Report of Maj. Gen. R. E. Rodes, CSA, commanding division.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
HEADQUARTERS RODES' DIVISION,
Orange Court-House, -- --, 1863.
Lieut. Col. A. S. PENDLETON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
COLONEL: In compliance with orders, I have the honor herewith to submit a report of the operations of this division during the period which elapsed from the breaking up of camp at Grace Church, in Caroline County, to its return to the Rappahannock waters.
During this period the division was organized as follows: Daniel's (North Carolina) brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel, composed of the following regiments: Thirty-second North Carolina, commanded by Col. E. C. Brabble; Forty-third North Carolina, commanded by Col. Thomas S. Kenan; Forty-fifth North Carolina, commanded by Lieut. Col. S. H. Boyd; Fifty-third North Carolina, commanded by Col. W. A. Owens, and Second North Carolina Battalion, commanded by Lieut. Col. H. L. Andrews. Doles' (Georgia) brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. George Doles, composed of the Fourth Georgia, commanded by Lieut. Col. D. R. E. Winn; Twelfth Georgia, commanded by Col. Edward Willis; Twenty-first Georgia, commanded by Col. John T. Mercer, and Forty-fourth Georgia commanded by Col. S. P. Lumpkin. Iverson's (North Carolina) brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson, composed of the Fifth North Carolina, commanded by Capt. S. B. West; twelfth North Carolina, commanded by Lieut. Col. W. S. Davis; Twentieth North Carolina, commanded by Lieut. Col. N. Slough, and Twenty-third North Carolina, commanded by Col. D. H. Christie. Ramseur's (North Carolina) brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. S. D. Ramseur, composed of the Second North Carolina, commanded by Maj. D.W. Hurtt; Fourth North Carolina, commanded by Col. Bryan Grimes; Fourteenth North Carolina, commanded by Col. R. T. Bennett, and Thirtieth North Carolina, commanded by Col. F. M. Parker. Rodes' (Alabama) brigade, commanded by Col. E. A. O'Neal, composed of Third Alabama, commanded by Col. C. A. Battle; Fifth Alabama, commanded by Col. J. M. Hall; Sixth Alabama, commanded by Col. J. N. Lightfoot; Twelfth Alabama, commanded by Col. S. B.'Pickens, and Twenth-sixth Alabama, commanded by Lieut. Col. J. C. Goodgame. Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Carter's battalion of sixteen pieces of artillery, composed of [William P.] Carter's, [R. C. M.] Page's, [C. W.] Fry's, and [William J.] Reese's batteries.
Receiving orders on June 3 to march, the division was put in motion early on the morning of the 4th, after marching some 16 miles, bivouacked 2 miles north of Spotsylvania Court-House.
Next day, after a march of 21 miles, turning to the right at Verdierville, in order to cross the Rapidan at Raccoon or Somerville Ford, we bivouacked near Old Verdierville.
After marching about 4 miles on the 6th, I received orders to halt, and await further orders.
Resuming the march on the 7th, we crossed the Rapidan at Somerville Ford, passed through Culpeper Court-House, and bivouacked 4 miles beyond, on the Rixeyville road, having marched about 19 miles.
On the 8th, finding that a long march was ahead of us, and that the supplies had to be closely looked to, I ordered all the baggage, tents, &c., that could be spared to be sent to the rear. By this means, each brigade was enabled to transport three days' rations in its train, in addition to an equal amount in the division commissary train, the men also carrying three days' rations each in his haversack; hence, when the division resumed its march, it was supplied with fully nine days' rations.
On the 9th, anticipating an order to do so, I moved the division toward Brandy Station, to the support of General Stuart's cavalry. Halting, under Lieutenant-General Ewell's orders, at Botts' place, I subsequently, under orders, advanced to Barbour's house, in advance of the station, but did not get in reach of the enemy, he having apparently been repulsed by the cavalry.
On the afternoon of the 10th, the division resumed the road, under orders, and, after a 10-mile march, bivouacked on' Hazel River, near Gourd Vine Church.
Next day, the route was resumed at an early hour, and, without exception, on the worst road I have ever seen troops and trains pass over. The route designated for the division led by Newby's Cross-Roads to Washington; but finding the portion of the road between these two points absolutely impracticable, and the men and horses well-nigh exhausted by the severe march to Newby's Cross-Roads, I was compelled to proceed by Gaines' Cross-Roads. Before taking that route, however, I found that the movements of the division were not likely to be discovered by the enemy, and hence that there was no necessity for taking the more tortuous and difficult road by Washington.
The route via Gaines' Cross-Roads to Flint Hill being a good one, we reached the latter place early in the afternoon, and halted an hour or more to await the passage of Early's division, which I knew was to precede mine, and which was to have entered at Flint Hill, the turnpike upon which I was marching. Ascertaining that General Early had been compelled to abandon his prescribed line of march by reason of the impracticable character of the Fodderstack road, and acting under orders from Lieutenant-General Ewell, I resumed the march, and bivouacked about one mile and a half north of Flint Hill, having marched about 15 miles.
On June 12, having received orders to proceed in advance of the other divisions of the corps, my command crossed the Blue Ridge through Chester Gap, passed through Front Royal, forded both forks of the Shenandoah River, and halted for a few hours near Cedarville. Here the lieutenant-general fully unfolded his immediate plans of action to me, which was, in brief, as follows, orders being given me to proceed at once and in accordance with this plan to the execution of my part of it: The main features of the plan were the simultaneous attack of Winchester and Berryville, the subsequent attack of Martinsburg, and the immediate entrance into Maryland, via Williamsport or any other point near there which events indicated as best. My division was ordered to take the Berryville road, via Millwood, to attack and seize Berryville; then to advance without delay on Martinsburg, and thence proceed to Maryland, there to await further orders; this while the other two divisions of the corps reduced Winchester.
