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

Final report on the battlefield of Gettysburg online

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of the unsuccessful contestants of yesterday's conflict were south of the Chicka-
hominy and the bridges were destroyed.

On the morning of the 28th, under a heavy fire resulting in wounding two
of the Twentieth New York recruits, and the disabling of two or three horses,
Battery E, Cowan's, and the Regular Battery withdrew from the works occupied
by them for something over three weeks; but when the last battery of the corps,
the Third New York, and the infantry, attempted to withdraw, the enemy
made a charge, compelling them to hurriedly reoccupy their position. Colonel
Lamar of Georgia, commanding the assaulting brigade, was wounded and cap-
tured. A sharp engagement ensued, known as the battle of Golding's Farm.
The battery just mentioned bears the name upon its colors, and was highly com-
plimented by the general of division for its gallantry.

That night Battery E bivouacked near Savage Station, withdrawing in the
afternoon to White Oak Swamp bridge, which, having been constructed for
offensive purposes, proved the salvation of a large part of the Army of the
Potomac.

Having crossed the swamp during the night, Franklin's Corps formed in line
of battle upon the heights on the southwest of the swamp, commanding the
bridge, over which poured an apparently endless throng of organized and dis-
organized masses until late in the forenoon of the 30th. By that time the enemy
having reconstructed the Chickahominy bridges, overtook the rear guard of
Franklin.

Silently the enemy, finding the crossing impracticable, placed a great number
of guns upon the opposite heights, and without any premonition, there burst
upon the tired and exhausted men, who lay lounging in the shade or sleeping off
the weariness occasioned by the night's march, a most terrific cannonade.
Before the artillery of the corps could be brought to bear upon them, the con-
centrated fire of the enemy rendered the position untenable to any but infantry



1232 New York at Gettysburg.

hidden from the enemy's view. These, however, aided by a flank fire of the
artillery of the Second Corps, completely swept the bridge, and prevented any
crossing until night, when the commands, marching on that road, withdrew to
Malvern Hill, or the neighborhood of Charles City Point House,— Franklin to
the latter named locality.

In the battle of Malvern Hill, on the ist of July, Franklin's troops were not
engaged, and although part of Battery E, together with other of the Sixth Corps
artillery, reported to General Richardson, of the Second Corps, for assignment
to a position, no room was to be found on the crowded field for them.

On the 2d, after marching through the terrible mud, — that no participant in
those scenes will ever forget, — tired, sleepy, hungry, and with all that depres-
sion that results from the realization of failure and defeat, the battery encamped
about two miles from Harrison's Landing in sight of the large brick church at
Charles City.

For services during these trying days Captain Wheeler and Lieutenant Under-
bill were recommended for brevets by Maj. Gen. W. F. Smith, and Corp. John
Richardson was recommended to Col. C. S. Wainwright for promotion; but
none of these recommendations seem ever to have been, acted upon.

On arriving at Harrison's Landing it was found that private Louis H. Covert
was very severely wounded in the hand on the 30th. Privates Ingersoll and
Thomas were missing. They afterwards rejoined the battery via Richmond
under flag of truce.

Priv. George D. Breck, having been somewhat delicate since his sickness in
Washington in February, 1862, and still further debilitated by the effects of the
lightning on the 3d of June, died suddenly and quite unexpectedly in hospital
near General McClellan's headquarters at Harrison's Landing, July 6th. He
was universally beloved and respected. Priv. Thos. F. Wilcox and Maynard
Smith, who were in the hospital at the time of the commencement of the retreat,
and who could not be removed, were captured at Savage Station on the 29th of
June.

By reference to a report made to the chief of artillery on the loth of July,
1862, it appears that Battery E had one officer (Captain Wheeler) and forty-two
men for duty. This only gave a sufficient force to furnish drivers for the thirty
teams and eight non-commissioned officers; thus leaving only four men to man
the guns, making no deductions for blacksmiths, saddlers, wheelwrights, etc.
General Smith refused to draw further upon his infantry for recruits for artillery,
and so the dismemberment of this artillery organization became necessary.

On the 19th Lieut. R. J. Parker left the battery on sick leave, never to return.
He died at home about the 2Sth of July. A noble-hearted, rough but generous
man, of a tall and athletic frame, and although but slightly versed in book
knowledge, his fund of hard-bought experience seemed never failing. He was
certainly the least unpopular officer of the battery.

