Report of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, C. S. Army, commanding division.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
HEADQUARTERS EARLY'S DIVISION,
August 22, 1863.
Maj. A. S. PENDLETON,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Corps. Army of Northern Virginia.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division during the recent campaign, commencing with its departure from Fredericksburg, and ending with its arrival in the vicinity of Orange Court-House:
MARCH FROM FREDERICKSBURG.
On June 4, the division marched from Hamilton's Crossing, and, having been joined by Jones' battalion of artillery, passed Spotsylvania Court-House, Verdierville, Somerville Ford (on the Rapidan), Culpeper Court-House, Sperryville, Washington (the county seat of Rappahannock County), and, crossing the Blue Ridge at Chester Gap, arrived at Front Royal late on the night of the 12th. Hoke's and Smith's brigades crossed both branches of the Shenandoah that night, and encamped, and Hays' and Gordon's brigades, with Jones' battalion of artillery and the division trains, encamped on the east side of the South Branch, near Front Royal.
CAPTURE OF WINCHESTER.
Early on the morning of the 13th, Hays' and Gordon's brigades and Jones' artillery and the trains were crossed over to the north side of the North Branch of the Shenandoah, and I received orders from the lieutenant-general commanding to move my division to the Valley turnpike, and advance to the vicinity of Kernstown, and then move to the left, so as to get a position from which the main work of the enemy at Winchester could be attacked with advantage, information at the same time being given me that there was a hill to the westward of this work, and commanding it, of which it was desired I should get possession.
Lieutenant [W. S.] Barton, of the Second Virginia Regiment, of Walker's brigade, Johnson's division, accompanied me as a guide, and Brown's battalion of reserve artillery, under Captain Dance, was ordered to accompany my division.
Having received the instructions of the lieutenant-general commanding, the wagons, excepting the ambulances and regimental ordnance and medical wagons, were left at Cedarville, and I diverged from the Winchester and Front Royal turnpike at Nineveh, and reached the Valley turnpike at Newtown, and thence advancing toward Winchester, I found Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert, of the Maryland Line, with his battalion of infantry, the battery of Maryland artillery, and a portion of the battalion of Maryland cavalry, occupying the ridge between Bartonsville and Kernstown, and engaged in occasional skirmishing with a portion of the enemy which had taken position near Kernstown.
I halted my command here, forming it in line on either side of the turnpike, and proceeded to reconnoiter the ground for the purpose of ascertaining the strength and position of the enemy near Kernstown, and also of finding the road by which I was to diverge from the turnpike, so as to reach the position in rear of the enemy's works which I had been directed to gain.
The only portion of the enemy in sight on my arrival consisted of cavalry; but I was informed that an infantry picket occupied Kerns-town, and I soon discovered that a battery of artillery was located on Pritchard's Hill, near Kernstown, which was the same position occupied by the enemy's artillery at the time of General Jackson's engagement at this place.
Finding it necessary to dislodge the enemy from this hill, after making a reconnaissance, I moved Hays' brigade to the left, through a skirt of woods and a meadow, to the foot of the ridge along which General Jackson made his advance, and thence along a road which runs from Bartonsville to the Cedar Creek turnpike, until it reached an eligible position for advancing upon Pritchard's Hill from the left. From this point. Hays was ordered to advance and gain possession of Pritchard's Hill, which he did without opposition, the enemy having withdrawn his battery; but, while advancing, General Hays sent me word that the enemy had a considerable infantry force on the ridge to his left, and I immediately conducted Gordon s brigade over the same route, and sent word to Hays to halt his command until Gordon's should get up. Gordon then advanced his brigade to the left of Hays, and, in conjunction with skirmishers sent out by Hays, drove the enemy's force across the Cedar Creek turnpike and over the ridge between that road and Abraham's Creek, which here crosses the Valley turnpike.
While this was going on, Hoke's and Smith's brigades, which had been formed in line on the right and left of the Valley turnpike, respectively, were ordered to advance toward Kernstown. Gordon having advanced so that his right reached the Valley turnpike, was halted, and Hays was moved to his left, and then Smith s brigade was moved to the left of Hays, the whole being formed in line in rear of the crest of the ridge which is immediately south of Abraham's Creek.
The enemy then occupied Bowers' Hill, near Barton's Mills, with infantry and artillery, and it being too late for any further operations that evening, Hoke's brigade, under the command of Colonel [I.E.] Avery, of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, which had been ordered up to the support of the other brigades, was ordered back to Kernstown, where it was placed in position to protect the ambulances, wagons, and artillery, which had been brought up to that position, from an attack from the left and rear, and Herbert was ordered to take position with his battalion of infantry on the right of Gordon, who had extended his line on the right across the Valley turnpike. In this position the troops remained all night, under a drenching rain.
Early next morning, the 14th, I ordered Gordon and Hays, respectively, to advance a regiment across the creek and get possession of Bowers Hill, then occupied only by the enemy's skirmishers, as his artillery had been withdrawn during the night. This was accomplished after some skirmishing, and the skirmishers from Smith's brigade were also advanced across the creek, to the left of those of Hays and Gordon.
