Reports of Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams,
U.S. Army, commanding First Division of, and Twelfth Army Corps.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, TWELFTH CORPS,
Kelly's Ford, Va., August 22, 1863.

Lieut. Col H. C. RODGERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

        COLONEL: In compliance with circular order, Army of the Potomac, August 20, I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements of this division from June 28 to its arrival at Warrenton Junction on July 26 last, excepting July 1, 2, and 3, when the division was under the command of Brigadier-General Ruger:
        On June 28, the division marched from Knoxville, Md., to Frederick City.
        On June 29, through Frederick to Taneytown, Md., and, on the 30th, from Taneytown to Littlestown, Pa., On approaching Littlestown, report was sent me that the enemy s cavalry, with artillery, were approaching that place, and were probably followed by infantry. Firing was heard at some distance beyond the town. The division was hastened through, and took post to the north of it. It was soon ascertained that our cavalry were driving the enemy's, and by order of Major-General Slocum, commanding the corps, the division encamped for the night.
        July
1.--The division marched to Two Taverns, on the Gettysburg pike, where information was received of the engagement of the First and Eleventh Corps with the enemy beyond Gettysburg. The division moved rapidly up the pike, and when near Rock Creek was directed by a cross-road toward the Hanover road, to occupy an eminence a mile or so east of Gettysburg. The hill was found in possession of the enemy, and the division, when about to assault the position, was ordered to withdraw, as our forces had retired behind the town, which had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
        Major-General Slocum having turned over the temporary command of the corps to me, Brigadier-General Ruger assumed command of the division.
        For operations of the division on July 2 and 3, I respectfully refer to the official report of that officer.
        July
5.--The division was engaged in burying the dead and collecting arms in front of our positions. One brigade was sent on a reconnaissance toward the Bonaughtown road, and returned through Gettysburg.
        Brig. Gen. H. H. Lockwood's brigade, which reported on the 2d and 3d instant--consisting of the First Maryland Potomac Home Brigade, Colonel Maulsby; First Maryland Eastern Shore Regiment, Colonel Wallace, and One hundred and fiftieth New York Volunteers, Colonel Ketcham--was attached by orders to the division.
        July
6.--Marched 3 miles toward Bruceville, and were halted for further orders, and finally encamped for the night.
        July
7.--Resumed march at daylight, and encamped about dusk at Monocacy, near Frederick City, after a march of 30 miles.
        July
8.--Moved through Frederick, via Middletown and Burkittsville, to Crampton's Gap, and encamped for the night, one brigade occupying the summit of the pass, and relieving a regiment of the Third Corps.
        July
9.--Advanced to Rohrersville.
        July
10.--Marched to Bakersville, through Keedysville.
        July
11.--Marched to Fair Play; thence to Jones' Cross-Roads, taking up a position in two lines on the left of the Second Corps.
        July
12.--Corrected our line somewhat, and began the construction of breastworks. The enemy appeared in strong force in our front, especially in the vicinity of Saint James' College.
        July
13.--Remained in same position, strengthening defenses.
        July
14.--The division was ordered to make a reconnaissance along the Williamsport road, in connection with a division of the Second Corps. Marched out at 6 a.m. and sent forward a regiment from each brigade as skirmishers. Found the enemy's works deserted, and advanced the skirmishers, followed by the brigades, excepting Lockwood's, down the peninsula toward Falling Waters, until information was received from the commanding officer of cavalry that the enemy had wholly crossed, when the brigades were halted. Our skirmishers had a sharp engagement with the enemy's rear guard, and sent in between 200 and 300 prisoners, a special report of which has been forwarded. At 4 o'clock recalled the skirmishers, and fell back and encamped in the vicinity of Williamsport.
        July
15.--The division marched, via Sharpsburg, to within 3 miles of Maryland Heights, and encamped on the high grounds in Pleasant Valley, near Sandy Hook.
        July
17 and 18.--Remained in camp.
        July
19.--The division crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at Harper's Ferry, and moved up Loudoun Valley, encamping toward evening near Hillsborough.
        July
20.--Marched to Snickersville, and remained in camp there the 21st and 22d. Being somewhat annoyed by guerrilla parties, patrols were sent out, and suspected houses were searched.
        July
23.--The division marched, via Upperville, and encamped after dark near Somerset Mills.
        July
24.--We advanced to Markham, and, after a halt of several hours, countermarched in the direction of White Plains, and encamped about 10 p.m. in the vicinity of that place.
        July
25.--The division marched through Thoroughfare Gap to Hay Market, and on the 26th to Warrenton Junction, via Greenwich, where it remained in camp four days.
        On the 31st, it marched to the present camp, via Elkton.
        It gives me pleasure to state that during these long marches, exposures, watchings, and battlings, officers and men have conducted themselves with patience, fortitude, and courage.
        The reports of brigade and regimental commanders being in the hands of Brigadier-General Ruger, now absent on detached duty, I am not able to forward them with this report, but will do so as soon as received.
        These reports, with that of General Ruger and mine, as temporarily in command of the corps (sent herewith), will furnish for the period herein embraced the list of casualties and the particular participation of the division in the operations around Gettysburg.

