No. 32. Report of Brigadier General James S. Wadsworth, commanding First Division, First Corps
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FIRST ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, near Gettysburg, Pa.,
July 4, 1863.
I have the honor to report to the major-general commanding the movements of this division during the last three days. On the morning of July 1, at 8 a.m., the division moved from Marsh Creek on Gettysburg, under the immediate direction of our deeply lamented commander, Major-General Reynolds. I understand that the general received information when we were within about a mile of the town that the enemy were approaching from the direction of Cashtown. He immediately turned the head of the column to the left, across the fields, and struck the Cashtown road about three quarters of a mile west of Gettysburg at about 10 a. m.
The Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Cutler, led the column, followed by the Second Maine Battery, Captain Hall, the First Brigade, Brigadier-General Meredith, bringing up the rear. Here we met the advance guard of the enemy. Three regiments of the Second Brigade were ordered to deploy on the right of the road, the battery was placed in position near the road, and the balance of the division ordered up to the left of the road.
The right became sharply engaged before the line was formed, and at this time (about 10.15 a.m.) our gallant leader fell, mortally wounded. The right encountered a heavy force, were outnumbered, outflanked, and after a resolute contest, bravely conducted by Brigadier-General Cutler, fell back in good order to Seminary Ridge, near the town, and a portion of the command to a point still nearer the town. As they fell back, followed by the enemy, the Fourteenth New York State Militia, Colonel Fowler; Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Dawes, and Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers, Colonel Biddle, gallantly charged on the advance of the enemy, and captured a large number of prisoners, including two entire regiments with their flags. The other regiments of the First Brigade advanced farther on the left, and captured several hundred prisoners, including Brigadier-General Archer. The enemy fell back.
I reformed the line, the Second Brigade on the right, on a ridge, the First in a piece of woodland on the left. The battery had fallen to the rear, disabled by the loss of horses. I found Tidball’s battery on Seminary Ridge, and advanced it to the front line, where it engaged a battery of the enemy in front of us.
Major-General Doubleday, commanding the corps at that time, arrived on the ground about the time, or very soon after, General Reynolds fell, with the Second and Third Divisions. The enemy advanced in heavy force on our right, and placed a battery in position to enfilade the line, and I was obliged to order the right to fall back to Seminary Ridge, forming the line northwesterly and diagonal to the Cashtown road. two brigades of the Second Division were sent to our right, and gallantly held the enemy in check for an hour, capturing a large number of prisoners.
i received orders direct from Major-General Howard to hold Seminary Ridge as long as possible. Tidball’s battery had been driven back, but about 3 p.m. Battery B, Fourth Regular artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Stewart, came to our assistance, and rendered effective service, demolishing a brigade of the enemy by a destructive fire of canister and shell.Battery L, First New York Artillery, and the Fifth Maine Battery were likewise engaged in position near the seminary.
At about 2.30. p.m. Major-General Schurz, who had been advanced on our right, fell back after partially engaging the enemy, and left our right exposed. The enemy advanced in large force from that direction, and on our left the Third Division of this corps was driven back. Finding myself outflanked on both right and left, heavily pressed in front, and my ammunition nearly exhausted, at 3. 45 o’clock I ordered the command to retire.
The movement was effected in good order, and all the artillery brought off safely, excepting one caisson, the Seventh Wisconsin bringing up the rear, and suffering heavily, with the whole of the command from the fire from our front and both flanks. The severity of the contest during the day will be indicated by the painful fact that at least half of the officers and men who went into the engagement were killed or wounded.
On the evening of the 1st, we were ordered to occupy a hill on the right of the cemetery, which wi held on the 2nd and 3rd against a sharp attack of the enemy on the evening of the 2nd and morning of the 3d, with small loss to us. The officers of my staff and of my command performed their whole duty without an exception. Under these circumstances I cannot particularly commend any of them without doing injustice to others equally meritorious.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. S. WADSWORTH,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
from OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign) pp. 265-267