The Terrible Impetuosity: The Pennsylvania Reserves at Gettysburg

This Article Appeared in the "Gettysburg Magazine"
ISSUE No. 16, DATED JANUARY 1, 1997
by Jeffrey F. Sherry

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

     Jeffrey F. Sherry holds B.A. and M. A. degrees from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, in Edinboro. He teaches history at Saegertown Junior Senior High School in Saegertown, Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife. He is a proud member of the Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves reenactment group and his interest in the PAReserves springs from the fact that his great-great grandfather was a member of the 11th Reserves.


     In the first rush to the colors following the surrender of Fort Sumter, Pennsylvania governor Andrew G. Curtin responded to President Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers by promptly organizing fourteen regiments. Like most states, however, Pennsylvania had more men rushing to enlist than her state quota allowed. With these extra men wishing to join the fight and a presumed threat to the commonwealth's borders brewing, Curtin called an additional twenty-five regiments of infantry and one of cavalry into state service, only to be told by Washington they were not needed.[1]

     Fellow Pennsylvanian and political rival of Curtin, Secretary of War Simon Cameron suggested the Gover­nor organize and equip those troops in excess of the state's quota at state expense. On May 15, 186 1, Curtin did just that, signing a bill into law, authorizing the formation of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Reserve Corps composed of thirteen regiments of infantry and one regiment each of cavalry and light artillery. Their enlistments were to be for three years or for the duration of the war, and they were to be called into Federal service, if deemed necessary by the president.[2]

     Curtin had first wanted to offer command of the Pennsylvania Reserves, as the thirteen infantry regiments would be known, to George B. McClellan. Due to a mix-up in telegrams, however, the "Young Napoleon" had already accepted the command of Ohio's forces. Had McClellan accepted Curtin's offer in the spring of 1861, one can only imagine how the career of McClellan and the course of the Civil War might have been very different.[3]

     Curtin’s second choice was fifty-nine-year-old Pennsylvania native George A. McCall of Chester County. An 1822 graduate of West Point, McCall had served with distinction, fighting the Seminoles in Florida and winning two brevets for gallantry in Mexico. In 1850, after a leave of absence in Europe to regain his health, which had deteriorated in Mexico, McCall was appointed inspector general of the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. Failing health, however, forced him to retire to Belair, his Chester County estate in 1853.[4]

     The thirteen infantry regiments formed by Governor Curtin were given the numerical designations I st through 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, the designations by which each regiment would be known throughout the war. Each was also given the Federal volunteer infantry designation of 30th through 42nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Therefore, the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves were also the 30th Pennsylvania Volunteers etc.. The Reserves regiments, however, always went by their Reserves numbers as the lower numbers and the special "Reserve" title gave them distinction.[5]

     McCall would be first in a distinguished list of general officers associated with the Pennsylvania Reserves. The three original brigade commanders of what would become a solid division of Pennsylvanians were John F. Reynolds, George G. Meade, and Edward 0. C. Ord. Reynolds and Meade were later to succeed McCall in command of the Reserves and meet destiny at Gettysburg in July 1863.[6]

     The Pennsylvania Reserves would distinguish themselves first at the battle of Dranesville on December 20, 1861 and on a much greater stage during the Seven Days' battles of June-July 1862. Fighting virtually alone as part of the First Corps attached to Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter's Fifth Corps at Mechanicsville (Ellerson's Mill), Gaines' Mill, and Glendale (Frayser's Farm), the division suffered heavily. McCall and Reynolds were captured and Meade was wounded. The division was commanded by Reynolds at Second Manassas and by Meade at South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. In each action the Reserves added to their record of distinction and paid the price in blood. After heavy losses in the battles of 1862, the division was ordered to Washington to rest and refit. It was during this time that Lee began preparing for his invasion of Pennsylvania. This would again bring the Reserves to their native soil and a largely overlooked role in the battle of Gettysburg.[7]

     On June 17, 1863, the same day Federal and Confederate cavalry clashed at Aldie, Virginia, the officers of the 2nd Reserves petitioned their brigade commander, Col. William McCandless, for assistance in having the regiment reassigned to the Army of the Potomac so they could defend their home state. Hoping to strike at their colonel's patriotism, the petition stated:

Under McCall, Reynolds, Meade, [Truman] Seymour and yourself we have more than once met and fought the enemy where he was at home; now we wish to meet him again when he threatens our homes, our families and our firesides. Could our wish in this be realized, we feel that we could do some service to the state that sent us to the field, and not diminish, if we could not increase, the lustre that already attaches to our name .[8]