General Ewell having come up in the meantime, we proceeded together to reconnoiter the position, and, having gone to the top of Bowers' Hill, now occupied by my skirmishers, had a fair view of the enemy's works about Winchester, and from this point we discovered that the hill to the northwest of the enemy's works, which I had been directed to gain, had also been fortified, and was occupied. It became necessary, then, to take this hill by assault, and, having discovered a position to the northwest of it from which it was thought it might be attacked with advantage, I was directed to move my division around to that position and make the attack, leaving a force where the division then was to amuse the enemy and conceal the movement upon his flank and rear.
I will here state that when Hays' and Gordon's skirmishers had advanced to Bowers' Hill, Major [W. W.] Goldsborough, of the Maryland battalion, with the skirmishers from that battalion, had advanced into the outskirts of the town of Winchester, but, fearing that the enemy would shell the town from their main fort, I ordered him back.
After receiving final instructions from General Ewell, I replaced the skirmishers of Hays' and Smith s brigades by others from Gordon's brigade, and leaving General Gordon, with his brigade, the Maryland battalion, and two batteries of artillery (the Maryland battery and [A.] Hupp's battery, of Brown's battalion) to amuse the enemy and hold him in check in front, I moved with Hays', Hoke's, and Smith's brigades, and the rest of Jones' and Brown's battalions of artillery, to the left (west), following the Cedar Creek turnpike for a short distance, and then leaving that and passing through fields and the woods, which I found sufficiently open to admit of the passage of artillery, thus making a considerable detour, and crossing the macadamized road to Romney about 3 miles west of Winchester and a half mile from a point at which the enemy had had a picket the night before.
After crossing the Romney road, at which point I left the Fifty-fourth North Carolina Regiment, of Hoke s brigade, on picket, I continued to move on until I got very near to the Pughtown road before I reached the position from which I wished to assault the enemy's works, which proved to be a wooded hill, a part of the range of hills called Little North Mountain, close to the Pughtown road, and on the south side of which was an old orchard and the ruins of a house called Folk's Old House, and on the north side a corn-field, on Mrs. Brierly's land. Both these points afforded excellent positions for posting artillery in easy range of the enemy's works on the hill overlooking his main fort, this hill being on Fahnestock's land and adjoining the Pughtown road. To this point I was guided by a worthy and intelligent citizen, whose name I forbear to mention, as he has already been the object of the enemy's persecution; and I was so fortunate as to reach it without meeting with any scouts, pickets, or stragglers of the enemy, or exciting his attention in any way.
I reached here about 4 p.m., and as the day was excessively hot, and the men had marched a circuit of some 8 or 10 miles without meeting with water to drink, and were very much fatigued, I massed them in the woods in rear of the position, and gave them time to blow.
In the meantime, I proceeded to reconnoiter the enemy's position and the ground over which I would have to operate. I discovered the favorable positions for my artillery before mentioned, and that the intervening woods afforded an excellent cover for troops to advance under to within a short distance of the foot of the hill I wished to carry by assault. I also discovered that the body of the enemy occupying the work on this hill, which was a bastion front, presenting the appearance of an inclosed work from my point of view, was not keeping a lookout in my direction, but was looking intently in the direction of Gordon's command, on which a gradual advance was being made with infantry skirmishers and a few pieces of artillery.
In the meantime, Colonel Jones had quietly prepared for getting his artillery in position as quickly as possible when the moment should arrive for the attack, and the men having rested as much as possible under the circumstances, I directed General Hays, whose brigade had been selected to make the assault, to move his brigade near to the edge of the woods facing the enemy's works, and to keep them under cover until the artillery opened, and then to advance as rapidly as possible to the assault, with three regiments in front and two following a short distance in rear, as soon as he should discover that the enemy was sufficiently demoralized. Jones' artillery was divided so as to put twelve pieces in the orchard mentioned, and eight pieces in the edge of the corn-field to the north of the woods. The Fifty-seventh North Carolina Regiment was detached, so as to protect these latter pieces from an attack in the direction of the Pughtown road, near which they were posted, and the residue of Hoke's brigade and the whole of Smith's were placed in line about a quarter of a mile in rear of Hays, so as to be ready to support him.
The enemy's works on the front presented to me consisted of the bastion front on the high hill, which has been mentioned, another smaller breastwork between that and the Pughtown road, and a more extensive but incomplete work on the north side of the Pughtown road. He had evidently been making recent preparations against an attack from this quarter, but, strange to say, on this occasion failed to keep a lookout in that direction.
About an hour by sun, everything being ready, Jones ran his pieces by hand into position from which they could fire, and opened almost instantaneously from the whole of his twenty pieces upon the enemy before he was aware of our vicinity.
This cannonading was kept up briskly about three-quarters of an hour, when Hays advanced, as directed, and ascended the steep slope of the hill leading to the enemy's works, through a brushwood that had been felled to answer the purpose of an abatis, and drove the enemy from his works in fine style, capturing in the assault six rifled pieces, two of which were immediately turned upon the enemy, thus preventing an effort to recapture the works before re-enforcements could arrive, for which the enemy commenced preparing.
