The Irish Brigade
(2d Brigade, 1st Division,
63d New York (2 companies)
69th New York (2 companies)
88th New York (2 companies)
116th Pennsylvania (4 companies)
Headquarters, Second Brigade, First Division,
Near Morrisville, Va., August 9, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to forward the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., on July 2 and 3:
About 10 p.m. on the 1st, we arrived within 2 or 3 miles of Gettysburg; bivuoacked in an adjacent field; threw out on pickets, and at 4:30 o’clock next morning (2d), marched toward Gettysburg. Arriving on the heights near the village, and in view of the enemy’s pickets, we took a position in two lines on the right of the First Brigade, stacked arms, and allowed the men to rest.
About 3 p.m. the brigade, with the rest of the division, moved about half a mile to the left and forward. Were then ordered to take our original position, which we did.
About 5 p.m. received orders to march by the left flank, which we did, preceded by the First Brigade. Both brigades advanced in line of battle through a wheat-field into a wood, in which was a considerable quantity of very large rocks, behind which they poured into us a brisk fire while advancing. We, however, drove them a considerable distance, and sent a great many prisoners to the rear. After being, I should think, about three-quarters of an hour engaged, the troops on our left had retired, and the enemy pressing hard on that point, on going to the right of brigade I found the enemy forming line faced to our right along the edge of the wood. Finding myself in this very disagreeable position, I ordered the brigade to fall back, firing. We here encountered a most terrific fire, and narrowly escaped being captured. We, however, got out, reformed the brigade, and joined the division near the Second Division hospital. It was now after nightfall, and, soon after, we were moved to the front, and slept on our arms all night.
Early next morning (3d), we were ordered to throw up breastworks, behind which we remained all day, under probably, under probably the heaviest artillery fire ever heard, with a loss of only one man wounded.
The 4th and a portion of the 5th were spent in burying the dead, attending to the wounded, and collecting arms and equipments.
About 4:30p.m. on the 5th, marched off the battle-field to a place called Two Taverns.
Before closing this report, it gives me pleasure to say that both officers and men of this command have acted to my entire satisfaction during this engagement. Mentioning the names of a few would be doing injustice to the rest. The command took into action an aggregate of 530 men. The casualties are as follows:
|Officers and Men
Accompanying this, I forward the report of each regimental commander.
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Maj. JOHN HANCOCK, Assistant Adjutant General.
*See Revised Figures
Report of Col. Richard Byrnes, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry.
NEAR BEALETON, VA., August 2, 1863
SIR: I have the honor to transmit the following report of the part taken by this regiment during the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 2 and 3:
At 3p.m., July 2 the order was given to advance and the regiment proceeded a short distance forward and to the left, and then was ordered back to its original position. Soon after was ordered to move to the left, and about 5:30 o'clock became engaged with the enemy, who were posted in an advantageous position on the crest of a rocky hill. We forced them to retire from this eminence, and advanced over the top and almost to the bottom of the other side of the hill, being all the time exposed to a very severe fire of musketry, and losing many men in killed and wounded.
About 7 p.m., finding all save this regiment were retiring from the hill, and that the enemy were on both our flanks, as well as in front, I brought my command from the field, losing many men from the concentrated fire of the rebels. Our loss in this action was 100 in killed, wounded, and missing, out of 224 taken into the engagement.
I reformed the regiment, and rejoined the brigade near the Second Division hospital about dark, and soon after were moved to the front, where we remained all night and in the morning erected breastworks of rails and earth, behind which we remained throughout the entire day, during the greater portion of which the enemy kept up an extremely heavy fire of artillery, and made two attempts to force our lines, but were repulsed on each occasion with great loss. On account of being sheltered by our earthworks, which we erected on the 3d instant, we suffered no casualties from the enemy's fire.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Comdg. Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Vols.
Lieut. W. S. Bailey, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
Report of Capt. Thomas Touhy, Sixty-third New York Infantry.
Hdqrs. Sixty-third Battalion New York Vols.
August 2, 1863
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to most respectfully make the following report of the part the Sixty-third Battalion New York Volunteers took in the battle of Gettysburg, July 2:
For more effective duty in action, the Sixty-third was consolidated with the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth Battalions New York Volunteers. The three battalions, composed of two companies each, were commanded by Lieut. Col. R. C. Bentley, of the Sixty-third, forming a part of the Second Brigade, First Division, Second Corps, and were with the division when it advanced to the front line on the morning of July 2, where we lay in line of battle until about 4p.m., and were then ordered to advance with the brigade into the woods on the left of our position, where we engaged the enemy’s infantry and fought them over an hour, driving them a distance of over three-quarters of a mile, and capturing many prisoners, among whom were some officers. The battalion was armed with smooth-bore Springfield muskets, caliber .69, and each man before going into action was provided with 60 rounds of buck-and-ball cartridges, caliber .69. Our aggregate strength was 75 men, out of which we lost the following:
|Officers and Men
|Enlisted men .
