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Gettysburg Seminar Papers

UNSUNG HEROES OF GETTYSBURG
 

WE SAVED THE LINE FROM BEING BROKEN:
Freeman McGilvery, John Bigelow, Charles Reed and the Battle of Gettysburg
by Eric Campbell

If History is written Truthfully I feel confident I shall receive a large share of the Credit of saving our Army from a Defeat on the 2d of July 1863 at Gettysburg... [1]

Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery wrote these words less than two weeks after participating in one the most critical battles of the American Civil War. He had a right to be proud of his actions, in which he commanded several Union artillery batteries that were critical in determining the outcome of the fighting on the second day of the battle.

Yet, except for the grand bombardment preceding Longstreet's Assault on July 3, most general histories of Gettysburg overlook, or even ignore completely the role of the artillery arm during the battle. This is unfortunate, for artillery did have a significant, even decisive influence at Gettysburg. This paper, by following the personal experiences of three Union soldiers, will examine a crucial, yet often overlooked action, and reveal how Union artillery turned back a significant Confederate threat during the early evening of July 2, 1863.

The three individuals used for this study, while exceptional in many ways, also are representative of the typical Union artilleryman, from field officer to private, who served at Gettysburg. They are: Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery, Captain John Bigelow, and Bugler Charles Wellington Reed. Before what they did can be discussed, a short introduction to each will define who these men were.

Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery (left), Capt. John Bigelow (center), Bugler Charles Reed (right)
(Maine State Archives, GNMP, Library of Congress)

By the fall of 1861, Freeman McGilvery, 37, was a man of extensive experience, having traveled the world for nearly 20 years as a sea captain. Having decided to join the Union army, he raised and organized the 6th Maine Battery that winter and was commissioned its captain on January 1, 1862. [2]

McGilvery had commanded men for over fifteen years and "had the coolness and rapidity of thought and action, which at...critical moments are required of an artillery officer." His leadership experience had also taught him the importance of discipline. He once wrote:

I...have a tolerable appreciation of the value of discipline in situations where bodies of men at times [are] required to be as a unit to him who commands them. 10 men well disciplined under the control of an energetic bold leader will easily vanquish 20 in the loose & unrestrained character of a mob, & so of Thousands & tens of Thousands. However, McGilvery also realized that "Discipline does not infer Tyranny. . ." [3]

He must have drawn upon all of this knowledge, for government bureaucracy and red tape delayed the arming and equipping of the battery until June when, "[b]efore it was properly drilled," the unit was ordered to the front. Given one month to prepare, McGilvery led the battery into its first action on August 9, 1862, at Cedar Mountain, where it was positioned on the extreme left of the Union line and was called upon to repulse "a most determined attack made by the enemy..." McGilvery later wrote, "I was ordered to hold the position at all hazards as long as I had ammunition." His delaying action lasted "at least 20 minutes," and according to his commander, Brig. Gen. Christopher Augur "had saved the division from being destroyed or taken prisoners." "I had a desperate fight," McGilvery wrote. Indeed, the last gun was "brought off the field in the face of the enemy's infantry not fifty yards distant." [4]

Several skirmishes quickly followed McGilvery's initiation to combat, before he led the battery at Second Manassas on August 30, where he and his battery once again found themselves facing overwhelming numbers as Confederate assaults struck the Union line. The battery fought until all its "support had left and all the horses of two guns had been killed." McGilvery "finding it useless to maintain the unequal contest, and the enemy gaining his rear, gave orders to fall back," but not before he had lost two guns. The other four pieces rallied 1,400 yards to the rear where, in the growing darkness, McGilvery made another stand, thus allowing "all of our troops" time to escape. The captain reported that his "battery was the last to leave the field." [5] These desperate delaying actions justified McGilvery's insistence upon discipline and the experiences would serve him well ten months later at Gettysburg.

McGilvery commanded the battery, though it was not engaged, at the battles of South Mountain and Sharpsburg, before his promotion to major, Maine Artillery, in February, 1863. [6] On May 12, 1863, he joined the Army of the Potomac when he was assigned command of the 1st Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, the unit he would eventually lead at Gettysburg. [7]

It did not take the newly promoted major long to gain the respect of his superiors. On June 23 McGilvery was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, remembered McGilvery as "a cool and clear headed officer," a fact which he would prove on July 2, 1863. [8]

Being born and raised in an upper-class Boston family, it is not surprising that John Bigelow entered Harvard College in the fall of 1857 at the age of sixteen. Though his academic performance was not outstanding, Harvard gave Bigelow something that would prove invaluable on numerous battlefields: self-discipline and the "self-possession to stand alone." [9] With the threat of war looming, and just three months before his graduation, Bigelow enlisted in the military on April 4, 1861, the first member of his class to do so. He had joined the 2nd Massachusetts Battery and was quickly promoted to lieutenant. During his brief stint with the battery, Bigelow learned the mechanics of artillery and responsibilities of command. [10]

In December, 1861, Bigelow accepted the adjutant lieutenancy of the 1st Battalion of Maryland Artillery, which was soon attached to the Army of the Potomac. His duties were mostly administrative, such as transmitting new orders from the chief of artillery during the army's reorganization of that branch of service. This experience broadened Bigelow's understanding of leadership and the proper management of artillery. [11]

The young officer saw combat for the first time on July 1, 1862, when the battalion was heavily engaged at Malvern Hill outside Richmond. A section of Battery B of the battalion lost its lieutenant and many of its men. Lt. Bigelow took command just as the rest of the demoralized crew seemed in the act of "deserting their gun[s]." Ordering the men back into action, Bigelow then led by example, physically pushing one of the pieces into a new position. While in this act, he was "shot through the wrist of the right arm." Despite the intense pain, and not willing to let the section lose its second commander in a matter of minutes, Bigelow fashioned a sling for "the injured arm and kept on firing." His commander, Capt. Alonzo Snow, reported that his lieutenant "took charge of [this] section and fought it gallantly until the close of the fight." [12] It would not be the last time one of Bigelow's superiors referred to his conduct as "gallant."

After a four-month furlough, Bigelow returned in time to participate in the Battle of Fredericksburg. By January, 1863, however, "suffering in health," he resigned his commission and returned home. His convalescence did not last long though, for "annoyed so much at the comments of the papers and people on the conduct of the war," John Bigelow decided he would fight again. In a February 9, 1863, letter to Massachusetts Gov. John Andrew, Bigelow wrote because "the demands of the country are as urgent today as at the outbreak of the rebellion, I have the honor to offer my services..." [13]

Andrews, needing the services of veteran officers like Bigelow, quickly accepted and offered him the captaincy of the 9th Massachusetts Battery. Organized in August, 1862, the battery had given the governor constant trouble. Most of this stemmed from poor leadership provided by the original captain and from the fact that the battery had spent its entire existence pulling garrison duty in the Washington defenses. Morale was low, discipline was lacking and the battery was in turmoil. Gov. Andrews warned Bigelow "you will find them thoroughly demoralized; they require an officer of experience; they need discipline; your work will be difficult." [14]

Indeed, Bigelow recalled finding the battery "within the earthworks of Washington, demoralized and unhappy because the men felt they were only playing soldiers, for which they had not enlisted." The newly promoted captain, placing the same importance on discipline as McGilvery, cracked down. One of the men in the battery did not think much of his new commanding officer, writing that Bigelow was "a regular aristocrat...He is worse than any regular that ever breathed." [15] That soldier's name was Charles Wellington Reed.

Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on April 1, 1841, Charles Wellington Reed was the third child of Joseph and Roxanna Reed. Though Reed's ancestry was rich—his great-grandfather Swithin Reed immigrated to America in 1740; his grandfather Isaac Richardson had been wounded at the Battle of Lexington during the Revolution; his father had served during the Mexican War—his immediate family's financial and social status was only moderately acceptable. [16]

Of average height and slight in built, Reed was articulate, industrious, eager and had a talent for drawing, art and music. After graduating from public schools of Charlestown and Boston, Reed was working independently as an illustrator/lithographer when the war began. Unsure of his future career path and seeking an opportunity to advance his talents, Reed enlisted as bugler in the 9th Massachusetts Battery on August 2, 1862, for three years or the end of the war. [17]

To Reed the war seemed a great adventure, giving him a chance to travel, visit sites he had only read about and be a witness to what he realized was a great event in history. Not only did he witness it, but Reed recorded much of what he saw, illustrating most of his letters with drawings and filling several sketch books throughout the war.

The arrival of the battery's new captain in late February, 1863, changed the lax and somewhat carefree lives of the men in the 9th Massachusetts Battery. Some, including Reed, thought Bigelow was a tyrant, the bugler writing, "he dont have...the feelings for his men as a slave owner for his slaves...he has been order[ing] eight roll call's a day. in fact they are regular dress parades which precede all the drill call's[,] stable, and water calls..." [18]

Realizing the importance of discipline, Bigelow instilled it through strictness to regulation, repeated drilling and insistence on the unquestioning obedience of orders. Not surprisingly, the battery made steady improvement, one soldier noting: "Our camp, from headquarters to stables, felt a new influence." Even Reed wrote that Bigelow "understands his business, lately he has relaxed his strictness...I think his strictness was to make the men know what he is." [19]

Throughout that spring the battery's morale, discipline and confidence grew steadily. One of the men later wrote, "we felt we were making rapid strides toward a position in which we can be efficient in any place." They would certainly need to be, for their first experience in combat was to take place that summer at a Pennsylvania crossroads town called Gettysburg. [20]

GETTYSBURG

In reaction to the second Confederate invasion of the north during the war, the Army of the Potomac marched northward in June, 1863. Its route through northern Virginia passed by the outer defenses of Washington, from which the army gained reinforcements from various garrison troops. On June 25, 1863, the 9th Massachusetts Battery, found itself marching as part of this massive army. At that time the battery consisted of 104 officers and men, 110 horses and six bronze smoothbore Napoleons. The men soon discovered they had been assigned to the 1st Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, commanded by Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery [21]

It was here that McGilvery, Bigelow and Reed were drawn together. Although they could not foresee it, these three men, along with their comrades of the artillery arm, would play an important role in determining the final outcome of the approaching battle.

