Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Gettysburg 140th Anniversary Event Report
August 7-9, 2003
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Friday, July 1st
Camp of the 56th Penn. Vols.
Early this morning, we awoke in our bivouac south of the town of Gettysburg. Throughout the entire evening and night previous, our men were coming in and coming up. Stragglers and wagons arriving here. Our morning reports still showed about half our strength now up yet. We got up some breakfasts, and soon orders and details were coming down from headquarters, and our staff. It seems that some inital contacts were now being reported, and these were causing some reconnaissances to be ordered. Our battalion drew the duty of police guard of the division camps while the other elements marched. The Sgt.Maj. passed the detail requirements to the companies, and the call for guard mount parade was set. The orderlies marched thier details and presented them to the Sgt.Maj., and the Sgt.Maj. presented them to the adjutant, and the officer of the guard inspected them, and the adjutant presented them to the officer of the day. The sentinals were posted around the perimeter of the camp, and the normal internal locations. The division guard was turned off once the rest of the troops returned about midday.
In the afternoon, we held a dress parade, and escorted the new colors of the 56th into the line with pomp and honor. The line officers inspected all the weapons on the color line, and we set to drilling the battalion. We drilled right flank, to companies into line, to on the rear company, left into line wheel. The drill was well received. We were allowed to rest a time since it was exceedingly hot and humid in this location. We did have good access to plenty of clean water, so availed ourselvese of that simple pleasure.
We were called into line after a time, and were ordered to march to a consolidation area, where our battlion was assigined our place on the right of the line of battle. There we went into column of companies and continued to march towrads the enemy. As we were proceeding along a ridge, we surely did encounter the enemy to our right and under orders from our commander, went right into line quickly, and when it was clear the enemy was advancing, we were ordered to fire by battalion, right oblique, ready, aim, fire. A crisp and loud battalion blast was heard, and we now that it will go down in history as the first infantry volloy of this great battle. We stood there pitched in battle, under a murderous fire for what seemed eternity, the rebels were relentless, and our lines we bowing back, and the pressure and casualties becoming severe. Before most of the men ran out of ammunition. we were ordered to withdraw, and that we did in no uncertain terms. We got ourselves disengaged, and made for town, through it, and up in the heights of the cemetery south of town.
Saturday Morning, July 2d
Camp of the 148th Penn. Vols.
The Wheat Field
After spending a fairly tolerable night, with only some passing showers, we awoke tired from the previous days exertions. We got up some rations, and started with an eye towards the heat of the day. About mid morning, we were formed for a dress parade. The parade was performed with all customs, including the escort and presentation of new colors to the 148th Penn. Vols. It was a solumn site to see these colors inserted into the line of battle. The parade completed, Capt. Felice explained the upcoming situation to the men in detail, and was well received. A weapons inspection was conducted, arms stacked, and a battalion drill followed. No surprise. We drilled forming column of divisions, marching be he left flank by division, and then facing by the rear rank. It truely seemed like an unusual set of drill subjects. A short time was allowed after drill to get canteens topped off and catch your breath.
We formed again and the battalion marched towards the south of the line and were placed on the rear of the brigade column of regiments. After a time, orders came to us in a hurry to immediately respond to the alarm to the south, and so we marched quickly by the left flank to the left and the front. Indeed, as we came into the presence of the enemy, we could see the actions across a wheat field were dire for all involved. We fronted. The enemy was appearing in the rear of our lines, so the order came to face by the rear rank, which we did immediately, and opened upon them. We were able to hold our own, and pushed them a little. It was a battle of wills, since it ebbed and flowed for almost a half hour. We were getting pressed, when a confederate minie ball found the head of our Capt. Fowler, Co.C, and as I looked around, the Lt. was giving all the orders, and some of his men and the stewards were already crowding around his fallen body. I could tell by the look that he was no more. His men bore his body to the rear. We were shortly exhausted of ammunition, and were compelled to pull back, out of the action, and head for supplies.
Saturday Evening, July 2d
Camp of the 17th Conn. Vols.