        I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS,

Brigadier-General [U. S. Volunteers, Commanding Division.

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HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, TWELFTH CORPS,
Kelly's Ford, Va., August 22, 1863.

Lieut. Col. H. C. RODGERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

        COLONEL: The temporary command of the Twelfth Army Corps having devolved upon me from July 1 to 4, inclusive, I have the honor, in obedience to order, to submit the following report of the part taken by it in the recent operations in the vicinity of Gettysburg: On the morning of July 1, the corps left Littlestown, moving-on the Baltimore pike toward Gettysburg. While halting near Two Taverns, information was received that the First and Eleventh Corps were engaged with the enemy beyond Gettysburg, and that Major-General Reynolds was mortally wounded. The corps was immediately put in rapid march toward the scene of action, and Major-General Slocum proceeded at once to the front, to assume command. In this temporary transfer of commands, Brig. Gen. T. H. Ruger took command of the First Division, and Colonel Colgrove, Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, of the Third (Ruger's) Brigade, First Division. Before reaching Rock Creek, the First Division was directed to the right, following a cross-road to the Hanover road, for the purpose of seizing upon a commanding position easterly of the town of Gettysburg. The position was found to be in possession of the enemy. Preparations were, however, at once made to carry it, and a brigade was advancing up the hill to the assault when information was received that our troops had fallen back and that the enemy occupied the town. To preserve our communications, the division took a position nearer the Baltimore pike, and bivouacked for the night.
        The Second Division (Geary's), under the direct orders of Major-General Slocum, crossed Rock Creek, and took up a position for the night on the left of the First Corps. My headquarters were with the First Division.
        Early on the morning of July 2, Brig. Gen. H. H. Lockwood reported to me with a brigade of two regiments, First Maryland Home Brigade, Colonel Maulsby, and One hundred and fiftieth New York, Colonel Ketcham. Our skirmishers were smartly engaged with the enemy toward the Bonaughtown road. The Fifth Corps arrived, and took position on our right.
        At 8 a.m. orders were received to unite the two divisions of the corps, and occupy a new line on the right of Wadsworth's division, of the First Corps, north of Rock Creek. This new line was along the crest of a rocky and wooded ridge of moderate elevation, running in irregular shape in a southeasterly direction from Gettysburg to Rock Creek. Wadsworth's division, First Corps, occupied the portion nearest the town, or Cemetery Hill. The Second (Geary's) Division, and First (Colonel McDougall's) Brigade, of First (Ruger's) Division, Twelfth Corps, held the rest of the ridge to Rock Creek, and the Third (Colonel Colgrove's) Brigade, First Division, and Lockwood's brigade continued the line along the creek almost at right angles to the ridge, 600 to 700 yards to the Baltimore pike. This strong natural position was at once strengthened by construction of log breastworks along the entire crest of the ridge. A thick stone fence parallel to the ridge, less than 50 yards behind it, furnished an excellent cover for this second line.
        During the afternoon, three pieces (10-pounder Parrott's) of Knap's Independent Pennsylvania Battery, under Lieutenant Geary, and one section (12-pounder Napoleons), K, Fifth U.S. Artillery, under Second Lieut. William E. Van Reed, were placed in position in an open space on the left of the corps, and succeeded in about thirty minutes in blowing up a caisson of the enemy and dislodging a battery of eight guns on an eminence in front of our position. The artillery lost in killed and wounded in this operation 8 men.
        Between 5 and 6 p.m. orders were received from Major-General Slocum to detach the First Division (Ruger's) and Lockwood's brigade to support the left wing of the army, then heavily attacked. Geary's division was at the same time ordered to cover and defend the intrenched line of the whole corps. I marched with the supporting detachment with all possible dispatch, under a severe artillery fire, following as nearly as possible the direction of the heavy firing.
        When near the position occupied originally by the Second Corps, as I was informed, Major McGilvery, of the Maine artillery (attached to the Artillery Reserve), reported to me that his battery was without support, and threatened by the enemy's infantry in the woods in front, to which it had just retired, carrying several pieces of our guns. I ordered General Lockwood, whose brigade was in advance, to deploy his line and occupy the woods, which he did in gallant style, pushing a considerable distance to the front, and recapturing three pieces of artillery abandoned by the enemy in his retreat. Ruger, with the First Division, in the meantime occupied the woods on the left of Lockwood, and pushed forward in two lines, the enemy retiring with but little resistance.
        It was now quite dark. I therefore ordered both commands to halt for further instructions, and soon after, in compliance with orders from Major-General Slocum, directed them to return to their original position in the breastworks. Soon after Ruger's and Lockwood's commands had moved out in support, General Geary, by direct orders from Major-General Slocum, was directed to follow with two brigades, leaving Greene's brigade, of his division, to hold the breastworks. By some mistake, Geary took the road toward Littlestown, and did not join the supporting party. He took up a position on the south side of Rock Creek, from which he was recalled during the night.
        General Greene, in attempting to extend his brigade to occupy the entire line of breastworks, after the withdrawal of the rest of the corps, found that the enemy had already seized upon and occupied in strong force the right of the line, from which he attacked Greene's brigade with great vigor. Fortunately, this brigade occupied a portion of the breastworks, which, turning at almost right angles to the line on the right, ascended a broken and rocky slope toward our left, and presented a steep wall of rock toward the enemy. A narrow space between the angle of the breastworks and the open field toward the Baltimore pike was densely wooded and full of large rocks and bowlders. General Greene seized with skill and judgment the advantages of this position, and held it with his small brigade against overwhelming numbers with signal gallantry and determination. At length, after three hours' night conflict, having been re-enforced by detachments from the First and Eleventh Corps, and subsequently by Kane's brigade returning to its position, General Greene succeeded in repulsing the enemy from his immediate front. This gallant officer merits especial mention for the faithful and able manner in which he conducted this defense, and protected, under difficult circumstances, a most important part of our line.
