New York (State). Monuments Commission for the Bat.

Final report on the battlefield of Gettysburg online

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New York at Gettysburg. 1201

later a prolonged lull occurred at the front, where the advantage appeared to
be with our line. The battery then proceeded, in compliance with General
Hooker's instructions, to Malvern Hill, which it reached between one and two
hours before sunset.

Early the next morning, July 2d, the enemy made a dash from the woods
directly in front of the battery, evidently believing they could secure the crest
of the hill upon the main road from Glendale. At that moment I was absent
with General Hooker. General Griffin refused to give Lieutenant Winslow
instructions to open fire, and Winslow, acting upon his own judgment, opened.
He was joined in the firing by Captain Bramhall, who was a quarter of a mile
to the right, without orders. Winslow and Bramhall secured an admirable
cross-fire on this body of infantry, and both fired rapidly. They broke up the
enemy's lines and they fell back into the woods. Two other batteries joined
in this firing but fired very slow and aided but little, if any, in the results.
Our infantry did nothing in this affair, as the enemy fell back under cover
of the forests.

When Hooker's Division went into position on the brow of the hill, the
battery joined it and went into position with it, and, of course, had its ordinary
share of work to do until the main battle of Malvern Hill had been fought
and won.

Anderson furnishes the following reminiscence of the battle: "The position
of our battery was on the right of the line of several batteries. Almost di-
rectly in our front and three-fourths of a mile from us, was a farmhouse sur-
rounded by more than the usual number of outbuildings, old stone and rail
fences grown vfp to bushes, all of which made a most excellent cover for sharp-
shooters. A large number of these had taken advantage of the cover thus
afforded. An aide came to you from some general and requested you to
clear out that nest of sharpshooters. You opened fire with the right gun.
Corporal Sterling as gunner, giving him directions for cutting fuse. He first
opened fire and was followed by the other guns. As Sterling just then was
doing the fancy shooting, you ordered him to put a shot or two into a large
barn to the right of and beyond the house. The first shot went through, and
the second exploded inside of the barn setting it on fire. It burned with great
rapidity. A few more shells cleared the sharpshooters out from that locality.
As you ceased firing I was directed to go with three or four men to a ravine
on our right for water. A few rods away from the battery I was hailed by a
general officer, surrounded by his staff. He asked me whose battery that was.
I answered Osborn's Battery, First New York, He said to the staff, ' That
is the Third Corps Battery detailed for the rear guard of the army, and which
we supported at Savage Station. I never saw such deadly work done by a
battery as I witnessed at Savage Station, and now here to-day. Thank you
for the information.' "

The battle of Malvern Hill was a desperate one. The crest on which it
was fought was narrow. The several assaults made by the enemy on our
position were made in rapid succession. They struck with marvelous force
and the staying power of our line was equal to the force by which it was struck.
It was but one of the seven days battles, yet considered independently it should
rank high among the great battles of the country.

76



I202 New York at Gettysburg.

After the battle the army continued its march to that almost natural fortress,
Harrison's Landing. There it went into camp and intrenched, and there the
Army of the Potomac remained until it returned to Alexandria to take part
in the campaign in Northern Virginia under General Pope.

On the nth of August, while in camp. Lieutenant Winslow, whose health
had been seriously broken by the hardships of the campaign, left the battery
under orders to enlist men for it.

While we were in camp at Harrison's Landing the equipment of Battery D
was exchanged from three-inch regulation rifle guns to light brass twelve-
pounders. This battery was selected, as we were notified, as being the best
one in the division.

General McQellan in his final report of the operations of the Army of the
Potomac on the Peninsula, in speaking of the battle of Savage Station, says :

" Osborn's and Bramhall's (Smith's) Batteries also took part effectively in
this action, which was continued with great obstinacy until 8 or 9 p. m., when
the enemy was driven from the field."

When the Army of the Potomac left Harrison's Landing, General Hooker
marched his division to Yorktown, where it was shipped on transports to
Alexandria.

