No. 13—LOOKING TOWARD GETTYSBURG
For nearly two months we lay at and in the neighborhood of Brook’s Station. We did fatigue duty and camp duty and drill duty in all that time.
On Wednesday, June 3rd, 1863, we moved our camp from the old headquarters to within a short distance of the railway, the road from Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock to Aquai Creek on the Potomac.
There was not much of general interest in this encampment, but it was made extremely lively. Some days we were ordered into a line for a fight in the morning, some days in the afternoon, some days in the night. Whenever the order came we got into line, with all our earthly treasures packed upon our backs, and sometimes we stood in line for an hour, only to learn that we were simply to move the position of our camp.
June 5th. Truman Judd, of Bethel, visited our company to learn of the fate of the Bethel members.
An order was issued making the following promotions. Generally the orders read to the regiment on parade were not of any interest unless they pertained to a move, but this order was particularly listened to. It read as follows:
First Lieutenant McQuade, of Company A, is promoted to be captain of that company; Second Lieutenant Craw is promoted to first lieutenant; Sergeant Ells is promoted to be second lieutenant; Lieutenant French is promoted to be captain of Company G; Second Lieutenant Dennis to be first lieutenant, and First Sergeant D. Bartram to be second lieutenant; Adjutant Hubbell is promoted to be captain of Company D, Sergeant Major Chatfield to be adjutant, and Corporal Betts, of Company A, to be sergeant-major.
At 11 o’clock of the morning of June 8th we received orders to pack up everything but our tents and be in readiness at any moment to march. We were ordered to have three days’ cooked rations in our knapsacks. Heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Fredericksburg and we thought sure we were in for another fight. June 6th the notable event was an order from General Barlow, directing every man to go to the brook and wash himself, and change his underclothing. The weather was very warm and the earth very dry during this time.
June 10th orders were read on parade giving the findings of a court martial in the cases of Captain McCarthy (McCarty), of Company K, and Lieutenant Meade, of Company I, who greatly exceeded a leave of absence they had been given.
June 12th it was reported that the first, second and fifth corps were moving. At 1 p.m. our corps started. We kept for the distance of three miles the road we passed over when starting out for Chancellorsville, then we turned to the right and pursued a westerly course until dark. We stoppped for the night at Hartwood Church, having gone a distance of twelve or fifteen miles. The day was very warm.
June 13th we resumed our march at 4 a.m. We struck the Warrenton turnpike, our destination being Catlett’s Station. This place was reached at 5 p.m., after an afternoon of rapid marching. The day was an excessively warm one, and the dust blew in clouds. A large number of men were obliged to fall out through exhaustion, and two men of the 107th Ohio, in our brigade, died on the way.
The next day, Sunday, the 14th, we marched to Manassas, a distance of fifteen miles.
June 15th. We were called up at 3 o’clock this morning to draw rations and prepare for moving, but we did not leave until 6 o’clock. We marched to Centreville, six miles, where we halted for the day. Troops passed us all day.
June 16th. This morning at an early hour we resumed the march, and kept it up all day, bringing up at night at what is called Goose Creek. This was thirty-four miles from Centreville. The heat was intense, the dust unbearable. Much of the march was along a road shut in by pine brush which kept off all air. Our camp at Goose Creek was about four miles from Leesburg. The creek itself was liberally patronized by the foot-sore, dust-ladened, weary soldiers.
I was among those detailed for guard, and I was stationed at division headquarters. The beat was long and full of stone, and as my feet were very sore I did not walk it, but stood still. Shortly Mrs. Barlow, wife of the division general, told an orderly to tell me to walk my beat and stop looking at her, or I would be arrested. I walked.
We remained at Goose Creek until the 24th instant, when we marched in the afternoon of that day to Edward’s Ferry on the Potomac. Here we remained for the night.
