11th United States Infantry on July 2

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
The U.S. Regulars seem to receive little attention in discussions of engagements on the second day, so I am focusing on the role of one regiment, the 11th Infantry, in the brigade commanded by Colonel Sidney Burbank.

The 11th brought just six companies (B through G) to the field, with an estimated engaged strength of about 23 officers and 261 enlisted men. It was commanded by Major De Lancey Floyd-Jones. Born in South Oyster Bay, New York on January 20, 1846, he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1846, ranked 45 out of 59 in his class, which included Cadmus Wilcox (just ahead of him at 44) and George Pickett (last at 59). Floyd-Jones fought in the Mexican War as a junior officer, being brevetted for gallant and meritorious conduct at Molino del Ray.

Several junior officers in the 11th had attended other colleges before the war, including Captain John W. Ames (Harvard), and Lieutenants James P. Pratt (Yale), George H. Higbee (Princeton), Herbert Kenaston (Oberlin), Irvin B. Wright (Miami University) and George E. Head (Harvard).

Within the enlisted ranks of the Regulars were a large number of foreign-born volunteers, including the following men from the 11th who were killed or mortally wounded at Gettysburg: Luke White (Paris, France), Michael Carlen (Ireland), Albert Mattice (Russell, Canada), Napoleon Dubue (Canada), John O’Keaffe (Ireland), John Flaugherty (Manchester, England) and John Roach (Cork, Ireland).

In the early morning of July 2, the two Regular brigades of the Fifth Corps arrived on the field and took up a position on the right of the Twelfth Corps, where some minor skirmishing was done in front of Wolf hill. After two hours they shifted to the left and were placed in reserve behind the center of the Union army. Around 5 p.m., the Regulars marched off, and within a half hour took position on the northern slope of Little Round Top. Near 6 p.m., as the Federal line collapsed around Devil’s Den, they were ordered to advance westward across the marshy valley of Plum Run. Confederates swarming in and beyond the Den soon found cover behind a profusion of boulders and began peppering away at the exposed left flank of the Regulars, who were within easy rifle range. Burbank’s brigade was in the lead, and the 11th occupied the left center position of the brigade, with only the 17th U.S. Infantry between them and the enemy. They also took fire from the woods in their left front, but the arrival of Colonel Cross’s brigade from the Second Corps was about to deal with that threat. Amid the smoke Lieutenant James Pratt noticed the “Lone Star” colors of the 1st Texas on the ridge to his left.

Cross’s regiments, with the 5th New Hampshire closest, moved from right to left through the Wheatfield and cleared Burbank’s front, allowing his regiments to advance unhindered to the eastern edge of the Wheatfield. For the next 40 minutes they hugged the ground, as the men under Cross, and his successor, Colonel McKeen, held back the foe. Eventually running low on ammunition, the 5th New Hampshire and left wing of the 148th Pennsylvania fell slowly back from the woods, but, halting for a time directly in front of the 11th, partially blocked their field of fire and ability to maneuver. As the way cleared, Burbank’s brigade executed a left wheel to defend the same ground. Their timing could not have been worse, for at the same moment the Georgia brigade of Brigadier General Wofford was approaching the Wheatfield from the west.

Upon entering the Wheatfield, Wofford’s fresh and intact regiments immediately opened a destructive fire on the Federals in the Wheatfield, including the now exposed right flank of Burbank’s brigade, and dozens of men in the 11th began to fall. Captain Thomas O. Barri was seriously wounded, and when Lieutenant Kenaston stopped to help him, a fatal shot passed through him and struck Barri. Irish-born Lieutenant Henry Rochford, who had also tried to help, was likewise mortally wounded. The brigade soon collapsed and fell back 600 yards under a gauntlet of enemy fire. Within the span of 15 minutes, the 11th U.S. sustained most of their loss, which amounted to 10 officers and 106 enlisted men – 40 percent of their strength. In return, they had managed to inflict minimal damage on the enemy, owing to a sequence of unfortunate tactical developments that were largely beyond their control.

While falling back toward Plum Run, several men of the 11th were overtaken by members of Cobb’s Legion (regiment) from Wofford’s brigade, and the 10th Georgia from Semmes’ brigade. The colors of the 11th may have been taken at this time by a Cobb’s Legion soldier. The group from the 11th consisted of Lieutenants Pettee and Elder, Sergeant Major George W. H. Stouch, 1st Sergeant Levi Price and two privates. Their captivity was brief as the Pennsylvania Regulars charged toward them a few minutes later from Little Round Top, but their ordeal was not over. A lone Confederate behind a nearby boulder tried to pick them off one by one as they awaited rescue. He only had time to fire three rounds, but could hardly miss at that range, managing to kill one private and wound Stouch and Price. Then, as the 1st Pennsylvania Rifles approached, the Confederate bolted to the rear. (See also, from @Gettysburg Greg: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/wh...-the-valley-of-death-t-n.162652/#post-2128075).