As soon as I saw Hays' men entering the enemy's work, I ordered forward Smith's brigade to his support, and also ordered Jones to advance with his pieces, which ware posted on the left, leaving Avery with part of Hoke's brigade to look out for the rear. On reaching the captured hill, I found that it overlooked and commanded, as had been anticipated, the enemy's main work, and also a smaller redoubt to the north of the main work, which was also occupied, and that all the works to the left of this hill had been evacuated.
The enemy was in evident commotion, but by the time the artillery and Smith's brigade reached the captured hill, it was too late to take any further steps for the capture of the main work, which was very strong, and to accomplish which would have required the cooperation of the other troops around Winchester. I contented myself, therefore, with directing an artillery fire to be kept up until near dark on the enemy's position, which was returned from the main work and the redoubt spoken of, but with little effect.
During the night, I had the captured works turned and embrasures cut, so as to open at early light on the main work, and the Fifty-seventh North Carolina Regiment, of Hoke's brigade, was ordered to occupy the work on the north of the Pughtown road. Hays occupied the works captured by him, and Smith's brigade was formed in line in rear of him, Avery being left with two regiments in the rear, to prevent any surprise by the enemy in that direction, and the Fifty-fourth still remaining on picket on the Romney road. In this position the troops lay on their arms all night. I sent my aide (Lieutenant [William G.] Calloway) to General Gordon, to direct him to move upon the main fort at daylight, and also sent a courier to General Ewell to inform him of what had been accomplished, and that I thought the enemy would evacuate before morning.
As soon as it was light enough next morning to see, it was discovered that the enemy had evacuated, taking the road toward Martinsburg, and very shortly afterward firing was heard on the Martinsburg road, which proved to be from the encounter of General Johnson's division with the retreating enemy. I immediately ordered my whole command in pursuit, having detached the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, of Smith's brigade, to guard the abandoned wagons and property. Gordon's brigade, which first reached the fort and pulled down the flag flying over it, preceded the rest of the division, and, on reaching the point at which General Johnson had encountered the enemy, I found his division halted, and in-possession of the greater part of the enemy's infantry as prisoners. It was evident, then, that further pursuit on foot was useless, and I therefore halted my command, and encamped them near this place.
The enemy had abandoned all his artillery, all his wagons, and a considerable quantity of public stores. Twenty-five pieces of artillery with their caissons were secured, and a considerable quantity of artillery ammunition, though somewhat damaged. Though in the hurry I gave such directions and took such steps as it was possible to take under the circumstances to preserve the captured property, 'much of it was pilfered and damaged by stragglers, and, even after it got into the hands of the quartermasters and commissaries, a good deal of it was made away with.
I cannot too highly commend the conduct of Generals Hays and Gordon and their brigades in the two days' fighting which took place around Winchester. The charge of Hays' brigade upon the enemy's works was a most brilliant achievement, and the affair of the day before, when General Gordon drove the enemy from the position he occupied to the left of Kernstown, reflected equal credit upon himself and his brigade.
All the arrangements of Colonel Jones and the conduct of himself and his artillery were admirable, and have not been surpassed during the war. I must also commend the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert and Major Goldsborough, of the Maryland Line, and their troops.
Hoke's and Smith's brigades did not become engaged on either day. The members of my staff--Majs. S. Hale, division inspector, and John W. Daniel, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenants [Andrew L.] Pitzer and Calloway, aides-de-camp--acquitted themselves to my entire satisfaction. Mr. Robert D. Early and Mr. Lake, volunteer aides (the latter a citizen of Maryland, who had been sent through the lines the day before our arrival), rendered me efficient service, as did Lieutenant Barton, of the Second Virginia Infantry, detailed to accompany me as a guide.
My loss in the whole affair was slight, consisting of 30 killed, 143 wounded, and 3 missing. Among the killed and wounded, however, were some gallant and efficient officers.
Having been afterward assigned to the command of Winchester for a short time, I sent to Richmond, by the way of Staunton, 108 officers and 3,250 enlisted men as prisoners, leaving in Winchester several hundred prisoners sick and wounded. The greater part of the prisoners were captured by General Johnson's division while attempting to make their escape after the evacuation.
MARCH FROM WINCHESTER INTO MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA, TO THE DATE OF THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
While in command at Winchester, I detached the Fifty-fourth North Carolina Regiment, of Hoke's brigade, and the Fifty-eighth Virginia Regiment, of Smith's brigade, to Staunton, in charge of prisoners, and, leaving the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, of Smith's brigade, on duty in Winchester, I left that place on the afternoon of the 18th, and proceeded, with the residue of Hoke's brigade and Jones' battalion of artillery, to Shepherdstown on the next day. Gordon's, Hays', and Smith's brigades having preceded me to that place.
On the 22d, I crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown, and moved through Sharpsburg and Boonsborough, encamping on the road toward Hagerstown, about 3 miles from Boonsborough. The Seventeenth Virginia Cavalry, under Col. William H. French, of Jenkins' brigade, reported to me on this day, by order of General Ewell, and remained with me until the battle of Gettysburg.