At 5 a.m. the next morning, June 25th, we crossed the Ferry on a pontoon bridge. We also crossed a canal running parallel with the river. In the canal was a boat bearing the name, “Flying Cloud”, of Georgetown. We marched in sight of the river nearly all day, crossing at one time the Baltimore and Ohio railway. At 11 a.m. we crossed Monocacy creek. Close by the bridge was a liquor saloon and here a number supplied their canteens with a foreign substance. A number of drinks and a few fights were the result.
At 1 o’clock we stopped an hour or more for dinner. The place was at the side of a brook. Here we bathed and got water for our canteens and for coffee, bathing and drinking at the same time. At night we halted in a clover field, within two miles of the village of Jefferson.
We have passed today through one of the most fertile sections of Maryland, by fields of grain and through flourishing villages.
June 26. We began our march this day at 9 a.m., passing through Jefferson and going on to Middletown.
No roll call this morning, and being very tired we slept late. There were a number of farm houses near by, and at these the boys bought bread, pies and milk. The latter sold for fifteen cents a canteen full. Early in the afternoon of the 28th we took up our line of march and proceeded to Frederickstown, a distance of twelve miles, where we were obliged to halt for the night, as the town was so full of troops that we could not get through. It is reported that Dr, Hubbard has been appointed medical director of our corps.
June 29th. We were aroused at 3 a.m. for roll call, and began our day’s march at five o’clock with one day’s ration of fresh meat. The weather was hot with frequent showers to make mud and wet us through. We made twenty-two miles by night, reaching Emmittsburg, Pa[Md.]., at six o’clock.
No. 14 – GETTYSBURG
We rested all day of the 30th of June at Emmittsburg. At night we had a good supper of fresh bread, young onions and milk—at our own expense.
At 7 o’clock the next morning, July 1, we were ordered into line, the objective point being Gettysburg, five or six miles distant. Lieutenant C.E. Doty, of Company F, was an aide on the staff of General Ames, commander of our brigade. He contributes a bit of interesting history leading up to the Gettysburg movement, and his account of the battle is valuable, from his position on the staff, and from the fact that all orders communicated to our regiment during the fight were sent by him. His report of the movement of the two armies to Pennsylvania, and of our brigade’s participation in the great battle is substantially as follows:
After the battle of Chancellorsville our Army of the Potomac remained comparatively quiet until June, which gave our boys a chance to recuperate and prepare for what was to come.
The anxiety of General Hooker, to gain information of the movements of the enemy finally induced him to order a cavalry reconnaissance in force on the 9th of June. A few days previous to that he sent an aide to General Adelbert Ames, our brigade commander, requesting an immediate interview, who summoning Captain Brown, his adjutant general, and Lieutenant C.E. Doty, aide de camp, to accompany him, he at once reported to army headquarters.
The plans were then laid for a secret expedition in which the infantry were to support the cavalry and artillery in an attack upon the rebel General Stuart, and at 5 o’clock, on the night of the 5th of June, Lieutenant Doty, who was a lieutenant in Company F, Seventeenth regiment, came over from brigade headquarters and hurriedly bidding the boys goodbye, gave us the first intimation that something was up, and we were soon to be on the move. And sure enough in a few days we were busy packing up and received orders to move at once, our General Ames having gone in command of the infantry comprising 500 men from each of the following corps, Fifth, Sixth, Second and Third, on the secret expedition, which resulted in the battle of Beverly Ford. A Colonel Brown from Indiana was sent to temporarily command the brigade. Then the race began. The rebel army on one side of the Blue Ridge mountains in Shenandoah valley, and our army the other, trying to frustrate the other’s move. On the 15th of June Gen. Ames having returned from his expedition accompanied by Lieut. Doty, assumed command of the brigade. We were now going north towards home and our boys naturally were very much interested to know where the battle was to be fought. When we crossed the Potomac and entered Maryland our anxiety was increased; at Emmittsburg we learned it would be Gettysburg or Harrisburg.