     McCandless sent the petition on through channels, and it may have assisted in getting McCandless' First Brigade and Col. Joseph W. Fisher's Third Brigade assigned to Meade's Fifth Corps on June 25 as its Third Division under the command of Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford, the commander since May.[9]

     Samuel Wylie Crawford was born in Franklin County Pennsylvania, in November 1829. Afterraduating from the University of Pennsylvania's medical college in 1850, he was appointed an assistant surgeon in the army, serving in western posts until 1860 when he was stationed at Forts Moultrie and Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Crawford was present at Sumter when the fort was fired on in mid-April 186 1. From there Crawford moved from medicine to the infantry, rising from a major in the 13th United States Infantry to command a brigade under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks at Cedar Mountain, and briefly led a Twelfth Corps Division at Antietam where he was badly wounded. In May 1863, Crawford was given command of the Pennsylvania Reserves, at that time in the capital's defenses.[10]

     Breaking camp on June 25 and marching toward Leesburg, Virginia, the Reserves were ordered to join the Fifth Corps. Numbering only 3,817 officers and men in the division's two brigades, the Second Brigade under Col. Horatio G. Sickel having been ordered to remain in Washington, the division crossed the Potomac near Edwards' Ferry two days later, taking most of the day. The historians of the 13th Reserves, the famous "Bucktails," estimated the distance covered during the march to Gettysburg as follows: June 26, thirty miles;June 27, thirty miles; June 28, fifteen miles for a total of seventy-five miles in three days. On June 28, they joined the Army of the Potomac at Frederick, Maryland, where they learned that their old division commander George Meade had assumed command of the army, replacing Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. For the first time the Reserves donned the blue Maltese cross of the Third Division, Fifth Army Corps, a badge they would wear until the end of their service.[11]

     By June 30, the First and Second Divisions of the Fifth Corps, now under Maj. Gen. George Sykes, had reached Union Mills, Maryland, but Crawford's Division was lagging behind, stopping a few miles southwest of Frizzelburg. In his telegram to General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck at 4:30 p.m. that day, Meade (after stating the locations of the Fifth Corps Division), added a rather unflattering comment about his former command when he said "Pennsylvania Reserves can't keep up-still in rear." Hard as the marching through the rain and heat had been on the other divisions of Meade's army, it was especially rough on Crawford's men, who were tenderfooted again, having been so long in the defenses of Washington. [12]

     On June 30, the Reserves marched eighteen miles to Union Mills, moving on toward the Pennsylvania state line the next day, where they halted just short of their native soil about 3:00 p.m. to hear a "patriotic address" from Crawford, after which they crossed into Pennsylvania amid the cheers of the division and with bands playing.[13] The corps marched on to Hanover, about fifteen miles east of Gettysburg and halted for the night. Crawford's Reserves again lagged somewhat behind, partially due to the fact they had put out flankers to guard against Confederate cavalry rumored to be in the area. [14]

     Hoping to rest for the night, the Fifth Corps encamped outside Hanover, only to be ordered to draw sixty rounds of ammunition and resume the march to Gettysburg. The Reserves halted at McSherrystown, west of Hanover, until about 4:00 a.m. on July 2 when they were ordered to move on. As the 11th Reserves filed on to the road, General Crawford rode up to the regiment's commander, Col. Samuel M. Jackson, and informed him of the death of General Reynolds the day before. Crawford suggested to Jackson that the men not be told the bad newsjust yet. Sometime around noon July 2, the Pennsylvania Reserves arrived at the Fifth Corps assembly area west of Rock Creek along the Baltimore Pike.[15]

     For the first time in twenty-eight hours the weary Pennsylvanians slept, ate, and boiled their coffee in the area east of the battlefield. It was there that many learned of the death of Reynolds. With their men resting, many of the division's officers rode forward to see the army's positions, and some sought out Meade's headquarters to catch up on the latest word of the previous day's fighting and see old friends. As they rode back to the division, south along, Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corps line on Cemetery Ridge, the sounds of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's attack against Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles' Third Corps position could be heard. Arriving at the Fifth Corps area, they discovered the corps moving toward the fighting.[16]