McGilvery's brigade arrived on the battlefield by mid-morning of July 2, 1863, as part of the on-going concentration of the Union army. The battle had begun the day before as elements of both armies clashed outside Gettysburg, with the end result being the retreat of the Union forces to a range of hills and ridges located south of town.

Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, had decided to await Confederate movements and was arranging his battle line for a defensive struggle. The Artillery Reserve was thus placed behind the lines and held in readiness to be used when and where it was most needed. Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, called his reserve "an invaluable resource in the time of greatest need." [22] The Union army faced such a "need" later that day.

The principal Confederate attack began around 3:30 p.m. as Southern troops under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet struck the Union left. Defending this area was the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles. Earlier that afternoon this flamboyant commander, in one of the most controversial decisions of the battle, had pushed his corps between 1/4 to 3/4 of a mile forward to an advanced and overextended position. Now, in desperation, Sickles sought reinforcements to bolster his thin line. [23]

An ideal source from which assistance could be given was the Artillery Reserve, for it had been created for exactly the type of situation that now existed. Civil War artillery, though obsolete by modern standards, could be very effective if used properly. This was especially true when the guns could be concentrated in order to hold a defensive position, something the Artillery Reserve could do efficiently and rapidly. [24]

Gen. Hunt, realizing this, "sent at once to the reserve for more artillery, and authorized other general officers to draw on the same source." Bigelow, who had held his men in a state of readiness, recalled that around 4:00 p.m. "an aide...rode up and asked for reinforcements; Colonel McGilvery gave us orders" to march. A rapid series of orders, arriving within a matter of minutes, had McGilvery leading all four of his batteries to the support of Sickles. [25]

Charles Reed blew "Assembly" and, according to Bigelow, "drivers mounted and within five minutes we were off at a lively trot, following our leader to the left, where the firing was getting to be the heaviest." Though almost all of the 1st Volunteer Brigade, including Bigelow and McGilvery were combat veterans, the men of the 9th Massachusetts Battery were moving into their first battle. Quite naturally many were nervous. Yet others, probably eager and naive, were like Reed who wrote home, "I must say I was surprised at myself in not experiencing more fear than I did as it was it seemed more like going to some game or a review..." Cpl. Augustus Hesse wrote home "our Battery the 9th Mass. went in high Spirits." [26]

McGilvery lead his batteries cross-country, "skirted fields, followed by-roads" and toward the fighting, finally arriving at Gen. Sickles' headquarters near the Abraham Trostle farmstead. The batteries "doubled up" and the men began to wait as McGilvery conferred with Sickles. Bigelow described the scene:

A spirited military spectacle lay before us; General Sickles was standing beneath a tree close by, staff officers and orderlies coming and going in all directions; at the famous "Peach Orchard" angle on rising ground, along the Emmetsburg Road, about 500 yards in our front, white smoke was curling up from...the deep-toned booming of [Union] guns...while the enemy's shells were flying over or breaking around us. [27]

"Major General Sickles headquarters as we passed him going into action on the 2d of July at Gettysburg. I took this sketch on the spot." Charles Reed
(Library of Congress)

Sickles ordered McGilvery to examine the ground and place his batteries as needed. As the lieutenant colonel did so, his artillery men could do nothing but wait. Despite the shells that "were flying over our front, or bursting in the air" the men, including the "new and untried" soldiers of the 9th Massachusetts Battery, remained calm. Reed, probably excited by the momentous event unfolding before him and realizing its importance, decided to record the scene. Incredibly he pulled out his sketch pad and began to draw. He later wrote:

at the foot of the hill... were Maj. Gen Sickels headquarters under a tree. we halted... a few minutes giving me time to take a scetch of him. one of his Aids was already wounded by a piece of shell in the back and the surgeon was doing it up. [28]

In less than thirty minutes McGilvery completed his reconnaissance and ordered up his batteries. He placed them in and to the east of the Peach Orchard, along the left center of the Third Corps line. It was a good choice, for the ground there served as a natural artillery platform, being a slightly elevated plateau on three sides (east, south and west) and having an unobstructed view in all directions. Taking advantage of these benefits, McGilvery eventually placed all four batteries along the Wheatfield Road, facing southward so they "commanded most of the open country" to their front. They were, from right to left, Capt. James Thompson's Battery C & F, 1st Pennsylvania, Capt. Patrick Hart's 15th New York, Capt. Charles Phillips' 5th Massachusetts and Bigelow's 9th Massachusetts. Capt. A. Judson Clark's Battery B, 1st New Jersey Light Artillery, was already in this same area. [29]

McGilvery also placed his batteries along the Wheatfield Road in order to cover a dangerous 400-yard gap in the Union line between the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield [30] This gap existed because Sickles had overextended his line in taking up his advanced position. Though critically important, McGilvery's decision forced him to break a basic rule of artillery tactics. Because Civil War artillery used direct fire, it had to be placed on the front line, thus making it vulnerable to capture. The Artillerist's Manual of 1859 states, "Artillery cannot defend itself when hard pressed, and should always be sustained by...infantry." McGilvery's batteries however, had no support and could only hope they never would be "hard pressed." McGilvery himself was probably willing to take the risk, at least initially, for the Confederate infantry assaults at that time were striking the extreme left of the Union line, at Little Round Top and Devil's Den. [31]

Despite their vulnerability, all the batteries went into position while under fire and quickly readied for action. It would have been an impressive sight, 26 cannons and their crews, with all the necessary equipment and hundreds of horses positioned behind the guns, dueling with Confederate artillery nearly a mile away. Reed wrote home that "there were five Batterys of us in a line...besides other artillery in different positions[,] the roar of which was deafening." [32]

The Peach Orchard Under Attack
(Gettysburg Magazine - Morningside Press; click on image for a PDF version)

The Peach Orchard Falls
(Gettysburg Magazine - Morningside Press; click on image for a PDF version)

McGilvery's Plum Run Line
(Gettysburg Magazine - Morningside Press; click on image for a PDF version)

Upon their arrival, the primary concern for McGilvery's men was the incoming artillery fire. One cannoneer recalled the "position was swept by Confederate artillery fire." Bigelow remembered, "Our position was open and exposed... One man was killed and several wounded before we could fire a single gun..." The volume of fire and tremendous noise were almost overwhelming. Reed, attempting to describe it, wrote, "such a shrieking, hissing, seething I never dreamed was imaginable, it seemed as though it must be the work of the very devil himself." [33]

Despite being suddenly thrust into their "baptism of fire" under such trying circumstances, the men of the 9th Massachusetts Battery responded well, quickly preparing for action and, Bigelow recalled, "soon covered ourselves in a cloud of powder smoke, for our six Light Twelve guns were rapidly served..." The previous months of drilling and strict discipline he had insisted upon now paid great dividends. Years later Bigelow told his men, "Amid the zip of bullets, the whiz of shot, and the explosion of shells, you maintained the steadiness of veterans." [34]

During this time Bigelow remained active, overseeing the actions of his men and the effect of their fire. As an example, soon after the guns had unlimbered, "the Captain rode down the line" and found "that a swell of ground...covered the view from my left section." Instantly, he ordered the two guns to be limbered up and moved to the right of the battery to open up their field of fire. [35]

Shortly after taking up its position "on that memorable day and our battery fairly at [it]," Reed wrote that, "Captain ordered me to the rear[,] saying there was no need of my being there." Bigelow must have felt there was no use for a bugler with the deafening noise. Reed obeyed "and rode back two or three rods" but then changed his mind, as he related in a letter to his sister that, "...somehow I coud'nt see it. I was bound to see a fight and might be of some use after all so I disobeyed orders by turning round [and] going up to the battery again..." [36]

It turned out to be a good decision, as Reed explained:

I was right [to return] for presently Major McGilvray . . . came up and set me at it in the shape of transmitting orders from one bat 'ry to another, which suited me to a T as I had a wider field under my eyes and could see what was going on farther to our right and left[.] [37]

McGilvery was short on staff officers as Capt. Nathaniel Irish, his volunteer aide, had been wounded by a solid shot early in the fight. [38] Reed's return would also greatly benefit Bigelow later that afternoon.

