Reports of Brig. Gen. Horatio G. Wright,
U.S. Army, commanding First Division.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. FIRST DIV., SIXTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Warrenton, Va., August 7, 1863.
Lieut. Col. M. T. McMAHON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Sixth Corps.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit, in pursuance of orders from corps headquarters, the following report of the operations of this division in connection with the battle of Gettysburg, on the 2d and 3d ultimo:
Just before dark on the evening of July 1, the corps being in camp near Manchester, orders were received to move to Taneytown, and the troops were immediately put in motion.
During the night, and some time after crossing the Baltimore and Gettysburg pike, other orders were received, changing the destination of the corps, and directing it to proceed by rapid marches to Gettysburg. The column, after some delay, was extricated from the narrow road on which it was then moving, and formed on the broad and excellent pike leading direct to Gettysburg. Without halting, except for a few moments each hour to breathe the men, and one halt of about half an hour to enable the men to make coffee, the corps was pushed on to Gettysburg, where it arrived about 4 p.m. after a march variously estimated at from 32 to 35 miles.
The corps here halted for about two hours, when orders came for it to move up with all dispatch, and support the Second, Third, and Fifth Corps, then actively engaged on the left center of the line. On our arrival, a portion of our line was falling back before the determined attack of the enemy's columns, and the Third Division and the Second Brigade, of my division, were promptly moved into position, while my First and Third Brigades were massed and held in reserve. This timely arrival of re-enforcements, with the determined resistance made by the troops already in position, and which had borne with such heroic valor and so severe loss the brunt of the battle, forced the enemy to retreat, and put an end to the contest of July 2.
During the night of the 2d, the brigades of this division held their positions as above noticed.
On the morning of the 3d, at an early hour, under instructions from Major-General Sedgwick, I posted Torbert's brigade near the center of the line, to fill up a gap on the left of the First Corps, when, leaving it attached temporarily to the command of Major-General Newton, I proceeded with Russell's brigade to the extreme left, and assumed the command of the troops at that point, consisting of the brigade just mentioned, the Vermont Brigade, of Howe's division, and two batteries of artillery.
About 5 p.m., orders having been received from Major-General Sedgwick to re-enforce the line on the right of the Fifth Corps against an apprehended attack at that point, I proceeded at once to the spot, but on reaching it the enemy had fallen back repulsed, and the brigade was held in reserve. The other brigades held mainly their positions of the morning through the entire day, neither being actively engaged, though constantly under fire.
On the morning of the 4th, Russell's brigade was posted to the left of the Fifth Corps, on the ascending slope of Round Top Mountain, where it remained during the day and night, the two other brigades holding their positions of the previous day. |
On the morning of the 5th, orders having been received for a reconnaissance by the corps, my division, followed by the others, crossed the valley in our front, occupying the position held by the enemy the day before, and our artillery opened upon a body of the enemy on our right, which soon disappeared without replying, moving off to the rear in retreat. This was the last firing at Gettysburg on either side.
Although the division was not actively engaged at Gettysburg, and suffered but trifling loss, yet, as before remarked, the arrival of the corps of which it forms part was most opportune, and, in my opinion, had an important influence on the result of the contest.
Great credit is due to officers and men for the excellent spirit manifested by them on the fatiguing and extraordinary march accomplished in reaching the battle-field, and it is the more creditable as they had already performed a series of almost unprecedented marches, and were, to some extent, exhausted and required rest. I have made no attempt to detail the parts performed by each brigade, as they are embraced in the reports of the brigade commanders herewith, nor do I inclose a list of casualties, such list having been already furnished to corps headquarters.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
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HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS,
Warrenton, Va., August 21, 1863.
Lieut. Col. M. T. McMAHON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Corps.
COLONEL: In pursuance of instructions from headquarters of the corps, to embrace in the report of the battle of Gettysburg all the operations of the troops from June 28 to the arrival of the army near Warrenton, I have the honor to present the following in addition to the report already submitted:
June 28.--At 4 a.m. the command broke camp near Edwards Ferry, and moved to Hyattstown, a distance of 18 miles.
