Report of Col. Strong Vincent,
Eighty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Third Brigade
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST Div., FIFTH CORPS,
Camp near Aldie, Va., June 22, 1863.
Capt. C. B. MERVINE,
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to orders from the general commanding the division, I moved to Middleburg during the morning of Sunday, and at 7 a.m., under the direction of General Pleasonton, commanding the expedition, took the position on the left of the cavalry of General Gregg's column, on the Ashby Gap road. The dismounted men of the enemy were in position on the south side of this road, behind a series of stone walls running at right angles with it, the cavalry in the fields, and a battery of six guns placed near the road on the left. A belt of woods some 200 yards marked their position.
Under orders from General Pleasonton to advance at least one regiment of infantry, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Welch, commanding the Sixteenth Michigan, to push his regiment forward and dislodge their carbineers. At the farther end of the woods his skirmishers opened fire briskly. Again General Pleasonton directed the infantry to advance in greater force, and I sent in the Forty-fourth New York, Colonel Rice commanding, and the Twentieth Maine, Lieutenant-Colonel [Freeman] Conner commanding (Lieu-tenant-Colonel Chamberlain and Major Gilmore being absent sick), with instructions to press the enemy hard and to pick off the gunners from his battery. At the same time I directed Captain Woodward, commanding Eighty-third Pennsylvania, to move rapidly through the woods to our left, keeping his force concealed, and, the instant he had passed the stone walls, to emerge and take the enemy in flank and Fear.
The movement was entirely successful. Finding their position turned, the enemy fled in confusion, and the Sixteenth Michigan, under the lead of Lieutenant-Colonel Welch, advanced on the double-quick on the right, and gallantly compelled them to abandon one piece of their battery, a fine Blakely gun. Moving in conjunction with the cavalry, we drove them from this position to other stone walls immediately in the rear, dislodging them at each attack, until we pushed them across Crummer's Run.
Here they made a sharp resistance, and opened an artillery fire, from which we suffered. Our own artillery responded to them, and here, as throughout the day, abundantly evinced our superiority. Fording the stream, my skirmishers, in conjunction with those of the cavalry, soon flanked their stone-wall line again, and had them on the run. Thus the fight continued, with the same tactics on the part of the enemy, the same orders from General Pleasonton to dislodge them, and the same success in driving them for a distance of nearly 4 miles.
At Goose Creek they again took advantage of a stone wall commanding the defile and bridge through which we must pass, and opened a volley on the head of the column of cavalry just preparing to charge. Under directions from General Pleasonton to clear the position, I ordered the Eighty-third Pennsylvania to carry the bridge on the run, and the skirmishers of my entire line to ford the stream and turn the enemy's flank. The skirmishers of the Eighty-third Pennsylvania pushed into the stream, and the line of the Sixteenth Michigan, led by Captain Fuller, gallantly rushed over the bridge and up to the stone wall under a severe fire, dislodging the enemy and capturing a number of prisoners, officers and men, a list of which you will find appended. The enemy fled in confusion, followed by our cavalry, who drove them repeatedly from one position to another from this point into and beyond Upperville.
The charges of the cavalry, a sight I had never before witnessed, were truly inspiring, and the triumphant strains of the bands, as squadron after squadron hurled the enemy in his flight up the hills and toward the gap, gave us a feeling of regret that we, too, were not mounted and could not join in the chase. As fast as the tired condition of my men would permit, we proceeded to Upperville, and took position, under General Pleasonton's directions, in support of the artillery until 6 p.m., when we were relieved by Colonel Tilton, commanding First Brigade. General Pleasonton then left it to my choice whether I should return to Middleburg that night or encamp at a prudent distance in rear of Upperville. I determined upon the latter course, and at noon of Monday reported with my command to the general commanding at Middleburg.
I send herewith both a nominal and tabular list of casualties, among which, I regret to say, you will find Captain Mott, of the Sixteenth Michigan, who was severely, if not fatally, wounded in the gallant charge of that regiment upon the battery. I wish to express my thanks to the officers of my staff for their intelligent and energetic aid on the march and in the field, and commend them to the favorable notice of the general commanding. In addition to the assistance of the acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant Clark, my acting aides, Captains [Amos M.] Judson and [Prentiss M.] Fogler, Dr. [James P.] Burchfield, and Captain [William T. W.] Ball, commissary of subsistence, both non-combatants, tendered their services, and, with the others, behaved with great gallantry and coolness in carrying orders under fire. To my regimental commanders I am indebted for the prompt execution of all orders, and for their skillful handling of their commands. Their bravery and judgment have long since been established.
I am, captain, your obedient servant,
Colonel Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Comdg. Brigade.
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