of the 60th
by Lieut. Edwin A. Merritt
Taken from Final Report on
the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York
Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany,
NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.
The Second Division of the Twelfth Corps reached the vicinity
of the Gettysburg battlefield at about 4 p. m., where we remained, lying upon
our arms, until 6:30 a. m., on the morning of the 2d of July, when we took up
position in line of battle, about half a mile to the right of Cemetery Hill,
on Culp's Hill, the Sixtieth connecting with the right of the First Corps, where
we threw up entrenchments connecting with the One hundred and second New York
Volunteers on the right.
The men worked with a will, and had by 9 a. m. completed
a breastwork, that commanded the brow of Culp's Hill, which, on the right, extended
to low ground. We were now about one mile from the enemy's front. Our men were
permitted to lie quietly behind their stacks of arms, in rear of the work, until
4 p. m. At this time, discovering the enemy in line, supposed to be about one
brigade in strength, General Geary, commanding the division, placed five guns
in position, which opened on the Rebels, and drove them from sight. The fire,
however, was returned, and some of the cannoneers having been wounded were replaced
by men from the Sixtieth who understood artillery practice. About 5 o'clock
all was quiet on that part of the line and remained so until 7 o'clock, when
the Rebel infantry advanced in force. Our skirmishers, falling back, unmasked
our line, which opened upon the enemy at close range a most destructive fire
for about four hours. The fire of the enemy being somewhat slackened, a portion
of the regiment was ordered forward.
The men eagerly leaped the works and surrounded fifty-six
of the enemy, including two officers, whom they brought in as prisoners. They
also captured a brigade battle-flag, said to belong to Jones's Brigade, and
one regimental banner, which, as we learned from one of our prisoners, was a
present from the ladies of the district in which the companies were organized.
Seven Rebel officers were found dead on the ground covered by the colors and
guard. The capture of these flags and prisoners shows how desperate a defence
our men made. The effects of our fire was so terrible that the flags were abandoned,
and the prisoners were afraid to either advance or retreat. The color bearers
were both killed. One of them had advanced within twenty paces of our breastworks.
The officers and men, on the arrival of these trophies, were greatly cheered
and encouraged. They felt as though they had done a good thing.
The ammunition had to be replenished several times, which
was promptly done. The regiment was not entirely out of ammunition but once.
On the discovery of this fact Colonel Godard ordered them to " fix bayonets," which they did, and in that position waited until they were again supplied.
Great coolness was displayed by both officers and men. Our
loss, during this night's action, was 9 men killed and 16 wounded. About midnight
the firing almost ceased, except by sharpshooters and skirmishers, which was
kept up until daylight, when we were enabled to discover large numbers of the
Rebel dead within fifty feet of our line. The regiment, in this action, consisted
of Colonel Godard, commanding regiment, Lieutenant Nolan, Acting Adjutant, 16
line officers, and 255 enlisted men.
Irregular picket-firing continued until 4 a. m., on the 3d,
when the enemy again advanced, and heavy firing opened on both sides, which
continued until 10 a. m., the enemy being steadily held in check, at which time
they retired, leaving only sharpshooters, who kept up an irregular fire during
the day. At 2 p. m., the regiment was relieved for an hour, when it again returned
to the entrenchments, and remained until 2 a. m., July 4th. During the battle
on the 3d we lost 2 enlisted men killed, and 19 wounded, and 2 officers — Lieutenant Stanley, wounded severely in the head, which proved fatal on the
7th day of July, and Lieutenant B. T. Bordwell, in the foot. The Sixtieth, it
will be observed, was on the extreme left of the Twelfth Corps, and joined the
right of the First Corps. The flags were properly inscribed with the record
of capture, and forwarded to headquarters.
It may not be inappropriate to speak of the operations of
the Third Brigade, of which the Sixtieth formed a part, commanded by Gen. George
S. Greene, and the honorable part it performed at the battle of Gettysburg.
The universal praise awarded it is justly due. The credit cannot be subdivided.
The regiments comprising it were the Sixtieth, Seventy-eighth, One hundred and
second, One hundred and thirty-seventh, and the One hundred and forty-ninth
New York Volunteers, containing within their organizations as good and brave
men as ever the Empire State sent to the war. This brigade was on the left of
the Twelfth Corps. The Second Brigade of the Second Division was on our right.
Thrown forward at a right angle, on the crest of a hill in front, was a heavy
growth of timber, freed from undergrowth, with occasional ledges of rocks. These
afforded a good cover for marksmen. The first duty, after getting into position,
was to intrench, which, by noon on the 2d, was successfully accomplished, having
constructed a breastwork of such material as was found convenient, of earth,
stone, and logs. This work subsequently proved of great service, as by its assistance
a vastly superior force was kept in check. At about 6:30 p. m. the Twelfth Corps
was withdrawn from the line for some purpose, and General Greene directed to
occupy the whole front of the corps with the Third Brigade, which order he was
attempting to carry out, and had placed the One hundred and thirty-seventh New
York in the trenches occupied by the Second Brigade, when the whole line was
attacked. This was about 7 o'clock p. m.
