In Their Own Words
Captain P.C. Carleton, 7th N.C.T.
Major Joseph A. Engelhard, Pender’s Division
Brigadier General James Lane
Major General Isaac Trimble
The Landmark, Statesville, N.C.
August 31, 1893
Captain P.C. Carlton, of Statesville, who, as a member of the 7th N.C.
Regiment, Lane’s Brigade, participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, July
3, 1863, has furnished the Landmark for publication the following
interesting war literature.
On the morning of the 3rd July, 1863, the division of my corps occupied
the same positions as on the 2nd July. I was directed to hold my line
with Anderson’s Division, and the half of Pender’s, now commanded by
General Lane, and to order Heth’s Division, commanded by Pettigrew,
and Lane’s and Scales’ Brigades, of Pender’s Division, to report to Lt.
General Longstreet as a support to his corps in his assault on the enemy’s
lines. As the troops were filing off into their positions, Major General
Trimble reported to me for the command of Pender’s Division, and took
the command of the two brigades destined to take part in the assault.
At 1:00 our artillery opened and for two hours rained an incessant storm
of missiles upon the enemy’s line. The effort was marked along my front,
driving the enemy entirely from his guns.
The assault was then gallantly made—Heth’s Division and Trimble’s two
brigades on the left of Pickett, Anderson had been directed to hold his
division ready to take advantage of any success which might be gained by
the assaulting column or to support it if necessary, and to that end Wilcox
and Perry were moved forward to eligible positions. The assault failed, and
after almost gaining the enemy’s works, our troops fell back in disorder.
The enemy made no attempt to pursue.
Extract from the report of Pender’s Division
Major Joseph A. Englehard
During the morning of the 3rd July, General Pender received an order from
Lt. General Hill to report in person with the two brigades forming his second
line to the right to Lt. General Longstreet as a support to Pettigrew. General
Longstreet ordered him to form in the rear of the right of Hill’s Division,
commanded by General Pettigrew. Having executed this order, General
Lane was relieved of the command by Major General Trimble, who acted
under the same orders given to General Lane. The two brigades then formed
as a support to Pettigrew, with Lowrance on the right, after suffering no little
from the two hours’ exposure to the artillery fire which preceded the attack,
advanced within close supporting distance of Pettigrew’s line, General Trimble,
with a portion of his own men and taking immediate command of the movement.
The line moved forward through the woods into the open field, about one
mile, in full view of the fortified position of the enemy, exposed to a
murderous artillery fire, front, rear, and enfilade and musketry fire from the
left. The line moved handsomely and firmly forward. The division in front
gaining ground to the right, uncovered the left of Lane’s Brigade, which
caused it to advance more rapidly than the rest of the line. This was
checked by an order from General Trimble.
When within a few hundred yards of the enemy’s works, the line in front
being entirely gone, the division moved rapidly up, connecting with the troops
on the right, still stubbornly contesting the ground with the enemy, reserving
their fire until within easy range and then opening with telling effect, driving
the artillerists from their guns, completely silencing the guns and breaking
the line of support formed on the crest of the hill. All the guns in the immediate
front of the division were silenced, and the infantry had fallen behind their
second and third lines of defense, advancing in an oblique direction, the
extreme right of which had reached the works, was compelled to fall back,
exposing the line to a very heavy fire from that direction, immediately on the
flank, and a large column of infantry appearing on the left, that flank also
became exposed. The two extreme left regiments of Lane’s Brigade, under
Colonels Avery and Perrin, advanced, some minutes after the rest of the line
had given way and fallen back under orders.
The gallantry and impetuosity of the brigades of the division engaged drew
from their veteran and wounded commander the highest compliments, as it
earned the admiration of all who witnessed it.
Lane’s veteran troops advanced with that enthusiasm and firmness which
had characterized them on every field, under the immediate supervision of
their brigade commander. The division was reformed under orders from
General Trimble, by General Lane, just in the rear of the artillery, and upon
the same ground where it had rested before making the attack and in this
position, remained until the enemy fell back on the night of the 4th July.
