Report of Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Carter, C. S. Artillery, commanding Artillery Battalion.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
AUGUST 5, 1863.
Col. J. THOMPSON BROWN,
Chief of Artillery, Second Corps.
COLONEL: In accordance with Special Orders, No. 74, headquarters artillery Second Corps, I herein transmit a report of the operations of my battalion in the battle of Gettysburg.
On reaching the field, July 1, the enemy was found to be in possession of a high ridge west of Gettysburg. Their advance line occupied a small crest still farther west, and was engaged with A. P. Hill's corps when we arrived. Rodes' division was deployed in two lines, at right angles to the high crest and to the enemy's lines of battle. The batteries of Captain [W. P]. Carter and Captain [C. W.] Fry were ordered to a high point in front of Rodes' lines, near the Cashtown turnpike, to enfilade the enemy's lines and batteries, which stretched along the small crest to the railroad cut. The batteries fired with very decided effect, compelling the infantry to take shelter in the railroad cut, and causing them to change front on their right. The enemy's guns replied slowly. Owing to the exposed position of Captain Carter's battery, which was unavoidable, it suffered much at this point, having 4 men killed outright and 7 more or less severely wounded.
The enemy, finding their position untenable and turned by a strong force, extended their line to their right, to confront us. General Rodes, therefore, sent for two batteries, and posted them on the left. Captains [R. C. M.] Page and [W. J.] Reese, then not engaged, were ordered to report to him. Captain Page opened from a point at the foot of the high ridge on the infantry advancing on Colonel O'Neal. The artillery of the enemy by this time had taken position in the valley north of Gettysburg, and delivered a very destructive oblique fire on Page's battery. His loss here was heavy--2 men killed, 2 mortally wounded, 26 more or less badly wounded, and 17 horses killed and disabled; but it was borne with unflinching courage by the gallant captain and his officers and men until ordered to retire to another position.
General Doles, on the left of the front line of General Rodes' division, reported a large force massing on his front and left, near the Heidlersburg road, and asked to be supported by artillery. Leaving Captain Fry at the first position on the high ridge, Carter's, Page's, and Reese's batteries were put in position at the foot of the high ridge, and in rear of Doles' brigade, to prevent the enemy from turning Rodes' extreme left. Here these batteries rendered excellent service, driving back both infantry and artillery. Captain Carter's battery was particularly effective in its fire at this position.
General Early now advanced, Doles took it up, and Rodes' whole line pressed forward, forcing back the enemy at all points. My battalion followed, a few pieces unlimbering from time to time to break up the formations of the enemy as they endeavored to rally under cover of the small crests near the town. After the capture of Gettysburg, no further movement was made during the afternoon.
On Thursday, July 2, my battalion was held in readiness to move into position, but was not engaged.
On Friday, July 3, ten rifled guns were posted on the high ridge on the right and left of the railroad cut, and their fires directed on the batteries planted on the Cemetery Hill. This was done to divert the fire of the enemy's guns from Hill's and Pickett's troops in their charge across the valley, and also to divert their fire from three batteries of the First Virginia Artillery, under Captain Dance, and temporarily in my command. These three batteries had been ordered to fire, in conjunction with a large number of guns on their right, on a salient part of the enemy's line prior to the charge of infantry. The effect of this concentrated fire on that part of the line was obvious to all. Their fire slackened, and finally ceased. It was feebly resumed from a few guns when Pickett's and Hill's troops advanced, but the most destructive fire sustained by these troops came from the right and left of this salient. The smooth-bore guns of my battalion were held in readiness to move in rear of Gettysburg College, but were not needed.
My whole battalion took position at Falling Waters, to cover the crossing on the pontoon bridge. A few rounds were fired at the enemy's line of sharpshooters as they attempted to press our skirmishers approaching the bridge. The pursuit was checked without further difficulty.
At Front Royal the battalion turned off to the Manassas Gap, and took position about 2 miles from the top. Two batteries (Page's and Fry's) only were engaged. Our skirmishers held the enemy's lines of battle in check for some time, but were finally driven back by greatly superior numbers. The above-mentioned batteries then opened, and kept back the enemy until dark, when our troops were withdrawn. The enemy displayed one battery and 12,000 or 15,000 infantry.
Total loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, 65.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. H. CARTER,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Artillery Battalion.
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