Reports of Brig. Gen. William Harrow, U.S. Army, commanding Second Division.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43]
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
July 16, 1863.
Capt. E. P. BROWNSON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following in reference to the part taken by the Second Division, Second Corps, in the late sanguinary engagement of the 2d and 3d instant, near Gettysburg, Pa.:
The division arrived upon the battle-field on the morning of the 2d, and was ordered into position by Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, as follows: The Second Brigade, General Webb commanding, occupied the right of the division, and was stationed on the crest of a ridge, the left resting nearly opposite a two-story brick house about 300 yards in front of the line, the right resting upon and covered by a stone fence, and connecting with the left of the command of Brigadier-General Hays, commanding Third Division, Second Corps. The Third Brigade, Colonel Hall, Seventh Michigan Volunteers, commanding, connected with the left of General Webb's brigade, and continued the line in the direction of Round Top Mountain to the left, their two brigades covering a front of 500 yards. The First Brigade, my own command, was placed in reserve 100 yards in rear of the Second and Third Brigades and opposite the center of the line. The division occupied the position indicated when the advance of Major-General Sickles developed the enemy in force, in rear of a range of hills to the left and front of his command, sheltered by a dense wood, which was skirted in front by a smaller growth of thick bushes.
At this time, by direction of General Gibbon, two regiments of my command (the Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Ward, and Eighty-second New York, Colonel Huston commanding) advanced to the front of the general line, and were placed on the Gettysburg and Emmitsburg road, on the right of the brick house before referred to, the left of Colonel Huston's command resting at the house, Colonel Ward prolonging the line to the right, The First Minnesota Volunteers. Colonel Colvill commanding, by the direction of General Gibbon, were moved from their original position in the rear, to the left of a battery commanded by Lieutenant Thomas, and stationed on the high ground a short distance to the left of the division line of battle. The Nineteenth Maine Volunteers, Colonel Heath commanding, were moved to the left and front of the division line, and placed in position to the right of a battery commanded by Lieutenant Brown. These dispositions being made, the division waited the approach of the enemy. It soon becoming evident that a general engagement would follow the attack upon Major-General Sickles, he retired toward the general line, the enemy pushing forward with great impetuosity. As the enemy advanced, the first of the division to engage them were the Eighty-second New York and Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, from their position on the Gettysburg and Emmitsburg road. These two regiments, in the aggregate not more than 700 strong, and without support on their line, but partially protected by the rails of a fence which they had hastily taken down and piled in their front gallantly sustained an unequal contest against greatly superior numbers until the enemy's advance had reached their left flank, when they retired, but not before suffering heavy losses and inflicting more than a corresponding punishment upon their assailants. It was in this advanced line that Colonels Ward and Huston both fell, mortally wounded (each since dead), and here also many line officers were killed and wounded. The enemy continued to advance until they attacked with great fury the commands of Colonels Colvill and Heath, endeavoring to take the batteries under their protection. In this assault, Colonel Colvill, Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, and Major Downie were shot down, the two former severely, and I fear mortally, wounded, but the command maintained its position until supported by the arrival of other troops.
It would be unjust to a young and accomplished officer, Lieutenant Thomas, not to bear testimony here to his gallantry, and to credit him with destroying large numbers of the enemy by the very effective fire of his guns. His exertions contributed largely to checking and finally repulsing the enemy at this point.
Colonel Heath, Nineteenth Maine Volunteers, was attacked with equal desperation, the enemy at one time obtaining possession of three of the guns of the battery on his left. These guns he retook and carried from the field, most of the battery horses having been killed and many of the gunners killed and wounded. The officers and men of this command, as also the officers and men of the battery, deserve high commendation for their determination and valor.
The final repulse of the enemy accomplished, dispositions were made for the contest of the succeeding day (July 3) by General Gibbon, as follows: The Second and Third Brigades on this day occupied the position of the day previous, the First Brigade continuing the line to the left. The entire line was strengthened during the night by such means as could be commanded.
