No. 129. — Report of Col. Clinton D. MacDougall, 111th New York Infantry.
CAMP NEAR ELK RUN, VA.,
August 26, 1863.
After recovering from wounds received at Gettysburg, July 3, and my return to my regiment, upon assuming command of this brigade I found, upon looking over the official report and other papers pertaining to the battle, a circular from Major-General Hancock, of which I insert a copy. I have every reason to suppose the general referred to my regiment, as will appear from my statement following the circular.
July 7, 1863.
Major-General Hancock desires to know the designation of a certain regiment, and the name of its commander, belonging to the First, Second, or Twelfth Corps, which, at the instance of General Hancock, charged a rebel regiment which had passed through our lines on Thursday evening, 2d instant. The conduct of this regiment and its commander were so marked in this as in the subsequent advance in line of battle, that General Hancock desires properly to notice the subject.
By order of Major-General Hancock:
W. G. MITCHELL,
Aide-Camp, and Assistant Adjutant-General.
On Thursday evening, July 2, when the Third Brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, marched down from the left of Cemetery Hill to re-enforce the Third Corps (as I was afterward informed), the brigade commander ordered me to remain at the left in reserve about 200 yards in the rear, when General Hancock came riding up shortly, and ordered me with my regiment to the right in great haste, to charge the rebel advance, which had broken through our lines on the right of the Third Brigade, and had advanced between 20 and 30 rods beyond our lines, and was in the act of turning the right flank of our brigade. The rebels were driven back by me beyond our brigade line and almost into the mouth of their own batteries, which they had advanced upon us. I held that position under a murderous fire until I was ordered by our brigade commander to fall back and take a new position, throwing a heavy line of skirmishers forward when my line rested. The rebels dirt not advance after that to engage the skirmishers that night.
So severe was the fire to which we were subjected, that my loss in that charge was 185 men killed and wounded in less than twenty minutes, out of about 390 taken into the fight.
I wish to make this statement, as I was absent at the time General Hancock’s circular was received at brigade headquarters, and have had no chance until now to make my statement of the affair. If my regiment is the one entitled to the credit of the act referred to by General Hancock, I am desirous they should have it. My losses that day were more than double any regiment in the brigade.
I have taken the liberty of inclosing a copy of this to General Hancock at his residence.Very respectfully, yours,
C. D. MacDOUGALL,
Col. 111th Regt. N.Y. Vols., 3d Brig., 3d Div., 2d A. C.
Lieut. Col. FRANCIS A. WALKER,
—, –, 1863.
I have the honor to report to the commandant of the brigade that the One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers marched at 3 a.m. to the heights south of Gettysburg with the brigade on the morning of July 2, and lay in rear of the One hundred and twenty-sixth and One hundred and twenty-fifth New York Volunteers, with the battalion of the Thirty-ninth New York Volunteers in our rear. We lay in this position until about 5 p.m., most of the afternoon under a furious shelling from the enemy.
About 5 p.m., by order of Colonel Willard, One hundred and twenty-fifth New York Volunteers, commanding brigade, the regiment fell in with the rest of the brigade and moved by the left flank about half a mile to the left; then, by order of the same officer, moved a short distance to the right, and formed a line of battle with the brigade, the One hundred and eleventh holding the right.
During the movement to the right, we were under a heavy fire of shell and canister from the batteries of the enemy, commingled with the bullets of a triumphant horde of rebels who had forced their way up to the position previously held by others of our Union forces, who had been compelled to give way before their attack, with the loss of four of our cannon.
At the command, the regiment with the brigade–not a man in the whole line faltering or hesitating for an instant–hurled themselves upon the advancing foe. The rebel ranks were broken through, and, as they hurriedly retreated, volley after volley was poured into them by our still advancing regiment. The ground over which the first of the charge was made was a sort of swale, covered with rocks, thickly interspersed with bushes, scrub oaks, and trees. Beyond was open ground, ascending toward the west. As we emerged upon the open ground, we were met by a terrible storm of grape and canister. Without an instant’s hesitation the regiment still advanced until they had driven the enemy from the possession of the four cannon previously captured by the rebels. The Thirty-ninth New York Volunteers afterward brought in those guns. In obedience to the order of Colonel Willard, the regiment then came to the right-about, and at quick time, the rebel fire of shell and canister continuing, moved back to the position it held before charging. Skirmishers were thrown out to the front, and, after about half an hour, the regiment moved back to its original position.
Some idea of the fire under which the regiment passed during the charge may be formed from the fact that the right company (A) lost 33 men killed and wounded; the next two companies to the left lost 27, killed and wounded. We lost Lieut. A. W. Proseus, of Company E, during this charge, a gallant officer, who was leading his company forward.
The next morning (July 3) the regiment fell in at 3 a.m., the enemy having commenced a furious shelling upon our position at that time, which fire died away at about 9 a.m. The quiet which then succeeded was unbroken until about 1 p.m., when there was opened upon our position a cannonading and shelling unparalleled, it is believed, in warfare. During the hottest of this fire the regiment formed and marched by the right flank up to the crest of the hill, and formed a line of battle in rear of the Twelfth New Jersey, who were lying under the shelter of a low stone wall. We here lay down upon the ground, the shot and shell filling the air above our heads and often striking among us.
We lost a number of men during this shelling, among them Lieut. John H. Drake, of Company F, an officer loved and lamented by the whole regiment.
After this infernal shelling had lasted for about two hours, we rose to our feet to meet the assault of the enemy, who were seen advancing in three heavy compact lines, preceded by a cloud of skirmishers. Not a man flinched, but every brow was knit and lip compressed with stern determination to win or die, and win they did. The number of dead and wounded in front of our position after the battle was over and the rebel mass had been hurled back showed the accuracy of our fire.
Over 400 prisoners were counted by one of our officers as taken by the regiment. A number of stand of colors were also captured, but it is impossible to state the number.
I may add that during the whole of both these days of battle the One hundred and eleventh had skirmishers in front of their position continually.
Owing to the loss and absence of commissioned officers and of the non-commissioned officers having the regimental and company rolls in their charge, it is impossible to give a correct statement of our loss. From the best information I can obtain, we took into the action about 400 men, rank and file. Our loss in killed is 57, and wounded and missing 171.
In the killed are included First Lieut. John H. Drake, Company F; Second Lieutenant Granger, Company D; First Lieutenant Proseus, Company E, and Sergt. Maj. Irving P. Jaques. Among the seriously wounded are Col. C. D. MacDougall; Acting Adjutant Capron; Captain Holmes, Company D, Captain Mead, Company I, and Captain Smith, Company K.
Lieutenant-Colonel Lusk was thrown from his horse and seriously injured during the first part of July 3, thus leaving no field officer with the regiment.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. P. SEELEY,
Capt., Comdg. One hundred and eleventh New York Vols.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
from Official Records, Series 1, Volume 27, Part 1