"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thursday, July 2, 1863. Darkness came on and the battle ceased with the Sixteenth in the front line.

Colonel W. G. Veazey
First Army Corps
July 1-2-3-1863

Participated near this point in action of July 2nd
Picketed this line that night - held same as skirmishers
"Thursday, July 2, 1863: Battle began at 5 PM & continued until dark. We were not engaged but lay under severe artillery fire supporting batteries - lost about 10 men. Occupied the front line when the battle closed. Whole Reg. put on picket. Am Div. field officer of Day."   From the Diary of Wheelock G. Veazey, Colonel, 16th Vermont Regiment.(VHS), in David Cross, Wheelock Veazey, (Rutland Historical Society, 1995)

"During the forenoon, company B, Captain Arms was send forward to re-enforce the skirmish line, and there rendered splendid service. This company was taken into position by Captain Foster of company C, who was then on General Stannard's staff, and was wounded in discharging this duty.

"The main battles of July 2 were fought on the right and left flanks of the Union line. Near the close of the battle on the left the Sixteenth, with the rest of the brigade, was moved about one-half mile to the left along Cemetery Ridge to re-enforce our badly shattered lines. In this movement it was under terrific artillery fire, one shell hitting two men and killing them instantly. The regiment was finally halted in support of a battery and just in season to receive and repel a heavy charge of infantry. Darkness soon came on and the battle ceased with the Sixteenth in the front line." 
~Russell and Emery, 16th Vermont Infantry Regimental History

"The Sixteenth moved left in front, down the Taneytown road a short distance, and then into the field and along the crest till it reached the position of the Second Corps' batteries, receiving as it moved a cannon-shot—the first that entered its ranks—which knocked down a file of men, killing two of them. The smoke enveloped that part of the ridge, but it could be seen that a battery near there was without support, and a line of the enemy was both seen and heard advancing upon the guns with loud shouting. The Sixteenth deployed in rear of the battery; the enemy, disconcerted by the appearance of this fresh line, fell back; and the Sixteenth supported the battery till dark, when the regiment was moved to the left and forward into the front line in that part of the field." ~ 2 George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War 455-56(Burlington Vt 1888). 

 "Soon after this Colonel Veazey was detailed to take the regiment with others and establish a picket line across the battlefield of that afternoon. The battle had been fought back and forth over this ground and it was literally covered with dead and wounded men, among whom the Sixteenth were deployed to watch the enemy while our army was resisting for a renewal of the awful conflict in the morning. No regiment ever had a more trying night on picket duty. It was not relieved in the morning, but the men held the same position as skirmishers throughout the forenoon and until the final assault." ~Russell and Emery, 16th Vermont Infantry Regimental History

"The next morning [July 2] our brigade consisting of the 13th, 14th, and 16th Regiment - the other two being at Westminster, MD - 20 miles southeast guarding the corps teams prepared for action. We were in position all the morning until about 4 o’clock when the rebels opened their batteries, ones having been playing since noon. Within five minutes thereafter a shell fell within (six feet near my) horse exploded without doing major damage. Soon the field officers dismounted and our brigade advanced to support our batteries. We were then in rear of the crest on which they were placed and there so protected that not a man was hit or hurt although their shells passed just above our heads and exploded from a few feet to one or two hundred yards beyond us. This music was not at all agreeable.

"Just before sundown we were advanced up another hill a little to the left and deployed in line amid the bursting of hundreds of shells. One came through the ranks about four feet to my right killing two men, one or two others were wounded. Up the hill we went and when on top the firing in that section had nearly ceased. We were near the center and not in the advance line there had been fighting on very ground where we were and two of our batteries had been taken and retaken. Our left had advanced and drove the rebels and they in turn had repulsed our advance with masked batteries and driven us back.

"Between the rebels and us was depressing basin through which ran a ravine well protected by brush and rocks. I was made officer of the picket and then went out and placed three companies as pickets there in two as support and the balance of the regiment left behind a clump of small trees as a reserve. I was on the line all night.

"After taking care that my line was right, I looked around and found this ravine full of dead and wounded soldiers about two rebs to one Union. Stretchers and ambulances were running all night but by morning nearly all had been removed. Between Union and rebel picket lines, parties of both were by a tacit understanding engaged in hunting up their dead and wounded comrades and friends without molestation." 
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters July 6, 1863. VHS.

"After nightfall of Thursday Colonel Veazey was detailed as division field-officer of the day, and taking the Sixteenth Vermont regiment and a detail from the brigade on the right, posted a picket line along the front, from the right of Codori's house on the Emmittsburg road through the low grown to the left, till it joined the picket line of the Fifth Corps. Three companies were deployed on the picket line, and the remainder of the regiment lay as picket reserve. “It was,” says Colonel Veazey,
 “the saddest night on picket that I ever passed. The line ran across the field that had been fought over the day before, and the dead and wounded of the two armies, lying side by side, thickly strewed the ground. The mingled imprecations and prayers of the wounded, and supplications for help, were heart-rending. The stretcher bearers of both armies were allowed to pass back and forth through the picket lines, but scores of wounded men died around us in the gloom, before any one could bring relief or receive their dying messages.” "
~ 2 George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War 459 (Burlington Vt 1888). 

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