Williams, Samuel J. – August 1, 1863

Michigan Civil War Collection Rare and Notable

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Regiment:¬†19th Indiana Infantry Battles Mentioned:¬†Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Historical Figures: Head Quarters 19th Regt. Ind. Vols. Aug. 1st 1863 Capt. J. D. Wood Asst. Adjt. Genl. 1st Brigade, 1st Division 1st Army Corps- Sir- I have the honor To submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the battle of Gettysburg Pa. July 1st, 2nd & 3rd 1863: On the morning of the 1st July, my regiment being temporarily detached from the Brigade on picket. I was early notified that the Division would move at 8 a.m. towards Gettysburg and that the regiment should fall into its proper place in the column as it came marching by. Drawing in my outposts I was prepared to comply with the order and before 9a.m. was on the march. Shortly after starting the sound of distant cannon announced that the skirmishers of the two armies had met. The column passed on now more rapidly than before and reaching a front within two miles of Gettysburg filed to the left passing over cleared fields for% of a mile and entered a wood skirting Seminary Ridge. Bearing to the right after emerging from this strip of woods the line passed along nearly parallel with it until my regiment was directly in rear of the Seminary building. The cavalry then in our front were with drawn and the infantry ordered forward facing my command to the left thus forming line of battle. I ordered it forward at a double quick to gain the summit of a little raise behind which the enemy was in part sheltered was but the work of a few moments. At the foot of this raise along Willoughby’s Run and not more than 15 yards distant lay Archer’s rebel Brigade partly hidden from view by the low shrubbery which lined its banks. The boys it is but just to Ray did not stand reform the order of their firing, but fired at once, without for a moment slackening their pace, and pressing steadily forward crossed the Run capturing the enemy in front and ascended the opposite bank where the line was halted. Closing the column in pursuance of orders. I marched the regiment back across the creek and again formed it in line of battle with the other regiments of the Brigade- the line now being on the prairie ground so lately occupied by the enemy. In this dash two or three of my men were wounded or of whom Private James Strickley. Co. “C” would not retire from the field and was killed in the afternoon. I now threw forward skirmishers and remained in this position until three o’clock p.m. In reforming the line, the 24th Michigan which in the first formation was on my left had been moved to the right thus leaving the 19th on the extreme left of our line of battle. Two regiments afterwards formed en echelon to the left and rear which however, did not prevent a heavy fire on my flank in the action of the afternoon. At 3 p.m. the enemy attacked this position- coming forward in three battle lines, far overlapping me on the left in addition to a flanking column whose intention, evidently it was to sweep round upon my left and rear – thus subjecting my command to capture. My regiment was in line ready for action from the moment the enemy’s advance was descried. As soon as they came within range I ordered the men to fire which was done. This was immediately returned. My regiment held its position until we had suffered severely from the column on the left and until twenty men lay dead and one hundred wounded along the line. Finding it impossible to hold the position against such an overwhelming force the line commenced retiring firing with good effect while doing so. One hundred yards in the rear, I reformed the line, but again were we forced to retire. A few rods in rear of this line, was a fence partly torn down, behind which I the second time reformed the line-my right now resting on the 7th Wise. Vols. The front regiment on my left, before spoken of, had likewise been forced to retire (after a severe loss) and I was here as in the first line exposed to a deadly fire from the flank. The second regiment spoken of from the configuration of the ground, until now had not delivered or received a fire. Bing forced from the fence, I again reformed my command now reduced to a mere squad to the right and on the prolongation of its line. As the enemy gained the crest of the ridge now in front, they sustained a deadly volley from our guns. But they outnumbered us four to one and we were now too weak to avail anything against such odds. Retiring from here, loading and firing, I placed the remnant of my command behind a barricade of logs and rails hastily constructed after the commencement of the fight. Here was made our last and hopeless stand. For several minutes the enemy were held in check, but the column on our left being subject only to a slight fire was still intact and sweeping round upon our left. The third line of the rebels in front had become engaged and great gaps in it told of the severity of our fire. We could have held out against the line in front, but their maneuvers on the left made the position untenable and I gave the order to retreat men of ever Division of the Corps had fought side by side behind this barricade and I formed it impossible to form my command and we retied each to care for himself through the town. On Cemetery Hill I collected my men reformed them took a position on Culp’s Hill to the right of the Cemetery and built breastworks. Here we lay during the subsequent two days fighting. Though almost constantly being shelled by the enemy during the 2nd & 3’d July, I was not actively engaged after the first. I went into the action with 261 men and 27 officers- came out with 69 men and 9 officers, my loss being as follows: Officers killed 2; wounded 12; missing 4; men killed 25; wounded 21; missing 46. Total loss, officers and men- 210. My report would be deficient did I fail to express my thanks to and admiration of the officers and men of my command for their gallant conduct during trying scenes through which they passed of to speak of the gallant dead who sealed their devotion to their country with their life’s blood. Lieut. Jones Co. Band East Co. K fell while cheering on their men. Sergt. Major Asa. W. Blanchard received a mortal wound while bearing aloft the Stars and Stripes. I had directed him to raise the flag it having been shot down the third time, when he was struck in the groin and expired in a few moments. Sergts. Furgason and Beshears Co H, Winsett and Daughterly Co. K, Michner Co. E., Ogborn Co B., and many others of less rank who with undaunted courage and true patriotism, had taken their lives in their hands and rushed to uphold the honor of the old flag and to preserve the integrity of the Government here “fought their last fight,” and now lie beneath the sod over which the tide of battle so fearfully surged. Many died from wounds received and lie in honored graves. Green be the grass and brightly bloom the flowers over their lovely beds! Lieut. Col. Dudley was active and fearless in the discharge of his duties, rendering me important services until struck by a Minnie ball in the fight of the afternoon of the 1st. He was unable to get off the field and fell into the enemies hands but upon the evacuation of Gettysburg by the rebels was restored to us. He has since suffered amputation of the right leg. Maj. Lindley cool and courageous materially aided me in reforming the line at different times and in cheering on the men. He was wounded in the hand while retiring through town, which resulted in the amputation of the finger. Capts. Holloway, lves Shafer and Lieut. Wilson, Schlagle, Campbell Witemeyer, Macy, Nash, Branson, Patrick, and Gisse, all did their duty and all were wounded. Liets.- Nash and Gisse, however, still kept the field. Surgeon Ebersole and his two Assts. Were untiring in the discharge of their duties wither upon the field of in hospital. Of the Assts. Dr. Haines was especially active being upon the field near the line of battle ministering to the wounded at the time of the attack in the afternoon of the 11th. The regiment has been particularly fortunate in having the services of these medical officers. There are no better in the service. I can point with pride and confidence to my officers and men engaged in this battle. In their hands the honor of our flag and of our State is safe. Respectfully, S. Williams Col. 19th Regt. Ind. Vols. Geo. E. Finney 1st Lieut. & Adjt.