Report of Col. Archibald L. McDougall,
One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry, commanding First Brigade.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., TWELFTH ARMY CORPS,
Catlett's Station, Va., July 26, 1863.
Capt. S. E. PITTMAN,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Division, Twelfth Army Corps.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that after a march from near Stafford Court-House, Va., commencing on June 13, this brigade arrived on June 30 at Littlestown, Pa., when we first came in proximity to the enemy. On our appearance, he immediately withdrew, and we remained near Littlestown, on the Hanover road, until the 1st instant, when we resumed our march toward Gettysburg.
Arriving near this place toward evening, we formed a line of battle about 1½ miles from the town, in rear of the Third Brigade of this division, and about half a mile to the right of the pike on which we had been marching. Remaining in this position but a short time, about dusk we were withdrawn, and placed upon the right of said pike, and there we lay upon our arms until morning.
July 2.--General Williams, commanding the division, having been placed in command of the corps, General Ruger, commanding the Third Brigade, assumed command of the division.
Early in the morning we were again moved to the front upon the right, when we formed a line of battle, threw out skirmishers, and held this position until about 11 a.m., when we were withdrawn, and marched by the way of Littlestown and Gettysburg turnpike across Rock Creek, and formed in the woods about half a mile to the right of Cemetery Hill, in two lines of battle, on the right of the Second Division of this corps, under command of General Geary; our rear line behind a stone wall, our front line parallel to the stone wall and about 40 paces in advance, when we immediately built breastworks to protect the front line.
The brigade, after having established its breastworks in front, with the stone wall in rear, had a very strong position, and was able to resist almost any assault that could have been made in front.
Late in the afternoon, I received orders to march in the rear of the Third Brigade, and we proceeded about 1½ miles to the left of the general line, where our forces had been having a desperate engagement with the enemy, and which continued until our arrival, and we commenced forming a line of battle by way of relieving and re-enforcing our exhausted and wearied troops, which had been maintaining the fight on this part of the line.
The enemy at this moment withdrew, and we remained in line until dusk, when the general commanding the division ordered me to return in the same order to our intrenchments. Before arriving at our former position, anticipating that the enemy might be occupying our works, before entering the woods south of the works, pursuant to orders from the general commanding, the brigade was placed in double line of battle, and one company from the One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers and one from the Fifth Connecticut were forwarded into the woods as skirmishers, with instructions to approach cautiously the intrenchments and ascertain whether they were occupied or not.
It was soon ascertained by the skirmishers that the enemy had not only obtained possession of our works, and were occupying them in force, but had advanced into the woods south of them. On our men retiring, they were fired upon by the enemy from the woods south of the works and immediately in front of our line. This firing temporarily produced some confusion upon the right of the rear line, occupied by the One hundred and forty-fifth New York Volunteers, under the command of Col. E. L. Price, who, for the time, apparently lost command of his men. By the steadiness of the line in front and left of the rear line, the efficient action of the various members of my staff, strongly aided by the general commanding, present at the time, the men soon resumed their position, and order was restored.
The One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, which was one of the regiments in the front line, lost 1 man killed--but whether it was from the fire of the enemy or from a responding fire improperly commenced by some of our men in the rear line cannot be determined--when this brigade, under the orders of the general commanding the division, was moved a short distance to the rear, where they were, in a measure, concealed by a rise of ground in front, and remained upon their arms until morning.
Skirmishers advanced during the night. Lieut. Marcus Beadle, Company I, One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, in command of the company of skirmishers sent from that regiment, was, while reconnoitering near the intrenchments, taken prisoner, as also were 5 men of the company of the Fifth Connecticut Volunteers.
July 3.--An attack was made in the morning upon the enemy in our intrenchments both by infantry and artillery. The Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers were advanced into the woods in front of our troops, where the enemy had posted himself, and to which point was evidently advancing more forces. Lieutenant-Colonel Wooster, who was in command of this regiment, had a difficult and responsible duty to perform. He was not only required to keep the enemy in check, but encountered great difficulty, while resisting the enemy, in protecting himself against the fire of our own artillery, aimed partly over his command at the enemy in and near our intrenchments. His greatest embarrassment was, the farther he pushed the enemy the more directly he was placed under the fire of our own guns. Some of his men became severely wounded by our artillery fire.
For several hours this regiment occupied a most important position in these woods south of our line of intrenchments in preventing the enemy getting around the right of General Geary's forces in the intrenchments on our left, and holding the enemy back so that our artillery could have free play upon his columns without destroying our own troops.
About 2 p.m. this regiment was relieved by the One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, which soon reported to me that, not finding any enemy, they had entered and then held the breastworks, which information was immediately communicated by me to the general commanding the division, when I received orders to move the other regiments of my brigade into the intrenchments, which was immediately done.
