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48th Georgia Regiment and 2nd Georgia Battalion Versus 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by Tom Elmore, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Date/Time/Place: July 2/7 p.m./Emmitsburg Road

    Participants:
    Union:
    82nd New York Regiment – 22 officers, 305 enlisted men
    15th Massachusetts – 18 officers, 221 enlisted men
    Confederate:
    48th Georgia Regiment – 28 officers, 360 enlisted men
    2nd Georgia Battalion – 8 officers, 75 enlisted men

    Attacker’s Advantages:
    Concealment - Screened by undulating ground and thick grass.
    Support - Destructive flanking fire delivered by 3rd Georgia.

    Defender’s Advantages:
    Cover: Protected by low barricade of rails.

    Prologue:
    On the morning of July 2, Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright led his Georgia brigade, 1300 strong, forward to Seminary Ridge. Once in position, the entire 2nd Georgia Battalion and Company K of the 3rd Georgia Regiment were dispatched to skirmish with their Federal counterparts.

    In the late afternoon, the battle opened far to the south, but drew steadily closer. As a precaution, the 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts from Brig. Gen. William Harrow’s brigade were ordered out to the higher ground near the Emmitsburg Road, about 200 yards west of Cemetery Ridge. The two left companies of the 82nd were posted near Codori’s brick farm house, while the remaining eight companies extended the line north from the house along the east side of the road. The 15th went into position on their right. Convenient rail fences by the road were dismantled to serve as a makeshift protection for the men.

    In addition, First Lieutenant T. Fred. Brown’s Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Artillery, comprised of six twelve-pounder Napoleons, was sent into the field behind the right flank of the 15th Massachusetts to engage a Confederate battery that had been throwing shells at Gen. George G. Meade’s headquarters.

    When Wright was finally directed to move forward, the 2nd Georgia Battalion was still deployed out in front, peppering their opponents at long range. As the main line of battle reached and swept over the skirmish line, many members of the battalion simply joined the nearest ranks and fought with them the rest of the day. However, some battalion members on the left were able to band together and joined the left flank of the 48th Georgia.

    Small dips in the undulating ground between Seminary and Cemetery Ridges momentarily screened Wright’s men from view as they advanced. In these slight depressions the Georgians could pause to dress their line before breaking into a quick run to surmount the next rise. In this manner they crossed the field with minimal loss from opposing artillery. As a consequence, the brigade was essentially intact when the first clash came at the Emmitsburg Road.

    Eyewitness accounts (see sketch for their approximate location):
    1. Corporal William Paul, Company I, 48th Georgia: “The first line of Federals was behind breastworks made of rails, from which we soon drove them under a heavy fire.”

    2. Captain Matthew R. Hall, Company B, 48th Georgia: “The enemy made but a short stand before our fire before they commenced retreating.”

    3. Brigadier General Ambrose R. Wright, commanding brigade: “My men moved steadily forward until reaching within musket range of the Emmitsburg turnpike, when we encountered a strong body of infantry posted under cover of a fence near to and parallel with the road.”

    4. Captain John Darrow, Company K, 82nd New York: “… the enemy advanced in our front and turned our left flank.”

    5. Private William J. Coulter, Company C, 15th Massachusetts: “Our artillery threw grape and canister which no doubt was intended to go over our heads, but a good share of it struck our regiment. One discharge of canister from our guns wounded the captain of Company E, and the orderly sergeant and a private in my own company.”

    6. Private Roland E. Bowen, Company B, 15th Massachusetts: “… I rose. Could see the grass move and a few bayonets rise above it. … Their bullets began to fly pretty thick, but they were evidently [as] excited as [we were], as nearly all went over. … They sprang forward with that demonic yell which is peculiar to themselves only, at the same time giving us a deadly volley. Now it was our turn. With a shout we sprang up on our knees, and resting the muskets over the rails, we give them one of the most destructive volleys I ever witnessed. Unlike us, they had nothing to shield them from our fire. … Our line was fast breaking to the left. This inspired them with new courage. … I know they had not so many men in their line as we had. … The stampede became general. … I raised up and they were about 4 rods [66 feet] off. I blazed away for the last time. They were coming at a quick march. I threw down my gun and held up both hands …”

    Epilogue:
    In hindsight, the decision to place Lt. Brown’s battery in the open between the Emmitsburg Road and Cemetery Ridge was a poor one. The battery would be in immediate peril if the infantry gave way, as it did. At the same time, the guns could not be safely discharged at close range without endangering friendly troops. Also, no one had apparently considered an escape route for the exposed battery – the stone wall behind them had but one narrow gap. As a result, two guns had to be temporarily abandoned when Wright pressed his attack.

    Likewise, it is difficult to find sound reasons for sending the 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts into such an advanced and exposed position. Piecemeal deployments of individual units was often typical of the Federal approach at Gettysburg. In contrast, as was the case elsewhere on the field, the Confederates struck hard with a full brigade, projecting a cohesive and powerful front. Despite their overall numerical inferiority on the battlefield, the Confederates often brought a superior force at the point of attack.

    As it was, the 15th Massachusetts was able to deliver a telling volley and might have even held had not the 82nd New York been quickly rolled up by a withering flank fire from the 3rd Georgia. One positive result as far as the Federals were concerned was the weakening of Wright’s left well in advance of the main line of Cemetery Ridge. Still, the cost was high, and the outcome could not be assured. Once the defenders were beaten and on the run, they could offer no further resistance. Moreover, the line on the ridge to the rear had to wait critical moments until their fleeing comrades cleared out of the way. The affair was a close run thing. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the partial success achieved by Wright’s brigade would encourage a massive and disastrous effort against the Federal center the following day.
     

