Gulp's Hill-Johnson's Assault, 3 July
Gulp's Hill-Johnson's Assault, 3 July
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter describes the effort to eliminate the Confederate bulge at Culp's Hill. Brig. Gen. John W. Geary's division and its position were the keys to the Federal effort. The Confederates could not exploit their penetration so long as Geary's division held the main hill, and since most of Johnson's force faced Geary's front, Geary's men would have to bear the brunt of the fight.
“Drive them out at daylight”—Slocum's order for eliminating the Confederate bulge at Gulp's Hill was clear enough, but in Gen. Alpheus Williams's opinion, it was an order “more easily made than executed.” Orders are usually that way, especially in battle, but Williams immediately took measures to prepare for the bloody work ahead.1
The Federal push could not start right away, of course. Plans and preparations had to be made. Geary's division and its position were the key to the Federal effort. The Confederates could not exploit their penetration so long as Geary's division held the main hill, and since most of Johnson's force faced Geary's front, Geary's men would have to bear the brunt of the fight. The First Division would deal with the Confederate left on the lower hill, but even that was a strong position. The Confederates there had the cover of the stone wall, the captured Union breastworks, and the trees and boulders that covered the hill. In addition, the marshy meadow around Spangler's Spring provided a deadly field of fire for the Confederates that strengthened their position on the lower hill.
With these considerations in mind, General Ruger deemed it unwise to attack the lower hill soon after the First Division returned because of the darkness, the difficult terrain, and their lack of knowledge of the Confederate deployment in their front. General Williams wanted to take advantage of the firepower of the Federal artillery. As he saw it, the Confederates had no nearby positions from which they could bring their guns to bear on the hill except at a long and inaccurate range, while the Twelfth Corps had a few excellent sites at hand.2
After considering these matters and others, no doubt, Williams and his (p.285) people developed a plan. Some members of the 27th Indiana Regiment later claimed to have overheard a discussion held by a knot of ranking officers near the 27th's position soon after their return from the left. Although the officers could not be seen in the darkness, the Hoosiers could identify Williams, Colgrove, and some others by their voices. Colgrove urged an immediate attack against the interlopers, but others, probably including Ruger, dissented. Their prolonged discussion closed when Williams announced, “We will hold the position we now have until morning. Then, from those hills back of us, we will shell hell out of them.” Williams summarized his plan simply in his report. He wrote, “I made such arrangements for a heavy artillery fire, with infantry feints upon the right, followed by a strong assault by Geary's division from Greene's position on the left, as I judged would speedily dislodge the enemy.” Two years later, Williams wrote that he planned that after the batteries shelled the Confederates for fifteen minutes at daybreak, Geary's division would press forward from Greene's position while the First Division would be held in readiness to support Geary or to “push the extreme rebel left, should opportunity offer.”3
Some of the batteries were already in position. Lt. Charles E. Winegar's New York battery had two ten-pounder Parrotts on McAllister's Hill about 800 yards south of Spangler's Spring and two more on Powers Hill about 700 yards south-southwest of it. Knap's Battery, commanded by Lt. Charles A. Atwell, had six ten-pounder Parrotts on Powers Hill also. They were to the right of Winegar's section and not far from Slocum's headquarters. Battery A, 1st Maryland Light Artillery, a battery from the Artillery Reserve commanded by Capt. James H. Rigby, was also on Powers Hill. It had six threeinch Ordnance rifles. We can wonder if these Marylanders had any friends or relatives in the 1st Maryland Battalion that must have been at the bull'seye of their target. All three of these batteries had been in place since the afternoon or evening of 2 July.4
The two other batteries of the Twelfth Corps had been parked along the Baltimore Pike until they went into position at 1:00 A.M. on 3July. Slocum reported that Lt. Col. Clermont Best posted them, Williams probably had something to say about where they would be placed, Geary wrote that he trained the guns of at least Knap's Battery, and Hunt testified that he had taken charge of the artillery on the Twelfth Corps line! We can feel sorry for the commanders of the Twelfth Corps batteries for all of the attention they received that morning. Nevertheless, Battery E, 4th U.S. Artillery, now nominally under the command of Lt. Sylvanus T. Rugg, and Battery K, 5th U.S. Artillery, under Lt. David Kinzie, took position on a rise just (p.286)
The infantry went into position as described in chapter 12. Greene's brigade held the hill, and, on their return, Candy's and Kane's brigades of Geary's division took up a line connecting Greene's right with the pike. Their line ran from the saddle between the larger and smaller hills along Spangler's Lane to the Spangler farmyard at the road. Williams placed Lockwood's brigade along the pike, where it would be able to support the regular batteries and act as a reserve for the corps. Ruger's brigade occupied McAllister's Woods by Rock Creek, and McDougall's faced the lower hill from the high ground between McAllister's Woods and the Lightner buildings on the pike. By deploying the two divisions in this way, Williams had sealed off the Confederate penetration of the night before and was ready to make Confederates pay dearly for their trespass.6
This planning and the orders to go with it took much of the short summer night. At about 3:30 A.M., when his duties permitted, Williams stretched out on a flat rock beneath an apple tree near the pike and had a half hour's sleep. He could look forward to an interesting day ahead.7
While Slocum, Williams, and their subordinate commanders prepared for action at daybreak, the nearby Confederates were also busy. General Lee's plan remained essentially unchanged from that of the afternoon before: Longstreet would resume his assault at daybreak, and Ewell's corps would assail the Union right at the same time. Since an attack on Johnson's front offered Ewell his only hope of success, he decided to reinforce Johnson's division and exploit the gains already made on Gulp's Hill. The Stonewall Brigade rejoined the division during the night, and Ewell sent Johnson additional help from the divisions of Early and Rodes. These reinforcements consisted of two regiments from Smith's brigade of Early's division (the 31st Virginia arrived later in the morning) and O'Neal's and Daniel's brigades from Rodes's division. In effect, Ewell doubled the Confederate force on Gulp's Hill in size.8
