Reports of Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43]
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., SECOND DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Jones' Cross-Roads, Md., July 12, 1863.
Capt. A. H. EMBLER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
CAPTAIN: I would respectfully submit the following report of the operations of this brigade in the action of July 2 and 3:
By command of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, commanding division, this brigade was put in position at 6.30 a.m. on the 2d, on Granite Ridge, on the right of the division, its right resting on Cushing's battery (A, Fourth U.S. Artillery), and its left on Battery B, First Rhode Island Artillery, Lieutenant Brown commanding. The Sixty-ninth Regiment was placed behind a fence a little in advance of the ridge; the remaining three regiments of the brigade under cover of the hill in rear. Brown's battery was, in the course of the day, moved to the front of the Sixty-ninth Regiment. It remained at this point until the assault at 6.30 p.m. During the day both of the batteries on the flanks of the brigade engaged those of the enemy. The shelling wounded but few.
In the morning, Capt. John J. Sperry, of the One hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was sent out with Companies A and I, of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, and A and B, of the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to skirmish and to watch the movements of the enemy. He lost a number of men and had several officers wounded in performing this important duty.
Capts. John J. Sperry and James C. Lynch, of the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Captains Cook and Suplee, of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, deserve honorable mention for their coolness, intelligence, and zeal shown both on the 2d and 3d.
The enemy made the assault of the 2d at about 6.30 p.m. Their line of battle advanced beyond one gun of Brown's battery, receiving at that point the fire of the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers and that of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, advanced to the support of the Sixty-ninth; also that of the One hundred and sixth and Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, which had previously been moved to the left, by command of Major-General Hancock. Colonel Baxter, Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, at this time was wounded. They halted, wavered, and fell back, pursued by the One hundred and Sixth, Seventy-second, and part of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. The One hundred and sixth and Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers followed them to the Emmitsburg road, capturing and sending to the rear about 250 prisoners, among whom were I colonel, 5 captains, and 15 lieutenants. The Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers captured about 20 prisoners at the position previously held by the Rhode Island battery.
The One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered back from the Emmitsburg road a little before dark, and ordered to report to Major-General Howard, commanding Eleventh Army Corps, then near the cemetery. For a report of its operations I refer to inclosed report of the regimental commander. The Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers was detached to report at the same place a little after dark. It returned at about 12 o'clock without orders. The report of the colonel, annexed, is important.
OPERATIONS OF JULY 3.
About 1 p.m. the enemy opened with more than twenty batteries upon our line. By 2.45 o'clock had silenced the Rhode Island battery and all the guns but one of Cushing's battery, and had plainly shown by his concentration of fire on this and the Third Brigade that an important assault was to be expected.
I had sent, at 2 p.m., Captain Banes, assistant adjutant-general of the brigade, for two batteries to replace Cushing's and Brown's. Just before the assault, Captain Wheeler's [Cowan's]- battery, First New York Artillery [First New York Independent Battery], had gotten in position on the left, in the place occupied by the Rhode Island battery, which had retired with a loss of all its officers but one.
At 3 o'clock the enemy's line of battle left the woods in our front; moved in perfect order across the Emmitsburg road; formed in the hollow in our immediate front several lines of battle, under a fire of spherical case from Wheeler's [Cowan's] battery and Cushing's gun, and advanced for the assault.
The Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers were advanced to the wall on the right of the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Three of Cushing's guns were run down to the fence, carrying with them their canister. The Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers were held in reserve under the crest of the hill. The enemy advanced steadily to the fence, driving out a portion of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. General Armistead passed over the fence with probably over 100 of his command and with several battle-flags. The Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered up to hold the crest, and advanced to within 40 paces of the enemy's line. Colonel Smith, commanding the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, threw two companies of his command behind the stone wall on the right of Cushing's battery, 50 paces retired from the point of attack. This disposition of his troops was most important. Colonel Smith showed true military intelligence on the field. The Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers and most of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, even after the enemy were in their rear, held their position. The Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers fought steadily and persistently, but the enemy would probably have succeeded in piercing our lines had not Colonel Hall advanced with several of his regiments to my support. Defeated, routed, the enemy fled in disorder. General Armistead was left, mortally wounded, within my lines, and 42 of the enemy who crossed the fence lay dead.
This brigade captured nearly 1,000 prisoners, 6 battle-flags (4 have been turned in), and picked up 1,400 stand of arms and 903 sets of accouterments.
The loss of the brigade on the 2d and 3d was 43 commissioned officers and 482 enlisted men. But 47 enlisted men are missing.
The conduct of this brigade was most satisfactory. Officers and men did their whole duty.
The Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers lost all its field officers, but held its ground. The cover in its front was not well built, and it lost many men lying on the ground; still, I saw none retire from the fence.
A portion of the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, left behind the previous evening under Captain Ford, took part in repelling the assault. I lost gallant officers and men. They need no tribute from me. A nominal list has been sent in.
I feel that the general commanding has had abundant proof that as a brigade the Second can be relied upon for the performance of any duty which may be required of it.
Lieut. A. H. Cushing, Fourth U.S. Artillery, fell, mortally wounded, at the fence by the side of his guns. Cool, brave, competent, he fought for an hour and a half after he had reported to me that he was wounded in both thighs.
I desire to call attention to the brave conduct of Lieut. Joseph S. Milne, Battery B, First Rhode Island Artillery, serving with Lieutenant Cushing.
I recommend for promotion Sergts. Frederick Fuger and Edward M. Irving, of that battery; also Acting Gunner Francis Abraham. This battery was nobly served.
Capt. C. H. Banes, assistant adjutant-general of this brigade, assisted at all points in strengthening the line, and encouraging the men and officers by his coolness. I recommend him for honorable mention.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALEX. S. WEBB,
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., SECOND DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Bealeton, Va., August 14, 1863.
Capt. J. P. WOOD,
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following as the report of the operations of this brigade between June 28 and July 26, inclusive, in obedience to circular received yesterday morning from headquarters Army of the Potomac:
June 28.--The brigade went into camp near the left bank of Monocacy River and on the Frederick turnpike. General Webb took command at 5 p.m.
June 29.--Left Monocacy River at 6 a.m. and marched to Union-town, via Liberty, Johnsville, and Union Bridge, reaching Union-town at 9 p.m., a distance of 33 miles.
June 30.--Remained in camp all day.
July 1.--Marched to within about 4 miles of Gettysburg. This brigade was put in position with the division, to cover the retreat of the First Army Corps, should that be ordered.
July 2.--Marched to Gettysburg battle-field; took post on Granite Ridge, and repelled assault of the enemy at 5 p.m.
July 3.--Remained on the battle-field; repelled assault at 3 p.m. For official report of these two days' operations, see report of the battle of Gettysburg.
July 4.--Buried dead and collected arms and accouterments.
July 5.--Marched at 12 m. from the battle-field; encamped at Two Taverns.
July 6.--Remained in camp.
July 7.--Marched at 5 a.m. to Taneytown.
July 8.--Marched at 5 a.m. to Walkersville, a distance of 4 miles from Frederick.
July 9.--Left camp at 5 a.m., passed through Frederick, Jefferson, Burkittsville, and Crampton's Pass, and encamped near Rohrersville, a distance of 22 miles.
July 10.--Left camp at 5 a.m., passed through Keedysville and Smoketown, and encamped near Tilghmanton, a distance of 12 miles.
July 11.--Marched 2 miles to cross-roads on Hagerstown turnpike, and took position on the left of the Fifth Army Corps. At 11 p.m. moved on the turnpike toward Hagerstown, and bivouacked in the road until the morning of July 12. Moved on the turnpike; took several positions, and finally took position facing northwest and in front of Saint James' College. After dark, received orders to intrench.
July 13.--Threw forward right wing, and took position facing west, and intrenched.
July 14.--Advanced to near Williamsport; bivouacked for the night.
July 15.--Marched via Sharpsburg to within 3 miles of Sandy Hook, and bivouacked on the canal bank; distance, 19 miles.
July 16.--Marched to Pleasant Valley.
July 17.--Remained in camp.
July 18.--Left camp at 6 a.m.; crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, passing southeast of Loudoun Heights, and encamped 9 miles from Harper's Ferry.
July 19.--Moved at 10 a.m., and marched to Woodgrove.
July 20.--Marched to Bloomfield, guarding wagon train; distance, 12 miles.
July 21.--Remained in camp.
July 22.--Left Bloomfield at 1 p.m. and marched to Ashby's Gap; distance, 10 miles.
July 23.--Left at 4.30 a.m.; marched to Manassas Gap; halted at Markham to allow the Third and Fifth Corps to pass; moved in the Gap beyond Linden, and took position in rear of the Third Corps.
July 24.--Moved back to near Markham, and halted for the night.
July 25.--Marched to White Plains, via Rectortown; distance, about 19 miles.
July 26.--Left camp at 5 a.m. and marched to a point west of the Warrenton Branch Railroad, about 2 miles from the Junction, via New Baltimore and Warrenton.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALEX. S. WEBB,
Brig. Gen. of Volunteers, Comdg. Brigade.
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