No. 198. — Report of Lieut. Col. Norval E. Welch, 16th Michigan Infantry.
NEAR EMMITSBURG, MD.,
July 6, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: In reply to circular of this date from brigade headquarters, as to the part this regiment sustained in the action of July 2 and 3, I have the honor to report:
The regiment, under my command, lay with the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, closed in mass, near and in rear of Gettysburg, to the left of the main road, during most of the day. The brigade was commanded by Col. Strong Vincent, Eighty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
About 4 p.m. we moved rapidly to the extreme left of our line of battle, and went into position on the left of the brigade, at that time circling the crest of a high rocky hill. After deploying two of my largest companies as skirmishers–Brady’s Sharpshooters from the left, and Company A from the right–I was ordered at double-quick to the right of the brigade, and to take my position on the right of the Forty-fourth New York. Before this could be accomplished, we were under a heavy fire of the enemy’s infantry. We succeeded, however, in securing our places after some loss.
We remained in this position nearly half an hour, when some one (supposed to be General Weed or Major-General Sykes) called from the extreme crest of the hill to fall back nearer the top, where a much less exposed line could be taken up. This order was not obeyed, except by single individuals. From some misconstruction of orders, and entirely unwarrantable assumption of authority, Lieutenant Kydd ordered the colors back. None left with them, however, but three of the color-guard. They followed the brigade colors to where Colonel Vincent, after being wounded, had been carried, where they remained all night, joining the regiment in the morning with 45 men, who had left the field during and after the fight. All the remainder of the regiment retained their position until relieved.
The two companies sent out as skirmishers numbered about 50. The number of muskets taken in line was about 150; the number killed and wounded 59–21 killed. Several wounded have since died.
On the 3d, we took up a new line farther to the right, at the left of the brigade, and remained on our arms for twenty-four hours.
Captain Elliott and Adjutant Jacklin behaved with their usual gallantry. Captain Partridge, Lieutenants Borgman (wounded), Woodruff, Forsyth, Cameron (wounded, with arm amputated), Swart, Graham, Salter, and Captain Chandler, behaved nobly and handled their men with coolness and valor. Lieutenants Browne, Company E, Jewett, Company K, and Borden, Company F, died, bravely defending the flag they had sworn to support and that they loved in their hearts, and emulating the bravest. I had no truer or purer officers, and their loss cannot be replaced.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. E. WELCH,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Lieut. GEORGE B. HERENDEEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
CAMP NEAR BEVERLY FORD, VA.,
August 15, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this regiment, supplementary to the report of the operations during the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., made by Lieut. Col. N. E. Welch, July 6:
July 7.–Broke camp near Emmitsburg, Md., and marched in the direction of Frederick, Md., halting for the night at —-.
July 8.–Marched over the Catoctin Mountains to Middletown, Md., and bivouacked for the night, and remained till July 9, when we marched to near Boonsborough, Md., and bivouacked for the night.
July 10.–Marched to near Jones’ Cross-Roads, and a detail sent out to support skirmishers, in charge of Captain Elliott. Skirmishers became engaged with enemy’s cavalry vedettes, in which Company A, of this regiment, had 1 man wounded. Bivouacked in rear of pickets until morning of July 11, when regiment moved to Jones’ Cross-Roads, and occupied position in brigade in close column by division, and advanced 2 miles in the direction of Hagerstown, and bivouacked.
July 12.–Moved forward as yesterday, in close column by division, nearly a mile, when, a rain storm coming on, moved to the left, where the regiment bivouacked in an open field till the afternoon of July 13, when the regiment moved to the left in the direction of Williamsport, and a detail made for picket, which was sent out in charge of Lieutenant Eddy, Company G. Bivouacked for the night. During the night considerable skirmishing by the detail from this regiment.
On the morning of July 14, the enemy’s skirmishers fell back, and quite a number of stragglers were picked up by our men. Regiment moved forward to Williamsport, remaining over night in bivouac.
July 15.–Took up the line of march, passing through Keedysville and over South Mountain, halting for the night near Burkittsville.
July 16.–Moved to near Berlin, Md., where we remained till the afternoon of July 17. We crossed the Potomac into Virginia, and bivouacked for the night near Lovettsville, Va., Captain (now Major) Elliott being in command of the regiment, Lieut. Col. N. E. Welch having left us on sick leave, to go to Michigan.
July 18.–Marched to and bivouacked near Wheatland.
July 19.–Marched to near Purcellville, and bivouacked for the night.
July 20.–Moved to near Union, and remained there in bivouac.
July 22.–In the forenoon we marched to Rectortown, and bivouacked for the night.
July 23.–Moved at daylight into Manassas Gap, going to near Wapping Heights, where, in conjunction with the brigade and division, acted as support of the Third Corps. Passing through Linden, bivouacked on Wapping Heights for the night.
July 24.–Formed in line of battle, and, with the other regiments of the brigade, were thrown forward as skirmishers toward Front Royal. Were recalled about 1 o’clock, and, after a rest, moved back to near Linden, and bivouacked.
July 25.–Marched at daylight, and, after a tedious march, bivouacked for the night near Orleans, the men having marched all day without rations.
July 20.–Moved forward toward Warrenton, passing through Orleans, and encamped 3 miles from Warrenton.
July 27.–Passed through Warrenton; moved 3 miles on the Fayetteville road, and went into permanent camp. The commanding officer takes this occasion to make mention of the general good conduct of both officers and men. The line officers are deserving of all praise for the manner in which their companies were brought forward at times when the men were without food and many of them shoeless. His thanks are hereby tendered them for the invaluable services they have rendered him during the time he has been in command.
In conclusion, I have the honor to tender to the colonel commanding the brigade the assurance of the high esteem of the officers of this command, prompted not only by the knowledge of his former military service, but by the able manner he has handled the brigade.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBT. T. ELLIOTT,
Major, Commanding Sixteenth Michigan Volunteers.
Lieut. JOHN M. CLARK,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Brig., First Div., Fifth A. C.
from OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign)