While the whole North was probably celebrating with Saturday,

unrestrained joy the victories of Gettysburg and VicksJuly 4.

burg, two of the boys had crawled out of their blankets

and were now engaged in making coffee. The morning was cloudy. It was so early the troops were hardly astir. The boys were too busy with their labor to be wasting time in idle words, nor were they in the mood for much talk. The fatigue and excitement of the last three days had reacted, and they proceeded, in their melancholy way, to brew their stimulating beverage. Presently one said to the other, “ Bill, there was a fight yesterday, wasn't there?"

“I believe there was, Jim.”
“ Who licked?"
“Damned if I know; I thought we did, by the hollering.”
“ Then let's call it a victory.”

“I say, Jim, war doesn't seem such a hell of a picnic as we hoped it would be when we paid $12.50 for the privilege of enlisting, does it?"

“I don't give a damn for the picnic, but what makes me sick is that every time we have a chance to finish up the business, we stop and give the “rebs' a chance to recover."

“I wonder if the positions we left, on enlisting, will be open to us as promised, when we get back?"

“If we carry on the war much longer as we do now, there'll be no 'get back.'"

“What are you going to do about it?”
“ Do? Nothing. What can we do?”
At this moment a third man approached the fire.
“What are you fellows growling about ? "
“ Jim, here, says we had a victory yesterday.”
“No, I didn't. I said, let's call it a victory."
“You are right, Jim," said the new-comer.

« We'll call it one, though it draws hard on the imagination."

This conversation reflects pretty well the feeling that prevailed among the soldiers the morning of the fourth.

As we reflected on the last three days' terrible work, we could not escape the impression that it was a repetition of Antietam, for in both

1863. cases the enemy was granted “ leave to withdraw" at a

time when it could have had little expectation of the exercise of so benignant a privilege.

By noon it began to rain in torrents, making the roads so muddy that it was impossible to manæuvre artillery with any advantage, furnishing a good reason to Meade for thanking Providence for granting us a great victory. It was now plain enough to all that the fighting was over, and if Lee would only get back into Virginia we might make the claim, without fear of dispute. At present, however, the enemy showed a strong front, having apparently recovered from the paralyzing shock of yesterday, thanks to our customary irresolution.

We lay all day in a piece of woods to the south of the cemetery, wondering what would be the next move on the checker-board of fate. Desultory firing was kept up by the enemy, whose sharpshooters occasionally hit a man. On one of these occasions, when an officer of our regiment was in the act of raising his dipper filled with coffee, a bullet passed completely through it. “A close shot," said the officer, and proceeded to drink the remainder of the coffee. Another one of our boys was shot in the thigh ; so the day didn't pass without some excitement and the customary .Fourth of July accident. HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,

July 4, 1863, 6.35 A.M.

(Received, 8.25 A.M.) Maj-GEN. GEORGE (G.] MEADE, Commanding U. S. Army of the Potomac :

GENERAL: In order to promote the comfort and convenience of the officers and men captured by the opposing armies in the recent engagements, I respectfully propose that an exchange be made at once.

Should this proposition be acceptable, please indicate the hour and point between the lines of the armies where such an exchange can be made. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,


July 3 [4], 1863, 8.25 A.M. GEN. R. E. LEE, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia :

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date, proposing to inake an exchange at once of the captured officers and men in my


possession, and have to say, most respectfully, that it is not in my
power to accede to the proposed arrangement.
Very respectfully, etc.,

Major-General Commanding.



This morning the enemy has withdrawn his pickets from the positions of yesterday. My own pickets are moving out to ascertain the nature and extent of the enemy's movements. My information is not sufficient for me to decide its character yet - whether a retreat or manæuvre for other purposes.



General Robinson, our division commander, makes the following report of the doings of his division during the battle :


July 18, 1863. Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division in the engagements of the ist, 2d, and 3d instant:

