Georgians of Anderson/Luffman’s Brigade in the Final Advance on July 2

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson’s brigade of Georgians fought hard in and around the Rose woods over the course of three hours on the afternoon and early evening of July 2. At various times they opposed elements of at least six Federal brigades representing the Third, Fifth and Second Corps. Toward sunset, Confederates from McLaws’ and Hood’s divisions who were still on their feet participated in a general advance in a final bid to overcome the Federal defenders on and near Little Round Top.

Four of Anderson’s regiments, the 8th, 9th, 11th and 59th Georgia, took part in the July 2 fighting. Anderson himself was wounded prior to the final push and he was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman of the 11th Georgia. A paucity of sources prevents us from fully documenting the brigade’s last movements of the day, but we can still gain an important understanding thanks to a detailed post-war recollection left by Captain George Hillyer of the 9th Georgia, along with other scattered references.

Major Henry D. McDaniel of the 11th Georgia provided a general impression in his official report: “The third advance was made in connection with the entire line on that part of the field, and resulted, after a conflict in the ravine of half an hour, in the rout of the enemy from the field. This rout was vigorously pressed to the very foot of the mountain [Little Round Top], up the sides of which the enemy fled in the greatest confusion.”

Captain Hillyer also recalled in his official report: “Our little band, now thinned and exhausted by three and a half hours’ constant fighting, made a gallant attempt to storm the batteries, but the enemy being again heavily reinforced, we were met by a storm of shot and shell, against which, in our worn-out condition, we could not advance.”

However, it was in a 1904 address to aged veterans, that Hillyer put flesh on his bare bones official statement: “Shortly after this a general charge was ordered; and we advanced about a quarter of a mile further; to the foot of Little Round Top, capturing one of Sickles’ [actually Sykes’] batteries on the way. The battle flag of my regiment passed through between the guns. I saw Jim Mead [Private James J. Mead], one of Company B, lay his rifle on one of the cannon, and taking deliberate but rapid aim, fire at the cannoneers of another battery on the summit of Little Round Top. … On this crest were fifteen or twenty [!] Federal cannon, a line of their Zouaves just in front of them down the hill towards and facing us; and back of them another line equally as strong. Their combined fire was almost relentless. Our line emerged from the stumpy brush through which we had charged and came out into a long, narrow but nearly straight opening, which skirted the foot of Little Round Top and the elevated plateau which stretched away on our left towards Cemetery Hill. … Although strengthened by McLaws on our flank, yet neither he nor Hood had any more than a single line, and, of course, by this time was greatly thinned. I could see to the right and left along the opening I have mentioned thirty-five or forty battle flags, and only from thirty to fifty men with each. On crossing this opening and going a little way up on the rocky slope (by my side was Newn Hudson [?], now of Rockdale county) we saw that no one of the entire line was nearer to the enemy’s position than we were, and that our little attacking column hesitated. They were all veterans in the highest sense. I heard no order to retreat and gave none, but everybody, officers and men, seemed to realize that we could not carry the position, the enemy outnumbering us probably ten to one, and we exhausted and our ranks thinned as they were. By common consent we fell back to a point where there was a stone wall. We moved back rapidly, but without panic of confusion. Just as I started back, I saw Captain [then Lieutenant James W.] Morrow, of the 11th Georgia, whom you all know so well and so favorably. He said to me, ‘If you have been up there any further and could not do anything, there is no use for me to go.’ So he fell in by my side and we double quicked back to the rock wall. I jumped on it, and by this time the firing having so much quieted that I could at least be partly heard, I called a halt. I saw, then Major, afterwards Governor McDaniel, do the same thing on the rock wall some fifty or seventy five yards to the right; and it is my testimony that every man who heard his voice or mine, or was near enough to see and be attracted by our words and gestures, stopped at once and formed our line behind that wall. … It was hardly a minute after the halt before our line was reformed, and the entire force, or what was left of it, in hand just as much as before the charge began. From that point we moved leisurely to the little branch or brook [Rose Run], and natural rifle pit I spoke of.”

The “natural rifle pit,” I believe, was created by the banks of Rose Run, where the remnant of the 9th (presumably joined by others from the 8th and 11th Georgia) held back Sweitzer’s brigade just before Wofford’s brigade crashed into Sweitzer’s exposed right flank. It is less clear where the 59th Georgia was at this moment – perhaps scattered to the east and southeast in the Rose woods. Men of the 9th, 8th and 11th followed close behind Wofford through the Wheatfield and soon intermingled with his brigade in pursuit of Federal forces fleeing eastward.