At 8 o'clock the enemy succeeded in gaining the entrenchments
on the right, in the portion of the line formerly occupied by the First (General
Williams's) Division, which was nearly perpendicular to the line of the Second
Brigade, now occupied by the One hundred and thirty-seventh. The enemy attacked
our right flank, while also attacking the front. This necessitated the changing
of the front of the One hundred and thirty-seventh, which was successfully done
under fire. Four separate and distinct charges were made on our line before
9:30 o'clock, which were effectually resisted. The situation becoming critical,
one regiment was sent to its support, which was placed on our right ("
The California Regiment"), but was soon withdrawn, leaving the right,-
as before, very much exposed. Subsequently, reinforcements were received from
General Wadsworth's Division of the First Corps, and from the Eleventh Corps
— about 350 men from the former, and 400 from the latter — who rendered
important aid, relieving the men so that they could clean their guns and replenish
their cartridge-boxes, which they had entirely emptied of ammunition. At the
close of the attack the brigade held its position.
At 11:30 a. m., on the 3d, the right was reinforced by the
return of the First Brigade of the Second Division, who took position in support
of the right of the Third Brigade. Artillery was placed in position to attack
that portion of the Rebel forces then occupying our entrenchments on the right;
and at 4 a. m., opened on them, and the attack was general on our whole line,
lasting until 10:30 o'clock, when the enemy was driven back, all retiring except
their pickets. During this attack the fire was kept up constantly and effectively
along the whole line. The enemy having been early driven from the trenches,
they were again occupied by the Second Brigade, and the First Division.
The men were relieved occasionally by others, with a fresh
supply of ammunition and clean arms, the relief going forward at the double-quick
with cheers, and the troops relieved falling back through their files, when
they arrived in the trenches. The men, by this means, were comparatively fresh,
and their arms in good order. '
Capt. A. B. Shipman served on the general's staff as an inspector general,
and Lieut. C. T. Greene as aide-de-camp. The brigade contained about 1,300 men.
The loss of the enemy greatly exceeded ours. We found after the action in our
front, of their dead, 391, and there were across the creek a number of dead,
estimated at 150; making a total of 541. We picked up 2,000 muskets, of which
at least 1,700 must have belonged to the enemy, showing clearly a loss on their
part of killed, wounded, and missing, in addition to those who may have carried
their arms off the field, estimated at 500, and, including 130 prisoners captured,
of 2,400 men. Their loss in officers was heavy. The troops opposed to us proved
to be Johnson's Division of Ewell's Corps, in the night attack of the 2d; and
the same division, reinforced by Rodes's Brigade, on the 3d. General Johnson's
assistant adjutant general was killed, and left on the field.
The casualties were as follows: killed, 6 officers; 56 enlisted men; wounded,
10 officers, 203 enlisted men; missing, 1 officer, 31 enlisted men; total, 17
officers, 290 enlisted men.
The Sixtieth Regiment was organized at Ogdensburg in the autumn of 1861, and
started for the seat of war November 1st, of that year. It was stationed on
guard along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad during the following winter. On
the retreat of General Banks' army in the Shenandoah Valley, it was ordered
to Harper's Ferry, and thence up the valley to Winchester. It was on active
duty at the front again, during the Second Bull Run campaign, under General
Pope. It participated in the battle of Antietam, where Col. William Goodrich
was killed; also twenty-two others, killed and wounded. The regiment also participated
in the battle of Chancellorsville, in which 9 were killed, 44 wounded, and 8
were missing. At Gettysburg, 11 were killed and 39 wounded; at Lookout Mountain,
37 were killed and wounded (the Sixtieth capturing one cannon and battle flag);
at Ringgold, 4 were killed and 14 wounded. The regiment at this time had only
175 men fit for duty.
After the close of the campaign and while located in Lookout Valley it re-enlisted
as a veteran regiment, received furlough, and returned to Ogdensburg as a regiment.
Returning to the Army of the Cumberland before the opening of the campaign in
1864, it participated subsequently in the battles of Resaca, New Hope Church,
Peach Tree Creek, and the movement on Atlanta. It marched with Sherman to the
Sea, and northward through the Carolinas, and was in the battle at Bentonville.
After the surrender of the Rebel armies under Generals Lee and Johnson, the
Sixtieth marched with the victorious army to Washington, and was in the Grand
Review of Sherman's army. Soon after that event it returned to Ogdensburg, where
it was mustered out of service. From first to last it had a most honorable record.
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
March 27, 2006