Report of Lieut. Col. Casper Trepp, First U.S. Sharpshooters,
Battle of Gettysburg
HDQRS. FIRST REGIMENT U.S. SHARPSHOOTERS,
July 29, 1863.
Capt. JOHN M. COONEY,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brig.
CAPTAIN: In accordance with directions received from headquarters Second Brigade, to report the part taken by my command in the action at Gettysburg, Pa., I have the honor to report as follows:
Early in the morning of July 2, this regiment was posted so, and with instructions, to protect the left flank of the Third Corps. Soon thereafter the dispositions were changed, and I received an order to send 100 men on a reconnaissance in front of the right of the Third Army Corps. This detachment I conducted in person, and deployed them. The command was given to Capt. John Wilson, a very efficient officer, and I returned to the regiment. I then received another order for 100 men for a reconnaissance. Following the aide-de-camp, I conducted this second detachment directly to and followed the road in plain view of the enemy. This detachment might have been marched from the original position to a point where the engagement took place perfectly concealed from view of the enemy and without loss of time. As we marched, the enemy must have seen every man from the time we reached the road until we entered the woods on the Fairfield road, giving the enemy time enough to counter-maneuver. The enemy gained yet more time by reason of the Third Maine, Colonel Lakeman, who supported us, halting on the Emmitsburg road, according to his instructions.
All this time we were marching or halting in plain view of the enemy. For this violation of rules of secret expeditions we paid dearly, for when we entered the woods, advancing as skirmishers, we met the enemy's skirmishers very soon after crossing the road. The position of the companies of my regiment was, D and E on the left, F and I on the right, Third Maine as reserve. We drove the enemy about 300 yards, when he made a stand behind a rail fence. The firing was very brisk for about ten minutes, during which time we maintained our position. Col. H. Berdan then gave the order to fall back, firing, which was done in good order, the enemy pursuing a short distance.
This command was collected and formed on the Emmitsburg road, having lost 1 commissioned officer killed, 2 officers wounded, and 16 enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing.
With the balance of this command, I was then posted as a support to Capt. J. H. Baker's line of skirmishers from this regiment, in front of the center of the Third Army Corps.
On examining the ammunition of my detachment, I found that we had not more than about 5 rounds per man. At the time the heavy cannonading began, Col. H. Berdan ordered this detachment to fall back to the Position of the morning.
As Capt. J. H. Baker is now wounded and absent, I am unable to furnish the details concerning the detachment under his command, but I am informed that he took his Position without order, following the instincts of the true soldier, the sound of the firing, and that at one time, when the enemy pushed his skirmish line to and across the road, he charged with part of his command on the enemy, driving them across the field.
I have to call especial attention to the good behavior of this officer in all the engagements, and I would respectfully recommend him for decoration or honorable mention. The same of Privates Martin V. Nichols and William H. Nichols, Company H, who distinguished themselves on this and on former occasions by bravery and intelligence.
This part of the line lost 3 killed and 5 wounded.
The part of the line under Capt. John Wilson maintained its position for nearly the entire day, and until the ammunition was expended, and only after it was repeatedly called to fall back behind Brigadier-General Carr's brigade it did so, the enemy following in line of battle.
This part of the line lost 1 commissioned officer wounded, 2 enlisted men killed, and 11 wounded.
When the brigade was relieved, we joined, and encamped with them.
July 3.--Capt. J. H. Baker was detached with the Fifth Army Corps, with Companies C, I, and K. The service they performed was to protect batteries. On this occasion, Corporal [Wellington] Fitch, of Company C, distinguished himself by making a bold reconnaissance alone which resulted in capturing a squad of rebel sharpshooters that greatly annoyed our artillery.
The rest of the regiment was sent to a point more to the right, where the First Army Corps was posted. Nothing occurred to be mentioned.
July 4.--the regiment was sent on picket, but was soon recalled. While so posted, we lost 3 men wounded.
In the afternoon Capt. John Wilson went with 100 men on a reconnaissance. Nothing reported to have happened worthy to be mentioned.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. First U.S. Sharpshooters.
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