Reports of Brig. Gen. Harry T. Hays, C. S. Army, commanding brigade.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
HEADQUARTERS HAYS' BRIGADE, August 4, 1863.
Maj. JOHN W. DANIEL,
Asst Adjt. Gen., Early's Division.
MAJOR: I have the honor of submitting the following report of the operations of my brigade on June 13 and 14, in the vicinity of Winchester, Va.:
On the morning of June 13. being encamped on the south side of the Shenandoah River, I crossed that stream at daylight, and, joining the division, was marched in the direction of Winchester, taking the Newtown road.
Reaching Newtown, we took the Valley turnpike, and proceeded to within a short distance of Kernstown, where we met with Colonel Herbert's command of the Maryland Line, engaged in skirmishing with the enemy Having halted here for a short time I was conducted by Major-General Early to another road, to the left and west of the Valley turnpike. I then advanced my brigade about half a mile on this road, halted, and sent out the Ninth Regiment, Colonel [L. A.] Stafford commanding, to deploy as skirmishers, and drive the enemy from a wooded eminence between my position and the Valley turnpike. This having been effected, I advanced my brigade, and formed it in line of battle on the above-mentioned hill, throwing out six companies as skirmishers, to advance to another piece of woods in my front.
At this juncture. I was ordered by General Early to remain in my position until Gordon's brigade should have swept around and entered the woods to my left. Gordon, having met the enemy, drove him steadily before him, my six companies of skirmishers advancing with his brigade. My brigade was then put in motion, and continued to advance until both brigades were halted, by command of General Early, when we were formed in line on the crest of a hill in front of the Cedar Creek road, and in rear of Barton's Mills, on the Valley turnpike, Gordon's right resting on the pike and my brigade on his left. In this position we remained during that evening and night.
At daylight on the morning of June 14, brisk skirmishing took place, and at sunrise, in obedience to orders from General Early, I sent the Seventh Regiment, Colonel Pelto commanding, with directions to advance with a regiment of Gordon's brigade, to take possession of a hill in front of the old mill, the same taken by the Louisiana brigade in May, 1862. This was accomplished after a short engagement with the enemy's skirmishers.
Sharp skirmishing continued during the morning, and at 11 o'clock I received orders from General Early to withdraw the Seventh Regiment and my skirmishers so soon as they should be relieved by General Gordon, and to form my brigade on the Cedar Creek road. From this place we were marched around to the left and weal of Winchester, until we reached, at about 3.30 p.m., a position to the north of the Romney road, and between that road and the Pughtown road, in the rear of a fortified hill, to the north of and commanding the main fort. There we halted.
The artillery having been put in position, I was ordered by General Early at about 5 p.m. to form my brigade, and be in readiness to charge and take the fortified position of the enemy in our front, which was the key to all the other fortifications in and around Winchester. Having, in company with General Early, made a careful reconnaissance. I proceeded to form my line on the slope of a wooded hill, in advance of and between the two positions selected for our artillery, placing the Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Regiments (commanded, respectively by Colonels [William] Monaghan, Penn, and Stafford) in the front line, and the Fifth and Eighth Regiments (commanded by Colonels [Henry] Forno and [T. D.] Lewis) at a convenient distance in the rear, to be used on the flanks or in support, as occasion might require.
Having informed General Early that my arrangements were completed, and my brigade in readiness to advance, the artillery at once opened a heavy fire upon the enemy's position. So well directed was this fire, that in a few minutes the enemy were forced to seek shelter behind their works, and scarcely a head was discovered above the ramparts.
At this time, a favorable opportunity presenting itself for me to advance from the woods and cross the open field in my front (at about 6 or 6.30 o'clock). I gave the order to forward. I continued to advance slowly and steadily, and succeeded in clearing the woods, crossing the field, and had begun to ascend the hill upon which were the enemy's fortifications, when, coming in view of our own artillery, it ceased firing. The enemy immediately arose from their hiding-places behind their works, and discovered us just as we had reached the edge of an abatis of felled timber, about 150 yards from the fortifications. The order to charge was given, and so rapidly did this brigade push forward that the enemy had time to give us but a few volleys of musketry and only four or five rounds of canister from their field pieces before the position was reached and carried.
