Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

July 3, 2013

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

July 3 — Last night an alarm reached camp that the Yankees were pressing General Imboden’s brigade of cavalry, which was about ten miles in our front. We were ordered to march at once, which was at about one o’clock last night. We marched down the Baltimore pike, and when we drew near where Imboden’s men were camped we learned that the report which reached us last night was false, as there were no enemy near General Imboden. His command was camped on the western slope of the Blue Ridge. We passed it and pressed on toward Gettysburg.

This morning just before day we passed through Fayetteville, a little village at the western foot of the Blue Ridge. As we passed through there were two men chopping down a large flagpole that stood in the center of the little town. We crossed the Blue Ridge and moved down the pike toward Gettysburg, as far as Cashtown, a small village eight miles from Gettysburg. We halted at Cashtown about two hours, cooked and ate our breakfast, and while we were eating our morning meal a furious battle was raging in the direction of Gettysburg, apparently some five or six miles distant. From the way the artillery howled and thundered the conflict must have been fierce, furious, and sanguinary. At one o’clock this afternoon we were ordered, with Jones’ Cavalry, to the right of our army. We moved round on a road that passes through a little village named Fairfield. At one point of the road from a high hill we had a distant view of the battle-field, yet we saw nothing but a vast bank of thick battle smoke, with thousands of shell exploding above the surface of the white, smoking sea. The sight was grand beyond description and awe-inspiring in the extreme. Our line looked to me from our point of observation to be about three miles long and enveloped in thick smoke, from which came a fearful roar and clash of musketry accompanied with a deep continuous roll of booming artillery, such as an American soldier never heard before on this continent. The artillery fire at one time was so heavy that the hills shook and the air trembled, and the deep thunder rolled through the sky in one incessant roar like as if the giants of war were hurling thunderbolts at each other in the clouds and rushing their war chariots across the trembling, sounding welkin. On our way we encountered the Sixth Regiment of United States regular cavalry on the road, between Cashtown and Fairfield.

The regiment had flanked around the right of our army and were already in the rear of General Lee’s line, and just ready to capture or destroy some of our wagon train when we met them. The enemy instantly perceived that they were checkmated in their undertaking, and commenced firing on us and our cavalry, instead of destroying wagons and frightening teamsters. We immediately put our guns in battery and opened on them, and our cavalry also opened with small arms, and for a while the conflict was fierce and hot. The old regulars fought stubbornly and well, but our cavalry completely frustrated their design, and almost demolished the regiment, killing and wounding many of them and capturing about two hundred prisoners.

After the fight we moved to Fairfield, a small village on the Cashtown road, and remained there till nearly night, when we moved a mile from Fairfield and camped for the night.

In the fight to-day we had our guns in position in a wheat field where the wheat was standing thick, and nearly as high as my head, and dead ripe. It looked like a shame to have war in such a field of wheat.

Previous post:

Next post: