Report of Brig. Gen. George J. Stannard,
U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., FIRST ARMY CORPS,
Gettysburg, Pa., July 4, 1863.
Lieut. Col. C. KINGSBURY,
Jr., Assistant Adjutant-General.
SIR: I have the honor to report that the Second Vermont Brigade, under my command, marched from the line of the Defenses of Washington, upon the Occoquan, on the 25th ultimo, under orders to report to Major-General Reynolds, commanding the First Army Corps. The brigade joined that corps at this place on the evening of July 1, after an exhausting march of seven days' duration. The distance marched averaged about 18 miles per day. The men marched well, with no straggling. Rain fell on every day of the seven, and considering the condition of the roads, the distance traveled (from the mouth of Occoquan to Gettysburg) could not have been accomplished in less time.
We reached the battle-ground in front of Gettysburg too late in the day to take part in the hard-contested battle of July 1, and my tired troops upon their arrival were placed in position in column by regiments on the front line, in connection with the Third Army Corps. Before reaching the ground, the Twelfth Regiment, under command of Colonel Blunt, and Fifteenth Regiment, under command of Colonel Proctor, were detailed, by order of General Reynolds, as guard to the wagon train of the corps in the rear. I was detailed, per order of Major-General Slocum, as general field officer, and met Major-General Meade, in company with Major-General Howard, near my command about 3 a.m. of the 2d instant. The Fifteenth Regiment rejoined the brigade in the morning, but was again ordered back on the same duty about noon.
On the morning of the 2d instant, we were allowed to join the First Army Corps, and reported to Major-General Doubleday, agreeably to previous orders, and were placed in the rear of the left of Cemetery Hill. After the opening of the battle of July 2, the left wing of the Thirteenth Regiment, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Munson, was ordered forward as support to a battery, and a company of the Sixteenth Regiment was sent as a support to the skirmishers in our front. While stationing them, Capt. A. G. Foster, assistant inspector-general of my staff, was seriously wounded by a ball through both legs, depriving me of his valuable services for the remainder of the battle.
Just before dark of the same day, the lines of our army on the left center having become broken under a desperate charge of the enemy, my brigade was ordered up. The right wing of the Thirteenth Regiment, under Colonel Randall, was in the advance, and, upon reaching the break in the line, was granted by Major-General Hancock, commanding upon the spot, the privilege of making the effort to retake the guns of Company C, regular battery, which had just been captured by the enemy. This they performed in a gallant charge, in which Colonel Randall's horse was shot under him. Four guns of the battery were retaken, and two rebel field pieces, with about 80 prisoners, were captured by five companies of the Thirteenth Regiment in this single charge. I placed the Sixteenth, under command of Colonel Veazey, on picket, agreeably to orders, extending to the left of our immediate front. The front thus established was held by my brigade for twenty-six hours.
At about 4 o'clock on the morning of the 3d, the enemy commenced a vigorous artillery attack, which continued for a short time upon my position. During its continuance, I moved the Fourteenth, under command of Colonel Nichols, to the front of the main line about 75 yards, which was done at double-quick in good order. I then, with permission from my immediate commander, selected a position to occupy, if attacked with infantry, some distance in front of the main line.
At about 2 p.m. the enemy again commenced a vigorous attack upon my position. After subjecting us for one and one-half hours to the severest cannonade of the whole battle, from one hundred guns or more, the enemy charged with a heavy column of infantry, at least one division, in close column by regiments. The charge was aimed directly upon my command, but owing apparently to the firm front shown them, the enemy diverged midway, and came upon the line on my right. But they did not thus escape the warm reception prepared for them by the Vermonters. During this charge the enemy suffered from the fire of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, the range being short. At the commencement of the attack, I called the Sixteenth from the skirmish line, and placed them in close column by division in my immediate rear. As soon as the change of the point of attack became evident, I ordered a flank attack upon the enemy's column. Forming in the open meadow in front of our lines, the Thirteenth changed front forward on first company; the Sixteenth, after deploying, performed the same, and formed on the left of the Thirteenth, at right angles to the main line of our army, bringing them in line of battle upon the flank of the charging division of the enemy, and opened a destructive fire at short range, which the enemy sustained but a very few moments before the larger portion of them surrendered and marched in--not as conquerors, but as captives. I then ordered the two regiments into their former position. The order was not filled when I saw another rebel column charging immediately upon our left. Colonel Veazey, of the Sixteenth, was at once ordered to attack it in its turn upon the flank. This was done as successfully as before. The rebel forces, already decimated by the fire of the Fourteenth Regiment, Colonel Nichols, were scooped almost en masse into our lines. The Sixteenth took in this charge the regimental colors of the Second Florida and Eighth Virginia Regiments, and the battle-flag of another regiment. The Sixteenth was supported in this new and advanced position by four companies of the Fourteenth, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Rose.
The movements I have briefly described were executed in the open field, under a very heavy fire of shell, grape, and musketry, and they were performed with the promptness and precision of battalion drill. They ended the contest in the center and substantially closed the battle. Officers and men behaved like veterans, although it was for most of them their first battle, and I am content to leave it to the witnesses of the fight whether or not they have sustained the credit of the service and the honor of our Green Mountain State.
The members of my staff--Capt. William H. Hill, assistant adjutant-general; Lieuts. George W. Hooker and G. G. Benedict, aides-de-camp; Lieutenant [Francis G.] Clark, provost-marshal, and Lieut. S. F. Prentiss, ordnance officer--executed all my orders with the utmost promptness, and by their coolness under fire and good example contributed essentially to the success of the day.
There were 350 killed, wounded, and missing from my three regiments engaged; of the missing, only 1 is known to have been taken prisoner.
I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,
GEO. J. STANNARD,
Brig. Gen. of Vols., Comdg. 3d Brig., 3d Div., 1st A. C.
GENERAL ORDERS, No. ---
HDQRS. THIRD DIV., FIRST ARMY CORPS,
July 4, 1863.
The major-general commanding the division desires to return his thanks to the Vermont Brigade, the One hundred and fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the Twentieth New York State Militia, for their gallant conduct in resisting, in the front line, the main attack of the enemy upon this position, after sustaining a terrific fire from seventy-five to one hundred pieces of artillery. He congratulates them upon contributing so essentially to the glorious and, it is to be hoped, the final victory of yesterday.
By command of Major-General Doubleday:
EDWARD C. BAIRD,
Captain, and Assistant Adjutant-General.
RETURN TO BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG UNION ORDER OF BATTLE PAGE