Although not surprising, it is highly regrettable that there is so little specific information in the Confederate reports of the Gulp's Hill fight and in the few personal accounts that are available. Those that are extant tell us that Jones's, Nicholls's, and Steuart's brigades remained in the positions (p.288) they held at the close of the fighting on the previous evening. Lt. Col. Robert H. Dungan, who now commanded Jones's brigade in the absence of the wounded Jones, re-formed the brigade after its unsuccessful attack of the evening before. He posted it again on the slope of the hill behind its line of skirmishers. Its main line was about 300 yards in front of and about 100 feet lower than the Twelfth Corps works and, therefore, was not far from the creek. The Union works above the Virginians were all but impregnable; aggressive action on Jones's front promised casualties without success.9
Nicholls's brigade stayed about 100yards in front of the enemy works. It faced the center and right of Greene's brigade's position. The crest was lower there, probably no more than thirty or forty feet above Nicholls's line. The Louisianans were so close to the enemy line that they had to speak in whispers during the night so as not to disclose their location. In the meantime, they could hear commotion in the enemy ranks as Greene's brigade prepared to fight them on the following day.10
Steuart's brigade was at the saddle and on the lower hill in what Steuart believed was an admirable position even though it would prove vulnerable to enemy artillery fire and his troops would have no artillery support of their own. Its regiments contended with probes from Twelfth Corps units whose positions they had occupied, and throughout the night its officers remained on the alert while the brigade's pickets kept a watchful eye toward the enemy. There was much tension elsewhere along the division's line, but it must have been extreme on the lower hill. Steuart's men could hear vehicles on the pike 500 yards in their front, and they ought to have been aware that a steel cordon was forming around them. Yet there was optimism, for even Johnson and Steuart, when they visited that front, voiced the opinion that the vehicle sounds meant that the enemy was pulling back rather than preparing for another fight!11
The outline of Williams's plan for the morning of 3 July seems relatively plain, but Johnson's is obscure. It is obvious that he would have expected no artillery support. Shells fired into the Gulp's Hill woods from the positions available to the Confederate batteries would have endangered friends as much as enemies. Johnson's successes would have to be gained by the skill, courage, and musketry of his infantry alone.
Probably the Stonewall Brigade was the first of Johnson's reinforcements to arrive. Johnson placed it behind and in support of Steuart's brigade. It would be there before daybreak and in time for the opening of the battle.12
When O'Neal's brigade reached Johnson's front, Daniel turned it over to Johnson for orders. Neither Daniel nor O'Neal mentioned where the Alabamians deployed, but if Daniel was with Jones and the Stonewall Brigade supported Steuart, O'Neal's brigade must have formed in support of Nicholls's brigade. O'Neal recalled that the enemy was posted behind “a log fort on the spur of the mountain.” The works on the right of Greene's line, and perhaps those elsewhere, could well have had that appearance when viewed from below. Fortunately for the Alabamians, they did not have to attack until 8:00 A.M.14
“Extra Billy” Smith came to Johnson's aid with his 49th and 52d regiments after daybreak and the fighting began. It is likely that they approached Johnson's front from behind Benner's Hill and down the valley (p.290) of Benner's Run. Maj. Henry Kyd Douglas of Johnson's staff rode to meet Smith's two regiments and hurry them on their way. Douglas found Smith “cool and deliberate” and full of questions about the situation ahead. Not wishing to take the time for conversation, Douglas told Smith that if he would permit it, Douglas would lead Smith's regiments to their place in line.
Smith assented, and Douglas led the regiments to the southeast slope of the lower hill where the stone wall runs west from Rock Creek. There, at about 7:00 A.M., they relieved the 2d Virginia Regiment, which was posted on the left of the Stonewall Brigade. Douglas sent skirmishers forward, and as he rode into the smoky area, the infantrymen called for him to get down from his horse. Since he believed it improper for a staff officer to dismount at such a time, Douglas stayed in the saddle and, with his sword, directed Smith's regiments to their positions. Suddenly, he spied Federal skirmishers who were pointing their rifles at him, and he “fancied … they [the rifles' barrels] were large enough to crawl into.” He saw puffs of smoke, felt a tremendous blow, and slumped in his saddle. Some officers held him to keep him from falling, and, as they did so, Smith's line and the general passed him on the way to their position. Soldiers lifted Douglas from his horse, placed him on a stretcher, and carried him to the rear. He would be hospitalized at the seminary and be left there after the battle to become a prisoner of war.15
Johnson intended to attack at daybreak, but neither Johnson nor his brigade commanders recorded the orders given for the assault. At daybreak, all the brigades in the front line, at least, were poised to advance as far as they could, in accordance with the plan of General Lee. The deployment of the Confederate brigades suggests that Johnson intended a direct assault all along his line but particularly in the more promising zones of Nicholls and Steuart. It would be a slugfest, for Johnson's brigades had no other choice but to strike straight ahead. Early had demonstrated that there was nothing to be gained from a movement to the right, and the terrain to the Confederate left—the rocky wooded slope of Wolf Hill and the pond of McAllister's Mill—discouraged a flanking movement in that direction. Therefore, Johnson's attack of Friday morning would be a continuation of that of Thursday evening inspired by the hope that his increased strength would enable the division to either smash its way through a weak point in the Union line or create a diversion that would help Longstreet. Whatever Johnson's plans might have been, they had to be changed a bit, for before the Confederates could advance, the Twelfth Corps handed them an unpleasant surprise.16