Captain Wheeler probably led the way, though quite innocently, to the disrup-
tion of the command. He represented, so forcibly, in his report of July loth, his
deficiency in men and material, as to induce the authorities to give him leave to
recruit.



New York at Gettysburg. 1233

The following long-expected order came at last, having been received two
days subsequent to the date thereof: ,

Special Orders, Headquarters Army of the Potomac,

No. 219. Camp near Harrison's L'g, July 30, '62.

Wheeler's Battery E, First New York Artillery, serving in Smith's Division,
will be broken up under direction of the division commander. The enlisted
men will be transferred to Cowan's First New York Battery. The lieutenants
will be equally distributed between Cowan's First New York Battery and
Kusserow's Third New York Battery.

Captain Wheeler is detailed on recruiting service and will report -for instruc-
tion to the superintendent of recruiting service for New York.

The guns, harness, and all the ordnance material will be turned in to the
ordnance department. Such horses as are not required by the other batteries of
the division will be turned in to the quartermaster's department.

By command of

MAJ. GEN. McCLELLAN.
S. Williams, A. A. G.

This order was respectfully referred to Captain Wheeler, who was ordered
" not to turn over the men now," and some attempt was made to annul the whole
proceeding, but without ^ffect.

While the battery still existed as an organization, though shorn of its equip-
ments and guns. Captain Wheeler, Sergeant Cunningham, and Corp. Chas. W.
Wright left Harrison's Landing on the 2d of August, on recruiting service, and
arrived at their field of labor on the 9th of the same month. Adjutant
Rumsey, who had returned, was temporarily sojourning at battery headquarters,
not being able to find, at that particular time, any headquarters of the regiment
at which to report.

On the 8th of August the last sad hours to the hearts of E's old members
came, bringing an order for the enlisted men to report to Captain Cowan. On
the loth, Lieutenant Underbill was sent home on sick leave.

By direction of General Smith, Captain Cowan assumed to transfer to his
company all of those " present for duty " which, although never contemplated
by General Barry, the chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, yet it was
made to come within the letter of the clause of the order, " broken up under
direction of the division commander." The " present sick," together with all
" absent " were carried on Captain Cowan's returns as " temporarily attached,"
giving to that command an increase of fifty-nine men as follows :

Transferred 31

Temporarily attached, present 28

Total 59

78



1234 New York at Gettysburg.

There were also " temporarily attached " twenty-five who were " absent sick."

The effort to recruit the company up to the required standard was unsuccessful.
Of the original loi enlisted men that left Elmira in October, 1861, there had
been killed, died or discharged for sickness or wounds, 13 men; 3 were absent
without leave, and before January i, 1863, at least 15 of the absent had been
discharged. So that when the general recruiting service was broken up,
Captain Wheeler, with an available force of only 14 recruits out of 22 which
he had enlisted (only being allowed to receive again the 28 men men-
tioned above, less those lost by death and discharge, and such others as might
be in hospitals throughout the North), could only muster about 60 men and
officers, thus being some thirty short of the minimum strength for an organiza-
tion. After first reporting to Gen. Wm. F. Smith on the 3d of January, 1863,
and going from authority to authority in the Army of the Potomac and at
Washington, without any favorable results. Captain Wheeler, in disgust,
tendered his resignation, which was accepted January 21, 1863. He left such of
his recruits as he had brought with him with Captain Cowan, two of whom,
Michael Canfield and Adolphus S. Goodrich, of Rochester, N. Y., became
lieutenants in the regiment. Sergeant Cunningham, after serving out his term
of enlistment, having re-entered the regiment as a sergeant in Battery L, also
became a second lieutenant a few weeks previous to the surrender of General
Lee.

Of the men transferred to Cowan's Battery, Philander P. Thorp eventually
became the orderly sergeant of that company; Francis M. Wedge became a
sergeant of the same organization; Matthew McGinnis was badly wounded at
the battle of Cold Harbor, in June, 1864, and was discharged in consequence.
Harris Butler, while serving with a regular battery, was wounded at Cold
Harbor, in June, 1864, from the effects of which he subsequently died.

Of those joining Battery L, Robert D. Brown of Post Creek, Steuben County,
became orderly sergeant; John C. Prentiss was wounded at Cold Harbor, in
June, 1864, but continued to serve until the expiration of his term of three years ;
and Wm. A. Towle, wounded at the same time and place, was discharged.