     About 4:00 p.m. Meade ordered Fifth Corps commander George Sykes to march his men toward the Federal left, the Confederates then known to be moving in that direction. Meade told Sykes to "hold it at all hazards." Since the order had come from Meade directly, Sykes felt this "relieved" him from answering pleas from Sickles and his staff for reinforcements.[17] Following the First Division under Brig. Gen. James Barnes and the Second Division under Brig. Gen. Romeyn B. Ayres, the Reserves moved out without a guide to lead them. With Fisher's Brigade in front and McCandless' bringing up the rear, they halted at an intersection just after leaving the Baltimore Pike, where the Granite School House Lane branched due west, unsure of which way to go. Ayres' Division had gone left at the fork, but Crawford felt they had made a wrong turn. Just then, Capt. Alexander Moore of Sickles' staff rode up looking for help for his corps. Crawford agreed to follow Moore only after the captain sought out and found Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum, commanding the right wing of the Army of the Potomac. Slocum approved the move, and Moore returned to the waiting General Crawford and his brigades at the fork in the road. They took the left fork and hurried off down the narrow lane toward Little Round Top, passing through large numbers of wounded, ambulances, and other traffic at the army's rear.[18]

     Captain Moore left Crawford on his own as they neared the north slope of Little Round Top, apparently having learned of the wounding of General Sickles. General Sykes soon appeared and ordered Crawford to shift the Reserves farther south, just north of the Wheatfield Road. Before the division could get comfortable, an order from Lt. Col. Frederick T. Locke, one of Sykes' staff officers, shifted the Reserves even farther south and higher up Little Round Top's northern slope.[19]

     While marching to the left, Crawford received an order, presumably from Sykes, to send a brigade to aid the brigades of Col. Strong Vincent and Stephen Weed, which were heavily engaged on Little Round Top's southern and western slopes. Crawford ordered Fisher's Brigade, which was in the lead, to move left across the summit of the hill to Vincent's aid. Crawford then ordered Colonel Jackson's 11th Reserves, bringing up the rear of Fisher's column, to remain on the south slope of the hill, and McCandless' Brigade formed on Jackson's flanks and in his rear. Crawford's first line on the north slope, from right to left, consisted of the 6th Reserves under Lt. Col. Wellington H. Ent, Jackson's 11th Reserves, and Col. William C. Talley's 1st Reserves. The second line, close behind the first, consisted of Col. Charles F. Taylor's 13th Reserves (Bucktails) on the left and Lt. Col. George A. Woodward's 2nd Reserves on the right, all under McCandless' command.[20]

     As the brigade settled in among the rocks and stumps on the rugged slope of Little Round Top, the scene in the valley below them must have been a sight few would forget. The setting sun cast a dull reddish light on the smoke rising from the Wheatfield and nearby woods. Thousands of Federal soldiers from several divisions and corps retreated across the valley and some, Crawford reported, through his lines and down the Wheatfield road heading to the rear. Some came without weapons and with Confederate skirmishers close behind. At this point, an unidentified "Dutch Captain" who, according to Colonel Jackson, was an officer in Capt. Frank C. Gibbs' Company L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, approached the colonel with a phrase that would become part of the lore of the Pennsylvania Reserves. Gibbs' battery held a position to the right of McCandless' line with two sections, while one section was higher up Little Round Top's north slope, just behind the right of the Bucktails. According to Capt. Henry N. Minnigh of the 1st Reserves, the "Dutch Captain...raved and swore, when it seemed as if his guns would be taken." "Dunder and blixen, don't let dem repels took mine batteries" shouted the officer to Colonel Jackson. Jackson told the man to "double-shot his guns, hold his position, and we would see to their safety." The men nearest to the artillery officer called out further comfort: "stand by your guns Dutchy, and we will stand by you."[21]

     The smoke and setting sun were making it difficult for McCandless' men to tell friend from foe. When Colonel Jackson asked two retreating Federal soldiers if their front was clear of friendly troops, one replied that the men behind them were "Johnnies." That was enough for the colonel, and he ordered his men to open fire on the advancing Confederates, just then beginning to scramble up the face of Little Round Top's northwest slope. Most accounts agree that McCandless' Brigade fired two volleys at close range into the advancing Confederates and Gibbs' guns poured in double canister as well.[22]

     While few of the Pennsylvania Reserves would admit to it later, they were not alone on Little Round Top's north slope that evening. The 98th Pennsylvania of Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton's Sixth Corps Brigade had come up to the left rear of the 1st Reserves' line and charged down the slope into Plum Run Valley, obliquing to the left as they advanced with a "hurrah," stopping at the base of Devil's Den. Interestingly enough, the 98th's commander, Maj. John B. Kohler, did not even mention the Reserves presence or the advance they were about to make on his right moments later. Surely he could not have missed the advance of five regiments only a few hundred yards away. Kohler did not even mention the Fifth Corps in his report, believing the soldiers on his right were from the Second Corps.[23]