(p.291) At daybreak, about 4:30 A.M., Williams gave Lieutenant Muhlenberg the order to open fire, and “the woods in front and rear and above the breastworks held by the rebels were filled with projectiles from our guns.” It was a furious, short-range pounding by the twenty-six guns of the Twelfth Corps and Rigby's battery, magnified by the noise and confusion made by shells ricocheting and exploding among the trees and rocks. Major Goldsborough, whose Maryland battalion was near the summit of the lower hill, found the artillery fire, and some of the musketry from Geary's division that accompanied it, awful—“the whole hillside seemed enveloped in a blaze.” It riddled the trees above them, “and the balls could be heard to strike the breastworks like hailstones upon the roof tops.” Fortunately for the Confederates, most of Johnson's force was sheltered from much of the shelling by being on the east slope of the hill and behind the captured wall and works. The Confederates beyond the wall on the lower hill would have been in grave peril, however. Three companies of the 1st Maryland were beyond this shelter, and Goldsborough withdrew them hastily to cover. The major wrote later that he believed that had it not been for their cover, scarcely a man from Steuart's brigade would have survived.17
The Confederates were not the only ones harassed by this artillery fire. Some “friendly” rounds fell among McDougall's regiments during the morning's fight. McDougall sent Capt. Edward Rice of his staff to complain to Ruger and to the battery commanders involved. When the short rounds continued to fall among the brigade, killing and wounding some of its men, Col. Edward Livingston Price of the 145th New York and Col. James L. Selfridge of the 46th Pennsylvania became angry. Self-ridge, drawing his pistol, told McDougall that he was going to speak with the battery commander and if another round fell short, he would shoot him. Selfridge and Price spoke to the unnamed battery commander and to Slocum. After that, some of McDougall's regiments were pulled back a little and suffered no more from the Federal fire.18
The artillery fire continued at intervals for the next six hours. Muhlenberg reported that it “was of essential service, and did excellent execution.” So long as the Confederates held the crest of the lower hill and part of the west slope, the Union batteries would have a target to shoot at. Once this target was eliminated, its work would be done.19
The burden of the Gulp's Hill battle would fall on the infantry of the two armies. The fight divided itself rather neatly into two fronts. Until late in the morning, the combat on the Twelfth Corps right, the sector of the First Division, would be limited mainly to skirmishing and probes up the (p.292) southwest slope of the lower hill. The main action was on the left where Johnson's forces assaulted Geary's line. In the course of the morning, the Confederate brigades there made three assaults according to Johnson's reckoning. The first, a renewal of the attack of the evening before, took place at daybreak all along his line. It seemed in response to the Federal artillery fire and musketry that opened Williams's effort to squeeze the Confederates from the hill. The second was an attack against Greene's center and right involving O'Neal's brigade and those of Johnson's division, and the third was a final push by Steuart's brigade from the lower hill against Geary's right and by the Stonewall Brigade and Daniel's brigade against Greene's line. There was a special tragedy to this battle on Gulp's Hill. A half hour after Johnson's attack began, Ewell learned that Longstreet would not advance until after 9:00 A.M. Lee's plan had broken down; Johnson was attacking alone.20
If any of Geary's troops attempted to advance after the artillery fire ended, they soon gave it up in favor of fighting on the defensive behind their works. On the other hand, Johnson reported that his assault “was renewed with great determination.” Steuart, whose brigade should have delivered the knockout blow, wrote that the fire was heavy on his right but little more, and the remarks of the commanders of Jones's and Nicholls's brigades were very brief. Lt. Col. David Zable, commander of the 14th Louisiana Regiment, recalled that before daybreak and the beginning of the morning's fight, officers and men of Nicholls's brigade, which was in front of Greene's center and right, conferred and decided to mask their weakness; they would get the jump on the Federals by opening fire first. In later years, seemingly ignorant of General Williams's plan to drive them from the hill, Zable expressed the belief that the ruse had worked because the enemy reply was “the most terrific and deafening that we ever experienced.” The smoke became so heavy on their front that their position was marked at times only by muzzle flashes, and the accompanying roar of musketry was so intense that commands had to be shouted into the soldiers' ears.21
General Walker wrote that the Stonewall Brigade supported Steuart's brigade, which was hotly engaged in its immediate front. Walker's men were engaged along their whole line after moving up to Steuart's support. The 2d Virginia on the left fought along with the 1st North Carolina in order to protect the Confederate left. Company D of the 2d Virginia crossed the creek, and two other companies took position by the creek, the better to assail the flank of an enemy force pressing Steuart's front.22
The reports of William and Ruger say nothing about this attacking force (p.293) that so engaged the attention of the 2d Virginia Regiment. However, General Lockwood's report mentions a puzzling action that seems to dovetail with the brief Confederate accounts. Very early in the morning, while Lockwood's brigade rested in support of the artillery along the pike, Williams told Lockwood to deploy a regiment and attack the enemy in the woods in his front. Lockwood selected Col. William P. Maulsby's regiment, the 1st Maryland, Potomac Home Brigade, for the job. Possibly Lockwood selected this regiment because it was more experienced than the 150th New York and was a strong unit, numbering over 700 officers and men.
Maulsby formed his men along the pike and began his advance from there. At Maulsby's command, “Forward, double quick!,” the Marylanders charged at a trot toward the woods. The left of the regiment under Maj. John A. Steiner passed through a tongue of woods that extended into the meadow, while the right under Maulsby's direction advanced in the meadow itself. Enemy skirmishers in the woods fired “from behind every tree and rock,” and sharpshooters from across the creek, men of the 2d Virginia Regiment, peppered them. The regiment pushed ahead “with energy,” however, and, in spite of “a severe musketry fire,” approached the stone wall. Maulsby halted the regiment when about twenty yards from the wall and ordered it to fix bayonets for a charge. Maulsby's men saw enemy soldiers fleeing from the wall, but information reached Lockwood that other troops were advancingon his right and that the 1st Maryland's fire would interfere with their advance. Then, in the words of General Lockwood, “having already lost in killed and wounded some 80 men, and our ammunitionbeing short, I withdrew the regiment, and returned to the turnpike.” There was no other advance, and, if the Marylanders' account is accurate, their withdrawal could have been one of the major mistakes made that morning on the hill.23