The further history of the survivors of Battery E requires an examination of
the records of Cowan's First New York Independent Battery and of Battery L,
First New York Light Artillery. After some time a new Battery E was formed
of which the compiler of this account has no reliable data at hand.

The subsequent history of the officers of the battery, other than details
before given, shows that Capt. Chas. C. Wheeler, was afterwards brevetted as
colonel by the State of New York; Lieut. Edward H. Underbill afterwards
served with Cowan's Battery, Batteries B and A of the First New York Light
Artillery, and returned to New York State as captain of Battery M, First New
York Light Artillery, being mustered out with the latter organization at
Rochester, N. Y., in June, 1865.




J. B. LYON TRINT,



F. J. SEVERENCE, PHOTO.



BATTERY G, 1ST NEW YORK LIGHT ARTILLERY.

In the Peach Orchard, on the east side of the Emmitaburg Road. Big Round Top in the distance,

on the right.



New York at Gettysburg. 1235



(INSCRIPTIONS.)



(Front.)

BATTERY G

(Ames)

1st n. y. light artillery.



Engaged here with 3RD Corps

3 p. M. TO 5.30 p. M. July 2, 1863.

July 3, on Cemetery Ridge

WITH 1ST Div. 2D Corps



Casualties, 7 wounded

(Reverse.)

Mustered in Sept. 22, 1861

Principal Engagements.

Fair Oaks, Auburn Hill

Peach Orchard Bristoe Station

Savage Station Robertson's Tavern

White Oak Swamp Wilderness

Malvern Hill Po River

Antietam Spotsylvania

Fredericksburg North Anna

Chancellorsville Totopotomoy

Gettysburg Cold Harbor

Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 3, 1865

Mustered out June 19, 1865



1236 New York at Gettysburg.

BATTERY G — "AMES"'
FIRST REGIMENT LIGHT ARTILLERY.
Historical Sketch, by Capt. Nelson Ames.

There were no formal exercises dedicating the monument to Battery G,
First Regiment, New York Light Artillery, on the battlefield of Gettysburg.
July 3, 1893. But thirteen of the survivors of the battery were present, and
we dedicated the noble monument in silence and in tears. No one wanted to
make a speech, and none was made. Our meeting was like the meeting of a
family, and formalities seemed out of place. We dedicated the monument with
our tears, prayed for our dead comrades and for each other, and indulged our-
selves in loving each other and the flag under which we fought so long and
so faithfully.

Battery G, First New York Light Artillery was recruited at Mexico, Oswego
County, New York, by Marshall H. Rundell and Nelson Ames, in September,
1861. It joined the regiment at the general rendezvous at Elmira, and was
there mustered into the United States service for three years, September 24,
1 86 1, by Captain Tidball, United States army mustering officer, with the fol-
lowing officers: Capt. J. D. Frank, First Lieut. Nelson Ames, Second Lieut.
Marshall H. Rundell.

The battery remained at Elmira, engaged in drilling with the rest of the
regiment, for a short time and then went by rail to Washington, D. C, where
we arrived October 31st, and went into camp on Capitol Hill east of the Capitol.
While encamped here, one section of Busteed's Battery, Chicago Light Artil-
lery, was permanently assigned to Battery G, making it a full six-gun battery.
At Washington, we drew from the department, six ten-pound Parrott guns,
caissons and implements complete, including ammunition and horses for the
same.

The battery remained at this place a short time, driUing and preparing for
actual service, when we received orders to join Major General Sumner's com-
mand, ours being the first battery ordered to take the field, from the regiment
of twelve batteries.

We joined General Sumner's command, which was encamped on the Orange
and Alexandria Turnpike, some three miles out from Alexandria, Va., in
what was known as Camp California. We remained here during the winter
of 1861-62, drilling and preparing for the spring campaign. While in this
camp during the winter, we had a considerable amount of sickness, and several
deaths, as the men were not accustomed to camp life.

The battery advanced, with the other troops, in the spring of 1862, on
Manassas, and followed the enemy as far as the Rappahannock River, being
engaged at the latter place with the enemy's rear guard. With the rest of the
troops we returned to Alexandria and took transports for the Peninsula, dis-
embarking at Fortress Monroe and advancing with the rest of the troops on
Yorktown, where we took part in the siege and capture of that place.