     At this point, General Crawford rode onto the stage. Seizing the flag of the I st Reserves, one of whose color-bearers had fallen, the mounted Crawford placed himself at the front of his line and shouted, "Forward, Reserves." Colonel Jackson of the 11th Reserves said it was he who ordered the charge. Nevertheless, forward they went down the slope with a loud cheer "peculiar to the Reserves," the color-bearer of the 1st Reserves trailing behind Crawford. The general's account had the man holding Crawford's stirrups and trouser leg all the way across the valley, but Crawford's version is the only one that includes this detail. The Confederates they charged into were about spent after fighting across the Wheatfield and through Rose's Woods to the west. The brigades of Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, Brig. Gen. Paul J. Semmes, and Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws' Division and Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson's Brigade of Maj. Gen. John B. Hood's Division, both of Longstreet's corps, fell back as the Pennsylvanians advanced at the run down the rocky slope.[24]

     As the regiments under McCandless' command charged down the hill, the 2nd Reserves and the Bucktails, who together formed the second line, shifted to the left to come into line with the other Reserves regiments. For reasons never fully explained, McCandless' Brigade had come onto the field in reverse order. At the moment the advance was ordered, at least one regiment, the Bucktails, was trying to counter-march to get everyone where they were supposed to be. Had they advanced as they were, the rear rank would have been in front and all the officers, non-commissioned officers, and file closers would have been in the wrong place. They managed to get it all sorted out just as they advanced, but it no doubt caused a few tense moments as they went through complicated maneuvers under Confederate fire. [25]

     As the Confederates fell back rapidly, they still inflicted casualties on the advancing Reserves. Lt. Col, Alanson E. Niles of the Bucktails fell at the base of Little Round Top with a bullet in his hip. The 2nd Reserves reported the loss of three color-bearers in the charge across what Colonel Jackson called "the swamp"-Plum Run. The men of the 98th Pennsylvania remembered that mud slowed and disorganized their advance .[26]

     As they approached a stone wall on the western edge of the little valley, the left of the Reserves' line began to take notice of heavy Confederate fire coming from the vicinity of Devil's Den, causing the left regiments to incline in that direction to confront it. This fire from Devil's Den would keep the Bucktails busy for some time to come. At the stone wall, the Confederates rallied briefly but were driven off after a short hand-to-hand fight. The historian of the 1st Reserves wrote later that cries of "Revenge for Reynolds" were heard and that the Confederates "could not stand against the terrible impetuosity of this charge, and at last broke and fled from the field."[27]

     Many of the Reserves' officers later wrote that they had trouble restraining their commands once they reached the stone wall. The Bucktails advanced over the wall and up the slope beyond and through the woods to the eastern edge of the Wheatfield until Colonel Taylor, realizing he was advancing without support, ordered everyone back to the stone wall that would be so prominent in official reports written after the battle and accounts written by veterans after the war. Confederate fire from the 1st Texas in Devil's Den had begun to wear away Taylor's left and would soon prove to be his undoing.[28]

     Back at the stone wall, Crawford was elated. Riding up to Jackson, "hat in hand," he called out, "Colonel Jackson, you have saved the day, your regiment is worth its weight in gold; its weight in gold, sir." Crawford ordered Jackson to hold at the wall and throw up breastworks. Crawford may have exaggerated somewhat, but he and the Reserves were justly proud of the role they had played on the soil of their native state.[29]

     As the fire against his left picked up, Colonel Taylor of the Bucktails and his officers decided to do something about it. It was growing dark when Capt. Neri B. Kinsey, Company C of the Bucktails, ordered his men, then taking cover behind the left of the stone wall, to direct their fire against Devil's Den. Lt. John E. Kratzer of Company K approached and told Kinsey that Colonel Taylor had sent him to see what was happening on his left. Kinsey said he thought he could hold the position and keep the Confederates from advancing, but if Kratzer would bring Company K to assist, Kinsey thought the two companies could drive the Confederates away from the rocks. At this point, a shell, probably from Gibbs' or Lt. Charles E. Hazlett's Battery D, 5th U.S. Artillery, on Little Round Top, fell among Company B, taking an arm off a man. The man jumped up and shouted, "I won't die" as blood poured from the stump. He ran about madly in a circle for a short time before dropping dead. The same shell killed a man in Company I when the missile hit the stonewall, throwing rocks and debris into the air, wounding several other men. Captain Kinsey was badly wounded in the right arm and had to leave the field.[30]

