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Harper's Weekly 11/21/1863


Come, Fred, tell me all about that glorious
fight which, you know, it was just my ill-luck to
miss. If it had been such another whipping as
we had at Fredericksburg, the Fates would prob-
ably have let me be there. I have heard several
accounts, and know the regiment did nobly; but
the boys all get so excited telling about it that I
have not yet a clear idea of the fight.”

“Here goes, then,” said the Adjutant, lighting
a fresh cigar. “It will serve to pass away time,
which hangs so heavy on our hands in this dreary

“We were not engaged on the first day of the
fight, July 1, 1863, but were on the march for Get-
tysburg that day. All the afternoon we heard the
cannonading growing more and more distinct as we
approached the town, and as we came on the field
at night learned that the First and Eleventh corps
had fought hard, suffered much, and been driv-
en back outside the town with the loss of Major-
General Reynolds, who, it was generally said,
brought on an engagement too hastily with Lee's
whole army. We bivouacked on the field that

“About nine o'clock the next morning we moved
up to the front, and by ten o'clock the enemy's
shells were falling around us. Captain Coit had a
narrow escape here. We had just stacked arms
and were resting, when a runaway horse, fright-
ened by the shelling, came full tilt at him; 'twas
`heavy cavalry' against `light infantry;' but Coit
had presence of mind enough to draw his sword,
and bringing it to a point it entered the animal's
belly. The shock knocked Coit over, and he was
picked up senseless with a terribly battered face,
and carried to the rear.”

“By-the-way, Fred, is it not singular that he
should have recovered so quickly and completely
from such a severe blow?”

“Indeed it is. He is as handsome as ever; but
to go on. At four o'clock in the afternoon we
moved up to support a battery, and here we lay all
night. About dark Captain Broatch went out with
the pickets. Though under artillery fire all day
we were not really engaged, as we did not fire a
gun. Some of our pickets, unfortunately going
too far to the front, were taken prisoners during
the night.

“At about five o'clock on the morning of the 3d
Captain Townsend went out with companies B and
D and relieved Broatch. As soon as he got out
Townsend advanced his men as skirmishers some
three hundred yards beyond the regiment, which
moved up to the impromptu rifle-pits, which were
formed partially by a stone-wall and partially by
a rail fence. Just as soon as our skirmishers were
posted they began firing at the rebel skirmishers,
and kept it up all day, until the grand attack in
the afternoon. Before they had been out twenty
minutes, Corporal Huxham, of Company B, was
instantly killed by a rebel bullet. It was not dis-
covered until another of our skirmishers, getting
out of ammunition, went up to him, saying,`Sam,
let me have some cartridges?' Receiving no an-
swer, he stopped down and discovered that a bullet
had entered the poor fellow's mouth and gone out
at the back of his head, killing the brave, Chancel-
lorsville-scarred, corporal so quickly that he never
knew what hurt him. Presently Captain Moore
was ordered down with four companies into a lot
near by, to drive the rebel sharp-shooters out of a
house and barn from whence they were constant-
ly picking off our men. Moore went down on a
double-quick, and, as usual, ahead of his men; he
was first man in the barn, and as he entered the
Butternuts were already jumping out. Moore and
his men soon cleared the barn and then started for
the house. Here that big sergeant in Company J
(Norton) sprang in at the front door just in time
to catch a bullet in his thigh, from a reb watching
at the back; but that reb did not live long to
brag of it, one of our boys taking him `on the
wing.' Moore soon cleared the house out and
went back with his men. Later in the day the
rebs again occupied the house, and Major Ellis took
the regiment and drove them out, burning the
house, so as not to be bothered by any more con-
cealed sharp-shooters in it.”

“Yes, I know the Major don't like to do a thing
but once, so he always does it thoroughly the first

“It was in these charges for the possession of
that house we lost more officers and men than in
all the rest of the fight.

