Report of Col. George C. Burling,
Sixth New Jersey Infantry, commanding Third Brigade
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., SECOND DIV., THIRD CORPS,
August 20, 1863.
Maj. CHARLES HAMLIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Div., Third Corps.
MAJOR: I have the honor to make this as my report of the part taken by this brigade in the late marches and battles with the enemy:
The brigade left camp at Falmouth, Va., on Thursday, June 11, under command of Colonel Bowman, of the Eighty-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (that regiment being assigned to the brigade on the morning of June 11), and marched near Hartwood Church and bivouacked for the night.
The next morning the march was resumed. We reached Rappahannock Station near dark of that day, and picketed the river from Kelly's Ford, on our left, to a short distance above the railroad, connecting with the First Brigade of our division. We remained during Saturday and Sunday at this occupation.
Sunday afternoon, I received orders that the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers were detailed from the brigade, and for me to report to General Humphreys, division commander, for instructions, which order I obeyed.
In compliance with orders from General Humphreys, the brigade moved with the division that night toward Manassas Junction, reaching Catlett's Station about 7 o'clock Monday morning. Rested until nearly 2 o'clock, when the march was again resumed, reaching Manassas Junction about 12 o'clock that night.
Remained here until Wednesday morning, when we again started toward Centreville, arriving there that afternoon, remaining until Friday, the 19th, and then started toward Gum Springs, arriving there near dark.
Remained in this place until Thursday, the 25th, and then marched to Edwards Ferry, crossing the river on pontoons, and continued our march to Monocacy Aqueduct, arriving about midnight.
The next morning the march was resumed to Point of Rocks. Bivouacked for the night, and resumed the march in the morning, passing through Jefferson about noon. Bivouacked near Middletown that night.
Started in the morning; crossed the Catoctin Mountain, passing through Frederick City, and bivouacked 7 miles out on the Liberty turnpike.
Marched the next morning at 5 o clock through Woodsborough, Ladiesburg, and Bruceville to Taneytown, arriving near dark.
Marched the next day through Bridgeport, and bivouacked for the night.
July 1, we reached Emmitsburg, Md., at 12 m. I was ordered by Major Hamlin, assistant adjutant-general Second Division, Third Corps, to remain at this place with the brigade and Smith's battery, to guard the Hagerstown road. In conjunction with Colonel Sewell, of the Fifth New Jersey Volunteers, and Captain Smith, of the battery, I immediately made such disposition of my command as I deemed advisable to accomplish this object.
At 1.30 a.m., July 2, I received orders from General Meade to immediately rejoin the corps, near Gettysburg, Pa. In consequence of my command covering so much ground, and the night being so very dark, it was nearly 4 a.m. before I was able to march.
We joined the corps and division at 9 a.m., July 2. The brigade was massed in column of regiments, and remained in that position until nearly 12 m., when General Humphreys ordered us to our position as a reserve to the First and Second Brigades of our division. Shortly after, I received orders from General Humphreys to march to the left, and report to General Birney, commanding First Division, Third Corps. I did so, and was ordered by him to mass the brigade in a piece of woods in the rear of his division.
In a short time skirmishing commenced very heavily along his front. I was then ordered by General Birney out of the woods on an open field. Immediately on our unmasking ourselves, the enemy opened with a terrific artillery fire on our left flank, at a distance of not more than 1,000 yards. After remaining in this position for half an hour, upon the solicitation of several regimental commanders, whom I considered equally competent with myself, I ordered the brigade to fall back about 100 yards, where they would have the protection of a small rise in the ground, which was done in perfect order.
At this moment Captain Poland, of General Sickles' staff, rode up to me, and, in an excited manner, inquired by whose authority I moved the brigade. I answered, "By my own." He ordered me to take the brigade back again. I started with it, when an aide from General Birney ordered me to change direction to the left, and take a position behind a piece of woods, my front now being at right angles with my former front.
I now received orders from General Birney to detail two of my largest regiments to report to General Graham, in compliance with which I detailed the Second New Hampshire and Seventh New Jersey Volunteers. Shortly after this, I received orders from General Birney to detail the strongest regiment to report to General Humphreys for picket, in compliance with which I sent the Fifth New Jersey Volunteers, leaving me three small regiments. I was now ordered by General Birney to form a line across a small wheat-field on my left, to connect two brigades of the First Division. Before I had executed this order, I received an order from General Birney to send the largest regiment to General Ward's support, on my left, and while I was attending to that, the Eighth New Jersey Volunteers was taken from me without my knowledge, leaving me with the One hundred and fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, numbering 140 muskets. My command being now all taken from me and separated, no two regiments being together, and being under the command of the different brigade commanders to whom they had reported, I, with my staff, reported to General Humphreys for instructions, remaining with him for some time.
Seeing the colors and a portion of one regiment retiring, I immediately rode to them, and commenced collecting the brigade. Our whole line at this time being relieved, we lay on our arms until daylight of the 3d, and then joined the division. We were marched to the rear of the position occupied by us the day before, remaining there until some time after noon. We then moved to the right, to support batteries. We lay in this position for two hours, under a severe artillery fire, when night ended the battle. We now marched back to our former position, where we remained until the enemy retreated.
During the two days of fighting, both officers and men behaved with their usual gallantry. I thank Capt. T. W. Eayre, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. J. W. Crawford, acting commissary of subsistence; Lieut. Merritt Bruen, acting aide-de-camp, and Lieut. Henry R. Clark, ambulance officer, for their gallantry and promptness in conveying my orders. The last named was mortally wounded, and died on the field.
