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1863 July 2-5: Letter from the 6th Wisconsin Infantry at Gettysburg

July 7, 2013

The following excerpts from a letter by Rollin P. Converse, captain of Company B of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry (Prescott Guards), appeared in the July 11, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.

Letter from Capt. Converse

[We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter from Capt. ROLLIN P. CONVERSE, to his father in this city.]

LINE-OF-BATTLE, July 2.—We have passed through a hard day’s fight, and I have to thank the Lord that I am not wounded tho’ I had some close calls.  The loss in the regiment is heavy ;  also in my company.  I give a list as near as I can come at it,

Wounded, Sergt Marugg ;  Corporals Evans, leg broke, died ;  Fachs, leg off ;  Bullard, flesh wound ;  James Kelly, breast, very bad ;  J. F. Kelly, buck shot in leg, slight.  Privates Anderson, severely, died ;  Foust, severely ;  F. J. Hall, severely ;  Harvey, arm ;  C. Keeler, both legs ;  McEwen, mouth, severely ;  Nelson, leg, severely ;  Richardson, hand, slight ;  Thompson, shoulder, slight ;  Williams, leg, slight.  Ole Gunderson was reported killed but is only wounded and will recover.  Private Foust and Corporal James Kelly I am afraid will die.

The 1st corps bore the brunt of the engagement, and were outnumbered three to one.—The 6th Wis. charged on a railroad cut, took one stand of colors and the 2nd Mississippi regiment, which the Col. said numbered 430 men when they entered the fight, we sent 250 to the rear.   *   *   *   Every man of my color guard was shot.  The brigade has lost 1,170 men.  We are now in line of battle and expect an attack every moment, but think we can hold them.  I hope we may not be called upon to day, but if we are, we will give them the best turn we have.

July 3.—To-day Rebs charged our breastworks repeatedly, but were repulsed on every side.  We have taken 5,000 prisoners.  We were engaged three hours, and our regiment lost only five men.  Breastworks are nice things to fight behind.

July 5.—   *   *   *   I went over the battlefield to-day ;  it is an awful sight.   *   *

I never saw a better line of battle in the war.  It was in the shape of a horse shoe, and we could throw troops from one flank to the other in half an hour, while the Rebs had to march 10 miles around.  We thrashed them badly.  I have 14 men in the company ;  shall never get over 20 men again.  A good many of the boys have been sent off and I do not know how they are getting along.  As soon as I learn, I will let you know.

1.  Company B was already depleted going into the Battle of Gettysburg, having lost a lot of men at the Battle of Antietam. The full list of killed and wounded at Gettysburg are:

  • Henry Anderson, from Stillwater (Minn.), killed in action July 1 at Gettysburg
  • Clarence E. Bullard, from Menomonie, wounded at Gettysburg
  • William E. Evans, from Prescott, died July 2 from wounds received at Gettysburg
  • Joseph Fachs, from Saint Paul (Minn.), wounded at Gettysburg, leg amputated
  • William Foust, from Beldenville, killed in action July 1 at Gettysburg
  • Ole Gunderson, from Centreville, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Franklin J. Hall, from Oak Grove, wounded at Gettysburg
  • James R. W. Harvey, from Maiden Rock, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Charles A. Keeler, from Prescott, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Isaiah F. Kelly, from Prescott, wounded at Gettysburg
  • James Kelly, from Prescott, died July 21 from wounds received at Gettysburg
  • Simon Marugg, from Menomonie, wounded at Gettysburg
  • James McEwen, from Prescott, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Jeremiah Murphy, from Eau Claire, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Peter Nelson, from Stillwater (Minn.), wounded at Gettysburg
  • James Richardson, from Prescott, wounded at Gettysburg
  • Thomas H. Williams, from Diamond Bluff, wounded at Gettysburg.
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