Reports of Col. Lewis A. Grant,
Fifth Vermont Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign

South side of the Rappahannock, Va., June 6, 1863.

Actg. Asst. Inspector-General.

        SIR: The Vermont Brigade has again crossed the Rappahannock at the old point, about 1 miles below Fredericksburg. It is the first brigade across, and, so far as my knowledge extends, it is the only one yet over.
        We left camp yesterday soon after noon, and marched to the river, a distance of about 5 miles. The pontoons were on the ground, ready to be taken down the bank and thrown across the river. The rebels had constructed rifle-pits in front of and commanding the point where the bridges were to be placed. These rifle-pits were occupied by rebel infantry.
        As soon as the artillery could be gotten into position, it opened a terrible fire upon the rifle-pits. It had but little effect, however, excepting to keep back re-enforcements that were coming to the assistance of those already in the rifle-pits. But very few of those in the rifle-pits were injured by the artillery fire. They managed to keep up a galling musketry fire upon the engineers that attempted to construct the bridges. It was determined to drive the rebels from the rifle-pits. The Fifth Vermont, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, and Twenty-sixth New Jersey, Lieutenant-Colonel Martindale, were ordered forward for that purpose. They rushed gallantly down the bank, and, with the assistance of the engineers, and under a galling fire from the rifle-pits, they launched the pontoon boats into the stream, jumped into them, rowed across, and landed upon the south bank. But a few companies of the Fifth had crossed when they sprang up the bank, and with shouts charged the rifle-pits, driving the enemy from them in great confusion, taking many of them prisoners.
        The Twenty-sixth New Jersey came gallantly to the support of the Fifth, and did well, but it is believed the Fifth cleared the rifle-pits. The Third Vermont, Colonel Seaver; the Fourth Vermont, Colonel Stoughton; the Second Vermont, Colonel Walbridge, also crossed in boats, and gallantly supported the regiments already across. The rebels were driven across the plain into the woods. One bridge was soon completed, and the Sixth Vermont, Colonel Barney, also crossed. Our positions were taken and are still held.
        It is impossible at this time to give particular instances of dashing gallantry, though there were many. It was quick work and splendidly executed.
        The number of prisoners taken is not at this time known, but it is believed to be between 100 and 200. Captain Davenport sent in 2 officers and 34 enlisted men, who surrendered to him after dark, over Deep Creek, where Captain Davenport, of the Fifth, and Captain Boutin, of the Fourth, had been sent on picket.
        The casualties in the Fifth Vermont are 7 wounded. No casualties in either of the other Vermont regiments.

I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

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Camp near Rappahannock, Va., June 8, 1863.

Adjutant and Inspector-General.

        SIR: On the 6th instant, I sent you from the thrice-tried battle-field of Fredericksburg an imperfect account of the gallant conduct of the Vermont troops in crossing the river and carrying the rifle-pits upon the other side. It was an exciting and brilliant affair, and no account can do ample justice to the brave officers and men engaged. Impetuous enthusiasm, when displayed in the face of the enemy, beggars description.
        The two companies first in the works were the Rutland Company, Capt. B. R. Jennie, Fifth, and the Swanton Company, Capt. Friend H. Barney, Fifth. The first man in the rifle-pits was Private Henry Moren, Company G. After clearing the rifle-pits and sending the prisoners down the bank, these two companies advanced as skirmishers, and drove those who sought safety in flight across the plain into the woods. Other companies and regiments hurried over with all possible dispatch, but there were not boats enough to take them over as fast as desired. The returning boats brought back the prisoners. It was an amusing scene, our men crowding the boats, and with cheers rowing for the other side of the river, and at the same time boats returning with rebel prisoners.
        On Saturday, the 6th instant, the Sixth Vermont was skirmishing nearly all day. They occupied a position from the river on the left by the Bernard house, around across the Bowling Green road to Deep Creek.
        The Sixth lost in the skirmish of that day 4 killed and 13 wounded. Among the wounded was Lieutenant Raistrick. A list of the killed and wounded of the Sixth is herewith forwarded. There were no casualties in the Second, Third, and Fourth Regiments. The loss of the Fifth and Sixth Regiments was 4 killed and 20 wounded. The loss of the Twenty-sixth New Jersey Regiment was 2 killed and 17 wounded, making a total loss of 43 in the brigade. The brigade was the only force upon the south side of the river for nearly twenty-four hours.
        On the afternoon of the 6th, another brigade came over to our support, and on the morning of the 7th we were relieved from the skirmish line, but continued to hold the front line of battle until the evening of the 7th, when we were relieved by another division, and marched back to the north side of the river, having held the front in the face of the enemy about fifty hours. During a portion of the time, the enemy developed a very large force in our front.
        Officers and men behaved as becomes Vermonters during the entire time.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

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August 3, 1863.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

        SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by this brigade at the battle of Gettysburg.
        The brigade arrived near the scene of action at about 5 p.m. July 2, having marched about 30 miles that day, and very soon moved out to the left center of our army, to take part, as was expected, in the struggle then going on.
        The position of the brigade was once or twice changed, and soon after dark it moved still farther to the left, and took position on the extreme left of the army, and one regiment, the Fifth Vermont, was thrown out as pickets or skirmishers.
        On the morning of the 3d, the brigade advanced a short distance, and took a position with its right resting on Round Top Mountain and its left on the Taneytown road, in which position it remained that day, taking no very active part in the battle, though exposed at times to solid shot and shell from the enemy's guns.
        On July 4, the brigade held substantially the same position, and during the day the Fourth Vermont, then on picket, was ordered forward to feel the enemy's position. It advanced about 1 miles, and had a slight skirmish with the enemy's pickets.
        John F. Marshall, Fourth Vermont Volunteers, was severely wounded in the arm and knee, which was the only casualty in the brigade.
        The officers and men all did their duty well. The cheerful and ready manner in which the regiments moved into position on the evening of the 2d, after the fatiguing march of that day, is worthy of especial mention.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.