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1863. began in earnest. Firing as rapidly as possible we drove
the enemy back, while we slowly advanced toward the Mummasburg road. Each time the enemy advanced we drove him back, while up and down the line officers were encouraging the men, while the men themselves cautioned each other not to fire too high, but make every shot tell. On our left the rebels were seen coming down the slope, while on our right flank came another fire, to meet which we faced more to the north, leaving the troops on the left to take care of the enemy on that flank. The Eleventh Corps had just arrived. Forming on our right, it left a dangerous interval of nearly half a mile between its left and our right. We now began to have our hands full of work. About this time a charge was ordered, but luckily abandoned before our weakness was shown. Pretty soon a rebel brigade advanced and charged into the road in front of us, which was a sunken one, and we let them have it in good shape as they ascended the bank nearest us. They tried to get back to the other side of the road, but they were in a pocket, and we had them at our mercy. “Give it to 'em for Fredericksburg !” shouted some one, whereupen they threw up their hats to stop firing, and the Thirteenth bagged one hundred and thirty-two prisoners, including seven commissioned officers, all belonging to a North Carolina regiment. We had no time to lose, for along came another line outnumbering any of the preceding ones. An officer in our rear was shouting for us to hold on as long as we could, while on our right the Eleventh Corps were making tracks to the rear, leaving the flank of the First Corps, of which we were the flanking regiment, unprotected. So many men had fallen that our line looked ridiculously small to be contending with the large army corps now approaching us. The only thing we could do was to stand still and fire, though the rebel batteries were now getting in their work and making it very uncomfortable for the First Corps, already nearly gone to pieces.
Still no orders came to leave, nor were we reënforced. It was now four o'clock and our ammunition nearly gone — in some cases
gone ; General Paul, our brigadier, was shot through both eyes, while the dead lay all about us. As we gianced to our left we saw one division after another breaking away and making for Cemetery Hill; we saw
1863. the end was near and fell back towards the hill, each man
for himself, it being impracticable to do otherwise without losing still more men. The order was given to rally on Cemetery Hill. While some of the boys fell back along the railroad cut, others went directly through the town to the hill. Those who went through the town were obliged to run the gauntlet of the side streets, already filled with the men of Ewell's corps, who were endeavoring, with artillery and musketry, to prevent our escaping. We saw at once that we had stayed at the front a little too long for our safety. Some of us were to be gobbled and sent to rot in rebel prisons. Over fences, into yards, through gates, anywhere an opening appeared, we rushed with all our speed to escape capture. The streets swarmed with the enemy, who kept up an incessant firing, and yelling, “Come in here, you Yankee
!" Still we kept on, hoping to find a chance of escape somewhere.
The great trouble was to know where to run, for every street seemed to be occupied by the “rebs,” and we were in imminent danger of running into their arms before we knew it. There was no time to consider; we must keep moving and take our chances ; so on we went until at last, completely blown, we reached the hill now occupied by the batteries of the Eleventh Corps. In spite of our efforts, ninety-eight of the Thirteenth were captured. We appreciate how easy it oftentimes is to be taken prisoner, and frequently men have taken advantage of opportunities thus afforded to escape fighting; but whoever ran the gauntlet of Gettysburg can be relieved of any stigma of this kind.
Here we saw the division color-bearer standing alone. Some of the boys then took the flag, and waving it in turn, shouting and swinging their caps, soon succeeded in establishing the division headquarters.
While this was going on, others of the boys went actively to work bringing rails or digging, until we had a well-formed rifle-pit in readiness to again meet the enemy's attack; but we remained undisturbed during the night. It was now between 6 and 7 o'clock, and we had eaten nothing since early morning, so we munched away on our hardtack. Worn out with fatigue and excitement, many of
1863. the boys dropped off to sleep at once, insensible to the
firing that was going on at our right, near Culp's Hill. As the Eleventh Corps had done less work than the First, it was sent out on the picket line. About dusk our hearts were gladdened by the approach of Stannard's Vermont brigade of five regiments, each a thousand strong. To our delighted vision it seemed like a great army, and brought vividly to our minds the time when we were a thousand strong, now, alas! a mere handful of men.
As they approached, Colonel Dick Coulter, of the Eleventh Pennsylvania, now commanding the brigade, remarked: “If those fellows will fight as we do, we'll give the Johnnies hell to-morrow;" and they did fight well.
From now until long after midnight, brigade after brigade, corps after corps, came marching in to take its position on Cemetery Hill.
In the meantime we lay down to sleep, insensible to the tramp and clatter of an approaching army.
A mile away to the west, on Seminary Ridge, were the wounded of the First Corps, in the hands of the enemy.
Of the two hundred and eighty-four men and officers we took into the fight, only ninety-nine now remained for duty, the casualties being seven killed and eighty wounded, a total of eighty-seven. In addition to this number ninety-eight men were taken prisoners on their way back through the town.
