|15th GA Infantry, Report of Gettysburg|
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 2 (Gettysburg Campaign). Transcribed by Keith Giddeon.
No. 460. Report of Colonel D. M. Du Bose, Fifteenth Georgia Infantry. JULY 27, 1863
SIR: In obedience to Orders, No. -received to-day, I herewith submit to Brig. H. L. Benning a report of the part taken by my regiment (the Fifteenth Georgia)in the battle of Gettysburg, on July 2 and 3. My regiment occupied that portion of the ground on the extreme left of the brigade on July 2. After moving for a considerable distance across an open field, under a heavy shelling from the enemy's batteries, I reached the position from which I was to move in line of battle to assist in supporting Brigade-General Law's, bridge, which I learned had moved forward to attack the enemy. After marching forward at 400 or 500 yards, with the rest of the brigade, I was halted, and rested until an order came to me from General Benning to move forward at once to the support of our advanced troops. This movement was made at once, in good order, under fire of the enemy's artillery. After getting within 150 yards of the advanced troops, I was again halted by General Benning for a few moments, my regiment having gotten a short distance ahead of another portion of our brigade lines, owing, I suppose, to the difference in the nature of the ground over which we had to march. General Benning then left the position which he was near, toward my right, and went toward the right of the brigade. I rested a few minutes in this position, until I saw the balance of the brigade had moved up even with my position and were still advancing, I immediately ordered a forward movement, and soon gained the point where our advance troops were fighting behind a stone fence, a little above the foot of a high, wooded, rocky hill. At this point my regiment commenced the engagement with the enemy, who occupied the hill. At this point, the nature of the ground was such that I could not see the other portion of our brigade. After fighting the enemy in this position a short time, I saw from the heavy fire of musketry on my right that the other portion of the brigade were hotly engaged trying to carry the hill in their front, which was destitute of trees. I immediately ordered my regiment to jump the stone fence, and charge that portion of the hill in my front, which order they obeyed willingly and promptly, driving the enemy from my part of the hill, turning that portion of their right flank which occupied the barren hill in front of the troops of our own brigade on my right, and thereby assisted them in gaming the hill in their front. In this charge, a portion of one of the Texas regiments(the First Texas) joined me, and behaved well. After gaining the hill, I continued to move forward, driving the enemy before me at a rapid rate, capturing between 140 and 200 prisoners, including officers as well as men. I had gone on rapidly from other portion of our brigade, which I found had halted at the top of that portion of the hill in their front, when I discovered a large body of the enemy moving so as to put themselves between me and the troops on my left and in my rear, and thereby cut me entirely off from support. As I saw the danger to which I was exposed, I ordered a halt, and also ordered my regiment to fall back. I fell back to the stone fence before referred to, and there very soon arranged my, line, and fought the enemy this position until I saw the troops on my left getting ready for another charge. I at once ordered my regiment to charge, which they did, well, driving the enemy from their position. The troops on my left then fell back to their original position, and the enemy commenced advancing on my left. I took a small party of men, threw them out as skirmishers on the left, and drove back the enemy's advance; but very soon a heavy column of the enemy came upon my left in that position, I fell back again to my original position, and continued the fight at this point until, I received a message from the commander of the troops on my left, stating that he was going to charge the enemy again, and desired me to do the same on my part of the line, which proposition I agreed to at once, and immediately ordered my regiment forward, and again did they obey my order with alacrity and courage, driving the enemy this time entirely out of the woods in my front. I then changed the front, so as to fire upon the enemy in the open field, at the foot of the mountain on my right. In this position my line was almost at a right angle with the line of the brigade. I placed them in this position so as to assist the troops on the left, who had followed the retreating columns of the enemy and were then attempting to charge a portion of the mountain height. I ordered my men to pour in a heavy fire upon the enemy as soon as the troops on the left commenced falling back, as I thought they would have to do, and thereby protect their retreat as much as possible. This they did very effectually I remained in this position a considerable length of time and until late in the evening, when it became so dark that objects in the woods could not be so easily discerned. I then learned that the enemy were again moving round upon my left in heavy force. Upon learning this, I changed my line back, about 200 yards, and fronted differently. I had not gotten through this movement before I discovered that the enemy were moving forward rapidly, and were within 200 yards of the left of my line. I halted, faced about and commenced fighting the, and, after a few-well-directed volleys, succeeded in checking their advance. They then fell back, and I moved my regiment back to the stone fence in my rear, formed them in a few moments, and rested in this position until General Benning ordered me to rest for the night upon the hill in my front. It was now after dark. I moved up and occupied the position he had directed me to, and also collected together all the fragments of regiments and companies from other commands, and formed them upon the same line with my own regiment, and stationed pickets in front. In this position I remained until just before daylight on the morning of July 3, when I was ordered by General Benning to move my regiment back to the stone wall from which he had ordered me the night before. I remained in position behind this wall until late in the evening of July 3, keeping a body of skirmishers in my front. In the latter part of the evening, the enemy pressed so heavily upon my skirmishers that I was compelled to re-enforce them with two additional companies, and very soon thereafter a heavy skirmish commenced. The enemy had commenced moving around upon my left in heavy force. The troops upon my left having been withdrawn, I notified General Benning at the movement being made by the enemy. He immediately came down to my position, and there received orders, through a courier, to move the left of his brigade so as to unite which the right of General McLaw's division.
