No. 95. — Reports of Lieut. Col. Richards McMichael, 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry.

NEAR SANDY HOOK, MD., July 17, 1863

SIR:

I have the honor to transmit the following report of the part taken by my command in the late action near Gettysburg, Pa.:

My regiment arrived on the field about 8 a.m. July 2, and was marched to a position in the rear of the left center of the battle-line, where we remained for several hours.

Between the hours of 3 and 4 p.m., in accordance with the orders of Colonel Brooke, commanding brigade, I moved by the left flank to the left, and formed line of battle on the edge of a wood, with the Sixty-fourth New York on my right and the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Volunteers on the left. All this time we were exposed to a severe shelling from the enemy’s batteries. My command was then moved forward in order of battle through a wheat-field, about the center of which we commenced firing, continuing for fifteen minutes or more, when orders were received from Colonel Brooke to fix bayonets.

This was done, and, in connection with the brigade, we charged upon the enemy, driving him before us, capturing some prisoners, and finally carrying the crest of the hill. This position was held for a short time, when it was discovered that the enemy was crowding upon our flanks. The brigade, including my command, was ordered by Colonel Brooke to fall back. This was done successfully through a heavy fire from the enemy’s infantry and artillery.

About 8 a.m. I marched to a position near the one I held just before the action, where the regiment bivouacked during the night.
During the morning of the 3d, my command was engaged in throwing up earthworks.

In the afternoon, we were under a severe artillery fire for several hours, but there were no casualties.

The loss in my command is proportionately large, the casualties nearly all occurring in the hotly contested engagement in the wheat-field.

All my officers and men did their duty nobly and well.

I herewith forward you a list of casualties.(*)

I have the honor to be, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McMICHAEL,
Lieut. Col., Comdg. Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers.

 

Lieut. CHARLES P. HATCH,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Fourth Brigade.

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HDQRS. FIFTY-THIRD PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS,

August 3, 1863.

SIR:

As required by circular from brigade headquarters of this date, I have the honor to transmit the following report of the operations of my command at the battle of Gettysburg:

I arrived on the field with my command about 8 a.m. on July 2, and was marched to a position in the rear of the left center of the line.
Remaining here about an hour, I marched with the remainder of the brigade to a position on the front, where I remained until 3 p.m., when the engagement opened. From 3 to 5 p.m. we were under a severe shelling fire, at which hour, in compliance with the orders of Colonel Brooke, commanding brigade, I moved with the brigade by the left flank across a field, finally forming line of battle, with a grain-field in the front. The Sixty-fourth New York Volunteers was on my right and the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Volunteers on my left. I then, as ordered by Colonel Brooke, in conjunction with the brigade, moved forward in line of battle. When midway in the grain-field, firing commenced, lasting about fifteen minutes, when, in accordance with orders from Colonel Brooke, bayonets were fixed, and I charged upon the enemy, driving him from his strong position on the crest of the hill in our front. The position was held about fifteen minutes, when it was discovered that the enemy in force was getting in the flank and rear; then I fell back, in accordance with orders from Colonel Brooke.

During the night of the 2d, my regiment was engaged in constructing breastworks.

On the 3d, my command lay behind the intrenchments under a heavy artillery fire.

My command went into action with 15 officers and 120 enlisted men.

The loss in the regiment is as follows

Officers and men

Killed

Wounded

Missing

Total

Commissioned officers

8

8

Enlisted men

7

58

6

71

Total

7

66

6

79

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McMICHAEL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.

 

Lieut. CHARLES P. HATCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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HDQRS. FIFTY-THIRD PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS,
Near Morrisville, Va., August 14, 1863.

 

SIR:

 

In compliance with circular orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I have the honor to forward the following report of the operations of my command from June 28 to the date of our arrival in the present camp:

At 6 o’clock on the morning of June 28, my regiment, in its proper position in the line of the brigade, moved from bivouac near Barnesville, Md., on the Frederick City road, arriving at Monocacy at 2 p.m., at which place, in compliance with orders, I bivouacked for the night.

 

The line of march was taken up at 8 a.m. on the 29th. I passed over the Monocacy Creek on the bridge at the railroad station, and marched on the Frederick pike until within a few miles of the city, when the column headed to the right, repassed the Monocacy, and continued marching northward, passing through the towns of Mount Pleasant, Liberty, and Johnsville.

At 12 midnight I bivouacked in a wood near Uniontown. I marched 30 miles during the day, and many of my men were too much exhausted to reach the place of bivouac. All of them rejoined the regiment before morning.

