Letters from Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg July 1st - 3rd 1863
Pvt. Henry Brown
Frederick City, VA, July 10, 1863
It has been a long time since I have written to you but it has been impossible for me to write.
We are camping at Frederick City now. I will begin from the time I wrote last and tell you all that has happened.
I wrote last while the Battle of Chancellorsville was going on. We left camp about fifteen minutes after I finished writing so that I did not have time to post it in the office till after the battle. We went to Bank’s Ford. We were engaged there on the fifth of May. After the battle was over and our troops retired, we went back to our old camp.
We stayed there about a week when we moved with the rest of the Reserve back near Patonock Creek. We stayed her until the 6th of June when we left camp again.We were engaged at Freeman’s Ford across the Rappahannock on the 9th. We retired near Bealeton Station. We were with a brigade of infantry.
We were ordered to report to General Pleasanton on the 12th at Catlett Station. After reporting to him, we continued our march. We joined the brigade of regular calvary. We marched to Thoroughfare Gap. It was near dark when we left Catlett Station. We marched by a road. The road was narrow and rocky and almost covered by brush.
I was driving on the swing team of the first piece. We run off from a bank some ten feet high into a ravine. Over and over went the piece until it reached the bottom. The wheel horses rolled over each other several times and landed on their backs at the bottom. The driver was caught between them and bruised considerably.
My team did not go quite to the bottom and I managed to slip off before they fell. The rest of the battery went on and most of the calvary. This delayed us a couple of hours.
When we went ahead we came out upon the Pike that runs by the Bull Run Battle Ground. We passed the battle field about 8 in the morning. We went but a short distance farther, when we were ordered back. We were on the wrong road. We reached the Gap about 10.
Half the battery went to the other side of the Gap and half this side. We took a position upon a hill. We stayed here till dark. The next day we left at dark and dark it was. We went upon the gallop nearly all the way. The air was so full of dust that we could not see an inch from our nose.
We kept to the main road till within 2 miles of Bull Run when we took a bye road that led to Manassas Junction. We reached there about day light. We went to Union Mills. We unsaddled and stopped for an hour. We harnessed up again and went across Bull Run Creek. We stopped till night. We went a few miles towards Centreville.
We stopped till morning. A good deal of infantry passed us here. We passed through Centreville. We took the road to Leesburg. We passed through Aldie. Our advance had a fight there. Our brigade was in reserve. I cannot give any further details of our movements now. Our brigade marched to Middleburg. We were attacked in our rear, just before reaching there, while going through a piece of woods. We managed to get through into a field surrounded on all sides by a stone wall. We got our battery into position.
The calvary dismounted and deployed behind the stone wall. The enemy came on with the most terrific yells and reached the wall in some places before our men, but our men marched right up to the wall. At the same time our battery opened with canister which fairly swept them from the ground.
They skedaddled in every direction. Not one of our men were injured. General Gregg’s Division was already at Middleburg. They arrived the day before by a different road. We supposed them to be the enemy. At first they covered our left and rear. We remained quiet all the next day ready for them at any moment.
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Henry Brown at Frederick City,
July 10, 1863
The next morning our section joined General Buford’s Division. The whole calvary force was here with five or six flying batteries. Buford’s Division was on the right of our forces. Our two pieces were all the artillery in the division. We recrosssed Goose Creek at the same place we had crossed it before the skirmishing commenced here. We were on the flank of the enemy. Our skirmishers advanced on the double quick. We closed behind.
The enemy would get behind the walls and stand till our men were upon them and run away. We went over hills, through woods, most of the time upon the run. We drove them through Ashby’s Gap. Our cavalry made several splendid charges. This was the prettiest fight we had ever been in. We drove them over 8 miles. We joined the rest of our battery. We have been with the regular brigade ever since.
We were engaged near Gettysburg a few miles from the main army the day of the big battle on the 3rd. We were engaged at Williamsport on the 6th. It was the severest fight we have had. The battery was engaged at Boonsboro on the eighth. Four pieces were dismounted. We came back yesterday. We are going to get a new battery and horses. The army has all moved to Boonsboro. There is fighting going on now.
I am well. I will write another letter soon. I got your package. Direct your letter to Washington or elsewhere.
Goodbye for this time. Henry W. Brown
Horse Artillery, Battery K, First U.S.
There has been a spy hung here. Here is a piece of the tree he was hung on.