At the close of General Pope's campaign the Third Corps was detailed to
garrison the defences of Washington, south of the Potomac. It had suffered
so severely in the previous campaigns that it was considered best to allow it
time to recuperate. For this reason it, and the battery with it, were not in
the campaign and battle of Antietam. The corps did not move from the de-
fences until after the army had fought the battle and recrossed the Potomac
into Virginia, when the corps moved south on the line of the railroad to
Bristoe Station. There it remained until the army passed south of and around
it, and concentrated at Falmouth. At Falmouth the Third Corps rejoined the
army.

While in the defences of Washington Battery D received ninety-eight recruits,
who were enlisted by Lieutenant Winslow. Among these were several men,
who subsequently became commissioned officers. Among them was L. J.
Richardson, who succeeded to the command of the battery when Captain
Winslow vras wounded, and who commanded it through the greater part of
the Wilderness campaign. He, in turn, was seriously wounded at Peebles'
Farm, and thereafter ceased to be actively connected with the battery.

While we were lying at Bristoe Station, on the 20th or 21st of November,
and after the army had passed the Third Corps on its way to Falmouth, an
alarm was received at corps headquarters that a large body of the enemy was
approaching from the south. General Sickles ordered Gen. Frank Patterson,
with his brigade and Battery D, to move four miles south and report what
was in front. Patterson reached his position about sunset. The night was
cold and clear and the moon shone bright. Between 9 and 10 o'clock the
enemy was seen going into position on two sides of us. Their strength could
not be determined, but of their movements there was no doubt. I, with
Lieutenant Winslow, looked at them a half hour, saw them come up and go
into position for attack. There was no doubt an attack was to be speedily



New York at Gettysburg. 1203

made. Patterson believed the enemy too strong for his small force to withstand
their charge and ordered his command to fall back on the main body of the
corps. This it did in perfect order.

For retiring without orders Sickles placed Patterson under arrest. This
greatly humiliated him, and the next night he shot himself, while in his tent,
through the heart. He was a good officer and a kind and genial gentleman.
Battery D had been with him in this unfortunate and misunderstood move-
ment, and at his burial it fired the military" salute, to a brigadier general, at
his grave.

The battle of Fredericksburg was fought on the 13th of December. The
battery lost one man killed and one wounded. The most charitable comment
that can be made on that battle is that the strategy and grand tactics were
simply foolish, and that the losses resulting to the army and the country from
that foohshness were enormous.

General Hooker was assigned to the command of the army on the 26th
of January, 1863. By special order, dated February 6th, the battery was re-
turned to the Second Division, Third Corps. That is, it was returned to the
command from which Burnside had taken it. Upon the return of the bat-
tery to the Third Corps, I was assigned to duty on the staff of General Berry,
then commanding the division, as chief of artillery. First Lieut. George B.
Winslow took command of the battery. At that time my immediate official
connection with Battery D ceased.

The battery remained in its camp until the corps commenced its march to
Chancellorsville, on the 29th of April. On the 30th it took position on the
north of the Rappahannock River, near the United States Ford, to sweep the
plain on the south side, if it should become necessary. On the 31st it crossed
the river, and on the 2d of May, about noon, moved to the Chancellorsville
House. There it halted until the results of the collision between Jackson's
command and the Eleventh Corps could be known.

Late in the afternoon General Berry was ordered, with his division, to the
front to cover the retreat of the Eleventh Corps. The division went into
position across the plank road in the edge of the forest, three-fourths of a
mile from the Chancellorsville House. I assigned the battery to a position on
a slight elevation 200 yards in rear of the division line of battle. The enemy's
pursuit of the Eleventh Corps was promptly checked by the Third Corps, the
principal factor in accomplishing which was the artillery of Berry's Division,
Battery D being very active in this work.

Early in the evening heavy firing occurred, during which Stonewall Jackson
received the wounds from which he died. He received those wounds directly
in front of Battery D and not more than 300 yards from it. The battery took
an active part in all the operations of the evening.

The fiercest fighting during that battle occurred in the morning of the 3d
of May, immediately in front of the battery, and in easy play of its guns. The
battery fought to the utmost of its ability, until its ammunition was exhausted,
and the enemy's infantry were within 100 feet of its line. It then withdrew
with all its guns, with the same good order, regularity, and precision as if on



1204 New York at GETTYSBuna

drill In this battle the enemy gained the victory, and the Army of the Potomac
returned to its camp at Falmouth.

