Henry Keiser Diary

Civil War Diary / Civil War Diaries

The Henry Keiser diary offers a detailed account of what he saw during the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg. He was a member of the 96th Pennsylvania Regiment and saw action on July 2-3, 1863.

Diary Entry - July 2, 1863

Instead of turning to the left last night, we should have turned to the right, and by the time we were fairly started on the right road, it was daylight. At 8:30 this morning we crossed the line into Pennsylvania, and at 10 A.M. we passed through Littlestown. The civilians along the line of march could not do enough for us. Most every household standing ready with water buckets dealing out water to the boys as we marched along, and the Stars and Stripes hanging out in all directions. It made us feel as if we were home once more, and the citizens of Southern Pennsylvania, through their kindness to the soldiers have put now life into us.

Can hear heavy canonading ahead all day. At five O'clock this evening we arrived at what is called Little Round Top, a short distance from Gettysburg. Very heavy firing to our left at 5 o'clock.

At six this evening we filed left, marched some distance, when we formed a line of battle on a knoll and in some underbrush. Our troops gave way and the Rebs drove our men. The Penna. Reserves, forming on our front, counter charged the Rebs our line following up sharp. The enemy was driven back and we regained the ground lost a short time before. We halted in a hollow behind a stone fence, having marched, since last evening, thirty two miles.

At the time we formed a battle line, I threw my knapsack, being to tired to carry it into a charge, but after advancing a short distance the regiment was halted and the men unslung knapsacks and had guards placed over them.

As we were going in, General Sickles was carried past on a stretcher.

Diary Entry - July 3, 1863

Last evening while the enemy was being driven back the troops on Little Round Top cheered justly, but the Rebs cut it short by giving them a dose of artillery which made the boys take to their holes in the rocks in "Double Quick,"

This morning Col. Lessig informed our Captain that their were some spare knapsacks left on the knoll where they had been left, guarded by the pioneers, which those of the boys having lost knapsacks could get. The captain informed us about it and I thinking I might get one went up and the first one on the pile was my own knapsack.

The field is covered with dead and wounded. There must be fearful fighting on the right judging from the very heavy firing, sometimes coming down the line pretty near to us. We were shelled occasionally during the day, but none of our company were hurt.

At five o'clock this evening, the Reserves in our front charged the enemy and drove them over a mile taking prisoners.

Diary Entry - July 4, 1863

"All is quiet along the line this morning."

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