Among the wounded was Lieut. Col. R.C. Bentley, who was struck in the left leg with a piece of shell. Second Lieut. Dominick I. Connally was taken prisoner, and is now at Richmond, Va.
I take great pleasure in stating that both officers and men behaved in the most creditable manner, showing great coolness and bravery while under fire.
The battalion after being relieved returned to the position they at first occupied, threw up breastworks, and were under heavy fire from the enemy’s batteries all the succeeding day (July 3), having 1 man wounded by explosion of a shell.
All of which is most respectfully submitted.
Captain Company A, Commanding Battalion.
Lieut. W.S. Bailey
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade.
Hdqrs Sixty-ninth Regiment, New York Vols.,
August 5, 1863
LIEUTENANT: In compliance with notice from brigade headquarters, I beg leave to submit the following report of the part this regiment took in the action near Gettysburg, Pa.:
We arrived near Gettysburg on the evening of Jul1, having marched from Uniontown, Md.
About 10a.m. July 2 we were placed in position in line of battle, forming at the time part of the second line, the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, of our brigade, being immediately in our front. The regiment was engaged during the morning and up to 5p.m. in taking down fences, &c., sometimes under heavy artillery fire.
At 5p.m. we received orders to move rapidly to the left, to a point about 2 miles distant, and at the base of a rocky and precipitous hill, occupied by our troops, then attacked by the enemy in strong force. Marching by the flank, we moved up to and across a corn-field and entered a wood, on each side of which was an open corn-field, that on the left was occupied by our troops (I think some of the Fifth Corps), one regiment of which I recognized as the Fourth U.S. Infantry. After the line was formed, we moved, we moved forward until we met the enemy, who were posted behind large bowlders of rock, with which the place abounded; but after our line delivered one or two volleys, the enemy were noticed to waver, and upon the advance of our line (firing) the enemy fell back, contesting the ground doggedly. One charge to the front brought us in a lot of prisoners, who were immediately sent to the rear. Our line moved forward (still firing), I should judge, not less than 200 yards, all the time preserving a good line and occupying the most advanced part of the line of battle, when we came suddenly under a very severe fire from the front, most probably another line of battle of the enemy; we also about this time got orders to fall back. We had scarcely got this order when we were attacked by the enemy on our right flank in strong force, and extending some distance to the rear, evidently with the intention of surrounding us. It was impossible after falling back to rally the men, as the enemy’s line extended down to the corn-field that we had to cross; also there was no line immediately in rear of us to rally on; also in consequence of the small number of men in our regiment falling back in double quick time, and the great confusion that prevailed at the time we crossed the corn-field. I collected about one dozen of our men together, and was informed that the division was reforming on the ground that we occupied in the morning. Arriving on the ground where the division was forming, I reported to Colonel Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, then commanding the division.
It was here I was informed for the first time of the wounding of Capt. Richard Moroney, who commanded the regiment on entering the field, and I take great pleasure in saying that I can testify to the able manner in which he managed our little battalion as our commanding officer during the engagement and up to the time of receiving his wounds. After most of the division were collected together, we got orders to move to the right, to occupy a certain part of the field, near where we posted previous to going into action. We reached the said place about 10p.m., and got into position for the night.
Next morning the line was advanced to the front and left under a heavy artillery fire. Most of the day engaged in throwing up earthworks and strengthening our position.
About 1p.m. the enemy advanced a strong column against the line, but were repulsed with great loss, many of the men throwing down their arms and coming in as prisoners.
On the morning of July 4, Lieutenant O’Neil reported to me, he having been absent without leave, keeping with him 7 or 8 enlisted men, since July 2, the time of the engagement. Charges have been preferred against him.
I beg leave to report that this regiment entered the field with 6 officers and 69 enlisted men, and that we lost during the action 5 men killed, 1 officer and 13 men wounded, and 6 men missing.
In conclusion, I will state that, with the single exception that I have made above, I feel proud to say that all the officers and men engaged in the action acted as good soldiers and brave men.