To enable me to carry out this plan the better, and to obtain full supplies of fresh meat, &c., as soon as possible after crossing the Potomac, and other purposes not necessary to mention, the cavalry brigade of General A. G. Jenkins, of about 1,600 men, which had just joined the column, was placed under my command.
In obedience to my instructions, the division was at once moved directly from Cedarville toward Millwood by an unfrequented road, under the guidance of Mr. John McCormack, a most excellent guide and soldier. To conceal the movements of the infantry, the cavalry were ordered to take the road by Nineveh Church and White Post, and a part of it to proceed to Millwood. After a march of 17 miles, the division bivouacked near Stone Bridge.
On the 13th, we moved on toward Berryville, but before reaching Millwood the advance of the infantry was discovered by some of the enemy's cavalry who had come up from Berry's Ferry (apparently en route to Berryville), a result which would have been avoided had General Jenkins occupied Millwood during the night before, as he was ordered to do. Finding our movements discovered, the division was marched with the utmost celerity through Millwood upon Berryville, where Jenkins' brigade, after driving in the enemy's cavalry, was found held at bay by the Federal artillery.
Arriving on the field, and communicating with General Jenkins, it was apparent that the enemy were preparing to evacuate the place, but still held it, as well as I could judge, with infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
I immediately determined to surround them, if possible, and ordered General Jenkins to march to the left of the town, to cut off the retreat of the enemy toward Winchester. The infantry, save one brigade, without being halted, were ordered to move to the right and left of the place, to unite in its rear. These movements were begun and executed under cover, but, before their execution was much advanced, it became apparent to me that the enemy was retreating, and I ordered the Alabama brigade, Colonel O'Neal commanding, to advance rapidly upon the town, which was done.
I was mortified to learn that the enemy, abandoning his tents, a few stores, &c., had left his cavalry and artillery to keep our cavalry in check, and had some time before retreated with his infantry toward Charlestown, without being discovered. I found that the approaches to the town were well defended by rifle-pits and earthworks for guns, and that with an adequate force it was capable of being strongly defended. It had, however, been held by a force too small to admit of a successful defense against my command. The enemy's force there consisted of two small regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and a battery of rifled guns, in all about 1,800 men, under the command of Colonel [A. T.] McReynolds. Neither my troops nor General Jenkins' cavalry suffered any-loss, the enemy firing only a few rounds of artillery after my arrival.
A portion of General Jenkins' men had been skirmishing during the afternoon of the previous day and on the morning of the 13th and had lost a few men, among them Lieut. Charles Norvell, who was wounded and captured in a gallant charge upon the enemy near Nineveh. After securing such stores as were at all valuable, the division was again put in motion toward Martinsburg. General Jenkins had already proceeded in pursuit of the enemy by a road west of Berryville. One portion of his command, under my orders, pursued him by the Charlestown road.
Just before reaching the road to Summit Point, I was informed by an officer of the cavalry that the enemy pursued that route, and later that he had gone toward Winchester. I followed him to Sumreit Point, where we bivouacked, after having marched about 20 miles, not including the wide détours made at Berryville by the brigades of Daniel, Doles, Ramseur, and Iverson, in the effort to surround the enemy.
Major [J. W.] Sweeney s battalion, of Jenkins brigade, which had been put in pursuit of the enemy under my direct orders, overtook his rear guard near the Opequon Creek, and made a most gallant charge upon it, capturing a piece of artillery, which they were unable to hold, the enemy being too strong for them. Major Sweeney, who acted very gallantly in this affair, was very badly wounded in the charge.
In the absence of any official report from General Jenkins, I cannot explain why he did not intercept at least a portion of the enemy's force. It seems, however, clear that before the close of the day the General made a fierce attack upon a detachment of cavalry and infantry at Bunker Hill, losing several men in a gallant attack upon a party of the latter, who had thrown themselves into two stone houses, well provided for defense, with loop-holes and barricades fixed for that purpose. He captured here about 75 or 100 prisoners, and drove the balance toward Martinsburg. These facts I learned on the next day.
On the morning of the 14th, it was apparent that during the night the enemy had continued his march to Winchester, whither I ordered the only force of cavalry I could then communicate with (Sweeney's battalion) to follow and annoy him.
Not having heard anything from Winchester, though I had dispatched several couriers to the lieutenant-general commanding, I hesitated for a few moments between proceeding toward Martinsburg, in accordance with my general instructions, and turning toward Winchester. The reflection that, should my division be needed there, I would that day receive orders to turn back, determined me to push on to Martinsburg as rapidly as possible, which I did, reaching that place late in the afternoon, after a very fatiguing march of 19 miles.
Arriving in the field before Martinsburg ahead of the troops, I found General Jenkins with his command before the enemy, skirmishing with him occasionally. The enemy's forces were drawn up in line of battle on the right of the town, exhibiting infantry, cavalry, and artillery. General Jenkins, through Captain [W. A.] Harris, of my staff, had summoned the Federal commander to surrender, which he declined doing.
Before the infantry came up, I ordered General Jenkins to move most of his force to the left of the town, to dismount it, and send it forward as skirmishers, to endeavor to get possession of the town, thus cutting off the enemy's retreat toward Hedgesville and Williamsport, and to report to me what force, if any, he discovered in and to the left of the town. At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel Carter was directed to take the best position for his artillery to enable him to silence the opposing battery, which was annoying us.
Without halting, the infantry was put in a position for a direct attack--the Alabama brigade on the right, supporting the artillery, which had already opened. Ramseur on the left, Doles and Iverson in the center, Daniel in reserve. Before these preparations had been completed, however, the enemy's battery had been nearly silenced, and, fearing he would retreat, I ordered Ramseur's brigade and each of the others in turn to advance with speed upon the enemy's position.
Notwithstanding their fatiguing march, the troops exhibited great enthusiasm, and rapidly occupied the town and the enemy's position. Ramseur s brigade, being in the lead, pursued the enemy at almost a run for 2 miles beyond the town, but, quick as it was, the dismounted cavalry and a squadron or two on horseback, under General Jenkins, were ahead of them, and, after a few shots, compelled the enemy to abandon all his guns, with perhaps one exception. Five of his pieces, with their caissons and most of their horses, were thus captured.