     Company K arrived with stragglers from several companies in tow. The advance across Plum Run must have been a confusing one as men from different companies were intermixed. Capt. Samuel A. Mack of Company E arrived with Company K, just as Confederate fire picked up. Mack, along with Cpl. Elijah S. Brookins and Pvt. Abraham S. Davis of Company G, moved off toward the southern end of the wall and then a little way up the hill beyond the wall. They drew instant and heavy fire from a strong Confederate force. Mack and Brookins took cover behind a tree, Davis behind a rock. At this point, Lieutenant Kratzer and Pvt. Ellis J. Hall of Company K came up. Realizing that an attack with only three Sharps rifles and the officers' pistols would be unwise, they all took cover and debated what to do.[31]

     Colonel Taylor appeared with Lt. R. Fenton Ward of Company I and asked the small party, "Why don't you fire?" When the others told him there were not enough of them to make an attack, Taylor placed his hand on Kratzer's shoulder and turned to bring up more men. A Confederate bullet hit Taylor in the chest. He fell, without a word into Kratzer's arms. Kratzer, Hall, Ward, and Lt. George A. Ludlow of Company E, who had just arrived, carried the body of the twenty-three-year-old Taylor to the rear. Captain Mack and Private Davis tried to cover the party as it carried the colonel to the rear, but Davis, too, was hit. He called for the others to come back for him, but they chose to carry one man at a time. Taylor's body was taken to the cover of the wall, and members of Company H carried him to a field hospital. Captain Mack, Corporal Brookins, and others went back for Davis and brought him out without incident, but he too died the next day.[32]

     With Taylor dead and the regiment's lieutenant colonel wounded, Maj. W. Ross Hartshorne found himself in command. Although willing to make another attempt at taking Devil's Den, Hartshorne received orders, presumably from McCandless, to remain where he was. It was nearly dark anyway.[33]

     While McCandless' Brigade, along with the 11th Reserves, were charging across Plum Run, Col. Joseph W. Fisher's Brigade was responding to a plea for support from Colonel Vincent's, now Col. James Rice's, Third Brigade of Barnes' First Division. Fisher's force consisted of Lt. Col. George Dare's 5th Reserves, Lt. Col. James Snodgrass' 9th Reserves, Col. [Adoniram] J. Warner's 10th Reserves, and Col. Martin D. Hardin's 12th Reserves. Fisher's men had witnessed the charge of the First Brigade as they struggled up to the summit of Little Round Top on the way to the left. They arrived " stumbling over rocks, and the numerous dead of Vincent's and Weed's gallant Brigades," in time to see the Confederates retreating on that front and probably in time to see the end of the charge of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain's 20th Maine. While the Reserves felt they added a great deal to the successful defense of Little Round Top, the men of Vincent's Brigade, who bore the brunt of the Confederate attacks were not inclined toward generosity in later years, making clear to all who would listen that the Reserves had arrived after the fight on the left had ended .[34]

     While the fight may have ended, the Reserves would remain active there until well after dark that night of July 2. With Big Round Top looming to the south, presumably occupied by the enemy, Fisher decided to advance and attempt to take the rugged little mountain. After talking it over with Colonel Rice, Fisher sent for Crawford. Crawford arrived and gave his permission but suggested that it be done immediately. Crawford then returned to the stone wall and McCandless' Brigade. Sometime around 10:00 p.m., Fisher ordered the 9th and 10th Reserves to extend Rice's line across the narrow valley between the Round Tops, the 9th linking up with Rice's left, the 10th extending south on the 9th's left, part way up the north slope of the larger hill. Fisher advanced in line with the 5th and 12th Reserves, the 20th Maine survivors going forward as skirmishers. The advance quickly fell apart as the two regiments attempted to advance in line and maintain formation while climbing over the huge boulders and through the trees that are still a feature of the Big Round Top landscape.[35]