Though he spent most of time near Bigelow's and Phillip's batteries, for it probably gave him the best vantage point, McGilvery remained active along his entire line, overseeing the actions of all his batteries. He attempted to concentrate his firepower "on single rebel batteries" and claimed to have driven "five or more...in succession from their positions." Though there is certainly some truth in this statement, an officer in the 5th Massachusetts stated "we could hardly tell" what effect their fire had, for thick smoke was quickly clouding the field. The Confederates apparently had the same problem, for Bigelow stated their fire was "so wild, that not one of their shots was conspicuously effective." [39]

It would be fire from a different and completely unexpected direction that caused McGilvery's command the worst problems. Charles Reed recalled this fire, writing, "some new Batterys opened on us a cross fire with shell and solid shot[.] their fire about this time was tremendous." He was describing several Confederate batteries located 600 yards west of the Peach Orchard along Seminary Ridge and directly to the right of McGilvery's line. The overshoots from these batteries were now raking the Union guns. McGilvery reported this "enfilade fire...was inflicting serious damage through the whole line of my command." Adding to the frustration for the Union artillerymen was that they could do nothing to counter this fire for, according to Capt. Phillips, "the peach orchard was on higher ground...I could not see any of the rebels in this direction..." [40]

This situation pointed out another major flaw in Sickles' advanced line. Because the Third Corps line angled back at the Peach Orchard, Sickles' front essentially faced two directions, west and south. Thus, the converging fire of Confederate batteries could enfilade both wings of the Third Corps line. The soldiers who would pay the price for Sickles' mistake were the artillerymen, like McGilvery's command, to whom the shortcomings of the position were starkly evident.

The overall situation for McGilvery's batteries, bad as it was, suddenly got even worse. Because the Confederate infantry assaults were being launched "en echelon" style, from south to north, the fighting was moving closer to the Peach Orchard. McGilvery must have sensed this for he reported "about 5 o'clock a heavy column of rebel infantry made its appearance in a grain-field about 850 yards in front, moving at double quick time toward the woods on our left, where the infantry fighting was then going on." This was most likely Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson's Brigade moving toward the Wheatfield. McGilvery ordered the batteries to switch targets and soon a "well-directed fire" from his batteries "destroyed the order of their march," though their advance continued. [41]

Charles Reed's sketch of the 9th Mass. Battery moving into its first action, July 2, 1863.
(Library of Congress)

Charles Reed's sketch of Union artillery in action along the Wheatfield Road. The Peach Orchard can be seen as the rise in the distance
(Library of Congress)

By 5:30 p.m. "the battle...raged along the lines" as Union troops at Little Round Top, Devil's Den and the Wheatfield were all under attack. Near this time, McGilvery reported, "another and larger column appeared..." He was describing the combined assault of Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw's and Brig. Gen. Paul Semmes' brigades, as they advanced from Seminary Ridge toward the Wheatfield. [42] At a distance of less than 400 yards these Confederates marched directly across the front of McGilvery's batteries, from right to left, "presenting a slight left flank." Seeing this, McGilvery, through direct commands or through his staff (including Reed), notified his commanders and "I immediately trained the entire line of our guns upon them, and opened with various kinds of ammunition." [43]

Capt. Hart, of the 15th New York Battery stated that, "At this time my attention was drawn to a heavy column of infantry advancing on our line. I directed my fire with shrapnel on this column to good effect." [44]

As the range decreased the batteries switched to canister. These shotgun-like blasts tore "great gaps or swaths" through the Confederate ranks. Kershaw's left flank got the worst of this fire, as one South Carolinian recalled that, "O the awful deathly surging sounds of those little black balls as they flew by us, through us, between our legs, and over us! Many, of course, were struck down..." [45]

All this time the batteries were also still under Confederate artillery fire, as Charles Reed related:

I had just been along the line of batterys that were [in] line... with an order from the Col to double shott the guns with canister and returning a shell tore up the ground in front of my horse at which he halted so suddenly... as to almost throw me out of the saddle. [46]

Meanwhile, because of the heavy smoke and tremendous noise, Bigelow was not yet aware of the advancing Confederate lines until "Major McGilvery came to me and called my attention to...the enemy...collecting near a house in my front."

This was the stone house and barn of the George Rose farmstead, located about 500 yards directly in front of the battery. Bigelow ordered the battery to open with spherical case shot and shell which "broke beautifully" amongst the Confederate ranks.

Years later, Kershaw wrote that, "the batteries near the orchard concentrated a terrific fire on us at that point. I well remember the clatter of the grape [canister] against the wall of the houses we passed." [47]

Though McGilvery's guns had done "terrible execution," making it difficult for Kershaw's men "to retain the line in good order," the center and right of his brigade moved steadily forward toward the Union line in the woods to McGilvery's left front. Despite the danger to the Union infantry in that area, Capt. Phillips ordered his guns to keep firing, hoping "to hit the rebels without injuring our own troops." One South Carolinian recalled, "My! how the trees trembled and split under the incessant shower of shot and shell!" [48]

The left of Kershaw's line, somewhat disorganized "for a short time halted about the walls and fence" near the Rose buildings. Kershaw then ordered it, as per previous instructions, to "wheel to the left" and attack the batteries along the Wheatfield road. Reed, still roving along the line, remembered "down came the Rebs...from the right behind a white fence when opposite us they left flanked and steadily advanced on us..." [49]

McGilvery's men, now without infantry support of their own, faced rapidly advancing and disciplined Confederate infantry. Making matters worse was a ravine 400 yards in front of and parallel to the Union guns, which partially hid the Confederate line. Suddenly appearing out of the ravine, Bigelow saw them, "extending from the Rose buildings to the Peach Orchard." Somewhat confused, the captain at first "hesitated to open fire on them, fearing they were Sickles' men." Seeing a Confederate battle flag, however, he quickly ordered his gunners to fire, as did the batteries to his right. A member of the 5th Massachusetts Battery remembered that though they "could see the rebels fall...the gaps closed at each discharge" and the Confederate advance continued. [50] It seemed as if the batteries would soon be overwhelmed.

The South Carolinians closed to within two hundred yards, when suddenly their direction of advance shifted to their right, thus moving parallel to the artillery. [51] McGilvery's men quickly took advantage, as Bigelow described:

. . . the Battery immediately enfiladed them with a rapid fire of canister, which tore through their ranks and sprinkled the field with their dead and wound, until they disappeared in the woods on our left, apparently a mob. [52]

Though the initial Confederate assault had been repulsed, the situation remained critical for McGilvery's batteries. Kershaw's men quickly rallied and were "not long in taking...revenge." Bigelow recalled that "as soon as the woods were reached, [they] sent a body of sharpshooters against us..." Cpl. Hesse wrote: "They threw out a heavy line of skirmishers against us..." According to Reed these men "advanced on us giving us such a shower of small balls that it was dangerous to be safe!" [53]

Even worse, Bigelow remembered, "At this time I saw some Federal troops in good order move out of these very woods the enemy had gained, and marched to the rear..." [54] Cpl. Hesse wrote, "our Infantry gave way then...the Rebels rushed in through the Woods," thus gaining shelter. Even worse, McGilvery reported that the "asperities of the ground in front of my batteries were such as to enable the enemy's sharpshooters in large numbers to cover themselves within very short range." Thus McGilvery's line was "exposed to a warm infantry fire" from both the front and left. Being on the far left, the 9th Massachusetts Battery received the worst of this fire. [55]

Bigelow later stated that the Confederates, having gained "the woods, came up on my left front as skirmishers, pouring in a heavy fire and killing and wounding a number of...my men." Private David Brett, in a letter home, wrote that "we could hear the bullets pass us[.] finily a man dropt about 6 foot to my right another right behind[.] 6 men were killed within a rod of me..." Kershaw's men got so close that one wrote, "we killed their horses with rifles easily." Because Civil War artillery had such a slow rate of fire, even the best gun crew could not defend itself from this type of attack without proper support. [56]

McGilvery's gunners would not receive that support as long as the situation to their left, in the Wheatfield, remained unstable. With the collapse of the Union line in that area, all available reinforcements moving toward Sickles' front were being shifted into that area, thus depriving McGilvery of much needed support for his guns. Near this time, Union troops from the Second Corps arrived and launched a counterattack into the Wheatfield. The "contest was raging hot and fierce...on our left...with desperate fighting," Bigelow recalled, "the pendulum of battle had swung backward and forward. . ." [57] Though this movement checked the further advance of Kershaw's Brigade, McGilvery and his men were still without support and under a "very annoying" musketry fire. [58]

Reed sketch of Lt. Christopher Ericskon and his gun crew. Erickson was wounded earlier in the fight but refused to leave the field. The men of Kershaw's Brigade approach from the background.
(Library of Congress)

These conditions continued to deteriorate until, shortly after 6:00 p.m., the situation reached a critical point. At that time, the growing Confederate assaults reached the salient angle of Sickles' line at the Peach Orchard. Under the relentless advance of the brigades of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale and Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford, the Union line began to crumble. [59] Though making a determined stand, the Union infantry finally began "melting away" before the "compact mass of humanity" that Barksdale's lines presented. This stand allowed the artillery in the orchard time to escape, though not always in good order. [60]

This collapse also signaled the partial demise of McGilvery's line. In order to save his guns Thompson fell back from the orchard in some confusion. Hart's 15th New York Battery followed shortly after due to lack of ammunition. [61] Though reduced by half his strength, McGilvery meanwhile was keeping alert to the approaching danger. Having no support and with his remaining batteries threatened "from both flanks and front," he realized it was time to pull back. [62]

McGilvery's last two batteries, Phillips and Bigelow, were still thundering away at Kershaw's men and had not yet noticed the danger to their right. Capt. Phillips remembered:

Fighting was going on all this time on our right, but we were too busy to pay much attention to it until I happened to see our infantry falling back in the Peach Orchard and a skirmish line coming in, in front of the right of our line of batteries. [63]

This line would have been Barksdale's regiments, advancing through the orchard after smashing the Union line located there.