Nothing was seen of the Federal infantry after the attack began, nor was it known for some hours after their retreat that it escaped by the Shepherdstown road, while the cavalry and artillery fled by way of Williamsport. This latter fact, together with the darkness, prevented the cavalry from discovering that the force had divided. Could the division have reached the town an hour or two earlier, thus giving me time to seize the principal roads leading into Martinsburg, I feel certain that I would have captured the whole force. Under the circumstances, however, nothing was proper excepting a direct attack, as to have awaited daylight would have lost to us all the artillery and the stores, which we secured by moving ahead without delay.
General Jenkins continued the pursuit of the enemy that night nearly to the river, capturing many prisoners. Many others were taken in town by the infantry. The enemy endeavored to burn the stores accumulated at Martinsburg, and to a large extent succeeded in doing so, but left in our hands some 6,000 bushels of fine grain, some commissary stores, about 400 rounds of rifled artillery ammunition, and small-arms and ammunition in small quantity. With the artillery were captured two excellent ambulances.
After recalling Ramseur from the pursuit, and putting a regiment of Doles' brigade in the town as a guard, the appropriate officers were set to work gathering prisoners, who were concealed in the houses of many of the Union families of the town, and taking inventories of the supplies.
On the 15th, the troops were allowed to rest until after 10 a.m., when, for the first time, I received information as to the progress of events at Winchester, and about the same time learned that General Milroy with his shattered command had passed Smithfield, en route for Harper's Ferry, and had already gotten out of my reach. General Jenkins' gallant brigade, under his impetuous leadership, had already succeeded in crossing the Potomac above Williamsport, and, after driving off the small force at that place, had advanced into Pennsylvania.
Leaving Colonel Lightfoot with his regiment (the Sixth Alabama) as a guard at Martinsburg, and ordering the pioneers of the division to continue during that day and the next the destruction of the railroad, I put the division in motion for Williamsport, and arrived there by dark, after the most trying march we had yet had; most trying because of the intense heat, the character of the road, and the increased number of barefooted men in the command.
Three brigades (Ramseur's, Iverson's, and Doles'), with three batteries of artillery, were ordered across the Potomac at once. It was not until this day that the troops began to exhibit unmistakable signs of exhaustion, and that stragglers could be found in the line of march, and even then none but absolutely worn-out men fell out of line. The whole march from Culpeper Court-House to Williamsport, which was an extremely rapid one, was executed in a manner highly creditable to the officers and men of the division. A halt at Williamsport was absolutely necessary from the condition of the feet of the unshod men. Very many of these gallant fellows were still marching in ranks, with feet bruised, bleeding, and swollen, and withal so cheerfully as to entitle them to be called the heroes of the Pennsylvania campaign. None but the best of soldiers could have made such a march under such circumstances.
As soon as possible after arriving at Williamsport, a strong guard was placed over it, and the necessary instructions were given to General Jenkins about obtaining supplies of cattle and horses. In obedience to orders, the command-remained at Williamsport during the 16th, 17th, and 18th, during which time, with the aid of General Jenkins' cavalry, the commissaries and quartermasters obtained, in a proper manner, large supplies in their respective departments. The pioneers, under Capt. Arthur M. Chichester, were busy during our rest here trying to destroy the aqueduct over the Conococheague. Some 5,000 pounds of leather were bought by Major [J. G.] Paxton at Williamsport, and sent to the rear. At Hagerstown and Williamsport, 35 kegs of powder were purchased and sent back. I may as well mention here that at Williamsport, Hagerstown, Chambersburg, &c., large quantities of such articles as were suitable for Government use were obtained by purchase or certificate, and sent back by Quartermasters Paxton, [J. D.] Rogers, and [J. A.] Harman. During the march into Pennsylvania, some 2,000 or 3,000 head of cattle were taken, and either appropriated for the command or sent to the rear for the other divisions. Some 1,200 or 1,500 were thus sent back. The horses were almost all seized by the cavalry of General Jenkins, and were rarely accounted for. My best efforts were made to suppress all irregularities, and, being very generally and cheerfully seconded by officers and men, they succeeded satisfactorily. Some few cases of fraud and (at Greencastle) some of violence to property (the latter traceable to the cavalry) were heard of. A few instances of forced purchases were reported, but never established. I believe that one quartermaster seized such articles as velvet, &c., but could not find him out. In all cases of purchase that came before me, the parties were fully paid and satisfied.
On the 17th or 18th, the lieutenant-general commanding visited my quarters, and gave me additional instructions, to the effect that the division should on the 19th resume its march, and move slowly toward Chambersburg until the division of General Johnson had crossed the Potomac.
Accordingly, on the 19th it was put in motion, and proceeded to Hagerstown, where, in obedience to further instructions, its march was directed toward Boonsborough, as if threatening Harper's Ferry, and halted about 2 miles from Hagerstown, on the Boonsborough road.
Remaining two days near Hagerstown, during which period I received further verbal instructions in a personal interview with Lieutenant-General Ewell, on the 22d the division resumed its march, and on that day penetrated into the enemy's country. Iverson's brigade was the first to touch Pennsylvania soil. After a march of 13 miles, we bivouacked at Greencastle. During the night, under orders, I reported in person at the headquarters of the lieutenant-general commanding, then at Beaver Creek, between Boonsborough and Hagerstown, and, after an interview with him and General Early, rejoined my command next day, Lieutenant-General Ewell accompanying me.
General Jenkins had in the meantime advanced to Chambersburg, where he was ordered to remain until my division came up, which he failed to do, because of the reported approach of the enemy in strong force. The result was that most of the property in that place which would have been of service to the troops, such as boots, hats, leather, &c., was removed or concealed before it was reoccupied. From this date, General Jenkins was directly under the orders of the lieutenant-general in effect, as the latter was thenceforth constantly with the advance guard of infantry.