“About one o'clock in the afternoon the enemy,
who had been silent so long that the boys were cook-
ing coffee, smoking, sleeping, etc., suddenly opened
all their batteries of reserve artillery upon the posi-
tion held by our corps (the Second). First one
great gun spoke, then, as if it had been the signal for
the commencement of an artillery conversation, the
whole hundred and twenty or more opened their
mouths at once and poured out their thunder. A
perfect strorm of shot and shell rained around and
among us. The boys quickly jumped to their rifles
and lay down behind the wall and rail barricade.
For two hours this storm of shot and shell contin-
ued, and seemed to increase in fury. Good God! I
never heard any thing like it, and our regiment has
been under fire `somewhat,' as you know. The
ground trembled like an aspen leaf; the air was full
of small fragments of lead and iron from the shells.
Then the sounds—there was the peculiar `whoo?
' of the round shot; the`which -
one?'—`which-one?' of that flendish Whitworth
projectile, and the demoniac shriek of shells. It
seemed as if all the devils in hell were holding high
carnival. But, strange as it may seem, it was like
many other `sensation doings,' `great cry and lit-
tle wool,' as our regiment, and, in fact, the whole
corps lost very few men by it, the missiles passing
over beyond our position, save the Whitworth pro-
jectiles which did not quite reach us, as their sin-
gle gun of that description was two miles off. Had
the enemy had better artillerists at their guns, or
a better view of our position, I can not say what
would have been the final result; but certain it is,
nothing mortal could have stood that fire long, had
it been better directed, and if our corps had broken
that day, Gettysburg would have been a lost bat-
tle, and General Lee, instead of Heintzelman, the
commanding officer in this District of Columbia

“About three p.m. the enemy's fire slackened,
died away, and the smoke lifted to disclose a corps
of the rebel `Grand Army of Northern Virginia,'
advancing across the long level plain in our front,
in three magnificient lines of battle, with the troops
massed in close column by division on both flanks.
How splendidly they looked! Our skirmishers,
who had staid at their posts through all, gave
them volley after volley as they came on, until
Captain Townsend was ordered to bring his men
in, which he did in admirable order; his men, load-
ing and firing all the way, came in steadily and
coolly—all that were left of them, for a good half
of them were killed or wounded before they reached
the regiment.

“On, on came the rebels, with colors flying and
bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, keeping their
lines as straight as if on parade: over fences and
ditches they come, but still their lines never break,
and still they come. For a moment all is husb
along our lines, as we gaze in silent admiration at
these brave rebs; then our division commander,
`Aleck Hayes,' rides up, and, pointing to the last
fence the enemy must cross before reaching us,
says, `Don't fire till they get to that fence; then
let 'em have.'

“On, on, come the rebs, till we can see the
whites of their eyes, and hear their officers com-
mand,`Steady, boys, steady!' They reach the
fence, some hundred yards in front of us, when
suddenly the command`Fire!' rings down our
line; and, rising as one man, the rifles of the old
Second Army Corps ring a death-knell for many
a brave heart, in butternut dress, worthy of a bet-
ter cause—a knell that will ring in the hearts of
many mothers, sisters, and wives, on many a plant-
ation in the once fair and sunny South, where there
will be weeping and wailing for the soldier who
never returns, who sleeps at Gettysburg.`Load
and fire at will!' Oh Heaven! how we poured
our fire into them then—a merciless hail of lead!
Their first line wavers, breaks, and runs; some
of their color sergeants halt and plant their stand-
ards firmly in the ground: they are too well dis-
ciplined to leave their colors yet. But they stop
only for a moment; then fall back, colors and all.
They fall back, but rally, and dress on the other
lines, under a tremendous fire from our advancing
rifles: rally, and come on again to meet their
death. Line after line of rebels come up, deliver
their fire, one volley, and they are mown down
like the grass of the field. They fall back, form,
and come up again, with their battle-flags still
waving; but again they are driven back.

“On our right is a break in the line, where a
battery has been in position, but, falling short of
ammunition, and unable to move it off under such
a heavy fire, the gunners have abandoned it to its
fate. Some of the rebels gain a footing here. One
daring fellow leaps upon the gun, and waves his
rebel flag. In an instant a right oblique fire from
`ours,' and a left oblique from the regiment on the
left of the position, rolls the ragged rebel and rebel
rag in the dust, rolls the determined force back
from the gun, and it is ours.

