Gettysburg report of Lieut. Col. S. G. Shepard
Capt. WILLIAM BROWN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.
SIR: In compliance with General Orders, No. -- (to report the part that Archer's brigade took in the recent engagements in Pennsylvania and Maryland), I beg leave to state that, although I was not in command of the brigade, yet I was in each of the engagements, and upon my own observation and the testimony of the officers of each of the regiments I predicate my statements.
We left our camp near Cashtown, Pa., early on the morning of July 1, and marched down the turnpike road leading to Gettysburg. We had advanced about 3 miles when we came upon the enemy's pickets, who gradually fell back before us for about 3 miles, which brought us in sight of the enemy, upon a slight eminence in our front and to the right of the road. General Archer halted for a short time while a section of a battery opened fire upon them. He then deployed the brigade in line, and advanced directly upon the enemy through an open field. At the extreme side of the field there was a small creek with a fence and undergrowth, which was some disadvantage to our line in crossing, but the brigade rushed across with a cheer, and met the enemy just beyond. We were not over 40 or 50 yards from the enemy's line when we opened fire. Our men fired with great coolness and deliberation, and with terrible effect, as I learned next day by visiting the ground.
We had encountered the enemy but a short time, when the made his appearance suddenly upon our right flank with a heavy force, and opened upon us a cross-fire. Our position was at once rendered untenable, and the right of our line was forced back. He made also a demonstration upon our left, and our lines commenced falling back, but owing to the obstructions in our rear (the creek, &c., above referred to), some 75 of the brigade were unable to make their escape, General Archer among the rest. I saw General Archer a short time before he surrendered, and he appeared to be very much exhausted with fatigue.
Being completely overpowered by numbers, and our support not being near enough to give us any assistance, we fell back across the field, and reformed just in rear of the brigade that had started in as our support. Colonel Fry took command of the brigade, and, after remaining in the woods for two or three hours, the whole line upon our left advanced. Archer's brigade advanced at the same time upon the extreme right of the line. While advancing, the enemy threw a body of cavalry around upon our right flank. Seeing this, Colonel Fry changed the direction of his front so as to protect our flank. The cavalry did not advance upon us, but hung around during the entire engagement of the evening of July 1.
During the night of the 1st, and the 2d, we lay in position upon a road upon the right of our line. We were not in the engagement of July 2.
During the night of the 2d, we moved around, and took our position in front of the enemy's works, and remained there until the evening of July 3.
In the engagement of the 3d, the brigade was on the right of our division, in the following order: First Tennessee on the right; on its left. Thirteenth Alabama; next, Fourteenth Tennessee; 'on its left, Seventh Tennessee, and, on the left, Fifth Alabama Battalion. There was a space of a few hundred yards between the right of Archer's brigade and the left of General Pickett's division when we advanced, but, owing to the position of the lines (they not being an exact continuation of each other), as we advanced, the right of our brigade and the left of General Pickett's division gradually approached each other, so that by the time we had advanced a little over half of the way, the right of Archer's touched and connected with Pickett's left.
The command was then passed down the hue by the officers, Guide right ;" and we advanced our right, guiding by General Pickett's left. The enemy held their fire until we were in fine range, and opened upon us a terrible and well-directed fire. Within 180 or 200 yards of his works, we came to a lane inclosed by two stout post and plank fences. This was a very great obstruction to us, but the men rushed over as rapidly as they could, and advanced directly upon the enemy's works, the first line of which was composed of rough stones. The enemy abandoned this, but just in rear was massed a heavy force. By the time we had reached this work, our lines all along, as far as I could see, had become very much weakened; indeed, the line both right and left, as far as I could observe, seemed to melt away until there was but little of it left. Those who remained at the works saw that it was a hopeless case, and fell back. Archer's brigade remained at the works fighting as long as any other troops either on their right or left, so far as I could observe.
Every flag in the brigade excepting one was captured at or within the works of the enemy. The first Tennessee had 3 color-bearers shot down, the last of whom was at the works, and the flag captured. The Thirteenth Alabama lost 3 in the same way, the last of whom was shot down at the works. The Fourteenth Tennessee had 4 shot down, the last of whom was at the enemy's works. The Seventh Tennessee lost 3 color-bearers, the last of whom was at the enemy's works, and the flag was only saved by Captain [A.D.] Norris tearing it away from the staff and bringing it out beneath his coat. The Fifth Alabama Battalion also lost their flag at the enemy's works.
There were 7 field officers who went into the charge, only 2 of whom came out. The rest were all wounded and captured. The loss in company officers was nearly in the same proportion.
Our loss in men was also heavy. We went into the fight on the 1st with 1,048 men, 677 of whom were killed, wounded, and captured during these engagements.
I cannot particularize where so many officers and men did their whole duty. There are doubtless some, however, as is always the case, who did not do their duty, and richly deserve the severest punishment that can be inflicted.
After our unfortunate repulse, we reformed upon the ground from which we advanced, and waited for all advance of the enemy, which, however, they did not see proper to make, and so ended the conflict of the day.
We remained here until the night of the 4th, when we retired, and fell back beyond Hagerstown, Md. We next took position between Hagerstown and Williamsport, where we lay in line of battle two days, and retired on the night of the 13th instant. Owing to the darkness of the night and the impossibility of the artillery getting on, we found ourselves 5 miles from the river at daylight. We moved on to within 2 miles of the river, and formed a line of battle upon the crest of a hill, to protect our rear until the artillery and the column in advance of us could cross the river. While here, a small squadron of the enemy's cavalry, consisting of 75 or 100 men, made their appearance in our front. They were mistaken at first for our own cavalry until they had advanced close upon us. Their first charge was upon the First Tennessee Regiment, which was upon the right of the brigade. Our men, unfortunately, did not have their guns all loaded, and were forced to fight with clubbed guns. The enemy, finding they were making rather slow headway at this point, moved down the line upon the Thirteenth Alabama, Seventh and Fourteenth Tennessee Regiments, who by this time had succeeded in getting many of their guns loaded, and were but a short time in killing and wounding a majority of them. The rest made a desperate effort to escape back to the woods, but most of those were shot from their horses as they fled, so that not over a dozen or twenty made their escape. We lost in this encounter 1 man killed and 7 wounded.
It was our sad misfortune, too, in this affair, to lose General Pettigrew, who was in command of the brigade. No encomium that I might add could do justice to his memory. Both officers and men of the entire brigade feel that by his death the Confederacy has lost a model soldier and one of her most noble and gifted sons.
We received orders to retire toward the river, and we moved out, with General Pettigrew's brigade upon our left. Our route to the river was part of the way through a dense and tangled copse of undergrowth, with deep ravines running up from the river. We kept our line pretty well organized in passing through these obstructions, and passed beyond the river.
Not wishing to burden you with a report too lengthy, I have noted down in a brief style the facts deemed most important for your information.
All of which I respectfully beg leave to submit.
S. G. SHEPARD,
Lieutenant-Colonel Seventh Tennessee Regiment.