5th Alabama Battalion at Gettysburg


2nd Lieutenant
Honored Fallen Comrade
From: Family Record and War Reminiscences by William Frierson Fulton, Jr.
Livingston, AL, 1919Transcribed by James W. Martin

AFTER the battle Gen. Hooker resumed his old position across the river, but he had not to wait long to ascertain Gen. Lee's intentions, who was never slow to assume the initiative. It was useless to lit still and watch Hooker and allow him time to recruit, and it was folly to attack him in his impregnable position from the front, and Gen. Lee at once began his movements to maneuver him out of his situation. Our army was reorganized into three army corps instead of two as heretofore. Gen. James Longstreet commanded the First, embracing McLaws', Picket's, and Hood's Divisions; Gen. Ewell the Second, embracing Early's, Rhodes', and Johnson's Divisions; and Gen. A. P. Hill the Third, embracing Anderson's, Heth's, and Pender's Divisions. We were in Heth's Division and under our old commander, A. P. Hill. Each corps commander now ranked as a Lieutenant General. With this formation Gen. Lee commenced that great movement which led up to the battle of Gettysburg, considered by historians as the pivotal battle of the war. Gen. Ewell marched in advance, and our corps followed, having delayed awhile to watch Hooker, while Gen. Longstreet lingered behind and covered our operations.

(Page 98)
Gen. Ewell, about the 1st of June, crossed the Shenandoah near Fort Royal, and struck a force under Gen. Milroy near Winchester, and after a severe engagement routed them completely, capturing a large part of his force, 28 pieces of cannon, 300 wagons and horses and a quantity of commissary and quartermaster's stores. My recollection of this march is not as distinct as some others. A long time has elapsed since then and I have forgotten many things. As Commissary Sergeant for the Fifth Alabama Battalion of infantry I had a horse to ride and this was one pleasant feature of this march. Where I got my horse, bridle and saddle I have entirely forgotten. It is a little singular that I should forget this, when I have a clear recollection of other things of not such importance to me at least I know I was mounted all right, and was elated over my good fortune, and this is all I now recall. When and where we crossed the Potomac I can't remember. However, I distinctly remember the boys wading across up to their waists in places, and my riding across on my horse, and when we reached the ****her side the jokes and jibes flew thick and fast as the wet garments clung to them and the water in their shoes made a sloshing noise as they hurried along to close up ranks. Through Pennsylvania we were struck with the similarity of the farms and farmhouses, all made after the same pattern.

(Page 99)
We were struck, too, with the good barns, sometimes better than the dwellings of the owners, and a big bell on top of each barn. The clover and wheat fields looked very enticing to us who were from the cotton fields of Alabama. The horses in the clover fields were great big-footed, clumsy, awkward things, so different from our Alabama horses, and though theirs were a great deal heavier and more suited for draught purposes we greatly preferred ours which were more active and could endure more service without jading. Gen. Lee issued a very stringent order against straggling and depredating. Rights of private property were to be strictly respected and there was to be no meddling with that which belonged to private citizens, under penalty of severe punishment. Soldiers seemed to consider chickens and fruits of all kinds to be exempt from this general order, judging from the way they acted with regard to these. A soldier ran a chicken under a large stack of wheat straw, and going under after it discovered horses and wagons and other things hid away under these straw, stacks to protect them from "The Rebels." This was reported to the proper authorities and a search instituted which revealed many things of importance to the commissary and quartermaster's stores.

(Page 100)
On the last day of June, 1863, Archer's Brigade, to which we belonged, and the one in which I am chiefly interested in writing this reminiscence, was at Cashtown, Penn. We left here on July 1, starting at 5 A. M. Our brigade took the front of A. P. Hill's corps, with Gen. Davis' Mississippi brigade following, and the Fifth Alabama Battalion was at the very front of Archer's Brigade. This battalion and fifty men drawn from the Thirteenth Alabama Regiment were deployed to the right of the road leading toward Gettysburg as skirmishers to drive in the Federal outposts. They encountered the cavalry about five miles out from Gettysburg and began to push them back. After driving them four miles the skirmish line halted west of Willoughby Run, a small stream, when Archer's Brigade advanced over and beyond the skirmish line and soon engaged the enemy's main line of battle. Let me emphasize the fact that the Fifth Alabama Battalion led the advance and fired the first shots on our side on July 1st, 1863, at Gettysburg. They drove in the Federal pickets over four miles and thus led the way to the first day's battle in that world-renowned contest at Gettysburg, Penn. Archer's Brigade passing the skirmish line made a gallant charge and broke the center of a Federal division of infantry. On account of the deep penetration and impetuosity of this charge Gen. Archer and 200 men of his brigade were cut off and captured and Col. Fry of the Thirteenth Alabama Regiment assumed command.