At Greencastle, the orders of General Lee, regulating the conduct of troops and officers of all departments while in the enemy's country, were received, but they had in substance been anticipated by orders first from division and then from corps headquarters. The conduct of the troops of this division was entirely in accordance with those orders, and challenged the admiration of their commanding officers, while it astonished the people along the line of march. These latter very generally expected to be treated by us with the wanton cruelty generally exhibited by their troops when they are upon our soil. As a general rule, they apparently expected to see their houses burned down and all their property carried off or destroyed.
From June 23, the movements of my command were executed under the immediate supervision of the commander of the corps.
Resuming its march on the 24th, the division made 14 miles, passing through Chambersburg, which had been reoccupied by General Jenkins that morning, and bivouacked on the Conococheague, 2 miles beyond the town. The Third Alabama Regiment, Colonel Battle commanding, was left in the town as a guard for the people, property, &c. At Chambersburg, the division of General Johnson joined mine, and the two, moving on slowly without noteworthy incident, reached Carlisle on the 27th. The brigades of Daniel, Iverson, and Ramseur occupied the United States barracks at this place, that of General Doles bivouacked on the campus of Dickinson College, a portion of his force acting as guard for the town, while the Alabama brigade bivouacked on and picketed the Baltimore turnpike, 1 miles from town.
Large supplies of cattle, horses, and flour were obtained here and on the march, and in the barracks' stables a large quantity of grain was found. Most of the Government property, excepting the grain, had been removed by the enemy, but musketoons, holsters, tents, and a small quantity of subsistence stores were found in the barracks.
On our arrival at Carlisle, Jenkins' cavalry advanced toward Harrisburg, and had on the 29th made a thorough reconnaissance of the defenses of the place, with a view to our advance upon it, a step which every man in the division contemplated with eagerness, and which was to have been executed on the 30th; but on the 30th, having received orders to move toward the balance of the army, they supposed to be at or near Cashtown, we set out for that place, marching through Petersburg, and bivouacking at Heidlersburg, after a march of at least 22 miles.
On July 1, in pursuance of the order to rejoin the army, the division resumed its march, but upon arriving at Middletown, and hearing that Lieutenant-General Hill's corps was moving upon Gettysburg, by order of General Ewell, the head of the column was turned in that direction: When within 4 miles of the town, to my surprise, the presence of the enemy there in force was announced by the sound of a sharp cannonade, and instant preparations for battle were made.
On arriving on the field, I found that by keeping along the wooded ridge, on the left side of which the town of Gettysburg is situated, I could strike the force of the enemy with which General Hill's troops were engaged upon the flank, and that, besides moving under cover, whenever we struck the enemy we could engage him with the advantage in ground.
The division was, therefore, moved along the summit of the ridge, with only one brigade deployed at first, and finally, as the enemy's cavalry had discovered us and the ground was of such character as to admit of cover for a large opposing force, with three brigades deployed; Doles on the left, Rodes' (old) brigade, Colonel O'Neal commanding, in the center, and Iverson on the right, the artillery and the other two brigades moved up closely to the line of battle. The division had to move nearly a mile before coming in view of the enemy's forces, excepting a few mounted men, and finally arrived at a point--a prominent hill on the ridge--whence the whole of that portion of the force opposing General Hill's troops could be seen. To get at these troops properly, which were still over half a mile from us, it was necessary to move the whole of my command by the right flank, and to change direction to the right.
While this was being done, Carter's battalion was ordered forward, and soon opened fire upon the enemy, who at this moment, as far as I could see, had no troops facing me at all. He had apparently been surprised; only a desultory fire of artillery was going on between his troops and General Hill's; but before my dispositions were made, the enemy began to show large bodies of men in front of the town, most of which were directed upon the position which I held, and almost at the same time a portion of the force opposed to General Hill changed position so as to occupy the woods on the summit of the same ridge I occupied (I refer to the forest touching the railroad and extending along the summit of the ridge toward my position as far as the Mummasburg road, which crossed the ridge at the base of the hill I held). Either these last troops, or others which had hitherto been unobserved behind the same body of woods, soon made their appearance directly opposite my center.
Being thus threatened from two directions, I determined to attack with my center and right, holding at bay still another force, then emerging from the town (apparently with the intention of turning my left), with Doles' brigade, which was moved somewhat to the left for this purpose, and trusting to this gallant brigade thus holding them until General Early's division arrived, which I knew would be soon, and which would strike this portion of the enemy's force on the flank before it could overpower Doles.
At this moment Doles' brigade occupied the open plain between the Middletown road and the foot of the ridge before spoken of. The Alabama brigade, with a wide interval between it and Doles', extended from this plain up the slope of the ridge; Daniel's brigade supported Iverson's, and extended some distance to the right of it; Ramseur was in reserve. All the troops were in the woods excepting Doles' and a portion of Rodes (O'Neal's) brigades, but all were subjected to some loss or annoyance from the enemy's artillery.
While making some examination into the position and apparent intentions of the enemy, with the view of attacking him, this artillery fire became so annoying that I ordered the Alabama brigade from the line it had occupied to fall back abreast with Iverson, so as to obtain some little shelter for the troops. The right regiment (Third Alabama) was, under my order, placed on a line with Daniel s brigade, Colonel O'Neal being instructed to form the balance of the brigade upon it. These dispositions were but temporary and unimportant, and are mentioned only because they are necessary to a full understanding of Colonel O'Neal's report.
Finding that the enemy was rash enough to come out from the woods to attack me, I determined to meet him when he got to the foot of the hill I occupied, and, as he did so, I caused Iverson's brigade to advance, and at the same moment gave in person to O'Neal the order to attack, indicating to him precisely the point to which he was to direct the left of the four regiments then under his orders, the Fifth Alabama, which formed the extreme left of this brigade, being held in reserve, under my own immediate command, to defend the gap between O'Neal and Doles. Daniel was at the same moment instructed to advance to support Iverson, if necessary; if not, to attack on his right as soon as possible.
