mortally wounded, and just two-thirds of the loss sustained by the regiment in the whole action occurred while crossing the ridge at this time. The regiment went into action the second time at 9. 55 a. m. The firing was heavy on both sides until about 11 a. m., when the enemy withdrew from our front, some 5 of their men showing a flag of truce and coming in as prisoners. Excepting an occasional shot from the enemy`s sharpshooters, there