Steuart reported a “terrific fire of artillery” and “a very heavy fire of musketry” on his right, and the troops there would have agreed. Sgt. J. William Thomas of the 1st Maryland Battalion wrote of firing at a range of 150yards toward troops on the “main hill” and of “hot work” and heavy losses. The 3d North Carolina Regiment, the right of the 1st Maryland Battalion, and the right of the Stonewall Brigade in their rear were on the slope that ran up to the saddle and did not have the protection of a wall or works. Sometime well after the morning's fight began (he recalled it as being 8:00 A.M.), Major Goldsborough walked to the right of his line and saw that the troops there had suffered “dreadfully” from the enemy's fire, which even then was taking its toll. He found Capt. William H. Murray, (p.294)
At this time, a ball struck Goldsborough's forehead and stunned him. When he had shaken off his dizziness, Goldsborough cautioned Sgt. William J. Blackistone about exposing himself too much, and as he spoke, a bullet tore through the sergeant's arm, inflicting a mortal wound. Captain Murray, “one of the bravest of the brave, a thorough disciplinarian, brave as a lion, calm and collected,” reported that his men were out of ammunition and were dispirited. Beyond that, as Sergeant Thomas observed, their guns were clogged so as to be useless, and the men had not eaten for two days. Murray asked permission to take Company B from the line for an hour so that its men could clean their guns and get some ammunition and water. Goldsborough granted him this, and Company C relieved them.25
After leaving Murray, Goldsborough learned that his other companies (p.295) were also low on ammunition. He feared that getting more would be difficult, for it might involve pulling his battalion from its works and somehow obtaining the ammunition, which he thought was a half mile away. He went to see Steuart about the problem and found him and his staff behind another rock on the hillside. After listening to Goldsborough, Steuart suggested that the major call for volunteers to go for the ammunition. (Had the brigade no system for keeping the troops supplied?) Lieutenant McKim, who had led the battalion in prayer before the fight began, interrupted their conversation. McKim said, “General, do not ask one of your officers or privates to volunteer to perform this duty whilst you have a staff officer left. I will bring the ammunition, if I live.” McKim secured the help of three men and walked with them to some ammunition wagons that he recalled as being over a mile away. They got two boxes of cartridges and carried them to the front. There they emptied the boxes into blankets, swung the blankets from rails, and carried them to the hill. Goldsborough observed that “the noble fellow made the venture, and succeeded in his mission.”26
The Confederates pressed their attack against Geary's division. There was extremely heavy musketry and little movement—in some ways it was a harbinger of warfare soon to come. Geary's front had two sectors. On the left, Greene's brigade and those troops who relieved its regiments in the course of the morning's fight faced down the hill's east slope. Geary's right was the refused line that faced the saddle and Steuart on the lower hill. Because it was quieter on the right, regiments were taken from Candy's brigade to reinforce Greene's center and left. Yet the firing was almost constant along the entire line.
The 66th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Eugene Powell, was the first of Candy's regiments to go to the left. It had a very special assignment. Sometime in the dark early morning hours of 3 July, Powell received orders to take the 66th to the top of the hill, cross the line of works there, face right so as to enfilade the enemy on Greene's front, and do what the 66th could to help in regaining the lost entrenchments. No one wrote of the origins of the order, but it must have come from Geary.27
Powell reached the top of the hill while it was still dark, halted the 66th so that its men could rest, and reported to the “commanding officer” there. It was still too dark for them to see one another well, and Powell did not know who the other officer was. Powell told the officer, probably General Greene, the substance of his orders, and the officer replied, “My God, young man, the enemy are right out there. I am expecting an attack (p.296) every moment; if you go out there with your regt. they will simply swallow you.” He told Powell also that the enemy was right up to his works. Greene thought that the 66th would be annihilated, as did Powell.28
Powell replied by repeating his orders. He returned then to his regiment and called it to attention. “Instantly there was the jostle of soldiers arousing themselves from rest, together with the suppressed hum of voices, followed by the clatter of canteens and other utensils which were then carried by soldiers, in addition to that of their arms, as these clashed together in the efforts of the men to get into ranks and go none knew where: forward meant into instant deadly conflict with the enemy, but to a man the regiment stood at attention and ready.”29
When the artillery opened fire, Powell led the 66th across the crest between Greene's left and the right of the First Corps. So near and alert were Jones's Virginians that they shot some of the Buckeyes immediately, including Lts. John F. Morgan and Charles E. Butts, each of whom was hit twice. After a “close hot fight,” the Ohioans drove Jones's Virginians from their tenuous position near the crest. The 66th took up a line with its right in front of, at right angles to, and below Greene's left and facing south across Greene's front. Its left rested on a shelf that towered like the prow of a ship above the steep slope that fell away from it to the east. The Buckeyes held this position throughout the morning. Powell wrote that Greene's brigade directed its fire at the enemy to its right. Although the 66th Ohio fired in that direction too, raking the slope across Greene's front, it was more concerned with the Confederates downhill toward the creek, Jones's and Nicholls's brigades, and particularly some sharpshooters behind a fence. That Powell could take and hold such a position at the cost of only seventeen casualties tells us that Jones's brigade did not press hard toward the Federals at the top of the hill. One of those killed in the 66th was Maj. Joshua G. Palmer, who had been a dentist in Urbana, Ohio, before the war. Palmer's position near the regiment's left made him an especially inviting target for the Virginians down the slope.30
The left regiment of Greene's brigade, the 60th New York from New York's “North Country,” shared the summit of the hill with the 66th Ohio, and both regiments held their positions for the entire morning. At early dawn, its 250 men saw a large number of dead Virginians scattered just in front of their works, their harvest from the attack of the evening before. The New Yorkers fired in earnest when the Federal batteries opened, and Johnson's infantry began shooting in reply. Jones's brigade did not press the New Yorkers closely, probably because its men were intimidated by the steep slope and the breastworks near its top and because there was an (p.297) easier slope nearby in front of Greene's right. Regimental accounts spoke of heavy firing by these two regiments at the summit of the hill but of nothing else.31