On the morning of Wednesday the 1st, the division marched from Emmitsburg, bringing up the rear of the column, and when about three miles from Gettysburg, hearing firing in front, it was pushed rapidly forward, and, arriving on the field, was placed, by order of the major-general commanding First Corps, in reserve, near the Seminary. Almost immediately after taking this position, I received notice that the enemy was advancing a heavy column of infantry on the right of our line of battle, when I sent the Second Brigade, under Brigadier-General Baxter, to meet it. Orders being received at this time to hold the Seminary, the First Brigade, under Brigadier-General Paul, was set at work to intrench the ridge on which it was situated. I then rode to the right of the line to superintend the operations there. On my arrival, I found the Second Brigade so placed as to cover our right flank, but with too great an interval between it and the line of the first divisjon. I at once directed General Baxter to change front forward on his left battalion, and to close this interval, toward which the enemy was making his way. By the time this change was effected, the whole front of the brigade became hotly engaged, but succeeded in repulsing the attack. The enemy, however, soon after brought up fresh forces, in increased masses, when, finding the position so seriously threatened, I sent for and brought up the First Brigade (in which was the Thirteenth], and placed part of it in the position first occupied by Baxter's brigade, and the remaining battalions as a support to his second position. The enemy now 1863. made repeated attacks on the division, in all of which he was hand

somely repulsed, with the loss of three flags and about one thousand prisoners.

In one of these attacks I was deprived of the veteran commander of the First Brigade, Brigadier-General Paul, who fell severely wounded, while gallantly directing and encouraging his command.

The division held its position on the right – receiving and repelling the fierce attacks of a greatly superior number, not only in front, but on the flank, and when the enemy's ranks were broken, charging upon him and capturing his colors and men — from about noon until nearly 5 P.M., when I received orders to withdraw. These orders not being received until all other troops (except Stewart's Battery) had commenced moving to the rear, the division held its ground, until outflanked right and left, and retired fighting.

From the nature of the enemy's attacks, frequent changes were rendered necessary, and they were made under a galling fire. No soldiers ever fought better, or inflicted severer blows upon the enemy. When out of ammunition, their boxes were replenished from those of their dead and wounded comrades.

The instances of distinguished gallantry are too numerous to be embodied in this report, and I leave it to the brigade and regimental commanders to do justice to those under their immediate command. Where all did so well it is difficult to discriminate.

After withdrawing from this contest I took up a position on a ridge to the left of the cemetery, facing the Emmitsburg road, and remained there until afternoon of the next day, when I was relieved by a division of the Second Corps, and ordered to the support of the Eleventh Corps. In the evening I was ordered to the left of our line, but was soon after directed to return.

On Friday morning, the 3d inst., the division was massed and held ready to push forward to the support of the Twelfth Corps, then engaged with the enemy on our right.

About noon I was informed by the major-general commanding the army that he anticipated an attack on the cemetery by the enemy's forces massed in the town, and was directed to so plan my command that if our line gave way I could attack the enemy on his flank. I proceeded to make this change of position at the moment the enemy commenced the terrific artillery fire of that day. Never before were troops so exposed to such a fire of shot and shell, and yet the movement was made in perfect order and with little loss.

Later in the day, the enemy having made his attack on our left instead of the centre, I was ordered to the right of the Second Corps, which position I held until Sunday, when the line was withdrawn.

This division went into battle with less than 2,500 officers and men, and sustained a loss of 1,667, of which 124 were commissioned officers.

JOIN C. ROBINSON, Brig.-Gen. Commanding Division.


The following communication explains itself:


November 15, 1863. MAJ.-GEN. GEORGE G. MEADE, Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: I feel it is my duty to inform you of the intense mortiscation and disappointment felt by my division in reading your report of the battle of Gettysburg

For nearly four hours on July 1st we were hotly engaged against overwhelming numbers, repulsed repeated attacks of the enemy, captured their flags and a very large number of prisoners, and were the last to leave the field.

The division formed the right of the line of battle of the First Corps, and during the whole time had to fight the enemy in front and protect our right flank (the division of the Eleventh Corps being at no time less than half a mile in rear). We went into action with less than two thousand five hundred men, and lost considerably more than half our number.“

We have been proud of our efforts on that day, and hoped that they would be recognized. It is but natural we should feel disappointed that we are not once referred to in the report of the commanding general.

Trusting that you will investigate this matter and give us due credit, I am, Gen. eral, very respectfully your obedient servant,

Brig-Gen. Commanding Division.

General Meade's reply to this communication, if he ever made any, cannot be found in the War Records.

The following table shows the losses at Gettysburg : First Corps

6,059 Second Corps

4,369 Third Corps .

4,211 Fifth Corps

2,187 Sixth Corps

242 Eleventh Corps

3,801 Twelfth Corps

1,082 Cavalry Corps

852 Artillery Reserve

242 General Headquarters


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]





« VorigeDoorgaan »