Official Report of Colonel Henry A. Morrow, 24th Michigan Infantry
HDQRS FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., FIRST ARMY CORPS,
February 22, 1864
Captain J. D. Wood,
I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Michigan Volunteers in the battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, and the events immediately preceding: On June 28, we marched from Middletown, Md., to near Frederick City, and on the 29th we marched to Emmitsburg. The latter was a long march, in which the troops suffered much from fatigue. On June 30, we marched 3 or 4 miles, and bivouacked near Marsh Creek. At an early hour on July 1, we marched in the direction of Gettysburg, distant 6 or 7 miles. The report of artillery was soon heard in the direction of this place, which indicated that our cavalry had already engaged the enemy. Our pace was considerably quickened, and about 9 a. m. we came near the town of Gettysburg, and filed off to the left, leaving it on our right.
We crossed an insignificant branch, and were moved forward into line of battle on the doublequick. The cavalry immediately in our front was hotly engaged with the enemy, and the brigade was ordered to advance at once, no order being given or time allowed for loading our guns. I halted my regiment for this purpose, but was directed by a staff officer – I think he belonged to the staff of General Wadsworth – to move forward immediately without loading, which I did.
The order to charge was now given, and the brigade dashed up and over the hill and down into the ravine, through which flows Willoughby’s Run, where we captured a large number of prisoners, being a part of General Archer’s brigade. The cavalry in the meantime had taken position on our left flank. In this affair the Twenty-fourth Michigan occupied the extreme left of the brigade, the Nineteenth Indiana being on our right. I here lost my color-bearer, Abel G. Peck (a brave and faithful soldier), several of my color-guard, and many of my men.
After advancing to the crest of the hill beyond the run, we were halted, and threw out skirmishers to the front and also to the left, near a brick house. We now received orders to withdraw to the east bank of the stream, which was done. The brigade changed front forward on first battalion, and marched into the woods known as McPherson’s woods, and formed in line of battle, the Nineteenth Indiana being on the left of the Twenty-fourth Michigan and the Seventh Wisconsin on its right. In executing this movement, my lieutenant-colonel and adjutant were severely wounded, and did not afterward rejoin the regiment, the former having lost a leg, and the latter being severely wounded in the groin.
The line of the Twenty-fourth Michigan curved a little backward on the right, that wing being thrown back so as to connect with the Seventh Wisconsin. Skirmishers were immediately deployed in front, and became at once engaged with the enemy. The woods were shelled, but I have no casualties to report as occurring at this time. I sent officers several times to the general commanding to report the condition of the line, and suggesting a change of position, as it was, in my judgment, untenable. To these reports of the condition of our line, I received answer that the position was ordered to be held, and must be held at all hazards.
The enemy advanced in two lines of battle, their right extending beyond and overlapping our left. i gave direction to the men to withhold their fire until the enemy should come within short range of our guns. This was done, but the nature of the ground was such that I am inclined to think we inflicted but little injury on the enemy at this time. Their advance was not checked, and they came on with rapid strides, yelling like demons. The Nineteenth Indiana, on our left, fought most gallantly, but was overpowered by superior numbers, the enemy having also the advantage of position, and, after a severe loss, was forced back.
The left of my regiment was now exposed to an enfilading fire, and orders were given for this portion of the line to swing back, so as to face the enemy, now on this flank. Pending the execution of this movement, the enemy advanced in such force as to compel me to fall back and take a new position a short distance in the rear. In the meantime I had lost in killed and wounded several of my best officers and many of my men. Among the former were Captain William J. Speed, acting major, and Lieutenant Dickey, a young officer of great promise. Charles Ballare, my second color-bearer, was killed here.
The second line was promptly formed, and we made a desperate resistance, but the enemy accumulating in our front, and our losses being very great, we were forced to fall back and take up a third position beyond a slight ravine. My third color-bearer, Augustus Ernest, of Company K, was killed on this line. Major E. B. Wight, acting lieutenant-colonel, was wounded at this time and compelled to leave the field. By this time the ranks were so diminished that scarcely a fourth of the forces taken into action could be rallied. Corpl. Andrew Wagner, Company F, one of the color guard, took the colors, and was ordered by me to plant them in a position to which I designed to rally the men. He was wounded in the breast and left on the field.