During this fight, Capt. Edward D. Camden of the 25th Virginia was forward with Jones's brigade's picket line. Sometime during the morning, he attempted to eat some corn bread, and as he took a bite, a minié ball struck him in the face, knocking the bread from his mouth along with some upper teeth and a piece of jawbone. The impact stunned Camden briefly, then came the pain, and in his pain and shock he stood and ran around crazily on the hill. Others calmed him, and when sanity returned, he started to the rear. Although the Union soldiers above him had had no interest in winging a crazed man who might soon die, when they saw him walking off in a sane manner, he “drew the fire of the whole army.” Nevertheless, he made less of a target as he descended the hill and got away. That night, with a face swollen as large “as a half bushel measure,” Camden left the hospital to walk alone back to Virginia. In many ways, he was one of the most fortunate members of his brigade.32
The fight on the 60th New York's right was more intense down where the elevation of the crest was forty feet lower and the forward slope gentler. It was characterized by a continuous roar of musketry, an unremitting fire that consumed vast quantities of ammunition, fouled rifles, and begrimed and fatigued the men who shot them. General Meade heard this roar on the Twelfth Corps front with skepticism and concern; after all, ammunition was a precious commodity that had to be carted long distances in wagons over bad roads, and it was not to be wasted. General Wadsworth led Meade to believe that Geary was wasting ammunition. Meade told Slocum that he should suggest to Geary that he might reserve his ammunition for a time when it might be needed more. In truth, a lot of ammunition was being fired that day, and most of the balls fired went into trees, splattered against rocks, or buried themselves into the earth. But even Meade became satisfied that its expenditure had to be tolerated.33
When the morning's battle opened, four of Greene's regiments were in the works downhill and to the right of the 60th New York. They held their positions of the previous evening, although they would leave and return to them in the course of the morning's fight. The 78th New York was on the 60th's right, the 102d beyond it, followed by the 149th New York, and Col. David Ireland's 137th Regiment held the right by the traverse above the saddle. The three regiments on the left were locked in battle with Nicholls's Louisiana brigade and with O'Neal's brigade, which supported it. The 137th on the right continued its fight with the 3d North Carolina (p.298) Regiment and the 1st Maryland Battalion on Steuart's right and with the right of the Stonewall Brigade, which was formed in Steuart's support.34
The three regiments of Kane's brigade—the 29th, 109th, and 111th Pennsylvania regiments—commanded by Colonel Cobham during most of the morning's battle, were behind Greene's right and faced the lower hill. A portion of the left regiment, the 29th or the 111th, in turn, had the partial shelter of the traverse; the line to its right had to rely on the cover afforded by rocks there. The 109th occupied Kane's right, and whatever regiment was not in line rested in support in the rear. Kane's regiments faced Steuart's brigade at the top of the lower hill and could enfilade that portion of the stone wall north of the smaller hill's peak.35
Geary recognized the slope up to the saddle as the likely path of Johnson's assault on 3 July, and it was on that front that he concentrated his strength, leaving only two regiments, the 147th Pennsylvania and the “Cincinnati Regiment,” the 5th Ohio, in the space between Kane's right and the pike. Each regiment had a strength of about 300 officers and men, enough to cover the 400 yards of front left to them with a thin line. Soon after the artillery opened fire, Candy advanced the 147th Pennsylvania down the slope from the lane to the ravine, the term used by Capt. Joseph A. Moore to designate the low ground along the rivulet at the base of the hill. In its new position at the edge of the tree line, the 147th had its back to a long rock ledge and faced the small open field, later named Pardee Field in honor of the 147th's commander, that ran uphill to the wall occupied during the night by Steuart's brigade. From this position and from the woods to its right, the 147th could cover some of the wall occupied by Steuart as well as the no-man'sland between Steuart and the works occupied by Greene's right and Kane.36
The men of the 147th Pennsylvania and the 5th Ohio, which had come forward on its left, fired throughout the morning at the Confederates they could see and into the woods at the top of the lower hill. Sometime after this fight began, Col. John H. Patrick of the 5th Ohio saw the opportunity to give the enemy a cross fire by advancing a company of skirmishers to a stone wall. Patrick did not indicate the part of the wall manned, and none of it seems to be clearly suited for such a purpose. Yet Patrick's instructions to Lt. Henry C. Brinkman were to “fret the enemy as much as possible.” Patrick was pleased to report that Brinkman and Company F did this so well that they drew and repelled Confederate attacks. Brinkman, “a brave and gallant officer,” fell during the action.37
Three of Candy's regiments—the 28th Pennsylvania and the 7th and 29th Ohio—collected in the hollow to Candy's left rear and behind the crest (p.299) held by Greene's four regiments. This ravine ran north from Kane's position and was fifty yards behind the works occupied by Greene. It served as a place of rest and resupply for the regiments on Greene's front throughout the morning, and there were frequent mad and perilous dashes between it and the works. A soldier of the 137th New York wrote: “Just back of the brest work [sic] was a hollow where the reinforcements stayed. A regiment would use up their ammunition in about two hours, when another one would relieve them and they fall back to the hollow where the balls would whistle over their heads. They would clean their guns and get some more ammunition and be ready to relieve another regiment. They would all rather be in the trenches than in the hollow. In this way we could have stood as long as the rebs chose to show themselves below, which was until 11 A.M., but few were seen after this.”38
The veterans of Greene's brigade believed that they had saved the Army of the Potomac from defeat on the evening of 2 July and considered that fight their best. In their Gettysburg recollections, most concentrated on the evening's battle rather than that of the following morning. Most of their accounts of the 3July action were brief, being confined to remarks on the intensity of the fighting and the times when they left the rifle pits to renew their ammunition supply and returned to fire it away. The veterans of the 149th New York were an exception.
The 149th had an excellent position. Its works crowned a low escarpment that dominated the slope in its front. The regiment (also called the “Fourth Onondaga”) had been organized in Syracuse in September 1862. Col. Henry A. Barnum, who had gone to war first with the 12th New York Regiment, had been wounded and captured at Malvern Hill. Before it was known that he was a prisoner, a body believed to have been his was given a funeral and buried back in New York. Barnum led the 149th to Gettysburg and during the battle on 2July, but then he became ill and turned the command over to Lt. Col. Charles B. Randall, another Syracuse lawyer, who led it into the fight on the morning of 3 July.39
The 149th spent a few early morning hours in the hollow behind its position, but Randall returned it to the works before daylight of 3 July. It was probably before it left the hollow that Randall spoke to the officers about the necessity of caring for their men and preserving them from injury. Apart from reasons of humanity and compassion, Randall observed that the government could not afford casualties because of expenses accrued in replacing losses, caring for the wounded, and paying pensions! Randall was serious in his views and called officers to account when he saw their men overly exposed to danger. After the 149th returned to the (p.300) pits, and while it awaited daybreak, Randall passed along its line in order to give each of his officers a drink of whiskey. It was rather like a “last supper,” for Randall observed to each that it was probably the last drink they would take together and that he hoped it would sustain them in their duty. At about the time that the last officer had his swig, the Twelfth Corps batteries opened fire and the fight began.40
The fight was a hard one. Colonel Ireland of the 137th New York, whose regiment faced the regiments on Steuart's and Walker's right, wrote that the enemy advanced with a yell and opened on them. Colonel Barnum described the charges of Nicholls's and O'Neal's brigades as “most impetu-ous” and their fire as terrific. Capt. Lewis R. Stegman, commander of the 102d New York, wrote that prior to its relief at 9:00 A.M. the regiment had held its position “in the face of fearfully destructive fire.”41
O'Neal's brigade would have faced the right of Greene's line from about 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. Lieutenant Colonel Zable of Nicholls's brigade remembered that his brigade's relief, presumably O'Neal's brigade, came up with a yell that served “no other purpose but to intensify a more galling fire in our front.” As Nicholls's men looked behind them and saw soldiers of their relief being shot down, they regretted that they were being relieved at all. The troops coming in were more exposed to enemy fire than those already on the hill, who were so close to the enemy line that the Union soldiers fired over their heads. It was in falling back that they had quite a large number killed and wounded. Yet the Alabamians ‘came on and took up the fight. Col. Cullen A. Battle of the 3d Alabama described the fighting as “furious combat.” Col. Samuel B. Pickens of the 12th Alabama wrote that his regiment attacked with great spirit. Colonel O'Neal agreed, and they all wrote that they were exposed to a murderous fire for three hours.42
Capts. William H. May and William T. Bilbro and Ens. Hendrik Harding, the 3d Alabama's colorbearer, reached a place on the hill from which they could look back and see their regiment deployed behind them. While there, they witnessed a “most ludicrous affair” involving Pvt. Tom Powell. Powell had taken cover behind a rock about two feet square that was home to a nest of yellow jackets. To May, Bilbro, and Harding, the rock seemed “the most contested point on the whole line.” Powell could not leave the rock's cover, and the yellow jackets made him pay a price to stay. The wasps attacked, and Powell jumped up “slapping, stamping, and cursing.” When fear of the bullets flying near overcame his dislike of the yellow jackets, he would dive for the cover of the rock. This double fight lasted for several minutes, with Powell cursing all the while, until somehow he (p.301)
While they watched Powell, it became apparent that the men of the 3d Alabama were being picked off one by one. They could not advance, and they could not stay. May and Bilbro went back and told Colonel Battle “the utter impossibility of accomplishing a thing.” Yet the brigade did not fall back until ordered to do so by General Johnson.44
The 149th New York measured the intensity of the enemy's fire, in part, by the damage to its colors. Confederate fire knocked the flag from its place on the breastworks twice, and Confederate balls ripped through its folds eighty times during the course of the battle and twice broke its staff. After each break, Color Sgt. William C. Lilly spliced the staff together with wood splints and knapsack straps and returned it to its place on the works. Lilly was wounded while doing this. Twenty-nine years after the battle, the 149th erected a memorial where it had fought. The memorial has a bronze bas-relief that depicts a portion of the regiment behind the works and Sergeant Lilly kneeling in the foreground splicing the colors' staff.45
The 137th New York held its position about two hours before the 29th Ohio relieved it. Capt. Edward Hayes, acting commander of the 29th Ohio, dashed forward to the works and discussed the relief with Colonel Ireland. He returned then to the hollow, explained the movement, and ordered the (p.303)
The 137th New York sustained the heaviest casualties in Greene's brigade—40 killed, 87 wounded, and 10 missing, for a coincidental total of 137. This number tells us that the 137th's position was a perilous one. It was low, easy to attack, and dominated by the top of the lower hill about 150 yards to the southeast. The 149th on its left had fifty-five casualties all told, and the 60th at the top of the hill and longest in line had fifty-two. Colonel Barnum wrote that the 149th's casualties were so light because of the “excellent management of its officers, the substantial character of our works, and the advantage of our position.” Most of the wounded of the 149th were hit in the upper body because the lower body areas were protected by the works. Some were hit in the legs when they crossed the rise between the works and the hollow; some were wounded by balls that glanced off the head logs, through the slit between the logs and the works beneath them, and struck the men the head logs were to protect.47
There was less pressure on the right of Geary's line. Confederate prisoners told General Kane that they had tried to advance at daybreak in three lines, but the Federals saw them only dimly as yelling Confederates “closed in mass.” Kane's and Candy's short line met the attack with “an unswerving line of deadly fire,” in the view of the 109th, or a “smothering fire of bullets,” as the men of the111th saw it. They forced the Confederates back to the shelter of the rocks at the top of the hill. From time to time, according to Kane, his troops would hold their fire for a minute or two in the hope that Steuart's men would expose themselves and be shot. Apart from such breaks, there was a steady fire throughout the morning, punctuated by limited relief of the regiments on line. Only two regiments on the right had relief—the 29th Pennsylvania was relieved once, the 111th twice to clean their guns and get more ammunition. Neither the 109th Pennsylvania of Kane's brigade nor the 5th Ohio and 147th Pennsylvania of Candy's brigade reported having been relieved in this way, suggesting that the firing on their front—the right of Geary's line—was not nearly as heavy as that on the left.48