After overseeing the withdrawal of Thompson and Hart, McGilvery next rode to Phillips and ordered him to retreat. McGilvery's intention was to have both Phillips and Bigelow "retire 250 yards and renew their fire." He was probably hoping to reform the broken line, or somehow stem the flow of retreating Union troops. This proved impractical, however, as the situation was unraveling too rapidly. By the time McGilvery reached the 9th Massachusetts Battery, he was ordering his batteries back to Cemetery Ridge, the "natural line of defense." [64]

Riding down his line from the right, McGilvery would have reached Bigelow's battery last. All this time the men had been steadily working their guns in a futile attempt to hold back the increasing Confederate pressure from the left and front. As proof of the battery's discipline Charles Reed, who had returned to the battery, related "we were so intent upon our work that we noticed not when the other batterys left..." Bigelow, however, was aware of the worsening situation for he recalled:

Glancing toward the Peach Orchard on my right, I saw that the Confederates (Barksdale's Brigade) had come through and were forming a line 200 yards distant, extending back, parallel with the Emmitsburg Road, as far as I could see... [65]

He remembered what happened next. "Colonel McGilvery rode up, at this time, and told me that 'all of Sickles' men had withdrawn and I was alone on the field, without supports.. limber up and get out." [66]

Bigelow realized the order could not be carried out, for without support and with Confederate skirmishers so close, "every saddle would have been emptied in trying to limber up." Making a swift decision, the captain asked McGilvery if he could "'retire by prolonge and firing,' in order to 'keep them off.'" [67]

This bold decision revealed the confidence that Bigelow had in his men, for to attempt such a maneuver was extremely risky, especially with untried troops. Many obstacles and problems could develop which could result in disaster for the battery. [68] McGilvery also must have realized the risk, but quickly "assented [to the request] and rode away." [69] Either the lieutenant colonel trusted Bigelow or agreed the captain had no choice.

Whatever the reason, orders were quickly given, "prolonges were fixed" and the battery began to withdraw. It was a movement beset with obstacles. Bigelow recalled that "No friendly supports, of any kind, were in sight; but Johnnie Rebs in great numbers. Bullets were coming into our midst from many directions and a Confederate battery added to our difficulties." [70]

Furthermore, the field over which the battery traversed contained scattered rock outcroppings and "large bowlders" which created havoc with the alignment of prolonges, guns and limbers. [71]

Despite all these obstacles, however, the "Battery kept well aligned in retiring," and moved steadily back "with a slow, sullen fire." Facing two different and distinct threats, Bigelow dealt with each differently. He recalled the battery "withdrew—the left section keeping Kershaw's skirmishers back with canister, and the other two sections bowling solid shot towards Barksdale's men." [72]

Two of the most important factors which made this retreat successful were the discipline Bigelow had instilled into his command, and (as McGilvery earlier termed it) the "control of an energetic bold leader." Bigelow and his officers provided that necessary leadership, which the enlisted men recognized. Charles Reed recalled, "we are proud of all of our officers[,] they were constantly in the thickest of the fighting[.]" In his official report, McGilvery noted that Bigelow "evinced great coolness and skill in retiring" his guns. [73]

After leaving Bigelow, McGilvery had galloped toward the rear in order to regroup and reorganize his other batteries along Cemetery Ridge. Just after splashing across Plum Run and reaching the higher ground beyond, however, the lieutenant colonel was probably shocked by the situation that confronted him. Expecting to find infantry onto which he could rally his batteries, McGilvery instead discovered that the Third Corps "had left the field" and Cemetery Ridge was "fearfully unprotected." This dangerously wide 1,500 yard gap, from the foot of Little Round Top to the left of the Second Corps, was only lightly defended by a few scattered and bloodied units. The artillery officer knew that, if the gap was discovered by the rapidly advancing Confederates, disaster might result for the Union army. In his official report McGilvery described the situation succinctly, writing, "The crisis of the engagement had now arrived." [74]

John Bigelow sketch of the position of his guns during their final stand at the Abraham Trostle house.
(Library of Congress)

Somehow, a new line must be established to close the gap. Yet, because of the numerous obstacles he faced, that task seemed an impossibility. The primary difficulty was that the only units available to McGilvery were his own damaged and worn gun crews and other batteries retreating through the area. Again, the artillery would stand alone. [75]

Making matters worse was that since McGilvery would rally the last batteries to retreat, they would be in the worst shape. He also would have very little assistance, as his staff had dwindled during the battle. Having barely digested this information, McGilvery also realized he needed to act quickly, for the Confederates were fast approaching.

It was here that McGilvery's similar experiences at both Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas paid dividends, for, despite the overwhelming odds, the artillery officer clearly understood that drastic measures were necessary. The bold decisions he soon undertook proved he was "determined to sacrifice his Batteries, if necessary, in an effort to stay the enemy's advance into the opening in the Lines..." [76]

The lieutenant colonel immediately proved this last sentiment, for a means of buying more time was suddenly presented to him. He spotted the 9th Massachusetts Battery, which had just halted under cover of a slight knoll near the Trostle farmstead and was beginning to limber up in preparation for retreat. Without hesitation, McGilvery spurred his horse, galloping "alone, in the midst of flying missiles" toward the battery. Luckily, he came through this fire unscathed, though his horse staggered, being "shot four times in the breast and fore shoulder." Indeed, Bigelow recalled the animal was "riddled with bullets," yet somehow managed to keep going. McGilvery finally reined up in front of the captain and gave him new orders:

Captain Bigelow, there is not an infantryman back of you along the whole line which Sickles' moved out; you must remain where you are and hold your position at all hazards, if need be, until at least I can find some batteries to put in position and cover you. [77]

Having received this command himself, McGilvery knew the consequences of these orders. So too did Bigelow, who later wrote "the sacrifice of the command was asked in order to save the line." The full implications probably stunned the captain, who only managed the weak reply of, "I would try to do so." [78]

The men of the battery were probably stunned as well. A moment before Bigelow had ordered them to limber up, "hoping to get out and back to our lines before" the Confederates "closed in on us." Having just survived an intense "baptism of fire," including performing extremely risky and difficult maneuvers, they probably felt incredibly lucky just to be getting away. Now, an officer they had known barely a week had literally ordered their destruction. It was a complete reversal of the hopes the men held, moments before, of escaping. Charles Reed stated simply, "we were left in a critical position[.]" [79]

Bigelow found himself, like his commander had a few moments before, in a "position... which...was an impossible one for artillery." He later wrote:

The task seemed superhuman, for the knoll already spoken of allowed the enemy to approach as it were under cover within 50 yards of my front, while I was very much cramped for room and my ammunition was greatly reduced. [80]

Even worse, with the enemy quickly closing in, the battery was trapped in the angle of two stone walls, making retreat impossible. Furthermore, they were still without support, and the men were reaching total exhaustion, as Cpl. Hesse related, "the blood run all over me[.] I was Sweting and the Powder of handling the Cartrige and Smoke blacked my face... so if you had seen me you would not have Known me." [81]

Under such circumstances, it would not have been surprising for a green unit, such as Bigelow's battery, to simply disintegrate in panic upon receiving such orders. Yet the men of the 9th Massachusetts Battery did the opposite. As McGilvery rode back to pull together his new line, Bigelow ordered his men to prepare for action, and they immediately obeyed. Their reasons reveal much about their commander, and the men themselves.

Primarily, the men obeyed because of discipline and leadership. The discipline, which had been instilled by Bigelow through months of drilling and strictness of military regulation, was about to reap significant benefits for them on this small Pennsylvania farmstead. Also, "the self-possession to stand alone," which the captain had received at Harvard, gave him the ability to provide the cool-headed leadership that his men required. Bigelow would be the "energetic bold leader" McGilvery needed at that critical moment. [82]

Another important reason why the battery stood its ground was the character of the men themselves. Most were just like Charles Reed who, though from common origins, were, according to Bigelow, "Without exception... soldiers only from the highest sense of duty" and they fought for a cause in which they firmly believed. Though earlier given a chance to safely leave the fight, Reed just "could'nt see it," and had "disobyed orders" by returning to his battery. Cpl. Hesse best summed up the feelings of all the men in the battery when he later proudly wrote, "We, the Glorious-young 9th Mass-Battery in Splendid Organization and for the first time in an engagement - stood the ground and were Willing to die for the Contry." [83]

Realizing desperate circumstances required desperate actions, Bigelow took chances. Risking the danger to his own men, the captain ordered all the ammunition laid beside the guns for "rapid firing." Utilizing every means possible to slow the advancing Confederates, he then ordered his four guns in the center and right, to "commence...firing solid shot low, for a ricochet over the knoll" and into the infantry beyond. With his six pieces loaded and arranged in a semicircle, with the limbers and horses crowded into the corner of the stone walls, the battery soon fell silent to await the onslaught. Though "the moments seemed like hours," Bigelow recalled the preparations were completed "not a moment too soon... for almost immediately the enemy appeared over the knoll." [84]

Bigelow described the desperate action that followed:

