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having the advantage of position. Doubtless, our loss was much the greater on the first day, a little more than the enemy's on the second, and far the less on the third. Probably, 18,000 killed and wounded, with 10,000 unwounded prisoners, would pretty fairly measure the Confederate losses during their Pennsylvania campaign.
During the 2d and 3d, the cavalry of either army, hovering around its flanks, ready to make a dash at the trains or camps of its adversary if opportunity should serve, had had several slight collisions, but no serious contest. On the 3d, an attempt of Hood, by a movement on the Emmitsburg road, to turn our left— which Gen. Meade regarded as our weakpoint—was defeated by Merritt's cavalry brigade, then coming up from Emmitsburg with intent to strike the rear and flank of the Rebel right, and by Farnsworth's brigade, which was guarding our own flank in that quarter. Gregg's division watched our
right flank, confronted by Stuart.
No important advantage was gained on either side; but a considerable infantry force under Hood seems to have been neutralized, during the grand assault, by the sturdy efforts of Merritt and Farnsworth, which
were held to indicate that a strong
infantry force was behind them, ready to strike heavily and attempt to turn the Rebel right. The battle being over, Pleasanton, who was in chief command of the cavalry, urged Meade to order a general advance; being satisfied by appearances that not only was the Rebel army demoralized and beginning to retreat, but nearly out of ammunition. But, as it was not certain that the enemy was going, Meade chose to be assured on that point, by a cavalry reconnoissance to the Rebel rear. Pleasanton accordingly dispatched some cavalry on this errand, who rode all night; Gregg, who, moving by our right, had been out 22 miles on the Chambersburg road, returning first, at 8 A. M.," and reporting that road strewn with wounded and stragglers, ambulances and caissons, showing that not only was the enemy in full retreat, but that he was completely demoralized. Gregg had easily taken quite a number of prisoners. Other commanders of cavalry, returning later from similar reconnoissances on other roads, found them likewise covered, and captured many stragglers and wagons. Still, as Meade did not advance in force on their direct line of retreat,” and as the movement of the artillery and trains of a great army requires time, the Rebel pickets along their front were not withdrawn till 2 A. M. of next day.” Meantime, an advance division of Couch’s militia, about 5,000 strong, under Gen. W. F. [' Baldy'] Smith, had come up in our rear; reporting to Gen. Meade on the 4th.
this day are famous, and should be commemorated in detail. Every Brigadier in the division was killed or wounded. Out of 24 regimental officers, only two escaped unhurt. The Colonels of five Virginia regiments were killed. The 9th Virginia went in 250 strong, and came out with only 38 men; while the equally gallant 19th rivaled the terrible glory of such devoted courage.” Among the Rebel killed were Brig.-Gens. Barksdale, Miss., and Garnett, Va. Among their wounded, Maj.-Gens. Hood, Trimble, Heth, and Pender, the latter mortally: Brig.-Gens. Pettigrew, Kemper, Scales, G. T. Anderson, Hampton, J. M. Jones, Jenkins, Armistead, and Semmes: the two latter mortally.
“Saturday, July 4.
*Gen. D. B. Birney, who succeeded Gen. Sickles in the command of the 3d corps, says:
“I was ordered to send out a reconnoissance at daylight [on the 4th) to ascertain the position of the enemy. I did so early Sunday morning, and reported that the enemy were in full retreat. I also sent back for permission to open upon the enemy with my rifled batteries as they were crossing a point very near me, upon the turnpike going toward Hagerstown; and the staff officer brought me permission to do so. I had commenced the movement to attack, when another staff officer arrived from Gen. Meade with a written order from him to make no attack; left. We moved on through Boonsboro', and passed up on the pike road leading to Hagerstown. After passing Boonsboro’, it became my turn to lead the 6th corps. That day, just before we started, Gen. Sedgwick ordered me to move on and take up the best position I could over a little stream on the Frederick side of Funkstown. As I moved on, it was suggested to me by him to move carefully. “Do n’t come into contact with the enemy; we do n’t want to bring on a general engagement.’ It seemed to be the current impression that it was not desired to bring on a general engagement. I moved on until we came near Funkstown. Gen. Buford was along that way with his cavalry. I had passed over the stream referred to, and found a strong position, which I concluded to take and wait for the 6th corps to come up. In the mean time, Gen. Buford, who was in front, came back to me and said, ‘I am pretty hardly engaged here; I have used a great deal of my ammunition; it is a strong place in front; it is an excellent position.” It was a little farther out than I was—nearer Funkstown. He said, ‘I have used a great deal of my ammunition, and I ought to go to the right; suppose you move up there, or send up a brigade, or even a part of one, and hold that position.” Said I, ‘I will do so at once, if I can just communicate with Gen. Sedgwick; I am ordered to take up a position over here and hold it, and the intimation conveyed to me was that they did not want to get into a general engagement; I will send for Gen. Sedgwick, and ask permission to hold that position and relieve you.’ I accordingly sent a staff officer to Gen. Sedgwick, with a request that I might go up, at once and assist Gen. Buford; stating that he had a strong position, but his ammunition was giving out. Gen. Buford remained with me until I should get an answer. The answer was, ‘No, we do not want to bring on a general engagement.” “Well,” said I, ‘Buford, what can I do?” He said, “They expect me to go farther to the right ; my ammunition is pretty much out. That position is a strong one, and we ought not to let it go.' I sent down again to Gen. Sedgwick, stating the condition of Gen. Buford, and that he would have to leave unless he could get some assistance; that his position was not far in front, and that it seemed to me that we should hold it, and I should like to send some force up to picket it at least. After a time, I got a reply that, if Gen. Buford left, I might occupy the position. Gen. Buford