Brigadier-General Benning ordered me to move to the position pointed out by the courier, which order I obeyed at once, calling in most of my skirmisher. The new position to which I had been ordered and occupied left a space of fully a quarter of a mile between my right and the then left of General Benning's brigade. This place was entirely unoccupied, excepting by a few skirmishers from my regiment. I had gained my new position but a short time when a brisk skirmish commenced between the enemy and my left wing. At this time, I received the enemy and my left wing. At this time, I received an order from General Benning by one of his couriers to hold the hill I was on, and that General McLaws would support me on the left. By the courier who brought me this order, I notified General Benning that I could see nothing of General McLaws, but instead of finding his troops upon my left, that the enemy were moving around upon my left in heavy force. After this time, I received no further orders or notice from any one of the movement of our troops. The enemy came up rapidly in heavy force, turning my left entirely, and also advancing in front and moving upon my right in the space between my right and the left of the position where I had left the balance of our brigade. After fighting in this position until I saw the enemy had greatly the advance of by his flank movement, I drew my line of battle back about 70 or 80 yards, changing at the same time my front, At this position I secured my men as best I could behind rocks and tress, seeing I was compelled to fight greatly superior numbers. In this position, I had a desperate fought, the enemy moving upon my right and left flanks and front. I fought them until they had gotten within 20 to 40 yards of my men. Seeing no re-enforcements coming to mu relief, and finding that in a few moments more my whole regiment would be either killed or captured, I ordered a retreat through the only space left open to me by the enemy. After falling back 300 or 400 yards, I rallied my regiment behind a stone fence, and there checked the advance of the enemy; but, after fighting in this position for a time, the enemy made the same movement upon this position from a time, the enemy made the same movement upon this position that he had done upon the one I had last left, by throwing a force around my left flank and moving up on my right flank, by this means hoping to surround me and entirely cut off all means of retreat. As soon as I saw that the position of the enemy rendered my position untenable, I again ordered my men to retire.
After retreating some 400 yards father back, I again rallied the remnant of my regiment, and fought them, until driven from my position by one of the enemy's batteries, which completely, enfiladed my position, throwing shells among my men, who were lying behind the stone fence. I again a retreat, and fell back to where the balance of the brigade had been ordered after I left it. During each of the four separate fights I made that evening, I looked for an expected support either upon my right or left, which did not come, nor did I retire from either position until I had ascertained that there was no support to be had. My men and officers fought bravely, but my loss was immense. My men and officers fought bravely, but my loss was immense. How any of us escaped I do not see. In the battle of July 2, I went in with 330 or 335 muskets, and lost 70 men killed, wounded, and missing. In the battle of the 3d, I lost 101, making a total loss of 171 men in the two days' fighting. During the battle of July, 2 I was greatly assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel [Stephen Z.]Hearnsberger and my adjutant, Lieutenant L. Pierce, both of whom behaved with coolness and courage. I am also indebted to all of my officers who were present for the assistance rapiered by then. My men behaved well, and worthy of their former reputation. All of which is respectfully submitted. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant. D. M. DU. BOSE, Colonel Fifteenth Georgia Volunteers. Lieutenant [H. H.] PERRY, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.