Perhaps Candy's regiments had ammunition brought to their positions. According to Private Mouat of the 29th Pennsylvania, Lt. Col. Orrin Crane of the 7th Ohio issued ammunition to the 29th and, perhaps, to the rest of the division as well. As Mouat stepped up for his sixty rounds, Crane said, “Help yourself White Star and make good use of it for the prisoners say that Ewell is going to break through here if it takes every damn man (p.305) he has.” To this, Mouat replied, “If he comes we will give him the best we have in the shop.”49
During the morning's firing, the men of the 111th from northwest Pennsylvania, who prided themselves on their marksmanship, enjoyed sniping at the enemy. First Sgt. Castor G. Malin saw puffs of smoke from some rocks down the slope. He aimed and fired carefully at the source of the smoke several times, but the puffs of smoke continued to appear. The sergeant, a deer hunter, was annoyed with his shooting until after the battle when he walked down to the rock pile and found five dead soldiers there. They had followed each other in turn until the last man shot had fallen dead upon his gun and closed the gap through which they had fired.50
Colonel Cobham also tried his hand. While he spoke with another officer, a bullet passed between them, and soon after, another zipped by his head. The colonel saw that the last one had come from a rock shelter down the hill. He forgot that he was a brigade commander long enough to borrow a rifle, watch the rocks patiently, and finally take a shot. After the fight, like Sergeant Malin, he walked down the hill, and there he found a dead Confederate behind the rocks with a bullet hole in his head.51
Three regiments of Candy's brigade, apart from the 66th Ohio, shared Greene's works with his regiments on the morning of 3 July. The 7th Ohio went into the works early in the morning, fell back to the hollow, and returned to the works again about 9:30, remaining for most of the rest of the day. The 7th must have been near the right of Greene's position, but the identity of the regiment it relieved was not recorded. It sustained only eighteen casualties. The only man killed, Cpl. Charles Carroll, was a tall fellow whose head showed above the rise between the hollow and the works as the regiment formed to go into the works the second time. His head made a good target, and a Confederate shot him.52
The 29th Ohio relieved the 137th New York “in splendid style” about an hour after the fighting opened. The 28th Pennsylvania Regiment relieved the 29th, but it returned to the works in time to be on hand at the climax of the fight. When in position, the men of the 28th, like other units along the line, contended with Confederate snipers firing from the shelter of the boulders in its front. Each sniper's shot was advertised by a puff of smoke that invited a reply.53
The 14th Brooklyn and the 147th New York regiments of Cutler's brigade, Wadsworth's division, First Corps, were unique in one respect—of all of the infantry regiments on the field, only they had taken part in hard fighting on each of the three days of the battle. Both had sustained (p.306) heavy casualties on 1 July, yet for reasons not known today, both were detached from the brigade line to points of special risk on 2 and 3 July while other regiments in their brigade remained on the quieter line just 500 yards away.54
On 3 July the 147th New York, commanded by Maj. George Harney, spent much of its day on the left of the 149th New York; it was to the left of the boulder on which the monument of the 149th was later placed. Lt. Henry Lyman wrote in his diary that the men of the regiment were up and blazing away at 3:30 A.M. and were hard-pressed all day. Lyman later wrote that the men of the regiment had each fired 200 rounds by 10:00 A.M. and that it was relieved four times to clean its guns, get more ammunition, and obtain rations. New troops were sent in, but in Lyman's view they “made bad work.” He summed up his diary entry with the notation, “A noisey day on the whole.” The regiment had “beef &gunpowder for supper” and picket duty that night.55
The 14th Brooklyn would have been an obvious addition to Greene's line. Before entering Federal service in 1861, the 14th was a militia unit and had adopted a distinctive chasseur-style uniform that it wore throughout its Federal service. This garb, often mistaken for a Zouave uniform, was distinguished by many nonregulation items, including a red cap, a short blue jacket, a red vest, and red pantaloons. It was said that the men wanted to wear their distinctive uniform into battle so that their dead could be easily recognized. The regiment had spent the night on Greene's line but was relieved early in the morning and returned to its brigade on the north slope of the hill. The men from Brooklyn were there just long enough to get something to eat before being sent back to Greene's line for more fighting. Colonel Fowler wrote that when they entered the trenches, they did so with a shout, and they remained there until their ammunition was all but exhausted. According to Fowler, the casualties while in the rifle pits were light but the colors, which rose above the works, were riddled by bullets, and the staff of their state flag was shot through.56
The 14th's position on 3 July was somewhere near that of the 149th New York—Fowler remembered its being halfway up the hill. The 149th and the 14th were in the hollow at the same time once; the men of the 149th had heard that the 14th was “a bully fighting regiment” and studied its warriors closely. They saw that it was composed mostly of young men with a tidy and smart appearance. As they waited there, a ball ricocheted down from a tree and struck one of the Brooklyn boys. He gave a piercing scream and was carried away quickly “lest his condition made cowards of them all.”
They were nearly all young boys, and as they took their places in line and waited the direction of their commander, their pale faces and ashy lips told how great was the conflict within. Most of them trembled like an aspen leaf from head to foot, and as they looked at each other and tried to laugh[,] the very smile they gave had impressed upon it the in-ward agony they endured. It was feared, so great was their trepidation, they would be unable to go forward, but when the word of command came the lips tightened, the eyes flashed, every nerve was strained, and they moved forward with almost mechanical ease and firmness. As they advanced, a thousand men, observing their heroic conduct in sympathy and admiration, rose in their places and cheered, while their prayers ascended to God that he would spare those young men possessed of so much courage and manliness.57
Williams placed the three regiments of Lockwood's brigade at Geary's disposal. The 150th New York, over 500 strong, was the first to march from the artillery position along the Baltimore Pike to Geary's front. Led by a staff officer, it went up the pike, turned off toward Gulp's Hill, and passed through some woods. Soon it deployed from column into line, and Col. John H. Ketcham ordered it forward. The men gave a cheer, went off at a double-quick, and passed over the crest and down the slope toward the line of breastworks. There they relieved a regiment, probably the 78th New York, and spent the next hour or so shooting up their 150 rounds of ammunition. The woods in their front was so dense that they seldom saw a target, but they fired anyhow.58