Early on the morning of the 1st of July we were on the move with orders to march as rapidly as possible to Gettysburg, and when within a few miles we heard the guns which told us the strife had already begun. At nine o’clock on the morning of the 1st of July we passed from the Emmittsburg pike to Cemetery Hill and while on the hill could plainly see the first army corps in line of battle. It was here the news was brought to us that General Reynolds, the corps commander, was killed, and that the eleventh corps was to deploy at once on the right of the first. Passing through the city we were halted and passed into a grain field just beyond the poor house on the outskirts of the city. It was here that the Seventeenth was called upon to furnish a small detachment to guard a wooden bridge which the rebels were trying to destroy. By orders from General Ames, Lieut. Doty of his staff, requested from Colonel Fowler one or two of his companies for this duty.
Knowing his officers would all be glad to go, and not desiring to discriminate, Colonel Fowler called for companies to volunteer. Colonel Henry Allen, then in command of Company F, at once stepped forward, and saluting, said: “Colonel Fowler, Company F is ready.” Soon after, Captain John McQuade and Lieutenant Ells, of Company A, did the same, and they were joined by Captain McCarty, Company K, and were soon deployed in line, and at the right of the road down to and near a small stream of water, the left of their line beginning at the bridge. The other seven companies under Colonel Fowler went with the brigade into a grain field at the left of the road, and were formed in double column, and halted just inside of the rail fence, a short distance from where their monument now stands. In the rear, the 107th Ohio were held in reserve, while the Seventy-fifth Ohio and the Fifty-fifth Ohio were advanced in line of battle to meet the enemy, who were now rushing into the fight very rapidly, and were pouring into us a terrible enfilading fire of musketry. About this time a battery upon the left of the brigade, having been ordered back upon Cemetery Hill, left an opening which General Ames was fearful the Johnnies might take advantage of to break through the line, and at once despatched Lieutenant Doty, of his staff, to take the 107th Ohio, in command of Colonel Meyers, to fill the gap; and am sorry to say Colonel Meyers, who was a professor of some college in Ohio before the war, was so cowardly that General Ames, losing his patience, after repeated reports from his staff officer of his inability to move him, at once instructed Lieutenant Doty to place the colonel under arrest and to take the next office in rank and place him in command, which he did, and soon had the 107th on a double quick into line. This staff officer retiring to where the general stood was soon sent to Colonel Fowler, of the Seventeenth Connecticut, with instructions to move the regiment at once to the front to relieve the Seventy-fifth Ohio, and allow them to pass quickly through their ranks.
How well the writer remembers as he remained to see many of them for the last time.
Colonel Fowler at once rode to the front and gave the command to deploy column, and swinging his sword, said:
“Now, Seventeenth, do your duty! Forward, double quick! Charge bayonets!” and with a yell, which our boys knew how to give, they charged.
They fought and were mowed down in fearful numbers. Colonel Fowler soon fell, struck by a shell in the forehead, which scattered his brains all over the arm of Adjutant Chatfield, who was by his side. Captain Moore and many others were soon killed.
The old Seventeenth were suffering terribly, General Ames seeing that it was impossible to longer hold the overwhelming force in front of him in check, called in three companies guarding the bridge, and Lieutenant Doty, of Company F, being sent by the general to recall them, had to run a gauntlet of fire to get to them, but Lieutenant Ells, of Company A, seeing him approaching, came to meet him, and he passed the word down the line, and our brigade, what was left of them, was soon rapidly passing back through Gettysburg to Cemetery Hill, and were deployed just inside a stone fence east of the gateway. Behind us, a little higher up, was DuBeck’s New York battery. The Eleventh Corps was now occupying the centre of the line which was in shape of the inverted U. Occupying this new position, closed the first day’s fight, July 1st.
The next morning, by daylight, the fighting again began. All along the line the whole day was occupied in meeting and repulsing, as we were on the defensive, and our position one in which we had confidence, but at sundown of the 2nd of July a beautiful charge was made directly upon one part of the line and the Seventeenth Connecticut had the experience of fighting hand to hand. Captain Burr, of Company E, capturing a Johnny all alone, but although compelled to fall back, our regiment did so stubbornly, and not until nine o’clock in the evening did the fighting cease, and at roll call that night our numbers were so small that we were but a good size company.
