United States Regiments & Batteries > New York > 42nd New York Infantry Regiment

No. 113. — Report of Col. James E. Mallon, 42nd New York Infantry.

July 16, 1863.


I have the honor to report the following as the part taken by this regiment during the actions of July 2 and 3, near Gettysburg, Pa.: On the morning of the 2d instant, this regiment was placed, by order of Colonel Hall, commanding brigade, in position to the left of the clump of trees near which were posted the batteries of the corps.

During the morning I was called upon to furnish two companies for skirmish duty. Company F, Capt. J. W. Tobin, and Company D, Second Lieut. John Maguire, were detailed for this purpose. This small body, numbering in all but 36 enlisted men, did their duty faithfully.

About 5 or 6 p.m. this regiment, with the Nineteenth Massachusetts, was ordered to go forward to the left to the assistance of General Humphreys. The staff officer who conducted us led the commands, they marching by the right flank until they were well brought under musketry fire. At this time all the troops to the front were precipitately retiring in great disorder. To avoid the enfilading effect of the fire, which was now rapidly thinning the ranks; to infuse confidence in the hearts of those who among those retreating might have some manhood left; to present a disciplined, unwavering front toward the rapidly approaching and confident enemy, the two regiments formed line.

From the moment of the commencement of this movement, I saw nothing of the staff officer who conducted us. When the rebels had arrived within 50 yards of the line, Colonel Devereux and myself consulted as to the best course to be pursued. Already we were receiving fire from both flanks. We concluded that the best thing to be done was to retire. After having poured into the rebels several volleys, the regiments, the Nineteenth Massachusetts covering, moved to the rear. When we had retired about 200 yards, we were ordered by Captain Leach, of the brigade staff, to rejoin the brigade. During this engagement the regiment lost 3 killed and 12 wounded.

On the afternoon of the 3d instant, about 1 o’clock, the enemy opened with a destructive artillery fire, which will ever be remembered by those subjected to its fury. After this fire, which lasted about four hours, had considerably slackened, the infantry of the enemy debouched from the woods to our front for the grand attack of the battle. This regiment was posted about 100 yards in rear of the front line. When those of the enemy who approached our brigade front had been successfully disposed of, and when those who had with great energy and persistence penetrated that portion of our line to our right, near the corps batteries, I caused the regiment to be formed in line facing the decisive point.

The line was but fairly established and but just started in the direction of the contested point, when Colonel Hall, with words of encouragement, cheered us forward. With the impetus conveyed by these words, the regiment vigorously advanced, and in that charge which rescued our batteries from the hands of our foe, which saved our army from disaster and defeat, which gave to us glorious, triumphant success, this regiment was foremost and its flag in the advance.

The color-bearer, Sergt. Michael Cuddy, who established his great and superior courage in the first Fredericksburg battle, on this occasion displayed the most heroic bravery. When he fell, mortally wounded, he rose by a convulsive effort, and triumphantly waved in the face of the rebels, not 10 yards distant, that flag he loved so dearly, of which he was so proud, and for which his valuable life, without a murmur, was freely given up.

The next day and the day after were spent in burying the dead. The detail from this regiment buried 84 rebels.
The officers and men of this regiment did their duty fearlessly during the three days it was exposed to fire at Gettysburg. I have heard of no instance of misbehavior, and of none of special excellence excepting in the case of Sergeant Cuddy, the color-bearer, to whom I have already referred. All did well, and all deserve credit.

The regiment lost 15 killed, 55 wounded, and 4 missing; total, 74. I append a correct list of casualties.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Forty-second New York Volunteers.
A. A. A. G., Third Brig., Second Div., Second Corps.

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

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