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No. 91. — Report of Maj. Peter Nelson, Sixty-sixth New York Infantry.

NEAR MORRISVILLE, VA., August 3, 1863.

SIR: In compliance with orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers in the action of Gettysburg, July 2, 3, and 4:

This regiment, under the command of Col. O. H. Morris, arrived on the ground on the morning of the 2d, after a very fatiguing march from Uniontown, Md., which occupied us the whole of the previous day and night. We formed line of battle, with the One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers in our front in two lines, the Fifty-second New York Volunteers on our right, and the Fifty-seventh New York Volunteers in our rear. We here stacked arms, and permitted the men to take that rest they so much required.

About 4 p.m. the rebels opened on us with a severe fire of artillery, from which we unfortunately lost Capt. E. F. Munn, commanding Company G, who was instantly killed by almost the first shell that was thrown. We were immediately under arms and moved to the left a short distance, then to the front, and finally back to our first position, the whole division participating in the movement. Soon after halting, we were moved by the left flank, in the direction of which heavy firing was heard, which movement was performed in admirable order, although under a heavy fire of artillery. After moving a distance of about one-quarter of a mile, we were halted, and then moved by battalion successively to the right, in order to bring us into brigade line, right in front. As soon as we had obtained our position we, were ordered by the left flank into the woods in front of us.

Very soon we were under fire of musketry, but, nothing daunted, we pressed steadily forward through wheat-fields, woods, over rail fences 10 feet high, stone walls, ditches, deep ravines, rocks, and all sorts of obstructions, every one of which had served as cover for the enemy, and from which a murderous fire was poured upon us as we advanced, but without avail, as nothing could stop the impetuosity of our men, who, without waiting to lead or even fix bayonets, rushed eagerly forward at a run, their cry being constantly, “Forward! Charge!” We passed large numbers of rebels in our advance, of whom, however, we took but little notice, so interested were we in our pursuit of the retreating foe.

Arrived at a rocky ridge about 300 yards from where we commenced our victorious advance, we halted, taking the movement from the right, and engaged the enemy at short range. Here fell many noble men. Capt. G. H. Ince was killed; Col. O. H. Morris, commanding the regiment, was among the first wounded and went to the rear. Lieutenant-Colonel Hammell soon followed. First Lieutenants Banta, Hardenbrook, and Gosse were also seriously hurt, as well as many enlisted men.

By this time, owing to the distance we had advanced in line of battle at a run, and the irregularity of the ground we had advanced over, we were in a deplorable state of confusion; men from every regiment in the division were intermingled with ours in one confused mass.

While personally engaged in endeavoring to reform the regiment, and obtain something like order, I perceived the right of the line retiring. On inquiring the cause, I learned that the enemy had turned our right flank; also that all the senior officers of the brigade were either killed or wounded. In accordance with instructions received previous to entering the engagement, to regulate our movement by the right, I gave orders to retire, which movement was executed as well as could be expected under the circumstances. The colors were brought off the field by Capt. John F. Bartholf, who reported with the remnant of the regiment to General Caldwell and then to Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman, who was assigned to the command of the brigade.
Early on the morning of the 3d, orders were received to intrench ourselves. This we did as well as we could with the means at hand, under a severe fire of artillery, which continued all day, but without serious injury to my command. This embraces about all connected with my command during the engagement.

Of the behavior of officers and men engaged in it, I cannot speak too highly, especially of those enumerated above as killed and wounded. They suffered nobly while doing their duty bravely in behalf of their country and the cause of justice, humanity, and the enforcement of the laws.

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, &c.,

Major, Commanding Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers.

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Brigade, First Division.

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

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