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Gettysburg: 1st Corp - Reserve Artillery (CS) - Eshleman's Report
AUGUST 11, 1863

Col. J. B. WALTON,
Chief of Artillery, First Corps.

   COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Washington Artillery Battalion under my command since leaving Gettysburg, Pa., July 4, embracing the battle of Williamsport, Md., July 6:

   I moved from my bivouac near the battle-field of Gettysburg, in obedience to your order, about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 4th, and reported to General Imboden, commanding the cavalry escort to the wagon train, at Cashtown, with seven Napoleons, one rifle, and one howitzer, 12-pounder. My ammunition-chests bad been partly replenished, and Captain Richardson's rifle, since transferred from its carriage with a broken axle to that of his howitzer. The howitzer was attached to one of Captain [John] Wood's (acting quartermaster Washington Artillery Battalion) empty wagons for transportation. Captain Norcom's disabled Napoleon was turned over to the ordnance officer, Captain [James M.] Garnett.

   On reaching Cashtown, I placed my battalion in the column of wagons, distributing it in sections, at intervals of about a mile. A drenching rain, which continued during the afternoon and night, made the roads very heavy, and my men and horses suffered much from the forced march, having made the whole distance from Gettysburg to Williamsport without halting to feed, and only once to water.

   No special incident occurred on the march till I passed Greencastle, when the enemy's cavalry made a dash into the wagon train about 2 miles to the front of my forward section. Obtaining the support of a skeleton regiment of infantry that had been posted near Greencastle to protect our flanks, I immediately pressed forward Captain Norcom's section, but the enemy withdrew before I could get within range of him. I ordered the trains to be put in new trim again as quickly as possible, and the column closed up. The balance of the march was made without additional incident.

   Arriving at Williamsport at 3 a.m. on the 6th, I was ordered by General Imboden to go into position at once on the Boonsborough and Hagerstown roads, near town. Captain Miller, Lieutenants Hero and McElroy, with a section of Napoleons, and Captain Norcom, Lieutenants Battles and Apps, with one howitzer and one Napoleon, were posted on the Boonsborough road, half a mile from town. Captain [C. W.] Squires, with one Napoleon, in charge of Lieutenant [John M.] Galbraith, and Captain Richardson, with a section of Napoleons under Lieutenant Hawes, and one 3-inch rifle, were posted on the Hagerstown road, about a half mile from town. Between these two roads, Captain [Joseph D.] Moore, of Garnett's battalion, had two rifles, and [James F.] Hart's battery a section of 12-pounder howitzers, but with very little ammunition. The Donaldsonville battery was in position on the Greencastle road, and a few guns of General Imboden's command occupied positions between the Greencastle road and the river on the left, and between the Boonsborough road and the river on the right. An opportunity was now offered to repose my men and horses, who, after the severe battle of Gettysburg, had been steadily marching for forty-two hours, without sleep, rest, or subsistence.

   About 5 p.m. the enemy made his appearance in force with cavalry and artillery on the Boonsborough road, and soon afterward on the Hagerstown road. Dismounting his cavalry, he threw forward heavy lines of skirmishers, and placed a battery on each side of the Boons-borough road. Captains Miller and Norcom opened on him, but the range was found too great for their Napoleon guns. Captains Moore's and Hart's batteries engaged their right battery, but soon exhausted their short supply of ammunition, and had to withdraw.

   Seeing our only salvation was to make a bold and determined attack, I immediately advanced Captain Miller's battery about 600 yards, ordering the line of skirmishers forward with him. The enemy deployed his skirmishers to the right, and soon got possession of a house and commanding position immediately on the right of Captain Miller's position, from whence he was annoying Miller very much. I directed Captain Norcom, who had advanced his Napoleon gun, to shell the house, and at the same time ordered our skirmishers on my right to advance and drive the enemy back. This was executed at once, and we afterward held the position.

   Lieutenant Battles during this time engaged the enemy farther to the right with his howitzer, checking his advance on a farm road, and Captains Squires and Richardson, on the left of the center, handsomely beating back his advancing column over the Hagerstown road.

   Having assumed command of all the artillery, and the unerring and destructive fire of my guns under Captains Miller and Norcom having signally repulsed the enemy in their front, my attention and presence was directed to the left, where Captains Squires and Richardson were gallantly battling with the enemy in this unequal contest. As soon as Hart and Moore had retired, Captain Richardson sent his two Napoleons, under Lieut. Samuel Hawes, to hold that part of the line. Hawes fought the enemy under a most galling fire, in which he lost in killed and wounded 12 men on one piece.

   At 6.30 p.m. General Imboden stated to me that General Fitz. Lee's brigade of cavalry was close at hand, and that he wanted all the artillery that could be spared from other parts of the field to be posted so as to command the enemy's position in the center, and at the proper time to silence his battery, with a view to making a charge. The artillery was soon in position, but the cavalry, under command of General Lee, did not arrive till about dark. At dark, the enemy withdrew, and I retired my guns to the original line, and remained in position all night.

   Too much cannot be said in praise of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of my battalion for the zeal and devotion manifested on this occasion. They had just undergone a most fatiguing march of two days and two nights, without sleep, food, or rest. Nevertheless, on the approach of the enemy they sprang with alacrity to their guns, and, by their assiduity and courage and noble defense of our wounded men and transportation, and of Williamsport, have again placed the service and their commanding officer under lasting obligations. Captain Richardson makes special mention of Sergeant [John] Newton, of Captain Hart's South Carolina battery, who volunteered as gunner on one of his pieces after he had lost so many men as to render it difficult to work the gun. I regret to say that Sergeant Newton was mortally wounded, and died before he could be taken off the field.

   My loss was:

Command Killed Wounded Total
First Company      
    Enlisted Men ---- 2 2
Second Company      
    Enlisted Men 1 12 13
Third Company      
    Enlisted Men ---- 2 2
Sergeant Newton, Hart's battery 1 ---- 1
Total 2 16 18

   Killed and disabled, 12 horses.

   On July 8, by order of General Imboden, I crossed the Potomac with my battalion (ferrying the river), and went into position on the hill about 1 mile from the ford, to guard the approaches against the enemy's cavalry, where I remained, getting nothing but hay for my horses, till the 13th, when I received orders from General Pickett to move in the direction of Martinsburg, in front of his division.

   I arrived at Bunker Hill on the 15th, and by your order reported on the lath to Colonel Alexander, with whom I marched till we reached Gaines' Cross-Roads, when, by Colonel Alexander's order, I was again temporarily attached to General Pickett. It being understood that Dearing's horses were in too poor a condition to make the march over the mud road to Culpeper Court-House with his division (General Pickett's), he was sent by the pike. On arriving at Culpeper, I again reported to Colonel Alexander.

   On July 11, Captain Miller's battery was detached and sent with General Imboden to Strasburg, to guard the Yankee prisoners. He reported to me again at Bunker Hill on the 18th.

   On the march and in battle, Acting Ordnance Officer [B. L.] Brazelman acted with his usual efficiency in his department.

I am, colonel, with great respect, your obedient servant,
B. F. ESHLEMAN,
Major, Commanding.


Taken from:
U.S. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
     (Washington: Govt. Print. Office, 1880 - 1901)

 
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