Reports of Brig. Gen. Alexander Hays, U.S. Army, commanding Third Division.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43]
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
July 8, 1863.
Lieut. Col. C. H. MORGAN,
Chief of Staff.
SIR: I have the honor to report through you the part taken by this division in the battle near Gettysburg, Pa.
On July 2, the division, moving on the Taneytown road, arrived within about a mile of the town, where it was assigned a position on a ridge nearly parallel with the road, facing westward. A stone wall just below the crest of the hill gave much strength to the position, and an open space of half a mile in our front afforded the artillery posted on the right and left flanks a fair field for effective service. A strong line of skirmishers was thrown forward to our front, and during the day contended successfully with the enemy. Twice, at least, sorties were made from our position by the Twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, First Delaware, and Fourteenth Connecticut Regiments against a barn and house one-fourth of a mile in advance of our position, returning in each case successfully with prisoners.
Col. G. L. Willard, One hundred and twenty-fifth New York Volunteers, commanding the Third Brigade, was early in the day withdrawn from the division by the major-general commanding, and took a prominent part in the engagement on our left.
The history of this brigadiers operations is written in blood. Colonel Willard was killed, and next day, after the brigade had rejoined the division, his successor, Col. Eliakim Sherrill, One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, also fell. Col. Clinton Dougall MacDougall, One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers, and Maj. Hugo Hildebrandt, Thirty-ninth New York Volunteers, were each severely wounded, leaving the brigade in command of a lieutenant-colonel. The loss of this brigade amounts to one-half the casualties in the division. The acts of traitors at Harper's Ferry had not tainted their patriotism.
The operations of the First Brigade, commanded by Col. S. S. Carroll, are fully set forth in his own accompanying report. Too much credit cannot be given him and his command for the gallant manner in which they went to the relief of the troops on our right. The darkness of night was no obstacle, and I have no doubt their timely arrival and merits will be acknowledged by the general commanding in that part of the field.
The Second Brigade, Col. Thomas A. Smyth, First Delaware Volunteers, remained continuously in protection of our front along the stone wall and in support of our line of skirmishers.
Throughout the 2d, the enemy kept up a desultory fire from their artillery, posted on the skirts of the distant timber, frequently shifting their batteries and opening suddenly on our line. In no case were they enabled long to retain position, but were relieved or driven off by the effective fire of our artillerists. The ensuing night passed in comparative quietness, our men resting on their arms.
The daylight of the 3d was a signal for renewed hostilities, and during the forenoon was a repetition of the practice of the previous day, excepting that their skirmishers appeared more pertinacious in their assault.
About 11 a.m. an entire lull occurred, which was continued until nearly 2 p.m. Anticipating the movement of the enemy, I caused the house and barn in our front, which interrupted the fire of our artillery, to be burned. At the hour last named, they opened upon our front the most terrific and uninterrupted fire from artillery. I cannot believe there were less than eighty pieces bearing on us within good range. It was continued uninterruptedly until 4.30 o'clock, when a heavy column of the enemy moved forward in three lines, preceded by a strong line of skirmishers, debouched from the wood opposite our line. Their march was as steady as if impelled by machinery, unbroken by our artillery, which played upon them a storm of missiles. When within 100 yards of our line of infantry, the fire of our men could no longer be restrained. Four lines rose from behind our stone wall, and before the smoke of our first volley had cleared away, the enemy, in dismay and consternation, were seeking safety in flight. Every attempt by their officers to rally them was vain. In less time than I can recount it, they were throwing away their arms and appealing most piteously for mercy. The angel of death alone can produce such a field as was presented.
The division captured and turned into corps headquarters fifteen battle-flags or banners. A number of other flags were captured, but had been surreptitiously disposed of, in the subsequent excitement of battle, before they could be collected.
I transmit the report of Lieut. W. E. Potter, showing a collection by him of 2,500 stand of arms, besides an estimate of 1,000 left upon the ground for want of time to collect them. From my own personal examination of the field, I am satisfied the number estimated is not too great. Of the prisoners which fell into our hands, I regret that no accurate account could be kept but by estimate, which cannot be less than 1,500.
Colonel Smyth, commanding Second Brigade, was severely wounded in the head and face by a shell, which, however, did not prevent his return to duty next day.