On the 30th, the regiment was mustered for pay.

 

Early on July 1, I, in my proper position in the line of the brigade, moved on the Gettysburg road.

 

At 4 p.m. I passed over the Pennsylvania line. There was heavy cannonading in my front.

 

At nightfall, I received orders to bivouac, and immediately after was ordered to march my regiment on picket. I did so. My line of outposts covered the right flank of the First Division and connected with the picket line of the Twelfth Corps.

At daybreak on the 2d, I withdrew the pickets, in accordance with the orders of Colonel Brooke, commanding brigade, and, falling into my assigned position in line of march, moved toward Gettysburg, arriving on the field about 8 a.m. I was marched to a position in the rear of the left center of the line of battle then forming, where I remained about one hour, when my command was marched to a position on the front line. I remained in this position until midafternoon, when the action commenced. For several hours I remained inactive under a severe shelling from the guns of the enemy.

 

About 5 p.m., in compliance with orders from Colonel Brooke, commanding brigade, I, in connection with the brigade, moved by the left flank toward the left of the line, and formed in line of battle near a grain-field. The Sixty-fourth New York was on my right and the Twenty-seventh Connecticut on my left. In accordance with the orders of the brigade commander, I fixed bayonets, and, in line with the rest of the brigade, charged upon the enemy. The rebels gave way; were forced from a strong position on the crest of a hill in our immediate front. The position was held until the enemy commenced to mass heavy columns on our flanks for the purpose of cutting us off; then, in compliance with orders of Colonel Brooke, I retired, halting and reforming near Round Top hill. My command lost heavily in the action–about 70 per cent.

 

My officers and men exhibited commendable gallantry throughout the action. During the night, my command was engaged in throwing up breastworks.

 

On the 3d, I was in the intrenchments and under a heavy artillery fire, and also on the 4th.

At noon on the 5th, I, in line with the brigade, marched on the Baltimore pike, and bivouacked for the night at a place called Two Taverns, where we remained until midday of the 7th, when I moved to near Taneytown and bivouacked.

 

On the 8th, marched over wretched roads and through a heavy rain-storm to near Frederick City.

 

On the 9th, marched through Frederick; moved on the Harper’s Ferry pike through Jefferson, and halted for the night near Burkittsville.

 

On the 11th, about noon, arrived at Jones’ Cross-Roads. I, in accordance with the orders of Colonel Brooke, deployed my regiment as skirmishers, and advanced to near the edge of a wood in which the rebel skirmishers were posted. There was lively firing on my left, but my regiment was not engaged. Toward evening I advanced to the wood. Line of battle was formed with the line of the brigade. During the night my command was actively engaged in throwing up breastworks covering my front.

 

On the 12th and 13th, I lay inactive behind the earthworks.

 

On the morning of the 14th, in compliance with the orders of Colonel Brooke, I moved to the front of the fortifications, and deployed my command as skirmishers. The Second Delaware was on my right, and my left joined the line of skirmishers of the Twelfth Corps, and rested on the Williamsport road. According to orders, I advanced cautiously, but had not gone far ere I discovered that the enemy had vacated his outer line of works near Williamsport. I moved to the right of the road, and, leaving the town on my right, advanced the skirmish line toward Falling Waters, near which place, in a ravine, a number of prisoners were captured. Near Falling Waters we bivouacked for the night.

On the 15th, I moved through Sharpsburg to near Harper’s Ferry.

On the 16th, moved to Sandy Hook, near which place encamped.

On the 18th, broke camp, and passed over the Potomac into Virginia.

On the 20th, reached Bloomfield, near which place I remained until the 22d, when the column moved to Ashby’s Gap, my command, in connection with the brigade, going to the highest point of ascent in the Gap, and remained on picket all night.
My command moved from the Gap about 2 p.m. on the 23d, and marched toward Manassas Gap. Arrived at Markham about sundown, from thence making a difficult forced march in the dark, over a miserable road, when I bivouacked about 4 miles from Front Royal.

On the 24th, I moved back in the Gap, and bivouacked near Markham.

On the 25th, moved to White Plains.

On the 26th, marched through New Baltimore and Warrenton, and went into camp about 2 miles from Warrenton Junction.

On the 30th, again marched, and arrived at the present camp on the 1st of the present month.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McMICHAEL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Fifty-third Pennsylvania Regt.

Lieut. CHARLES P. HATCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Fourth Brigade.

from Official Records, Series 1, Volume 27, Part 1