The Gettysburg Diographs by Dennis Morris
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Ellsworth Avenged
44th NY- July 2nd 1863

 Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth was born just outside of Albany, New York in 1837. In the late 1850’s he moved to the Midwest and formed Ellsworth’s Zouaves, a militia drill team that became nationally known. He later studied law with Abraham Lincoln and assisted Lincoln’s 1860 Presidential Campaign.         
          When war broke out Ellsworth came back to his home state and helped to raise the 11th New York regiment and became their Colonel. On May 24th 1861 day after Virginia’s Secession he led troops into Alexandria. Ellsworth spotted a large a confederate flag hanging from local hotel. Incensed, he entered the building and tore down the flag. As Ellsworth descended the stairway he was shot by the owner.  The event stunned the North and provided a burst of early war enthusiasm. Part of that reaction was a call for a regiment to honor Colonel Ellsworth. The 44th New York was the result and the unit was given the nickname of “Ellsworth’s Avengers.”  The original plan was to have one member from every locality in the state. While that concept was not completely adhered to, the regiment represented nearly every locality in the State. The 44th  left Albany with 1061 recruits on October 21st 1861 and  fought extensively in the Peninsula Campaign and 2nd Manassas as part of the Army of the Potomac.
              The 44th came to Gettysburg with 460 men, its complement swelled by veterans from several mustered out regiments.   As part of Colonel Strong Vincent’s Brigade of the 5th Corps the 44th was diverted to Little Round Top where held the center of the brigade’s line along side it sister regiment, the 83rd Pa. The vital hill was undefended before the Brigade’s arrival and almost immediately came under attack.  Six regiments from Hood’s Division made repeated assaults from 5:00 PM until nightfall.
         The scene above shows the 5th Texas making a late assault. In the valley below the 40th New York is withdrawing for the area of Devil’s Den along with Ward’s Brigade on Houck’s ridge
. The 44th held firm against each Southern attack. The price was high as 36 men died and 69 were wounded. 

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Gettysburg - July 2, 1863

Sherfy’s Wheatfield I


           
  Joseph Sherfy’s farm gained historic notice as the location of the Peach Orchard. Sherfy grew not only fruit but other crops including a field of wheat located south of his barn. Though this wheat field is not nearly as famous as that of his neighbor’s, George Rose, it was the scene of desperate fighting.
The 114th Pennsylvania Regiment was one of several units at Gettysburg to utilize a variation of the Zouave uniform. Sometimes know as Collis’s Zouaves, they were formed by a Philadelphia lawyer, who started the war as a volunteer private.
                     The 114th came to Gettysburg as part of Charles Graham’s Brigade of Sickles’ III corps. After Graham’s Brigade was ordered to the Peach Orchard area the 114th spent several hours near the Wentz house on the west side of the Emmitsburg Road. From 3:30 on they were subject to the artillery attack against the Union Batteries nearby. Just after 6:00 PM when Barksdale’s brigade emerged out the wood to the west Captain George Randolph of Sickles’ Artillery Corps came up to Captain Bowen. Lt. Colonel Cavada and General Graham were not available, and Randolph asked Bowen if the 114th could move to protect the several Union batteries, which were highly vulnerable to Barksdale’s attack. Bowen agreed and ordered the 114th forward across the Emmitsburg road and into the wheat field south of the Sherfy Barn.
                     In any event this was an aggressive move. Barksdale had 1600 men moving briskly toward the Peach Orchard and the 114th had only started the day with 259 men. The encounter was brief and bloody. The 114th lost 95 men killed or wounded and due to their forward exposure 60 men were captured. One result of the 114th’s action is clear. Not one of the 40 federal cannon in the Peach Orchard area was captured there.
                    The scene above is the left flank of the 114th as they cleared the Union Batteries. The Sherfy cannery, house and barn are visible in the background
                    

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Sherfy’s Wheatfield II

Gettysburg - July 2, 1863

Joseph Sherfy’s farm gained historic notice as the location of “the” Peach Orchard.  Sherfy grew not only fruit but other crops including a field of wheat located south of his barn. Though this wheat field is not nearly as famous as that of his neighbor’s, George Rose, it was the scene of desperate fighting.

The 17th Mississippi was assembled from the northern Counties of the state in early June of 1861. They left Corinth on June 11th and arrived at Manassas Junction on June 17th. The regiment participated in 1st Manassas and was heavily bloodied at Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg,  Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

The 17th came to Gettysburg, 468 strong, as part of William Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. On July 2nd they waited patiently on the Warfield’s Ridge tree line for several hours only 500 yards from their first target, the Emmitsburg Road.  General Longstreet’s attack slowly developed as six separate Brigades moved to the east toward union positions.  All during this time fire from the Union batteries at the Peach Orchard was directed at the Confederate guns just in front of the Mississippi Brigade with over shots taking a toll on the infantry in the woods behind.   At about 6:00 PM Barksdale’s Brigade was ordered forward. As the 17th cleared the woods and an orchard it became clear that one of those deadly batteries was fully exposed just moments away.  The 17th saw the opportunity and rushed forward, most likely in advance of the rest of the Brigade. With the 17th less than 200 yards away the red trousered 114th Pennsylvania filtered through the Union battery and made a desperate defense.  That moment is portrayed in the print above.