About 150 yards above and to the left of the main fortifications was a small redoubt, manned by infantry and mounted with two pieces of artillery. This work was abandoned by the enemy immediately upon the fall of the other; but as they attempted to carry off their artillery, the Seventh Regiment was at once faced to the left, and, by shooting a few of the horses, saved both guns and caissons.
Owing to the difficulty experienced by my men in getting over the ditches and embankments after the works had been reached, and the precipitate flight of the enemy, the loss of the enemy in killed, wounded, and prisoners was very small. We captured one battery of the Fifth U. S. Artillery (regulars), of six guns, with caissons and trappings complete, and all the horses belonging thereto, save a few which we found it necessary to shoot in order to secure some of the guns.
Shortly after the fortifications had been carried, the enemy made a demonstration to retake it, and with that view had formed three columns. Two of the captured guns were immediately turned upon them, being served by some of my men who had previously been for a short time in the artillery service, and after a few well-directed rounds they were compelled to retire. Smith's brigade and Colonel Jones' battalion of artillery came up to my support shortly afterward. With the exception of quite a brisk cannonading, there was no further fighting that night.
The next morning, June 15, it was discovered that the enemy, seeing the key to all his other works in our possession, had evacuated Winchester, whereupon my brigade, with the remainder of the division, took up the line of march in the direction of Martinsburg.
The loss of my brigade in this engagement was 2 officers and 10 men killed, 8 officers and 59 men wounded, making a total of 12 killed and 67 wounded. My loss on June 13 was as follows: 2 men killed, 3 officers and 8 men wounded, and 3 men missing. Total of the two days' operations: 14 killed, 78 wounded, 3 missing.
I desire here to mention that my officers and men won my highest admiration by the cool, steady, unflinching bravery they exhibited in this action, and particularly would I call attention to the conspicuous gallantry of Lieutenant [John] Orr, adjutant of the Sixth Regiment, who was the first to mount the parapet of the enemy's redoubt, receiving while doing so a severe bayonet wound in the side.
To my staff--Capt. W. J. Seymour, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. John Freeland, aide-de-camp--I am again indebted for valuable services. Also to Capt. John G. Campbell, acting brigade quartermaster and commissary, who rendered me important assistance during this engagement. Captain [J. H.] New, assistant adjutant-general and inspector, was absent, sick.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HARRY T. HAYS,
HEADQUARTERS HAYS' BRIGADE,
August 3, 1863.
Maj. JOHN W. DANIEL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Early's Division.
MAJOR: I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of the troops under my command near the city of Gettysburg, Pa.:
On Wednesday, July 1, after a march of 12 or 14 miles, returning from the city of York, I arrived with my brigade on the Heidlers-burg road, within a mile and a half of Gettysburg. At this point I discovered that a space in the division line of battle had been left for my command, which had been marching in the rear of the column.
Brigadier-General Gordon having deployed to the right, Brigadier-General Hoke's brigade (commanded by Colonel Avery) and Smith's brigade to the left, I formed my line of battle, extending across the road, placing the Fifth, Sixth, and right wing of the Ninth Regiments on the right of the road, the left wing of the Ninth, Seventh, and Eighth Regiments on the left.
This arrangement being completed, Brigadier-General Gordon, a little after 2 o'clock, was ordered to advance. In a short time, Brigadier-General Gordon having encountered the enemy in force, I received an order to advance in support, Hoke's brigade moving forward at the same time on my left. Pressing steadily on, I met with no other opposition than that presented by the enemy's skirmishers and the firing of his artillery until I came up to the line of Gordon's brigade. Here I found the enemy in considerable strength. I still continued to move on, however, succeeding in driving before me all the force opposed until I arrived at the railroad, which here runs from east to west, just striking the edge of the city of Gettysburg. In my progress to this position, the fire to which my command was subjected from the enemy's batteries, posted upon well-selected rises of the ground, was unusually galling. But so rapid and impetuous was the movement of my troops in this advance, that my skirmishers, keeping well to the front, captured two pieces of artillery.