On the 23d, I moved through Cavetown, Smithsburg, and Ringgold (or Ridgeville, as it is called), to Waynesborough, in Pennsylvania.
On the 24th, I moved through Quincy and Altodale to Greenwood, on the turnpike from Chambersburg to Gettysburg.
At this point, my division remained in camp on the 25th, and I visited General Ewell at Chambersburg, and received from him instructions to cross the South Mountain to Gettysburg, and then proceed to York, and cut the Northern Central Railroad, running from Baltimore to Harrisburg, and also destroy the bridge across the <ar44_465> Susquehanna at Wrightsville and Columbia, on the branch road from York toward Philadelphia, if I could, and rejoin him at Carlisle by the way of Dillsburg.
Colonel [E. V.] White's battalion of cavalry was ordered to report to me for this expedition, and on the morning of the 26th, having sent all my trains to Chambersburg, excepting the ambulances, one medical wagon for a brigade, the regimental ordnance wagons, one wagon with cooking utensils for each regiment, and fifteen empty wagons to gather supplies with, and carrying no other baggage, I moved toward Gettysburg, and on reaching the forks of the road, about l miles front Cashtown, I sent General Gordon, with his brigade and White's battalion of cavalry, on the pike through Cashtown toward Gettysburg, and moved with the rest of the command to the left, through Hilltown to Mummasburg. I had heard on the road that there was probably a force at Gettysburg, though I could get no definite information as to its size, and the object of this movement was for Gordon to amuse and skirmish with the enemy while I should get on his flank and rear, so as to capture his whole force.
On arriving at Mummasburg, I ascertained that the force at Gettysburg was small, and while waiting here for the infantry to come up (whose march was considerably delayed by the muddy condition of the roads), a company of French's cavalry that had been sent toward Gettysburg captured some prisoners, from whom it was ascertained that the advance of Gordon's force (a body of cavalry from White's battalion) had encountered a regiment of militia, which fled at the first approach, and I immediately sent forward Colonel French with his cavalry to pursue this militia force, which he did, capturing a number of prisoners. Hays' brigade on arriving was also dispatched toward Gettysburg, and the other brigades with the artillery were halted and encamped near Mummasburg.
I then rode to Gettysburg, and found Gordon just entering the town, his command having marched more rapidly than the other brigades, because it moved on a macadamized road. The militia regiment which had been encountered by White's cavalry was the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Militia, consisting of 800 or 900 men, and had arrived in Gettysburg the night before, and moved that morning a short distance out on the road toward Cashtown, but had fled on the first approach of White's cavalry, taking across the fields between Mummasburg and Gettysburg, and going toward Hunterstown. Of this force, 175 prisoners in all were captured and subsequently paroled. Hays brigade was halted, and encamped about a mile from Gettysburg, and two regiments were sent to aid French in the pursuit of the fugitive militia, but could not get up with it.
The authorities of Gettysburg declared their inability to furnish any supplies, and a search of the stores resulted in securing only a very small quantity of commissary supplies, and about 2,000 rations were found in a train of cars, and issued to Gordon's brigade. The cars, numbering l0 or 12, were burned, as was also a small railroad bridge near the place. There were no railroad buildings of consequence. The day was rainy and the roads very muddy, and as it was late when I reached the place, and having to move upon York early next day, I had no opportunity of compelling a compliance with my demands in this town, or ascertaining its resources, which I think, however, were very limited.
I ordered Tanner s battery of Jones' battalion, to report to General Gordon during the night, and also a company of French's cavalry, and directed him to move with them and his brigade on the turnpike toward York at light next morning, and I also directed Colonel White to proceed with his cavalry to Hanover Junction, on the Northern Central road, destroying the railroad bridges on the way, and to destroy the junction and a bridge or two south of it, and then proceed toward York, burning all the bridges up to that place.
With the rest of the command, I moved next morning (the 27th) from Mummasburg, through Hunterstown, New Chester, Hampton, and East Berlin, toward Dover, and encamped a short distance beyond Berlin: and I rode over to Gordon's camp, on the York pike, which was about 4 miles distant, to arrange with him the manner of the approach upon York, if it should be defended. But all the information we could gain induced me to believe there was no force in York, and that night a deputation from the town came out to Gordon's camp, to surrender it. I directed General Gordon, in the event of there being no force in York, to march through and proceed to Columbia Bridge, and secure it at both ends, if possible.
Next morning (the 28th), General Gordon marched into the town of York without opposition, and I proceeded with the rest of the command by the way of Weigelstown, leaving Dover to my left. At Weigelstown, I dispatched Colonel French with the greater part of his cavalry to the mouth of the Conewago, to burn two railroad bridges at that point and all others between there and York, and then proceeded on to York, sending Hays' and Smith's brigades into camp at Lauck's Mills, near the railroad, some 2 miles north of the town. Avery's command was marched into the town, and put into quarters in some extensive buildings put up for hospitals. I here met with General Gordon, and repeated to him my instructions to proceed to the Susquehanna and secure the Columbia Bridge, if possible, and he moved in that direction with his command.