A study afterwards concluded that the loss of officers in the 11th at Gettysburg might have been the largest of any Regular regiment in any one battle of the war. Some specific casualty descriptions:

-Captain Thomas O. Barri, wounded early in the retreat by a bullet in the leg, followed by a second that initially passed through Lt. Kenaston, the (minie) ball entering his right side just over the hip and coming out on his left side over his left hip; Barri died the morning of July 3.
-Captain William G. Edgerton, wounded by a spent ball.
-1st Lieutenant Herbert Kenaston, killed while assisting Captain Barri.
-1st Lieutenant Matthew Elder, shot in the left leg, afterwards amputated above the knee; he died on July 25.
-1st Lieutenant James P. Pratt, wounded by spent ball directly over his heart that knocked him down soon after the charge began, although he recovered from the blow and ran to catch up with his comrades. Later, another ball passed through his pants and grazed his leg; he survived.
-2nd Lieutenant Oscar H. Nealy, a ball passed completely through his neck, but he recovered and lived until early 1889.
-2nd Lieutenant Amaziah J. Barber, wounded in the left leg, which was amputated above the knee; he died on July 26 after initially being expected to pull through.
-2nd Lieutenant Lemuel Pettee, leg shattered above the ankle.
-Sergeant Major George Stouch, wounded in left wrist at close range.
-1st Sergeant Levi Price, wounded severely in the neck at close range.
-Corporal Darwin Johnson, shot in the chest, the ball penetrating the lungs; he died July 3.
-Private S. N. Daily, gunshot wound to his hip, fractured one of the floating ribs on the right side and injured his left kidney. He lingered until October 4, 1863.
-Private John Durkin, Company G, wounded by a conoidal ball in upper third of his left thigh, fracturing the femur.
-Private Andrew Gallagher, a “conoidal” (minie) ball struck the outer side of the left orbit, penetrated behind the eye and lodged. The ball was extracted but the eye was gone, and his memory loss was nearly total. He also complained of much pain in his hand.
-Private Charles Horton, gunshot in the lung; he died July 12.
-Private John O’Keaffe, gunshot compound fracture of his right thigh; his death came on July 28.

Attached three maps supplement the above narrative.

Principle sources:
-Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg, by John W. Busey and David G. Martin.
-Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., from its establishment, in 1802, to 1890.
-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeLancey_Floyd-Jones
-Union Casualties at Gettysburg, by Travis W. Busey and John W. Busey.
-Official Reports of Maj. Floyd-Jones and Col. Sidney Burbank.
-The Army of the United States, Historical Sketches of Staff and Line, ed. by Theo. F. Rodensbough and William L. Haskin, NY: Maynard, Merrill & Co., 1896.
-The Regular Troops at Gettysburg, by Richard Robbins, Philadelphia Weekly Times, January 4, 1879, Greg Coco Collection, Gettysburg National Military Park.
-Letters of Amaziah J. Barber, Greg Coco Collection, Gettysburg National Military Park.
-13 July letter of James Pratt to his father, Greg Coco Collection, Gettysburg National Military Park.
-April 26, 1887 letter from George W. H. Stouch, Papers of Evan Morrison Woodward, Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
-Obituary of Oscar H. Nealy, National Tribune, March 28, 1889, p. 4.
 

Attachments

  • Wheatfield1810.pdf
    1.9 MB · Views: 14
  • Wheatfield1820.pdf
    1.9 MB · Views: 10
  • Wheatfield1900.pdf
    1.9 MB · Views: 14

infomanpa

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
I believe that some primary sources state that the 17th US was located in a "ravine." In fact, their monument is located in an area that fits that description. However, all maps that I've seen, including yours, locate that regiment at the summit of the adjoining small hill. Any comments?
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
The little knoll where the left of the 17th U.S. is shown on the above maps is the same knoll now occupied by several mounted plaques of the Regular regiments. Of course, they crossed a ravine, which I refer to as Plum Run valley, to get there. Captain Dudley H. Chase of Company A, 17th U.S. wrote that his regiment "reached a stone wall in our front" and were ordered to lie down (War Papers of the Indiana Commandery, MOLLUS). Chase may have been on the far right of his regiment, about where the maps show the stone wall meeting a rail fence. On the field today, that point is where the stone wall makes a 90 degree turn to the east for a short distance to form a rectangular-like enclosure of the knoll.
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Excellent observation! Tilton's early withdrawal left three brigades (Sweitzer, Burbank and Day) completely vulnerable to Wofford. Tilton had also withdrawn earlier that afternoon from the Stony Hill without contesting the advance of Kershaw. One might be hard pressed to identify a less effective brigade on the Federal side in this battle. At least the Eleventh Corps brigades north of town on July 1 held until they were overrun.
 

gettysburgerrn

Private
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Location
massapequa, NY
I agree.. The 11th Corps troops were put in generally untenable positions that they tried to defend (with generally the losses to attest to that fact). Tilton's brigade on the other hand seemed to have withdrew prior to being seriously engaged (both times)...Where did Tilton's men withdraw to after they left Trostle woods?
Kind of makes me ponder what would have happened had Tilton's brigade went to Little Round top instead of one of Barnes' other brigades (Vincent)...(Though I imagine Tilton wouldn't have taken Vincent's initiative to go there in the first place)

ken

ken
 

Similar threads

Top