General Sickles, in his report of the battle, speaks in general terms of his
artillery and as a whole, and does not individualize batteries. He says :

" Osborn, Berry's chief of artillery, placed Dimmick's and WinsloVs Bat-
teries on the crest of the hill perpendicular to the road and 300 or 400 yards in
rear of the line of battle. A section of Dimmick's was thrown forward on tiie
plank road near the infantry, a most admirable disposition, promptly made."

Captain Randolph, the Third Corps chief of artillery, in his report says:
" Lieutenant Winslow commanding Osborn's Battery handled his command
very creditably."

Lieutenant Winslow, in his report, speaking of the closing scenes of the
battle on the line where the main battle was fought, the morning of the 3d,
says:

"Just before the last charge of the Jersey Brigade, in front of my battery,
the enemy came down in soUd masses, covering, as it were, the whole ground
in front of our lines, with at least a dozen stand of colors Qying in their midst.
I immediately ordered my guns loaded with solid shot, and, as oar infantry
fell back and wheeled to the left, unmasking the battery, fired at about one
and a half degrees elevation. The efTect was most terrible. A few rounds
sufficed to drive the enemy in great confusion up the hill, \*diereupon our in-
fantry again charged and took several stands erf colors.

" The enemy then crossed the road and came down in the woods upon our
right Meanwhile the enemy continued to advance, our own troops slowly
retiring before them. In a few moments the former came out of the woods
not more than 100 yards from the muzzles of my guns, planted their colors
by the side of the road and commenced picking off my men and horses. When
a sufficient number had rallied around their colors, my guns having been pre-
viously loaded with canister, I gave an order to fire. In this way they were
repeatedly driven back. They were, however, rapidly closing around us in
the woods upon our right, not more than twenty-five or thirty yards from my
right gun, when I received your order to limber up and retire. My ammuni-
tion was exhausted. I limbered from the left successively, continuing to fire
until my last piece was limbered."

A few days after the battle of Chancellorsville, I was commissioned to a
higher grade, and Winslow became captain of the battery. I was assigned to
duty in another corps, and Battery D passed out from under my command.
I think I saw it but two or three times after I was assigned to duty elsewhere.

The battery remained at Falmouth with the Army of the Potomac until
Lee's army entered upon the campaign which culminated in the battle of Gettys-
burg. The army on the 13th of June started in pursuit of the Army of Northern
Virginia, while at the same time it covered the city of Washington from an
attempt to capture it by Lee's army. On this campaign the battery crossed the
Potomac River at Edwards Ferry, June 21st, moving with the Third Corps.
It arrived on the field of Gettysburg on the 2d day of July, twenty-five years
ago to-day.

The corps at once went into position on the extreme left of the line of battle.
As the line was being formed the battery took position on the left of General



New York at Gettysburg. 1205

Ward's Brigade. This was the left of the corps line. At noon, however, the
battery was withdrawn from the extreme left and placed in position on the
right of Ward's Brigade, which rested in a wheatfield. The position it then
held was the exact site on which this monument now stands. The Wheatfield
has since become historical.

The battery commenced firing about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and con-
tinued active until the enemy forced our line of battle from its positiom The
enemy's infantry was in speaking distance of the men of the battery when it
retired. It suffered severely, yet not one man flinched or failed to perform
his whole duty.

Captain Winslow commanded the battery. Lieutenant Crego commanded
the right, Lieutenant Richardson the centre, and Lieutenant Ames the left sec-
tions, respectively. Of these ofificers Captain Winslow died from disease re-
sulting from wounds received in the Wilderness; Lieutenant Ames was shot
dead at Cold Harbor; and Lieutenant Richardson received wounds at Peebles'
Farm, from which he has never recovered.

As they fought on this field, they were a corps of brave and gallant officers,
who commanded as brave and obedient a body of men as ever faced the enemy
in the heat and danger of battle. American soldiers never had braver or more
honorable representatives on any battlefield, than were the officers and men of
Battery D, who twenty-five years ago to-day fought on the ground where we
now stand.