I now took the flag from the ground, where it had fallen, and was rallying the remnant of my regiment, when Private William Kelly, of Company E, took the colors from my hands, remarking, as he did so, “The colonel of the Twenty-fourth shall never carry the flag while I am alive. ” He was killed instantly. Private Lilburn A. Spaulding, of Company K, seized the colors and bore them for a time.
Subsequently I took them from him to rally the men, and kept them until I was wounded. We had inflicted severe loss on the enemy, but their numbers were so overpowering and our own losses had been so great that we were unable to maintain our position, and were forced back, step by step, contesting every foot of ground, to the barricade. I was wounded just before reaching the barricade, west of the seminary building, and left the field.
Previous to abandoning our last position, orders were received to fall back, given, I believe, by Major-General Doubleday. The command of the regiment now devolved upon Captain Albert M. Edwards, who collected the remnant of it, and fell back with the brigade to Culp’s Hill, which it held for the two succeeding days. Shortly after I was wounded, Captain Edwards found the colors in the hands of a wounded soldier, who had fallen on the east side of the barricade. He was reclining on his right side, and was holding the colors in his left hand. I have not been able to ascertain the name of this brave soldier in whose paralyzed hands Captain Edwards found the flag. Captain Edwards describes him as being severely wounded, and he is, therefore, probably among our dead. His name may forever be unknown, but his bravery will never die.
Captain Edwards behaved very gallantly at this time in rallying the men under a murderous fire. The field over which we fought, from our first line of battle in McPherson’s woods to the barricade near the seminary, was strewn with the killed and wounded. Our losses were very large, exceeding, perhaps, the losses sustained by any one regiment of equal size in a single engagement of this or any other war.
The strength of the regiment on July 1 was as follows:
Field officers 3, Staff officers 1, Line officers 24, Non-commissioned officers and privates 468. Total 496
Officers and Men
About 80 of the enlisted men and 3 officers were reported as missing in action. Many of the men have never been heard from, and are known not to be in the hands of the enemy. They were undoubtedly killed, but, not having been so reported, are not included in the above. Captain George C. Gordon and First Lieutenant Asa W. Sprague and Second Lieutenant H. Rees Whiting were captured, and are still prisoners at Richmond.
Nearly all our wounded, myself among them, fell into the hands of the enemy when he took possession of the town of Gettysburg. When the enemy evacuated the place, on the night of the 3rd instant most of the wounded were left behind.
The regiment occupied Culp’s Hill during the battles of July 3 and 4, but sustained little or no loss. During the battle of the 1st instant, the regiment lost in killed four color-bearers-Abel G. Peck, Charles Ballare, Augustus Ernest, and William Kelly. During the engagement of the 1st, the flag was carried by no less then nine persons, four of the number having been killed and three wounded. All of the color guard were killed or wounded.
The officers wounded were: Colonel Henry A. Morrow, scalp wound; Lieutenant Colonel Mark Flanigan, lost leg; Major Edwin B. Wight, lost an eye; Captain William H. Rexford, severely in leg; Captain Charles A. Hoyut, severely in leg; Lieutenant John M. Farland, wounded by fall; Lieutenant William R. Dodsley, slightly wounded; Lieutenant Abraham Earnshaw, wounded in side; Lieutenant Frederick A. Buhl, severely in thigh; Lieutenant Edwin E. Norton, slightly.
The officers killed were: Captains William J. Speed and Malachi J. O’Donnell; Lieutenants Walter H. Wallace, Winfield S. Safford, Newell Grace, Reuben H. Humphresville, Gilbert A. Dickey, and Lucius L. Shattuck.