I have the honor to be, lieutenant, very respectfully yours, &c.,
JAMES J. SMITH,
1st Lieut. And Adjt., Comdg, Sixty-ninth Regt. New York Vols.
Lieut. W.S. Bailey,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brig., First Div., Second Corps.
CAMP near Morrisville, Va.,
August 3, 1863
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to forward the following report of the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers during the action at Gettysburg, Pa., on July 2 and 3:
On the morning of the 2d, this regiment advanced in line, and took up position on the left of the town of Gettysburg, in conjunction with the other regiments of this brigade. We held this position until about 5p.m., when, the enemy having massed his forces on the left of our position, we were ordered to advance, and support the troops already in position there. We made our advance in brigade line of battle, being exposed during this time to a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. We steadily drove the enemy, charging repeatedly, and finally caused them to retreat in utter confusion, though we were opposed by a greatly superior force.
Both officers and men displayed the greatest gallantry and bravery, cheering and encouraging their comrades during the thickest of the fight. We drove the enemy for over half a mile through a thickly wooded and rocky country, and held our position until relieved by the Third Brigade.
The strength of the regiment entering the fight was 90 men, all told. Out of this number we lost 1 officer and 7 enlisted men killed, 1 officer and 16 men wounded, and 3 enlisted men missing, supposed killed.
I would beg to recommend to your notice for bravery and excellent conduct on the field the following named officers: Capt. Patrick Ryder, First Lieuts. Charles M. Granger and Thomas H. O’Brien, and Second Lieut. Patrick J. McCabe; but the conduct of Adjt. William McClelland – severely wounded, since dead – deserves particular notice. At all times in the hottest part of the fight, he kept encouraging the men and inciting them to still greater deeds of valor – a brave soldier and a good man, whom we can illy afford to spare.
Our division being outflanked on our right, we were ordered to fall back, which we did, and formed again to the left of the position we held in the morning and on the prolongation of our line.
We rested on our arms all night, and assisted, with the other regiments of the brigade, in throwing up breastworks, which we completed early on the morning of the 3d, and held until the close of the battle. The enemy shelled us at intervals during the morning, and at 10a.m. opened with a severity which good military judges have pronounced to be the severest artillery fire of the war. Under cover of his artillery, the enemy advanced and charged upon our lines, but was everywhere repulsed with terrific slaughter, and finally compelled to retire dismayed and routed. Numbers of the enemy threw down their arms, and rushing into our lines, surrendered as prisoners of war.
We were engaged in perfecting and repairing the breeches made in our breastworks on the evening of the 3d, and on the 4th in collecting arms and equipments left on the battle-field.
On the morning of the 5th, our pickets having discovered that the enemy was falling back, a reconnaissance was made and found that the enemy was in full retreat toward the Potomac.
We held our position until the evening of the 5th, details in the meantime being engaged in burying the dead and attending to the wants of the wounded left o the battle-field. We then moved in the direction of Frederick, Md., under orders from headquarters.
In conclusion, I am proud to say that the Eighty-eighth acted in this fight as it has always done on former occasions when it has met the enemy.
DENIS F. BURKE
Captain, Comdg. Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers.
Lieut. W.S. Bailey,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade.
In camp, Sandy Hook, Md.,
July 17, 1863
SIR: In accordance with section 742, paragraph 36, page 107, Revised Army Regulations, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by command in the action at Gettysburg, Pa., July 2 and 3:
After a long and fatiguing march, we arrived on the evening of the 1st instant within about 3 miles of Gettysburg, and by order of General Caldwell, our division commander, encamped for the night in a neighboring field. Shortly after daybreak on the morning of the 2d, in compliance with orders received, the brigade of which my regiment has the honor of being a part moved up to a field within sight of the enemy’s pickets. Our division was ployed in mass in column of regiments, my regiment being placed in the front line. Here we stacked arms, and ordered the men to rest. We remained in this position during the forenoon of the 2d instant. Heavy firing was heard at intervals on our right during the day, although everything remained quiet in the vicinity of my command until about 3p.m.