The 150th New York had relieved the 78th New York at 7:40 A.M., the 102d New York at 9:00 for about twenty minutes, and the 102d again at about 10:30. It would seem logical for the 150th to simply have extended from the works of the 78th into those of the 102d, but no one wrote that it happened that way. The 150th had only eight fatalities in the course of its adventure on Gulp's Hill. Pvt. Charles How gate was one of the first. As he stepped back from the works for some ammunition, a ball tore through the top of his head. The same bullet struck two other men, Pvts. John P. Wing and Levi Rust, and killed them too. Wing was standing behind Rust, and they both dropped at the same time. The 150th had pulled, easy duty in Baltimore, but from Gettysburg to the end of its service, it would share the hardships of the Twelfth Corps.59
The 1st Maryland Regiment, Eastern Shore, which had reached Gulp's (p.308) Hill only that morning, went to Geary's aid soon after the 150th New York did so. The Eastern Shore Regiment had over two years of service at that time, all in the occupation of the Delmarva Peninsula and none in a combat situation. It was unique in the Army of the Potomac in that its colonel, James Wallace, and some other members were slaveholders and a few had brought servants to the field with them. In addition, it was a troubled regiment. Some of its former soldiers who had been mustered out after they had objected to the regiment's being ordered from Maryland to Virginia's Eastern Shore counties had gone south and apparently had joined the 1st Maryland Battalion of Steuart's brigade. In fact, it was said that the colorbearers of the two opposing Maryland units were cousins.60
The Eastern Shore Regiment marched hurriedly to Gulp's Hill by way of Spangler's Lane. On the hill somewhere, it halted briefly so that its men could drop off their blankets and packs. Then, at the urging of staff officers, it climbed the hill, receiving fire from the right as it did so. At this point, the regiment “rushed toward the front yelling like mad” and there was a foul-up: while the five companies on the right pressed straight ahead under Wallace's eye, the remaining four, under Lt. Col. William H. Comegys, veered left and out of touch with the right. When the right wing reached the crest behind the works, it saw the Rebels attacking! Without waiting, the Marylanders fired a volley over the heads of what Wallace believed was a Pennsylvania regiment, possibly the 111th, in the works in his front. This shooting from the rear created consternation among the men already in the works, and their commander demanded that the firing stop. The attack had been checked, however, and the Marylanders entered the works as the regiment it relieved pulled out.61
No one reported what happened to the four companies to the left under Comegys. Apparently they went in on the left of the 150th New York, which was then behind the works. Wherever they were, the Eastern Shore men experienced heavy musketry that would wax and wane during their stay in the works. After they had fired most of their ammunition, some of them on the left began to drift away from their works to the rear. In spite of the effort of some officers to stop it, the drift continued. Fortunately, the 150th New York was at hand and able to take over the Marylanders' place in the line.62
The 1st Maryland Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade, was the last of Lockwood's regiments to go to Geary's aid that morning. About 9:00 A.M., after some rest from its attack above Spangler's Spring, it followed the Eastern Shore Regiment to Geary's front and went into the trenches, relieving the 29th Pennsylvania, which had run out of ammunition. There (p.309) these Marylanders fought well for perhaps three hours until the end of the morning's fight when the regiment pulled back, some said without permission. After the battle, Colonel Maulsby took issue with such an accusation by Captain Stegman, commander of the 102d New York, and vigorously insisted that he had been given permission to leave by one of Greene's staff officers.63
Lockwood's brigade gained little glory on Gulp's Hill. It would have been surprising had it done so considering the inexperience of its commanders and of the regiments themselves. In his report, General Greene mentioned the brigade's presence and its “efficient service.” He made a point of commending the 150th New York and the 1st Maryland Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade, but had nothing to say of the men from the Eastern Shore. Lockwood made no distinction between his regiments when he praised them for their “coolness and firmness” in spite of their inexperience. He could find fault only with “a too rapid fire and a too hasty and inconsiderate advance.” The advance that he criticized, perhaps with tongue in cheek, must have been on the Union left on 2 July and not something that had taken place on Gulp's Hill.64
In his report of the battle, General Geary disposed of the “efficient service” of Lockwood's brigade with five lines. Shaler's brigade, which followed it onto Gulp's Hill, received nearly fifty. Shaler's brigade from the Sixth Corps would be the last reinforcement sent to the Twelfth Corps and would arrive in time for Johnson's final assault.65
(6) Cook and Benton, Dutchess County Regiment, p. 31
(25) . “Washington Hands's Civil War Notebook,” pp. 93–94, 99, UV; S. Z. Ammen, “Second Maryland Battalion, Fifteenth Paper—Second Series,” in Ammen, “Maryland Troops in the Confederacy,” p. 135, CC; J. W. Thomas Diary, 3 July 1863, FNMP.
(29) Powell, “Rebellion's High Tide.”
(32) . Camden Diary, FNMP. Camden is mentioned along with some other company commanders in Colonel Higginbotham's report, but the colonel wrote that his sharpshooters were commanded by lieutenants. See OR 27 (2):536.
(35) . Ibid., pp. 847, 849, 852, 853, 855; Mouat, “Three Years,” HSP. The reports of the 111th and 29th Pennsylvania regiments suggest that each was in the front line when the morning's fight began and was relieved by the other. I believe that the 111th was in the forward line first. The 29th had a strength of 485; the 109th, 149; and the lllth, 259. The 29th could have occupied the space of both of the other regiments. See Raus, Generation, pp. 112, 130, 131.
(39) . New York Monuments Commission, Final Report, 3:1011; Raus, Generation, p. 84; Boatner, Dictionary, p. 46.
(40) Collins, 149th Regiment, pp. 140–49
(45) Collins, 149th Regiment, pp. 149–50
(49) . Mouat, “Three Years,” HSR The white star was the insignia of Geary's division, the Second Division, Twelfth Corps. The remark about Ewell was one that seemed to circulate among units on the Union right, although there seems to be no Confederate substantiation of it. See Kiefer, One Hundred and Fifty-third Regiment, p. 100.
(50) Boyle, Soldiers True, p. 127
(56) . Tevis and Marquis, Fighting Fourteenth, pp. 138–39; Grube and Woodbridge, “14th Regiment,” p. 83. Fowler wrote that the sergeant major was responsible for the ammunition supply.
(57) Collins, U9th Regiment, pp. 144–45
(58) Cook and Benton, Dutchess County Regiment, pp. 34–35
(60) . OR 27 (1):808; Rastall, “Union Slave Owners”; Maryland Gettysburg Monuments Commission, Report, p. 75. Colonel Wallace resigned in December 1863 over the question of the enlistment of blacks, including some belonging to members of his regiment. See Raus, Generation, p. 29.
(61) . OR 27 (l):808–9; Wallacet o Bachelder, 4July 1878, BP; Shane, “Getting into the Fight”; Wallace, “Our March,” p. 67. The 149th New York's history said that a Maryland regiment came up in its rear, “fired in the backs of the men and scampered away.” It said also that when it was relieved, the 149th stood in the Maryland regiment's rear with fixed bayonets to keep it “from gigging out” a second time. This accusation is not repeated elsewhere. See Collins, 149th Regiment, p. 143.
Mouat, “Three Years,”HSP