        The First Division (Ruger's) and Lockwood's brigade reached the open fields behind our breastworks on their return from the left about the time the attacks on Greene were discontinued. General Ruger pushed his skirmishers into the woods, and found the whole of his original intrenched line, as well as the stone fence, held in force by the enemy. Apprehensive of the mishaps and confusion of a night attack upon such concealed positions, he withdrew his regiments, and placed them in two lines, under cover, on the open fields between the breastworks and the Baltimore pike. Having been called to the headquarters of the army on returning from the left, I did not learn this state of affairs until nearly 12 o clock at night, when I reported them to Major-General Slocum, and received his orders to drive the enemy from our intrenchments at daylight.
        I made such arrangements for a heavy artillery fire, with infantry feints upon the right, followed by a strong assault by Geary's division from Greene's position on the left, as I judged would speedily dislodge the enemy. The artillery opened with a tremendous fire at daylight, at from 600 to 800 yards range, which was continued by arrangement for fifteen minutes. On the discontinuance of the fire, the enemy, without waiting our assault, themselves attacked Geary's division with great fury, and with evident confidence of carrying our position and getting possession of the Baltimore pike, a movement of vast consequence had it been successful. It was plain they had brought up strong re-enforcements at night for this purpose. Prisoners report that their force consisted of two strong divisions of Ewell's corps. Geary's division received the attack with marked steadiness and valor. The combat continued for seven hours in almost unremitting fury. During its continuance, Lockwood's brigade--strengthened during the morning by the arrival of the First Maryland Eastern Shore Regiment--was ordered to re-enforce Geary's division, and afterward General Shaler's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, came to its support, and rendered important aid.
        In the meantime, Ruger pushed a strong line of skirmishers from his position on the right into the woods and against the stone wall and breastworks on that flank, occupied in strength by the enemy. A broad marsh intervening between his line and the breastworks, presented a serious obstacle to a direct attack, and the stone wall, the natural rocky defenses, and the open, deep, marshy ground on the extremity of the breastworks near the creek, prevented any hopeful attempt to turn this flank of the enemy's position.
        At length, after seven hours' continuous combat, the enemy attempted to push beyond the intrenchments on our right, and was in turn repulsed and followed sharply beyond the defenses by regiments of the First Division posted in the woods to observe his movements.
        An advance from Geary's division at the same time effectually and finally expelled them from our breastworks, which were at once occupied by our troops in their entire length. Several hundred prisoners were taken in the final charge, and the numerous dead left on the field presented fearful proof of the stubbornness and numbers of the enemy, as well as the coolness and enduring valor of our own troops. At the same time the comparative smallness of our own losses give gratifying evidence of the skill and judgment with which this long and fierce engagement was conducted on the part of our officers.
        In the afternoon of the same day, during the severe attack on our left, one brigade of the First Division and Lockwood's brigade were detached to support the center, but the enemy was repulsed without their assistance.
        The enemy kept up strong pickets, and made a considerable front to us during the night of July 3, but on the morning of the 4th were reported as withdrawing. Our line was at once advanced, and occupied the line of Rock Creek without opposition. Subsequently a brigade of the First Division, under the personal direction of Major-General Slocum, made a reconnaissance several miles to the east of Gettysburg, returning through the town.
        July 4 was occupied in burying the dead and in collecting arms. This duty was not completed before we received marching orders. The reports of these duties are therefore imperfect. Over 2,000 arms were collected, and more than 600 of the enemy's dead were buried in front of our positions. Estimates of the number left on the ground are mere conjectures, and furnish no valuable or reliable information.
        Our own casualties are reported at 1,088, as follows.
        Officers and men, almost without exception, behaved with coolness, steadiness, and valor, and throughout this great battle upheld with signal fidelity the proud reputation of the corps.
        I desire to bring to the notice of the major-general commanding the faithful and gallant conduct of my staff officers, who remained with me while in discharge of my temporary duties as corps commander: Capt. S. E. Pittman, assistant adjutant-general; Maj. P. B. Buckingham, Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, acting assistant inspector-general; Capt. M. P. Whitney, Fifth Connecticut Volunteers, provost-marshal of division; Lieut. E. W. Pattison, Second Massachusetts Volunteers, assistant commissary of musters, and Lieut. George Robinson, One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, aide-de-camp.
        I forward herewith the reports of division, brigade, and subordinate commanders, excepting the reports of Brigadier-General Ruger First Division, absent on detached service, which have not been received.
        I annex also a small sketch, which, without any pretensions to accuracy of details, will represent the relative position of the corps as taken up on the morning of July 2, and reoccupied again after the severe conflict on the morning of July 3.

