George Armstrong Custer Gettysburg Battle Report
George Custer / General Custer
The George Armstrong Custer Gettysburg battle report is filled with the heroic exploits of the brash young Union cavalry general at the Battle of Gettysburg.
September 9, 1863
Report of Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade of, and Third Division. Battle of Gettysburg
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, September 9, 1863.
Captain ESTES, A. A. G., Third Div., Cav. Corps, Army of the Potomac.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagements in which my command participated during the Pennsylvania and Maryland campaigns. Owing to the frequency with which this brigade encountered the enemy, my report assumes the form of a diary:
FIRST MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
On June 30, the regiment was ordered to support Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, at Hanover, Pa. No loss was sustained by the regiment here, as it was not actively engaged.
On July 2, at the battle of Hunterstown, one squadron, under command of Captain Duggan, was detailed to hold the road leading into the town from the right front of it. One platoon was deployed as skirmishers on the left of the road leading into town from the rear. This platoon was actively engaged and did good service. The regiment sustained no loss upon this day.
On July 3, engagement 2 or 3 miles to the right of the Two Taverns, in which this regiment charged in close column upon Hampton's brigade, using the saber only, and driving the enemy from the field, with a loss to this regiment of 6 officers and 80 men.
On July 4, the regiment moved with the division toward Monterey Gap. At Fountain Dale, was sent upon a road leading from the right of the town to Fairfield Gap, where the enemy was found occupying it. A charge was made by one squadron, under command of Lieu-tenant-Colonel Stagg, with success and against superior numbers. The enemy were driven out and the Gap held until the entire column and train had passed. Here the regiment sustained a heavy loss. Colonel Stagg, in leading the charge, had his horse killed, and was himself seriously injured by the falling of the same. Here Capt. William R. Elliott was mortally wounded, and Lieut. James S. McElhenny killed; 17 men also lost. At Monterey Pass, the regiment lost 2 officers and 6 men.
On July 5 and 6, at Smithsburg, the regiment supported Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, sustaining no loss.
At Boonsborough on July 8 the regiment was often under fire, but met with no loss.
On July 12, this regiment had the advance to Hagerstown. Five companies were deployed as skirmishers before the town. One squadron, by order of Brigadier-General Kilpatrick, charged into the town, capturing several prisoners, one man only of the squadron being injured
On July 13, the regiment was on outpost duty, and engaged with the enemy most of the day. Loss, 3 men severely wounded.
On the 14th, this regiment was engaged in the action at Falling Waters, and had the honor of capturing 2 battle-flags and so much of the Forty-seventh Regiment Virginia Infantry as was upon the field, being 5 officers and 56 men. Captain Snyder, of this regiment, was mortally wounded while gallantly leading a squadron of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry in the streets of Hagerstown, July 6. Since the engagement at Falling Waters this regiment has been under the command of Maj. M. Brewer, and has participated in the following engagements: At Newby's Cross-Roads, Va., July 24; lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, 7 men. A portion of the regiment was engaged in a skirmish at Barbee's Cross-Roads on July 25.
FIFTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.--Was engaged in severe skirmishing with the enemy near Hanover, Pa.
July 3.--At 10 a.m. moved out, and met the enemy on the right, at Gettysburg. The regiment was dismounted to fight on foot on the left of the brigade. Major Ferry was killed. Participated in the several charges made on that day.
July 4.--Participated in the engagement at Monterey Pass, where part of a large tram and many prisoners were captured. July 5.--Was in the engagement at Smithsburg. July 6.--In engagements at Hagerstown and Williamsport.
July 8.--Moved out on the pike toward Funkstown; deployed as skirmishers on the right, on foot. Colonel Alger was wounded here. Charged and drove the enemy in force from a piece of woods, which was afterward hotly shelled by the enemy while we held possession. Subsequently the enemy fell rapidly back while the regiment pursued them closely until dark.
July 10 and 11.--Picketed in front of Funkstown. July 12.--Was in the charge at Hagerstown. Lieutenant-Colonel Gould wounded. Five squadrons of this regiment dismounted on the left of the city, and drove a superior force from its position. July 14.--Led the advance toward Williamsport, and charged into the town, meeting no considerable force, and driving the enemy s rear guard across the river, capturing a number of prisoners. July 17.--After sharp skirmishing with the enemy, drove them from Snicker's Gap, and occupied the same, capturing several prisoners. July 20.--Occupied Ashby's Gap after slight skirmishing. July 24.--Had the advance to Newby's Cross-Roads; were at the extreme front during the engagement there, and acted as rear guard when our forces engaged were ordered to fall back.
SIXTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.--This regiment, with the Fifth Michigan Cavalry, occupied Littlestown, Pa. Company A was sent on a reconnaissance to Westminster. The remainder of the regiment proceeded to Hanover. Here we met the enemy's skirmishers; drove them to their guns, which we found supported by a heavy force of cavalry. A sharp engagement followed, in which we were outnumbered by the enemy six to one. Our loss was some 15 or 20 captured. The enemy lost several wounded and captured. Later in the day, Company A, of this regiment, had an engagement with a considerable force of the enemy.