(Page 101)
The rest of Gen. A. P. Hill's corps coming up, a general battle was soon in progress between Hill on our side and Gen. Reynolds the Federal side. Other troops coming to Hill's aid 'he soon had the two corps of the enemy in full retreat, badly beaten. Gen. Reynolds was killed and his two army corps were routed and almost destroyed, being driven pell-mell through and beyond the town of Gettysburg. This was the first day's battle on July 1, and was a most splendid victory for the Confederates. Why we failed to push on and occupy the heights around and beyond Gettysburg is one of the unsettled questions. Our army expected to do so and were disappointed when we did not, and this is the limit of my knowledge of this matter. The second day's battle is almost a blank to me. I was there and should remember about it, but confess I only recall the awful artillery firing. It was the severest I had ever heard and fairly shook the ground. I remember, too, the scene of the battle from my viewpoint was grand in the extreme. Away to the left was a stretch of fields and from the bordering heights on either side the cannon were belching and roaring as if the world was coming to an end, and the shrieks and roar of bursting shells were awful.

(Page 102)
The third day was full of stress and crowded with thrilling events. Col. B. D. Fry of the Thirteenth Alabama Regiment was in command of the brigade, Gen. Archer as already stated having been captured in the first day's battle. After enduring a heavy cannonade the command is given at last, "Forward March!" That means a charge forward in order to capture the enemy s position. The brigade promptly responds and the attack on Cemetery Ridge is under way. On and on they move, the Yankee lines pouring in their fire at every step, men falling on every side. But the line is never broken and their pace is not slackened until they reach the enemy's lines and here amid smoke and carnage the deadly work goes on until our men are forced by the overwhelming odds to fall back. The color bearer of the Fifth Alabama is shot down, the flag falls to the ground. Private Bullock of Co. "C" raises it again. He is shot. Then Private Manning of Co. "B" lifts it again and as it floats out on the breeze Manning is killed. Then Private Gilbert of Co. "A" seizes it and succeeds in bearing it to the rear to where we were forced to retreat. This was a bloody charge. Many poor fellows were left stretched upon the field, dead or severely wounded. Four regimental flags were left in the hands of the enemy. Col. Fry was severely wounded. As our command rallied and reformed in the rear, Gen. Lee rode by and asked, "What troops are these?" When informed that it was Archer's Brigade he ordered them to support a battery that had just opened near by on theenemy's line.

(Page 103)
His parting words were, "Remember that adversity puts men to the test; in prosperity all are true." Though our lines had been repulsed with fearful shock, yet they were soon readjusted and an advance by the enemy would have met a hot reception. It seems there was little danger of their attempting it as they had enough.
Some ridiculous things go along with the awful and terrible. In our advance on the first day some of our skirmishers passing through a wheat field came to a small cabin, expecting to get behind it as a protection while taking a few shots at some Yankees in the wood beyond. A fierce dog raised an objection and as they parleyed with the dog, his owner, a shoemaker, came from the cellar, and after commanding his dog to be quiet inquired what they were after-"What are you here for?" They told him a big battle was brewing and they were fixing to take a hand. "By whom?", he asked. "By Gen. Lee and the Yankees", they answered. "Tell Lee 'to hold on just a little until I get my cow in out of the pasture", was his request. A little dog had taken up with our company and was a pet with the boys. He was the first fellow shot in the ranks in the first day's battle. He was an innocent bystander, a harmless on-looker, so to speak, with no concern either way as to which side should whip, yet he was the first struck in the shower of lead and his life surrendered in the good cause of States Rights and Home Rule. Private Worley, a fine specimen of vigorous young manhood, was carried to the field hospital with an ugly wound in his leg.