Waiting till they were breast high, my battery was discharged at them every gun loaded. . . with double shotted canister and solid shot, after which through the smoke [we] caught a glimpse of the enemy, they were torn and broken, but still advancing... [85]

These tenacious troops were the approximately 400 men of the 21st Mississippi Infantry (Barksdale's Brigade), which struck the right and front of the battery. At the same time skirmishers from Kershaw's Brigade, who had doggedly followed Bigelow's guns, threatened from the left front. [86]

Despite the battery's terrible fire, Bigelow recalled that, "...the enemy opened a fearful musketry fire, men and horses were falling like hail... Sergeant after Sergt., was struck down, horses were plunging and laying about all around..." [87]

Flushed with victory, the Mississippians pushed onward, "yelling like demons," as "Again and again they rallied." Bigelow remembered, "The enemy crowded to the very muzzles [of the guns] but were blown away by the canister." Because of his men's steadiness, the captain could later proudly claim, "Notwithstanding their insane, reckless efforts not an enemy came into [the] battery from its front." [88]

As this struggle continued, however, the situation grew worse for the battery. Bigelow recounted how the "rapid fire recoiled the guns into the corner of the stone-wall," which "more and more cramped my position." As ammunition began to run low Bigelow, still willing to take risks, ordered case shot fired with the fuzes cut short "so that they would explode near the muzzle of [the] guns." Lastly, though the battery's front was secure, the Confederate "lines extended far beyond our right flank," the captain wrote, "and the 21st Miss.,...swung without opposition and came in from that direction, pouring in a heavy fire all the while." [89]

Now caught in a "withering cross fire," and with his left section "entangled among some large bowlders" and the stone wall, Bigelow ordered those guns to retire. After quickly limbering up the crews headed for their only escape, an opening in the stone wall opposite the Trostle farmyard. The first gun, however, upon reaching the gateway, overturned and blocked it. While the men of this gun scrambled to right it, the crew of the trailing gun looked in desperation for a way out. A few men "tumbled the top stones off the wall" before the drivers headed "directly over the wall." Reed remembered the "horses jumping and the gun...going over with a tilt on one side and then a crash of rocks and wheels" as the piece made its successful flight. [90]

Knowing the end was drawing near, Bigelow gave orders for the remaining crews to prepare for a general retreat and "rode to the stone wall, hoping to stop some of [the] cannoneers and have them make a better opening, through which I might rush one or more of the remaining four guns..." But with the left section gone, Kershaw's skirmishers "being unchecked, quickly came up on [the] left and poured in a murderous fire." Bugler Reed, at his captain's side, recalled "I saw the enemy skirting down the stone wall...and called to the captain to look out," while at the same time "throwing his horse back on his haunches." Bigelow never heard the warning as six skirmishers opened fire and the captain "caught two bullets, my horse two, two flew wide." [91]

Reed's sketch of his act of heroism in saving Capt. Bigelow at Gettysburg. Reed was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
(Hall's Regiments and Armories of Massachusetts...)

As his horse staggered to the rear the captain fell near the wall, dazed. Reed and Bigelow's orderly were quickly by their commander's side. As he "drew himself back to the stone wall" Bigelow recalled seeing "the Confederates swarming in on our right flank." Hand-to-hand fighting engulfed the battery as the men began to use handspikes and rammers in order to defend their guns. [92]

With all the remaining officers and most of the sergeants also killed or wounded, "the air. . .alive with missiles," and the battery caught in a turmoil of confusion, the resistance of most units would collapse. Once again, however, the men of the 9th Massachusetts Battery did not flinch. Instead they stood to their guns, their discipline holding them together. Private David Brett wrote that, "We fought with our guns until the rebs could put heir hands on [them] . . .the bullets flew thick as hailstones. . .it is a mericle that we were not all killed...not a man run[,] 4 or 5 fell within 15 feet of me..." [93]

Bigelow also noticed that some Confederates were "standing on the limber chests, and shooting down cannoneers." Yet, the captain proudly noted that "Not even then did the batterymen cease their fire." [94]

Bigelow realized that "Longer delay was impossible," and "Having thus accomplished what was required of my command," he gave the order to retreat. It was only at this point that the men abandoned their pieces and made their way to the rear. They had sacrificed themselves as ordered, having lost three of four officers, six of eight sergeants, 19 enlisted men, 88 horses and four of their six guns. Yet this incredible stand had "delayed the enemy 30 precious minutes." [95]

Though shattered, the battery had not sacrificed itself in vain, for Bigelow, "glancing anxiously to the rear... saw the longed for batteries just coming into position." McGilvery's new line was nearly completed. In a large part this was possible because of the time that Bigelow and his men had so dearly bought. [96]

In the midst of this chaos, as the men "scattered" to the rear, Reed remembered his wounded captain "told...the orderly and myself to leave him and get out as best we could." The bugler, however, "didn't do just that." Instead Reed, as he had earlier in the battle, disobeyed orders. Years later Bigelow described the actions of his faithful bugler:

...he remained with me...called my orderly and had him lift me on to his horse; then taking the reins of both horses in his left hand, with his right hand supporting me in the saddle, took me at a walk [to the rear]. [97]

Reed recalled what happened next:

Then we tried to get away Some of the confederates saw us...and several of them tried to take us prisoners. They did not fire at once, but tried to pull us from the horses' backs, but were unsuccessful, as the horses kicked and I was able to do some execution with my...saber... We were still struggling when an officer, who saw his men were about to fire, told them not to murder us in cold blood. Then I started for the northern forces. [98]

Those forces were part of McGilvery's new artillery line, waiting to open fire. The wounded captain and his bugler were now between the battle lines, with "the shells of the Enemy...breaking all around us." They had over 400 yards of open ground to cross before reaching safety. "Before I was halfway back," Bigelow remembered an officer was sent "urging me to hurry, as he must commence firing." The captain's painful wounds, however, prevented the horses from moving at anything faster than a walk, so Bigelow told him to "fire away." Now caught between the fire of both lines, Reed also had to contend with the orderly's horse, which had become frightened and difficult to control. Bigelow later praised Reed's conduct, writing:

Bugler Reed did not flinch; but steadily supported me; kept the horses at a walk although between the two fires and guided them, so that we entered the Battery between two of the guns that were firing heavily... [99]

Reed's actions are proof of the loyalty and respect Bigelow had earned from his men. Less than four months earlier Reed had labeled his commander "a regular aristocrat," feeling he was worse than a slave owner. Yet at Gettysburg the bugler had twice disobeyed orders and willingly risked his life to save his captain. Bigelow never forgot Reed's "gallantry," writing to him thirty-two years later that "the obligation still remains with myself." [100]

Bigelow felt so strongly about this that in 1895 he submitted Reed's name for a Medal of Honor, citing his "distinguished bravery and faithfulness to duty at the Battle of Gettysburg." When the medal was awarded later that year Bigelow stated "I feel the Government honors itself in honoring you." [101] On a more personal level, Bigelow felt Reed had not only saved him from a stint in a Confederate prison but, more importantly, had also saved his life. The captain later wrote, "Even though the Mississippians would probably have spared me, Dows (6th Maine) searching canister and Shells would not have done so." [102]

The 6th Maine Battery, commanded by Lt. Edwin B. Dow, was one of six full or partial batteries that formed McGilvery's new artillery line. During the time that Bigelow and his men sacrificed themselves at the Trostle farmstead, the lieutenant colonel had been scrambling to cover the dangerous gap in the Union lines. This patchwork line of guns was located along a small ridge situated just east of Plum Run, and hence became known as the "Plum Run line." [103]

Working almost entirely unassisted and being "the only field officer" in the area, McGilvery had, with or without orders, assumed increased authority. As an example, McGilvery was probably delighted when his old command, the 6th Maine Battery, unexpectedly arrived from the rear. Lt. Dow reported that "McGilvery ordered me into position...remarking that he had charge of the artillery of the Third Corps." Thus, he commandeered every available gun he could muster, and "by his personal effort alone" completed the semblance of a line by the time Bigelow's battery was overrun. [104]

The line was weak, varying between six to seventeen, and possibly twenty-three guns. His initial line consisted of, from left to right, four guns of Lt. Melborne Watson's Battery I, 5th U.S Artillery, Dow's four guns, three from Phillips' battery and two from Thompson's. The strength of the line would constantly change, however, as new batteries arrived and others retired to the rear. [105]

The lieutenant colonel's earlier statement concerning the value of discipline and bold leadership enabling a small body of men to hold off twice their number seemed prophetic at this moment, and was certainly put to the test. McGilvery needed all the "coolness and rapidity of thought and action" he possessed, for few artillery officers faced a more "critical" moment. [106]

The "Plum Run Line" faced two distinct threats: three complete or partial infantry brigades, and Confederate artillery which had positioned itself in the Peach Orchard area, approximately 1,500 yards to the west. The most dangerous threat was obviously the approaching infantry, so McGilvery directed his batteries to concentrate on them. Lt. Dow reported:

On going into position my battery was under a heavy fire from two batteries of the enemy. . .I replied to them with solid shot and shell until the enemy's line of skirmishers... came out of the woods to the left front of my position and poured a continual stream of bullets at us. I soon discovered a battle line of the enemy coming through the woods, about six hundred yards distant, evidently with a design to drive through and take position of the road to Taneytown, directly in my rear. I immediately opened upon them with spherical case and canister . . . Their artillery, to which we paid no attention, had gotten our exact range, and gave us a warm greeting. [107]

