Review of the Pennsylvania campaign.
[from our own Correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
February 24th, 1864.
Resuming the narration of the first day's fight at Gettysburg
, I will endeavor as briefly as a due regard for intelligibility will permit, to give to-day some account of the parts borne by the divisions of Major-Generals Heth
, of Lieut.-Gen. A. P. Hill
's corps, in that day's engagement.
And here it may not be improper to say that I have somewhat inverted the mutual sequence of events in speaking of the operations of Ewell
's corps in advance of Gen. Hill
's, inasmuch as Heth
's division, of the latter corps, first became engaged with the enemy; but as the history of each corps is complete in itself, I hope the reader will pardon the method I have chosen to pursue in the recital.
On the morning of the 30th of June, 1863, Maj.-Gen. Heth
, who was then lying at Cashtown, Pa.
, with his division, ordered Brig.-Gen. Pettigrew
to march his brigade to Gettysburg
and search the town for supplies, especially shoes.
On reaching the suburbs of Gettysburg
, however, Gen.
P. found the town occupied by a large force of cavalry — supported, it was said, by a considerable body of infantry.
Under these circumstances, Gen.
P. did not attempt to enter the town, but returned to camp near Cashtown
On the morning of the 1st of July, Heth
's division of infantry, accompanied by Pegram
's battalion of artillery, broke up camp near Caslitown, and at 5 A. M. began to move in the direction of Gettysburg
by the turn-pike road.
As the division neared Gettysburg
it became evident that the enemy was in the vicinity of the town in some force, but in what numbers was as yet unknown to the commanding General
, however, reached the second ridge of hills west of Gettysburg
, it became clear that there were infantry, artillery, and cavalry around the town.
's battery, of Fredericksburg, Virginia
, (formerly commanded by Maj. C. M. Braxton
, of that town, a brave and accomplished officer, and now by Capt. Marye
,) was placed in position, and a few shots were fired, scattering the enemy's cavalry videttes and killing Major--General Reynolds
, then commanding the Yankee
forces at Gettysburg
not having arrived.
This, be it remembered, was the opening of the ball.
did not come into action until some time later in the day.
The division was now within one and a half miles of Gettysburg
, and was disposed as follows: Archer
's brigade of Tennessean on the right of the turnpike, Davis
's brigade of Mississippians, except one regiment, was in line on the left of the same road.
's N C brigade, and Heth
's (old) Virginia
brigade, under Col. John M. Brockenbrough
, were hold in reserve.
were soon ordered to advance, in order to feel the enemy, make a forced reconnaissance, and determine what force the enemy had, and whether or no they were massing forces in Gettysburg
Heavy columns of the enemy were soon encountered.
's brigade, on the left, drove the enemy back and captured his batteries, but was unable to hold the position he had obtained, as the enemy concentrated in over whelming numbers on his front and flank.
The brigade, however, gallantly maintained its position under a raking fire until every field and most of its company officers were shot down, and its ranks greatly tainted.
Lt. Col. Smith
, of the 55th N. C. T. being here killed, and Col. Connelly
, of the 55th N. C.; Col. Stone
, of the 21 Miss
; Lt. Col. Mosby
and Major Finney
, were severely wounded.
The bravery of the brigade and its gallant commander were unsurpassed by any of the many acts of signal gallantry and daring which so richly illustrated those three days of terrible carnage.
Individual acts of heroism I might mention without stint, but there is scarcely room for them in the limited space of a daily journal.
One exhibition of manly nerve and high strung purpose has come to my knowledge, which I do not feel at liberty to ignore, inasmuch as it was witnessed by Lieutenant--General Hill
, and called for the high approval of that officer.
It occurred during a hiatus
when the enemy having been forced back losing some of their artillery, which as before mentioned were temporarily captured by Davis
's brigade, were reforming and were awaiting the arrival of reinforcements then rapidly hastening to their aid. It was this Lieutenant Roberts
, of the 2d Mississippi, observing some distance off but neaer the enemy's than our own fires, two groups, each consisting of from seven to ten men, and each guarding a stand of colors, called for volunteers to take them.
Four gallant spirits from his own and an equal number from the 42d Mississippi regiment readily responded, and soon a dash is made for the colors.