“By-and-by the enemy's lines come up smaller
and thinner, break quicker, and are longer in form-
ing. Our boys are wild with excitement, and
grow reckless. Lieutenant John Tibbetts stands
up yelling like mad,`Give it to 'em! give it to
'em!' A bullet enters his arm—that same arm in
which he caught two bullets at Antietam: John-
ny's game arm drops by his side; he turns quickly
to his First Lieutenant, saying,`I have got anoth-
er bullet in the same old arm, but I don't care a
d—n!' Heaven forgive Johnny! rebel lead will
sometimes bring rebel words with it. All of
`Ours' are carried away with excitement; the
Sergeant-Major leaps a wall, dashes down among
the rebs, and brings back a battle-flag; others fol-
low our Sergeant-Major; and before the enemy's
repulse becomes a rout we of the Fourteenth have
six of their battle-flags.

“Prisoners are brought in by hundreds, officers
and men. We pay no attention to them, being
too busy sending our leaden messengers after the
now flying hosts. One of our prisoners, a rebel
officer, turns to me, saying,`Where are the men
we've been fighting?'`Here,' I answer, point-
ing down our short thin line.`Good God!' says
he,`is that all? I wish I could get back.'”

“Yes,” I interrupted, “Townsend told me that
when he fell back with his skirmishers and saw
the whole length of our one small, thin, little line

TERRIBLE ACCIDENT AT THE RUSH STREET BRIDGE, CHICAGO.—From a Photograph by Alschuler.—[See Page 743.]


pitted against those then full lines of the rebels,
his heart almost sank within him; but Meade had
planned that battle well, and every one of our sol-
diers told.”

“Yes,” said Fred, “Meade planned the fight
well, and Hancock, Hayes, and in fact all of them
fought it well. All through the fight General
Hancock might be seen galloping up and down
the lines of our bully corps, regardless of the lead-
en hail all about him; and when finally severely
wounded in the hip he was carried a little to the
rear, where he lay on his stretcher and still gave
his orders.

“The fight was now about over; there was only
an occasional shot exchanged between the retreat-
ing rebel sharp-shooters and our own men, and I
looked about me and took an account of stock.
We had lost about seventy killed and wounded
and taken prisoner, leaving only a hundred men
fit for duty. We had killed treble that number,
and taken nearly a brigade of prisoners; six stands
of colors, and guns, swords, and pistols without
number. For the first time we had been through
an action without having an officer killed or fatal-
ly wounded, though Tibbetts, Seymour, Stough-
ton, Snagg, Seward, and Dudley were more or
less seriously wounded, and Coit disabled.

“Hardly a man in the regiment had over two
or three cartridges left. Dead and wounded reb-
els were piled up in heaps in front of us, especially
in front of Companies A and B, where Sharpe's
rifles had done effective work.

“It was a great victory.`Fredericksburg on
the other leg,' as the boys said. The rebel pris-
oners told us their leaders assured them that they
would only meet the Pennsylvania militia; but
when they saw that d—d ace of clubs (the trefoil
badge of the Second Corps), a cry went through
their lines—`the Army of the Potomac, by Heav-

“So ended the battle of Gettysburg, and the
sun sank to rest that night on a battle-field that
had proved that the Army of the Potomac could
and would save the people of the North from in-
vasion whenever and wherever they may be as-

“`Long shall the tale be told,
Yea, when our babes are old.'”

“Pshaw, Fred! you are getting sentimental.
Let's go out in the air and have another cigar.”

First Tennessee, captured by the Fourteenth Connecti-
cut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Fourteenth Tennessee, captured by the Fourteenth Con-
necticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Sixteenth North Carolina Regiment, captured by the
Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3,
Battle-flag, State not given, captured by the Fourteenth
Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3.
Battle-flag, State not given, captured by the Fourteenth
Connecticut Volunteers.

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