I commend to the notice of the general commanding and the War Department the gallant conduct of my commanders of brigades and regiments, trusting that they, in return, will not be forgetful of meritorious subordinates. When all behaved unexceptionably it is difficult to discriminate. The coolness and determination evinced by our officers and men reflect back credit on their former commanders.
I cannot omit the high recommendation of credit which is due Dr. Isaac Scott, medical director of the division, and all his assistants. No case of neglect or evasion of their duties has come to my notice.
Lieutenant [John S.] Sullivan, of the ambulance corps, deserves the highest credit for his courage and the fearless manner he discharged his duties, continually, under the fire of the enemy's skirmishers, bringing off the wounded and assisting in keeping up the stragglers.
Lieut. W. E. Potter, ordnance officer, was indefatigable in the discharge of his duties.
Capt. George P. Corts, assistant adjutant-general, and my aide, Lieut. David Shields, Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, were constantly by my side, exhibiting, as always heretofore, self-possession and courage of the highest order. Captain Corts lost 2 horses, killed, and Lieutenant Shields 1.
Division quartermaster, Captain [Marshall I.] Ludington, and commissary officer, Captain [Columbus J.] Queen, discharged their duties to my entire satisfaction, and deserve the notice of their respective departments.
Second Lieut. E. J. Hueston, One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers, attracted my attention by his exemplary conduct in charge of posting and encouraging our pickets. As a present recognition, I have appointed him an acting aide on my staff.
By accompanying report, the entire loss of the division in the two days' action will be seen to be 1,285 men killed, wounded, and missing.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
August 15, 1863.
Capt. E. P. BROWNSON,
Aide-de-Camp, and Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen.
SIR: In compliance with orders, I have the honor to submit a supplement to my report of the part taken by this division in the operations prior to and following the battle of Gettysburg, Pa.
On June 28, broke camp near Barnesville, Md., and marched to the vicinity of Frederick City, Md.
On the 29th, marched at 1 p.m. through Liberty, Johnsville, and Union Bridge, to Uniontown, Md.; distance, over 30 miles. Encamped at 3 a.m. June 30. Same day changed camp to north side of Uniontown.
On July 1, marched through Taneytown to within about 3 miles of Gettysburg, Pa.
On July 2, moved to Gettysburg, and took position in line of battle. (For operations of July 2, 3, and 4, I respectfully refer you to a copy of my official report for those days, herewith inclosed.)
On July 5, moved from vicinity of Gettysburg, Pa., to Two Taverns, remaining in camp at latter place on the 6th.
On July 7, 8, 9, and 10, marched to near Frederick City, Md.
On July 11, marched to Jones' Cross-Roads, and went into line of battle. Toward evening, received orders from general commanding corps directing the sending of the First Brigade, Col. S. S. Carroll commanding, on a reconnaissance toward Funkstown, Md. This brigade encountered the enemy's pickets about 3 miles from Jones' Cross-Roads. Some skirmishing ensued, without loss on our side, save the slight wounding of 1 man. The enemy retired to the cover of his earthworks.
During the night, the remainder of the division, Second and Third Brigades, was ordered forward to the support of the First. Formed line of battle, and on the following clay (12th) changed position twice. During the night threw up earthworks, line connecting on the right with the Fifth Corps, and on the left with the Second Division of the Second Corps.
On July 13, moved forward half a mile. Again formed line of battle, supported on the flanks by same troops as the previous day. Employed during the afternoon and evening intrenching our line.
Some picket firing, without any loss to my command.
On July 14, advanced toward Williamsport, Md.
On July 15, marched from Williamsport, via Sharpsburg, Md., to Sandy Hook, Md.
July 16 and 17, encamped near Sandy Hook, Md.
On July 18, crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers; marched to near Hillsborough, Va., and encamped.
On July 19, marched to Woodgrove, Va.
On July 20, marched to Bloomfield, Va., and encamped until 22d, when the march was resumed to Ashby's Gap, Va.
On July 23, marched to Markham Station, on the Manassas Gap Railroad. Same evening, with the corps, moved to the support of the Third Corps, which was engaged with the enemy on Wapping Heights. Took position behind Third Corps. On July 24, returned to Markham Station. On July 25, marched to White Plains, Va.
On July 26, resumed the march, arriving near Warrenton Junction, Va., same day, where we remained encamped July 27, 28, and 29.
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Comdg. Division.
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