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Home > Exhibits > 5th Maine Battery > Whittier's Battle Report

Whittier's Battle Report

Head Quarters 5th Battery Maine Vols.
August 2, 1863

General,

I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the battery in the battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, 2nd & 3rd 1863; the expenditure of ammunition; and the loss in killed wounded & taken prisoners.

At a few minutes past two P.M. July 1st orders were received by Captain Stevens to change position from the left to the right of the Seminary building & relieve Lt. Stewart's battery, B. Co. 4th U.S. Artillery. The ground occupied was on the left of the Chambersburg turnpike; the pieces were alligned with the left thrown in front of the Seminary and opened fire with spherical case & shell at 800 yds. on the enemy advancing on our direct front.

After they were repulsed when within canister range, by the use of double charges, the guns were turned to the right on the columns advancing across the turnpike, and marching to our left, & in the face of the most destructive fire that could be put forth from the three batteries in position the enemy succeeded in dislodging the infantry posted in the grove covering our left flank, driving in the cavalry & completely enfilading our line then by order of Gen. Wadsworth Commanding 1st Divn. 1st Corps the battery was limbered up & passing through the town occupied the knoll to the right & rear of Cemetery Hill, then holding "one of the most important if not the most important positions on the whole line." A regular fire was maintained until dark to prevent the enemy occupying the ground in front.

During the night temporary earth works by the direction of Capt. Stevens were constructed, which proved on the two days following to be of the greatest service in covering & protecting men and pieces.

Early on the morning of July 2nd, the Sharpshooters posted in the houses & barns on the outskirts of the town and in the cover of the fences began to be very annoying & were only partially dislodged by our skirmishers sent out to oppose them, & while observing movements of the enemy towards our right, Captain Stevens received his wound, & the command of the battery devolved upon me.
In the afternoon a battery of 20 Pdr. Parrotts, 1400 yds to our right opened an enfilading fire on Cemetery Hill, both very destructive & annoying. In concert with 8 rifled pieces we commenced firing & in less than 40 minutes had the satisfaction of exploding four (4) of their limbers & forcing them to draw the battery.

For our successful participation in this engagement we received the congratulations of Brig. Gen. Ames Commdg. Divn. 11th Corps. Just at night they again attempted to maintain a battery in the same position but were again driven off.

My attention was called soon after sunset to considerable activity on the part of the enemy near the edge of the town, & at early dusk I made out their line of battle forming at a distance of 1000 yds and immediately opened with the whole battery with spherical case & before movement was discovered from Cemetery Hill. The projectiles exploded with perfect accuracy & with visible effect temporarily checking them.

At first their line was formed directly in our front (the battery being to the rear & right of Cemetery Hill nearly 500 yds.) As they advanced the line wheeled to the right & became exposed to an enfilading fire from our position, and the more direct as they advanced. When within 600 yds I opened with canister & fired before they were repulsed upwards of 46 rounds & in connection with the batteries on the Hill, operating on the enemy's front, soon had the satisfaction of seeing the line of their fire begin to recede & finally cease to be effective.

The attack, led by a La. Brigade was repulsed entirely by Artillery, the infantry supports belonging to the 11th Corps. affording but little assistance.

In withdrawing my left piece, the ammunition being exhausted, four of the six horses were killed immediately on coming out of cover & of the two remaining, one died in harness 20 minutes after.
I mention this that you may judge of the nature of the fire to which we were exposed & under which the pieces were served rapidly & accurately as the ground testified the next morning, 19 dead rebels belonging to the La. Brigade were formed in one small place.

It was after the enemy had retired that the ammunition being exhausted I withdrew the battery to the road & reported to Col. Wainwright Chief of Artillery 1st Corps, & by his direction refilled the chests and at 9:30 P.M. re-occupied the position & passed the night there.

Early the next morning engaged the enemy's battery again posted 1400 yds on our right & for an hour & a half responded rapidly without any loss on our part, the earthworks protecting the men from several of the enemy's projectiles, which lodged there.

We then ceased firing & with the exception of changing front several times during the heaviest firing, while enemy attempted to break through our right held by the 1st Divn. 1st Corps. & the 12th Corps. & changing front to the left in the afternoon during the enemys attack on our center, the battery remained inactive tho' suffering quite severely in the heavy connonade by which the battery was enfiladed & from the nature of the ground necessarily

I deeply regret, General, that I have to include in the list of wounded, Captain G.T. Stevens shot through both legs by a Sharpshooter in the town on the forenoon of the 2nd & Lt. Chas. O. Hunt shot in the thigh on the 1st near the Seminary, both wounded in the active discharge of their duties.
They, to be allowed to assure you General that tho' the battery, by this 1st & 2nd days engagement & by the battle at Chancillorville, had been deprived of the services of four experienced & gallant officers, it in nowise tarnished the reputation it has earned on several well fought fields1st Serg't. Lorrin E. Bundy as Chief of right-half battery. Serg't. J.W. White as Chief of left-half battery, in the 2nd & 3rd days engagements, evinced quite as plainly as before, when the earned their promotions, bravery & discretion in the highest degree.

Sullivan Luce, Actg. Corporal, killed by a fragment of shell on the 3rd had on many occasions won the commendations of his Commanding Officer for soldierly & gallant conduct.

List of Men
Killed, Wounded & taken prisoner

Killed.
Private Wm. Widner Detached, 94th Regt. N.Y. Vols. July 1
" " Charles M. Bryant July 1
" " Sullivan Luce July 3

Wounded
" Captain G.T. Stevens July 2
" Lt. Charles O. Hunt
" Private Aaron Simpson "
" " William Leonard "
" " Sylvester L. Brown "
" " John A. Paine "
" " Warren B. Bailey "
" " Edwin F. Witham "
" " James A. Lombard July 3rd
" " Homer Nichols Det. 94th Regt. N.Y. Vols. "
" " Hosea Kenyon " "
" " James F. Secoy " "

Prisoners. Private I.P. St. Clair July 1st
" " Charles Smith "
" " Jno. Dwyer Det. 94th Regt. N.Y. Vols. "
" " Jno. Berry " "
" " Huntermark " "
" " A.C. Marvin " "

Ammunition Expended 976 rds.

I have the honor to be, General
With due respect. Your most obt. Servt.

E.N. Whittier, 1st Lt.
Commanding Battery