Pennsylvania 62nd Infantry Regiment
Regimental History: Gettysburg Campaign
Monument at Gettysburg
dedicated to the
Pennsylvania 62d Infantry Regiment
on September 11, 1889
photo from Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1893
The 62d Pennsylvania's place in the organization of Army of the Potomac at the time of Gettysburg, 1 to 3 July 1863:
- Army of the Potomac (Major General George Meade, commander)
- Fifth Army Corps (Major General George Sykes, commander)
- First Division (Brigadier General James Barnes)
- Second Brigade (Colonel Jacob Bowman Sweitzer)
- 9th Massachusetts (Colonel Patrick R. Guiney) (on picket duty)
- 32d Massachusetts (Colonel George L. Prescott (wounded); Lietenant-Colonel Luther Stephenson (wounded); Major J. Cushing Edmunds)
- 4th Michigan (Colonel Harrison H. Jeffords (killed); Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Lumbard)
- 62d Pennsylvania (Lieutenant-Colonel James C. Hull).
Regimental History: Gettyburg Campaign
- Guarding Kelly's Ford, 28 May to 13 June 1863
- Staring after bugle calls at 5 p.m., leaving from their camp at Stoneman's Switch near Falmouth, Va., across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg, the Second Brigade marched to Kelly's Ford, about twenty-five miles away on the Upper Rappahannock. The first evening they went eight miles, reaching Hartwood Church, on the Warrenton Post Road. Starting an hour after 5 a.m. reville. At noon, half of the brigade, the 9th and 32d Massachusetts, split off for Barnett's Ford (also known as Ellis's Ford), while the 62d and 4th Michigan continued for Kelly's Ford, which they reached about two hours later. Shenkel reports in his diary that immediately "the Boys started for a Skirmish among Poultry + Hogs," while the three right companies went on picket. The regiment remained in this "good camp" with plenty of shade for several weeks, with Confederate pickets 300 feet away on the other side of the river for much of the time. Shenkel writes, "Pickets are ver Sociable would Like to talk to our Boys But officers won't allow it." By mutual consent there were no firing at each other or stronger attacks than friendly insults. It was reported that Union and Confederate soldiers both went swimming, but they remained on their own side of the river. Daily routines included picket duty and 5 p.m. inspections, which required cleaning their weapons. Upon occasion some companies were sent on reconnaissance patrols up and down the river, especially to Little Ford about three miles away. However, that left considerable free time for continued raids on hogs, letter writing, clothes washing, It was while encamped at Kelly's Ford, that the "postmaster of the 62d Pennsylvania' [name unknown] was sent out on a fine grey horse and armed with two Colt revolvers and a carbine for the purpose of delivering two bags of mail to Aquia Creek and taking some important letters to General Burnside. He, the horse, and the mail were never seen again, ambushed, it was believed by bushwackers, probably a party connected to Mosby's Raiders [the letter describing the incident is reproduced in Michigan in the War (1882)]. It must have been a common problem, since in Shenkel's diary he simply writes, "Mail again Captured by Guerillas."
- Engagement at Kelly's Ford, Virginia
on 9 June 1863
- While on picket duty at Kelly's Ford, on the morning of the 9th, the 62d skirmished with Confederate forces as half of a Union cavalry force of 10,000 crossed the river at Kelly's Ford on their route to Brandy Station, the largest cavalry battle of the war and the first battle in which the Union cavalry bested that of J.E.B. Stuart's. Shenkel's diary entry does not make clear what role the 62d had: "was walked up this morning By the Roaring of artillery A Large force of Cavalry Crossed Here this Monring with a Detachment of infantry, took one Prisoner Killed one and wounded one in crossing our loss none." The engagement at the ford was not the more famous Battle of Kelly's Ford, a cavalry action that
occured on 17 March 1863.
There was an incident two days later at the ford, involving more skirmishing, in which Corp. Joseph Cracraft of Company A was captured.
Shenkel, however, reports "all quiet along the Rapahanack" for the 11th.