July 2.--This regiment, being in the advance, encountered the enemy's cavalry at Hunterstown. Here Company A, Capt. H. E. Thompson, charged a brigade of cavalry. Though suffering great loss, he checked the enemy, so as to enable our battery to be placed in position. The other squadrons of the regiment drove the enemy back, when the guns of the battery caused them precipitately to surrender the field.
July 3.--Were in engagement at Gettysburg. July 4.--Were deployed as skirmishers on either side of the road in the attack on Monterey Pass. Loss, slight. July 5.--The regiment was employed in supporting a battery in the engagement at Smithsburg. July 6.--Were ordered to the front at Hagerstown. On arriving there, General Custer, having driven the enemy, ordered us back. Same day, were engaged with the enemy at Williamsport, losing 1 officer killed and 3 men wounded. The First and Sixth Michigan Cavalry were the last to return from the field, protecting our guns and holding the enemy in check while the remainder of the command fell back toward Boonsborough.
July 8.--Met the rebel General Stuart and his forces at the left of the Hagerstown road, near Boonsborough, repulsing and routing his forces, and driving them until night closed the pursuit.
July 11.--Regiment on picket duty before Hagerstown. During the <1000>entire day was engaged skirmishing with the enemy's sharpshooters. Loss, 2 wounded. The enemy was seen to carry several of his dead and wounded from the field.
July 12.--Participated in the capture of Hagerstown. July 14.--Was in the engagement at Falling Waters. Two companies--B and F, commanded by Major Weber--charged the enemy, who were in position behind earthworks on the crest of a hill. Major Weber and Lieutenant Bolza, with many valuable men, were killed.
July 20.--The regiment participated in the capture of Ashby's Gap; also encountered the enemy strongly intrenched on the opposite side of the Shenandoah, near Berry's Ford. Loss, 3 wounded.
July 21..--Engaged in reconnaissance from Amissville to Newby's Cross-Roads. Loss, slight.
SEVENTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY.
June 30.--Engaged at Hanover, Pa.
July 2.--The regiment, excepting one squadron, was advanced as dismounted skirmishers in the engagement at Hunterstown. July 3.--Charged the advance line of the enemy's skirmishers at Gettysburg. Held the field until the advance of the First Michigan Cavalry.
July 4.--Was engaged at Monterey Pass. July 5.--The regiment supported Battery M, Second U.S. Artillery, at Smithsburg. July 6.--Participated in the engagement at Hagerstown. Same day at Williamsport. July 8.--Deployed as skirmishers at Boonsborough. July 12.--Being temporarily attached to the First Brigade, with it entered Hagerstown under a sharp fire from the enemy, and in the afternoon was advanced to the extreme right of the town, to support the infantry. July 14.--Was engaged on the right at Falling Waters, capturing from the enemy a 10-pounder Parrott gun, 400 prisoners, the battle-flag of the Fifty-fifth Virginia Infantry, and the colonel of the abovenamed regiment, with several other officers
BATTERY M, SECOND U. S. ARTILLERY.
June 29.--The battery was assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. G. A. Custer.
June 30.--While between Hanover and Abbottstown, Pa., a limber-chest of one caisson exploded, mortally wounding 1 man, killed 2 horses and wounded 2. At Hanover met a battery of the enemy, which was withdrawn after twenty minutes' firing.
July 1.--Was engaged with the enemy at Hunterstown, silencing his battery, and having 4 horses killed, 3 wounded, and 1 wheel disabled.
July 3.--Took up a position on the right of the line at Gettysburg, and was engaged with Stuart's cavalry; battery engaged all day.
July 4.--Was in an engagement at Monterey Pass, where a large portion of Ewell's train and a large number of prisoners were captured.
July 5.--Battery placed in position at Smithsburg, but not used.
July 6.--Marched to Hagerstown; thence to Williamsport, where the battery was engaged. Sergeant Frain was here wounded in the head, and 3 privates were also wounded. July 8.--Engaged the enemy near Boonsborough. July 12.--Marched to Hagerstown, and shelled brigade of the enemy's cavalry, our force taking possession of the town.
July 14.--Marched to Falling Waters, via Williamsport, shelling the enemy at the latter place, he being on the opposite side of the river. At Falling Waters the battery was employed throughout the day.
July 24.--Was engaged with the enemy at Battle Mountain, near Newby's Cross-Roads, Lieutenants Clarke, Woodruff, and Hamilton in this, as in every other engagement, performing their duties with skill and judgment.
The non-commissioned officers--Sergeants Morris, [Nicholas] Hasenzahl, and [Michael] Frain, and Corporals [Charles K.] Galligher, [William] Dowdes, [William M.] Baker, and [Robert] Burke directed their pieces with coolness and precision, doing their duty handsomely in every engagement.
Respectfully submitted. G. A. CUSTER, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
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