The Confederates along the stone wall mentioned by Hillyer fell back concurrently with the charge of the Pennsylvania Reserves from their position on the north slope of Little Round Top. Andrew J. Deming of Company D, 13th Pennsylvania Reserves wrote: “I remember picking up one gun of a particular pattern. I took the owner of it a prisoner – a member of the 11th Georgia. I kept the reb but left the gun.”

Private W. T. Laseter of Company H, 11th Georgia, later recalled that they “drove the enemy to the foot of the big mountain [Little Round Top]. Night approached so we fell back a short distance.”

While no specific member of the 8th Georgia has yet been identified from the last advance, it does appear that some of its members were interspersed among those who went forward into Plum Run valley. Comrades of Lieutenant Reid of Company I, 8th Georgia (who was wounded earlier) afterwards informed him that: “We had penetrated half a mile beyond [the banks of Rose Run] when the fighting stopped.”

The attached map shows the approximate positions of the individuals identified by Captain George Hillyer, with the brigade’s general path into Plum Run valley. Bear in mind that they were intermingled with many from Wofford’s brigade along with representatives of Semmes’ and Kershaw’s brigades, who are not shown. Hillyer witnessed Private Mead and the unnamed color bearer of the 9th at what could only be the position held by Battery C, 3rd Massachusetts, just south of the John T. Weikert residence. At least two, and possibly four, Napoleons were abandoned there. It seems another two guns from the battery made it across the road before being abandoned. In falling back to the stone wall bordering the east side of the Wheatfield, Hillyer encountered Lieutenant Morrow, and upon reaching the wall noticed Major McDaniel further to his right. The projected path of the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (PR) in their charge at sunset is also shown, and along this path an unidentified (U/I) soldier of the 11th Georgia was captured by A. J. Deming.

Sources:
-Official Reports of Henry D. McDaniel and George Hillyer.
-Battle of Gettysburg, by George Hillyer, Address Before the Walton County Georgia Confederate Veterans, August 2nd, 1904, From the Walton Tribune.
-Bucktails at Gettysburg, by A. J. Deming, Co. D, Bucktail Rifles, Spring Creek, Warren Co., Pa., The National Tribune, February 4, 1896, p. 3.
-Excerpts from an article by W. T. Laseter, published in the Shreveport Journal, October 31, 1929.
-Diary of 1st Lt. J. C. Reid, Alabama State Archives, on file at Gettysburg National Military Park.
LuffmanJuly2 001.jpg
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Captain Hillyer also told of his experience in his letter to his father just after the battle. He wrote,


We did not pause or hesitate a moment, but advanced after emerging from the timber one or two hundred yards, to the very foot of the hill and within a stone's throw of the cannon. During this charge, I saw our men falling in large numbers, and the enemy's infantry who were retreating before us, suffered very heavily, particularly as they went up the hill. I saw the ground ploughed and torn by grape shot and shell --still I heard no distinct sound, so great was the roar and din of battle...

I went as near the enemy's guns as any other man, and at the foot of the hill fired my rifle at the cannoneers.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Captain Hillyer also told of his experience in his letter to his father just after the battle. He wrote,


We did not pause or hesitate a moment, but advanced after emerging from the timber one or two hundred yards, to the very foot of the hill and within a stone's throw of the cannon. During this charge, I saw our men falling in large numbers, and the enemy's infantry who were retreating before us, suffered very heavily, particularly as they went up the hill. I saw the ground ploughed and torn by grape shot and shell --still I heard no distinct sound, so great was the roar and din of battle...