A hand-to-hand fight ensued, in which all on both sides were either killed or wounded except private McPherson
, who killed the last Yankee color-bearer and brought off the colors, Lieut. Roberts
being killed just as he was seizing one of the colors.
On the right of the road Archer
encountered heavy masses of the enemy on his front, and his gallant brigade, alter being surrounded by overwhelming numbers in front and on both flanks, was forced to fall back.
, with some sixty or seventy of his men, were here captured.
The enemy having now been felt and found to be in heavy force in and around Gettysburg
, the division was formed in line of battle on the right and left of the road, as follows: Archer
's brigade on the right, Pettigrew
in the centre, and Brockenbrough
on the left centre, and Davis
on the left.
After the division had rested an hour or more it was again ordered forward, and soon encountered the enemy in heavy force, but steadily moved on, fighting as it went, and during the whole way under a perfect storm of shot and shell.
's men now became engaged with a large body of the enemy, and fought with a courage worthy of their gallant leader.
The 11th North Carolina, Col. Leventhorp
, and the 26th, Col. Bergwyn
, displayed conspicuous gallantry.
The 26th, indeed, lost more than half its numbers; among them Col. Bergwyn
being killed, and Lieut.-Col. Lane
being severely wounded.
The 11th also lost its Major
,) who was killed, whilst Col. Leventhorp
was severely wounded.
's gallant Virginians
were no idle spectators in these bloody scenes — they were emphatically heroes in the strife.
Fighting with their usual gallantry and dash, they bore down every opposing foe, capturing two stands of colors and a number of prisoners.
This division had now broken through and driven back two lines of the enemy, when it was found that most of the brigades were without ammunition.
The division of Major-General Pender
was at once ordered to relieve Maj.-Gen. Heth
, which they did, and continued to press the enemy into and beyond the town of Gettysburg
's men now retired from the fight, having been engaged since ten o'clock in the morning up to the hour of four in the afternoon.
being wounded in the afternoon in the head by a shell, the command from that time until the division went out of action devolved upon Brig.-Gen. Pettigrew
, who handled his men with great skill and ability.
The light division of Major-Gen. W. D. Pender
, consisting of Lane
's and Scales
's North Carolina brigades, McGowan
's South Carolina brigade, under Col. A. Perrin
, (14th S. C.,) and Thomas
's Georgia brigade, moved from their encampments on the east side of South Mountain
on the morning of the 1st of July, at 8 A. M., along the turnpike, through Cashtown
, in the direction of Gettysburg
, following the advance of Major-Gen. Heth
When within three miles of Gettysburg
H. being already engaged with the enemy, the division was formed in line of battle as follows: Perrin
on the right, and Lane
on the left of the turnpike.
In this order, with a strong line of skirmishers thrown forward, the division advanced for over a mile, when it halted.
About three o'clock, the enemy having made a strong demonstration on the right, Gen. Lane
was sent to the extreme right, and Gen. Thomas
closed upon the left of Gen. Scales
Soon thereafter the division (with the exception of Gen. Thomas
, who was retained to meet a threatened advance on the left,) moved forward slowly to the right to the support of Major Gen. Heth
, who was now vigorously engaged with the enemy.--About 4 o'clock the three brigades of Lane
, and Perrin
, were ordered by Major Gen. Pender
to advance and to pass Major-Gen. Heth
's division, if it should be found at a and charge the enemy, who were posted on a prominent ridge between a quarter and a half mile out from Gettysburg
The division at once moved rapidly forward and soon passed the division of Major Gen. Heth
, now under command of Brigadier Gen. Pettigrew
, whose men seemed much exhausted and their ranks greatly thinned by the severe fighting through which, during some four or five preceding hours, that division had passed.
, on the extreme right, was much annoyed by a heavy force of dismounted cavalry on his extreme right flank, which kept up a severe and continuous enfilade fire.
This so much delayed him in his advance that he was unable to attack the enemy, except a small force of them, which he dislodged from a skirt of woods; the same that was occupied the next day by Pegram
's battalion of artillery.
, after passing Heth
's division, reformed his brigade in a ravine and moved rapidly forward.
