07 January 2007 by Published in: Union Cavalry 2 comments

This is the report of Col. George H. Gray of the 6th Michigan Cavalry. Gray was a prominent lawyer and railroad man who was assigned to command the newly-formed 6th Michigan Cavalry in the fall of 1862. He had to resign his commission in the spring of 1864 due to health problems, but he was in command of his regiment at Gettysburg. Here is his report of the Gettysburg Campaign:

On the morning of June 30th this regiment, with the 5th, occupied Littlestown, Penn.; while Company A was on a reconnaissance toward Westminster, the remainder of the regiment (nine companies) proceeded to Hanover. On approached the last named place we came upon the enemy’s skirmishers, whom we drove to their guns, which we unexpectedly found posted on our right, supported by a large force of cavalry. Their battery opened upon us, when we withdrew. In making this movement we were completely flaned by another body of the enemy’s cavalry, outnumbering my command at least six to one. I placed two companies (B and F) in position to protect our rear and to check the enemy’s advance. These companies met, by counter charges, three successive charges of the enemy, with a loss on our part of from fifteen to twenty captured and a loss to the enemy of several wounded and captured. The regiment then moved by the left of the road to Hanover, and there reported to General Custer.

Company A having been called in from the Westminster road, joined a portion of the 5th Michigan Cavalry, and later in the day had an engagement with the cavalry force of the enemy.

On reporting to General Custer at Hanover, this regiment was at once deployed as skirmishers, forming a line of battle one mile in length, advanced upon the enemy and drove them until they withdrew.

On the evening of July 2d the regiment encountered the enemy’s cavalry at Hunterstown. Company A, under command of Captain H. A. Thompson, charged a brigade of cavalry, and though suffering great loss, so checked the enemy as to enable our battery to be placed in a position. Three other squadrons then dismounted and with their rifles drove the enemy back, when the guns of our battery caused them to hastily leave the field.

July 3d. At Gettysburg the regiment was ordered to the support of the battery, four companies being pushed forward in front, dismounted, four remaining through a great part of the engagement mounted and immediately to the left of the battery, exposed to the shot and shell of the enemy’s guns. The other companies were engaged as skirmishers to the front and right.

July 4th. At Monterey, when the attack was made on the enemy’s train, this regiment dismounted and deployed as skirmishers; fought the enemy, who were advantageously posted in the woods on either side of the road, and supported by two guns. Here, again, the enemy was driven with great loss on their part and alight on ours.

July 5th. At Smithburg this regiment was employed in supporting the battery.

July 6th. At Hagerstown the regiment, having been in rear of the column on the march, was ordered to the front, but on arriving there General Custer, having driven the enemy, ordered us back.

Same day, at Williamsport, passing the direct range of the enemy’s guns, thereby losing one officer killed, and three wounded, the regiment was posted on the front and to the right of our battery, and connecting with the skirmishers of the 1st Michigan Cavalry, protected our own guns and held the enemy, who was advancing on our right, until the remainder of our command left the position, the 1st and 6th being the last to retire.

July 8th. At Boonsborough this regiment was deployed tot he left of the Hagerstown road, and after a sharp and hotly contested engagement, lasting several hours, repulsed and routed the enemy, and drove him three miles, and until night closed the pursuit. The rebel General Stuart was in preson directing the assault in front of this regiment on that occasion.

July 11th. This regiment was ordered to do picket duty before Hagerstown turnpike on the right, towards Funkstown on the left. Here during the entire day we were engaged skirmishing with the enemy’s sharp-shooters. Our loss was only two wounded. The enemy was seen to carry several of his dead and wounded from his line.

July 12th. Participated in the capture of Hagerstown.

July 14th. At Falling Waters, the regiment being in advance of all others, came upon a division of the enemy’s infantry in a very strong position behind earth-works, on the crown of a hil.. The advance guard (Companies B and F), under Major P. A. Weber, charged them up to and within their fortifications. An entire brigade surrendered to this mere handful of men, when another brigade, drawn up in line in rear of the first, opened a murderous fire upon the gallant little band, in which the others, who had just surrendered, also joined, and the survivors were compelled to withdraw, leaving the bodies of many of their gallant and lamented comrades within rebel works, a witness of their noble and heroic daring. The remainder of the regiment, deployed as skirmishers, then engaged the vastly superior force of the enemy, but, overpowered by numbers, fell back to the cover of a hill, where there were joined by the 1st Michigan Cavalr. These two regiments then marched forward and charged the enemy, who fled with great loss. The flight soon became a rout, and soon nothing was to be seen of that division but the dead and wounded covering the fields and the crowds of prisoners in our hands.

July 20th. The regiment participated in the capture of Ashby’s Gap, and by order of Colonel Town, brigade commander, proceeded rapidly to Berry’s Ford, on the Shenandoah, where we encountered the enemy strongly entrenched on the opposite side of the river. After a skirmish, lasting some hours, there being no means of crossing the river, we were ordered to return. Our loss was three wounded.

July 24th. Engaged in the reconnaissance from Amisville to Newby’s Cross Roads. The regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Foote, was deployed as skirmishers, and occupied the left of the line. After driving the enemy’s line of skirmishers and accomplishing the the object of the reconnaissance, the command was ordered back to Amisville. On the return this regiment, occupying the (then) right, and in a varrow lane, found itself flanked by a brigade of the enemy’s infantry, but succeeded in effecting the movement with but little loss.

Before the charge at Falling Waters, Major Peter Weber, who was killed in action that day, had told his friend Capt. James H. Kidd, that what he really wanted was a chance to lead a saber charge in battle. The gallant Weber got his wish and died in the process.

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  1. Sun 07th Nov 2010 at 12:10 am

    I’m curious what further information you may know about 6th Michigan Cavalry, Company A. My 3G-Grandfather was enlisted with it. Thanks!

  2. Randy McClure
    Mon 13th Feb 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Our family had 2 3G Uncles fighting with Company C. Alexander and Nathan McClure. Alexander was later killed at Haw’s Shop.

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