I had barely time to pause at the railroad referred to when I discovered a heavy column of the enemy s troops, which had been engaged with Gordon's brigade and the division of Major-General Rodes, advancing rapidly, threatening my right. Perceiving that a forward movement on my part would expose my flank to an attack from this force, exceeding in numbers that under my command, I immediately changed front forward on the first company, First Battalion, of a portion of my brigade--the Fifth, Sixth, and the right wing of the Ninth Regiments. With this line, after several well-directed volleys, I succeeded in breaking this column on my right, dispersing its men in full flight through the streets of the city. But for this movement on my flank, I should have captured several pieces of artillery opposite the left of my line, upon which the Seventh Regiment was advancing in front and the Eighth by a side street at the time I halted.
After reforming my line of battle, I advanced through the city of Gettysburg, clearing it of the enemy and taking prisoners at every turn; During this time, as well as in my progress to the city, a great number of prisoners were captured by my command, but unwilling to decrease my force by detailing a guard. I simply ordered them to the rear as they were taken. Many of these following the road to the left, fell into the possession of Major-General Rodes' troops. I am satisfied that the prisoners taken in the above-mentioned movements by my brigade exceeded in numbers the force under my command.
My loss this day was small--1 officer and 6 men killed, 4 officers and 37 men wounded, and 15 men missing. The loss of the enemy cannot be known with exactness, but it was apparent from an inspection of the field that his loss exceeded ours by at least six to one.
Having driven the enemy entirely out of the city, I rested my line on one of the upper southern streets, Hoke's brigade, on my left, extending beyond the eastern suburbs. In this position I remained until 12 o'clock that night. At that hour I received an order from Major-General Early to make a reconnaissance of the ground between my situation and that of the enemy, who, after abandoning the city, had intrenched himself on Cemetery Hill, a commanding height, one of a series or chain of hills belting Gettysburg on the south.
After a careful examination of the locality indicated, about 2 o'clock in the morning (July 2) I moved my troops into an open field between the city and the base of a hill intervening between us and Cemetery Hill, throwing out skirmishers to the front. In this field we remained the entire day of July 2, prominently exposed to the fire of the enemy's skirmishers and sharpshooters. During the afternoon of this day, I was directed by Major-General Early to hold my brigade in readiness at a given signal to charge the enemy in the works on the summit of the hill before me, with the information that a general advance of our entire line would be made at the same time.
A little before 8 p.m. I was ordered to advance with my own and Hoke's brigade on my left, which had been placed for the time under my command. I immediately moved forward, and had gone but a short distance when my whole line became exposed to a most terrific fire from the enemy's batteries from the entire range of hills in front, and to the right and left; still, both brigades advanced steadily up and over the first hill, and into a bottom at the foot of Cemetery Hill.
Here we came upon a considerable body of the enemy, and a brisk musketry fire ensued; at the same time his artillery, of which we were now within canister range, opened upon us, but owing to the darkness of the evening, now verging into night, and the deep obscurity afforded by the smoke of the firing, our exact locality could not be discovered by the enemy's gunners, and we thus escaped what in the full light of day could have been nothing else than horrible slaughter.
Taking advantage of this, we continued to move forward until we reached the second line, behind a Stone wall at the foot of a fortified hill. We passed such of the enemy who had not fled, and who were still clinging for shelter to the wall, to the rear, as prisoners. Still advancing, we came upon an abatis of fallen timber and the third line, disposed in rifle-pits. This line we broke, and, as before, found many of the enemy who had not fled hiding in the pits for protection. These I ordered to the rear as prisoners, and continued my progress to the crest of the hill.