On the third day the heaviest cannonading that any army ever experienced we received, and the day was a repetition of the second. John Metcalf, of Company F, was killed while on the skirmish line, near the cemetery entrance. He was lying on his stomach behind a board fence, the bottom board only about twelve inches high. He raised his head to look down the street and was shot by a sharpshooter in the head and buried where he lay.
The 4th of July was quiet and we soon learned the rebel army was moving away from our front. The great battle of the war had been fought and the old Seventeenth Connecticut, although leaving Connecticut with over 1,000 men, now numbered but a handful of men, and we were not able nor given a chance to go over the field where the first day’s fight began as thoroughly as we should have liked, but this much we did find that Captain James E. Moore, of Company C, was an exceptional case, where, owing no doubt to his having been a masonic man, was decently buried. A piece a cracker box lid was used as a head-stone and his name, rank and regiment marked upon it plainly in lead pencil. Colonel Fowler and many others, undoubtedly, were stripped of all but underclothing by the rebels and thrown into a ditch, ten or twelve at a time and covered over, at least that is the way they were found, so it was impossible to recognize them.
All day of the 1st of July the fighting was done by the First and Eleventh army corps, and as a consequence our regiment was continuously in action for three days, day and night. The attack and charge by General Pickett, in whose command were the Louisiana Tigers, our boys will not soon forget. Having met one member of that famous southern regiment since the war, he told me that in all his fighting they never had met their match until the Tigers struck against the Seventeenth Connecticut in their charge to capture that battery, and he believed that if it had not been for their holding them back they would have captured the entire battery, and undoubtedly secured a hold upon the hill.
Our boys used to say that the Tigers used long knives for toothpicks and had them in their boots; but this member whom we met laughed heartily when informed of our opinion of them. However, they were fine fellows, and worthy of our steel.
For some reason which we never knew Lee’s army was allowed to cross the Potomac, and while pushing him at Williamsport, and throwing out a line of pickets, the writer, who had charge of the brigade picket line, was placing them in a field, when a young girl about eighteen years of age came out of a house nearby, swinging a flag in one hand and a sun bonnet in the other, begged of me to allow her to go down with me to see those dear good Union soldiers, and she accompanied him across a grain field, part of the way on their hands and knees, being in full view of the rebels, and she remained there on the line the whole day, and was as plucky a girl as one could wish to see.
No. 15 – GETTYSBURG
Fred Betts, sergeant-major of the regiment, gives his experience in the fight as follows, in writing to Colonel Allen:
“Starting from Emmitsburg early in the morning, my first vivid impression was produced by an aide who came galloping down the road with orders to hasten forward, and soon afterward I heard heavy firing. We pushed on at almost a double quick, and with a brief halt for water in the square, passed through the town and out towards Seminary Ridge, beyond and to the right of the poorhouse grounds. Here we learned of Reynolds’ death and of the consignment change in commanders through our corps.
At about 11 o’clock, as I recollect, three companies of the Seventeenth were sent out as skirmishers, and as volunteers had been called for, the regular division formation was broken. Shortly after the regiment was ordered to the left and deployed in column of divisions as reserve to our brigade. This formation, you will remember, was especially awkward, owing to the absence of the companies skirmishing; and to this fact was due, in my opinion, the temporary confusion which followed the order to deploy and advance. Several companies missed their usual places in line and rushed hastily up the hill to close the break.
At this time our gallant Fowler, who, during the vigorous shelling which preceded our advance, had jokingly cried, “Dodge the big ones, boys,” rode to the front, where he was soon joined by General Ames and staff, and after a brief glance at the numbers of the enemy, ordered us to fall back. It was about this time that the regiment suffered its heaviest loss for the first day.
Our colors, which were on the top of the knoll, apparently attracting the special fire of the rebs.
Captain Moore fell in the advance and if my memory serves me, it was here that Quien, who then took his place in command of Company C, was shot in the hand.