Upon ascending a hill in front of this ravine, the brigade received a deadly fire of musketry and artillery, posted behind temporary breast works, and from their artillery which was posted to the left of the road near Gettysburg
The brigade, however, advanced steadily, reserving its fire, and easily dislodging the enemy from his several positions — encountering but little real opposition except from an enfilade fire from the artillery on the left, until it came within two hundred yards of the enemy's last position: the ridge upon which is situated the Theological Seminary.
The brigade, in crossing a line offending, was subjected to a most withering and deadly fire; but it pressed gallantly forward, without delaying to return the fire of the enemy.
Upon reaching the edge of the grove which covers the crest of the ridge, Col. Perrin
finding himself without support either on his right or his left, Gen. Lane
having been delayed by the attack on his flank, and Gen. Scales
having halted to return the fire of the enemy after Gen.
S. had been disabled from command by a wound which he received, attacked the enemy, who were in his immediate front, with great vigor and decided success.
He was now, however, subjected to a most damaging enfilade fire on both flanks, but quickly dividing his command, he ordered the two right regiments to change front to the right, and his two left regiments to change front to his left, and attacked most furiously on their flanks the enemy who were posted on the right behind a stone wall, and on the left behind a breastwork of rails.
The enemy were soon put to flight, and rapidly retired through the town to Cemetery hill
The retirement of the enemy caused the artillery on the left to limber up and move rapidly to the rear.
Much of this artillery would have been captured, but the two left regiments met a second force of the enemy posted behind a stone fence to the left of the College
, and, though they were easily dislodged, they continued to offer sufficient resistance to enable the artillerists to make off with their guns.
It is needless to say that Col. Perrin
and his gallant brigade deserve all credit for the manner and spirit with which this attack was conducted.
The efficiency and value of the services of Col.
P. have been fully recognized by the Government
in the promotion of that officer to the rank of a Brigadier General
; he being now in command of Wilcox
's old brigade.
The only reward which the officers and men of the brigade can ever receive must be found in the gratitude of their countrymen, and the consciousness on their part that they did their duty well and truly.
Scales on the left, with the left of his brigade resting upon the turnpike, after passing the division of Major Gen. Heth
, charged a brigade of the enemy which was then engaged on the extreme left of Major Gen. Heth
's division, upon the opposites side of the road, which caused the enemy soon to fall back.
The brigade continued to advance rapidly and as it commenced to descend the hill opposite the ridge on which the enemy was posted it encountered a most terrific fire of grape and shell on the left flank and grape and musketry in front, but mill it pressed forward at a double-quick until the bottom was reached, a distance of some seventy-five yards from the enemy's fortified position.
Here the fire was singularly severe.
Every field officer was either killed or wounded.
Brig. Gen. Senter
and his only Captain
) were both disabled by severe wounds.
The brigade halted for a moment to return the enemy's fire, now very severe, and whilst halted was thrown into some confusion.
, with a part of his staff, and Brig.-Gen. Scales
, though suffering very much from a severe wound in the leg, soon rallied the brigade, which again pushed on to the charge, under command of Lieut. Colonel Gordon
, 34th regiment N. C. T., driving the enemy through and beyond the town of Gettysburg
The troops of this division which had been sent into town to gather up prisoners were now withdrawn, and the whole division was formed in line along the ridge opposite the town and Cemetery Hill
, the left resting on the Fairfield
road.--And thus ended the first day's fight at Gettysburg
— the most successful to the Southern
cause, by far, of the three day's carnival of blood, which will ever make memorable the time, the place, and the actors.
Much blood had been shed with the going down of this day's sun, but more was yet to be spilled before the butchery was complete or the slaughter was ended.
On the second day's engagement, I will speak in my next.
It will be observed that thus far the "war horse" of this army, Longstreet
, had not been engaged.
The second day's engagement will introduce him upon the stage, and truly may he say of himself, when speaking of these mighty scenes of blood, "Quorum magna pare fat.
" Before closing, let me say that the night of the first of July was no idle one in the enemy's camp.
On the contrary, they worked and when daylight came, verily the fruits of their labors clearly discernible in the fortifications which they had reared, and which proved thereafter such impassible and impregnable barriers to our brave and gallant men when assaulting them.
We drop the curtain in the cell of night on the bloody field of July the first, and the many brave men, dead and living, who figured upon it. When we come again we shall lift the curtain, and so let the reader be prepared along with us to pass in review the events of the second day's fight.