Next morning, there could no longer be even an affectation of doubt that the enemy were in full retreat; and Sedgwick’s (6th) corps was ordered “to follow on the track of the fugitives. The spirit in which this pursuit was prosecuted is thus portrayed by Gen. A. P. IIowe, commanding a division of that corps, who thus narrates “ its progress and results:
“On the 4th of July, it seemed evident enough that the enemy were retreating. How far they were gone, we could not see from the front. We could see but a comparatively small force from the position where I was. On Sunday, the 5th and 6th corps moved in pursuit. As we moved, a small rear-guard of the enemy retreated. We followed them, with this small rearguard of the enemy before us, up to Fairfield, in a gorge of the mountains. There we again waited for them to go on. There seemed to be no disposition to push this rear-guard when we got up to Fairfield. A lieutenant from the enemy came into our lines, and gave himself up. IIe was a Northern Union man, in service in one of the Georgia regiments; and, without being asked, he unhesitatingly told me, when I met him as he was being brought in, that he belonged to the artillery of the rearguard of the enemy, and that they had but two rounds of ammunition with the rearguard. But we waited there without receiving any orders to attack. It was a place where, as I informed Gen. Sedgwick, we could easily attack the enemy with advantage. But no movement was made by us until the enemy went away. Then, one brigade of my division, with some cavalry, was sent to follow on after them, while the remainder of the 6th corps moved to the
which was done. My skirmishers advanced and
stantly to Gen. Meade; but this peremptory
LEE'S RET RE AT TO THE POTO M A. C.
was still with me, and I said to him, “If you go away from there, I will have to hold it.’ “That's all right,” said he: ‘I will go away.” He did so, and I moved right up. It was a pretty good position, where you could cover your troops. Soon after relieving Buford, we saw some Rebel infantry advancing. I do not know whether they brought them from Hagerstown, or from some other place. They made three dashes, not in heavy force, upon our line to drive us back. The troops that happened to be there on our line were what we considered in the Army of the Potomac unusually good ones. They quietly repulsed the Rebels twice; and, the third time they came up, they sent them flying into Funkstown. “Yet there was no permission to move on and follow up the enemy. We remained there some time, until we had orders to move on and take a position a mile or more nearer Hagerstown. As we moved up, we saw that the Rebels had some light fieldworks—hurriedly thrown up, apparently— to cover themselves while they récrossed the river. I think we remained there three days; and the third night, I think, after we got up into that position, it was said the Rebels récrossed the river.”
The 4th and 5th were devoted by Gen. Meade to caring for the wounded and burying the dead; part of our cavalry pursuing on the Cashtown road, as Sedgwick did on that by Fairfield. On the 5th, Meade was satisfied that Lee had retreated; but he believed that he was falling back into the Cumberland Valley— not making for the shelter of the Potomac. IIe decided to move the great body of his forces by the left flank through Boonsboro’ Pass, and so place himself between the enemy and his resources. But Sedgwick soon reported “ that the main body of the enemy was in position in and around Fairfield Pass, and that it might be necessary to fight another battle in those mountains. IIereupon, the 5th corps and some other troops were sent to réenforce Sedgwick, and the 1st and 3d, which had
been started by Butterfield, chief of staff, on the Boonsboro’ road, were halted; while others, farther in advance, moved on. Soon, word came from Sedgwick that it was unwise to push the enemy farther on the route he was following; whereupon, the whole army was impelled down the Middletown road; Sedgwick being ordered to move the most of his command from Fairfield Pass by Emmitsburg to join the main body. Arrived at Middletown, the army was halted a day to rest and refit, and then moved through South Mountain by Boonsboro’ to IIagerstown and the Potomac ; where Lee had of course arrived before it, taken a strong position, and was prepared to maintain it. Lee says, in his official report:
“The army remained at Gettysburg during the 4th, and at night began to retire by the road to Fairfield, carrying with it about 4,000 prisoners. Nearly 2,000 had previously been paroled; but the enemy's numerous wounded, that had fallen into our hands after the first and second day's engagements, were left behind. “Little progress was made that night, owing to a severe storm, which greatly embarrassed our movements. The rear of the column did not leave its position near Gettysburg until after daylight on the 5th. “The march was continued during that day without interruption by the enemy, except an unimportant demonstration upon our rear in the afternoon, when near Fairfield, which was easily checked. Part of our train moved by the road through Fairfield, and the rest by the way of Cashtown, guarded by Gen. Imboden. In passing through the mountains, in advance of the column, the great length of the trains exposed them to attack by the enemy's cavalry, which captured a number of wagons and ambulances; but they succeeded in reaching Williamsport without serious loss. “They were attacked at that place on the 6th by the enemy's cavalry, which was gallantly repulsed by Gen. Imboden. The at: tacking force was subsequently encountered and driven off by Gen. Stuart, and pursued for several miles in the direction of Boons
boro’. The army, after an arduous march, rendered more difficult by the rains, reached Hagerstown on the afternoon of the 6th and Inorning of the 7th July.”