     With his advance quickly becoming a jumbled mess, Fisher ordered the two regiments to return to the saddle between the Round Tops and reform. With officers calling out commands and trying to keep everyone in line, there was little chance of surprising any Confederates that might have been on the hill. In fact, about thirty were captured but most managed to escape, perhaps thinking a much larger force was upon them. The 20th Maine had managed to make it to the crest of Big Round Top in skirmish order, much easier in the rugged terrain than in line of battle. Unsupported, Chamberlain sent word to Rice who responded by ordering the 83rd Pennsylvania of his brigade to the summit as well. Fisher decided to march "by the flank" to his new position, rather than try it again in line. Soon the 12th Reserves fell into position on the crest, the 5th Reserves to their right linking up with the right of the 10th Reserves. As previously stated, the 9th Reserves formed the right of Fisher's line down in the saddle, roughly at right angles and crossing the modern road running between the Round Tops today. The battered 20th Maine deployed as skirmishers in front and to the left of Fisher's line. The men settled in and built a stone wall and breastworks along their line. Both Round Tops were firmly in Federal hands .[36]

     On the morning of July 3, the "German Captain" again appeared at Crawford's stone wall position. According to Captain Minnigh of the 1st Reserves, the chronicler of the event, the captain was jubilant. "The Pennsylvania Reserves saved mine pattery, by -. I oets you fellers all drunk mit beer." They all had a right to be pleased with their achievements of the previous day. If they had not actually "saved the day," as General Crawford had exclaimed, the Reserves certainly had arrived in time to stabilize the situation on the Federal left. The Sixth Corps too had arrived in force soon after Crawford's charge and some regiments of that corps had supported the Reserves' attack. The battle of Gettysburg, however, was not yet over for McCandless' people.[37] Early on the morning, of July 3, the Bucktails on Crawford's left at the stone wall grew more and more uncomfortable and annoyed by the Confederate enfilade fire from Devil's Den and the rocky Houck' Ridge to the north of it. Major Hartshorne ordered Capt. Frank Bell with Company I and Capt. John Wolfe, with Company F, forward to suppress the enemy fire and determine their strength. The two companies moved forward as skirmishers, allowing them to take advantage of the cover afforded by the rocky terrain. The use of their breechloading Sharps' rifles allowed the men to load without exposing themselves to enemy fire. In response to this advance, Confederate fire increased to such an extent that Bell and Wolfe decided to stay where they were and spend their time picking off any Confederates foolish or unlucky enough to show themselves. Having had enough of this, the Confederates charged soon after and drove the two companies back to the stone wall. Lieutenant Bell was wounded in the leg which would later require amputation. Near noon, Kratzer's Company K made another attempt at Devil's Den, also as skirmishers, but this time at the run. As they closed, the Confederates fired a volley and an officer called on Lieutenant Kratzer to surrender. Kratzer responded with a shot from his pistol. The Confederate officer fired back, wounding Kratzer in the elbow. Kratzer fired and killed the man. Both sides took cover where they were until Hartshorne recalled the company later that day.[38]

     Shortly after the Pickett – Pettigrew - Trimble assault against the Federal center was repulsed, Meade ordered Sykes to make a reconnaissance in force to determine Lee's plans. A Confederate battery in the woods west of the Wheatfield annoyed McCandless' line at this time as well, and an advance might silence the guns. Sykes, in turn, ordered Crawford to advance McCandless' Brigade, the I I th Reserves still attached, across the Wheatfield and through the woods beyond. Col. David J.Nevin's Brigade of the Third Division, Sixth Corps, would form a second line behind McCandless.[39] About 5:00 p.m., McCandless moved out. The 6th Reserves, deployed as skirmishers, proceeded through the woods to the north of the Wheatfield Road toward the bothersome battery. Meanwhile, the remaining regiments under McCandless' command entered the trampled Wheatfield itself.[40]

     The Reserve's line, consisting, from right to left, of the 6th Reserves north of Wheatfield Road, the 11th Reserves, 1st Reserves, 2nd Reserves, and the Bucktails, charged at a run across the Wheatfield. They faced little head-on opposition, other than from the lone battery that quickly limbered up and made good its escape, but not before losing three caissons and one 12-pounder Napoleon to Colonel Ent's 6th Reserves. Surviving accounts vary as to what the remaining four regiments did, but what is clear is that most of the Confederates in the area around the Wheatfield were in the process of withdrawing to a new line along the Emmitsburg Road to the west. While Crawford reported that he had routed Anderson's Confederate Brigade, it is likely that the only organized resistance McCandless faced was from the 15th Georaia of Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning's Brigade of Hood's Division, posted in the woods to the south of the Wheatfield behind a stone wall.[41]