The following letter of instructions was sent to General Reynolds on the ist of July, and was probably the last he received from General Meade, and is interesting to us in settling definitely all the theories as to what his instructions were :
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 1, 1863. MAJOR-GENERAL REYNOLDS, Commanding, etc., Gettysburg :
GENERAL: The telegraphic intelligence received from General Couch, with the various movements reported from Buford, seem to indicate the concentration of the enemy either at Chambersburg or at a point situated somewhere on a line drawn between Chambersburg and York, through Mummasburg and to the north of Gettysburg.
The commanding general cannot decide whether it is his best policy to move to attack until he learns something more definite of the point at which the enemy is 1863. concentrating. This he hopes to do during the day. Meanwhile
he would like to have your views on the subject, at least as far as concerns your position. If the enemy is concentrating to the right of Gettysburg, that point would not at first glance seem to be a proper strategic point of concentration for the enemy.
If the enemy is concentrating in front of Gettysburg or to the left of it, the general is not sufficiently well-informed of the nature of the country to judge of the character for either an offensive or defensive position. The numbers of the enemy are estimated at 92,000 infantry, with 270 pieces of artillery, and his cavalry from 6,000 to 8,000. Our numbers ought to equal it, and with the arrival of General French's command, which should get up to-morrow, exceed it, if not too much weakened by straggling and fatigue.
The General having just assumed command, in obedience to orders, with the position of affairs leaving no time to learn the condition of the army as to morale and proportionate strength compared with its last return, would gladly receive from you any suggestions as to the points laid down in this note. He feels that you know more of the condition of the troops in your vicinity and the country than he does. General Humphreys, who is at Emmitsburg with the Third Corps, the General considers an excellent adviser as to the nature of the country for offensive or defensive operations. If near enough to call him to consultation with you, without interference with the responsibilities that devolve upon you both, please do so. You have all the information that the General has received, and the General would like to have your views. The movement of your corps to Gettysburg was ordered before the positive knowledge of the enemy's withdrawal from Harrisburg and concentration was received.
Very respectfully, etc.,
Assistant Adjutant General. (Copy to Major-General Howard.)
It is no disparagement to the men of the First Corps who gave up their lives to-day, when we say the bravest of all was Gen. John F. Reynolds, our commander. His loss to the Army of the Potomac was very great, and must have been keenly felt by Meade, whose confidence he had more completely than any other officer under him, and upon whose judgment and advice he would, very likely, have relied. To the men of his corps, whose admiration for him was enthusiastic and devoted, his loss seems irreparable.
During our service there were two officers who excited in us an affectionate devotion, — General Hartsuff and General Reynolds. It is difficult to describe the kind of personal magnetism which these
1863. men, so much alike in many respects, possessed. They
were both disciplinarians of the strictest kind, making no effort to gain our good-will by clap-trap or humbug, reserved and cold in their manners, requiring prompt and implicit obedience, yet each had acquired the most perfect control over his men - that kind of control which prompts men to willingly obey orders without hesitation, deeming it an honor to have been called upon. No danger or duty was considered too great to undertake under their leadership. To the First Corps, General Reynolds was the beau ideal of a soldier. His great abilities and his bravery the world has acknowledged and expressed its admiration therefor, but the love we had for him is beyond expression.
The following tribute to General Reynolds was written by Count de Paris and published in his history of the battle of Gettysburg, and will be read with pleasure by every man who had the honor to serve in the First Corps :
Reynolds was undoubtedly the most remarkable man among all the officers that the Army of the Potomac saw fall on the battlefield during the four years of its existence; and Meade could say of him that he was the noblest and bravest of them all. A graduate of West Point, he had early distinguished himself in that Mexican army which was destined to become the nursery of the staff-officers both North and South. His former comrades, who had become either his colleagues or his adversaries, held him in the greatest estimation on account of his military talents, for under a cold exterior he concealed an ardent soul; and it was not the slowness, but rather the clearness, of his judgment that enabled him to preserve his coolness at the most critical moments. The confidence he inspired, alike in his inferiors, his equals, and his commanders, would no doubt soon have distinguished him for the command of one of the Union armies. It would have been a fortunate thing for the cause he was serving with devotion and earnestness without having ever sought to elicit appreciation of his merits. llis untimely death — he was forty-three years old — was not without some benefit to that cause, for by making a vigorous fight in the battle, which cost him his life, he secured the possession of Cemetery Hill to the Army of the Potomac, against which the full tide of Southern invasion broke. We will cite, in conclusion, as the most beautiful homage paid to character, the unanimous regrets of the inhabitants of Fredericksburg, of which town he had been the military governor, who, although passionately devoted to the cause of the South, mourned him as if he had been one of their own people.
On the first day of July, 1888, just twenty-five years after the events described, near the same spot where General Reynolds was