I went as near the enemy's guns as any other man, and at the foot of the hill fired my rifle at the cannoneers.
Interesting and slightly different perspective. It was unusual for an officer to pick up a weapon, especially a captain like Hillyer, who was the acting commanding officer of the 9th Georgia at the time!
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Interesting and slightly different perspective. It was unusual for an officer to pick up a weapon, especially a captain like Hillyer, who was the acting commanding officer of the 9th Georgia at the time!
Actually Captain Hillyer kept a private by his side as an orderly (I forget his name) that he told to pick up a rifle and cartridge box from one of the wounded. The soldier would make ready the rifle and he would trade off his sword for it and apparently fired off many rounds during the battle.
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
We had a boy in our company named Thomas Michael. He was little more than a lad when he came to us. He was the nephew of the Michael brothers, two of our best men. They told me that Thomas had no father or mother, and was alone at home and in feeble health. On their earnest pleading, I let him remain and enlisted him, though for a long time he was not required to carry a gun, but was made useful with other duties about the camp, or on the march. Just before the beginning of the battle, Thomas happened to attract my attention. Calling him to me, I told him I wanted him to look out for a chance, and the first man who fell, get his gun and cartridge box. Then make it his business to load that gun and follow me about wherever I went, till either one or the other of us got knocked out. He was to hand me the gun and let me shoot it, then he to take and reload it, and go over the same process again. And I explained to him that I would have no time to talk, or repeat orders, but for him to keep that up no matter what happened, until the firing was
rorty times or more in the shifting scenes of the fight, Thomas a pluck at my sleeve and hand me the gun, he holding my sword
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Forty times or more in the shifting scenes of the fight, Thomas would pluck at my sleeve and hand me the gun, he holding my sword
while I would fire the gun and hand it back to him, and he kept it up until the very last. After this battle his health having greatly improved, he became a fine soldier.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Thanks for the contribution, @Scott F, that's certainly a first in all of my past research. An acting regimental commander who did not let his supervisory duties interfere with his shooting!

A Private Thomas J. Michael appears on the rolls of Company C as having been severely wounded in the shoulder. He was carried back in the wagon train of wounded and died in Martinsburg on July 20. He left a widow, Susan. (Service record, Fold3) This does not match the Thomas Michael described by Captain Hillyer.

Stames M. Michael, Antoine Michael and John M. Michael were also members of Company C during the war, but John was discharged in September 1861, so it is supposed that Stames and Antoine were the two brothers mentioned by Captain Hillyer.
 
Last edited:

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Thanks for the contribution, @Scott F, that's certainly a first in all of my past research. An acting regimental commander who did not let his supervisory duties interfere with his shooting!

A Private Thomas J. Michael appears on the rolls of Company C as having been severely wounded in the shoulder. He was carried back in the wagon train of wounded and died in Martinsburg on July 20. He left a widow, Susan. (Service record, Fold3) This does not match the Thomas Michael described by Captain Hillyer.

Stames M. Michael, Antoine Michael and John M. Michael were also members of Company C during the war, but John was discharged in September 1861, so it is supposed that Stames and Antoine were the two brothers mentioned by Captain Hillyer.
From the notes in Coco's book, he believes that Hillyer was mistaken that Thomas Michael was a brother of Stames and Antoine and that their nephew was W. Calvin Thomas.
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
We lost a great researcher in Greg Coco. It seems he was right. Thomas Jackson Michael was 35 and married to wife Susan (as Tom said) when he died in 1863. He joined the service in Feb. 1863, and his two brothers, Starnes and Antoine, joined in 1861 with their nephew Calvin W. Thomas, son of their older sister Nannie born in 1846 and enlisting at the age of 15 it seems. I could not find Nannie's death date though but it must have been before 1861 like Hillyer said.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
We lost a great researcher in Greg Coco. It seems he was right. Thomas Jackson Michael was 35 and married to wife Susan (as Tom said) when he died in 1863. He joined the service in Feb. 1863, and his two brothers, Starnes and Antoine, joined in 1861 with their nephew Calvin W. Thomas, son of their older sister Nannie born in 1846 and enlisting at the age of 15 it seems. I could not find Nannie's death date though but it must have been before 1861 like Hillyer said.
I corresponded with Greg Coco once; he was very generous. I always admired his contributions to the Gettysburg battle and still make use of his research.
 