During the cannonading in the forenoon from the battery placed upon a hill in our rear, the fire of which was directed over the regiments of this brigade at the enemy in our intrenchments in our front, Col. E. L. Price, One hundred and forty-fifth, sent a messenger to me, informing me that this battery was firing very low and near his command. The messenger was asked by me if any of the troops had been hurt, to which the messenger replied that they had not, so far as he knew or had heard. Recollecting the near approach to a panic to which Colonel Price's command had reached the evening before, without any sufficient cause, and at this time not hearing any complaint from other regiments of the brigade equally exposed, I made the cautionary remark, in reply, that Colonel Price should not get frightened before he was hurt, or words to that effect. Afterward I was informed by officers in command of other regiments that men in their regiments had been wounded, and by the fire of this battery, when I immediately dispatched Capt. E. J. Rice, my acting assistant adjutant-general, to the commanding general and the officer commanding the battery, with information of the fact, requesting of this latter officer that proper and adequate care should be used to avoid the infliction of further injury. Whether from want of proper heed to this remonstrance on the part of the persons in charge of the battery, or whether from imperfect fuse or defective shells, most probably the latter, other men in different regiments were afterward wounded and some killed, when further remonstrance was made, and the command was ordered some distance to the rear, near the creek at the base of the hill, and while here a shell under my own eye fell unexploded into this creek in the rear of my men. No further injury, however, I believe, occurred from this source. Col. E. L. Price, One hundred and forty-fifth New York Volunteers, in his report, says:
I dispatched Sergt. Maj. M. J. Shanly to inform the colonel commanding the brigade that several of my men had been wounded by the fire of our own artillery. On the delivery of this message, the said Sergeant-Major Shanly was instructed by the commanding officer of the brigade to tell Colonel Price not to fret. Shortly after the arrival of this message, 3 more of my command were wounded, including a commissioned officer.
No such message was communicated to me by Colonel Price through Sergeant-Major Shanly or any other person, but, on the contrary, the messenger from Colonel Price, with the only communication to me from him on this subject, distinctly told me, in reply to a question asked by me, that none of the troops had been hurt, as far as he knew or had heard, as before stated. Colonel Price's report is forwarded with this correction in statement of facts.
After the arrival of the several regiments of the brigade in the intrenchments, a heavy cannonading was commenced upon our left, and as the line of the breastworks occupied by this brigade was perpendicular to the position of the general line on the left-attacked, my command for several hours was under the range of the artillery of the enemy, covering us with an enfilading fire, shells and solid shot passing through and crushing the tops of trees over our heads and falling within and on both sides of our works. The command bore this dangerous fire with commendable coolness.
Pursuant to orders from division headquarters, between 4 and 5 p.m., having been relieved in the occupancy of the breastworks by regiments from the Third Brigade, I proceeded with my command to the rear of the left center, near the headquarters of the commander-in-chief, when I was halted in column by an officer from the headquarters of the army, who had met me on the march and conducted me to this position. While at a halt, I received orders from the major-general commanding the corps to remain here until further orders, and, after remaining in this position about three-quarters of an hour, the enemy having been repulsed completely along our whole line, I was ordered, by order from corps headquarters, to return to my breastworks. In returning, I was ordered to place a portion of my command in rear of the Third Brigade, in doing which, while passing through a ravine, Capt. Norman F. Weer, of the One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, a brave and most valuable officer, was wounded in the knee by a musket-shot from one of the enemy's sharpshooters, and has since died. Several men in this regiment were also wounded.
On this day, while behind the breastworks engaged with the enemy's sharpshooters. Capt. Henry Fenton, Company G, Third Maryland Volunteers, an excellent and gallant officer, was killed by a musket-ball through the head, entering his forehead.
While in the breastworks this afternoon, my command was subjected to a very annoying fire from concealed sharpshooters in the woods in front.
In the early part of the evening, the regiments of the Third Brigade were removed from my breastworks, and the regiments of my brigade resumed their former position.
During the forepart of the night, a fire was elicited from my front line by some firing from the enemy in front, which, however, was of short duration and without injury to our side.
July 4.--The One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers, Fifth Connecticut, and Forty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers were detached from my brigade and placed under the command of Colonel Colgrove, of the Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, and, in connection with other regiments of the Third Brigade of this division, with a battery attached, made a reconnaissance in front of the right of our line, around and through the town of Gettysburg, when they returned to the intrenchments.
During this day, the enemy having retired the night before, my command was engaged in gathering arms left on the field by the enemy and taking care of the wounded and burying the dead of both friend and foe.
July 5.--The burying of the rebel dead was still continued in front of our line until all were buried. A very large number of the enemy's dead and wounded were found in the woods in rear, within and in front of our intrenchments. Many were killed by our artillery fire, but the large majority by musketry.
About 10.30 a.m. the brigade, in connection with the corps, commenced march, and proceeded by way of Littlestown, Pa., Frederick City, Md., and Crampton's Gap to near Fair Play, Md.
July 11.--Formed line of battle.
