American Civil War Gettysburg
Battle Description

          This American Civil War Gettysburg battle description is taken from Corporal Timothy J. Regan's Civil War diaries. This is one of the many Civil War battles he describes in his diaries, documenting his three year enlistment with the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, from June 11th, 1861 to June 21st, 1864.

          As you will read in Corporal Regan's diary below, this is where the Union Army feels that the turning point of the rebellion has finally been reached.

american civil war gettysburg

American Civil War Gettysburg

Jun. 29, 1863 - Our regiment was deployed on the railroad last night to guard the telegraph wires.
    We moved early this morning, each Army Corps taking a separate road and all marching for Pensylvania, where, it is said, the rebel army are doing pretty much as they please. We marched through some very pretty towns today, and on approaching each of them, the regiments were wheeled into column by company and marched through in that formation with drums beating and colors flying. Every house of any consequence has the Stars and Stripes flying, and the people distribute fruit and refreshments and do everything in their power to show us that they are friendly to us and to the government. I saw an old gent today pumping water for the soldiers and he said that he had come five miles to do something for the men who had come to drive the enemy out of the country. At night we camped near a town called Liberty.

Jun. 30 - Packed up early this morning and halted at noon at a place called Unionville, where we stacked arms and rested.
    A company of rebel cavalry had been here before us and took all the horses in the neighbourhood. In the afternoon, we marched through a little town called Frizzleboro and were told that a squad of rebel cavalry had been there in the morning and cleaned out the Post office, and took everything in the neighbourhood to which they took a fancy.
    At night we camped at a village three miles from the Pensylvania line and were told that there was a cavalry fight at Hanover, six miles ahead, today.
    It has rained little or much every day since we left Aldie and my blanket has not dried since.

American Civil War Gettysburg

 July 1, 1863 - Broke camp about ten this morning and crossed the boundary line of Pensylvania at eleven. Before entering Pensylvania the column was halted and the ranks dressed; each regiment was addressed by its Colonel and told that they were about to enter the Keystone State, and that it was expected that every man would do his duty in driving the enemy out of the State. The order "Forward," was given, colors flying, and music playing. We could hear firing ahead and all expect to be engaged in battle soon.
    Halted at Hanover about noon and drew rations, after which the Corps moved in the direction of Gettysburg, where we are told that Lee is in position with his whole rebel army. We kept up the march during the night, it is a beautiful night and the road is a good one, the citizens are out on the road side and they cheer us heartily as we move on at a quick step. They tell us that Mc. Clellan is to take command of the Army of the Potomac in the morning, and that he is coming with a reinforcement of 75,000 Militia, and the men are delighted at the prospect of serving under their old commander. We are told that the First, and Eleventh Corps had a fight with the rebels today, and that a whole brigade of the rebels were captured, General and all. We reached Gettysburg about twelve at night and bivouacked near the town, the whole of our Corps on one field.
    The following song which some of the boys saw in a newspaper a few days since was sung, perhaps for the first time, on the march tonight, all who could sing joined in it, and all whether singers or not kept step with the tune, "My love she's but a lassie yet." The song is by Charles G. Leland, and is entitled,

O! We're Not Tired of Fighting Yet.
O! we're not tired of fighting yet!
We're not the boys to frighten yet!
    While drums are drumming we'll be coming,
    With the ball and bayonet.
For we can hit while they can pound,
And so let's have another round!
Secesh is bound to lick the ground
    And we'll be in their pantry yet!

O! we're not tired of tramping yet -
Of soldier-life or camping yet;
    And rough or level, man or devil,
    We are game for stamping yet.
We've lived through weather wet and dry,
Through hail and fire, without a cry;
We wouldn't freeze and couldn't fry,
    And haven't got through our ramping yet.

We haven't broke up the party yet;
We're rough, and tough, and hearty yet;
    Who talks of going pays what's owing,
    And there's a bill will smart ye yet.
So bang the doors, and lock 'em tight!
Secesh, you've got to make it right!
We'll have a little dance tonight;
    You can't begin to travel yet!