New York at Gettysburg. 1237

While before Yorktown one section of Hogan's Battery, A, Second Battalion,
New York Light Artillery, was assigned to Battery G, making. us a full eight-
gun battery with 6 officers — i captain and 5 lieutenants.

On the evacuation of Yorktown we advanced with the army, but did not
arrive at Williamsburg in time to participate in the battle. We continued on
up the Peninsula, and went into camp on the north side of the Chickahominy
River. We remained there until Sunday, May 30th, when the battle of Seven
Pines was opened.

Just as the battery came into camp from Sunday inspection, we received
orders to march and cross the Chickahominy River at Grapevine Bridge. The
Chickahominy River had overflowed its banks and much of the way was
nearly a mile wide, and no roads. We were from i p. m., Sunday, until 7 a. m.,
the next morning, making eight miles. All night long we were wallowing
and floundering thi-ough the mud and water. Much of the way we were
obliged to unhitch the horses, although we had ten on each gun, and drag
the guns by hand, one at a time, with drag ropes. In many places water and
mud were from one to three feet deep, and when we crossed the river, we were
obliged to hold the bridge iq position, it being all afloat, and soon after our
crossing it was swept away.

Arriving at the front, we were soon in position, supported by the Irish
Brigade commanded by General Meagher. At times during the day the
fighting was heavy, the enemy repeatedly charging our lines; but each time he
was driven back with heavy loss. From June ist to the time the Seven Days'
Battle began, one section, if not more, of the battery was kept on the extreme
front with the infantry pickets.

When the army began the flank movement to Harrison's Landing, we were
most of the time in the rear, with General Sumner's Second Corps, covering
the rear of the army.

At Malvern Hill, July ist, we were heavily engaged, the enemy charging
our battery three times, massed in several lines of battle, and charged nearly
up to the muzzle of our pieces, but was each time driven back and finally
gave up the attempt to take our guns. In this engagement, in order to save
our guns, we were obliged to overload them," and so much so, that we ruined
them.

Four guns of our battery were detailed to remain in the rear under com-
mand of Colonel Averell with his own regiment, the Third Pennsylvania
Cavalry, and one small brigade of regular cavalry. We remained on the field
until some time after noon, July 2d. Our small rear guard was kept constantly
on the move from one position to another, there being a heavy mist and we
were enabled to move from one position to another, unobserved by the enemy.
In moving over the low ground we found in many places the dead and
wounded so thick that we were obliged to send the cannoneers in advance to
clear a passage for the guns. The hardest part of a battle is after the fighting is
over, in being obliged to pass over the field 'and see the fearful sights that
meet the view on every hand.

While at Harrison's Landing, we drew a new battery of light twelve-pound
guns, our Parrott guns having been ruined by overloading as before stated.



1238 New York at Gettysburg.

We remained at Harrison's Landing until the army retired, when we fell
back with the army to Fortress Monroe, where we embarked on transports
for Alexandria. We arrived there September 2, 1862, but not in time to be
engaged with Pope's army, as it fell back on Washington.

We crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, September 6th, passing
through Rockville, Clarksburg, Frederick City, and Petersville, Md., and ar-
riving near Antietam, September i6th.

September 17th, the battery was engaged, together with the rest of the
Second Army Corps, under General Sumner. The fighting at times during
the day was desperate and some of the time at close quarters, the enemy charg-
ing our line; but we held our position, although the loss of our troops was
heavy.

September 22d, we marched from the battlefield and camped at Harper's
Ferry; September 24th, crossed the Potomac River and camped on Bolivar
Heights; October ist, crossed the river and took part in General Hancock's
reconnoissance to Leesburg, Va.; October 17th, took part in General Han-
cock's reconnoissance to Halltown, Va. We left camp on Bolivar Heights,
October 31st, passing through Snickersville, Upperville, Salem and Warrenton,
Va., and arrived near Falmouth, Va., November 17th. We remained here until
December 12th, when we crossed the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridges
into Fredericksburg, losing 2 men in crossing, from the fire of the enemy.

On the 13th the battery was advanced and was heavily engaged with the
enemy in front of the town until our ammunition was expended, when we
retired and recrossed the river, December 14th, arid took position to cover
the crossing of our infantry, when we returned to our old camp, where we
remained until our army advanced on the Chancellorsville campaign.

January 13, 1863, Capt. J. D. Frank left the battery, while in this camp, on
sick leave and was shortly afterwards discharged on surgeon's certificate.
First Lieut. Nelson Ames was promoted to captain and took command of
the battery.

