Report of Capt.
Henry C. Coates, First Minnesota Infantry.
-- Gettysburg Campaign O.R.--
SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43]
NEAR ELLIS' FORD, VA.,
August 3, 1863.
Lieut. F. W. HASKELL,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
SIR: Pursuant to circular of this date, I respectfully submit the following statement of the part taken by this regiment in the late battle near Gettysburg, Pa.:
About 3 o'clock on the morning of July 2, we were ordered into position near the center of our line of battle, to the left of the town. The battle commenced at daylight, and raged with fury the entire day. We remained under a severe artillery fire, but were not actively engaged until about 5 p.m., when we were moved to support Battery C, Fourth U.S. Artillery. Company F was about this time detached from the regiment as skirmishers, and Company L as sharpshooters.
Our infantry in front of us had advanced upon the enemy and pushed him for a while, but were in turn driven back in some confusion, the enemy following in heavy force. To check the enemy, we were ordered to advance, which we did, moving at double-quick down the slope of the hill right upon the rebel line. The fire we encountered here was terrible, and, although we inflicted severe punishment upon the enemy, and stopped his advance, we there lost in killed and wounded more than two-thirds of our men and officers who were engaged.
Here Captain Muller, of Company E, and Lieutenant Farrar, of Company I, were killed; Captain Periam, of Company K, mortally wounded. Colonel Colvill, Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, Major Downie, Adjutant Peller, and Lieutenants Sinclair, Company B; Demarest, Company E; De Gray, Company G; and Boyd, Company I, were severely wounded.
The command of the regiment now devolved upon Capt. Nathan S. Messick, and we were moved again to the right, near the position first occupied by us, where we slept on our arms during the night.
At daybreak the next morning the enemy renewed the battle with vigor on the right and left of our line with infantry, and about 10 a.m. opened upon the center, where we were posted, a most severe fire of artillery, which continued without intermission until 3 p.m., when heavy columns of the enemy's infantry were thrown suddenly forward against our position. They marched resolutely in the face of a withering fire up to our lines, and succeeded in planting their colors on one of our batteries. The point of attack was to the right of our position, and held by the Second Brigade of our division (Second Division, Second Army Corps). As the enemy approached, we were moved by the right flank to oppose them, firing upon them as we approached, and sustaining their fire, together with the fire of batteries which they had brought up to within short range. The fighting here was desperate for a time. At length the regiment and others closed in upon the enemy, and nearly the whole of the rebel force which remained alive were taken prisoners. About 500 were captured by this regiment; also the colors of the Twenty-eighth Virginia Regiment, taken by Private Marshall Sherman, of Company C.
The regiment here again lost severely. Capt. Nathan S. Messick, while gallantly leading the regiment, fell early in the action. Capt. W. B. Farrell, Company C, was mortally wounded, and died on the day following. Lieutenants Mason and Heffelfinger, Company D, Harmon, Company C, and May, Company B, were wounded.
The enemy did not recover from this repulse, and the battle was now won. The entire regiment, excepting Company L, was in this last fight. This company had been detached as sharpshooters, to support Kirby's battery, where it did very effective service. Every man in the regiment did his whole duty.
The accompanying list of killed and wounded shows the severity of our loss.
Your obedient servant,
H. C. COATES,
Captain, Commanding Regiment.
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