O! we're not tired of fighting yet,
Nor ripe for disuniting yet!
    Before they do it, or get through it,
    There'll be some savage biting yet.
Then rip hurrah for Uncle Sam
And down with all Secesh and Sham!
From Davis to Vallandigham,
    They all shall rue their treason yet.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 2, 1863 - Both our army and that of the rebels are deployed in line of battle this morning and all is ready for the fight.
    Our regiment was detached from the brigade before daylight, and sent up to the extreme right where we were deployed as skirmishers and ordered to advance into the woods untill we found the enemy. We had not far to go to find the rebel skirmish line, which we attacked and drove from our front, capturing fifteen of them.
    Fighting along the whole line all day untill late in the afternoon when the enemy made a desperate assault on the left of our army and was repulsed with heavy loss on both sides. A few more dashes was made after this and some severe fighting was the result, but about an hour after dark firing ceased entirely and all became still, except now and then the crack of some sharp shooter's rifle or a random shot on the picket line.
    Our regiment remained in our position all day and we were not molested at all.
    General Griffin, our division commander is now in Washington and General Barnes is in command of the Division in Griffins absence.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 3, 1863 - Early this morning we were ordered to join our brigade and we started immediately to join them. When we found them they had just been relieved from the front line of battle where they had done some severe fighting.
    The Sixty Second Pensylvania, and Thirty Second Massachusetts were terribly cut up, and the Fourth Michigan was nearly annihilated, having lost their Colonel and their colors. We were then ordered to join the first brigade and immediately on our arrival were deployed in line of battle and advanced into the woods in our front. We found a line of rebels and went for them immediately, and after ten minutes firing the Johnnies fell back. The Second division of our Corps then advanced and some savage fighting ensued, and we were ordered to report to the First brigade again. We could now hear terrible firing up on the right, in the position which we left in the morning. In the afternoon the fighting became hot and heavy along the whole line and we were sent to support the artillery of the brigade. Our army get the best of it at all points, a great many prisoners are captured from the enemy but the losses on our side are very heavy. After sunset, a furious artillery fire is opened on both sides, and the noise is deafening. No distinct sound can be heard, but one continual roar; the air seems to be full of pieces of metal flying and screaming in every direction, and as it becomes dark the air looks like one sheet of flame; this state of things lasted untill about nine o'clock in the evening when firing ceased altogether. We laid flat on the ground and we could feel the earth jar and tremble beneath us in a manner which was anything but agreeable, and the shell passing over our heads made it anything but safe. Several of our fellows were wounded while in this position. The ground is covered with dead and wounded in all directions.
    General Griffin arrived on the field in the afternoon and took command of the division.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 4, 1863 - All quiet this morning, the butternuts are gone in the direction of the Potomac; our corps is encamped near the field of battle, and the other corps are moving forward.
    We are waiting to get the roads clear.

July 5 - We moved a few miles farther on and camped on the roadside near the Third Corps. Our cavalry are out on the flanks raising Cain with Lee's wagon trains.

July 6 - It has been raining since yesterday morning and the roads are in a shocking condition. The cavalry captured about two hundred of Lee's wagons today, also two cannon, and two hundred and fifty prisoner.

July 7 - Revellei at three o'clock this morning, marched at four and entered Maryland at Emmettsburg about ten, and marched in the direction of Middleton. Halted at the foot of South Mountain at nightfall and went into bivuoc for the night.

July 8 - Marched to Middleton, a distance of eight miles and pitched tents. Heavy rain all day.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 9, 1863 - Packed up early, marched down the mountain and camped for the night at Boonsboro.
    Our cavalry are ahead annoying the enemy's rear guard, and we are informed that they captured three miles of his wagon train today, besides a good many prisoners.
    It is reported that Lee is at Williamsport, and that he cannot cross the Potomac, having no pontoons. His men are being captured in squads all along the road.
    We have news that General Grant has taken Vicksburg, that the place was surrendered to him by Pemberton on the fourth instant. The news from all parts of the country is encouraging, and the army begins to think that the turning point in this rebellion has been reached. -It is time.
    Lee's loss at the battle of Gettysburg is estimated at 26,000 killed, wounded, prisoners, and deserters. Our loss is estimated at 20,000 killed, wounded and missing.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 10, 1863 - Our Corps moved in the direction of Williamsport where heavy firing is heard. The Third Corps had a fight this morning, on the old Antietam battlefield. After the fight had progressed some time the rebels hoisted a white flag and waited untill a small party which was sent forward to take their arms reached within thirty paces of them, when they fired another volley and then threw down their arms. This treachery was quickly punished; and the story was told me by one of the party which was fired upon.
    We moved forward untill we drove in the rebel pickets at Williamsport, and our regiment was deployed as skirmishers and laid in this position all night.

July 11 - We spent the whole of this day moving about from one position to another, but there was no fighting except some picket skirmishing.

July 12 - The army is in line of battle and the men are throwing up breastworks.

July 13 - Nothing new has turned up today except that there has been some slight skirmishing along the lines, our regiment being engaged in one of them. Raining all day like the very dickens.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 14, 1863 - The Army advanced this morning and found that Lee has evacuated Williamsport and crossed the Potomac with his army. Our cavalry and flying artillery crossed the river immediately and had a fight with his rear guard, in which the rebel General Pettigrew was killed and his brigade captured. The town of Williamsport is full of rebel sick and wounded. (This is an old trick of the rebels to abandon their sick and wounded and allow them to be captured, and when they are well and fit for service again, they are exchanged for our poor comrades who are almost starved to death in rebel prisons.)
    We have good news from everywhere except New York City where there is a riot to resist the draft which is now in progress.
    It has rained everyday since the battle of Gettysburg and the roads are covered about a foot deep with mud.

July 15 - The Army of the Potomac is on the move towards Harper’s Ferry. We marched through Reedysville, and two other pretty villages today, crossed the mountains about four in the afternoon and camped near Buckeysville.

July 16 - Moved early this morning and marched to Berlin where we are to cross the Potomac, but the pontoon train has not arrived and we must wait for it.

American Civil War Gettysburg

July 17, 1863 - The pontoon train arrived last night and the engineers set to work immediately to lay down the bridge and everything is ready this morning.
    Our division crossed the river at four in the afternoon and marched to Lovettsville, three miles from the river, where we pitched tents.
    This is the fourth time our regiment has entered upon “the Sacred Soil of Virginia.”

July 18 - Packed up about ten this morning and moved to a place called Wheatland, thirteen miles from Snicker’s Gap, and six miles from where we camped last night, and not far from the town of Leesburg.
    The troops appear to be in the best of spirits, hopeful of success, and full of confidence in the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.

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American Civil War Gettysburg