Drumshanbo

Cadet
Joined
Aug 30, 2017
I would just say that Hillyer said a lot of things in 1904 that he failed to mention in his letters immediately after the battle. George was not above embellishing or seemingly even creating tales by 1904. He does this
a lot because he loved to talk. An example above being, just after the battle, he writes "he got as close as any man,.." yet by 1904, the 9th GA's flag (which regiment he is commanding at the time) has its flag amongst the guns and he fails to mention it entirely. You have to be careful with Hillyer. Things grow a lot more grand for him with age, hardly an uncommon trait, and as a guy who loved to give a UCV speech, I personally,...and this is only my opinion....don't put much stock in his later writings.
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
I would just say that Hillyer said a lot of things in 1904 that he failed to mention in his letters immediately after the battle. George was not above embellishing or seemingly even creating tales by 1904. He does this
a lot because he loved to talk. An example above being, just after the battle, he writes "he got as close as any man,.." yet by 1904, the 9th GA's flag (which regiment he is commanding at the time) has its flag amongst the guns and he fails to mention it entirely. You have to be careful with Hillyer. Things grow a lot more grand for him with age, hardly an uncommon trait, and as a guy who loved to give a UCV speech, I personally,...and this is only my opinion....don't put much stock in his later writings.
I have researched George Hillyer thoroughly and what he said in 1904 can pretty much be verified in Union accounts. He is actually speaking about two different batteries, Walcott's and Gibbs', and their course would have taken them through Walcott's abandoned guns and on to the base of LRT where they met double canister from Gibbs' left section commanded by Lt. Guthrie. One Confederate soldier supposedly making it up the slope and putting his hands on one of the guns.
 

Drumshanbo

Cadet
Joined
Aug 30, 2017
I know a bit about Hillyer and the 9th GA myself, but I may be confused here. When you say that what Hillyer wrote in 1904 "can pretty much be verified in Union accounts", do you mean to say that those Union accounts specifically identify the 9th Georgia as overrunning Walcott? If so, I've never seen such specific accounts. Certainly no Confederate account that I have seen by anyone in Anderson's Brigade seems to have mentioned such a thing until Hillyer decided to reveal this nugget in 1904. Hillyer was always trying to impress his father, seems like the kind of thing he'd have mentioned in 1863. Still, no doubt things were a mixed mess by that stage, just seems a little far north and a lot too much like 1904 Hillyer to me. Your mileage may vary. : -)
 

Scott F

Corporal
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Wofford's brigade actually took Walcott's guns and his regiment may have passed through the guns but what I think he meant by we is the "general charge" not his regiment specifically. In that context, what he said is perfectly accurate. From Captain Lemon of the 18th Georgia, "At this point we became aware of a battery of the enemy's guns on our left which had been firing into us during our advance across the wheat. Our left wing flew into them and captured them in less time than it takes to tell of it.” From the historian from Walcott's battery, "Gen. Wofford's Confederate brigade leaped over the wall, driving back the regulars, and demanding the battery to surrender. No one seemed to know where they came from, because they sprang over the wall and came up to the guns so quick.” And from Lt. Page of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, "The rebels came from all directions for the guns, and lost all formation. They waved their battle-flags — a dozen being just in front of me. They came to where we were when a number were shot down." Hillyer's description after they pass through the guns is pretty accurate including the terrain and how far they made it. Lt. Gildea who commanded a section of Gibbs' battery wrote that the Confederates had made it to within "70 to 80 feet" from their forward guns, whereas Col. Bryan commanding the 16th Georgia of Wofford's brigade claimed his regiment made it the furthest out his brigade which was the stone wall 100 yards in front of a battery of four guns. His other stories in his speech are surprisingly true as well, although he may have got the name wrong like the example above or the sequence of events like his color bearer story. Lt. Reed from the 8th Georgia, the regiment next to him, saying the exact same thing, except it happened earlier in the fight to where Hillyer placed it. As far as him impressing his father in the letter, I have no idea. His father did write the newspaper that printed it, that his son wrote it on scraps of paper and didn't have time to elaborate too much. The reasoning behind why he left so much out of the letter perhaps?
 

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Captain Hillyer also told of his experience in his letter to his father just after the battle. He wrote,


We did not pause or hesitate a moment, but advanced after emerging from the timber one or two hundred yards, to the very foot of the hill and within a stone's throw of the cannon. During this charge, I saw our men falling in large numbers, and the enemy's infantry who were retreating before us, suffered very heavily, particularly as they went up the hill. I saw the ground ploughed and torn by grape shot and shell --still I heard no distinct sound, so great was the roar and din of battle...

I went as near the enemy's guns as any other man, and at the foot of the hill fired my rifle at the cannoneers.
If anyone is interested in reading the entire letter, I posted it (or the most of it) here a while back:
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/we...th-georgia-at-gettysburg.158279/#post-2059170
 
Top