Carter's whole battalion was by this time engaged hotly--a portion from the right, the remainder from the left of the hill--and was subjected to a heavy artillery fire in return. Iverson's brigade attacked handsomely, but suffered very heavily from the enemy s musketry fire from behind a stone wall along the crest of the ridge. The Alabama brigade went into action in some confusion, and with only three of its regiments (the Sixth, Twelfth, and Twenty-sixth), the Fifth having been retained by my order, and, for reasons explained to Colonel O'Neal, the Third having been permitted by Colonel O'Neal to move with Daniel's brigade.
The three first-mentioned regiments moved with alacrity (but not in accordance with my orders as to direction) and in confusion into the action. It was soon apparent that we were making no impression upon the enemy, and hence I ordered forward the Fifth Alabama to their support; but, to my surprise, in giving this command to its colonel (Hall). I found that Colonel O'Neal, instead of personally superintending the movements of his brigade, had chosen to remain with his reserve regiment. The result was that the whole brigade, with the exception of the Third Alabama (the movements of which will be seen by reference to the reports of Generals Ramseur and Iverson and Colonel Battle), was repulsed quickly, and with loss. Upon investigation recently, I find that just as O'Neal's men were about starting, and upon his informing me that he and his staff officers were not mounted, and that he had no mounted men with him, I permitted him to send Lieutenant [James P.] Arrington, of my staff, to Colonel Battle, commanding the Third Alabama Regiment, with his orders, and that Lieutenant Arrington delivered them to Colonel Battle.
Iverson's left being thus exposed, heavy loss was inflicted upon his brigade. His men fought and died like heroes. His dead lay in a distinctly marked line of battle. His left was overpowered, and many of his men, being surrounded, were captured.
General Daniel's gallant brigade, by a slight change in the direction of Iverson's attack, had been left too far to his right to assist him directly, and had already become engaged. The right of this brigade coming upon the enemy, strongly posted in a railroad cut, was, under its able commander's orders, thrown back skillfully, and the position of the whole brigade was altered so as to enable him to throw a portion of his force across the railroad, enfilade it, and attack to advantage.
After this change, General Daniel made a most desperate, gallant, and entirely successful charge upon the enemy, driving him at all points, but suffering terribly. The conduct of General Daniel and his brigade in this most desperate engagement elicited the admiration and praise of all who witnessed it. Just as his last effort was made, Ramseur's brigade, which under my orders had been so disposed as to support both Iverson and O'Neal, was ordered forward, and was hurled by its commander with the skill and gallantry for which he is always conspicuous, and with irresistible force, upon the enemy just where he had repulsed O'Neal and checked Iverson's advance.
In the meantime, General Early's division had been brought into action on my left with great success, and Doles, thus relieved, without waiting for orders, and though greatly outnumbered, boldly attacked the heavy masses of the enemy in his front. After a short but desperate contest, in which his brigade acted with unsurpassed gallantry, he succeeded in driving them before him, thus achieving on the left, and about the same time, a success no less brilliant than that of Ramseur, in the center, and Daniel, on the right.
In this affair, Doles handled his men with a skill and effect truly admirable, exhibiting marked coolness and courage.
O'Neal's shattered troops, which had assembled without order on the hill, rushed forward, still without order, but with all their usual courage, into the charge. Fry's battery, by my order, was pushed closely after Ramseur.
The Twelfth North Carolina, which had been held well in hand by Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, and the shattered remnants of the other regiments of Iverson's brigade, which had been rallied and organized by Capt. D. P. Halsey, assistant adjutant-general of the brigade, made under his guidance a dashing and effective charge just in time to be of considerable service to Ramseur and Daniel, and with them pressed closely after the enemy.
These successes were rapidly followed by a successful attack on my right on the part of General A. P. Hill's troops, who renewed their attack in time to put a stop to a murderous enfilade and reverse fire to which, in addition to the heavy direct fire it encountered, Daniel's brigade had been subjected from the time he commenced fairly his final advance.
The enemy was thus routed at all points. My division followed him closely into and through the town, Doles and Ramseur entering in such close contact with the enemy that the former, who penetrated the heart of the town first of all, had two sharp and successful encounters with the enemy in its streets, and the latter, who entered farther to the right, captured the colors of the One hundred and fiftieth Pennsylvania Regiment in its streets, Lieutenant [F. M.] Harney, of his brigade, tearing them from the hands of the color-bearer, and falling almost immediately thereafter, mortally wounded.
In the pursuit, the division captured about 2,500 prisoners--so many as to embarrass its movements materially.
The troops, being greatly exhausted by their march and somewhat disorganized by the hot engagement and rapid pursuit, were halted and prepared for further action. I did not change their position materially, nor order another attack, for the following reasons: 1st, in the midst of the engagement just described, the corps commander informed me, through one of his officers, that the general commanding did not wish a general engagement brought on, and hence, had it been possible to do so then, I would have stopped the attack at once; but this, of course, it was impossible to do then; 2d, before the completion of his defeat before the town, the enemy had begun to establish a line of battle on the heights back of the town, and by the time my line was in a condition to renew the attack, he displayed quite a formidable line of infantry and artillery immediately in my front, extending smartly to my right, and as far as I could see to my left, in front of Early. To have attacked this line with my division alone, diminished as it had been by a loss of 2,500 men, would have been absurd. Seeing no Confederate troops at all on my right; finding that General Early, whom I encountered in the streets of the town within thirty minutes after its occupation by our forces, was awaiting further instructions, and, receiving no orders to advance, though my superiors were upon the ground, I concluded that the order not to bring on a general engagement was still in force, and hence placed my lines and skirmishers in a defensive attitude, and determined to await orders or further movements either on the part of Early or of the troops on my right.