East Cemetery Hill
Back in camp, we were able to get up some warm meals, clean our weapons, and rest. In a bit of time, the orders came to once again fall in on the color line, and that we did without a murmur. The weapons of the battalion were inspected thoruoghly. We marched by the right flank towards the brigade, and soon caught the end of the column. We went into column of companies, and marched en route through the woods, and up onto the hill. There we were deployed in line. We were moved down the hill to the front, and told to hold that location. We did, of course hold it. The rebels marhed directly at us, and the guns to our right helped pound them back. We did our part as well, and the casualties on both sides were high. The rebels fighting uphill were at the disadvantage that compelled them to pull back and regroup several times, but we kept it hot on them and caused them great losses. At one point, we were ordered out of the line, and changed face to the left on first company. This was needed to answer the charging rebel emergency left down the lines. We were able to support that, but left a hole in the line that needed attention as well. Our casualties were growing, but we were able to stop the rebel pushes, and after a time, regained the position on the wall that we hade occupied before. We tried to get some rest as the night came on, and got under way.
Sunday Afternoon, July 3d.
Camp of the 16th Vermont.
The High Water Mark
A quiet night on the battlefield was experienced by all those present. The night was pleasant. The morning was quite thick, and so most boys were jaded. After roll call, morning report, a short dress parade was had, followed by a weapons inspection. The inspection done, the major determined to train the men in the manual of arms, and loading in ninie times. This was followed once more by stacking arms, and a large company drill. This drill concentrated on the old favorites like position of the soldier, facing, doubling, and by company into line, and by file into line.
In the early afternoon, we were assembled and marched once more. It seemed that since the major was last yesterday, he needed to be first today. He marched us right to the vicinity of headquarters, and in the woods directly across the stream from them, we filed into the shade, stacked and rested, before the other battalions had even moved. Preently, the rest of the brigade was on the move, the general in the lead, and as he passed, he told the major to fall in on the rear of the formation, which we did.
As we traversed the brigade line, we went right by file into line on the left of the brigade. We were presently ordered to move forward of the lines some distance towards the Emmitsburg road and deploy as skirmishers. We marched off the left flank of the line and proceeded out into the meadows between the enemy. Once on a line that the major deemed proper, the left and right companies were delopyed as skirmishers by the right and left files respectively. The rest of the companys were split and formed the reserve for each of these skirmishing companies. There we laid in the grasses between the lines, when a heavy bombardment opend from the confederate side, which fairly was shaking the earth. Our guns all along the entire line replied, and soon the air all around was filled with smoke, shells, and death. I thought that my ears would fairly burst from the concussions, and that the world would never again be silent. Each boom was like thunder, in that it woul rool and echo off the surrounding ground, filling and refilling the air with their roar. It seemed like days, but it did subside and stop. Before the noise had stopped I could hear a brass band away behind the trees where the rebel line was, and they were belting out Dixie. The major detailed a Lt. and 2 Pvts. to move far to the front and determine the location and strength of the enemy. They did reach the fence, and saw the entire rebel army turn out of the entire length of the lines, they bolted back and reported whe obvious to the major. We immediatedly assembled on the reserve, and headed back for our original position in the line of battle.
Once we were safely there, we could look out across the plains and see the confederates in three distinct division fronts advancing in eschelon upon our lines. They were angling towards a point on the line to our right. Their far left division was sort of angling towards us, and they did try to flank us to the left. We moved to the left, engaged them heavily, and supported the battalion nect to us, when orders came to leave the right battalion we were supporting to keep those rebels in check, and we moved by the right flank behind them towards the right flank of the rest of the advancing rebels. We went by company into line, and then forward into line, and so the brigade was now stretched out from the main union lines at a right angle forming a killing box that the rebels were in. We fired and charged, capturing some prisoners. The scene there was a litter of grey soldiers so thick that they were touching each other in front of the wall for a hundred yards or more. It was a terrible scene, yet the emergency had been met, and the Union cry went up, "Fredericksburg!, Fredericksburg!".
Soon we marched for the rear, and we were given orders that we were to be relieved. The camps were packed, and the trains loaded. I am not sure if we are to pursue the enemy to the south, or return to Washington. I will post yo unext with word once it is known. Pray for the many men lost on both sides in this epic battle. I pray that the enemy has been broken, and that the end of this war is now at hand.
Your humble & obedient servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.