2nd Lieutenant
Honored Fallen Comrade
(Page 104)
The doctors said it must come off and prepared to administer chloroform. To this he stoutly objected saying, "Cut off the leg Doc, but leave off the chloroform; if you can stand it I can." _ He was a brave boy and had done his part nobly in the fight. I wish I knew what became of him as I have never seen or heard from him since.

(Page 105)
From Gettysburg we fell back toward Hagerstown and occupied a very strong defensive line, and remained here for several days waiting for Gen. Meade to come on if he proposed to follow up his success. However we remained there and finally left without being molested, and President Lincoln remarked that, "it seemed his generals were doing all they could to get Gen. tee across the Potomac without a fight." We left Hagerstown, and I have clear recollection that it was an all night march in the rain, the road working up into slush and mud under the tread of the thousands of feet passing over it, making it extremely disagreeable and unpleasant. Coming near the Potomac opposite "Falling Waters"1 tired, foot-sore, wet, hungry, and literally frazzled out, our division lay down in the old field in the edge of which was an apple orchard. My brigade occupied the apple orchard, everybody stretched out under the trees fast asleep, their guns and clothing wet, muddy and dirty; they presented a pitiable spectacle indeed. I took my old horse a little way out in the field back toward Hagerstown to "graze", as he had been without anything to eat for some time and I was sorry for him and wanted to give him a chance to get at least a bite of grass.

(Page 106)
Everything was calm and still and my old horse was nibbling his grass for dear life and I was enjoying seeing him devour it with so much eagerness, when suddenly I caught a glimpse of something on the hill just beyond me that at once riveted my attention and brought me to my feet in a jiffy, for there on that hill within a stone's throw was a company of Yankee cavalry forming in line to make a charge on our boys lying asleep in the apple orchard, whom they mistook for stragglers. Straining my eyes to their fullest capacity that I might not be mistaken I realized in a second what was coming and ran with all my strength toward my sleeping comrades, shouting as I ran, "The Yankees! The Yankees!" As I jumped in among our fellows who were beginning to rouse up and rub their eyes, here were those cavalrymen right on my heels riding in among those "Rebels", cursing and swearing and shouting, "Surrender, you sons of guns!" The boys of my old brigade finding that they could not use their guns, because everything was wet from the night's rain, used them as clubs and knocked the Yankees off their horses and even pulled them off, and soon things were too hot for them and as many as could hurried back the way they came.

(Page 107)
Gen. Pettigrew, a brave North Carolina officer, was killed in the melee trying to rally some men who were disposed to be stampeded by a little handful of Yankee cavalry. Nothing is said of this little affair in history, as it is too insignificant, but it was exciting and interesting while it lasted. My old horse, I suppose, ran off with the fleeing Yankee cavalry as I never saw him afterwards. In other words he was a deserter; left me afoot and went over to the enemy. We recrossed the Potomac here at Falling Waters and marched to Martins-burg where we went into camp.
Jun 16, 2005

Cool stuff Steven. Being a student of Archer's Brigade I've seen those accounts before. Thanks for posting it.

I have seen it stated that Archer's brigade was the least accomplished of the old light division's brigades.


Archer's was the one brigade that had combat experience on July 1,1863. Their numbers were low because they left their dead on the Seven Days fields,2nd Manassas,Sharpsburg,Fredericksburg,and Chancerlorsville.

The more celebrated brigades of Hill's Corp COULD NOT MAKE SUCH A CLAIM.

If Heth had listened to the more experienced Archer...perhaps the brigade could have avoided their fate.




2nd Lieutenant
Honored Fallen Comrade
New Book on the Tennessee Brigade

Phil there is a new book on the Tennessee Brigade.
The Tennessee Brigade is written by Randy Bishop I have heard the book is real good buy have not read it myself. Mr Bishop came to our scv camp meeting last week and did a talk on the it.. Due to having to work I had to miss the camp meeting.

I just learned www.Amazon.com has it and in the next few weeks hope to get a copy.

regards, steven
Jun 16, 2005
The Tennessee Brigade

:thumbsup: Didnt know about this book Steven...Thank You.

Circumstances prevented me from going to Gettysburg last weekend. I am going this Saturday,come Hell or highwater. Im banking on this book being available at Faunsworth...as they have a lot of state interest (aka,regimentals) available.