I then made a requisition upon the authorities for 2,000 pairs of shoes, 1,000 hats, 1,000 pairs of socks, $100.000 in money, and three days' rations of all kinds. Subsequently between 1,200 and 1,500 pairs of shoes, the hats, socks, and rations, were furnished, but only $28,600 in money was furnished, which was paid to my quartermaster (Major [C. E.] Snodgrass), the mayor and other authorities protesting their inability to get any more money, as it had all been run off previously, and I was satisfied they made an honest effort to raise the amount called for.
A short time before night, I rode out in the direction of Columbia Bridge, to ascertain the result of Gordon's expedition, and had not proceeded far before I saw an immense smoke rising in the direction of the Susquehanna, which I subsequently discovered to proceed from the burning of the bridge in question. On arriving at Wrightsville, on the banks of the Susquehanna, opposite Columbia, I ascertained from General Gordon that, on approaching Wrightsville, in front of the bridge he found a command of militia some 1,200 strong, intrenched, and, after endeavoring to move around their flank to cut them off from the bridge (which he was unable to do from want of knowledge of the locality), he opened his artillery on the militia, which fled at the bursting of the third shell, and he immediately pursued; but as his men had marched a little over 20 miles, on a very warm day, the enemy beat him running. He, however, attempted to cross the bridge, and the head of his column got half way over, but he found the bridge, which had been prepared for the purpose, on fire in the middle. As he had nothing but muskets and rifles, he sent back for buckets to endeavor to arrest the flames, but, before they arrived, the fire had progressed so far that it was impossible to arrest it. He had, therefore, to return, and leave the bridge to its fate.
This bridge was one mile and a quarter in length, the superstructure being of wood, on stone pillars, and it included in one structure a railroad bridge a pass-way for wagons, and also a tow-path for the canal, which here crosses the Susquehanna. The bridge was entirely consumed, and from it the town of Wrightsville caught fire and several buildings were consumed, but the further progress of the flames was arrested by the exertions of Gordon's men. I regretted very much the failure to secure this bridge, as, finding the defenseless condition of the country generally, and the little obstacle likely to be afforded by the militia to, our progress, I had determined, if I could get possession of the Columbia Bridge, to cross my division over the Susquehanna, and cut the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, march upon Lancaster, lay that town under contribution, and then attack Harrisburg in the rear while it should be attacked in front by the rest of the corps, relying, in the worst contingency that might happen upon being able to mount in division from the immense number of horses that had been run across the river, and then move to the west, destroying the railroads and canals, and returning back again to a place of safety. This project, however, was entirely thwarted by the destruction of the bridge, as the river was otherwise impassable, being very wide and deep at this point. I therefore ordered General Gordon to move his command back to York next day, and returned to that place myself that night.
Colonel White succeeded in reaching Hanover Junction and destroying the depot and also one or two bridges in the vicinity, but he did not, however, destroy all the bridges between that point and York, as he reported that one or two of them were defended by an infantry force.
Colonel French succeeded in destroying the bridges at the mouth of the Conewago, and all the bridges from that point to York, and I sent him to destroy the remaining bridges over the Codorus, between York and Hanover Junction, which he succeeded in doing, any force which may previously have been defending them having disappeared.
I found no public stores at this place. A few prisoners found in the hospital at York, with 19 captured by Gordon at Wrightsville, were paroled. All the cars at that point were destroyed, but the railroad buildings and two car manufactories, as well as the hospital buildings, were not burned, because, after examination, I was satisfied that the burning of them would cause the destruction of the greater part of the town, and, notwithstanding the barbarous policy pursued by the enemy in similar cases, I determined to forbear in this case, hoping that it might not be Without its effect even upon our cruel enemy. This example has been lost upon the Yankees, however, as, so far from appreciating the forbearance shown, I am informed that it has been actually charged by some of their papers that Gordon's command fired the town of Wrightsville, whereas the exertions of his men saved the place from utter destruction.
On the evening of the 29th, I received, through Capt. Elliott Johnston, rode to General Ewell, a copy of a note from General Lee, and also verbal instructions, which required me to move back, so as to rejoin the rest of the corps on the western side of the South Mountain; and accordingly, at daylight on the morning of the 30th, I put my whole command in motion, moving by Weigelstown and East Berlin in the direction of Heidlersburg, from which I could move either to Shippensburg or to Greenwood by the way of Arendtsville, as circumstances might require. At the same time, I sent Colonel White's cavalry on the pike from York toward Gettysburg, to ascertain if any force of the enemy was on that road.
At East Berlin, a small squad of the enemy's cavalry was seen and pursued by my cavalry advance, and I received information at this point from Colonel White that a cavalry and infantry force had been on the York road, at Abbott s Ford, but had moved south toward Hanover. A courier from General Ewell met me here with a dispatch, informing me of the fact that he was moving with Rodes' division by the way of Petersburg to Heidlersburg, and directing me to march in that direction.
I encamped about 3 miles from Heidlersburg, and rode to see General Ewell at that point, and was informed by him that the object was to concentrate the corps at or near Cashtown, and received directions to move next day to that point. I was informed that Rodes would move by the way of Middletown and Arendtsville, but it was arranged that I should go by the way of Hunterstown and Mummasburg.
