Union monuments at Gettysburg > New Hampshire

No. 175. — Report of Col. Edward L. Bailey, Second New Hampshire Infantry.

NEAR GETTYSBURG, PA., July 5, 1863.

I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment on the 2d instant in the battle at this place, commencing at the time it was detached from your command, it then being in position with your brigade in front of the Emmitsburg road:

At 3 p.m. I had the honor to receive your order to report to General Graham, and immediately moving by double-quick to the front, I had the honor to announce my presence to that general with 24 commissioned officers and 330 rifles. I was at once ordered to support Battery G, First New York Artillery, and one section of a battery unknown, all light 12-pounders, brass. In this position my left rested upon the right of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania, my right covered by a wood house situated upon the Emmitsburg road, line forming a right angle with that road. Two hundred yards in my front the Third Maine was skirmishing with the enemy.

At 4 o’clock while experiencing a terrific fire of spherical case and canister from batteries in my front and on my right, 650 yards distant. I directed the rolls of my companies to be called, and found but 8 of the total number equipped absent. These had fallen out of the ranks from sunstroke and exhaustion while moving by double-quick to position.

At 4.30 p.m. the Third Maine was withdrawn from our front to our rear, and about this time a battery and a section of Rodman pieces were substituted for those we were supporting. These pieces were worked with great inefficiency, and at 5 o’clock it was observed that a brigade of the enemy was advancing on our right, in column of battalions massed, while two regiments were moving directly parallel with my front to the left, evidently with design to turn that flank.

I reported these facts to General Graham, and asked permission to charge, the enemy being close upon us–so near that the officer commanding the section of battery spiked his pieces, fearful that he should lose them. The general gave me directions to go forward, when I gave the order. My regiment started immediately, and advanced 150 yards at a run with a yell and such impetuosity as to cause the enemy to retire to a ravine 250 yards in our front, where they were covered from our fire, when I directed the fire of my battalion of the left oblique by the flank at about the same distance. My fire was so galling, assisted by that from the Third Maine, which had come up and taken part on my left, as to cause them to break and seek shelter, when my attention was again called to my right, strengthened by the Sixty-third Pennsylvania forming at right angles with my front and parallel with the Emmitsburg road, upon which was advancing the brigade of the enemy, moving by battalion in mass, in line of battle. I immediately directed the fire of my battalion to the right oblique full upon it. Yet their line of fire, assisted by a terrible discharge of spherical case from their batteries, caused the Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania to retire, and at the same moment the Third Maine moved 200 yards to the rear, though in good order.

Finding myself thus unsupported, and the enemy steadily advancing, I ordered my regiment to fall back slowly, firing, which was fully executed. I moved to the rear 140 yards, and halted my line under the brow of the hill, halting also on the brow to give a volley to the enemy, then distant but 20 yards. The positions of the three regiments was that of échelon at about 20 paces, my regiment being the apex. The enemy continued advancing until they reached the brow of the hill, when their left swept toward the Sixty-third Pennsylvania in such overwhelming numbers as to cause it to give way; and fearing those regiments which had been observed marching toward my left might appear upon that flank, and knowing our efforts must prove futile against such fearful odds, I gave the order to retire, which was done quite rapidly, yet coolly, and without excitement as they went. I rejoined the brigade at about 6.30 p.m., fearfully diminished in numbers, yet firm and fearless still.

This battalion entered the fight with a firm determination to do or die, and the long list of fallen comrades, already submitted, will show how well it kept that resolution.

Where all did so well it would be invidious to make comparisons. Let it suffice to say that they did their part as becomes sons of the old Granite State. For our fallen braves, who have so gloriously perished fighting for their country, we drop a comrade’s tear, while we extend our heartfelt sympathy to those dear ones far away who find the ties of kindred and friends thus rudely severed, and for those who must suffer untold agony and pain through- long weeks of convalescence our earnest sympathy, yet leaving them to the watchful care of Him who will not prove unmindful of their necessities.

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

Colonel Second New Hampshire Volunteers.

Comdg. Third Brig., Second Div., Third Corps.

from OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 1 (Gettysburg Campaign)

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