June 29.--Marched at 4 a.m., via Monrovia, New Market, Ridgeville, and Mount Airy, to near New Windsor, a distance of 22 miles.
June 30.--Marched at 4 a.m. through Westminster; encamped about 2 miles from Manchester, a distance of 23 miles.
From the resumption of the march at about 9 p.m. on the night of July 1 until the 5th of that month, the operations of the division are detailed in the report of the battle of Gettysburg, already submitted.
July 5.--The entire corps moved to the front of the lines at Gettysburg to feel the enemy, and, on ascertaining that he was retreating started in pursuit, overtaking his rear guard about 2 miles from Fairfield at about 5 p.m., and driving it into town after a sharp skirmish, in which we lost I killed and 2 wounded, and the enemy 2 killed and 2 officers and 4 privates taken prisoners.
July 6.--Moved through the town of Fairfield, and at 6 p.m. started for Emmitsburg, which place we reached a little before daylight; distance, about 8 miles.
July 7.--Started at 11.20 a.m., and halted at 10 p.m. in the mountains near Hamburg, in consequence of the severe storm and extreme darkness, which rendered farther progress impossible, distance, about 15 miles.
July 8.--Moved soon after daylight over the mountains to Middletown, reaching that place about noon, a distance of about 8 miles.
July 9.--Leaving Middletown at 5 a.m. and passing through South Mountain Gap, took position at Boonsborough, with the enemy reported at Funkstown, in our front; distance marched, about 8 miles.
July 10.--Moved about 3 miles toward Hagerstown, and took position beyond Beaver Creek and near the Antietam, where we remained through the next day.
July 12.--Moved with the division and Eustis' brigade, of the Third Division, about daybreak, with orders to take possession of Funks-town and carry the crossing of the Antietam Creek, and to take possession of the high grounds beyond. The order was executed, and the command was established in the position designated, the enemy falling back as we advanced. Some time after crossing, and after the rest of the corps had come up, our line was moved to the left, to connect with the Fifth Corps, the First and Twelfth taking position on the right, and occupying the ground we had left.
During the day, Capt. R. W. Furlong, commanding Company D, Sixth Maine Volunteers, with his company, broke through the enemy's skirmish line, and, without the loss of a man, captured an entire company of the enemy, consisting of a captain, a lieutenant, and 33 enlisted men, a feat which is described by General Russell, under whose direction it was accomplished, as "highly daring and gallant."
The movement to the left, above referred to, brought the division in front of the enemy's skirmishers, strongly posted on a ridge parallel to and commanding our position, while his line of battle, from 600 to 800 yards in rear, occupied an equally advantageous position, strengthened by long lines of intrenchments. The ridge held by his skirmishers being vital to us, an attack was made upon it by a strong, skirmish force from the three brigades of the division, which carried it handsomely just before dark, and held it. Our casualties were, 4 officers and 4 men wounded.
During the evening, I received orders to make a reconnaissance of the enemy's position, with a view to develop his strength, in concert with commands from other corps, starting at 7 a.m.
At daylight of the 14th, I received intelligence from the picket line that the enemy had retreated during the night, and at once ordered the skirmishers forward, proceeding with them some 2 miles beyond the enemy's intrenchments, when I ordered the advance of the division, and proceeded with it to Williamsport, where it was found that the enemy's force had crossed the Potomac River some hours before, and that farther pursuit was impracticable, owing to the depth of the river, which was rapidly rising and then too deep for fording.
From Williamsport moved to Boonsborough on the 15th; to Berlin on the 16th; to Wheatland, crossing the Potomac, on the 19th; to Philomont on the 20th; to Little River pike on the 22d; to White Plains, via Rectortown, on the 23d, and to Warrenton starting at 7 p.m. on the 24th, and arriving about 10 a.m. on July 25.
The reports of brigade commanders are herewith.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
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