We crossed the Rappahannock River on pontoons at United States Ford,
April 29, 1863, and moved to the front. We took position in line of battle,
at the right of the Chancellorsville House, where we were engaged more or
less during the battle. While in this position, the Eleventh Army Corps re-
treated and a portion of it ran through the battery with the enemy close in
their rear. When our front was clear of our own men, we soon made the
enemy about face by a well-directed fire. May 5th, at night, we fell back and
recrossed the river at United States Ford. We returned to our old camp near
Falmouth, where we remained until May i8th, when we joined the Artillery
Reserve, Army of the Potomac.

June 4th, we broke camp and started on the Gettysburg campaign. We
crossed the Potomac River at Edwards Ferry on pontoon bridges, June 24th,
and marched to the left of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Md., and camped near
Frederick City, June 28th.

June 29th, we camped near Taney town. July ist, we camped near Harney.
July 2d, we marched to a point near Gettysburg where we parked for a short
time. The battery was soon ordered to report to Major General Sickles, who



New York at Gettysburg. 1239

commanded the Third Army Corps, and as the enemy under General Long-
street advanced to the attack, we were ordered by General Sickles to advance
and take position on the angle of our line in the Peach Orchard and hold the
position at all hazard, as that was the key to that portion of the line of battle.
We were engaged in this position from 4 to 7 p. m., and were supported by
General Graham's troops of the Third Corps.

Our lines having been broken both on our right and left, and being short
of ammunition, it was doubtful if we could save our guns, but after desperate
fighting we were able to save them, and also brought off our wounded with us.

During the night of the 2d we refilled our ammunition chests and refitted
the battery ready for action. July 3d we were in position with the Second
Corps on the front line of battle, and took part in the terrible artillery duel,
also in repelling Pickett's charge, and thus ending one of the most fearful
battles of the war.

July 4th we left the battlefield, with the balance of the army, in pursuit of
the enemy, and finally came up with them near Falling Waters on the Potomac
River. We went into position July 14th, but were not engaged, as the enemy
fell back and crossed the Potomac River during the night. We continued
the pursuit and crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at Harper's
Ferry, and passing through Ward's Grove, Bloomfield, Ashby's Gap, Peters-
burg, Macon Station, White Plains, Manitou Junction, and Elktown, arrived
at Morrisville, July 31, 1863.

We remained in camp near Morrisville until August 31st, when we moved
to Banks's Ford. We broke camp at various times up to October 14th, when
the battery was engaged at Bristoe Station, as our army fell back on Centre-
ville.

The battery advanced with the army from Centreville and finally went into
winter quarters near Brandy Station, Va., where we remained during the win-
ter, drilling and preparing for the spring campaign, which all hoped would
close the war. While in this camp seventy-two of the men re-enlisted as
veteran volunteers.

We broke camp on the night of May 3, 1864, and took up line of march
with the rest of the Second Army Corps for the battle of the Wilderness. We
crossed the Rapidan River on pontoon bridges and marched via Chancellors-
ville to the Wilderness, where the battle was in progress, but on account of
thick woods and the nature of the ground we were not engaged, as it was
impossible to manoeuvre the battery in such a dense thicket.

May 8th we marched to the left, with the rest of the troops of the corps,
about four miles, and went into position, where we had a pretty sharp artil-
lery fight, in which we silenced rhe enemy's battery. May 12th, at 3 a. m.,
we marched to the left about five miles, and at break of day advanced with
Barlow's, Gibbons', Mott's, and Birney's Divisions, as they charged the
enemy's works at the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania Court House, and at once
became hotly engaged with the enemy at close canister range. In a few mo-
ments, fearing in the smoke and fog we might injure our own men, I asked
permission of General Hancock to advance the battery to the extreme front,
which was granted. Reaching that position, we at once engaged the enemy.



1240 New York at Gettysburg.

much of the time not fifty rods away. Some of the artillery of the corps not
having reported, General Hancock sent a staff officer to me, asking if I could
work some of the twenty-two guns we had captured from the enemy. I in-
formed him I could if he would give me some infantry to take the place of
the drivers and aid in bringing up ammunition. He readily gave us all the
men we wanted, and from then on we fought not only our own six guns, but



Online LibraryNew York (State). Monuments Commission for the BatFinal report on the battlefield of Gettysburg → online text (page 37 of 61)