- March through Virginia, 13 June to 20 June 1863
- Orders to move came on the afternoon Saturday, 13 June. As Hooker learned of the Army of Northern Virginia's movement north through the Shenandoah Valley, he ordered the Army of the Potomac northward as well, staying east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a series of strenuous forced marches. All during the march, the cavalries of both armies made scouting raids to try and discover the size and whereabouts of the main body of the other's army or to disguise or protect their own. Both commanding generals remained surprsingly uninformed. While some Confederate army corps had already crossed into Pennsylvania, the bulk of the Union Army had yet to cross the Potomac. At the same time, Lee remained almost totally ignorant of the Union Army's whereabouts. At various gaps and other strategic positions, there were several encounters, sometimes involving the infantry as well. Continuing northward and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The first night the reunited Second Battalion marched one mile to Mount Holly Church, according to Shenkel. The following day they marched twenty, starting at daylight. They went through Morrisville, Weaverville and finally bivouacednear Catlett's Station. On the 15th the brigade reached Manassas Junction by way of Bristoe Station. They remained bivouaced near the old Bull Run battlefields through 17th. Shenkel reports forming battle lines and expecting an attack. There was a severe water shortage due to a six-week drought. The lack of adequate water, the clouds of dust, and intense heat caused multiple cases of sun stroke, other maladies, and, as reported in another regiment, a good deal of grumbling, especially about General Hooker and the Fifth Corps commander General Meade.
The army was said to have looked like a walking forest since so many soldiers were wearing or carrying boughs and branches to keep off the sun. Moved on the 18th as far as Gum Springs. A shower in the evening relieved some of the misery. On the 19th the regiment was divided. The right wing, which included Company L, was detailed to escort a supply train to Fairfax Station. It rained most of the day, heavy at times, for the next two days, which did not make travel easy for the supply train.
- Engagements at Middleburg, Upperville, and Aldie, Virginia,
on 21 and 22 June 1863
- The right wing was supposed to rejoin the left wing at Aldie on the 21st. Aldie was strategicly located in a gap in the Bull Run Mountains, a range that lies parallel to the Blue Ridge Mountains. When they arrived near Aldie at noon, however, they discovered that the left wing had "gone to the front to Support the Cavalry." The First Division of the Fifth Corps reported for duty with the Cavalry
Corps, General Pleasonton, commanding, in his attempt to match Stuart in a battle using dismounted cavalry. While the First and Third Brigades
continued on to Upperville, the Second Brigade,
including the left wing of the 62d, halted at Middleburg and took a defensive position
along both sides of the Ashby's Gap Turnpike. Confederate pickets
were observed to the south, but no encounter took place. They remained in
that position the whole of the 21st. On 22 June the First and Third Brigades returned
and, under the command of the cavalry, the division marched to Aldie. The 62d appears at this point to have reunited. The Second
Brigade and a battery remained to cover the withdrawal. No more than a few random shots were fired,
but Shenkel recorded in his diary that "our force drove the Rebs over to Snickers Gap." The next morning the brigade re-joined the division at Aldie.
- March to Gettysburg, 26 June to 2 July 1863
- Shankel recorded "all quiet" for the next few days. Then, in the six days before the Battle at Gettysburg, the 62d Pennsylvania (as
well as the rest of the 5th Corps), marched over one hundred miles, crossed into Maryland and finally into Pennsylvania. From entries
in Shenkel's diary, supplemented by letters from volunteers of the
4th Michigan and the 118th Pennsylvania (in a different brigade of the First Division of the Fifth Corps), the route of the Second Brigade can be pieced together:
- June 26: 20 miles
- Left Aldie in the morning as far as Leesburg (12 miles), when there was a break for dinner. After dinner, the regiment marched on, arriving at Edwards Ferry on the Potomac, and after crossing into Maryland, continued on another four miles. Jeb Stuart's cavalry had earlier crossed at the same point, so he was effectively cut off from the rest of Lee's army, thus keeping Lee uninformed of the strength and position of the Federal force.
- June 27: 20 miles
- Marched to the mouth of the Monocacy, forded it waist deep, and ended the day's march by pitching camp "on a Union man's farm" three miles from Frederick, Md.
- June 28: 0 miles
- No march. Bivouaced near Frederick, Md., while they received word that Meade had replaced Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac and Sykes had taken over the Fifth Corps.
- June 29: 19 miles
- Marched through Frederick and Mount Pleasatn and ended the day's march two miles outside of Liberty, Md.