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  3. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Sketch attached.
     

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  4. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    Don't read this if you want to be surprised on my tour! :whistling:

    Ryan
     
  5. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    It certainly didn't help the Union regiments that their commanders were knocked out.

    @Tom Elmore, how many men do you think that the 48th Georgia picked up from the 48th Mississippi? One source that I have said 100 but that would be 40% of the Mississippians' strength while Colonel Jayne said no one went. I tend to think a couple dozen from the right companies personally.

    Ryan
     
  6. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    As I understood it, the 2 Union regiments were sent forward to cover the right flank of Sickles' Corps. Is that not so?
    You make me wish I could make your tour -- this is an action I am interested in.
     
  7. pmuskett

    pmuskett Cadet

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    Frank Foote of the 48th wrote in his article, "Marching in Clover" that the entire regiment went forward.

    Posey is his OR says that these regiments, speaking of the 19th and 48th MS, "advanced 200 or 300 yards beyond the barn and house, which were burned." (Speaking of the Bliss Farm.)

    Nathanial Harris of the 19th MS wrote in his OR "... when Gen. Wright's brigade commenced advancing , supported on his left by the 48th MS reg, Col Jayne commanding, my right resting on the 48th, I again gave the order to advance..." Harris will support the left of the 48th MS. Later in the report he says he advanced "...capturing some prisoners at the barn. Still driving the enemy before me, I advanced some 400 paces farther up the hill." Reaching the road.

    Now from Foote's point of view, it probably looked like the entire regiment went forward. Posey states the regiments advanced past the barn, and Harris of the 19th was there on the ground, said they went 400 paces farther up the hill. The 48th MS at least made it to the road. I don't believe many more crossed the road. The 106th PA only mentions capturing Georgians about 250. Even though there might have been a few Mississippians in there too.

    I hope this helps.

    Phil
     
  8. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    I'm not convinced that the 48th Mississippi reached the Emmitsburg Road. I think they only got as far as a fence that ran parallel, and about 170 yards west, of the road, which would have been about the same distance off the left flank (north) of the 2nd Georgia Battalion at 7 p.m., and they remained there until full darkness set in - after 8 p.m. - when they retired.

    My reasoning is that had they reached the road, they would likely have come under intense canister fire by Cushing's Battery A, 4th U.S. and Arnold's Battery A, 1st Rhode Island, not to mention Carroll's infantry brigade (among others), who then might have been kept in place as a precaution and not sent to Cemetery Hill as a reinforcement.
     
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  9. infomanpa

    infomanpa Sergeant

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    That is correct...ordered by General Gibbon.
     
  10. infomanpa

    infomanpa Sergeant

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    That is correct...ordered by General Gibbon.
     
  11. infomanpa

    infomanpa Sergeant

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    There is a monument to the commander of the 15th MA, George Ward, right near the Codori farm.
     
  12. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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  13. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    That does help, Phil. Thanks.

    Ryan
     
  14. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    It also explains why Wright didn't think Posey was supporting his left. It's an interesting conundrum for sure.

    Ryan
     
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  15. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    Lt. Colonel Huston of the 82nd New York would have also been killed nearby (technically, he was wounded and then killed).

    Ryan
     
  16. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Ryan, the attached sketch shows my interpretation of the 48th Mississippi and 19th Mississippi (5 companies) advance on the evening of July 2, with the time being about 6:57 p.m., and have added the farthest point where I think those two units reached.

    While I do not think there was any mixing of the two brigades in this instance, it did happen elsewhere. For instance, some men on the far right of the skirmishing 2nd Georgia Battalion joined to the left of the left regiment (2nd Florida) of Lang's brigade as it passed by.
     

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  17. infomanpa

    infomanpa Sergeant

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    ..and that makes me think of the other conundrum...why Mahone's brigade didn't support either Posey or Wright? Evidently, even though he was ordered to advance, by his superior officer, Richard Anderson, Mahone still refused. In light of the missed opportunity to break the Union lines, and perhaps win the battle, I would have thought that there would have been disciplinary consequences after the battle. Instead, Anderson seemed to take responsibility.
     
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  18. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    Gettysburg was probably Anderson's worst battle. He was essentially a non-entity on July 2nd and, according to at least 2 sources, he was sitting and joking with his staff on Seminary Ridge as his division went into action. It's almost inexplicable based on the respect that he had garnered up to that time and continued after the battle.

    Ryan
     
  19. 48th Miss.

    48th Miss. First Sergeant

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    DO you by chance have a copy of Marching in Clover. I never seem to be able to find one on line. I have a page of the original print or hand copy, cant recall at the moment, he is my GGGrandfather and my avatar
     
  20. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    I made a copy of, Marching in Clover: A Confederate Brigade's Tramp from the Rappahannock to Gettysburg, published in, The New Annals of the Civil War, ed. by Peter Cozzens and Robert I. Girardi, Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1994, pp. 274-282.

    This book indicates that Frank H. Foote's original article appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly Times 5, no. 33, October 8, 1881.
     
  21. 48th Miss.

    48th Miss. First Sergeant

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    Is there any way you could PM me a copy. I don't have the room for a whole book when all need is the article.
     

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