The opposing regiments each took losses of more than 50%. Within minutes the Zouaves were forced back and the 17th continued on in one of the most devastating brigade actions of the war.

                              The 17th eventually suffered 270 casualties during the charge. Due to the decisive Southern defeat on                  July 3rd, 74 of those wounded were left in the Gettysburg area following the Confederate retreat.

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Mississippi Magnificence

Gettysburg - July 2, 1863

 

The 18th Mississippi was assembled from the Central Western  Counties of the state in early June of 1861. They left Mississippi  on June 11th and arrived at Manassas Junction on June 18th. The regiment participated in 1st Manassas and was heavily bloodied at Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg,  Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

The 18th came to Gettysburg, with 242 men led by Colonel Thomas Griffin, as part of William Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. On July 2nd they waited patiently on the Warfield’s Ridge tree line for several hours only 500 yards from their first target, the Emmitsburg Road.  General Longstreet’s attack slowly developed as six separate Brigades moved to the east toward union positions.  All during this time fire from the Union batteries at the Peach Orchard was directed at the Confederate guns just in front of the Mississippi Brigade with over shots taking a toll on the infantry in the woods behind.   At about 6:00 PM Barksdale’s Brigade was ordered forward. “Yelling like demons, black with smoke and lusting for hand-to-hand conflict, the enveloping mass of Confederates rushed the enclosures and speedily gained possession of them ....and a great gap was opened in the Federal line.”  The diograph shows the early stages of the attack with the 18th on left flank of Barksdale’s Brigade. General Barksdale is seen on the right. In the distance the 105th Pennsylvania is attempting to form a line just north of the Sherfy house, cannery and barn.  Just visible on the left is the roof of the Trostle Barn. Within the next hour the 18th would advance across the Emmitsburg road down into the Plum Run Valley north of the Trostle Farm. Barksdale’s charge,  described as the “Most magnificent of the war” would push back more than 3 Union Brigades.  Only after the death of Barksdale at Plum Run and more Union troops could stop the Mississippians.  

         The 18th eventually suffered 137 casualties during the charge. Due to the decisive Southern defeat on July 3rd, 31 of those wounded were left in the Gettysburg area following the Confederate retreat.  
 
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                                           Chaos on the Emmitsburg Road
                                                         
July 2, 1863
 

    Question still remain regarding the decision by General Daniel Sickles to occupy the Emmitsburg Road and the Sherfy Peach Orchard on the afternoon of July 2, 1863.  This was certainly contrary to the wishes and orders of his Commander, General George Meade.  Once the act was completed it could not be undone and a major portion of the Battle of Gettysburg on that Thursday afternoon would take place well away from where the Commanders on either side anticipated.

           Once the Southern attack had started the Union had over 30 pieces of artillery in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard. Perhaps the closest to the enemy was John Bucklyn’s 1st Rhode Island Battery. At about 6:00 PM following 2 1/2 hours of dueling with their Confederate counterparts on Warfield Ridge Southern infantry rushed across the 500 yards of field in front of the Union Cannons. With only moments before the Confederates would arrive the 114th Pa. made a desperate charge to give the 1st Rhode Island some time to escape.
           Here the last element of the battery heads down the Emmitsburg road toward Trostle lane and safety. The left flank of the Confederate attack  on the left just south of the Spangler house and barn. The Sherfy barn and cannery are to the near right and the little house of  John Wentz is on the right.   Wentz would remain in his cellar during the entire day’s battle.   Just visible on the right behind the Wentz house is the 72nd NY moving up in a futile attempt to hold back the Southern attack. Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade would overrun the entire area within the next 10 minutes. 
            

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    The Wildcat Advance
   105th Pa. July 2nd 1863

         The 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment was recruited out of Jefferson and several other western Pennsylvania counties. Since this was oil country they were dubbed the “Wild Cats. ” They reported to the Army of the Potomac in September 1861 and fought hard in the 1862 Peninsula campaign and taking heavy losses at Fair Oaks. At Gettysburg on July 2nd 1863 the 105th was part of Daniel Sickles III Corps, placed forward in the vicinity of the Sherfy House on the Emmitsburg Pike.
        Colonel Calvin Craig’s official report describes the action. “ At 4 p.m. we again moved forward near the brick house and immediately in its rear. At this time I noticed the enemy’s infantry advancing from the woods on the left of the house and in its rear, and seeing that I could do nothing in the position I then occupied (in the rear of the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers), and that I must necessarily suffer severely, I ordered the regiment forward to fill a vacancy on the right of the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the front line and a little beyond the Emmitsburg road. Having gained this position, the fire from the enemy being very severe, we immediately opened fire.”  Soon after the Union regiments to the south of the 105th gave way to the attack of Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. The 105th again reformed, facing south down the Pike and fired on the wheeling Southern troops. Barksdale’s charge was delayed but not ready to be stemmed and the 105th pulled back with heavy losses.
          Fourteen officers out of 17 combatants were either killed or wounded, and 117 men out of 257 were either killed, wounded, or missing.

        Here we see the 105th forming its line on the west side of the Emmitsburg Pike.  Barksdale’s Brigade is nearly halfway across the 500 yards of open space between the wooded Seminary Ridge and the Union Line. To the left is the Sherfy house and cannery and in background is the Snyder house which was flanked by Confederate Artillery.
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