- June 30: 23 miles
- Passed through Jonesville, Union Bridge, Middletown, Uniontown, Frizzleburg, and Myersville, where Shenkel reports he had supper at a farmhouse, eating at a table for the first time since he left home. By the end of the day they had reached Union Mills, Md. about ten miles from the Pennsylvania border. They camped along Big Pipe Creek, which in General Meade's original plan was to be the center of the Federal defensive line.
- July 1: 20 miles
- Crossed into Pennsylvania shortly before noon. Most likely the 62d acted the same way other Pennsylvania regiments did by unfurling their colors and cheering enthusiasaticly, despite heat, dust, and fatigue. Shenkle, however, a drummer, did not menation any striking up of the pipe and drum in his diary entry. The second brigade briefly halted to listen to brigade and regimental commanders give short patriotic speeches.
Colonel Harrison Jeffords of the companion 4th Michigan
regiment, who was to die of a bayonet wound the following day, was quoted as telling his men, "You are know standing on free soil once more and now give three cheers for the free states!" After that brief pause, the regiments marched nine miles further to Hanover, where they saw signs of a recent cavalry fight. Two miles beyond Hanover, they set up camp. The officers only were allowed to dine in Hanover, but even the enlisted soldiers "got Plenty of grub from citizens." After starting to bivouac for the night, a captain from Meade's staff arrived on horseback to inform General Sykes of the fighting at Gettysburg.
Around 8 p.m., the Fifth Corps was ordered to "proceed with all possible dispatch" toward Gettysburg. General Barnes wrote that the word was received with enthusiasm, and Colonel Sweitzer reported that the Second and Third Brigades competed to be the head the line of the First Division. The Second Brigade won the race. At Cherrrytown [McSherrytown?], five miles from Hanover, the word was spread that McClelland had been reinstated, and as Shenkel reports, "the men cheereed Louder than Ever I Heard them." He also wrote that it was the Colonel himself who told the men. They marched within five miles of Gettysburg camping one mile from Bonaughtown [now known as Bonneauville, and called Bergertown by Shenkel], although the entire Fifth Corps stretched all the way back to McSherrytown. General Sykes sent out a dispatch indicating the troops position at 12:30 and his intention to move out at 4 a.m., but the captain in the 118th Pennsylvania, marching at the rear of the First Division's line, wrote that his company didn't arrive at Bonaughtown until after 3 a.m.
- July 2: 5 to 7 miles, before marching into battle
- The 62d began the 2d of July by finishing their long march.
At 3:30 a.m., reveille sounded and the soldiers were told to have coffee and breakfast and then prepare themselves for battle. They cleaned their muskets or rifles and resupplied themselves with ammunition. They moved out again by 6 a.m. and arrived near the west
slope of Cemetery Ridge at Hanover Road south of Wolf Hill. With the Twelfth Army Corps occupying that position, they marched south until they found a field near a stone bridge where the Baltimore Pike crosses Rock Creek. Now about 9 a.m., the weary soldiers of the Fifth Corps were allowed to rest there near Power's Hill. They rested, or tried to rest for the next six hours under temperatures described as "desparately hot."
- A Letter Written on the Eve of Battle
- Some volunteers found writing material and used their time to compose letters to family or loved ones. Sergeant R. N. Martin, of Company A, must have finished penning a letter only moments before he marched into battle. The letter may provide some insight into the timing of the battle, since it appears to have been written after 4 pm and after the artillery barrage had started, but before the Fifth Corps was ordered forward:
- In line of Battle Near Gettysburg Pa
- Auntie & Mollie
- This day finds me sitting against a stonewall momently expecting the fight to commence; the 11th 12th & 1st Corps fought yesterday holding their position, But lost Genl Reynolds Comd of the 1st Corps, Killed. We arrived here this morning. Marching over 100 miles in 6 days. We are very much fatigued We heard last night little Mac was in comd just as we started. The corps marched 9 miles after night cheering for little Mac all the way. Laid down half after 12 got up and started at 4 so you can imagine how we feel. The enemy occupys part of the town. Firing of artillery is now going on. Either this evening or tomorrow we will have to fight. I saw [unclear; something or someone] at Frederick City, Md a few days ago. We have not had any word for near three weeks. Give my love to Grandfather & all -- there is too much Excitement to write mutch now. If I am spared I will give you the particulars of our last marches -- troops are pouring in very fast. I think the most of our army is here now. I pray God will favor us with a victory. It is quite different marching in Pa and MD. There are nice smiles and kind words & citizens are disposed to be very liberal
ly. I will close this for the present & see if I can get it sent off.
