Details

3rd Massachusetts Battery

Gary Casteel

Size: 5½” x 5½” x 9”
Weight: 4.2lbs
1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

Around noon on July 2, 1863, the 3rd Massachusetts Battery took 124 men and six Napoleon field guns into battle at Gettysburg. The battery was ordered by brigade commander, Capt. Martin, to remain close to Gen. James Barnes’s First Division of the Fifth Corps posted on Stony Hill near the Wheatfield. Knowing Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles’s Third Corps occupied a precarious position with its center on the Peach Orchard, not too far in front of the Wheatfield, Martin fully expected Sickles to attempt to grab some of his batteries.

Instructing Lt. Walcott to keep his battery where it was and to await further orders, Martin left to assist Maj. Gen. Gouverneur Warren, Chief of Engineers, in placing troops to help anchor the left of the Union line on Little Round Top. No further orders would come from Martin. In the confusion of battle, Martin would be unable to reach his other batteries by the Wheatfield.

True to Martin’s prediction, however, a staff officer from the Third Corps under Dan Sickles approached as the Confederate assault got underway and ordered the battery into the Peach Orchard. Walcott limbered up and began moving the battery up the road when he received orders to return to his original position.

Returning to the Fifth Corps line, the 3rd Massachusetts Battery took a position east of the Wheatfield at the foot of Little Round Top, just north of the Wheatfield Road with Plum Run, a small brook known after the battle as “Bloody Run”, directly ahead. However, the battery was placed in a bad position, with their view of the battle obscured by a small rise in their front known as Houck’s Ridge, between them and the Wheatfield. A stone wall ran in front of them which was occupied by the Regulars of Brig. Gen. Romeyn Ayres’s division of the Fifth Corps. For about two hours the battery sat idle in this position, hearing the roar of battle but not understanding that General Longstreet’s Confederates were crushing the Third and Fifth Corps in their front.

Their first indication that the situation had deteriorated came when General Charles Griffin of the Fifth Corps rode by their position and shouted to Walcott, “Get that battery out of there! You can’t live in that place five minutes!” Shortly thereafter, Wofford’s Brigade of Georgians burst over Houck’s Ridge surprising them, and the Regulars at the stone wall who retreated in disorder, leaving the 3rd Massachusetts Battery exposed.

With Regulars retreating all around him and his battery just minutes from being overwhelmed by the Georgians, Lt. Walcott gave the only order he could: spike the guns and abandon the battery. His men only had time to spike one gun before the Georgians were on top of them. The men of the 3rd Massachusetts Battery fled rearward with the Regulars and may have been decimated had it not been for the counterattack of Brig. Gen. Samuel Crawford’s 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, the famed “Bucktails.” The “Bucktails” advanced on the battery’s position, checked the Georgians, retook the guns of the 3rd Massachusetts Battery, and pushed the Confederates back through the Wheatfield. Lt. Walcott rallied his men and quickly pulled his guns. Eventually, they were posted to the southeast of Big Round Top along today’s Wright Avenue at the extreme left of the Union position with Colonel Lewis Grant’s brigade of Vermonters. The position was a quiet one during the third day of battle on July 3.

The 3rd Massachusetts Battery suffered casualties of only 6 wounded, or five percent, largely due to timely advance of the Pennsylvania Bucktails.

This monument was dedicated on October 8, 1885 and is located south of Gettysburg on the northeast corner of the intersection of Wheatfield Road and Crawford Avenue, in front of the J. Weickert farm.

Price: $220.00

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