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
Having ascertained that the road from my camp to Hunterstown was a very rough and circuitous one, I determined next morning (July 1) to march by the way of Heidlersburg, and then from that point to the Mummasburg road. After passing Heidlersburg a short distance, I received a note from you, written by order of General Ewell, informing me that General Hill was moving from Cashtown toward Gettysburg, and that General Rodes had turned off at Middletown, and was moving toward the same place, and directing me to move also to that point. I therefore continued to move on the road I was then on toward Gettysburg, and, on arriving in sight of that place, on the direct road from Heidlersburg, I discovered that General Rodes' division was engaged with the enemy to the right of me, the enemy occupying a position in front of Gettysburg, and the troops constituting his right being engaged in an effort to drive back the left of General Rodes' line.
I immediately ordered my troops to the front, and formed my line across the Heidlersburg road, with Gordon's brigade on the right, Hoke's brigade (under Colonel Avery) on the left, Hays' brigade in the center, an(1 Smith's brigade in the rear of Hoke's. Jones' battalion of artillery was posted in a field on the left of the Heidlers-burg road, immediately in front of Hoke's brigade, so as to fire on the enemy's flank, and, as soon as these dispositions could be made, a fire was opened upon the enemy's infantry and artillery by my artillery with considerable effect.
Gordon's brigade was then ordered forward to the support of Doles' brigade, which was on Rodes' left, and was being pressed by a considerable force, of the enemy, which had advanced from the direction of the town to a wooded hill on the west side of Rock Creek, the stream which runs northeast of the town, and as soon as Gordon was fairly engaged with this force, Hays' and Hoke's brigades were ordered forward in line, and the artillery, supported by Smith's brigade, was ordered to follow.
After a short but hot contest, Gordon succeeded in routing the force opposed to him, consisting of a division of the Eleventh Corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Barlow, of the Federal Army, and drove it back with great slaughter, capturing, among a number of prisoners, General Barlow himself, who was severely wounded. Gordon advanced across the creek, over the hill on which Barlow had been posted, and across the fields toward the town, until he came to a low ridge, behind which the enemy had another line of battle, extending beyond his left. I directed him to halt here, and then ordered Hays and Avery, who had been halted on the east side of Rock Creek while I rode forward to where Gordon had been engaged, to advance toward the town, on Gordon's left, which they did in fine style, encountering and driving back into the town in great confusion the second line of the enemy.
Hays' brigade entered the town, fighting its way, and Avery moved to the left of it across the railroad, and took his position in the fields on the left, and facing Cemetery Hill, which here presented a very rugged ascent. This movement was made under the fire of artillery from this hill, which had previously opened when my artillery had first opened its fire, but Avery succeeded in placing his men under the cover of a low ridge which here runs through the fields from the town. Hays' brigade was formed in line in the street running through the middle of the town.
A very large number of prisoners were captured in the town, and before reaching it, their number being so great as really to embarrass us. Two pieces of artillery (Napoleons) were also captured outside of the town, the capture being claimed by both brigades; but it is unnecessary to decide which reached these pieces first, as the capture was unquestionably due to the joint valor of both brigades.
While these operations were going on with my division, I saw, farther to the right, the enemy's force on that part of the line falling back and moving in comparatively good order on the right of the town toward the range of hills in the rear, and I sent back for a battery of artillery to be brought up to open on this force and the town, from which a fire was opened on my brigades, but before it got up, my men had entered the town, and the force on the right had retired beyond reach. I had at the same time sent an order to General Smith to advance with his brigade, but he thought proper not to comply with this order, on account of a report that the enemy was advancing on the York road.
As soon as my brigades had entered the town, I rode into that place myself, and, after ascertaining the condition of things, I rode to find General Ewell and General Rodes, or General Hill, for the purpose of urging an immediate advance upon the enemy before he should recover from his evident dismay, in order to get possession of the hills to which he had fallen back with the remnant of iris forces; but before I found either of these officers, General Smith's son, who was acting as his aide, came to me with a message from the general, stating that a large force of the enemy, consisting of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, was advancing on the York road, and that we were about to be flanked: and though I had no faith in this report, I thought proper to send General Gordon with his brigade to take charge of Smith's also, and to keep a lookout on the York road, and stop any further alarm.
Meeting with an officer of Major-General Pender's staff, I sent word by him to General Hill that if he would send up a division, we could take the hill to which the enemy had retreated; and shortly after meeting with General Ewell, I communicated my views to him, and was informed that Johnson's division was coming up, and it was determined with this division to get possession of a wooded hill to the left of Cemetery Hill, which it commanded; but this division arrived at a late hour, and its movement having been delayed by the report of the advance on the York road, no effort to get possession of the wooded hill on the left of the town was made that night.
Having been informed that a large portion of the rest of our army would come up during the night, and that the enemy's position would be attacked on the right and the left flanks very early next morning, I gave orders to General Hays to move his brigade under cover of night from the town into the field in front of the left of the town, to a place where he would not be exposed to the enemy's fire, and would be in position to advance upon Cemetery Hill when a favorable opportunity should occur. This movement was made, and Hays formed his brigade on the right of Avery and just behind the extension of the low ridge on which the town is located. The attack did not begin in the morning, as was expected, and in the course of the morning I rode with General Ewell to examine a position for the artillery on the left.