Your aff't nephew
- Battle at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863.
- The soldiers of the 62d certainly fought with gallantry at Gettysburg, but
the decisions of their division commander, Brigadier
General James Barnes, was much criticized after the battle, and the reputations
of all the regiments in the division were besmirched. Barnes, in command of
the Fifth Corps' First Division in combat for the first and only time, ordered
a retreat early at a strategic moment in the engagement. It may have been justified, but after the battle
the order was criticized as ill-timed, unwanted, unnecessary, done without
consultation or permission, and almost fatal to the Union army that day. Barnes
was not court-martialed or reprimanded, but he was reassigned to administrative
duties in Washington, DC, shortly afterward. Some believe that Colonel Sweitzer
did not receive promotion to general during the war because of the orders
from Barnes that he carried out.
- Summary of the battle
- The 62d Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers fought in and around the Wheatfield.
Of all the landmarks of Gettysburg, the Wheatfield stands out the place where
the battle was the most complex and confused. The area around the Wheatfield
has been described as The Loop, a whirlpool that sucked in regiments from six Confederate
brigades (all from Longstreet's Corps) and 13 brigades from four Union Army
Corps. The battle surrounding the Wheatfield occurred in four distinct waves.
First, Confederate forces in Anderson's brigade charged against
but were held off by de Trobriand's brigade and its reinforcements in Sweitzer's
and Tilton's brigades. The next wave occurred when Kershaw's
Brigade arrived and, in something of a coordinated effort with Anderson's
brigade, drove the Union forces from the field. The third
wave was a counter-assault led by three brigades of Caldwell's Division of
the Second Corps. They charged through the Wheatfield and deep into Rose's
Woods. A fourth brigade from Caldwell's division, joined by Sweitzer's Brigade,
followed to shore up this drive. The final wave was a driving
sweep from west by the Confederate force. The difference was that Wofford's
Brigade, pouring in unchecked from the Peach Orchard, rallied Kershaw's, Semmes',
and Anderson's brigades and turned the fortune of the battle toward a Confederate
victory. Union forces were driven from the Wheatfield, and brigades from Ayres's
Second Division of the Fifth Corps ineffective in mounting a counter-assault
from its position on Houck's Ridge. The Confederate assault only stopped when
facing the Union line up on Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top, including
fresh units from the Sixth Corps, the Confederate fighting force was ordered
to halt and retire to the Wheatfield. After more than three hours of fighting,
the Confederates finally won the field but ultimately failed to break the
- Marching to Battle
- Initially the Fifth Corps was to be held in reserve, but unlike at Antietam and Chancellorsville, however, at
Gettysburg at least one division was called into action before the battle began.
Instead of fighting as a whole, the Fifth Corps was broken up. The decision would lead to great confusion and lack of coordination
in command. The First Division, marching at the head of the Corps, was sent
in to support the Third Corps on the extreme left flank of the Union Army
in its thin, outstretched, and gap-filled line that covered more than a mile
and a half from Devil's Den, below Little Round Top, to the Peach Orchard.
The Second Brigade's commanding officer, the 62d's own Colonel Sweitzer, indicated
that the First Division began to move to the battle front shortly after the
cannonading commenced. That would put the time at 3:30.
- Just before the corps reached the area of the wheatfield, the Third Brigade, including
the soon-to-be famous 20th Maine, leading the march, was split off from the rest of the First Division and sent
to occupy Little Round Top, which General Warren had seen as vital and undefended.
The remaining two brigades of the First Division were sent in to plug the
gap in the Third Corps line. The other two divisions of the Fifth Corps remained
in reserve until late in the day they were sent in to reinforce the defenses on Little Round Top. General James Barnes was in command
of the First Division temporarily, due to the illness of General Charles Griffin.
A West Point classmate of Robert E. Lee, he had no previous experience in
command of a division and would not prove up to the task.
