Reports of Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson, C. S. Army, commanding brigade.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
CAMP NEAR DARKESVILLE, W. VA.,
July 17, 1863.
Maj. H. A. WHITING,
SIR: I have the honor to report that, upon arriving in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pa., where a fight was progressing between the corps of Lieut. Gen. A. P. Hill and the enemy, on the morning of July 1, my brigade, being in the advance of Maj. Gen. R. E. Rodes' division, was ordered by him to form line of battle and advance toward the firing at Gettysburg. This advance brought my brigade across a wooded height overlooking the plain and the town of Gettysburg.
General Rodes here took upon himself the direction of the brigade, and moved it by the right flank, changing at the same time the direction of the line of battle. Masses of the enemy being observed on the plain in front, General Rodes ordered a halt until artillery could be brought to play upon them. During the cannonading that ensued, my brigade was in support of the battery, and, having received instructions from General Rodes to advance gradually to the support of a battery he intended placing in front, and not understanding the exact time at which the advance was to take place, I dispatched a staff officer to him, to learn at what time I was to move forward, and received instructions not to move until my skirmishers became hotly engaged.
Shortly afterward, however, I received an order from him to advance to meet the enemy, who were approaching to take the battery; to call upon Brigadier-General Daniel for support; that Colonel O'Neal's (Alabama) brigade would advance on my left, and the batteries would cease firing as I passed them. I immediately dispatched a staff officer to inform Brigadier-General Daniel that I was about to advance, and one to notify my regiments, and to observe when the brigade on my left commenced to move.
Learning that the Alabama brigade, on my left, was moving, I advanced at once, and soon came in contact with the enemy, strongly posted in woods and behind a concealed stone wall. My brigade advanced to within 100 yards, and a most desperate fight took place. I observed a gap on my left, but presumed that it would soon be filled by the advancing Alabama brigade, under Colonel O'Neal. Briga-dier-General Daniel came up to my position, and I asked him for immediate support, as I was attacking a strong position. He promised to send me a large regiment, which I informed him would be enough, as the Third Alabama Regiment was then moving down on my right, and I then supposed was sent to my support. At the same time, I pointed out to General Daniel a large force of the enemy who were about to outflank my right, and asked him to take care of them. He moved past my position, and engaged the enemy some distance to my right, but the regiment he had promised me, and which I had asked him to forward to the position at which I stood, and where I was being pressed most heavily, did not report to me at all.
I again sent Capt. D. P. Halsey, assistant adjutant-general, to ask General Daniel for aid, who informs me that he met his staff officer, and was told that one regiment had been sent, and no more could be spared. I then found that this regiment had formed on the right of the Third Alabama, which was on my right, and could not be used in time to save my brigade, for Colonel O'Neal's (Alabama) brigade had in the meantime advanced on my left, and been almost instantaneously driven back, upon which the enemy, being relieved from pressure, charged in overwhelming force upon and captured nearly all that were left unhurt in three regiments of my brigade.
When I saw white handkerchiefs raised, and my line of battle still lying down in position, I characterized the surrender as disgraceful; but when I found afterward that 500 of my men were left lying dead and wounded on a line as straight as a dress parade, I exonerated, with one or two disgraceful individual exceptions, the survivors, and claim for the brigade that they nobly fought and died without a man running to the rear. No greater gallantry and heroism has been displayed during this war.
I endeavored, during the confusion among the enemy incident to the charge and capture of my men, to make a charge with my remaining regiment and the Third Alabama, but in the noise and excitement I presume my voice could not be heard.
The fighting here ceased on my part, the Twelfth North Carolina still retaining its position until, Brigadier-General Ramseur coming up, I pointed out the position of the enemy to him, and as soon as I observed his troops about to flank the enemy, I advanced the Twelfth North Carolina and fragments of the other regiments (which Capt. D. P. Halsey had already prepared for a forward movement) into the woods overlooking the town, and took possession of them.
Going out to the front to stop General Ramseur's men from firing into mine, who were in their front, I observed that the enemy were retreating along the railroad, and immediately hastened the Twelfth North Carolina forward to cut them off. The Fifty-third North Carolina Regiment, of General Daniel's brigade, joined in the pursuit, and the Twelfth and Fifty-third North Carolina were the first to reach the railroad along which the enemy were retreating. Numberless prisoners were cut off by us, but I would not permit my men to take them to the rear, as I considered them safe.
Arriving in the town, and having but very few troops left, I informed General Ramseur that I would attach them to his brigade, and act in concert with him, and we formed on the street facing the heights beyond Gettysburg occupied by the enemy, where we remained till the night of July 2, when I was informed by General Ramseur that a night attack was ordered upon the position of the enemy to the right of the town. I had received no instructions, and perceiving that General Ramseur was acquainted with the intentions of the major-general commanding the division, I raised no question of rank, but conformed the movements of my brigade to that of Brigadier-General Ramseur, advanced with him, got under the fire of the enemy's skirmishers and artillery without returning the fire, and perceiving, as I believe every one did, that we were advancing to certain destruction, when other parts of the line fell back, I also gave the order to retreat, and formed in the road, in which we maintained a position during that night and the whole of July 3, while the fight of that day was progressing, and from which we fell back about 3 a.m. of July 4 to the ridge near the theological seminary.
From this position, I was moved about 2 p.m. same day, to escort the wagon train on the Fairfield road. I inclose herewith a list of casualties.
To the officers and men of the brigade great credit is due for the great bravery with which they sustained the position to which they were ordered to advance.
Capt. D. P. Halsey, assistant adjutant-general, was very conspicuous throughout the day for his distinguished gallantry and energy.
Lieut. Col. H. E. Coleman, volunteer aide, and Lieut. J. T. Ector, aide-de-camp, were also especially zealous and brave in the discharge of the duties I called upon them to perform.
Much credit is due the brave Capt. Benjamin Robinson, Fifth North Carolina, for the manner in which he handled his corps of sharpshooters.
I cannot fail to commend the officers and men of the Twelfth North Carolina for the steady retention of their position, and for their bold advance without supports into the woods occupied by the enemy.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
CAMP NEAR DARKESVILLE, W. VA.,
July 17, 1863.
Maj. H. A. WHITING,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on July 4 my brigade was moved, by order received from Colonel [Abner] Smead, corps inspector, from Gettysburg, to escort a wagon train in the direction of Hagerstown, on the Fairfield road. The train having started some time in advance of me, I did not overtake it till midnight, at which time I learned that it had been cut in two by the enemy at the turnpike. I hastened forward all my troops in the most fatiguing march I ever witnessed, reached the turnpike about dawn, captured a few of the enemy, got the remnant of the train out on the turnpike, and, when Lieut. Gen. A. P. Hill's corps came up, moved down the mountain and went into camp.
Reached Hagerstown next day 6th, where I found the enemy engaged with our cavalry. Sent the train back to the rear, deployed skirmishers, fixed an ambuscade, and I believe killed, wounded, and captured as many of the enemy as I had men. My loss was 3 killed and 6 wounded. Drove the enemy through Hagerstown, and marched to within 2 miles of Williamsport that night, in support of Major-General Stuart's cavalry, which had come up during the fight.
Next day 7th, entered Williamsport, and turned over the train. Seeing great confusion, I assumed the duties of provost-marshal, and used my brigade for several days as guards, &c., when my connection with the brigade ceased.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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