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

Post image for Battle of Gettysburg.–General Zook fatally wounded. –Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

Battle of Gettysburg.–General Zook fatally wounded. –Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

July 2, 2013

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry),The American Civil War

July 2d, 1863. At daylight we were promptly under arms, and as soon as breakfast (coffee and crackers) was over, the brigade fell in and marched up the Cemetery Hill, already crowded with various bodies of troops moving into position.

Our entire corps came on the ground, and formed in order of battle, the First, our division, forming in front, the Second a very short distance in rear, connecting on the right with Howard, and on the left with Sickles, of the Third corps.

There was no firing during the formation, and as soon as it was completed, we had ample time to look about us and study the features of the field. We were posted on broad, high, open ground, gently sloping in front towards a small brook called Plum Run, some three or four hundred yards in front, running nearly parallel to our line of battle. An occasional clump of bushes interrupted the view. Towards the right, the ground was higher, completely overlooking the town of Gettysburg. On the left, arose abruptly a couple of small detached mountains, Round Top and Little Round Top, evidently the keys to the position.

The enemy lay in line of battle, some fifteen hundred yards in front of us, under cover of the woods, which fringed the open ground from right to left as far as we could see. On the whole, the field seemed worthy of the great contest now to be fought to the death upon its emerald slopes. It was an admirable field for artillery, and every gun that the army had was placed in position. Pettit’s battery of glorious memory, now commanded by Lieutenant Rhoerty, a brilliant young Irishman, lately ordnance officer of the division, was on our left; this battery and our brigade were on the best of terms, having fought together from Fair Oaks continuously till to-day. As the enemy made no movement, our men sat or lay down in their ranks, while the officers gathered in groups, and discussed the probable outlook for the day. Little, however, was said, most of the men being preoccupied by their own thoughts. About ten o’clock the enemy fired a few shots and our guns replied, and this continued till towards noon, when an ominous silence brooded over the entire field. We knew the enemy were preparing for the attack, and this time it was our turn to await the advance.

At 2 P. M. we stood to arms, on observing Sickles begin to advance and manœuver; after making several incomprehensible movements, his troops marched forward from in front of Round Top, and immediately brought on the action.

Longstreet’s corps advanced and savagely attacked the Third corps, forcing it back, after much fighting, ending in considerable confusion. From where we sat on our horses, the entire field of operations was in view, and was intensely interesting. The fighting continued by the Third corps alone until nearly 3 P. M. when Captain Tremain, of Sickles’s staff, rode up to Zook, and requested him to move to Sickles’s assistance. The general instantly put spurs to his horse and galloped directly across the field to Sickles, who, surrounded by a large staff, was in a state of great excitement; the enemy’s shot were dropping about him, and he seemed to be very much confused and uncertain in his movements. When Zook approached him, he excitedly asked him to put his command into action on his left, where he admitted Longstreet was steadily driving him back near the two small mountains. Zook declared his willingness to act, and galloped back to his command, taking the stone walls and ditches without swerving, either to the right or left. When we reached the brigade, the First and Second brigade of our division were already on the march towards the threatened left, and we promptly followed, marching by the left flank, arriving at the wooded crest adjacent to Round Top mountain; we halted and formed column of attack in two lines: the One Hundred and Forty Pennsylvania, and Fifty-seventh New York in front; the Fifty-second and Sixty-sixth New York in rear. The ground was rocky, strewn with immense boulders, and sparsely covered with timber. As soon as the formation was completed, we marched forward to the attack, at first over rising ground, and shortly received a tremenduous fire from the front; as we marched rapidly forward alongside the mountain, the tumult became deafening, the mountain side echoed back the musketry, so that no word of command could be heard, and little could be seen but long lines of flame, and smoke and struggling masses of men. We kept right on obliquing somewhat to the right, until apparently directly in front of the raging mass of combatants below, then rushed at a double quick boldly forward into the mouth of hell, into the jaws of death. Zook, accompanied by Broom, led the first line, while the second line, commanded by Morris of the Sixty-sixth, was placed in my charge; we soon came to a standstill and a close encounter, when the firing became terrific and the slaughter frightful. We were enveloped in smoke and fire, not only in front, but on our left, and even at times on the right, apparently from men posted on the mountain sides. Our men fired promiscuously, steadily pressing forward, but the fighting was so mixed, rebel and union lines so close together, and in some places intermingled, that a clear idea of what was going on was not readily obtainable. While trying to keep the lines as effective as possible, watching the situation in this pandemonium of death, I saw Zook a little towards the left, riding to the rear, supported by Broom and a mounted orderly. I rode over to him instantly, when he looked up with an expression I shall never forget, and said: “It’s all up with me, Favill.” I told Broom I would turn over the command to Morris and join him as soon as I could, but Morris was not to be found readily in the great confusion of battle. Roberts of the One Hundred and Fortieth was killed, and the troops by this time were sadly mixed up with other commands. I found Frazer, however, the lieutenant-colonel of the One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania, next in rank, and notified him of the death of Zook, and directed him to assume command. He wished me to remain, but I was personal aide-de-camp to Zook, and my duty was to him, and therefore I declined. Just then Brooke came up and took command of the whole line, and relieved the situation completely. I rode off the field and overtook the general with Broom, riding very slowly towards the Baltimore pike. The General was in great pain, and Broom told me he was shot through the bowels. I went ahead to find an ambulance, but before I returned they had fallen in with one, and were driven to the field hospital. Surgeon Wood, one of our best doctors, after examining the wound, told us it was fatal, and nothing could be done; there being no shelter here, and the enemy’s shot frequently reaching the spot, we took the general on a stretcher, and carried him to a small house some distance in the rear on the Baltimore road, close to a bridge crossing a small creek. The house was already filled with men severely wounded, and the sight was most distressing; the howls of pain from the men in the hall and front room were so dreadful that we moved the general back into a small room cut off from the others, and here we spent the night, doing what we could to make our dear commander comfortable. I went out several times during the night, and looked at the ghastly scenes on the floors of the hall and parlor. As many men as could lay side by side completely covered the floors, which were streaming with blood, and the poor fellows seemed to give way completely to their misfortunes. Over twenty of them died and were carried into the yard during the night.

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