My duties as sergeant-major took me from right to left, constantly conveying orders and endeavoring to prevent the fleeing members of some Pennsylvania regiments, who justified their flight by saying, “Our time ish out,” from breaking through the line, and though many of our best men fell, one after the other, while holding our colors aloft, I failed to get their names and company. As we turned to fall back, Colonel Fowler, who had just been left by General Ames, brought in rear of the regiment, and as he, with Adjutant Chatfield and myself, started slowly down the slope, we saw slowly following, the advance line of the rebel skirmishers. A light battery on the ridge was shelling us and making things quite lively. We had not gone far when to our horror we saw Colonel Fowler falling from his saddle. As his horse galloped away, Chatfield, who had just had his light sabre cut in two by a ball, hastily dismounted. Poor Fowler was dead. It seemed to us that the hole in his head could hardly have been made by a fragment of a shell which had just burst above us, as it looked round and clearly mared. However, this was no time for speculation, so calling back one of our regiment, Company E, whose name I cannot recall, we endeavored to lift his corpse upon the adjutant’s horse, but we found it impossible to do so, as his weight was beyond our strength, and after several attempts we reluctantly left him.
At this time the rebel line had advanced within hailing distance, and the requests we received to surrender were more vigorous than polite. Chatfield mounting his horse escaped by a close shave to our right. Our friend of Company E was captured before he left that field while I scaling a fence in front of us tore across the next field towards the stone wall of the poorhouse.
On the way there I saw trotting along with the American colors on his shoulder, Jimmy Hayes, of Company F, who just about this time received a shot through his leg which floored him. I ran over to raise him but found him too badly hurt. A comrade from Company C, I think, ran up at the same time, and in view of the fact that he carried a musket and I had none, agreed with me that I had better take the flag, and so taking up the old colors as I had at Chancellorsville, I continued my trot towards the shelter of the poorhouse.
Inside the walls of the barnyard we found General Ames and staff. We waited for orders, which soon came in the shape of several shells bursting over our heads, a piece of one striking the staff of our colors and making us start back through the town. I recall a futile attempt to dislodge some skirmishers from a lumberyard, under direction of General Hines, and a halt for a few minutes in support of a single Napoleon, hauled by a rope through the street, but have no recollection of when the small remnant of our regiment was reformed on Cemetery Hill and assigned to its first position in line to the right of the road and overlooking the town. I recall the visit of General Howard in the morning, who found our brigade a trifle out of line, and jumping his horse over the stone fence led us forward to the next fence under a hot fire from sharpshooters. I recall also the trip Theodore Brotherton, of Company F, and I think Batchelder, of Company D, and myself across the hill for a box of ammunition and the return with it, and can still hear the thud of the ball which nearly passed through poor Batchelder’s body, and left him, as we thought, dead in the grass; and remember plainly the dangerous but well performed duty of the detail sent to carry him to the rear. But the fatigue and excitement of the day seem ever present as I try to fill in the details of the night’s alternations of rest and alarm. Nor can I now remember to whom the American colors were given.
July 2nd. The day was varied only, I think, by the sharpshooters who from different locations endeavored to pick off anyone bold enough to show a head above the stone fence, except by an artillery duel between Battery I, First New York, and rebel battery across the valley.
During the afternoon a column of rebel infantry came out of the woods on our right and defiled through the fields far in our front, and just before dark came gradually up in line to the wall, behind which we lay, and, although finally repulsed, broke through the line to the left of us, and left some of their dead among the guns on the hill behind. It was during this charge that Lieutenant-Colonel Allen was wounded, and that Captain Burr captured the rebel color bearer and “got hunk”, as he said, for Chancellorsville, where he was captured.
It seems to me that it was on this day that our brigade commander, Major Harris, of the Seventy-fifth Ohio, was reinforced by a brigade from the second corps, commanded by a Maine colonel, and I recall the feeling of intense satisfaction I felt when those full regiments quietly filed in behind our lines and layed down out of range.
The poor colonel in command got a crack in the shoulder early next morning, the 3rd, and, though anxious to stay, finally went to the rear.
July 3rd. This day seems like a dream to me, and beyond the terrible cannonading and charge which followed it, I recall but little, and in common with most others in the regiment, I fancy spent most of the day trying to sleep, in spite of the roar of the guns. During these days we lost quite a number of sharpshooters and on the skirmish line, which Captain Kellogg commanded.
I recall also the speech you made Company F, after you were shot, and the vigorous English you used on that occasion, though I doubt if you recollect much of it.
July 4th was one of comparative quiet after the early advance through the town, and out nearly to the scene of our first day’s engagement, for all were too much exhausted to see further adventure. Major Brady had assumed command, Colonel Noble having the brigade.
July 5th. We started for Funkstown, and after the little skirmish supporting Kilpatrick’s cavalry advance, our fighting was over for that campaign. General Barlow was wounded on the first day.
On the 6th of July the regiment left Gettysburg and marched to Hagerstown, Md., which it reached on the (?). From there it moved into Virginia at Catlett’s Station, then to Warrenton. From Warrenton it went by cars to Alexandria and thence to Newport News by steamer. After a day or two there it took vessel for Folly Island on August 11. From Folly Island the regiment moved to Morris Island where it remained for two weeks, and then returned to Folly Island.
No. 16 – GETTYSBURG
Col. Noble was not with the regiment in the Gettysburg fight, being home on leave of absence on account of the wound he received at Chancellorsville.
But believing a fight was imminent he left home five days before his leave expired, and reported direct to Washington, for the location of his regiment. The authorities there could not give him any information on that point and kept him there for five days—so long that he was unable to join his command until it was too late to take part in the fight.
The casualty to the regiment in this engagement was twenty killed, eighty-one wounded and ninety-seven captured.
Since preparing the above I have received letter from several, giving interesting recollections of the Gettysburg fight. I select the following from Lieutenant M.H. Daniels account of the second and third days’ experience of the regiment:
“Our brigade was rallied and placed in line in front of the cemetery, and immediately on the right of the road leading from the main gate into the village. We held this position the first night and second day.
We were withdrawn about 10 p.m. of the second day further back to rest. We rested until 4 p.m. of the third day, when we were placed in line a few rods to the right. We held this position, returning the fire of the sharpshooters as best we could. I remember Major Brady saying, “For God’s sake, can’t you keep those fellows quiet?”
I remember two incidents that made a strong impression on us all. The enemy were firing on us from the houses of the town. Out of one house came two shots in quick succession. We returned the fire, but soon after learned we had killed a young woman in that house, while she was kneading bread. The other incident was this: A boy came to me and said, “Lieutenant, I have lost my regiment, and I want to join your company for the present, and if I fight well and do my duty will you give me a good report to my Captain?” I replied, “Certainly I will, my boy.” Now away to our right was a rebel sharpshooter, hidden behind a pile of fence rails, who had kept one of our guns silent for some time, shooting every man that tried to load it. I said to the boy, “Perhaps you can get that chap,” explaining to him the situation. The sharpshooter shot at a cannoneer, the boy shot at him, but in a moment, as it were, a shot came back between the second and third rails of the fence we were behind and struck him in or near the heart. I was standing just behind him; if it had not struck him it would have certainly got me. He had nothing about him to show who he was, except he was an Indiana boy. Soon after I was ordered to the right with Companies C and D. While we were marching on the hillside, I was at the head in a captain’s place, and the orderly of Company D was at my side. He dropped dead. Soon after the whole regiment was to the right behind a stone wall, where brush had grown up by it. We had not been there long before we saw the rebs coming through a peach orchard in a field of wheat. The battery in our rear was giving them a warm reception with grape and canister, firing over our heads. I remember the lead wadding from one shot killed one of our men, which demoralized us worse than the enemy in front. On came the enemy, into the meadow in our front. We, the 1st brigade, the 1st division, 11th army corps, sent them our compliments from our Enfield rifles and [missing]…to my command, for the coolness we displayed. Only about half a dozen of the enemy broke through, but the dead in front were in heaps. We had two men in Company C, one, George Woods, the other, William Curtis, from Newtown, who were particularly noticeable for coolness. It proved that we had been fighting the La. Tigers. While the Tigers were coming across the meadows George and Bill were sitting down behind the stone wall, and you would have supposed they were shooting at a target. I saw George shoot, taking a dead rest, and heard him say, “He won’t come any further, will he, Bill?” Then Bill shot, and said, “I got that fellow, George.” And they kept it up that way, perfectly oblivious to danger themselves. Corporal George Scott, who was acting orderly, had it hand to hand with the enemy as they charged the fence. He shot a fellow and took a captain prisoner.
