Captain John G. Hazard’s Report on the Union 2nd Corps Artillery Brigade at Gettysburg
The Union Army 2nd Corps Artillery Brigade, under the command of Captain John G. Hazard, arrived at Gettysburg on July 2nd, 1863, the second day of battle. The brigade consisted of 28 guns in six batteries—Batteries A and B of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery I of the 1st U.S. Light Artillery, Battery B of the 4th U.S. Light Artillery, and Battery B of the 1st New York Light Artillery (a portion of the 14th New York Light Artillery was attached to the 1st New York).
Upon arrival at the battlefield on the 2nd, the brigade was deployed along Cemetery Ridge. That afternoon, Major General Dan Sickles’ 3rd Corps advanced to a forward position, but was repulsed by the Confederates, who then counterattacked, driving the 3rd Corps back. The 2nd Corps artillery brigade supported the 3rd Corps and aided in stopping the Rebel attack.
The next day, July 3rd, the 2nd Corps Artillery Brigade was involved in the heaviest of fighting in the Confederate assault known as Pickett’s Charge. This opened with a Confederate artillery barrage prior to the assault; the brigade responded with its longer range ammunition. Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing’s Battery A of the 4th U.S. Artillery was deployed forward in line with the infantry behind the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge, the focal point of the Confederate attack; the other batteries were behind the infantry. As the Rebel attackers approached within range, the artillery opened fire with cannister.
Although the assault was repulsed, the 2nd Corps Artillery Brigade paid a heavy price, with 28 men killed, 119 wounded, and three missing in two days of fighting. Captain Hazard filed this after action report, detailing the brigade’s action at Gettysburg, and its cost:
Hdqrs. Artillery Brigade, Second Army Corps, August 1, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit the following report of the part taken by the batteries of this brigade in the battle of July 2 and 3:
On the morning of July 1, the brigade—composed of Light Company I, First U. S. Artillery, First Lieut. George A. Woodruff commanding; Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, First Lieut. A. H. Cushing commanding; Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, Capt. W. A. Arnold commanding; Battery B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, First Lieut. T. Frederick Brown commanding; Battery B, First New York Artillery, Capt. J. M. Rorty commanding—moved from Uniontown, Md., to Taneytown, where a halt of three hours was made.
At 2 p. m. the brigade moved toward Gettysburg, Pa., to the support of the First Corps, then engaged with the enemy, and at 11 p. m, went into position 3 miles southeast of Gettysburg, on the Taneytown road and facing Gettysburg.
The brigade moved with the corps at daylight on July 2 toward Gettysburg, and, upon the establishment of the battle-line of the corps to the left of the Taneytown Road, took position in the following order, as shown in diagram: On the right, in a grove, Light Company I (six light 12-pounders); 150 yards to the left, Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, and Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery (both six 3-inch batteries). Upon their left was placed Battery B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery (six light 12-pounders), while to the extreme left, and operating with the First Division of the corps, was placed Battery B, First New York Artillery (four l0-pounder Parrotts).
At 11 a. m. the enemy was seen in force in the woods to the front and right, and shell and case shot were fired till their disappearance. The enemy opened with artillery several times during the day, but was always silenced by the concentrated fire of our own artillery.
About 4 p. m. the Third Corps advanced to the Emmitsburg road, and, upon being repulsed, our lines were opened upon by the enemy with artillery. A vigorous fire was returned.
At 6 p. m. the enemy advanced in force, and, after a sharp contest, our lines were pushed back several hundred yards, the two batteries on the left—Battery B, First New York Artillery, and Battery B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery—conforming their movements to that of the infantry. Upon gaining a more commanding position upon the crest of the hill, a rapid fire was opened upon the enemy, causing great slaughter, and steadily driving them back.
The two batteries on the left, being at the main point of attack on the left and center of the line, suffered most severely. Battery B, First New York Artillery, lost 1 man killed, 8 men wounded, and 13 horses disabled. Battery B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, lost 1 man killed, 7 men wounded, and 2 missing. This battery was exposed to a most severe infantry fire; 24 horses were killed and 6 disabled, and it became necessary to send two guns to the rear. First Lieut. T. Fred. Brown was severely wounded in the neck by a musket-shot while gallantly commanding the battery, and the command devolved upon First Lieut. W. S. Perrin. First Lieut. Samuel Canby, Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, was severely wounded in the hand.
The morning of July 3 was quiet until about 8 o’clock, when the enemy suddenly opened fire upon our position, exploding three limbers of Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, but otherwise causing little loss. Little reply was made, save by Light Company I, First U. S. Artillery, which battery during the forenoon had eight separate engagements with the enemy.
At 1 p. m. the artillery of the enemy opened along the whole line, and for an hour and a quarter we were subjected to a very warm artillery fire. The batteries did not at first reply, till the fire of the enemy becoming too terrible, they returned it till all their ammunition, excepting canister, had been expended; they then waited for the anticipated infantry attack of the enemy. Battery B, First New York Artillery, was entirely exhausted; its ammunition expended; its horses and men killed and disabled; the commanding officer, Capt. J. M. Rorty, killed, and senior First Lieut. A. S. Sheldon severely wounded. The other batteries were in similar condition; still, they bided the attack. The rebel lines advanced slowly but surely; half the valley had been passed over by them before the guns dared expend a round of the precious ammunition remaining on hand. The enemy steadily approached, and, when within deadly range, canister was thrown with terrible effect into their ranks. Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, had expended every round, and the lines of the enemy still advanced. Cushing was killed; Milne had fallen, mortally wounded; their battery was exhausted, their ammunition gone, and it was feared the guns would be lost if not withdrawn.