Extract from General Lane’s Report of the Battle of Gettysburg
Next morning the skirmishing was very heavy in front of Thomas and Perrin,
requiring, at times, whole regiments to deploy and resist this enemy back,
which was always done most gallantly. While this was going on, I was
ordered by General Hill, through Captain Hill, to move in person to the right
with the two brigades forming my second line and to “report to General
Longstreet as a support to Pettigrew”. General Longstreet ordered me to
form in the rear of the right of Heth’s Division, commanded by Pettigrew.
Soon after I had executed this order, putting Lowrance on the right, I was
relieved of command by Major General Trimble, who acted under the same
orders that I had received. Heth’s Division was much larger than Lowrance’s
Brigade and my men, who were its only support, and there was consequently
no second line in the rear of their left.
Now, in command of my brigade, I moved forward to the support of
Pettigrew’s right, through the woods in which our batteries were planted
and through an open field in full view of the enemy’s fortified position and
under a murderous artillery and infantry fire. As soon as Pettigrew’s
command gave back, Lowrance’s Brigade and mine, without ever having
halted, took position on the left of the troops which were still contesting
the grounds with the enemy. My command moved forward more handsomely.
The men reserved their fire in accordance to orders until within good range of
the enemy and then opened with telling effect, repeatedly driving the enemy
from their pieces, completely silencing the guns in our front and breaking
the line of infantry which was formed on the crest of the hill. We advanced
to within a few yards of the stone wall, exposed all the time to a heavy,
raking artillery fire from the right. My left was here very much exposed,
and a column of infantry was thrown forward in that direction which enfiladed
my whole line. This forced me to withdraw my brigade, the troops on my
right already having done so. We fell back as well as could be expected
and immediately reformed in rear of the artillery as directed by General
Trimble and remained there until the following morning.
I cannot speak too highly of my brigade in this bloody engagement.
Both officers and men moved forward with a heroism unsurpassed, giving
the brigade inspector and the rear guard nothing to do. Our great loss
tells too sadly of the gallant bearing of my command—660 out of a total
of 1356, including ambulance corps and rear guard.
General Trimble being wounded I was again thrown in command of this
division, and with Lowrance’s brigade and my own, under Col. Avery,
moved back to the rear of Thomas and Perrin on the 4th.
Extract from General Trimble’s Report on the Third Day’s Fight at Gettysburg
On the morning of the third, I had been put in command, by an order of
General Lee, of two of the brigades of General Pender, who had been wounded.
These were both of North Carolina troops commanded by J.H. Lane and Alfred
M. Scales. On taking command of the troops, entire strangers to me, and
wishing as far as I could to inspire them with confidence, I addressed them
briefly, ordered that no gun should be fired until the enemy’s line was broken,
and that I would advance with them to the farthest point.
When the charge commenced about 3:00 p.m., I followed Pettigrew about
150 yards in the rear, a sufficient distance to prevent the adverse fire raking
both ranks as we marched down the slope. Notwithstanding the losses as
we advanced, the men marched with the deliberation and accuracy of men
on drill. I observed the same in Pettigrew’s line. When the latter was within
100-150 yards of the Emmetsburg Road, they seemed to sink into the earth
under the tempest of fire poured upon them. We passed over the remnant
of their line and immediately after some one close on my left sang out “Three
cheers for the Old North State!” Both brigades sent up a hearty shout and I
said to my aid “Charley, I believe these fine fellows are going into the enemy’s
They did get to the road and drove the opposite line from it. They continued
there some minutes, discharging their pieces at the enemy. The loss here
was fearful. I knew that no troops could long endure it. I was curious to know
how things went on with the troops on our right, and taking a quick but deliberate
view of the field over which Picket had advanced, I perceived that the enemy’s
fire seemed to slacken there and some squads were falling back on the west
side of the Emmetsburg Road. By this I inferred that Pickett’s division had
been repelled and if so, it would be a useless exercise of life to continue the
contest. I therefore did not attempt to rally the men who (moved?) back from
As I followed the retiring line on horseback at a walk to the crest of Seminary
Ridge, under the unceasing discharge of grape, shell and musketry, I had cause
to wonder how any one could escape wounds or death.