We were kept in line there all night, and in the gray of the morning of the 4th, I was detailed to command the skirmish line of twenty men from the Seventeenth, and ten men from the 107th O.V.I., with a second lieutenant from the 107th. We deployed just to the right of the turn and advanced slowly, and wondered why the enemy did not fire at us. We went and found the flag was waved by one of the Seventy-fifth Ohio surgeons. The enemy had evacuated.
Lieutenant A.W. Peck, of Newtown, was the second lieutenant of Company D, of Bridgeport, and was in command of the company during the battle of Gettysburg. Alonzo Scranton and W.S. Dewhurst, of his company, were wounded by a piece of shell. He believes they were the first men wounded in the regiment. The lieutenant gives an excellent description of the battle from his point of view, but most of the matter has already been given by Captain Daniels. Company D had thirty-six men on going into the fight, and lost twenty-seven of them by death, wounds and capture.
No. 17 – INCIDENTS OF GETTYSBURG
The following incidents are of such interest that I feel justified in printing them, believing they will be of interest to others than members of the regiment. Lieutenant A.W. Peck writes of the fourth day:
I was on picket in front of Seminary Ridge, and in front of the brick seminary on July 4th, the last day of the fight. Captain Kellogg was in command of the detail from our regiment with Lieutenant Hubbell, of Company E, and myself as subordinates.
The Johnnies kept up a regular fire on our boys and we replied promptly, although I do not think anyone was hit on either side, as we were too far away for doing much damage.
Occasionally a shot would come from one of the Johnnies secreted near what looked like a post out in the middle of a large lot, and we watched carefully to see if we could discover where the shot came from. I finally suggested that two or three of us had better fire at what we supposed was the post, at the same time. We did so, and we saw a Johnnie get up lively and go for a tree nearby. The Johnnies stopped firing for awhile, and we wondered what had happened, as a large number of them appeared in sight from behind the ridge, and we soon saw a squad of rebel cavalry approaching our lines. When about half way between the two picket lines they halted, and we discovered that they had a flag of truce. They were soon met by a delegation from our lines when a consultation followed, the result of which we did not learn at that time, but afterward heard that General Lee requested General Meade to remove the women and children from the town, as he intended to shell it, but Meade did not scare “worth a cent,” and Lee withdrew his pickets that night.
There was a well near the brick house where we supposed the rebel officers commanding the picket line had their headquarters, and there seemed to be an old fashioned windlass to draw the water. We saw the Johnnies try to draw water a number of times during the day, but I do not think they got much, as our boys would let them get the bucket part way up, when they would send some minies after them, and they would let the bucket drop and seek behind the house. Of course this seemed like fun to our boys, but probably it was not much fun for the thirsty Johnnies. It rained most of the day, and we got pretty well drenched, and about sundown our captain thought we ought to be relieved, and detailed me to go to headquarters for a [?].
When I got into town it was quite dark, and I did not succeed in finding our headquarters. There were no lights in the streets, and there seemed to be no one around; so after wandering around a long time, I was afraid to attempt to find my way back to the picket line in the dark, for fear of being captured by the Johnnies.