- The Second Brigade was a regiment short as it marched to its initial battle
position. Gettysburg was the only major battle in which the 62d Pennsylvania
did not fight side by side with the 9th Massachusetts. Earlier in the day
this brother regiment had been assigned picket duty on Power's Hill to guard
supply wagons and later, possibly, Meade's headquarters. Originally, the
32d Massachusetts had been given the orders, but, at the requerst of the
32d's commanding officer, the 9th Massachusetts was substituted. The remaining
regiments of the Second Brigade marched down the clay farm road, nameless
then, but what is now called Wheatfield Road. Leaving the road, the regiments
of the Second Brigade likely crossed the through a corner of Wheatfield
for the first time that day to take its position on the edge on a rocky
knoll, now known as Stony Hill. Again as an indication of the disjointed
command of the troops, to get into that position they had to pass over part
of a brigade from the Third Corps that were lying down on the ground. Stony
Hill had originally been held by regiments of De Trobriand's Third Brigade
of the First Division of the Third Corps, but the position had beeen abandoned
when troops were quickly moved to the east along the southern wall of the Wheatfield after recognizing a Confederate advance in
the vicinity of the Devil's Den. Taking up the abandoned position west of the Wheatfield on
the Stony Hill, took their battle formation on moments before the Confederate forces arrived. The confusion of the day had only just begun. Caldwell's Division of the Second Corps was also ordered to reinforce the Third Corps, but when General Hancock observed Barnes' Division moving in, he ordered Caldwell to pull back. This was not the last time brigades from the three different Corps would struggle to coordinate their movements.
- Description of the Wheatfield and the Stony Hill
The Wheatfield, an irregularly trapezoidal shaped 20 acres, stood about
halfway between the Peach Orchard and the Devil's Den. The field, ripe for
a first cutting, was hemmed in by woods and narrow stands of timber. The
field sloped from the north-east down to the south-west. The northern part
of the field with its higher elevation was ideal for artillery. A battery
positioned there (Winslow's) commanded the field through much of the evening.
The southernmost part of the field was low, poorly drained land, very vulnerable
to attack from the higher ground on all sides.
The Wheatfield was part of Rose farm. A narrow clay road along its
northern edge formed the border between the Rose and Trostle farms, and on the other side of the road from the wheatfield was a thick woods. The the west of the wheatfield stretched a rocky, wooded ridge or knoll, later known as the Stony Hill. Cutting
off the south-westernmost corner of the Wheatfield was a rail fence. It
stretched from the Stony Hill to a stone wall. The stone wall ran about 300 yards along the entire
southern end of the field. The stone wall was described
by one general's report as "not breast high." The height was no more than
a foot and half in some places, but infantry from the Third Corps positioned
there earlier in the afternoon had been able to bolster it with rails, earth,
and timber. Beyond the stone wall to the
south was the Rose's Woods, where the first Wheatfield fighting began. The western branch of Plum Run ran through
the woods. To the east of the Wheatfield was Houck's Ridge, yet another
bit of high ground. It extended from Trostle's Woods to the north all the way down to
the Devil's Den.
Stony Hill, the rocky knoll to the west of the Wheatfield has been variously described as a "thick strip of woods," and a stand of timber "interspersed with rocks and boulders." General Kershaw, commander of the South Carolina Brigade in McLaw's Division that attacked the stony hill, described it as "covered with heavy timber and thick undergrowth, interspersed with boulders and large fragments of rock." With the rocks, boulders, trees, and high ground, it made for a formidable defensive position.
- Initial Positions
- The 62d began its fighting with the Second Brigade on July 2nd on the Stoney Hill to the west of
the Wheatfield. Its line faced west looking across a wide field to the Peach Orchard. It was the center of the Second Brigade. The 4th Michigan on its right also faced west. The 32d Massachusetts to the right, initially faced west as well. To the southwest of the Stoney Hill was
a ravine, and after Confederate troops were seen streaming through the ravine,
the 32d Massachusetts
adjusted its position moving up to higher ground and turning to face south. Strong in their own position, the regiments of the Second Brigade were not well coordinated with the other union forces. To the left and front of the Sweitzer's Second Brigade was Tilton's First
Brigade. Its troops were extended in a line beyond the wood facing south. In a less advantageous
position, without wall, breastwork, natural barrier, or even high ground for
protection, and with a huge gap between
it and the forces in the Peach Orchard that was "filled in" only
by two batteries of artillery, the First Brigade had its right flank exposed to an attack. An additional problem was that neither of the two brigades had contact
with De Trobriand's brigade, the troops they were supposed to be reinforcing. Regiments from De Trobriand's Third Brigade of the First Division of
the Third Corps had come off the Stony Hill to fill out the line along the
southern edge of the Wheatfield.