At 1 p.m. the enemy opened a fierce cannonade upon the line from a hundred or more guns, which was continued until nearly 3 p.m., when his infantry columns moved from the woods, 1,000 yards in front, and steadily advanced to the assault. After crossing the Emmitsburg and Gettysburg road in two lines, with supports upon the right and left, accommodating their advance to the inequalities of the surface, so as to cover themselves as far as possible by the low grounds in front of the division, this movement brought them first in range of the guns of the First Brigade, but the crest of the hill occupied by the right of Colonel Hall and the left of General Webb seemed to be the point to which their main attack was directed. As this purpose became manifest, the Third and First Brigades, of this division, inclined to the right, engaging the enemy as they moved, the whole command meeting the shock from the enemy's heaviest lines and supports near the crest of the ridge. Here the contest raged with almost unparalleled ferocity for nearly an hour, when the enemy was routed and fled in disorder.
I have no words to express the unwavering courage and daring of the entire command in this the final struggle. Many prisoners, including many officers, were taken here; also many battle-flags were captured.
It would be gross injustice to claim a greater share of this triumph for one brigade of the division to the exclusion of another. It was a common struggle and a common success, as the gallant dead and wounded of each of the brigades of the division there fallen amply testify. The First Brigade carried off the field four of the enemy's battle-flags; each of the other brigades as many or more.
The loss of the First Brigade during the two days was:
Officers and Men Killed Wounded Missing Total Commissioned Officers 12 43 --- 55 Enlisted Men 136 531 --- 667 Total 148 574 --- 722
An official list of the names and rank of each has been forwarded.
For more particular details of the conduct and losses of the Second and Third Brigades, reference is had to the reports of the brigade commanders. This report has been amplified, so far as it applies to the First Brigade, more than would otherwise have been necessary, for the reason that throughout the entire engagement of the 2d instant, and until the day was well-nigh won on the 3d, Brigadier-General Gibbon commanded the division, and only relinquished the command when forced to quit the field, having been severely wounded.
I cannot omit this occasion to say that his sagacity, coolness, and courage on each day won for him the highest admiration, adding to the high character he had previously established as a commander. He merits the consideration of his superiors and his Government, and his services will no doubt be suitably acknowledged. I trust he will make for his division a more elaborate report, in which he can suitably mention his staff officers; it will be a pleasant duty to perform.
I mean not to disparage any other by saying his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Haskell, greatly distinguished himself by his constant exertion in the most exposed places.
My own assistant adjutant-general,. Capt. John P. Blinn, throughout both days manifested himself a thorough soldier and patriot. He fell, mortally wounded, on the 3d, while gallantly cheering on the men of the command to which he was attached. No tribute can now reach him, but a worthier man and soldier has not died for his country.
Captain Cooper, acting assistant inspector-general, First Brigade, and Lieutenants Biggs and White, my aides, severally deserve commendation. The latter was severely injured by the fall of his horse, which was shot under him during the action.
The division took into action 3,773 men, and lost 1,657.
In conclusion, I hope it is not too much to say that this division contributed very largely to the success of the 3d instant, if, indeed, they did not save the day, as the chief attack of the enemy was directed against the position they occupied.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Comdg. Second Division, Second Corps.
----, ----, 1863.
The following is a numerical list of killed, wounded, and missing in the Second Division, Second Corps, during the engagement near Gettysburg, Pa., July 2 and 3.
The First Brigade estimates that 1,740 guns were picked up by the Fifteenth Massachusetts, Nineteenth Maine, and First Minnesota Volunteers, of that command.
The Second Brigade reports 1,284 rifles and 972 sets of accouterments picked up.
The Third Brigade reports that no account of arms collected by that brigade can be given, as they were removed from the field after collection by details by ordnance officers of the First and Second Divisions.
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
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