JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.–The Gettysburg Campaign.
No. 529.–Report of Col. S. B. Pickens, Twelfth Alabama Infantry.
July 9, 1863.
SIR: The Twelfth Alabama Regiment left Grace Church, Caroline County, Va., on June 4; arrived at Culpeper Court-House on the 7th.
On the 9th, we were marched rapidly toward Brandy Station, to assist our cavalry in a fight that was then going on, but the enemy retreating on our approach, we did not become engaged, but went into camp.
Resumed our march on the next morning, and arrived at Berryville on the 13th, where the enemy made demonstrations as if they intended to give us battle; but when we formed line of battle and advanced, they retired, leaving their camp and a great many valuables in our hands. Resumed our march in a few hours, and arrived at Martinsburg on the 14th. Finding the enemy still in possession of the town, a line of battle was formed and an advance ordered. The enemy shelled us a little, but did us no damage. We advanced steadily, and entered the town about dark; the enemy retreated.
Resumed the march on the 15th, and arrived at Carlisle, Pa., on the 27th, stopping a day or two at different places along the route. Resumed the march on the 30th, in the direction of Gettysburg.
We arrived near that place at 11 a.m. on July 1. The enemy being in heavy force between us and town, a line of battle was formed, and we advanced about a mile, when we came in sight of the enemy. We halted, and a severe artillery duel took place, which lasted about an hour. We were then ordered forward to engage the enemy. We attacked them in a strong position. After a desperate fight of about fifteen minutes, we were compelled to fall back, as the regiment on our left gave way, being flanked by a large force.
I rallied my regiment about 300 yards in the rear, and formed a line. My regiment suffered severely in this attack. It was impossible for us to hold the position we had gained any longer without being cut to pieces or compelled to surrender, the enemy having advantage of us in numbers and position. In half an hour after we fell back, we were again ordered forward, together with the entire division. We then drove the enemy before us with little loss, and were among the first to enter the town, and passed through it. Fought no more during the day, although exposed to a heavy artillery fire. We formed line of battle behind the railroad embankment, where we remained during the night and all the next day.
About 2 a.m. on July 3, we were ordered to the left, to re-enforce General Edward Johnson. We arrived there at daylight, and were soon under a severe fire of artillery and infantry, but did not really engage the enemy until 8 o’clock, when we were ordered to attack their works. This we did with spirit, and gained a hill near their breastworks, which we held for three hours, exposed to a terrific fire. The men fought bravely, and held their ground until ordered to fall back with the entire line. We retired behind the hill, where we remained under an incessant fire of artillery and musketry until 12 o’clock at night, when we withdrew and joined our division. We retired to the rear of the town, occupied and fortified the hills, where we remained until 1 o’clock on the morning of the 5th, when we commenced to fall back. We arrived at Hagerstown on July 7.
In this action, the officers and men bore themselves gallantly. Our loss was severe. Carried into the fight 271 officers and men; 2 officers killed and 6 wounded; 10 enlisted men killed and 65 wounded. Aggregate, 12 killed and 71 wounded.(*)
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. PICKENS,
Colonel Twelfth Alabama Volunteers.
Lieut. S. H. MOORE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Rodes’ Brigade.