Appended is a tabular statement of the casualties, as follows:
Command Officers Killed Officers Wounded Total Enlisted Men Killed Enlisted Men Wounded Enlisted Men Missing Total Aggregate Brigade staff 1 --- 1 --- --- --- --- 1 5th New Jersey 1 5 6 11 60 16 87 93 6th New Jersey --- 3 3 1 29 8 38 41 7th New Jersey 1 10 11 14 76 13 103 114 8th New Jersey --- 7 7 7 31 2 40 47 115th Pennsylvania --- --- --- 3 18 3 24 24 2d New Hampshire 3 18 21 17 119 36 172 193 Total 6 43 49 53 333 78 464 513
Sunday, July 5, we received orders to be ready to move on short notice.
Monday morning we started after the fleeing enemy, but, after a very short march, returned to our starting point.
Tuesday we started at 3 a.m., and marched through Emmitsburg, and reached Mechanicstown at sunset. Bivouacked for the night.
Resumed the march at daylight, passing through Frederick, and bivouacked on the Middletown pike, I mile out, at 10 p.m. Started at 4 a.m., marched through Middletown, reaching New Baltimore about noon, where we halted until nearly dark; resuming the march again, halting about midnight in South Mountain Pass. Started again at 7 a.m., passing through Keedysville, and crossed Antietam Creek, and halted until 10 p.m. Resumed the march, recrossed the creek, and bivouacked for the night near Boolesville. Marched at 6 a.m. a short distance, when the Third Corps was massed in rear of one of the bridges crossing Antietam Creek, in reserve, starting again at 4 p.m., crossing the Antietam, marching about 3 miles to the right, and bivouacked for the night.
Sunday, 12th, received orders that the general commanding would attack the enemy. About noon we moved to the left, and massed in a woods about 1½ miles in the rear of Marsh Creek. Here we bivouacked for the night. Remained in this bivouac until Tuesday, the 14th. Started at 5 a.m. to occupy ground vacated by a division of the Twelfth Corps, which had advanced to reconnoiter the enemy's position; as they advanced, we followed within supporting distance. It being discovered that the enemy had crossed the Potomac, we bivouacked for the night.
The following morning we resumed the march at daylight, passing through Fair Play and Sharpsburg, crossing the Antietam over Burnside's bridge, marching about half a mile, and bivouacked for the night.
Marched at 6 a.m. the next morning (Thursday) to within 3 miles of Harper's Ferry, and remained until the next afternoon. Resumed the march at 4 o'clock, crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry. Marched 1½ miles toward Hillsborough, and bivouacked for the night.
Started at 6 a.m., and reached Hillsborough about noon. Staid here all night, starting in the morning at 8 o'clock, and marched to within 5 miles of Snicker's Gap, bivouacking for the night; started in the morning at 4 o'clock, and reached Upperville about 3 p.m.
Remained here guarding Ashby's Gap until noon of Wednesday, July 22, when we resumed the march, and reached Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Gap Railroad, about 1 p.m. At a late hour that night I was ordered to be ready to move the brigade with the division at 4 a.m., July 23, to support the First Division of this corps. We reached Linden Station, in Manassas Gap, near noon of the 23d. I was here ordered to detail a regiment to support a battery on the heights commanding Chester Gap road. The Seventh New Jersey Volunteers were detailed, in compliance with that order. I would here state that, at the time of our leaving Upperville, the Sixth New Jersey Volunteers were detailed to guard the wagon train, leaving me with four small regiments, numbering not more than 550 muskets. We advanced in column of division, closed in mass, changing our position from the right to the left side of the main road leading to Front Royal, and rising a high ridge which had been carried by the First Division. I was now ordered forward by General Prince to support the Second Brigade of our division, which had charged and was driving the enemy. The column was immediately put in motion, and deployed while advancing, and continued to advance in line of battle to a crest of a hill within easy supporting distance of the Second Brigade, where, by General Prince in person, we were ordered to halt. While in this position, the enemy opened a slight artillery fire, which wounded 2 men. We remained in this position all night, the men lying on their arms.
Early the next morning I was ordered to advance, leading the division column. The Second New Hampshire Volunteers were deployed as skirmishers on the right and left of the road; the One hundred and fifteenth Pennsylvania and Eighth New Jersey Volunteers supported the right, and the Fifth New Jersey the left of the skirmishers. In this order we passed the distance of 3 miles to Front Royal, the enemy falling back slowly before us. In approaching Front Royal, the line of skirmishers and supports passed over a steep mountain, densely wooded and with thick undergrowth. After a short stay at Front Royal, I was ordered by General Prince to withdraw my skirmishers and march to the rear by the flank, the object we came for being accomplished. At Markham Station we bivouacked for the night, and next day marched to within 7 miles of Warrenton.
It was extremely gratifying to me to observe the promptness which both officers and men evinced in overcoming the difficulties of the advance, the weather being extremely warm and the ground very uneven, and covered in many places with a thick undergrowth, almost impassable for man or beast.
I feel indebted to Capt. T. W. Eayre, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant [Lafayette] Culver, acting assistant inspector-general, and Lieutenant [William G.] Thompson, aide-de-camp, for their promptness in communicating my orders on the field.
Sunday, July 26, started at 5 a.m., and reached Warrenton at 11 a.m., where we went into camp.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. C. BURLING,
Colonel Sixth New Jersey Volunteers, Comdg. Brigade.
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