     As McCandless' line approached the woods west of the Wheatfield they opened fire on the scattered and withdrawing Confederates there. Moving on through the woods and up the slope, McCandless learned from the Bucktails' Major Hartshorne that the left was taking fire from the south. "Determined to pay his respects to that party," McCandless gave the brigade the order "by the rear rank right-about face, right turn, march." This order had the effect of turning the line around and swinging it to the right into line much faster than by wheeling McCandless then advanced south toward the stone wall held by the 15th Georgia. After about fifteen minutes, the Georgians had enough and McCandless charged, capturing some 200 men. Sgt. James B. Thompson of the Bucktails captured the Confederate regiment's colors and was later a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions. When a Confederate prisoner scooped up by the 2nd Reserves was told what troops had captured him he replied "why, we captured you at Fredericksburg.... D-n you, you always's [sic] give us hell when you meet us." In addition to the men, gun, and caisson captured, McCandless' charge had retaken all of the ground in the vicinity of the Wheatfield and recovered some 7,000 stand of arms, many of which had been piled up by the Confederates in preparation for burning on brush piles. About noon on July 4, the men of McCandless' Brigade were withdrawn to the stone wall on the eastern edge of the Wheatfield they had captured on July 2.[42]

     Casualties had been relatively light in the Pennsylvania Reserves. Of the 210 total casualties, 26 were killed, 181 wounded, and 3 missing, out of a total of 2,853 engaged, or 12.5 percent. Fisher's Brigade fared much better than McCandless' had. Fisher lost 6 killed and 49 wounded while McCandless lost 20 killed and 132 wounded.[43]

     While Gettysburg would not be their last battle, it was perhaps the last battle in which the Pennsylvania Reserves reveled as veterans in their deeds. The Reserves had their critics, and the Pennsylvanians may indeed have claimed to have played a more pivotal role than they did. One point, however, is not arguable. The role of Crawford's Reserves has been largely overlooked by historians of the battle. This perhaps is the greatest disservice done to an outstanding fighting command.

     There is a postscript to the story of the Pennsylvania Reserves at Gettysburg that should not be overlooked. The enlisted men of the First Brigade had purchased a handsome sword for their old commander, John Reynolds. The blade "was of the finest Damascus steel, and the scabbard of pure gold." In addition, a beautiful sash and gold embroidered belt were purchased. The men planned to present it to Reynolds in the field at some point during the campaign. Inscribed on the scabbard was the following sentiment: "Presented to Major-general John F. Reynolds, by the enlisted men of the First, Second, Fifth and Eighth regiments of the First Brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves, in testimony of their love and admiration. Mechanicsville, June 26th, 1862." Upon learning of the death of Reynolds on July 1, Sgt. W. H. Grier of the 5th Reserves was chosen to deliver the sword to the general's sister in Philadelphia.[44]