Despite their best efforts, the situation appeared grim for the artillery crews. The 21st Mississippi Infantry, soon after capturing Bigelow's guns, regrouped and charged McGilvery's line, making Lt. Watson's Battery I, 5th U.S. Artillery their target. The regulars "poured canister, some twenty rounds" into the approaching Mississippians, before coming under a killing musketry fire. Watson was wounded and so many of his "men and horses were shot down or disabled...that the battery was abandoned." [108]

Lt. Dow reported that, "It was evidently their intention, after capturing. . .Company I, Fifth Regulars, to have charged right through our lines to the Taneytown road, isolating our left wing and dividing our army." [109]

The situation seemed hopeless indeed, when at one point the total strength of McGilvery's line dwindled to just six guns, as various batteries ran out of ammunition or where overrun. [110]

"This was the hour," stated one historian, "when McGilvery's genius as an officer of artillery shone brightest." During this emergency, he remained active along his line, directing fire, shifting batteries for maximum effect and seeking reinforcements. He repeated his earlier "hold at all hazards" order to several battery commanders during this crisis. [111]

McGilvery's efforts paid great dividends, for he was able to slow the approaching Confederate lines. One veteran recalled Barksdale's ranks, "Thinned by the storm which swept down with such terrific fury from the ridge, the advance line staggered and began to waver." Even Wilcox's Alabama Brigade, facing the right end of McGilvery's line, was effected by this fire. Wilcox reported the situation when his men reached the swale created by Plum Run. "Beyond this, the ground rose rapidly for some 200 yards, and upon this ridge were numerous batteries of the enemy... From the batteries on the ridge...grape and canister were poured into our ranks." [112]

This fire, combined with the previous losses the Confederates suffered, slowed the disorganized Southern brigades. McGilvery also took advantage of the growing darkness, smoke, confusion and terrain to halt them along Plum Run. In his official report, Lt. Dow stated, "...owing to the prompt and skillful action of [Lt. Col.] Freeman McGilvery" the Confederates were "foiled, for they no doubt thought the woods in our rear were filled with infantry in support of the batteries, when the fact is we had no support at all." [113]

For over an hour, in the increasing twilight, McGilvery's thin line covered the dangerous gap along Cemetery Ridge, eventually accomplishing exactly what he had intended. Infantry reinforcements began to arrive, narrowing and then finally reestablishing the battle line. [114] By 8:00 p.m., the fighting having sputtered to a bloody conclusion, McGilvery was able to pull back and reorganize his battered and damaged batteries. [115] McGilvery must have realized immediately the near miracle he and his artillerymen had accomplished that day. Later that month he wrote, "at Gettysburg...I believe I did as much as almost any Officer to save our army from a defeat on the 2d of July..." [116]

On a personal level, McGilvery received numerous compliments from superior officers, including Brig. Gen. Hunt, who wrote, "I could not ask for more efficiency or devotion than you displayed..." The best compliment of all, however, probably came from one of McGilvery's subordinates, Capt. John Bigelow, when he later wrote:

Without an aide or an orderly . . . he was the only field officer who realized and tried to remedy the situation. He was fearless, having his horse shot several times, and was untiring in keeping the enemy from discovering the ever widening and unprotected gap in our lines...He gave new courage to the officers of these [batteries] and placed and maneuvered them... in many different positions, checking every advance... [117]

Even the enlisted men, whom McGilvery commanded that day, recognized the significance of their actions. Cpl. Hesse wrote, "I...fought and done all what...was in my power to keep the Rebels back, and to have Victory on our Side." Charles Reed, in a letter written just seven days later, wrote, "we saved the line from being broken..." [118]

The artillery branch of the Army of the Potomac had indeed made a tremendous contribution to the Union cause on July 2, 1863. Union batteries, despite the extremely adverse conditions in which they were positioned, including lack of proper support, and under tremendous pressure, had assisted in turning back numerous Confederate assaults.

Many factors contributed to this success. One of the most important was the officers, such as Freeman McGilvery and John Bigelow. Using their guns for maximum effect, including the willingness to sacrifice units if necessary, along with the cool-headed leadership they exhibited, enabled them to hold the batteries together during this crisis. Another factor was the enlisted men themselves. Soldiers like Charles Reed, whose courage and discipline allowed them to perform beyond expectations.

Though the direct association of these three men lasted less than six months, they had made a difference at Gettysburg. The fortunes of war, however, held a different fate for each.

Charles Reed served with the 9th Massachusetts Battery until November 1864, when he was detailed to the topographical engineers, the army at long last taking advantage of his artistic ability. The war allowed Reed to improve his talent, for he established himself as a well-known artist upon his return to Boston. His illustrations appeared in the Boston Globe, and in numerous books, such as Hard Tack and Coffee and Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Reed's drive enabled him to continue working well into his early 80's, just two years before his death on April 24, 1926. Throughout his life, the one-time bugler also managed to stay in touch with his former commander, and then friend, John Bigelow. [119]

Bigelow eventually recovered from his Gettysburg wounds and returned to the battery later that summer. He led it through numerous actions during the fall campaign of 1863, the Overland Campaign of 1864, and during the siege of Petersburg, eventually being brevetted to major for "gallantry." He fell ill in the fall of 1864, however, and was discharged for disability on December 31. His farewell order to the battery, summed up his attitude on what made them "veterans, who have won an enviable name." This reputation, he reminded them, was earned through "strict discipline and ready obedience." [120]

Bigelow also benefitted from his military service, for his post-war career, though far less glamorous, was highly productive. In Boston he was elected to the State Legislature and later worked as an inventor in New York City, Philadelphia, and finally Minneapolis. [121] The former artillery officer also authored two books before his death in 1917. Not surprisingly, The Peach Orchard (1910) and Supplement to Peach Orchard (1911), both dealt with the role of artillery at Gettysburg. These writings not only reveal the hold the battle had on the former officer, but also the lack of recognition his arm of service had received in the post war years.

Both books were written in objection to a decision of the War Department's Battlefield Commission to name a new avenue, which passed through the area of McGilvery's "Plum Run Line," "United States Avenue." Bigelow quite naturally felt this was an insult to the men, and service, of the artillery who struggled in that area. He petitioned for the new road to be named "McGilvery" or "Hunt Avenue," feeling the "Artillery Corps, through its Commander, is entitled to a prominent Battle Avenue." [122]

Bigelow's writings were also an attempt to give his former commander the proper credit he rightfully deserved.

Col. Freeman McGilvery of Maine, Commander First Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, was one of the real heroes of the battle of Gettysburg...McGilvery, with his Artillery alone, stayed the advancing enemy and prevented their discovery of the opportunity offered for success. This feat of arms, requiring the sacrifice of many lives and the wounding of many men, we believe should be recognized and honored... His Comrades and his State may well demand, that his services... receive some proper recognition. [123]

Indeed, Freeman McGilvery's status seemed to be on the rise after Gettysburg. He continued to command a brigade in the Artillery Reserve until May, 1864, and then took command of the army's artillery park and train, which he lead through the Overland Campaign and during the early stages of the siege of Petersburg. On August 9, 1864, he was promoted to Chief of Artillery, 10th Army Corps, commanding fifteen batteries. [124]

A cruel fate, however, would tragically cut short McGilvery's promising military career. On August 16, while overseeing his batteries during the engagement at Deep Bottom, he was slightly wounded in the left forefinger. Being faithful to his duties though, he remained at his position throughout August, during which "his labors were unremitting." Not surprisingly the wound did not heal properly and on September 3 McGilvery consented to surgery. During this seemingly simple operation, however, McGilvery "died suddenly... from the effects of chloroform taken during amputation of [his] finger..."[125]

Freeman McGilvery never lived long enough to see a "History Written Truthfully" concerning the Battle of Gettysburg. His untimely death it seems also sadly diminished the chance for proper recognition of his services, not only at Gettysburg, but on countless other battlefields. That fact is clear if one visits the Gettysburg battlefield today and examines the site of McGilvery's heroic stand along the Plum Run swale on July 2, 1863. There, a cast iron sign identifies the road passing through that area. It simply reads "United States Avenue."

To all the men who served in the Union artillery at Gettysburg, it seems their fate was to be "unsung heroes." Despite the sacrifice, courage and devotion of soldiers just like McGilvery, Bigelow and Reed, "History" has accorded them a secondary role in the battle. In a larger sense, however, what future glory or recognition they would receive meant nothing to these men during the war. What they had lost was foremost in their minds. Not only their comrades, but also their innocence. The war had changed them forever. Charles Reed related this fact in a letter home, when he wrote:

During the din of battle my feelings were curious and various but the one idea I entertained could not be shaken off until the fight had ceased for the day it appeared to be a grand terrible drama we were enacting and the idea of being hit or killed never occurred to me, but when I saw the dead, wounded, and mutilated pouring out their lifes blood. . . then the terrible sense of realty came upon me in full force. the novelty had vanished I could only turn my thoughts to him who sees and controls all, with silent thanks giveings and weep for the many many dead and maimed. [126]

NOTES

The author wishes to thank the following individuals and is grateful for the invaluable assistance rendered in the research for this paper: Lee Harrington, Roy Frampton, Michael Snyder, Jeffrey Stocker, Jim Clouse, and Tom Desjardin.