My skirmishers were promptly thrown out so as to cover more than half the town and the front of the division, which was drawn up in two lines, Doles', Iverson's, and Ramseur's brigades making the front line, and extending from the left of the center of the town along one of its principal streets and out on the road to Fairfield; the second line, composed of the brigades of Daniel and O'Neal, extended along the railroad, about 200 yards in rear and considerably to the right of the first. In this position we remained quietly, but with considerable annoyance from the enemy's sharpshooters and artillery, until the morning of the next day.
On July 2, nothing of importance transpired in my front. The rest of the men generally was only disturbed by the occasional skirmishing and desultory firing of the opposing sharpshooters; but Daniel's brigade, which had been early in the morning moved by my order so as to connect with Pender's division, on the crest of the ridge before spoken of, was subjected to a galling artillery fire, especially in the afternoon. Late in the afternoon, however, an attack was made upon the enemy's position by some troops of the right wing of the army, which produced some stir among the enemy in my immediate front, and seemed to cause there a diminution of both artillery and infantry.
Orders given during the afternoon, and after the engagement had opened on the right, required me to co-operate with the attacking force as soon as any opportunity of doing so with good effect was offered. Seeing the stir alluded to, I thought that opportunity had come, and immediately sought General Early, with a view of making an attack in concert with him. He agreed with me as to the propriety of attacking, and made preparations accordingly. I hastened to inform the officer commanding the troops on my right (part of Pender's division) that, in accordance with our plan, I would attack just at dark, and proceeded to make my arrangements; but having to draw my troops out of town by the flank, change the direction of the line of battle, and then to traverse a distance of 1,200 or 1,400 yards, while General Early had to move only half that distance without change of front, the result was that, before I drove the enemy's skirmishers in, General Early had attacked and had been compelled to withdraw.
After driving in the enemy's skirmishers, the advance line was halted by General Ramseur, who commanded the right brigade, to enable him to report to me certain important facts (for statement of which I refer to his report) he had discovered as to the nature of the ground and of the defenses. These facts, together with Early's withdrawal, of which I had been officially informed, and the increased darkness, convinced me that it would be a useless sacrifice of life to go on, and a recall was ordered. But instead of falling back to the original line, I caused the front line to assume a strong position in the plain to the right of the town, along the hollow of an old roadbed. This position was much nearer the enemy, was clear of the town, and was one from which I could readily attack without confusion. The second line was placed in the position originally held by the first. Everything was gotten ready to attack at daylight; but a short time after assuming this new position, I was ordered to send without delay all the troops I could spare without destroying my ability to hold my position, to re-enforce Major-General Johnson. As my front line was much more strongly posted than my second, and was fully competent to hold the position, and as the re-enforcements had to be in position before daylight, I was compelled to send to General Johnson the troops of my second line, i.e., the brigades of Daniel and O'Neal (excepting the Fifth Alabama).
These brigades participated in the engagement on the left, under General Johnson, and remained under his orders until the following night, when our whole corps changed front to rear, so as to extend the line occupied by the other two corps. For a report of their operations on July 3, I have, therefore, to refer respectfully to the report of General Johnson, and to those of General Danie1 and Colonel O'Neal, herewith filed.
This order left me powerless to do more than hold my position, unless the enemy should be very much weakened in my front, for I had now remaining but a single thin line, composed of two small brigades, about the third of another, and one regiment (the Fifth Alabama) of O'Neal's brigade (in all, not over 1,800 men), facing what I believed then and now to be the most impregnable portion of the enemy's line of intrenchments.
The gallant men and officers of this line held their new position all day on July 3, under a sharp and incessant fire from the enemy's sharpshooters and an occasional artillery fire. The enemy made, during the day several ineffectual efforts, by advancing heavy lines of skirmishers, equal almost, if not fully, to my main line, and using their artillery, to dislodge them from their position.
On the 3d, my orders were general, and the same as those of the day before, and accordingly, when the heavy cannonade indicated that another attack was made from the right wing of our army, we were on the lookout for another favorable opportunity to co-operate. When the sound of musketry was heard, it became apparent that the enemy in our front was much excited. The favorable opportunity seemed to me close at hand. I sent word to Lieutenant-Gen-eral Ewell by Major [H. A.] Whiting, of my staff, that in a few moments I should attack, and immediately had my handful of men, under Doles, Iverson, and Ramseur, prepared for the onset; but in less than five minutes after Major Whiting's departure, before the troops on my immediate right had made any advance or showed any preparation therefor, and just as the order forward was about to be given to my line, it was announced, and was apparent to me, that the attack had already failed.
This attack was accompanied, preceded, and succeeded by the fiercest and grandest cannonade I have ever witnessed. My troops lay about half way between the artillery of the Second Corps and that of the enemy on Cemetery Hill, and directly under the line of fire of fully 100 guns, a most trying position even when the opposing artillerists confined their attention to each other, and one which became fearfully so when both parties, as they did at short intervals, dropped shells in their midst, while the sharpshooters were constant and skillful in their attentions. They underwent this terrible trial not only without murmuring or faltering, but with great cheerfulness and with the utmost coolness.
It is proper to mention that during the night of the 2d and on the 3d my troops did not occupy any portion of the town excepting that still held by the sharpshooters of the Alabama brigade, under that promising young officer, Major [Eugene] Blackford, of the Fifth Alabama. These sharpshooters, together with those of Doles', Iverson's, and Ramseur's brigades, annoyed the enemy's artillery and infantry constantly during the period of our occupation of the town, and acted with rare and praiseworthy gallantry.
During the night of the 3d, my division fell back to the ridge which had been wrested from the enemy in the first day's attack, and, being reunited, was posted so that the railroad divided it about equally.
Expecting to give battle in this position, it was strengthened early on the morning of the 4th. We were not disturbed, however, in the least during the day--in fact, the enemy exhibited so small a force, entered the town, and followed us at so late an hour, that it was generally believed he had retreated.
