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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2023 11:03 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 320
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters.

Since posting the 1864 S.G Elliot map of Gettysburg and the locations of US and CSA graves, I have been reexamining the casualties of the Berdan reconnaissance into Pitzers Wood, and the deployment and actions of Major Stoughton’s command deployed along the Slyder/Timber-Wiekert, Rose farms.

I discovered an article written by Battlefield Licensed Guide, Tim Orr that appeared in the 2006 NPS Gettysburg Seminar (published in 2008). Dr. Orr expertly dissected and analyzed the accounts written by the company officers and men to show where they were initially deployed, the rationale for their advance to the Slyder Farm/Timber-Weikert Farm line; the timelines involved, and their subsequent fighting once the initial positions became untenable. Unlike th relatively orderly movements of Third Corps infantry regiments and artillery batteries that day, the Sharpshooters broke into independent units that repeatedly stung and confused the attacking brigades from Alabama, Texas and Arkansas.

My USSS comrades and I have crisscrossed this ground dozens of times, with books, magazine articles and original accounts in hand, trying to locate where original Sharpshooters were posted and follow in their footsteps. One lingering puzzle for us was where the Maine (D-2) and Minnesota (A-2), were posted. The Company D position marker is the last/first one you would encounter coming in from Emmitsburg Pike. Dr. Orr has convincingly shown that their line was looking westward, not south, as I originally thought. He also shows that the Minnesota company was deployed on Maine’s right, and occupied positions along the Timber-Wiekert property and southern boundary of Rose Farm.

There’s a stone wall running north and south just west of the Timber/Weikert barn, and when Dan, Brian and I examined the position it was in a dip of ground that obscured the Emmitsburg pike. To adequately defend the area, the Sharpshooters would have needed to advance 50-80 yards further, but there’s no stone fence there for protection. Possibly the original was moved or rebuilt during the intervening century and a half+. Or they advanced further west to another stone wall closer to the Pike. Either way, the Minnesota boys, like the 20th Maine, “were the end of the Union line “, with its flank exposed and unprotected.

What did raise the hairs on our neck was to look over our shoulders to see the broken and open terrain in the swampy lowlands between the Slyder lane and the safety of the Third Corps line on Devil’s Den. It was over this ground Lt. Pettijohn and two companions tried to flee from the sudden arrival of Texas skirmishers on their flank. The two companions were cut down* and Pettijohn spent the rest of his service as a POW.

Dr. Orr has done an excellent job of capturing the disparate actions of the 2nd USSS officers and men that contributed to snatching victory from General Longstreet’s assault on July 2, 1863.

Gettysburg Seminar Papers: The Most Shocking Battle I Have Ever Witnessed:
Papers of the 2006 Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg, PA
Published by National Park Service, 2008.

Here’s the link: ... /index.htm

During our ‘reconnaissances’ I carried William Fransanito’s indispensable book Early Photography at Gettysburg to orient ourselves to how the battlefield looked in 1863. In the Houck Ridge series, Fransanito enlarged a section showing the southern portion of Rose Woods, Snyder Farm, and the Wiekert house roof that was rented by a Black man named Timber. The stone foundation is still present.

Bill Skillman
Michigan Companies
Berdan Sharpshooters Survivors Association

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