Numbers 53. Report of Colonel Charles Wheelock, 97th New York Infantry.
—, –, -, 1863.
CAPTAIN: In accordance with orders from brigade headquarters, I would respectfully report the part taken by the Ninety-seventh Regiment New York Volunteers in the battle of July 1, 2, and 3, at Gettysburg, Pa., to wit: On the morning of July 1, at 7 a. m., we left Emmitsburg, Md., reaching Gettysburg, Pa., at 1 p. m. same day, and immediately formed line of battle north of the town, on the flat, our line being parallel with the railroad. We soon changed our front, and took a position on the crest of the hill between the railroad and the road north of the town, about three-quarters of a mile from the town. I immediately sent out Companies A and F as skirmishers, and, within 30 yards of our front, receiving the enemy’s fire, finding it proceeding from a stone wall and the embankment of the road, our skirmishers soon drove them from their position, but they soon returned with a full force, our skirmishers falling back to our line of battle, which was a strong one.
Our whole line became engaged, and the enemy fell back out of sight. Soon their second line appeared on our front. After firing several rounds, and finding them, as I thought, crippled, the order was given to charge. The Ninety-seventh New York Volunteers succeeded in charging over the ground without having any killed and but few wounded. We brought out as prisoners 213 officers and men of the Twentieth North Carolina Regiment, with their colors. We took more prisoners than we had men in our regiment at the time. Soon after returning we made a second charge, bringing in over 80 prisoners. At this time the third line of the enemy appeared, and the force on our right flank (part of the Eleventh Corps), giving way, and also our left flank, we fell back, as ordered, to the second line. Being hard pressed by superior numbers, the whole brigade fell back to the third line. After keeping our line against a superior force, a heavy line of the enemy coming on our flank and almost in our rear, the whole line fell back and through the village, many being taken prisoners, myself included.
I cannot give a detailed account of the second and third days, as I was not present, but learn from the officers of the regiment that they were on duty all the time, either skirmishing or supporting batteries. The regiment was under command of Major Charles Northrup after my capture. I cannot name officers and men for bravery, as I should do injustice to others. All did their duty, and seemed to vie with each other. Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Spofford had his horse shot, and I consider acted most bravely; in fact, all did their duty to mu entire satisfaction. I wish to say one word outside of my regiment in regard to Generals Baxter and Robinson. They were on every part of the field, encouraging and stimulating the men by their presence and bravery.
Colonel, Comdg. Ninety-seventh New York Volunteers.
Captain FREDERICK GUYER,
A. A. A. G., Second Brig., Second Div., First Army Corps.
from Official Records, Series 1, Volume 27, Part 1, Pages 309-310