He had had a marvelous escape. When his shattered columns commenced their retreat from Gettysburg, few of his officers can have imagined that they would ever reach Virginia with their artillery and most of their trains. There was not a probability that they could récross the Potomac with more than the wreck of an army. But heavy rains fell, as usual after great battles; and these are apt to impede pursuers more than pursued, though they need not. Then, every sort of miscalculation combined with lack of energy to impede the progress of our army; so that Lee had had four days wherein to strengthen his position at Williamsport before Meade was there" to assail him. But neither Lee's army nor his troubles were yet over. The heavy rains following the battle had swelled the Potomac to an unfordable state; while Gen. French, who, with 7,000 veterans, had been left idle at Frederick during the great events in Pennsylvania, had, without orders, sent a cavalry force to Falling Waters and Williamsport, which captured the weak guard left by Lee to hold his bridge, which they forthwith destroyed. Lee's hold on the Maryland bank was therefore compulsory, while he collected material and repaired or renewed his bridge. Ere this was accomplished,” Meade's army was before him, strengthened by French's division, and by part of Couch's militia, which had reported at Gettysburg and joined the army at Boonsboro’.
The 12th having been spent in getting our troops into position, Gen. Meade called a council of his corps commanders, to consider the expediency of attacking next morning. The council sat long and debated earnestly. Gens. Howard, Pleasanton, and Wadsworth (in place of Reynolds, killed) urged and voted to attack; but Gens. Sedgwick, Slocum, Sykes, French, and IIays (in place of Hancock, wounded at Gettysburg) opposed it. Gen. Meade, having heard all, stated that his judgment favored an attack—that he came there to fight, and could see no good reason for not fighting. Still, he could not take the responsibility of ordering an assault against the advice of a majority of his corps commanders—four of them ranking officers of the army next to himself. His decision would seem to have been a mistake; but he had been in command little more than a fortnight, and the responsibility of overruling a majority and the seniors among his counselors was a grave one. At all events, he did not take it: so our army stood idle throughout the following day; and in the night Lee withdrew across the Potomac, leaving (he says) but two stalled guns, a few disabled wagons, and some weary stragglers, to fall into the hands of his pursuers.
This, however, is not exactly true. Kilpatrick, commanding our cavalry on the left, learning at 3 A.M. that the enemy's pickets in his front were retiring, started after them, and, at 7% A. M., came up, about two miles from their bridge at Falling Waters, with their rear-guard, under Gen. Pettigrew, who had taken up a strong position and contested thereon his ad
* July 12.
M E A DE IN VIRGIN IA—FIGHT IN MAN A SSAS G A P. 393
.. being in advance of Lee, who halted for some days near Bunker IIill, and made a feint of récrossing the Potomac, Meade was enabled to seize all the passes through the Blue Ridge north of the IRappahannock, barring the enemy's egress from the Shenandoah Valley save by a tedious flank march. Meade, misled by his scouts, had expected to fight a battle in Manassas Gap—or rather, on the west side of it—where our cavalry, under Buford, found the Itebels in force; when the 3d (French's) corps was sent in haste from Ashby's Gap to Buford's support, and its 1st division, Gen. IIobart Ward, pushed through” the Gap, and the Excelsior (New York) brigade, Gen. F. B. Spinola, made three heroic charges up so many steep and difficult ridges, dislodging and driving the enemy with mutual loss—General Spinola being twice wounded. Col. Farnum and Major McLean, 1st Excelsior, were also wounded, and Capt. Ben. Price" killed. Next morning, our soldiers pushed forward to Front IRoyal, but encountered no enemy. Unknown to us, the Excelsiors had been fighting a brigade of Ewell's men, who were holding the Gap while Rhodes's division, forming the rear-guard of Lee's army, marched past up the valley, and had, of course, followed on its footsteps during the night. No enemy remained to fight; but two days were lost by Meade getting into especially of the National Homestead bill. He volunteered at the very outset of the war, and gave his best efforts and his life for Freedom
two months before. This movement *July 14. *July 19. “July 20. “July 22. *July 24. “July 25. * July 24.
* Capt. Price had been for years honorably distinguished as an ardent, indefatigable, effi
and Equal Rights to all mankind. Though distinguished by gallantry, capacity, intelli
cient advocate for the limitation of the area of gence, and zeal, he entered the service a captain,
individual ownership of real estate, and more |
and died a captain.