About two o'clock the rebels opened on us from some of their batteries, and the way the ambulances, hospital men, stragglers, and darkies did skedaddle for the rear, was amusing to those old fellows who had got used, somewhat, to such things as shells. Several men of the brigade were wounded, and one shell killed a sergeant of Company I, named Woodworth, and wounded three others. After lying there about two hours, or till four o'clock, we were ordered to get our things on and be ready to move, as the Third corps on our left was going in, and we might be needed to help them. The artillery and musketry then commenced firing on the left, and continued with but little change for two hours, when our men began to give way slowly. We were at once ordered up to the left to support our batteries, and check the rebels' advance. We were marched up there about a quarter of a mile, and ordered to lie down in front of the batteries, as the shot and shell were coming over pretty plentifully. From there we could look all over the field, see our lines, the rebel lines, and their batteries very plainly. As I saw our men fall back, rally, and fall back again, skedaddlers rushing to the rear in squads, I never felt so bad in my life. I thought sure the day was gone for us, and felt that I would prefer to die there, rather than live and suffer the disgrace and humiliation a defeat of our army there would entail on us; and if ever I offered a sincere prayer in my life, it was then, that we might be saved from defeat. We all felt bad, but resolved, when our chance came, to do our best to retrieve the fortunes of the day, hardly expecting to come out of the conflict unharmed. Our turn soon came. We were ordered forward against the enemy, who were then within musket range of us; and if any ever were willing and anxious to go forward into what we all could see was a deadly place, our boys were. We had two open fields to advance over, while the rebels were coming down over another open field, and the Third corps falling back before. We went forward on a run, and with a yell, till about half way across the second field, when we were ordered, for some unaccountable reason to us, to halt, and the bullets were coming like hail-stones, and whittling our boys like grain before the sickle. “Why don't they let us charge?” cried all of us. “Why do they stop us here to be murdered?” Every one seemed anxious to go forward, and some run way out ahead and beckoned for as to come on. We have always believed that a determined charge would break any line, and that more would be accomplished and less life lost, than by lying down and firing two or three hours. We felt that we could check and force them to retreat, and we wanted to go against them with a vengeance and get over the deadly ground as soon as possible. We were halted again when across the second field; and though by this time few were left, we were just as anxious to go forward. We were almost together, and the rebels had nearly flanked the right of the regiment. But what surprised me most was to see some of the rebels, not fifty yards from us, standing out openly and loading and firing as deliberately as though they were in no danger whatever. Ah! there is no mistake but what some of those rebels are just as brave as it is possible for human beings to be. I expected they would turn and run when they saw us coming so determinedly, and I believe they would, had we gone right on. We had fired but a few shots before we were ordered to fall back. 'Twas some time before we could hear the order, and when we did the right of the regiment was half way back. We dreaded to go back for the danger of it, more than staying there; and we felt, though obeying orders, that we were being disgraced to fall back when we knew we could hold our own. We fell back, and it was then I had the first feeling of fear during the fight. I felt almost sure I would be hit, and I saw many wounded going back. When we got back to the colors, where we rallied, scarce twenty-five men were to be found. Most who went in were killed, wounded, or helping off the wounded. The enemy advanced no farther, and soon some of our boys who did not fall back when ordered, came in bringing in prisoners, and They said when we fell back the rebels were making for the rear as fast as possible. It was now about dark. Another line came up of the First corps, and went in where we came out, found no enemy, advanced their pickets over the battle-field to enable us to get off our wounded, which they at once commenced to do. We were ordered to join the brigade again, on the right; and Lieutenant Heffelfinger took a couple of the boys and went and had all our wounded carried to the hospital that night. As we were going to the right to join the brigade, musketry was heard very plain, seemingly scarce half a mile off, and completely in our rear; in fact, some of the bullets whistled over our heads. Now we were sure that the battle was gone up for us, for the fighting continued fierce, and seemed growing nearer all the time. We made up our minds that we were whipped, and expected before morning to see the whole army routed, and flying for Baltimore. The prospect was gloomy and discouraging in the extreme to us, but, thank God, that time we were deceived, and our affairs and position were much better than the most sanguine of us could believe possible. The firing soon ceased on the right and what seemed our rear; the troops were got in their places, and put in position for the contest, whenever it should open again. Our brigade was placed almost in the same position we had previous to the charge in the afternoon, viz.: the left centre of the army, and the left of the Second division. We then lay down to get some sleep, with our equipment on and guns by our sides; and I here say I never slept better and had more pleasant dreams in my life than I had on the battle-field of Gettysburg, with dead men and horses lying all around me; but the excitement and exhaustion had been so great that a man could sleep in any condition, and under any circumstances. We got up about daylight, expected and awaited an attack from the enemy at any moment but till afternoon all was quiet, except occasionally a shot
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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