Captain Randolph, chief of artillery of the Third Corps, in his report of th«
part taken by the artillery of the corps, says :

" On the right of Smith's (Battery), after passing a belt of woods, was an
opening, in which I placed Winslow's Battery of light twelve-pounders. This
position was surrounded by woods, but, in my opinion, the line was materially
strengthened by this battery of short-range guns.

"The attack, on the left of our line, involved Winslow's Battery. From
the position of the battery and of the infantry supporting, it was deemed best
for a time to fire soHd shot into the woods over our troops, who were fighting
in front, under protection of a stone wall. This fire was very effective, and
was continued till our troops in front fell back of his battery, when Captain
Winslow used case shot, one and one and a half second fuse, ending with
canister.

" When the enemy had gained two sides of the woods and the position was
no longer tenable, Captain Winslow, by command of General Birney, retired
handsomely by piece, losing heavily during the movement. The f>osition of
Captain Winslow's Battery did not seem to be very good, owing to the nearness
of the woods on all sides, but the result proved that the battery was able to
do good service, and Captain Winslow deserves credit, not only for the good
working of his battery, but for the handsome manner in which he withdrew
under trying circumstances.

" Although in this battle of July 2d each of my batteries was compelled to
retire, I may be permitted to claim, in view of the grand results of the three
days' fighting, that they contributed in no small degree to the success of our
arms."



i2o6 New York at Gettysburg.

The left section, Ames', retired first; the right section, Crego's, second;
and the centre section, Richardson's, last. Thus, in this desperate struggle and
untenable position, Richardson, the junior officer of the battery, withdrew last
from his position. It is true the battery lost heavily while retiring; but of the
three sections, the centre lost the most heavily. No more brave and skillful
act could have been performed than that of withdrawing the last two guns
from under the heavy firing of the artillery and the concentrated musketry fire
of the enemy from three sides and at short range.

Captain Winslow, in his report of the part Battery D took in the battle of
Gettysburg, says:

" On the afternoon of July ist my battery was left with a brigade of the
First Division at Emmitsburg.

"At 3 o'clock on the morning of July 2d I received orders to march with the
brigade and rejoin the corps at Gettysburg. When within about three miles
of the latter place the command halted for a brief rest; but, being informed by
citizens that the enemy's skirmishers were only a mile distant, and advancing
towards the road upon which we were marching, we immediately pushed on,
reaching the corps about ii a. m. My battery was put into position in the
line of battle then being formed by the corps. An hour or two later the Une
was moved to the left and front The position assigned my battery was near
the left of the line, in a small wheatfield near the base of Little Round Top hill.

" A battery of the enemy, posted nearly in my front, opened between 3 and
4 p. m. upon our lines. I could only see the smoke of their guns, as it rose
above the tree tops, but, by command of General Hunt, fired a few rounds of
solid shot in that direction, probably with no effect, as it was evidently with-
out the range of my guns. Soon after, the two lines of infantry became hotly
engaged; but I was unable from my obscure position to observe the movements
of the troops, and was compelled to estimate distances and regulate my fire
from the reports of our own and the enemy's musketry.

" By direction of Major General Bimey, I opened with solid shot, giving but
sufficient elevation to clear our own troops in front, and firing in the direction
of the heavy musketry, lessening the range as our troops fell back and the
enemy advanced. Our line of skirmishers fell back on their supports at the
edge of the woods, little, if any, more than 400 yards from the front of my guns.
This line was a weak one and soon fell back, but by using shell and case shot
at about one degree elevation, and from one to one and a half second fuse, I
kept the enemy from advancing from the cover of the woods. Having just
been directed by General Bimey, through an aide, to closely watch the move-
ments and look for a route upon which I might withdraw in case it became
necessary, I rode through the woods, on my left, perhaps 200 yards in width,
and found our line there formed perpendicular to my own, instead of parallel
as I had supposed, facing from me and closely pressed by the enemy. This
line soon fell back irregularly, but slowly, passing in front of and masking
my guns. A portion of Smith's Battery, on my left, also withdrew by my rear.