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS,

Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

 

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HDQRS. TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
September 12, 1863.

Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

        GENERAL: In reply to circular of September 11, headquarters Army of the Potomac, I have the honor to report that no guns were lost or captured during the recent campaign by this command.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant
A. S. WILLIAMS,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Corps.

ADDENDA.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, TWELFTH CORPS,
Kelly's Ford, Va., August 8, 1863.

Brigadier-General GEARY,
Commanding Second Division, Twelfth Corps:

        GENERAL: In your report of the operations of the Second Division near Gettysburg, you speak of me as commanding First Division. As I am preparing a report as temporarily commanding the corps from July 1 to 4, inclusive, it will be necessary for you to correct your report in that particular. I suppose the paragraph I allude to was inserted by you through a supposition that I was to report as division commander.
        There is another point of your report, not very material, in which you are in error. The artillery was not ordered to report to you. Its position was fixed by Lieutenant Muhlenberg and myself, and it opened fire on the morning of the 3d under my personal command. I remained with it for some time to notice the effect. It is a matter of very little consequence, however, excepting as a matter of pure fact, which, in official reports, becomes sometimes incidentally important. To speak of me as commanding a division, when I am reporting as commanding a corps, would have a very strange aspect in future history, if there should be any. But for this mistake I should not return the report for correction.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS,

Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

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