While passing along the sidewalk near the upper end of the town, I saw a door standing open, and went in and asked if they would let me stay there all night. They told me they had all they could accommodate, but if I could sleep on the lounge I might stay, and as I was very wet and tired, I at once accepted their kind offer, and after partaking of a hearty supper I bunked on the lounge and had a good night’s rest for the first time since the commencement of the fight. I awoke early next morning and ate a good breakfast, and after offering to pay my bill, which was generally refused, I started out to look up the pickets. I took pains to look the family up when I went there with our association to dedicate the monument, and succeeded in finding them, and was at once recognized by the father of the household, and had the satisfaction of returning my thanks for his comforting entertainment.
J.M. Silliman, of Company H, writes as follows:
On Barlow’s Knoll, July 1st, my rifle missed fire, when I sighted another which had been dropped by a skedaddler, but the cap of this only exploded; dropping this and laying hold of a third wet with the blood of one of our wounded I fired on the advancing rebels, and turned to load, when I suddenly became unconscious and remained in this condition until the rebels occupied the ground. I was wounded by a bullet which glanced across the top of my head, scraping the skull. It proved but a slight wound. I was taken to the barn of J. Benner, just across Rock Creek, on the Harrisburg road, and then occupied and as the hospital of the Louisiana Tigers, where my wound was dressed by a rebel surgeon. The rebels were jubilant over their first day’s success. A squad of cavalry came up from the town, wearing high paper collars and having their horses covered with bits of bright carpet. On the 2nd of July, at noon, the wounded union soldiers in this hospital were sent to the Gettysburg school house, which had been occupied by our forces as a hospital, at the opening of the battle, but was now within the rebel lines. We rode in the ambulances which had been captured from the Garibaldi guard. A little north of the alms house we saw in the road a brass cannon, the muzzle of which had been struck by one of our solid shot and flattened into the form much like that of an egg. I afterwards saw one of our own guns in the muzzle of which a solid shot had lodged.
The rebels had collected the muskets captured on the first day of the fight, and piled them in the centre of the square. These, however, they left in their hasty retreat on the night of the 3rd. No citizens were to be seen on the streets as we passed through but many of the rebels we met were hilariously drunk.
The school buildings, to which we were taken, was on the rebel line of battle, and in full view of our line, about sixty rods distant, and directly in front of the position occupied by the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteers. The “La Tigers” were just in front of us a little to the left.
The men were stretched on the ground under cover of a low ridge and spent the afternoon in eating, sleeping and card playing. They had skirmishers out just at the brow of this hill several of whom were killed by our sharpshooters. Just at dusk, after the battle had been raging for some time on the left of our line, the “Tigers” having been ordered to charge, crept stealthily to the crest of the ridge, and then with a wild yell sprang to their feet and started on a full run for our lines. The yells of the rebels, however, were soon completely drowned in the huzzas of our boys, and in a short time the fragments of what was left of a brigade came back at a lively pace.
On the morning of the 3rd the rebels informed us that they had orders to shoot any of us if we appeared at the windows, so in order to watch the battle I climbed to the cupola, from which I had an excellent view of the field. Even at that height the bullets were whistling about my ears and the noise of the shot and shell in the air resembled that of a mighty torrent.
There was a large number of prisoners, and I was one them, being captured on the first day of the fight. A parole was offered us, which the enemy assured us was not legal, and if our people did not accept it and put us in the field and we were again captured, we would be shot. Only a small number of our regiment accepted this parole, but determined to go to Richmond and take our chances with starvation. We moved from Gettysburg July 4th, but only went a short distance, on account of the road being crowded with the retiring army and its wounded.
We reached Stanton Saturday, July 18. The next day we took cars for Richmond, 136 miles distant, and arrived there just before daylight the next morning, Monday, July 20. Shortly after we were marched to Castle Thunder, where we were packed in like sardines.
Here we were counted, and had our canteens and haversacks taken from us. We were then taken across James River to Belle Island, where we remained for five or six weeks. The squad in which I returned North was paroled on Monday, August 24, and reached Annapolis parole camp, August 25th.