About this time firing commenced on our left. I think about three-fourths of a mile distant. The firing had continued about an hour when orders came for us to fall in. We at once took arms, and were marched by the left flank toward the scene of action. After marching nearly 1 mile, and the division being in line of battle, we advanced to support (I think) a portion of the Third Army Corps, which was then engaged. The brigade to which we are attached advanced in line of battle, left in front, gallantly led by Col. P. Kelly, of the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers. As we advanced, portions of the Third Corps retired, passing through the intervals of our line. Having entered a dense woods, we began to ascend a hill, where large bowlders of rocks impeded our progress, notwithstanding which we advanced in good order. We soon came within sight of the enemy, who occupied the crest of the hill, and who immediately opened fire at our approach. Our brigade returned fire with good effect. After firing for about ten minutes, the order was given to advance, which the brigade did in excellent style, driving the enemy from their position, which we at once occupied. We took many prisoners at this point, hundreds of the enemy laying down their arms and passing to the rear. We found the position which our foes had occupied but a few moments before thickly strewn with the dead and wounded. Here we again opened fire, the enemy having rallied to oppose our farther advance. After being engaged for about twenty minutes and the enemy having been re-enforced, the division began to retire in good order. At this time the division was completely outflanked by the enemy, who had formed a line facing the right flank of our brigade. This line was formed along the edge of a wheat-field, about a quarter of a mile in rear of our brigade. This field we had to cross to get to the rear. In doing so, we encountered the full sweep of the enemy’s fire, which at this point was most destructive. Many of the division fell before this terrible fire.
After passing to the rear, I found Colonel Brooke, Fourth Brigade, forming the division in a field adjoining the Second Division hospital; he told me he had orders from General Caldwell to that effect. I then halted what remained of my command, and rendered all the assistance I could in gathering together members of the Second Brigade.
Shortly after dark we were again marched to the front, and placed in the same position that we had occupied in the morning. Here we lay on our arms all night and were awakened at daybreak by the sound of the enemy’s cannon. Major-General Hancock passed along early in the day, and moved our line a little forward, in order that we might have a better range and our fire be more effective, should the enemy attack us. We immediately commenced to intrench our new position, and by 11a.m. had quite a formidable breastwork thrown up. All this forenoon we could see the enemy preparing to attack us. Several batteries were placed in position opposite our line, and everything indicated that an attack was intended.
About noon the attack commenced by a most terrific shelling of our lines by the enemy, but thanks to our earthworks and the inaccurate aim of the gunners, none of my command were injured. After shelling our position for about two hours, the fire of artillery somewhat slackened, and a heavy force of rebel infantry was seen advancing upon our works. At this moment our artillery, which up to this time had remained almost silent, opened with terrible effect upon the advancing lines, tearing great gaps in their ranks and strewing the field with dead and wounded. Notwithstanding the destructive fire under they were placed, the enemy continued to advance with a degree of ardor, coolness, and bravery worthy of a better cause, until, reaching a ravine which ran parallel with our line, about midway between us and their artillery, they halted, being undercover and no longer exposed to our fire. They halted but to surrender. Finding, I presume, that their ranks were too much thinned to think of charging our works, knowing the heavy loss they would sustain in attempting to reach their own lines again, and thinking discretion the better part of valor, they laid down their arms and surrendered almost to a man. Perceiving the failure of their infantry to carry our position, the enemy again opened their batteries, but, after another hour’s fire, withdrew, leaving us victors of the field.
During the day’s fighting the head was very great, and the men, being exposed and having neither shelter nor water, suffered intensely. Soon after sunset the same evening the rain commenced to descend in torrents, wetting everyone, filling the rifle pits, and making us most uncomfortable. But my command was ever hopeful, and bore the fatigue and suffering incidental to a great battle with the cheerfulness that ever characterizes the true soldier.
The sun rose on the morning of the 4th instant and found is victors of every part of the field. We remained in the same position until the afternoon of this day, when my command, with the division, formed line, and marched to the village of Two Taverns, where we encamped for the night.
In closing my report, I cannot refrain from mentioning the cool and gallant bearing of my command. Of the officers it is almost useless for me to speak. Every one did his duty in a manner that excited my warmest admiration and gratitude. Were I to mention any one in particular it would be showing injustice to the rest, as each one tried to excel the other in deeds of gallantry and daring. Of the enlisted men, I feel happy in mentioning the names Color Sergt. Abraham T. Detweiler, Sergt Thomas Detweiler, Company A, and Private Jefferson Carl, Company C, as having especially distinguished themselves in the action of the 2d instant.
Our casualties during the three days’ continuance of the fight were 2 men killed, 12 wounded, and 1 officer (Capt. John Teed) and 7 enlisted men missing.
Your obedient servant,
ST. CLAIR A MULHOLLAND,
Major, Commanding. 116th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Capt. Theo. W. Greig
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
Last updated 3 October 2003