- First Wave (5 pm)
- The day's battle began for the 62d around 5:00 in the afternoon. In early
July, sunset would not occur until around 7:30, and darkness sometime after
8:00. The battle had already begun just to the east in the Devil's Den. In
an uncoordinated assault, "Tige" Anderson's Georgia Brigade (of Hood's Division
of Longstreet's First Corps) crossed the Emmittsburg Road and entered Rose's
Wood from the vicinity of the Rose farm. With the eerie, but now familiar
rebel cry filling the air, the brigade charged the Union forces positioned
at the edge of the Wheatfield behind the stone wall.
Battlefield accounts are incomplete and contradictory, so it is not certain
whether the 62d Pennsylvania faced this attack or
not. De Trobriand's Brigade from their position along the
southern edge of the Wheatfield faced the brunt of the attack. Quite vulnerable in their low-lying area,
the soldiers fighting under De Trobriand battled bravely, with only a few regiments being forced to break. While the Second Brigade and De Brigade
held their position vigourously, the Tilton's First Brigade suffered high casualties.
The 32d Massachusetts at the southern end of the Stony Hill put up resistence as well. The 62d Pennsylvania and the 4th Michigan were wheeled to the left and rear
of the 32d to strengthen the position. The three regiments maintained their
position and successfully held back the enemy. After fierce fighting Anderson's Brigade was forced to withdraw.
- Second Wave
- In a stronger position, the Second Brigade, including the 62d, was putting up even stiffer resistence. Another
commander from the Second Brigade called their position on the Stony Hill sweet
and claimed he could hold that position till the cows came home. (Ironically, earlier in the day,
frightened by the movement of rebel soldiers, cows and pigs had charged through
the wheatfield in terror.) Graham's brigade in the Peach Orchard had been forced to fall back under heavy
loss very soon after the initial Confederate assault, and Tilton's brigade
became even more vulnerable. Twice it repulsed their assailants, but with
heavy losses. When Kershaw's brigade provided reenforcements, a second major
assault occurred. Again, the Second Brigade held, but on either side of it,
Confederates broke through. The threatened them in an outflanking manouever,
Barnes, perhaps at the request of Colonel Tilton, ordered the First Brigade
to fall back. Barnes then ordered Sweitzer to break off action and take a
new position to the rear under the cover of the woods in order better oppose
this heavy attack from the flank. Neither Sweitzer nor his brigade wished
to give up their "elegant postion." Sweitzer later said the "Old Second could
have held against considerable odds till the cow came." Colonel Prescott of
the 32d Massachusetts declared "I don't want to retire. I am not ready to
retire. I can hold this place." But fall back they did, in good order, crossing
the Wheatfield into the Trostle Woods, where in their new position they faced
the Wheatfield from the north side of the clay road beyond it. The timing,
unfortunately was terrible. Regiments from Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade
were able to pour in with little opposition and control the knoll and force
back De Trobriand's regiments. General Barnes was later severely critized
for ordering his brigades to fall back and blamed by some for causing the
Union forces to lose the field. To his discredit, he acted independently,
without orders from his Fifth Corps commander, and without consulting or informing
any of the Third Corps division or brigade commanders. Indeed, it was at this
particular point that the first break in the Union line occured. However,
it should be remembered that had Barnes not been stripped of the Third Brigade
the Division would have had the strength to fill the gap to the Peach Orchard.
Additionally, it was Graham's brigade of the Third Corps falling back that
allowed Kershaw's South Carolinians to gain the initial advantage. Finally,
Barnes cannot be blamed too harshly since the position lost was soon retaken.