July 12.--In connection with the other brigades of the division, we advanced our line of battle upon the left of the Williamsport and Hagerstown pike about a mile, and remained in this position for awhile, when we fell back about 400 yards, and commenced building breastworks.
July 13.--We remained behind our breastworks, having a line of pickets in front.
July 14.--The brigade was moved to the front; formed a line of battle on the left of the pike; threw out the Third Maryland Regiment as skirmishers, who soon reported that the enemy had evacuated their position in front the night before, when we commenced our march in column down the pike toward Williamsport, and, after advancing about 2 miles, turned to the left toward Falling Waters, and, after proceeding about 2 miles farther, were halted, when our skirmishers, who had preceded us, brought in 6 commissioned officers and 235 enlisted men as prisoners, being a portion of the rear guard of the enemy. It was ascertained at this time that the enemy had crossed the river, and for the time had eluded our pursuit.
During July 2 and 3, Brig. Gen. A. S. Williams being in command of the corps, I was under the immediate command of Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger, commanding the division, and most, if not all, the movements detailed by me during these two days were under his immediate eye and constant advisement, and I cannot let this opportunity pass without acknowledging my obligation to him for the aid and support I derived during those trying days from his superior experience, as well as for the confidence and encouragement inspired by the kind and generous manner in which he maintained the command.
It is also my duty to acknowledge the brave and gallant manner with which Lieutenant-Colonel Wooster, commanding the Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, as well as the officers and men under his command, while in action on the 3d instant, aided in the recovery of our intrenchments. For several hours, without flinching, they maintained a steady contest with the enemy, enduring part of the time an afflictive and discouraging, though accidental, fire of our own batteries. Much credit is also due to the gallant and prompt manner with which Capt. A. H. Tanner, in command of the One hundred and twenty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, relieved the Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, and took and held possession of the breastworks until the arrival of the other regiments of the brigade.
I cannot omit to acknowledge the cordial co-operation of Colonel Sudsburg, of the Third Maryland Volunteers; Colonel Packer, of the Fifth Connecticut Volunteers, and Colonel Selfridge, of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers (though my juniors in rank, yet my seniors in military experience), in all the arduous duties to which this brigade was subjected, not only during the battle at Gettysburg, but both before and during the march afterward and the operations near Williamsport.
But higher, and above all, appear conspicuous the courage, endurance, constancy, and fidelity of the men of the six regiments composing the brigade, without an exception; unawed by danger, unsubdued by privation, fatigue, and hardships, no duty could be or was required of them but was promptly and faithfully performed.
While my command was not brought into as severe action as others, I deem it safe to assume, if not assert, it performed and was subjected, in connection with other troops of the corps, to more varied movement than any other troops on the field.
On July 1, it was placed in position upon the extreme right of the general line.
On the morning of the 2d, it was placed in another position, still on the right. We were that forenoon moved 1½ miles to the right center, where we built breastworks.
In the afternoon of that day we were marched to the extreme left of the line, to return and find our former position occupied by the enemy.
In the morning of the 3d, the corps had a protracted and fearfully severe contest with the enemy in retaking our lost position. This being done, my brigade was moved to the left center to re-enforce troops, and for a while was under the most terrible and desperate attack of the battle.
While action in battle did not follow all of these movements, troops from the Twelfth Corps seemed to be everywhere present along that whole line of battle of 6 miles in extent, wherever troops were or might be needed, and always in time, ready for any dire emergency.
I append a list of casualties to my report, and, in conclusion, cannot omit to mention the efficient aid rendered me during the battle by the various members of my staff. Lieutenant [Darwin S.] Gilger, aide-de-camp, was severely wounded during the terrible artillery fire of the afternoon of the 3d. Capt. William Cogswell, assistant inspector-general, rendered me valuable aid, and Capt. E. J. Rice, acting assistant adjutant-general, distinguished himself by marked fearlessness, and by being ever present where his services were required, and prompt in their discharge.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
A. L. McDOUGALL,
Colonel 123d New York Vols., Comdg. First Brig.
HEADQUARTERS 123D NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
August 13, 1863.
Lieut. ROBERT P. DECHERT,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Brig., First Div.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report, in compliance with your request of August 13, the number of men carried into the engagement at Gettysburg, Pa., July 1, 2, and 3, of each regiment belonging to the First Brigade, First Division, Twelfth Corps, as follows:
Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers (July 1) 321 Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers (July 2) 317 Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers (July 8) 310 Third Maryland Volunteers (July 1) 290 Third Maryland Volunteers (July 2) ---- Third Maryland Volunteers (July 3) ---- Forty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers 262 One hundred and forty-fifth New York Volunteers 245 Fifth Connecticut Volunteers 221 One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers 495
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. L. McDOUGALL,
Colonel 123d New York Vols., Comdg. First Brig.
RETURN TO BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG UNION ORDER OF BATTLE PAGE