Report from Lieut. William Wheeler, Thirteenth New York Battery to Maj. T. W. Osborn, Chief of Artillery, Eleventh Corps
WARRENTON JUNCTION, VA., July 29, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit a detailed report of the part taken by the Thirteenth New York Battery in the battle of July 1, 2, and 3, at Gettysburg, Pa.
On July 1, I marched from Emmitsburg with the Second Division (General Steinwehr), but, when within about 5 miles of Gettysburg, I was ordered to move forward at double-quick, which I did, proceeding at a rapid trot, and losing a large amount of forage from the roughness of the road.
Upon arriving at Gettysburg, I took position, by your order, on the right of the town, but soon received orders to move through the town to the front, and to support Captain Dilger's battery. In passing through the town, the rear body of two of my caissons broke down. One of these was subsequently recovered, but the other was too badly shattered to be repaired. I took up my position on Captain Dilger's right, and as soon as my guns had got the range of the hostile battery, they responded to it with good effect. Under their cover, Captain Dilger moved several hundred yards forward into a wheat-field. As soon as he commenced firing, I limbered up and followed, again taking position on his right. A very heavy fire was opened on us here both in front and upon the right flank, but we continued to hold the position.
The enemy then massed his infantry and threw them upon the troops on our right, who fell back after some severe fighting. I changed the direction of my right section, and fired into the advancing column of the enemy with canister, but did not succeed in checking them. I did not leave this position until the enemy was almost in rear of my battery. I then moved back to a point on the road near the town, and held this until the enemy were again nearly behind me, and the infantry supports had withdrawn.
While moving across the field to this point, a shot struck the axle of one of my pieces and broke it, dismounting the piece. I slung the piece under the limber with the prolonge, and carried it for some distance until the prolonge broke, when I was obliged to abandon the gun, but recovered it on the 5th, and it is now in serviceable condition. I then moved through the town, and was assigned by you a position on Cemetery Hill, being on the left wing of the batteries of the corps.
On the morning of July 2, my battery threw a few shells at the rebel train, &c., without eliciting a response.
At about 2 p.m. the rebel batteries opened along our front and on our right flank. My battery replied to them with good effect, and the guns directly in my front were several times silenced and compelled to change their position.
At about 5:30 p.m. my ammunition became exhausted (as I had lost 200 rounds in the caissons that broke down), and you sent another battery to relieve me. I took my battery to the Artillery Reserve train, and filled up with percussion and canister, which was the only 3-inch ammunition on hand.
During the morning of July 3, I lay in reserve behind Cemetery Hill. During the heavy cannonade from 1 to 3 p.m., I lost some horses, but fortunately no men.
At about 4 p.m. I received an order form you to go to assist the Second Corps, upon which a very heavy attack was being made. I immediately reported to General Hancock, who showed me my position. Upon coming into battery, I found the enemy not more than 400 yards off, marching in heavy column by a flank to attack Pettit's battery, which was on my right and somewhat in advance of me. This gave me a fine opportunity to enfilade their column with canister, which threw them into great disorder, and brought them to a halt three times. The charge was finally repulsed, and most of the enemy taken prisoners. I then returned to the corps at Cemetery Hill.
My loss consisted of 4 men severely wounded, 6 slightly wounded, and 3 missing*; 12 horses killed.
My men behaved with courage and spirit, and are anxious for another opportunity to try their 3-inch guns.
I beg leave to mention by name Orderly Sergt. Henry Miller and Corporals [Edward] Trafford, [John] O'Connor, and [John A.] Rusk, as distinguished for coolness and skill.
Eight hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition were expended.
The above is respectively submitted.
First Lieutenant, Comdg. Thirteenth New York Battery.
* - These casualties numbers were subsequently revised to 8 enlisted men wounded and 3 missing for the final Return of Casualties recorded by the War Department.
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13th Independent Battery - NY Light Artillery
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