- After Barnes' brigades had fallen back to their new positions, three brigades
of First Division of the Second Corps, led by General Caldwell, entered the
battle for the Wheatfield. Neither Colonel Sweitzer nor General Barnes mention
it in their reports, but there is some indication that the Second Brigade
was ordered to lie down to let the First Division pass through them. Other
reports were that the soldiers had been ordered to lie down much earlier,
after several soldiers had been wounded by bullet fire. Some rumors that have
been refuted were that the Second Brigade not only lay down, but refused to
fight, and insulted the troops passing over them. Many of the negative stories
can be attributed to the fury and antagonism De Trobriand and others in the
Third Corps held for the Fifth Corps because of Barnes' order. What the official
reports indicate is that after three of Caldwell's brigades had driven the
Confederates back into the far end of the Wheatfield, Caldwell had still kept
a fourth brigade in reserve. He ordered one front liine brigade, which had
lost its commanding officer and was almost out of ammunition, to fall back.
The general then ordered in his fourth brigade and requested Colonel Sweitzer
to support his command. Sweitzer said he would obey the directions if so ordered
by General Barnes, who was not far off. Barnes arrived and agreed, and once
again the Second Brigade moved forward into the Wheatfield. First, however,
General Barnes "got out in front of them, and made a few patriotic remarks,
to which they responded with a cheer." As they crossed the Wheatfield once
again, it was now they who had to pass through a straggling line of soldiers
who were falling back. Transversing the entire Wheatfield, they took a position
behind the stone wall on the edge of the Wheatfield. Sweitzer noticed regiments
retiring from the woods to their right. He presumed they had been relieved
by other regiments, but he was mistaken. In the confusion of the battle, the
Second Brigade was being sent in to support troops who having already received
orders to fall back were no longer there. Entering the field of battle to
the right of Caldwell's Division, Sweitzer's Brigade was moving into a trap.
The Confederates had already driven the Graham's Brigade from the Peach Orchard,
so they were free to move on toward the Wheatfield. Sweitzer noticed there
was "considerable firing diagonally toward our rear from these woods," and
thought they were shots from Union troops aimed beyond them but falling short.
Edward Martin, a private from Company F who was serving as the colonel's color
bearer, then spoke one of the most quoted lines of the day, "Colonel I'll
be ------ if I don't think we are faced the wrong way; the rebs are up there
in the woods behind us, on the right." At this point additional Confederate
forces broke through the line from the direction of the Peach Orchard and
advanced surrounding the Second Brigade on three sides, including to its rear.
General Barnes was heard to say, "There goes the Second Brigade, we may as
well bid it good-bye." Surrounded on three sides and exposed in an open field,
however, the brigade fell back diagonally engaging in terrible hand-to-hand
fighting, at times becoming entirely mixed up with the enemy. Some of the
soldiers were brought down from friendly fire from Winslow's battery. They
emerged "broken and cut to pieces," able to reach a line just to the right
of a mound that was an extension of Little Round Top. Another brigade of Federal
forces then made a sweeping charge into the Wheatfield to temporarily win
back the ground for the Union, but before nightfall they, too, were swept
back by Confederate forces.
Other accounts of the Second Day at Gettysburg:
Colonel Sweitzer's officical
General Barnes' account in a letter to the New York Herald
Anderson Attacks the Wheatfield by Jay Jorgensen
Behind the Stonewall: The Wheatfield, text by W. G. Davis, with a 360 degree panaramic view.
Be Still, by Amy Crawshaw (fiction)
Some images of Gettysburg memorials related to the 62d Pennsylvania can be found on Matt's History Picture page.
Campaign of Maneuvers
- During the night the remains of the First Division crossed a stone fence
on the edge of the wheatfield and retired to the rear of a battery at the
foot of a hill just to the north of Little Round Top extension. They were
only a shell of the force it was at the beginning of the day. It was an unpleasant
night, as the survivors had had to abandon the dead and many of the wounded,
and as they tried to find a place to lie down for the night behind the stone
fence, there were few places free of rocks or bodies of dead and wounded.
