July 2, 2008

The Battle of Gettysburg - Day 2

Accounts of the Battle, in the words of the men who where there.

I arrived with my staff in front of the heights of Gettysburg shortly after daybreak, as I have already stated, on the morning of the 2nd of July. My division soon commenced filing into an open field near me, where the troops were allowed to stack arms and rest until further orders. A short distance in advance of this point, and during the early part of that same morning, we were both engaged in the company with Generals Lee and A.P. Hill, in observing the position of the Federals. General Lee -- with coat buttoned to the throat, saber-belt buckled round the waist, and field glasses pending at his side -- walked up and down in the shade of the large trees near us, halting now and then to observe the enemy. He seemed full of hope, yet, at time buried in deep thought. Colonel Freemantle, of England, was ensconced in the forks of a tree not far off, with glass in constant use, examining the lofty position of the Federal Army.

...You thought it better to await the arrival of Pickett's Division - at that time still in the rear -in order to make the attack;...

... This movement was accomplished by throwing out an advanced force to tear down the fences and clear the way. The instructions I received were to place my division across the Emmetsburg road, form line of battle, and attack. Before reading this road, however, I had sent forward some of my picked Texas scouts to ascertain the position of the enemy's extreme left flank. They soon reported to me that it rested upon Round Top Mountain; that the country was open, and that I could march through an open woodland pasture around Round Top, and assault the enemy in flank and rear that their wagon trains were packed in rear of their line, and were badly exposed to our attack in that direction. As soon as I arrived upon the Emmetsburg road, I placed one or two batteries in position and opened fire. A reply from the enemy's guns soon developed his lines. His left rested on or near Round Top, with line bending back and again forward, forming , as it were, a concave line, as approached by the Emmetsburg road. A considerable body of troops was posted in front of their main line, between the Emmetsburg road and Round Top Mountain. This force was in line of battle upon an eminence near a peach orchard....

...I found that in making the attack accorded to orders, viz.: up the Emmetsburg road, I should have first to encounter and drive off the advanced line of battle; secondly, at the base and along the slope of the mountain, to confront immense boulders of stone, so massed together as to form narrow openings, which would break our ranks and cause the men to scatter whilst climbing up the rocky precipice. I found, moreover, that my division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy in position on the crest of the high range, of which Round Top was the extreme left, and , by reason of the concavity of the enemy's main line, that we would be subject to a destructive fire from flank and rear, as well as in front; and deemed it almost an impossibility to clamber along the boulders up this steep and rugged mountain, and, if the feat was accomplished, it must be at a most fearful sacrifice of as brave and gallant soldiers as ever engaged in battle...

...A third time I despatched [sic] one of my staff to explain fully in regard to the situation, and suggest that you had better come and look for yourself. I selected, in this instance, my adjutant-general, Colonel Harry Sellers, whom you know to be not only an officer of great courage, but also of marked ability. Colonel Sellers returned with the same message, "General Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmetsburg road." Almost simultaneously, Colonel Fairfax, of your staff, road up and repeated the above orders...

...After this urgent protest against entering the battle of Gettysburg, according to instructions -- which protest is the first and only one I ever made during my entire military career -- I ordered my line to advance and make the assault...

...As my troops were moving forward, you rode up in person; a brief conversation passed between us, during which I again expressed the fears above mentioned, and regret at not being allowed to attack in the flank around Round Top. You answered to this effect, "We must obey the orders of General Lee." I then road forward with my line under a heavy fire. In about twenty minutes, after reaching the peach orchard, I was severely wounded in the army, and borne from the field....

I am, respectfully, yours,
J.B. Hood

~ General John Bell Hood to General James Longstreet


"Captain, what are your orders?" The captain replied, "Where is General Barnes?" [Colonel] Vincent said, "What are your orders? Give me your orders." The captain answered, "General Sykes told me to direct General Barnes to send one of his brigades to occupy that hill yonder," pointing to Little Round Top. Vincent said, "I will take the responsibility of taking my brigade there." Returning to the brigade, he directed Colonel [James C.] Rice, the senior colonel, to bring the brigade to the hill as rapidly as possible, then rode away toward the northwest face of the hill. I followed him.

... think the regiments which had followed the same route we took, arrived in the following order: Forty-forth New York, Sixteenth Michigan, Eighty-third Pennsylvania and Twentieth Maine. As the head of the column came up, Vincent said to Colonel Rice, "Form your regiment here, Colonel, with the right at the foot of this rock." Colonel Rice replied, "Colonel, in every previous battle in which we have been engaged, the Forty-fourth and Eighty-third have fought side by side. I wish it could be so today." Vincent appreciated the feeling and answered, "It shall be so, let the Sixteenth pass you." The order was sent back, the Forty-forth was halted until the Sixteenth had reached its place, then under Vincent's direction the Forty-forth, Eighty-third and Twentieth took their respective positions and set out skirmish lines to the front.

--Pvt. Oliver W. Norton


"It was imperative to strike before we were struck... At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet."
"The two lines met and broke and mingled in the shock. The crush of musketry gave way to cuts and thrusts, grapplings and wrestlings. The edge of conflict swayed to and fro, with wild whirlpools and eddies. At times I saw around me more of the enemy than of my own men; gaps opening, swallowing, closing again with sharp convulsive energy; squads of stalwart men who had cut their way through us, disappearing as if translated. All around, strange, mingled roar—shouts of defiance, rally, and desperation; and underneath, murmured entreaty and stifled moans; gasping prayers, snatches of Sabbath song, whispers of loved names; everywhere men torn and broken, staggering, creeping, quivering on the earth, and dead faces with strangely fixed eyes staring stark into the sky."

~ Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

1 comment:

  1. I really like the quote by Col. Chamberlain (that was the only one that I read). I thing I have read those to before some where else.


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