" The enemy's advance being within twenty-five yards of my left, and covered
by woods and rocks, I ordered my left section limbered, with a view to moving
it a short distance to the left and rear. Before this was accomplished, the
enemy had advanced under cover of the woods upon my right, and was cutting



New Yoek at GETTYSBURa 1207

down my men and horses. Having no supports in rear, and being exposed
to a heavy fire of musketry in front and upon both flanks, I deemed it neces-
sary to withdraw, in order to save my guns, which was done by piece in
succession from the left, continuing to fire until the right and last piece was
limbered. Several horses were killed and disabled before moving twenty-five
yards. In one instance it became necessary to use a limber of the caisson to
secure the piece. By impressing two passing horses of Captain Smith, not in
use, the former was secured. Meeting, immediately after leaving the field, Major
General Sickles and Captain Randolph, I was ordered by them to move my
battery to the rear and refit as far as possible. My battery was moved to
the front next morning, but was not engaged in the action of that day.

" On this, as on former occasions^ my officers and men, with scarce an ex-
ception, manifested a coolness and bravery highly commendable, the latter
in more than one instance rendering valuable aid after being severely wounded.
The casualties were 10 men wounded and 8 missing; 10 horses killed and
disabled. All of my pieces could not have been brought off had my men
been less brave."

The desperate character of the battle of Gettysburg I am familiar with. I
was in command of the artillery brigade of the Eleventh Corps, in position
on Cemetery Hill, on the identical ground now occupied by the National Ceme-
tery, and where the stately monument in memory and honor of the officers
and men of New York, who fell in the battle, will to-morrow be dedicated by
our comrades. From the morning of July ist, until two hours before sunset,
I fought the artillery beyond the village, and from that hour until the close
oi the battle my command held that hill. It took part in all the fighting on
all that part of the field during the three days. During the heavy cannonading
preceding Pickett's grand charge, I had, in addition to my own command,
several batteries drawn from the Artillery Reserve of the army.

So far in this narrative I have been able to confirm its correctness by reference
to and extracts from the War Record published by Congress. From this point
forward I have used such reliable nonofficial information as I could obtain, —
such as letters written in the field, memoranda made at the time, and diaries
kept in the field. In addition I have had the kind co-operation of officers and
men in giving me facts as they remembered them. The narrative may be
relied upon as substantially correct in all particulars.

The battery remained on the field of Gettysburg with the Third Corps two
days after the battle. It then took up the march and followed the trail of
Lee's retreating army, until Lee had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport

On the 23d of July, the battle of Wapping Heights was fought. Sergeant
Thayer says of this fight that it could hardly be rated as a battle, estimated
by the standard of most of the battles in which the battery was engaged. The
Third Corps passed through the gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the
intention of intercepting the rear of Lee's column. At Wapping Heights the
corps came in sight of Lee's wagon train, but was not able to reach it.

Winslow was directed to take one section of the battery to the top of
Wapping Heights, and from there shell the retreating column. This he did,
but reached the summit with great difficulty. It required twelve horses to



i2o8 New York at Gettysburg.

draw a single gun to the top of the hill. When he had reached his position
the enemy was too distant for his fire to be efifective. He remained in position
with his section during the afternoon.

After crossing into Virginia the army of the Potomac moved slowly and by
easy marches. The Third Corps reached Brandy Station on the ist of August,
where it remained in camp until the i6th of September.

While in this camp two years of the three years term of service for which
the original loo men of the battery had enlisted expired. There they re-
enlisted for a second term of three years or during the war. They had already
performed three years of extraordinary severe service. Many of their comrades
who had enlisted with them in 1861 were already dead or disabled. Many
had been killed in battle or had died of wounds received, or by disease con-
tracted in the field through exposure, overwork, or other causes. Yet those
who lived and were still able to perform their duties, re-enlisted to serve until
the war should close and the country be restored to its original unity.

On November 26th, the army broke camp to move to Mine Run. After



Online LibraryNew York (State). Monuments Commission for the BatFinal report on the battlefield of Gettysburg → online text (page 33 of 61)