On reaching the summit of the ridge, I found the men had fallen into line behind
some rude defenses. I said “that is right, my brave fellows, stand your ground
and we will presently give these chaps as they have given us”, for by all the rules
of warfare, the Federal troops should, as I expected they would, march against
our shattered columns and seek to cover our army with an overwhelming defeat.
In turning over the command to General Lane, I used some expressions of
commendation for the gallant behavior of these men, but I am sure I did not use
the profane terms which General Lane quotes my language.
Being severely weakened and unable to follow the army in retreat, I made no
report of the battle in terms of killed and wounded. General Lane and General
Scales have done this, which shows the fearful loss in these two brigades in the
charge of July 3.
In a published letter to Hon. Jno. W. Daniel of Virginia, General Trimble says:
My men were the last to leave the field or the charge. This I knew, as I rode in the
line between the two brigades from the start down to the Emmetsburg Road,
passing over the wreck of Heth’s Divison (Pettigrew’s). Before my line recoiled
under a concentrated fire from my front and left, I looked to my right where
Pickett’s men had been seen to advance and beheld nothing but scattered
remnants of that splendid line.
When we reached the Emmetsburg Road, the terrible fire, right in their faces,
with their comrades melting away around them, our line slowly began to yield,
or rather ceased to advance beyond the road. It was there that I still sat on my
horse, wounded, and at the road, that my aide Charlie Grogan said “General, the
men are falling back, shall I rally them?” Before replying, I looked again to my
right, for the effect of Pickett’s charge, but could see nothing but a few men in
squads moving to the rear and of a considerable distance from the Emmetsburg
Road. It was there, after a brief but deliberate view of the field, that I said “No,
Charley, the best thing these brave fellows can do is get out of this.” So
marching my horse, from which I had alighted with the help of Grogan, we
followed at a walk our men to the rear, who marched back sullenly and slowly
in almost as good order as they had advanced, and I halted them on the summit
of Seminary Ridge. On the presumption that the enemy would pursue me, I here
prepared for defense, and feeling faint from my wound, turned over command to
Thus I am sure that my command continued the contest some time after Pickett’s
force had been dispersed, not that we fought better, but because as a second line
we did not reach the enemy quite as soon as the troops on our right, but
maintained our ground after they had been driven back. Pickett’s men were nearer
the enemy at the start and did bare the brunt bravely, but they were no the only
“heroes of Gettysburg”.
Extract From the Published Letter of General Lane To Which Trimble Refers
When General Trimble ordered us forward, we advanced and took our position on
the left of the troops that were fighting, and when the right of my brigade was
within a short distance of the stone fence that was used by the enemy as a
breastwork—my brigade was now on the extreme left of the attacking line—one
of General Longstreet’s staff came dashing through a hot fire with orders from
General Longstreet to move my company rapidly to the left, as the enemy had
thrown out a flanking force in that direction, which was already pouring a destructive
fire into it. On ordering Col. Avery, of the 33rd N.C. Regiment, which was the left
of my command, to face to the left for the purpose of meeting this flanking column
of the enemy, he said “My God, General! Do you intend rushing your men into
such a place unsupported and when the troops on the right are falling back?”
Seeing that it was useless to sacrifice so many brave men, I ordered my command
back, in accordance from orders from General Trimble, who was leaving the field
wounded, I formed in the rear of our artillery.
After I encountered General Trimble on the battlefield, I was ordered to reform my
command in the rear of our artillery. I did not see him again, nor was I aware he
had been wounded, until one of his staff officers rode up with the following message:
“General Trimble sends his compliments to General Lane, and wishes him to take
charge of the division as he has been wounded. He also directs me to say that if
the troops he had the honor to command today for the first time could not take
that position, all hell could not take it.” The above is the substance and as well
as I can recollect, the words of the message as delivered, and General Trimble
certainly knew well of what he spoke, as we fought over open ground and the
general rode into action accompanied by his own staff and that of the division—
the whole party continuing near the (hue of fire closers?) during the active advance.
Transcribed by Christine Spencer, June 2008
Back to In Their Own Words
Back to NC in the Civil War Home Page