On the third day of the battle at Gettysburg, the 62d took a position on
the Little Round Top extension in support of a battery. As it turned out,
they were far removed from the action known as Picketts Charge, but they
were prepared to face another attack at one of the key positions along the
Union line. Several reports indicated that on the third day the regiment
was fired upon, either from snipers or stray shots. John L. Cribbs brought
back a souviner of the battle, a cane and an inkwell that he made from a
tree on "Round Top" that he was sitting under when the tree and not he was
hit by a bullet.
- An account of the second day at Gettysburg from a letter written by Jacob
B. Funk was excerpted in Voices of the Civil War,
Gettysburg, Tell My Father I Died With My Face to the Enemy, a Time-Life
"Just then I came up to where some Prisoners were that had been taken a
short time before. The bullets were falling like hail & the Guard that had
the Prisoners ran and left the Prisoners go when they immediately picked
up Guns and began to shoot our men. I saw (one) pick up a Gun and looking
round he spied me with the Colors of the Old Keystone state immediately
he leveled his Gun and ordered me to surrender my Colors or he would shoot
me but I thought that was rather a saucy demand & I could not see the point...I
took Leg Bail for security and increased the distance between him and me
very fast. I had to jump a stone fence and came very near loosing my ballance
but I managed to get over. I then went straight ahead when directly I heard
the report of a Gun just behind me. I just concluded that was for me, and
sure enough the Ball struck my arm four or five inches from the shoulder
passing under the Bone and coming out in the chest near the arm pit. I called
out for some one to take the Colers one of the men ran out & took them &
I then made tracks to get out of farther danger...after leaving the Battle
field I went about 2 miles and then got my wound dressed."
- General Meade's glory was the Battle of Gettysburg, but he lost much favor during the rest of the month of July. The campaign following Gettysburg became known as the Campaign of Maneuvers because it was an indecisive time that saw more marching and bivouacing than fighting, as Meade and Lee played a cat and mouse game trying to establish positions. For the troops it only seemed to be discouraging proof that the victory at Gettysburg was not so decisive as they had hoped and the war would not soon come to an end. The Army of the Potomac moved out a few days in aftermath of Gettysburg, but it failed to prevent Lee's army escape back to Virginia.
- Unfortunately, for the Union side, the Confederate army reached the Potomac in less than three days. Stopped by a swollen river, they then had almost another week before the Union forces would arrive to engage them.
- On the Fifth of July the Fifth Corps began its march in a heavy downpour, and made little progress in its pursuit south until the 7th. That day it marched 20 miles through mud and rain, staying east of the South Mountains and camped near Frederick, Maryland. The next day it marched mostly west, climbing the Catoctins through not just rain, but through a heavy thunderstorm, with the South Mountain range still ahead to cross.
- On the 9th they crossed the South Mountains; on the 10th they crossed the Antietam. The advance continued until the 14th when it completed its march to Williamsport, where as part of the Army of the Potomac it surrounded the Confederates on three sides, with the swollen Potomac serving to completely box them in. On the night of the 13th, however, under the cover of darkness, the Confederate army vanished.
- The rest of July saw further pursuit, but mostly discouragement. The Confederates stayed west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Union force to the east of it. Only skirmishes occurred now when the armies met in the gaps. The 62d Pennsylvania may have participated in a skirmish at Manassas Gap on July 23. The Third Corps engaged the Confederate without much success all day.
- By the 27th the Fifth Corps reached Warrenton and encamped between Warrenton and Fayetteville. But the chase was pretty much over. The Confederate army, safely returned to Virginia, encamped in force behind Rapidan River in Orange County. The Union Army pursued no further than the Rappahannock River. There it remained throughout August and into September.
Return of Casualties, Battle at Gettysburg Casualties
- The Wheatfield is the field of battle at Gettysburg where the most casualties occurred. More than 4100 federal soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing, and the statistics for the Confederates was more than 2800. This contrasts with 575 Union and 825 Confederate soldiers killed, wounded, or missing at Little Round Top.
- The 62d was among the dozen regiments with the most casualties at Gettysburg. Figures provided here are based on a transcript of a
monument engraving at Gettysburg. Numbers from some other sources differ slightly.
Officers Captured or Missing
Enlisted Captured or Missing
Aggregate (out of 426)
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This page authored and maintained by John R. Henderson (jhenderson @ icyousee.org), Lodi, NY.
Last modified: 13 July 2012