The official report of the Seventeenth’s role at Gettysburg was written by Major Allen G. Brady. Lt. Colonel Douglas Fowler, in command of the regiment at the start of the battle, was killed on July 1st, and just as he had a month earlier at Chancellorsville Major Brady found himself in command of the regiment. The original spelling is retained.
Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863.
GENERAL: In compliance with instructions from headquarters, I have the honor to make the following-report of the part taken by the Seventeenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers in the engagement of the 1st, 2d, and 3d instant:
The regiment arrived in Gettysburg between 1 and 2 p.m. of the 1st instant, and was marched with the other regiments of the brigade through and to the lower end of the town, and there halted for a moment.
Four companies were immediately ordered out by Brigadier-General Ames, under command of Major Brady, to the right of the bridge at the lower end of the town, with instructions to throw out two companies as skirmishers, the other two to be held as a reserve, and to take and hold the brick house to the left and beyond the bridge. Two companies were thrown out, and deployed as skirmishers as rapidly as possible to the right of the bridge, along the creek. The other two, held as reserve, were advanced in line, loading and firing as rapidly as possible, making at the same time a left wheel, so as to swing our right around the house, the reserve keeping near and conforming to the movements of the skirmishers.
When near the house, the enemy opened upon us with shot, shell, grape, and canister, which retarded our advance for a moment, until Major Brady dismounted, went in front of the line of skirmishers, and led them on until quite near the house. The enemy, anticipating our movements, shelled the house, and set it on fire. We, however, held our ground, and held the enemy’s skirmishers in check. Their loss up to this time was at least 5 to 1, most of the men in the four companies being excellent marksmen and having volunteered for this occasion. They consisted of Companies A, B, F, and K, commanded, respectively, by Captains McQuhae, Hobbie, Allen, and McCarty.
We continued skirmishing briskly until Major Brady received orders from Brigadier-General Ames to draw in his skirmishers and return to town as rapidly as possible, and take command of his regiment. The order was obeyed, and we fell back in good order, skirmishing with the enemy, who advanced as we retreated, and tried to cut us off and capture us before we got to the town, but we foiled them in this attempt by making a circuit and entering the town near the upper end, and soon joined the remainder of the regiment, which we found near the lower end of the town.
The loss in the four companies under Major Brady was 3 men killed, 1 captain and 1 lieutenant wounded, 1 sergeant and 3 men taken prisoners.
I would here state that I had great difficulty in drawing in Captain McCarty’s company (K), as they were so earnestly engaged and making such sad havoc among the rebels.
The remainder of the regiment (six companies), under Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler, advanced with the other regiments of the brigade to the left and front of the town and directly in rear of the One hundred and seventh Ohio Volunteers, in close column by division; were ordered to the front; advanced and deployed at double-quick, and held their ground–notwithstanding the rush to the rear of troops directly in advance–until ordered by the brigade commander to fall back, which order was obeyed in good order, the men loading and firing as they fell back.
Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler was killed when the regiment advanced and deployed. Captain Moore was killed about this time, and Captain French and Lieutenant Quinn were wounded, and many of the men were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.
When the regiment reached the town, the four companies under Major Brady were still skirmishing with the enemy, and remained so until Brigadier-General Ames sent an aide with orders for Major Brady to return with his command and assume command of his regiment, he being the only field officer of the regiment present. Upon arriving in the town, Major Brady assumed command of the regiment, and reported immediately to Brigadier-General Ames for instructions. The enemy were at this time advancing rapidly through the town. The regiment was immediately deployed in the streets, and fired several volleys into the ranks of the enemy, which thinned their ranks and retarded their advance. We kept the enemy from advancing through the town until ordered to clear the street of our men for the purpose of planting a battery. The battery not being placed in position as intended, and the regiment being in line on the sidewalk, the enemy took advantage of this, and, with a superior force, rushed though the main street, which compelled us to fall back, which we did reluctantly, but not without contesting the ground inch by inch.
As we retreated, we loaded, halted, and poured destructive volleys into their ranks, which cleared the main street of them several times, but we found the enemy too many for us. They poured in from every street in overwhelming numbers, which broke our ranks. Upon arriving near the battery on Cemetery Hill, the regiment was halted, and formed in line of battle fronting the town.
About this time Major-General Howard, who was in the thickest of the battle, regardless of danger, asked if he had troops brave enough to advance to a stone wall across a lot toward the town, and said he would lead them. We replied, “Yes, the Seventeenth Connecticut will,” and advanced at once to the place indicated, remained a few moments, and again advanced across another lot still nearer the town and behind a rail fence at the upper end of the town, which position we held until late in the evening, exposed to a galling fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, when the whole regiment was ordered out on picket, and performed that duty until 2 o’clock of the 2d instant, when we were relieved, and took a position behind the rail fence and 150 paces farther to the right of the place we occupied before going out on picket.
We remained in this position, exposed to the enemy’s batteries and sharpshooters, until 7 p.m., when we were ordered to the extreme right, behind a stone wall on each side of a lane, below the battery opposite the cemetery entrance. Two companies were advanced to the grain field near the woods, through which the enemy were rapidly advancing. We covered the wall on each side of the lane by compelling about 300 stragglers, who had no commander, to fall into our line. We had not more than time to form behind the wall before the enemy were discovered advancing rapidly upon us on our right and a full brigade obliquely toward our left. When within 150 paces of us, we poured a destructive fire upon them, which thinned their ranks and checked their advance. We fired several volleys by battalion, after which they charged upon us. We had a hand-to-hand conflict with them, firmly held our ground, and drove them back.
Soon after, some of the troops on our left giving way, the rebels succeeded in getting in our rear. We again drove them back and held our position. It was during this conflict that Major Brady was wounded by a fragment of shell, which hit him upon the right shoulder. After the enemy had been driven back, the firing ceased, excepting occasional shots from their sharpshooters.
We were relieved by the Fourth Ohio Volunteers, and were ordered to change front to the left behind a wall running at right angles with the one we had just occupied, and fronting the town, and where the enemy entered on our left. We remained at this wall all night and during the whole of the 3d instant, exposed to a cross-fire of the rebel batteries and their sharpshooters. With the latter our best marksmen exchanged shots, and succeeded in dislodging many of them.
When the regiment entered the engagement on the 1st instant, it numbered 17 officers and 369 enlisted men. We report at the present time 9 officers and 120 enlisted men. Capt. Wilson French and Lieutenant Bartram are the only officers known to have been taken prisoners. The former was wounded in the first day’s engagement. We are not aware that either of them was paroled.
The regiment behaved gallantly. No troops in the world could behave better. Both officers and men are deserving of great credit for their coolness and bravery throughout the entire three days battle.
There are many deserving of especial mention for bravery on the field, but they are so numerous I will not undertake to give their names. The coolness and bravery displayed by the officers and men of Company D exceeded anything I ever saw.
I am, general, your most obedient servant,
A. G. BRADY,
Major, Comdg. Seventeenth Connecticut Vol. Infantry.
Brig. Gen. A. AMES,