At this trying moment the two batteries were taken away; but Woodruff still remained in the grove, and poured death and destruction into the rebel lines. They had gained the crest, and but few shots remained. All seemed lost, and the enemy, exultant, rushed on. But on reaching the crest they found our infantry, fresh and waiting on the opposite side. The tide turned; backward and downward rushed the rebel line, shattered and broken, and the victory was gained. Woodruff, who had gallantly commanded the battery through the action of July 2 and 3, fell, mortally wounded, at the very moment of victory. The command of the battery devolved upon Second Lieut. Tully McCrea, First U. S. Artillery,
Batteries from the Artillery Reserve of the army immediately occupied the positions vacated by the exhausted batteries of the brigade, and immediate efforts were made to recuperate and restore them to serviceable condition. So great was the loss in officers, men, and horses, that it was found necessary to consolidate Light Company I, First U. S. Artillery, Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, and Batteries A and B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, thus reducing the five batteries that entered the fight to three.
The greatest praise is due to the gallantry and courage of the officers and men of the brigade, of whom one-third were either killed or wounded. The fire under which they fought on the afternoon of July 3 was most severe and terrible, as the inclosed list of killed, wounded, and missing will sufficiently testify.
In the death of Capt. J. M. Rorty the brigade has lost a worthy officer, a gallant soldier, and an estimable man. He had enjoyed his new position but one day, having assumed command of Battery B, First New York Artillery, on July 2, as it was about to engage the enemy.
First Lieut. A. H. Cushing, commanding Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, fell on July 3, mortally wounded by a musket-shot. He especially distinguished himself for his extreme gallantry and bravery, his courage
and ability, and his love for his profession. His untimely death and the loss of such a promise as his youth cherished are sincerely mourned.
First Lieut. George A. Woodruff, commanding Light Company I, First U. S. Artillery, fell, mortally wounded, on July 3, while the rebel lines, after a most successful and daring advance, were being pushed back in destruction and defeat. To the manner in which the guns of his battery were served and his unflinching courage and determination may be due the pertinacity with which this part of the line was so gallantly held under a most severe attack. Lieutenant Woodruff was an able soldier, distinguished for his excellent judgment and firmness in execution, and his loss is one which cannot be easily replaced. He expired on July 4, and, at his own request, was buried on the field on which he had yielded his life to his country.
Second Lieut. Joseph S. Milne, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, was mortally wounded on the afternoon of July 3 by a musket-shot through the lungs. He survived his wound one week, and breathed his last at Gettysburg on July 10. In his regiment he was noted for his bravery and willingness to encounter death in any guise, while his modesty and manliness gained for him the ready esteem of his many comrades. His death is a loss to all, and we cannot but mourn that so bright a life should thus suddenly be veiled in death. At the time of his decease he was attached to Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, with which battery he had served during the campaign. Every officer in this battery was either killed or wounded.
First Lieut. T. Fred. Brown, Battery B, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, was severely wounded in the neck on the afternoon of July 2. This officer deserves great praise for the cool and
able manner in which he commanded his battery, although exposed to a most galling infantry fire, in a position to the front of the line of the corps, where his horses were shot down faster than they could be replaced. The guns were served admirably and with precision, driving the rebels with great loss.
Honorable mention should be made of First Lieut. A. S. Sheldon, Battery B, First New York Artillery, wounded on the afternoon of July 3; of Capt. W. A. Arnold, commanding Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, who, after gallantly fighting his own battery and saving it, also withdrew the battery of A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, Cushing and Milne having fallen; of Second Lieuts. Tully McCrea and John Egan, First U. S. Artillery, for their distinguished coolness and bravery, and of First Lieut. R. E. Rogers, First New York Artillery, upon whom the command of Battery B, First New York Artillery, finally devolved.
Special mention is made of First Sergt. Frederick Fuger, of Battery A, Fourth U.S. Artillery, for his bravery during the battle, especially exhibited when all his officers had fallen, and he, in the heat of the fire, was obliged to assume command of the company. He is most earnestly recommended for promotion, having proved himself a brave soldier and a modest but competent officer.
I beg leave to call particular attention to First Lieut. G. L. Dwight, ordnance officer and acting adjutant of the brigade, for the untiring energy displayed in supplying the brigade with ammunition, and the efficient service rendered in the field. Reposing the utmost confidence in this officer’s abilities, I most respectfully recommend him for promotion.
JNO. G. HAZARD,
Capt. First Rhode Island Light Artillery, Comdg. Brigade,
Lieut. Col. C. H. Morgan,
Chief of Staff, Second Army Corps.
Sergeant Fuger received the Medal of Honor for his actions with Battery A of the 4th U.S. Artillery, as did Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing of the same battery. It took a long time for Cushing to receive the honor; after a lengthy investigation into his actions, he was finally awarded the Medal in 2014.
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