Sources:
[1] J. R. Sypher, History of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Elias Barr & Company, 1865). pp. 49-50 ' William H. Powell, The Fifth Army Corps (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1896), p. 53.
[2] Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, p. 50: Mark Mayo Boatner, 111, The Civil WarDictionary (New York: David McKay, 1959). p. 635.
[3] George B. McClellan, The Civil War Papers of George B. AfcClellan, ed. Stephen W. Sears (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1989), pp. 4-5.
[4] Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964), p. 289; Sypher. Pennyslvania Reserve Corps, p. 61.
[5] Boatner, Civil War Dictionary, p. 634.
[6] Sypher, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, pp. 118-19, Boatner, Civil War Dictionary, p. 634.
[7] Boatner, Civil War Dictionary, pp. 634-35~ Harry W. Pfanz. Gettysburg: The Second Day (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 1987), p. 49.
[8] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion .4 Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 vols. in 128 parts (Washington, D.C.: U,S, Government Printing Office. 1880-1901), series 1, vol. 27. pt. 1, p. 3 (Hereafter cited as OR. All subsequent references are from series 1.)~ Sypher, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, p. 449~ E. M. Woodward, Our Campaigns (Philadelphia: John E. Potter, 1865)~ pp. 259-60.
[9] Woodward, Our Campaigns, pp. 259, 261; Pfanz, Gettysburg. The Second Day, p. 49; Sypher, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. p. 443.
[10] Warner. Generals in Blue. p. K Boatner. Civil War Dictionary. p. 207.
[11] Edwin B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1968).p.98;0. H. Thomson and William H. Rauch, History of the Bucktails (Philadelphia:Electric Printing Company, 1906). pp. 260-61.
[12] vol. 27, pt. 1, p. 68; Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day', p 49
[13] Pfanz. Gettysburg: The Second Day, p- 50; Woodward. Our Campaigns, p. 263.
[14] Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day, 50-5 1.
[15] Ibid., pp. 51-52, 61-62; Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, pp. 334-35; OR, vol. 27, pt. 1~ p. 652; Pennsylvania Gettysburg Battlefield Commission, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg: Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Monuments Erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Mark the Positions of the Pennsylvania Commands Engaged in the Battle, ed. John P. Nicholson, 2 vols. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: E. K. Meyers. State Printer, 1893), 1:2-57.
[16] Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:272-73.
[17] Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day, p. 207; OR, vol. 27, pt. 1.p. 592. No one seems to agree about the time- Crawford said 2:00 p.m., but many modern writers say 4:00 p.m. Pfanz. Gettysburg: The Second Day, pp. 391-92: Edwin A.
[18] Pfanz. Gettysburg: The Second Day, pp. 391-92: Edwin A. Glover, Bucktailed Wildcats (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), pp. 202-3; OR, vol. 27, pt. 1, p. 653.
[19] Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day, p. 392; OR, vol. 27, pt. 1.p. 653.
[20] OR, vol. 27. pt. 1, p. 653: Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 1:258,
[21] OR, vol. 27. pt. 1, p. 653; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 1:258 H. N. Minnich. History of Company K, Ist (Inft.) Penn'a Reserves (Duncansville. Pennsylvania Home Print. 1891). pp. 25-26.
[22] Pennsyvlvania at Gettysburg, 1:258: Pfanz. Gettysburg. The Second Day. p. 396.
[23] OR, vol. 27. pt. 1, p. 686; Pfanz, Gettysburg. The Second Day, p. 396.
[24] Sypher, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, p. 460; Thomson and Rauch, Historyofthe Bucktails, p. 266; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:259; OR, vol. 27, pt. 1, p. 657.
[25] Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:278-79, Glover, Bucktailed Wildcats, p. 206.
[26] Thomson and Rauch, History of the Bucktails, p. 267; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:279; ibid., p. 213.
[27] Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:279; John W. Urban, Aly Experiences Mid Shot and Shell and in Rebel Den (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Hubbard Brothers. 1882), p. 317; Woodward, Our Campaigns, p. 268.
[28] Woodward, Our Campaigns, p. 269; Pennsylvania at Gettys­burg, 1:279; Pfanz. Gettysburg: The Second Day, p. 400.
[29] Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:259.
[30] Thomson and Rauch, History of the Bucktails, pp. 267-69: Glover. Bucktailed Wildcats. p. 207; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg,1:279-80.
[31] Thomson and Rauch, History of the Bucktails, pp. 269-70: John W. Busey and David G. Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg (Hightstown. New Jerse),1: Longstreet House, 1986). p. 204
[32] Thomson and Rauch. History of the Bucktails, pp. 269-70: Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:279
[33] Thomson and Rauch, History of the Bucktails, p. 27 1.
[34] Busey and Martin, Regimental Strengths andLosses, p. 57 ' OR, vol. 27, pt. 1, pp- 658-59; Amos M. Judson, History of the Eighty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (Erie, Pennsylvania: B. F. H. Lynn, Publisher, 1865), pp. 129-30; Oliver Wilcox Norton, Army Letters, 1861-1865 (Chicago: 0. L. Deming, 1903; reprint, Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1990). p. 362.
[35] Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day, p. 402; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 1:274; OR, vol. 27. pt. 1. p. 658.
[36] OR, vol. 27, pt. 1, pp. 618, 625, 658; Judson. Eighty-third Pennsylvania, p. 13 1; Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:274-75.
[37] Minnigh, History of Company K, p. 26, Pennsylvania at Gettys­burg, 1:259: Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day, p. 398.
[38] Thomson and Rauch, History of the Bucktails, pp. 271-72:Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, 1:280-8 1.
[39] Colonel Nevin. commander of the 62nd New York, took over command of the brigade when Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton replaced Maj. Gen. John Newton as commander of the Third Division. Newton took over command of the First Corps on July 2 due to the death of Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds on the I st and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's lack of confidence in Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday's leadership
[40] Thomson and Rauch. History of the Bucktails, p. 273: OR, vol.27; pt. I ; pp. 654, 657,
[41] OR, vol. 27, pt. L pp. 657-58~ Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 1:263, 281: Woodward, Our Campaigns, p- 272; Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign. p. 534.
[42] Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 1:281, 263~ OR. vol. 27, pt. 1, pp;655, 657~ Woodward, Our Campaigns, p. 273­
[43] OR. vol. 27, pt. 1. p. 180.
[44] Woodward, Our Campaigns, pp. 277-78.