Of the killed nothing less can be said than that their conduct in this memorable battle was brave and daring, and was creditable alike to themselves and the service. It will not be disparaging to his brave comrades who fell on this terrible but glorious day to say that Captain Speed’s death was a severe loss to the service and an almost irreparable one to his regiment. He was amiable, intelligent, honorable, and brave, and was universally respected and esteemed by all who knew him. Captain O’Donnell was a young officer who had given strong proofs of courage and capacity, and whose death was deeply deplored in the regiment. Lieutenant Wallace served in the Peninsular Campaign under General McClellan, and lost an eye at the battle of Fair Oaks. He was a brave officer, an honorable man, and a good disciplinarian. Lieutenant Dickey joined the regiment in the capacity of commissary sergeant, and for his integrity, capacity, and attention to business was promoted to the rank of sergeant-major, and thence to a second lieutenancy. He had given great promise for future usefulness and distinction. He was the first commissioned officer of the regiment killed at Gettysburg. Lieutenants Grace, Humphresville, Safford, and Shattuck were distinguished in the regiment for their attention to duty, for the amiability of their manners, and for their unflinching courage in battle. Lieutenant Grace was one of the bravest men I ever knew.
The remains of Captain Speed and Lieutenants Wallace and Safford were of the other officers sleep, with the brave non-commissioned officers and privates who fell that day, in the cemetery in which a grateful nation will, at no distant period, erect a mausoleum to perpetuate the memories of its defenders.
Lieutenant-Colonel Flanigan lost his leg in this battle. His conduct here, as everywhere in battle, was gallant and daring. Major Wight acquitted himself in the most creditable manner, and remained at his post until forced by his wound to leave the field. Both of these officers have since been discharged from service on account of their wounds. they were universally esteemed and respected. Captain Hutchinson received a severe contusion in the groin early in the day, but remained with his company and behaved very gallantly. Captain Rexford was wounded in the change of front already referred to. His conduct here, as everywhere, was gallant and conspicuous. Captain edwards displayed great coolness and courage, and deserves honorable mention. Captain Dillon commanded his company with skill, and behaved very handsomely in skirmishing in front of McPherson’s woods. Captain William W. Wight exhibited much coolness and courage. Lieutenant Dempsey was conspicuous for his gallantry in the charge across Willoughby’s Run. Lieutenant Hutton was near me when I was wounded, and it was mainly through his assistance that I got off the field. His conduct in the engagement was all that could be desired, and confirmed my former opinion of his value as an officer. Captains Hoyt and Gordon, Lieutenants Farland, Dodsley, Sprague, Witherspoon, Norton, Buhl, Earnshaw, and Whiting, all acquitted themselves honorably. Their conduct was such as to win the confidence and respect of their men, and deserves the commendation of their commanding officer.
In justice to the memory of the brave non-commissioned officers who were killed at Gettysburg, and whose conduct is highly praised by their superiors, I give their names below: Sergts. Andrew J. Price and George Cline, Company B; Joseph Eberle, Company C; John Powell, Company H; and Corpls. William Ziegler, Company a; Joseph Carroll and John H. Pardington, Company B; Otis Southworth, Company C; David E. Rounds and James Stirling, Company D; John Walls, Company E; I. W. Evans, Company F; William H. Luce, Jerome F. Failes, and Thomas Suggett, Company G; George N. Bentley and James B. Myers, Company I; and Jerome J. LeFevre, Company K.
It would be impossible within the limits of a report like this to do more than give the names of these brave sergeants and corporals. Their history is a part of the history of the regiment, and its future historian will narrate their heroic conduct on the ever-memorable field of Gettysburg. Sergt. Major Andrew J. Connor was conspicuous for his bravery, and was severely wounded. Long before his wound was healed he returned to duty in the regiment. First Sergt. George W. Haight was suffering from a wound received at Fitzhugh’s Crossing, but went into battle on July 1, and was severely wounded in the leg. He deserves mention for his bravery.