During the day of the 4th, all the wounded who could walk or be transported in wagons and ambulances were sent to the rear (many, as it turned out, to be captured or sacrificed in the effort to escape the enemy's cavalry), but nearly one-half of them, say about 760, were left in the hands of the enemy. This painful result was, of course, unavoidable. Four surgeons, 6 assistants, 3 hospital stewards, and 94 attendants were left to attend to the wounded, and with them ten days' supply of such food and medicines as were needed. This was all we could do for them.
Subsequent to the departure of the wounded, Iverson was detached with his brigade as a guard for the train, but unfortunately too late to overtake it and prevent its partial destruction. By a forced march, he arrived at Hagerstown soon after the passage of the train, and found a heavy force of the enemy's cavalry driving back our cavalry through the streets. Making a hasty but skillful disposition of his troops, he soon routed them, capturing a considerable number. Great credit is due Brigadier-General Iverson for the handsome and prompt manner in which this affair was managed.
On the night of the 4th, we began to fall back toward Hagerstown, by way of Fairfield, bivouacking on the night of the 5th, after a most wearisome march in mud and rain, 2 miles west of Fairfield.
On the morning of the 6th, my division became the rear guard of the army, and early in the morning was attacked by the enemy's skirmishers deployed over a line extending entirely across the Valley, and, therefore, fully 1 or 2 miles long. Later it was attacked from the Emmitsburg road.
The morning attack was sharply repulsed by General Daniel's skirmishers, on the left, and General Doles', on the right of the road, the Forty-fifth North Carolina (Captain [J. A.] Hopkins commanding) having a pretty brisk action on the extreme left, driving the enemy from a commanding position there, in reply to his summons to surrender. General Daniel's loss was only 2 killed, 2 wounded, and 5 missing; General Doles', nothing. The other (an extremely feeble attack) was repelled by a few of General Doles' men. The road being entirely clear behind us for 4 or 5 miles, at 3.30 p.m. we resumed the march, and proceeded without annoyance or delay across the mountain, by Monterey Springs, to Waynesborough.
Reaching Hagerstown next day, the division rested there without serious disturbance until the evening of the 11th, when it was moved through and about a mile and a quarter west of Hagerstown, on the National road. Here, during the 13th, 14th, and 15th, battle was again (and eagerly by my division) offered to the enemy. During these three days, my division occupied the extreme left of the line of battle. Nothing of, importance occurred here, excepting a brisk attack of the enemy s skirmishers (after being re-enforced)and his cavalry upon Ramseur's sharpshooters. This attack was made late on the afternoon of July 14, after the withdrawal of nearly all the artillery and of all the main line of infantry. The enemy had unquestionably discovered this movement. His advance was so firmly and gallantly met by Ramseur's men and the Second [Richmond] Howitzers (Captain [David] Watson), that he fell back, with the loss of many killed and wounded and about 20 of the cavalry captured.
On the memorable night of July 14, the Second Corps fell back to Williamsport, and forded the river. The artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel Carter, I had sent off early in the afternoon, with orders to cross at Falling Waters, 4 miles below Williamsport, on the pontoon bridge which had been placed there. My division waded the river just above the aqueduct over the mouth of the Conococheague; the operation was a perilous one. It was very dark, raining, and excessively muddy. The men had to wade through the aqueduct, down the steep bank of soft and slippery mud, in which numbers lost their shoes and down which many fell. The water was cold, deep, and rising; the lights on either side of the river were dim, just affording enough light to mark the places of entrance and exit; the cartridge-boxes of the men had to be placed around their necks: some small men had to be carried over by their comrades; the water was up to the armpits of a full-sized man. All the circumstances attending <ar44_559> this crossing combined to make it an affair not only involving great hardship, but one of great danger to the men and company officers; but be it said to the everlasting honor of these brave fellows, they encountered it not only promptly, but actually with cheers and laughter.
We crossed without the loss of a single man, but I regret to say with the loss of some 25,000 or 30,000 rounds of ammunition, which were unavoidably wetted and spoiled. After crossing, I marched, by orders, a short distance' beyond Falling Waters, and then bivouacked; and there ended the Pennsylvania campaign, so far as this division was concerned.
I cannot, however, close this portion of my report without expressing my pride and admiration of the conduct of the men and officers of this division from the time it left Grace Church until our return to Virginia. Better marching, less straggling, hardships more cheerfully borne, conduct in an enemy's country more commendable, and more generally marked by gentlemanly and soldierly characteristics, and, finally, better behavior in battle, than was exhibited by this division during that period has not been, and I believe will never be, exhibited by any other troops in the service. By their conduct at Gettysburg, I claim to have won the expression from the general commanding the army, who saw their attack on July 1, "I am proud of your division."
Earnestly do I wish that the name of each officer and private who distinguished himself during this eventful campaign could with reason be enrolled here, to be transferred to history. I hope it will yet be done in a different manner.
While I cannot mention all who won distinction during this campaign, it is my duty to record here the names of those officers whose conduct, either from my own observation or from the voluntary testimony of many competent witnesses, I know to have been such as to entitle them to the admiration of brave men and to the gratitude of a good people. First among them are Brig. Gens. Junius Daniel, George Doles, and S. D. Ramseur, Lieut. Col. T. H. Carter, Capt. D. P. Halsey, assistant adjutant-general of Iverson's brigade, Col D. H. Christie, Twenty-third North Carolina (who has since died from the wounds he received). and Lieutenant Harney, Company [F], Fourteenth North Carolina, of my division, and Brig. Gen. A. G. Jenkins and Major Sweeney, of the cavalry brigade. All the field officers, with one exception, are spoken of highly on all hands for their conduct. Appendix B will show what general, field, and staff officers were under fire during the engagements. Company officers did their duty nobly. The men generally acted in a manner worthy of all praise.
Many valuable lives were lost during the bloody fight at Gettysburg; among them Colonel Christie, already mentioned; Lieut. Col. D. R. E. Winn, Fourth Georgia: Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews, commanding Second North Carolina Battalion, and many others.
