A Letter from D. J. Maltby, 94th NYSVI


This first-hand account of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1 to 3, 1863 was published originally in the Jefferson County News in Adams, Jefferson County, New York on July 23, 1863. I found it reprinted in the September 8, 2002 edition of The Cortland Sunday, published in Cortland County, New York. The item was in a regular feature entitled "Tracks of Local History." Although this particular edition carried no by-line, I strongly suspect that the material was researched by local historian Richard Palmer, who is the regular author of the column.

Gettysburg, July 12, 1863
Editor of Jeff. Co. News:
     Since my last correspondence, great changes have taken place in the 94th. While laying at Edward's Ferry as headquarters provost guard, we received an order from General Hooker to report immediately to the First Corps commanded by General Doubleday. On the following day we marched within a few miles of Frederick City, Maryland and bivouacked for the night. The day after, we rejoined our corps, which was lying six miles west of Frederick. Here we remained over night, and the next day - Sunday - drew rations, and at 2 o'clock p.m. commenced our march toward Frederick. As we ascended the side of the mountain, we could look back upon the valley smiling with its green pastures and dotted over with neat, comfortable farm-houses, and far away to the west we could see the frowning ranges of the Alleghenies and Blue Ridge.
      We camped near Frederick that night and on the following day we marched twenty-eight miles and arrived at a small town by the name of Emmetsburg. Here we remained over night, the 94th doing picket duty. The citizens were patriotic and kind; brought us fresh bread, butter, meat, biscuits, & coffee.
      On the morning of Wednesday, the 1st, we struck tents at the sound of the bugle and commenced our march towards Gettysburg. On arriving at a distance of about three miles from the town, the boom of cannon came sounding on our ears, and soon we could see the smoke and distinguish the bursting shell.
      When within about three-quarters of a mile of the town, we struck off to the left and marched toward the Seminary; here we halted and filled our canteens and the shelling commenced. We formed our ranks and numbered off and soon the command to move forward came, and we, after going a quarter of a mile, changed direction by the left flank and went into a piece of woods, marched through, and began the battle.
      Our regiment immediately captured fifty prisoners. We broke every line before us and exchanged volley for volley. Meanwhile, the heart of our brigade and the whole of the First and Eleventh Corps were engaged, and our lines were in the shape of a horse-shoe. The rebels, outnumbering us, drove back the flanks, and the first brigade was ordered to hold their position until ordered off. Their lines entirely overlapped ours and changing their position came down on the center and we had to fall back; but owing to the flanks being driven in, the first brigade had to run the gauntlet, and before we could escape nearly all of the 94th were captured. The rebels treated us well and acted like gentlemen. They kept us two days, when we were paroled and allowed to go into our lines for the purpose of taking care of our wounded and burying the dead. If the parole is not accepted, we are to give ourselves up into rebel lines again until properly exchanged. The paroled are now at Gettysburg. Colonel Root is now at Washington, ascertaining whether the parole is accepted or not. How long we will remain here is unknown. There are now only 100 men of the 94th in the field, and it will be a long time before it will be again united.
      We hear reports of Vicksburg being taken and Richmond being threatened, and that before winter both places will fall, and everywhere where now stands the rebel flag will wave the Stars and Stripes.
           D.J. Maltby