54th North Carolina Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg

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Report of Col. Kenneth M. Murchison, Fifty-fourth North Carolina
Infantry, of action at Williamsport [Gettysburg Campaign].

Near Rapidan Station,
August 5, 1863.
Sir: Agreeably to instructions, I have the honor to report briefly
the operations of this regiment during the late campaign.

Leaving Fredericksburg on Monday, June 4, after a succession of
marches we reached the vicinity of Winchester on 13th instant, where
the regiment was thrown in line of battle with the brigade. During
the two days' engagement around that town, which consisted mostly
of skirmishing, the regiment took no active part.

The enemy having evacuated on the night of June 14, and losing
many prisoners, the regiment was detailed on the 18th to guard 2,000
prisoners to Richmond, via Staunton. With as little delay as practicable,
the regiment returned to Winchester on July 3, when, in conjunction
with a Virginia regiment, it was ordered to guard an ordnance
train to the army, then in Pennsylvania.

Reaching Williamsport, Md., on the 5th, I was ordered by Gen.
Imboden to take position, and repel any attack that might be
made on the wagon train of the army, which had arrived there, but
could not cross, owing to the high stage of the river.

On Monday [July 6], the enemy advanced on Williamsport, by
the Hagerstown and Boonsborough roads, with cavalry and artillery.
Our infantry force being small, four companies of my regiment were
sent to support two batteries of artillery at different points. With
the remainder I deployed, so as to check any advance of the enemy
on the Boonsborough road. Several detachments of soldiers returning
to their commands were placed under my command, and acted
with the regiment. After a brisk engagement of two hours, night
coming on, the enemy withdrew.

My loss in this engagement was 17 men wounded, of whom 2 have
since died; besides, a number of those attached to my command
were killed and wounded.

On Tuesday (July 7), I was ordered by Gen. Lee to cross to the
south bank of the Potomac, to guard a wagon train and hold the
heights. Remaining there until the 11th, I was relieved, and joined
the brigade same day near Hagerstown.

With the army, the regiment again recrossed the Potomac on the
morning of July 14. Marching almost continually, the regiment
reached this point on the 3d instant, where it remains to this date.

It is not deemed necessary to give a detailed account of marches,
as it is familiar to the brigade commander, in whose report it is supposed
to appear.

Justice to the officers and men under my command requires that
I should say that they have withstood the long marches and hardships
incident thereto with a firmness worthy of the cause in which
they are engaged.

I am, very respectfully,

K. M. MURCHISON,
Col., Comdg.

Capt. [J. M.] Adams,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Hoke's Brigade.

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

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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. 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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