Among the wounded, I regret to have to record the names of Col. F. M. Parker, Thirtieth North Carolina; Lieutenant-Colonel Lumpkin, Forty-fourth Georgia, a most valuable and estimable officer, who lost a leg: Lieut. Col. R. D. Johnston and Maj. C. C. Blacknall, Twenty-third North Carolina: Col. J. N. Lightfoot, Sixth Alabama: Col. R. T. Bennett, Fourteenth North Carolina; Captain Page, commanding battery; Col. Thomas S. Kenan, Forty-third <ar44_560> North Carolina; Lieutenant-Colonel Boyd and Major [J. R.] Winston, Forty-fifth North Carolina; Major [H. G.] Lewis, Thirty-second North Carolina; Major [J. M.] Hancock, Second North Carolina Battalion; Lieutenant [W.R.] Bond and Colonel [W. J.] Green, of General Daniel s staff, besides many valuable and distinguished company officers, whose names will be found in the tabular statements appended to reports of brigade commanders.
My staff officers--Maj. H. A. Whiting, Major Greene Peyton, Capt. W. A. Harris, Capt. M. L. Randolph (the two last-named officers attached to the division as chiefs of ordnance and of the signal corps, respectively, voluntarily serving in the field with distinguished ability and courage), Lieutenants [J. W.] Hutchinson and [James P.] Arrington, Capt. D. D. Peden, acting assistant inspector-general, and Surg. W. S. Mitchell--all did their duty nobly during the whole campaign, and deserve mine and the country's warmest thanks for their services.
Maj. Julian Mitchell, acting division commissary (Major [J. M.] Adams having been taken sick at Culpeper Court-House), discharged the duties of his arduous position with an energy and capacity I have never seen equaled.
The appendix marked A will show the strength and the loss of each brigade at Gettysburg. Appendix B will show the general, field, and staff officers who were present in the engagements. In the accompanying reports of brigade commanders will be found an account of the operations of each brigade, and the part borne by each in the campaign, in a more detailed form than my limits will admit of, and to these you are respectfully referred.
SKIRMISH AT MANASSAS GAP.
After recrossing the Potomac, with the exception of twenty-four hours spent in an ineffectual effort to strike the Federal force at Hedgesville, the division remained quietly in camp near Darkesville, Berkeley County, until July 22, when it resumed the march up the Valley.
Bivouacking at Winchester one night, the next afternoon found us, after a march of 23 miles, facing nearly the whole Federal Army in the vicinity of Manassas Gap. My division was ordered there to relieve Wright's brigade (of about 600 men), of Anderson's division, but arrived too late to do so. The enemy having already engaged Wright's skirmishers, it was necessary for his whole brigade to deploy, so as to cover strongly and hold the line which he occupied until I could establish my line of battle a little in its rear. I caused this movement to be executed, acting under General Ewell's orders. These precautions were proper, as the enemy were making an apparently determined advance with an extended front, and had full 20,000 troops already in view, while others were coming through the Gap.
All my sharpshooters (about 250 men) were as soon as possible sent to strengthen Wright's line. Rodes' old brigade, under Colonel O'Neal, the first to arrive, was deployed behind Wright's, on a ridge some 300 yards in his rear. The main line was strongly posted on a spur of the mountains which commanded the ridges occupied by Wright and O'Neal.
The enemy attacked in force, driving the front line of skirmishers back slowly. Wright's men fought obstinately, as did the sharpshooters. After obtaining possession of the ridge occupied by the first line of skirmishers, the enemy attempted to make a farther advance in line of battle, and with a force sufficient to have overwhelmed the first line (which had now rallied at the foot of the ridge), but failed signally, the gallant fellows of that line breaking his solid lines repeatedly.
His officers acted generally with great gallantry, but the men behaved in a most cowardly manner. A few shots from Carter's artillery and the skirmishers' fire halted them, broke them, and put a stop to the engagement. Only a few shots were fired by my second line of skirmishers. Of course, my main line was not engaged. The fight, if it be worthy that name, took place in full view of the division, and while the conduct of our men, and of Wright's particularly, was the subject of admiration, that of the enemy was decidedly puerile.
Wright's brigade lost, I believe, about 80 men killed and wounded, including among the latter Colonel [E. J.] Walker, commanding the brigade. My total loss was 15 killed, wounded, and missing, including 1 officer of Ramseur's sharpshooters, killed. The enemy's loss was, in my opinion, greater than ours. By a prisoner's statements and from what I saw, the enemy had at least two corps backing his attacking force. General Meade's dispatch from Front Royal next day showed that a very large portion, if not all, of his army was present.
During the night, the pontoons, baggage, &c., having been safely disposed of my division fell back on the Luray road, about 2 miles from Front Royal, and bivouacked, Johnson's division remaining at Front Royal as rear guard. This day's work, including a march of 27 miles on one of the hottest of summer days, the excitement of a threatened battle, and the night march of 4 or 5 miles, damaged the division seriously.
Its marches had been admirable up to the time of reaching Front Royal, but for some days after that the men were broken down, and therefore straggled. Fortunately, the marches during this period were quite short.
Continuing the march leisurely resting near Luray a day or two, the division arrived at Madison Court-House, by way of Thornton's Gap and Sperryville, on July 29.
In concluding what I have to say about this campaign, I beg leave to call attention to the heroes of it; the men who day by day sacrificed self on the altar of freedom; those barefooted North Carolinians, Georgians, and Alabamians, who, with bloody and swollen feet, kept to their ranks day after day for weeks. When the division reached Darkesville, nearly one-half of the men and many officers were barefooted, and fully one-fourth had been so since we crossed the Blue Ridge. These poor fellows had kept up with the column and in ranks during the most rapid march of this war, considering its length, over that worst of roads for footmen, the turnpike, and during the hottest days of summer. These are the heroes of the campaign.
I have the honor to be, colonel, yours, very respectfully,
R. E. RODES,
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