Make your own free website on






[From My Dear Wife by Frank Putnam Deane II, Pioneer Press, 1964]

January, 1863 arrived amid dissension in the camp of the 9th Battery directed against Captain De Vecchi, who on the 26th resigned his commission, to the delight of the men. On February 20th, the battery's new captain, John Bigelow, arrived.

In December of 1861 Bigelow had received an appointment as Adjutant of the 1st Maryland Battalion of Artillery, had served with the battalion in the Peninsular Campaign, where at Malvern Hill his left arm had been shattered. Rejoining the battalion in the autumn, he was with the army at Fredericksburg but early in 1862 had been obliged to return to his home in Brighton, Massachusetts after contracting malaria. In January, 1863 he had again offered his services to his native state of Massachusetts and had subsequently received an appointment by Governor Andrew to the command of the 9th Battery.

On April 17th, the battery was ordered to Centerville where it was to go into camp with the reserve artillery, and there by freak chance, to become attached to the Army of the Potomac when that army marched north in pursuit of Lee's Confederates, who had invaded Maryland and were headed into Pennsylvania in June, 1863.

The Keystone Battery of Philadelphia, which had been camped alongside the 9th Battery, had been ordered up to join the Army of the Potomac, but because the battery had delayed in executing the order, irked General Hunt, the Army's Chief of Artillery, canceled the Keystone's order and in its placed called up the 9th Battery. The Battery left Centerville on June 25th and marching north, joined up with the army at Edward's Ferry the next day, being attached to the artillery reserve of the Army of the Potomac in Colonel McGilvery's 1st Volunteer Brigade along with the 15th New York, 5th Massachusetts Batteries and Captain R. B. Ricketts' Pennsylvania Battery; these were the guns which, with John Bigelow's Battery, were to save the day a week later at a little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.

When the battery arrived at Gettysburg on the morning of the 2nd of July, the great battle had commenced, but the battery was ordered into park until about three in the afternoon, when the order came for Captain Bigelow to take his battery and report to Captain Randolph, Chief of Artillery of the 3rd Corps, who directed Bigelow to take up position between a peach orchard and a wheat field in the field of a Pennsylvania German farmer named Abraham Trostle.

No sooner had the battery maneuvered into position than casualties could be counted among the men and the horse of the battery;-- now they were seeing action for the first time. Bigelow directed his fire at the Confederate batteries posted along the Emmitsburg Road with such effective results that the Southern gunners lost accuracy and slackened their fire. Now Semmes was forming his Confederate infantry in front of the buildings of the Rose farm less than half a mile distant, Bigelow turned his guns in that direction. Soon Semmes went down and his brigade dispersed with the loss of some 400 killed. Meanwhile General Kershaw had sent two of his Southern regiments against Bigelow's front and left and Barksdale's Mississippians started coming in on his right, forcing him to retire his battery which he did by prolong firing. Upon reaching Trostle1s barn yard, Colonel McGilvery ordered Bigelow to hold that line at all hazards until the Union line could be reformed in his rear. No sooner had Bigelow placed his guns in this position when on came Barksdale's brigade consisting of the 13th, 17th, 18th and 21st Mississippi Regiments sweeping all before it. The Union cannoneers were order to fire double canister, which tore great gaps in Barksdale's advancing Confederates, but soon the Southerners reached the guns and hand-to hand fighting took place. The Union line meanwhile being re-established, Bigelow was ordered to fall back and abandon his guns. The battery had delayed the Rebels long enough for the Union line to be reformed at the expense of twenty-eight men killed and wounded, including Bigelow wounded by a shot in the side; and the loss of sixty of its eighty-eight horses dead; twenty more wounded, and four of its six guns left in the hands of the enemy, but which were recovered early that evening by a charge of Union infantry. On the following day the gallant battery, now under command of Junior Second Lieutenant John S. Milton and consisting of but two guns, was engaged at Zeigler's Grove on Cemetery Hill, where it helped to stem Pickett's gallant charge, losing five more horses.

During the remainder of that summer and fall the battery was active at Warrenton, where it remained in camp from August 1st until September 16th, when it again resumed the march, going to Culpepper Court House and remaining at that place until October 11th, when the battery took part in the Briscoe and Mine Run Campaigns during the latter part of November without suffering further loss.

The weary and battle-tried battery went into winter quarters on the 13th of December on a hill overlooking Brandy Station about a mile northwest of the town, where the men again occupied themselves, building log huts and making themselves comfortable for the winter.