In response to a circular addressed buy me to my company officers, asking for the names of such non-commissioned officers and privates as particularly distinguished themselves at Gettysburg, I have received the following: Private Augustus Sink, Company A, is spoken of by Captain Dillon in very high terms of praise for his gallantry on the skirmish line in front of McPherson’s woods. Captain Albert M. Edwards says of First Sergt. Bucklin and Corpl. I. W. Evans: “They were both killed on the field. Both were particularly distinguished in camp for their excellent moral character and the purity of their lives and example, and in the field for their unflinching courage and devotion.” This is high praise, and well bestowed. Corpls. Edward Dwyer and William Carroll, of Company B, died in hospital of the wounds received in this day’s fight. Captain Burchell says: “Corpls. Edward Dwyer and William Carroll, of Company B, died in hospital of the wounds received in this day’s fight.” Captain Witherspoon, himself a brave soldier, writes that Sergt. Augustus Pomeroy, of Company C, particularly distinguished himself by his gallantry and devotion. Being too severely wounded to handle his musket, he tore cartridge for his more fortunate comrades, and subsequently rendered valuable services in taking care of the wounded. Such conduct in officer or soldier deserves to be recorded. First Sergt. William J. Nagle, of Company A, came under my own eye, and was wounded very near me. His conduct was brave almost to temerity. He died in hospital from the wound received in this battle. He was a brave, worthy, and intelligent soldier. Captain Farland, of Company D, speaks in high terms of praise of Sergt. Joseph Eberle and Corpls. David E. Rounds, James Stirling, and Andrew Strong. Corporal Strong came under my eye, and it affords me great pleasure to bear witness to his bravery. Sergt. Eberle continued in the fight after being twice wounded. Private John George Klink, of Company F, acquitted himself finely, and deserves notice.
Surgeon Beach and Assistant Surgeons Collar and Towar were devoted and untiring in their attention to the wounded. Of Dr. Beach it may be truly said that no surgeon in the Army of the Potomac rendered more valuable services at Gettysburg than he. Chaplain William C. Way was early in attendance at the hospital, and rendered valuable services. He remained in attendance on the wounded several weeks after the battle, and both officers and men speak in the highest terms of praise of his kindness and efficiency. This report would have been imperfect without his reference to the surgeons and chaplain, whose conduct elicited universal remark.
During the time I was a prisoner I conversed freely with distinguished rebel officers in relation to the battle on the 1st instant, and without exception, they spoke in terms of admiration of the conduct of our troops, and especially of that of the troops composing the First Army Corps. One of them informed me that Lieutenant General A. P. Hill said that he had never known the Federals to fight so well. At first the officers seemed very sanguine of their ability to dislodge the Army of the Potomac from its position, and the capture of Washington and Baltimore was considered a thing almost accomplished, and this feeling was fully shared by the private soldiers; but the admirable means taken by General Meade to meet every attack, and the successful manner in which he repulsed them, seemed to have a powerful influence in abating their confidence before the final order was received for the evacuation the town. From the cupola in the steeple of the court-house at Gettysburg I was an aye-witness of the movements of the rebel army and of the dispositions made of the troops for the famous attacks on the left, right, and center of our position. The preparations for the final attack on our left center on Friday afternoon came directly under my eye.
From an officer of the rank of major, on the staff of Lieutenant General A. P. Hill, I was informed that the rebel army present at Gettysburg was about 90,000 strong, and that their line of battle was estimated to be 8 miles long. The death of Major-General Reynolds was well known to the enemy, and the highest opinions of his skill and bravery were freely expressed. It did not seem to be well understood by the enemy that there had been a change in the commanders of the Army of the Potomac, and I was frequently asked if such was the case. The name of Captain George W. Burchell does not appear in connection with the battle of Gettysburg, for the reason that he was prevented by sickness from being there. He was wounded at Fitzhugh’s Crossing in April, and at the time of the battle of Gettysburg was confined to quarters at Emmitsburg.
I have the honor to be, captain, your obedient servant,
HENRY A. MORROW,
Colonel Twenty-fourth Michigan Volunteers.
from OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign) No. 33. pp. 267-273