Having been subsequently informed that the attack would begin at 4 p.m., I directed General Gordon to move his brigade to the railroad in rear of Hays and Avery, Smith being left, under General J. E. B. Stuart, to guard the York road. The fire from the artillery having opened on the right and left at 4 o'clock, and continued for some time, I was ordered by General Ewell to advance upon Cemetery Hill with my two brigades that were in position as soon as General Johnson's division, which was on my left, should become engaged at the wooded hill on the left, which it was about to attack, information being given me that the advance would be general, and made also by Rodes' division and Hill's divisions on my right.
Accordingly, as soon as Johnson became Warmly engaged, which was a little before dusk, I ordered Hays and Avery to advance and carry the works on the heights in front. These troops advanced in gallant style to the attack, passing over the ridge in front of them under a heavy artillery fire, and then crossing a hollow between that and Cemetery Hill, and moving up this hill in the face of at least two lines of infantry posted behind stone and plank fences; but these they drove back, and, passing over all obstacles, they reached the crest of the hill, and entered the enemy's breastworks crowning it, getting possession of one or two batteries. But no attack was made on the immediate right, as was expected, and not meeting with support from that quarter, these brigades could not hold the position they had attained, because a very heavy force of the enemy was turned against them from that part of the line which the divisions on the right were to have attacked, and these two brigades had, therefore, to fall back, which they did with comparatively slight loss, considering the nature of the ground over which they had to pass and the immense odds opposed to them, and Hays' brigade brought off four stand of captured colors.
At the same time these brigades advanced, Gordon's brigade was ordered forward to support them, and did advance to the position from which they had moved, but was halted here because it was ascertained that no advance was made on the right, and it was evident that the crest of the hill could not be held by my two brigades supported by this one without any other assistance, and that the attempt would be attended with a useless sacrifice of life. Hays' and Hoke's brigades were reformed on the line previously occupied by them, and on the right and left of Gordon, respectively.
In this attack, Colonel Avery, of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, commanding Hoke's brigade, was mortally wounded. With this affair' the fighting on July 2 terminated.
After night, I was ordered by General Ewell to send Smith's brigade to report to General Johnson, on the left, by daylight, and General Smith was ordered to do so, and did report to General Johnson, and his three regiments were engaged on the 3d on the extreme left, under General Johnson's directions.
As the operations of this brigade on this day were under the immediate order's of General Johnson, I will merely refer to the report of Colonel [John S.] Hoffman, the present brigade commander, herewith forwarded.
Before light on the morning of the 3d, I ordered Hays' and Hoke's brigades (the latter now under the command of Colonel [A. C.] Godwin, of the Fifty-seventh North Carolina Regiment) to the rear, and subsequently formed them in line in the town on the same street formerly occupied by Hays. Gordon being left to occupy the position which was occupied by these brigades on the previous day. In these positions these three brigades remained during the day, and did not again participate in the attack, but they were exposed during the time to the fire of sharpshooters and an occasional fire from the enemy's artillery on the hills.
At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 4th, my brigades were quietly withdrawn from their positions, and moved back on the Cashtown road, and formed in line on both sides of that road, in rear of Rodes' and Johnson's divisions, which occupied the front line, running along the crest of the ridge on the west of the town.
My loss in the three days' fighting at Gettysburg was 158 killed, 796 wounded, and 227 missing, a large proportion of the missing being, in all probability, killed or wounded. The enemy's loss at the points where the three brigades of Gordon, Hays, and Hoke were engaged far exceeded my loss, and a very large number of prisoners were secured.
THE MARCH BACK FROM GETTYSBURG, AND RECROSSING OF THE POTOMAC.
At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 5th, under orders from General Ewell, my division moved back on the road toward Fairfield, following in the rear of the corps, and constituting the rear guard of the whole army.
While waiting at the junction of the road on which I had moved with the direct road from Gettysburg to Fairfield for the passage of all the troops and trains, a few pieces of artillery were opened by the enemy at long range, but without doing any damage. The whole force having gotten on the road in front of me. I moved on slowly in the rear. Gordon's brigade bringing up my rear, followed by White's cavalry battalion, and on arriving in view of Fairfield, which is situated in a wide and low plain surrounded by hills, I found the wagon trains in front blocked up. While waiting here for the road to be cleared. Colonel White sent forward to inform me that a force of the enemy was advancing in the rear, and I sent forward to hasten up the trains, but as they did not move off, I was preparing to fire a blank cartridge or two for the purpose of quickening their pace, when the advance of the enemy appeared on a hill in my rear, and <ar44_472> it became necessary to open on him with shell: and a battery having been brought up by the enemy, and replying to my fire, the trains soon cleared the road. One of Gordon's regiments was deployed as skirmishers to hold the enemy in check, which it did effectually, driving back' his advance, and my division was gradually moved forward beyond Fairfield, and formed in line in a favorable position, and Gordon s regiment was called in.
In this affair, this regiment (the Twenty-sixth Georgia) sustained a loss of 11 wounded and missing.
The division was then encamped, by order of General Ewell, not far from Fairfield, and so posted as to protect the trains, which had been parked a little farther on.
The enemy did not again molest me, and at light next morning, the 6th, my skirmishers having been replaced by those of General Rodes' division (which was this day to constitute the rear guard), I moved to the front of the corps, and, passing Monterey Springs, on the summit of the mountain, crossed over to Waynesborough, where I encamped for the night.
Very early next morning, the 7th. I moved on toward Hagerstown, by Leitersburg, following Rodes, and being followed by Johnson, whose division this day constituted the rear guard. My division was halted and encamped about a mile north of Hagerstown, on the Chambersburg pike. It remained in this position until the afternoon of the 10th, when it was moved through Hagerstown, and placed in position on the Cumberland road, on the crest of the ridge southwest of Hagerstown. On the next day, the 11th, it was moved farther to the right, and placed in position, with its right resting near the road from Hagerstown to Williamsport.
It remained here until after dark on the 12th, when it was moved to the right across the Williamsport road to the rear of General Hill's position, for the purpose of supporting his line, which faced the road leading toward Sharpsburg, and in front of which a considerable force of the enemy had been massed.
At dark on the night of the 13th, my division was withdrawn, and moved to Williamsport that night, bringing up the rear of the corps, and, after light on the 14th, it was recrossed over the Potomac, Gordon's, Hoke's, and Smith's brigades (the latter now commanded by Colonel Hoffman, as General Smith had tendered his resignation on the 10th, and received leave of absence) fording above Williamsport, and Hays' brigade, with Jones' battalion of artillery, crossing over the bridge at Falling Waters.
The division encamped near Hainesville that night, and the next day moved through Martinsburg, and on the 16th reached Darkesville, where it went into camp, and remained until the afternoon of the 20th, when it was ordered to move across North Mountain, at Mills' Gap, and down Back Creek, to intercept a body of the enemy reported to have advanced to Hedgesville.
On the night of the 20th, I encamped near Gerrardstown, and next day crossed the mountain, and, proceeding down Back Creek, reached the rear of Hedgesville, but found that the enemy had hastily retreated the night before. I then moved through Hedgesville and encamped.
Receiving orders that night to move up the Valley, with a view to crossing the mountains, I moved next day to Bunker Hill, and then through Winchester to the Opequon, on the Front Royal road, but in consequence of instructions received from General Ewell, I turned off to the Valley road from Cedarville, and thence, marching by the way of Strasburg, New Market. Fisher's Gap, Madison Court-House, Locust Grove, and Rapidan Station, I reached my present camp, near Clark's Mountain, in the vicinity of Orange Court-House, on the 1st of this month.
The Fifty-fourth North Carolina Regiment and Fifty-eighth Virginia Regiment rejoined their respective brigades near Hagerstown on the march back, after having participated in the repulse of the enemy's attack on our trains near Williamsport, and the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment rejoined its brigade on the passage through Winchester.
The conduct of my troops during the entire campaign, on the march as well as in action, was deserving of the highest commendation.
To Brigadier-Generals Hays and Gordon I was greatly indebted for their cheerful, active, and intelligent co-operation on all occasions, and their gallantry in action was eminently conspicuous.
I had to regret the absence of the gallant Brigadier-General Hoke, who was severely wounded in the action of May 4, at Fredericksburg, and had not recovered, but his place was worthily filled by Colonel Avery, of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, who fell, mortally wounded, while gallantly leading his brigade in the charge on Cemetery Hill, at Gettysburg, on the afternoon of July 2. In his death the Confederacy lost a good and brave soldier.
The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Jones and his artillery battalion on all occasions, as well as that of Brown's battalion at Winchester, was admirable.
My commendations are also due to Colonel French and Lieutenant-Colonel White and their respective cavalry commands for the efficient service performed by them.
To the members of my staff--Majors Hale, division inspector; Daniel, assistant adjutant-general: Lieutenants Pitzer and Calloway, my aides, and Mr. Robert D. Early, a volunteer aide--I was indebted for the active zeal, energy, and courage with which they performed their duties.
Though I do not wish to make invidious distinctions by calling attention to individual acts of daring and gallantry, of which there were so many instances, I must refer to the case of Lieut. John Orr, adjutant of the Sixth Louisiana Regiment (mentioned by General Hays), who mounted the enemy s breastworks at Winchester, and received a bayonet wound on the top of the parapet, and I respectfully recommend this officer for promotion to the position of captain of cavalry, he being desirous of entering that branch of the service, for which he is eminently qualified.
Accompanying this report will be found lists of killed, wounded, and missing and also the official reports of Brigadier-Generals Hays and Gordon. Colonels Godwin and Hoffman, and Lieutenant-Colonel Jones: also a report of Lieutenant-Colonel Murchison, of the Fifty-fourth North Carolina Regiment, of the part taken by his regiment in the repulse of the enemy's cavalry near Williamsport, Md.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. A. EARLY,
Major-General, Commanding Division
RETURN TO BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG CONFEDERATE ORDER OF BATTLE PAGE