HEADQUARTERS HETH'S DIVISION,
Camp near Orange Court-House, September 13, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the operations of my division from June 29 until July 1, including the part it took in the battle of Gettysburg (first day), July 1.
The division reached Cashtown, Pa., on June 29. Cashtown is situated at the base of the South Mountain, on the direct road from Chambersburg, via Fayetteville, to Gettysburg, and 9 miles distant from the latter place.
On the morning of June 30, I ordered Brigadier-General Pettigrew to take his brigade to Gettysburg, search the town for army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day. On reaching the suburbs of Gettysburg, General Pettigrew found a large force of cavalry near the town, supported by an infantry force. Under these circumstances, he did not deem it advisable to enter the town, and returned, as directed, to Cashtown. The result of General Pettigrew's observations was reported to Lieutenant-General Hill, who reached Cashtown on the evening of the 30th.
On July 1, my division, accompanied by Pegram's battalion of artillery, was ordered to move at 5 a.m. in the direction of Gettysburg. On nearing Gettysburg, it was evident that the enemy was in the vicinity of the town in some force.
It may not be improper to remark that at this time – 9 o'clock on the morning of July 1 – I was ignorant what force was at or near Gettysburg, and supposed it consisted of cavalry, most probably supported by a brigade or two of infantry.
On reaching the summit of the second ridge of hills west of Gettysburg, it became evident that there were infantry, cavalry, and artillery in and around the town. A few shot from Pegram's battalion (Marye's battery) scattered the cavalry vedettes. One of the first shells fired by Pegram mortally wounded Major-General Reynolds, then in command of the force at Gettysburg.
My division, now within a mile of Gettysburg, was disposed as follows: Archer's brigade in line of battle on the right of the turnpike; Davis' brigade on the left of the same road, also in line of battle; Pettigrew's brigade and Heth's old brigade (Colonel Brockenbrough commanding), were held in reserve. Archer and Davis were now directed to advance, the object being to feel the enemy; to make a forced reconnaissance, and determine in what force the enemy were – whether or not he was massing his forces on Gettysburg. Heavy columns of the enemy were soon encountered. Davis, on the left, advanced, driving the enemy before him and capturing his batteries. General Davis was unable to hold the position he had gained. The enemy concentrated on his front and flanks an overwhelming force. The brigade maintained its position until every field officer save two were shot down, and its ranks terribly thinned.
Among the officers of his brigade especially mentioned by General Davis as displaying conspicuous gallantry on this occasion are noticed Colonel Stone, commanding Second Mississippi Regiment; Colonel Connally, commanding Fifty-fifth North Carolina Regiment; Major [A. H.] Belo, Fifty-fifth North Carolina Regiment; Lieutenant-Colonel [H.] Moseley, and Major [W. A.] Feehey, Forty-second Mississippi Regiment, severely wounded while gallantly leading their regiments to the charge. Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, Fifty-fifth North Carolina Regiment, was at the same time killed, as also was the gallant Lieutenant [A. K.] Roberts, of the Second Mississippi Regiment, who, with a detachment from the Second and Forty-second Mississippi Regiments, after a hand-to-hand conflict with the enemy, succeeded in capturing the colors of a Pennsylvania regiment. The good conduct of this brigade on this occasion merits my special commendation.
On the right of the road, Archer encountered heavy masses in his front, and his gallant little brigade, after being almost surrounded by overwhelming forces in front and on both flanks, was forced back. The service lost at this time that most gallant and meritorious officer, Brigadier-General Archer, who fell into the enemy's hands, together with some 60 or 70 of his men.
The enemy had now been felt, and found to be in heavy force in and around Gettysburg. The division was now formed in line of battle on the right of the road, the several brigades posted as follows: Archer's brigade (Col. B. D. Fry, Thirteenth Alabama Regiment, commanding) on the right, Pettigrew in the center, and Brockenbrough on the left. Davis' brigade was kept on the left of the road, that it might collect its stragglers, and from its shattered condition it was not deemed advisable to bring it again into action on that day. It, however, did participate in the action later in the day. After resting in line of battle for one hour or more, orders were received to attack the enemy in my front, with the notification that General Pender's division would support me.
The division had not advanced more than 100 yards before it became hotly engaged. The enemy was steadily driven before it at all points, excepting on the left, where Brockenbrough was held in check for a short time, but finally succeeded in driving the enemy in confusion before him. Brockenbrough's brigade behaved with its usual gallantry, capturing two stand of colors and a number of prisoners. The officer who made the report of the part taken by Brockenbrough’s brigade in this day's fight has omitted to mention the names of the officers and soldiers who distinguished themselves on this occasion.
Pettigrew's brigade encountered the enemy in heavy force, and broke through his first, second, and third lines. The Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Leventhorpe commanding, and the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Burgwyn, Jr., commanding, displayed conspicuous gallantry, of which I was an eye-witness. The Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment lost in this action more than half its numbers in killed and wounded, among whom were Colonel Burgwyn killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Lane severely wounded. Colonel Leventhorpe, of the Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, was wounded, and Major Ross killed. The Fifty-second and Forty-seventh North Carolina Regiments, on the right of the center, were subjected to a heavy artillery fire, but suffered much less than the Eleventh and Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiments. These regiments behaved to my entire satisfaction.
Pettigrew's brigade, under the leadership of that gallant officer and accomplished scholar, Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew (now lost to his country), fought as well, and displayed as heroic courage as it was ever my fortune to witness on a battle-field. The number of its own gallant dead and wounded, as well as the large number of the enemy's dead and wounded left on the field over which it fought, attests better than any commendation of mine the gallant part it played on July 1. In one instance, when the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment encountered the second line of the enemy, his dead marked his line of battle with the accuracy of a line at a dress parade.
Archer's brigade, on the right (Col. B. D. Fry commanding), after advancing a short distance, discovered a large body of cavalry on its right flank. Colonel Fry judiciously changed his front, thus protecting the right flank of the division during the engagement. This brigade (Archer's), the heroes of Chancellorsville, fully maintained its hard-won and well-deserved reputation. The officer making the report of the part it played in the first and second charges has failed to particularize any officer or soldier who displayed particular gallantry, which accounts for no one being named from this gallant little brigade. After breaking through the first and second lines of the enemy, and several of the regiments being out of ammunition, General Pender's division relieved my own, and continued the pursuit beyond the town of Gettysburg.
At the same time that it would afford me much gratification, I would be doing but justice to the several batteries of Pegram's battalion in mentioning the assistance they rendered during this battle, but I have been unable to find out the names of the commanders of those batteries stationed at the points where important service was rendered, all reports of artillery officers being made through their chief.
My thanks are particularly due to Major Pegram for his ready co-operation. He displayed his usual coolness, good judgment, and gallantry.
My thanks are also due to my personal staff – Major [R. H.] Finney, assistant adjutant-general; Major [H. H.] Harrison, assistant adjutant and inspector general; Lieutenants [M. C.] Selden, Jr., and [Stockton] Heth, my aides-de-camp, and acting engineer officer, William O. Slade – for their valuable services in carrying orders and superintending their execution.
I take this occasion to mention the energy displayed by my chief quartermaster (Maj. A. W. Vick) and his assistants in collecting transportation for the division when in Pennsylvania, the division having a limited supply when it crossed the Potomac; also to Major [P. C.] Hungerford, chief commissary of subsistence, and his assistants, for their activity in procuring supplies.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Capt. W. N. STARKE,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 27, Part 2 (Serial No. 44), p. 637-9