1 Freeman McGilvery to Gov. Abner Coburn, July 20, 1863, 6th Maine Battery Correspondence, Records of the Adjutant General, Maine State Archives (hereafter cited as MSA).

2 Adjutant's General's Report, 1865, MSA, 420-1. McGilvery was born in Prospect (now Stockton) Maine on October 29, 1823. He began sailing at age 18 and by the age of 21 was a captain.

3 Ibid., McGilvery to Gov. Israel Washburn, October 25, 1862, MSA.

4 Bvt. Brig. Gen. Charles Hamlin, "Historical Sketch of Sixth Maine Battery," Maine at Gettysburg, Report of Maine Commissioners (Portland, ME: Lakeside Press, 1898), 334-6; McGilvery to Washburn, August 16, 1862, MSA.

5 Ibid., 336-7; U. S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Series I, Vol. XII, Part 2, 419-20 (hereafter cited as OR; all citations are from Series I). One of McGilvery's soldiers claimed the battery had fired the last shot of the battle (see "Recitals and Reminiscences," National Tribune, August 1, 1909).

6 Freeman McGilvery Military Service Record, National Archives. Though McGilvery was informed of his promotion in February, it was not made official until April 3.

7 Maine at Gettysburg, 337-9; OR, Vol. XXV, Pt. 2, 471-2.

8 Freeman McGilvery Military Service Record, NA; Henry Hunt to John Bachelder, John B. Bachelder Papers, New Hampshire Historical Society (photocopy in GNMP Library); hereafter cited as Bachelder.

9 Lee Harrington, "John Bigelow, from Harvard to Gettysburg," unpublished paper, University of Massachusetts, Boston, May 1994, 5, 9-10.

10 Ibid., 10-15.

11 Ibid.

12 OR, Vol. XI (2), 268; J.P.C. Winship, Historical Brighton, Vol. I (Brighton, Massachusetts: George A. Warren, 1899), 53-4.

13 Harvard College, 1861-1892, Fifth Report, New York, 1892, 9; Levi Baker, History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery (South Framingham, Massachusetts: Lakeview Press, 1888), 44 (hereafter cited as Baker, Ninth); John Bigelow to Gov. John Andrew, February 9, 1863, Executive Department Letters Received, Governor's Correspondence, Vol. 94, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston.

14 Baker, Ninth, 45; Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines: Dyer Publishing Co., 1908), 1245.

15 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 62; Charles W. Reed letter to sister Helen, March 9, 1863, Box 4, "Charles Wellington Reed Collection," Manuscripts Department, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (hereafter cited as Reed Collection, LC).

16 Charles Winslow Hall, ed., Regiments and Armories of Massachusetts, An Historical Narrative of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (Boston: W. W. Potter, Co., 1901), 553; Rough draft of Reed family history, "Charles Reed Collection," LC; Jacob Whittmore Reed, History of the Reed Family in Europe and America (Boston: John Wilson and Son, 1861), 470; 1860 Federal Census, National Archives, Washington. Though Joseph Reed did not die until 1868, the records seem to indicate that he and his wife did not reside in the same household throughout much of Charles' childhood. Also, throughout the war, Charles Reed wrote over 120 letters, all of them addressed to his mother and sisters, not one to his father. Nor is Joseph Reed even mentioned in these letters.

17 Charles W. Reed Military Service Record, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Charles Reed Papers, LC; Reed to sister Helen, July 2, 1862, Reed Collection, LC.

18 Reed to sister Helen, March 9, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

19 "Letter, Order, Descriptive Book, Ninth Massachusetts Battery," NA; Baker, Ninth, 45; Reed to sister Helen, March 9, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

20 Baker, Ninth, 46.

21 OR, Vol. XXVII, Pt. 3, 972; John W. Busey and David Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1982), 114. McGilvery's brigade consisted of four batteries: 5th Massachusetts (Capt. Charles Phillips, six 3-inch guns), 15th New York (Capt. Patrick Hart, four Napoleons), Batteries C&F, 1st Pennsylvania (Capt. James Thompson, six 3-inch guns), and 9th Massachusetts (Capt. John Bigelow, six Napoleons).

22 OR, pt. 1, 872; Edwin B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command (reprint, Dayton, OH: Morningside Bookshop, 1979), 338; Henry J. Hunt, "The Second Day at Gettysburg," Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. III, 303-4 (cited hereafter as B&L).

23 Ibid., 345-6, 371, 374, 386.

24 Hunt, "The Second Day," B&L, 303-4.

25 Ibid., 303; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 52; OR, Vol. XXVII, 1,234-5,872,881; Baker, Ninth, 56.

26 Charles Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC; Augustus Hesse to Miss Deborah Weston, July 7, 1863, Rare Books division, Boston Public Library (here after cited as BPL).

27 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 52; Baker, Ninth, 56; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 881.

28 Baker, Ninth, 56-7; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC. The tree under which Sickles placed his headquarters is still on the battlefield today.

29 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 881; Bachelder July 2 Map (copy in GNMP Library). Only four of Thompson's guns were firing south; the other two were slightly separated from the rest of the battery and were facing west. Clark's battery was armed with six Parrott rifled guns.

30 Ibid. The gap existed between Brig. Gen. James Barnes' 1st Division, 5th Corps, occupying the woods to McGilvery's left front and Brig. Gen. Charles Graham's 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps in the Peach Orchard.

31 Ibid.; John Gibbon, Artillerists's Manual (reprint, Glendale, NY: Benchmark Publishing Company, Inc., 1970), 401; Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, 386-96.

32 Baker, Ninth, 52; Instruction for Field Artillery, prepared by Board of Artillery Officer (reprint, New York: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1968), 74-280; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 886; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC. McGilvery's guns were probably dueling with the batteries of Capt. A.C. Latham, Capt. James Reilly and Capt. J.C. Fraser.

33 Baker, Ninth, 59; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 52-3; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

34 Speech of Maj. John Bigelow at Dedication of 9th Massachusetts Monument at Gettysburg, October 19, 1885, as quoted in Baker, Ninth, 213; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 52-3. As an example of Bigelow's sense of discipline, the captain refused a request from his men to take a mortally wounded comrade to the rear. Bigelow later stated they were "horrified at my heartlessness, but before the day ended the men were initiated thoroughly in the horrors of war." (See Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.)

35 Baker, Ninth, 57; John Bigelow to Park Commission, February 20, 1901, copy in "Position of Troops," Vol. II, Battlefield Commission, U.S. War Department, 33.

36 Reed letter to sister Emma, August 14, 1863, Rare Books and Manuscript Division, Princeton University Library (hereafter cited as Reed Papers, PUL).

37 Ibid.

38 OR, Vol. XX VII (1), 884. Irish had been hit on the thigh by a solid shot, causing a "severe contusion," but "would not leave the field to have his wound dressed until ordered" by McGilvery. Irish not only survived his wound but reported for duty the next day.

39 Ibid.; History of the Fifth Massachusetts Battery, 630; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 53. In another example of Bigelow's attentiveness, he later related an incident which also revealed the thickness of the smoke: "I noticed...that Gunner [Augustus] Hessie dropped flat on the ground after its discharge. I was about to severely reprimand him, when I discovered he was watching the effect of his shot under the smoke...Resuming his place he continued his firing." (See Baker, Ninth, 79.)

40 Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC; Bachelder July 2 Map; OR, Vol. VII (1), 881; History of the Fifth, 626.

41 Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, 393-403; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 881. Anderson's strength was approximately 1,800.

42 Ibid., 235, 881, Pt. 2, 368; Joseph B. Kershaw, "Kershaw's Brigade at Gettysburg," B&L, Vol. III, 334. Kershaw, who had the advance, had five South Carolina regiments numbering approximately 2,200 officers and men. Semmes' brigade, which moved in the rear of Kershaw as a support, had four Georgia regiments and numbered around 1,300.

43 OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 881.

44 Ibid., 887.

45 Ibid., D. Augustus Dickert, History of Kershaw's Brigade, 238; John Coxe, "The Battle of Gettysburg," Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXI, 434. Coxe was a member of the 2nd South Carolina.

46 Reed to mother, August 29, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

47 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 55; Kershaw to Bachelder, April 3, 1876, Bachelder.

48 Charles Phillips to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 872, pt. 2, 368; Coxe, "The Battle of Gettysburg," 434.

49 Kershaw to Bachelder, March 20 and April 3, 1876, Bachelder; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed collection, LC.

50 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 54; History of the Fifth, 638.

51 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 54. This unexpected movement was caused by a misunderstanding of orders Kershaw had given to his right regiments to "move by the right flank" that had been passed down the line and executed by his left wing as well.

52 Ibid.

53 Ibid., 55; Baker, Ninth, 59; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

54 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder. The troops Bigelow saw retreating were Brig. Gen James Barnes' 1st Division, 5th Corps.

55 Augustus Hesse letter to Miss Deborah Weston, July 7, 1863, BPL; OR, Vol. VII (1), 882.

56 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Deane, ed., My Dear Wife..., 63; Col. David Aiken, 7th South Carolina, to unknown captain, n.d., transcript in 7th SC file, GNMP Library. Capt. Phillips later wrote, "when the enemy's infantry get within musket range, they can kill horses faster than we can change them." (See History of the Fifth, 635).

