53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg

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Report of Col. William A. Owens, Fifty-third North Carolina Infantry.

July 19, 1863.
Sir: In the engagement at Gettysburg, Pa., my regiment took
part in the field as follows:

On July 1, I moved from Little Creek to within 2 miles of Gettysburg,
and was in line of battle at or about 1 o'clock, when we advanced
through an open field, coming in sight of the enemy on the
crest. The line moved forward some 200 yards, when I moved by
the left flank some 300 yards, under fire. I again moved to the front
some 50 or 100 yards, when I was ordered to take my regiment to
the support of Gen. Iverson. I again moved by the flank, and
brought them into line on the left of the Third Alabama, which was
on Gen. Iverson's right. I next moved to the right of the Third
Alabama, and moved forward through a wheat-field to within 50
yards of some woods in front. The Third Alabama fell back, leaving
my left exposed, and I ordered my regiment back some 50 yards,
it at this time being exposed to a fire on both flanks. I changed my
front to the right, to face the enemy on the right. I afterward
moved my regiment back to the position on the right of the Third
Alabama, which was then going off to the left. I fronted, and moved
forward to the woods, where I joined the right of the Twelfth North
Carolina Infantry, and moved on through the woods to the railroad
embankment, where I halted, and moved by the left to the edge of
the town, where I halted and remained during the night.

July 2, I was ordered to take position on the right of Col.
O'Neal, commanding Rodes' brigade, behind the railroad embankment,
my right resting at a very deep cut. Finding Col.
O'Neal's brigade would cover all the ground, I reported, and was
ordered to take position on the right of the brigade, which was in a
corn-field, and behind a section of Col. [T. H.] Carter's battery.
It was left at discretion with me to move my men, if they suffered
from the enemy's fire, but to remain within supporting distance. I
moved my regiment about 50 yards to the right, in rear of the left
of Gen. [J. H.] Lane's brigade, where I remained until dark, when
I was ordered to take my position on the right of the brigade. We
then moved forward about half a mile toward the enemy's position,
and remained about half an hour, when I moved by the left flank
to the road leading through town, and bivouacked in line for the
night.

July 3, at 3 a. m., I moved with the brigade through Gettysburg,
and around to the right of the enemy, which was about 4 miles, and
lay in line at the foot of a hill, the Thirty-second North Carolina
being on my right. After some skirmishing, I was ordered to move
by the left flank, to the support of some brigade on the left. I moved,
and was fronted behind a brigade, and then ordered forward. After
firing some little time, I was ordered to let my men fall back under
cover of the hill, keeping out my sharpshooters. Again I was
ordered forward, and kept position just under the edge of the crest
until, about 2 or 3 o'clock, I saw the regiments on my right and left
going back. I then ordered my men to fall back some 50 yards,
when I was ordered to move by the right flank, and was halted
about 150 yards from the position left, where I remained until 3 a.m.,
and then moved by a circuitous route back to the hills which we had
taken the first day, where we remained until Sunday (July 4), 3 a. m.,
when we left.

As to the casualties in my regiment, they were forwarded.* My
officers and men acted very well. I would especially mention Sergeant
[E. J.] Null, Company H, and Private [W. D.] McAdoo, Company
A, both, I am sorry to say, severely wounded.

There were many others who acted very gallantly, but these two
surpassed all.

Very respectfully,

W. A. OWENS,
Col., Comdg.

Capt. W. M. Hammond,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Source: Official Records, Series I, Vol. 27, Part II. Reports. Serial No. 44

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Recommended ReadingBrigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg (Hardcover) (704 Pages). Description: While the battle of Gettysburg is certainly the most-studied battle in American history, a comprehensive treatment of the part played by each unit has been ignored. Brigades of Gettysburg fills this void by presenting a complete account of every brigade unit at Gettysburg and providing a fresh perspective of the battle. Using the words of enlisted men and officers, the author-well-known Civil War historian Bradley Gottfried-weaves a fascinating narrative of the role played by every brigade at the famous three-day battle, as well as a detailed description of each brigade unit. Continued below...

Organized by order of battle, each brigade is covered in complete and exhaustive detail: where it fought, who commanded, what constituted the unit, and how it performed in battle. Innovative in its approach and comprehensive in its coverage, Brigades of Gettysburg is certain to be a classic and indispensable reference for the battle of Gettysburg for years to come.

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