Arriving at the summit, by a simultaneous rush from my whole line, I captured several pieces of artillery, four stand of colors, and a number of prisoners. At that time every piece of artillery which had been firing upon us was silenced.
A quiet of several minutes now ensued. Their heavy masses of infantry were heard and perfectly discerned through the increasing darkness, advancing in the direction of my position. Approaching within 100 yards, a line was discovered before us, from the whole length of which a simultaneous fire was delivered. I reserved my fire, from the uncertainty of this being a force of the enemy or of our men, as I had been cautioned to expect friends both in front, to the right, and to the left, Lieutenant-General Longstreet, Major-General Rodes, and Major-General Johnson, respectively, having been assigned to these relative positions; but after the delivery of a second and third volley, the flashing of the musketry disclosed the still-advancing line to be one of the enemy.
I then gave the order to fire; the enemy was checked for a time, but discovering another line moving up in rear of this one, and still another force in rear of that, and being beyond the reach of support, I gave the order to retire to the stone wall at the foot of the hill, which was quietly and orderly effected. From this position I subsequently fell back to a fence some 75 yards distant from the wall, and awaited the further movements of the enemy.
Only contemplating, however, to effect an orderly and controlled retreat before a force which I was convinced I could not hope to with-stand--at all events, where I then was--I was on the point of retiring to a better position when Captain [John G.] Campbell, the brigade quartermaster, informed me that Brigadier-General Gordon was coming to my support.
I immediately dispatched an officer to hasten General Gordon with all possible speed, but this officer returning without seeing General Gordon, I went back myself, and finding General Gordon occupying the precise position in the field occupied by me when I received the order to charge the enemy on Cemetery Hill, and not advancing, I concluded that any assistance from him would be too late, and my only course was to withdraw my command. I therefore moved my brigade by the right flank, leading it around the hill, so as to escape the observation of the enemy, and conducted it to the right of my original position, then occupied, as above stated, by Gordon's brigade. This was about 10 o'clock. I remained in this position for the night.
About daybreak in the morning, I received an order from Major-General Early to withdraw my command from its position, and to occupy that street in the city which I had held during July 1. I continued to remain here that day (the 3d), and until early in the morning of July 4, when I was ordered by Major-General Early out of the city to a range of hills on the west. Here I put my brigade in line of battle, the division line being on the left of Major-General Rodes.
In this position I remained with my command until 2 o'clock on the morning of July 5, when the line of march was taken toward Hagerstown, Md.
My loss was:
Officers and Men Killed Wounded Missing Total July 2 Officers 5 15 3 23 Enlisted Men 16 104 38 158 July 3 Officers 1 3 1 5 Enlisted Men 7 37 18 62 July 4 Officer ---- ---- ---- ---- Enlisted Men ---- ---- 20 20 Total 29 159 80 268
Total loss: 7 officers and 29 men killed, 22 officers and 178 men wounded, and 4 officers and 91 men missing. The missing, I fear, were either killed or wounded.
The artillery captured on the heights of Cemetery Hill I was compelled to abandon. The prisoners sent to the rear, being under charge of no guard, escaped in the darkness; 75 were brought back by my men in retreating from the hill. The colors taken I have now in my possession.
In all the operations in the neighborhood of Gettysburg, I am happy to state that both officers and men, while animated with a spirit of daring that disdained to concede any obstacle to their progress unsurmountable, were yet amenable to all the orders of their leaders, and accepted readily any position assigned them.
While rendering this tribute to the merit of all my command, I would call attention particularly to the efficiency of Cols. L. A. Stafford, Ninth Louisiana Regiment, and D. B. Penn, Seventh Louisiana Regiment. In the engagements of July I and 2, each of these officers distinguished himself by an exhibition of gallant bearing in leading his respective regiment into action, and of soldierly skill in its management and control.
My thanks are due to the several members of my staff, each of whom in his respective department was attentive to the discharge of his duties; Captain New, assistant adjutant-general and acting inspector; Captain Seymour, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Freeland, aide-de-camp.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HARRY T. HAYS,
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