57 OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 379; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 55. The Second Corps reinforcements were the men of Brig. Gen. John C. Caldwell's 1st Division.

58 History of the Fifth, 624.

59 Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, 405-6. Barksdale had four Mississippi regiments totaling approximately 1,600 and Wofford's Brigade of five Georgia regiments had a strength of nearly 1,400.

60 Martin A. Haynes, History of the Second Regiment New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry (Lakeport, NH: Republican Press Assoc., 1896), 179-81, 187; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 236.

61 Ibid., 887, 890. Thompson lost one of his guns in this retreat, and Hart, for some reason he did not explain, had left behind two of his caissons in the artillery park when he moved to the front.

62 Ibid., 882.

63 Charles Phillips to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

64 Charles Phillips to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 882; Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

65 Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 55.

66 Ibid.

67 Bigelow to Battlefield Commission, February 20, 1901, "Position of Troops," Vol. II, 32; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 55. "Retire by prolonge" is a maneuver which allows a battery to retreat and fire at the same time. A prolonge, or rope, is attached from the gun to the limber. After the gun is fired, the horses pull the gun backward, while at the same time the crew loads it. The horses are stopped, the gun is fired and the process is repeated.

68 Capt. Phillips had attempted the same maneuver with two of his guns and it had failed completely. One of the guns, after all its horses were killed, had to be dragged off the field by hand.

69 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 55.

70 Ibid., 55-6.

71 Baker, Ninth, 60.

72 Ibid., 76, 214; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56.

73 McGilvery to Gov. Israel Washburn, October 25, 1862, MSA; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, LC; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 882.

74 Bigelow, Supplement to Peach Orchard, 46; Bachelder July 2 Map; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 882.

75 Hunt, "The Second Day at Gettysburg," 310; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 872, 882.

76 Ibid.; Bigelow, Supplement to Peach Orchard, 37.

77 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56; Bigelow, Supplement to Peach Orchard, 47; Baker, Ninth, 60. In his official report, McGilvery wrote, "During the engagement my horse was hit four times in the foreshoulder and breast by musketry, once on the fore-leg by shell, and once on the hip by spent solid shot, of which wounds he soon after died."

78 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

79 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56; Reed to mother and sister Helen, July 6, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

80 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56; Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

81 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56; Augustus Hesse to Deborah Weston, July 12, 1863, BPL.

82 Harrington, "John Bigelow; from Harvard to Gettysburg," 9; McGilvery to Gov. Israel Washburn, October 25, 1862, MSA.

83 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 62; Reed to sister Emma, August 14, 1863, Reed Papers, PUL; Augustus Hesse to Deborah Weston, July 12, 1863, BPL.

84 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 56; Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Bigelow sketch accompanying February 20, 1901, letter to War Department Battlefield Commission, "Positions of Troops," Vol. II, 34.

85 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

86 Bigelow, February 20, 1901, letter to War Department Battlefield Commission, "Positions of Troops," Vol. II, 32-3.

87 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder.

88 Ibid.

89 Ibid.; Bigelow speech at dedication of the battery's monument at Gettysburg, October, 1888, as quoted in History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery, 214-5; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57.

90 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Bigelow dedication speech, in History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery, 215; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57; Baker, Ninth, 76; "Artist Reed Given a Medal by the U.S. Government for His Brave Deed at Gettysburg," The Boston Daily Globe, August 13, 1895.

91 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57; Bigelow dedication speech, in History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery, 215; "Artist Reed Given Medal," The Boston Daily Globe, August 13, 1895; John Bigelow letter to Adjutant General, June 19, 1895, "Case of Charles W. Reed, Application for a Medal of Honor," R. & P. No. 424496, National Archives (hereafter cited as C.W. Reed Medal of Honor file); Bigelow letter, February 20, 1901, "Position of Troops," Vol. II, 33.

92 Bigelow letter, C.W. Reed Medal of Honor File; "Artist Reed Given a Medal," The Boston Daily Globe, August 13, 1895; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57; Baker, Ninth, 81.

93 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57; Baker, Ninth, 61; Deane, ed., "My Dear Wife:" The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 59, 61, 63. Besides Bigelow, 1st Lt Christopher Erickson had been killed and 2nd Lt. Alexander Whitaker was mortally wounded.

94 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57.

95 Bigelow to Bachelder, n.d., Bachelder; Baker, Ninth, 63-4; Return for July, Monthly Returns, Regimental Papers, Ninth Massachusetts Battery, NA; Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57. All four of the guns were recaptured by July 3.

96 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 57.

97 Baker, Ninth, 63; "Saved His Captain at Gettysburg," unknown newspaper, unknown date, Reed Collection, LC; Bigelow letter, C.W. Reed Medal of Honor File, NA.

98 Ibid.

99 Bigelow letter, C.W. Reed Medal of Honor File, NA; "Artist Reed Given Medal," Boston Daily Globe, August 13, 1895.

100 Reed to sister Helen, March 9, 1863, Reed Collection, LC; Bigelow letter, C.W. Reed Medal of Honor File, NA; John Bigelow to Charles Reed, August 27, 1895, Reed Collection, LC.

101 Ibid., John Bigelow to Reed, August 27, 1895, Reed Collection, LC.

102 Ibid.

103 OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 882-3; Hunt, "The Second Day at Gettysburg," 310.

104 Bigelow letter, Minneapolis Journal, August 27, 1895; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 897; Bigelow, Supplement to Peach Orchard, 38. McGilvery assumed control of, and gave orders to, batteries belonging not only to other brigades of the Artillery Reserve, but also belonging to different corps, in order to form his new line. Whether or not he was given the proper authorization to do this is unknown.

105 OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 660, 882-3, 885, 890, 897; Edmund Raus, Jr., Generation on the March, The Union Army at Gettysburg (Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, Inc., 1987), 28, 169. McGilvery mentioned a "volunteer battery, which I have never been able to learn the name of" that was part of his line. Various studies have not been able to identify this battery, though former Park Historian Frederick L. Tilberg theorized it might have been Lt. Aaron Walcott's 3rd Massachusetts Battery. Walcott was armed with six smoothbore Napoleons, and was positioned south of Weikert Woods near the Wheatfield Road. If indeed this was McGilvery's unknown battery, the total strength of his "Plum Run Line" would have been 23 guns.

106 McGilvery to Gov. Israel Washburn, October 25, 1862, MSA.

107 Bachelder July 2 Map; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 897.

108 Ibid., 660. The only monument on the battlefield marking any portion of the "Plum Run Line" is a government marker to Watson's Battery, and it was placed incorrectly. The monument is too far to the north and east of the actual location of the battery.

If Lt. Walcott's 3rd Massachusetts Battery was the "unidentified volunteer battery," then McGilvery actually lost two of his batteries, for near this same time, Brig. Gen. William Wofford's Brigade briefly overran Walcott's guns.

109 Ibid., 897.

110 Ibid., 882-4, 885, 897; Executive Committee, Maine at Gettysburg, 328.

111 Ibid., 327, 328; OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 882-3, 897; Bigelow letter to Minneapolis Journal, August 27, 1895.

112 Maj. John J. Hood, "Tribute to Gen. Barksdale," Address to the Barksdale Camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans, photocopy in GNMP Library; OR, Vol. XXVII (2), 618.

113 Ibid., pt. 1, 897. This testimony from Lt. Dow speaks volumes about McGilvery's actions, for the two had a running feud dating back to 1862, when McGilvery commanded the battery.

114 Ibid., Pt. 1, 472, 774. These reinforcements consisted of a brigade of New York troops from the Second Corps under Col. George L. Willard, and part of Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams' Division from the Twelfth Corps.

115 Ibid., pt. 1, 883.

116 McGilvery to Gov. Abner Coburn, July 20, 1863, MSA.

117 Henry J. Hunt to McGilvery, July 9, 1863, Freeman McGilvery Military Service Record; Bigelow letter, Minneapolis Journal, August 27, 1895. Lt. Edwin Dow, despite the constant discord with his old commander, stated, "I deem it due to [Lt. Col.] McGilvery to say that he was ever present, riding up and down the line in the thickest of the fire, encouraging the men by his words and dashing example..." (see OR, Vol. XXVII (1), 898).

118 Augustus Hesse to Deborah Weston, July 7, 1863, BPL; Reed to mother, July 11, 1863, Reed Collection, LC.

119 Hall, ed. Regiments and Armories of Massachusetts, 554; Charles W. Reed Pension File, NA; Boston city Directories, 1865-1924.

120 John Bigelow Military Service Record, Pension File, NA; Baker, Ninth, 160.

121 Memoriam for John Bigelow, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Commandery of the State of Pennsylvania, 1917; John Bigelow obituary, Boston Advertiser, September 14, 1917. Some of Bigelow's inventions included appliances for textiles, sewing machines and other machinery, many of which received patents. As a representative in the state legislature, Bigelow helped to formulate the first standard fire insurance policy.

122 Bigelow, The Peach Orchard, 38; ________, Supplement to Peach Orchard, 16.

123 Ibid., 46.

124 McGilvery, MSA, NA; OR, Vol. XLII (2), 620.

125 Adjutant General's Report, Records of the Adjutant of Maine, 420,422, MSA; OR, Vol. XLII (2), 680.

126 Reed to sister Emma, August 14, 1863, Reed Papers, PUL.

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