in the afternoon on July 2, 1863, the 141st Pennsylvania Volunteers found themselves stubbornly
contesting every inch of ground threatened by the ferocious Confederate onslaught through the Peach
Orchard. At one point during their reluctant retreat, Colonel Madill was with 20 survivors of his
bloodied regiment. Seeing him, Union Major General Daniel Sickles asked, "Colonel! For God's
sake, can't you hold on?" Through the tears in his eyes, the Colonel could only respond to his
General, "Where are my men?"
Colonel Henry J. Madill of the 141st PA Volunteer Infantry chronicled the desperate struggle in his
official report. Selected excerpts are included below. Their percentage of Union regimental losses
at Gettysburg was exceeded only by those of the 1st Minnesota. According to Colonel Madill's
commanding Officer, Brigadier General Charles K. Graham, 149 members of the 141st PA became
casualties of Day 2 at Gettysburg.
"In the meanwhile our line advanced up the slope and deployed in the oat-field, some 15
rods from the pike, and were ordered to lie down. At this point we sustained a severe fire
from artillery for some time, the enemy having a good range. After remaining in this position
for some twenty minutes or more, I received an order from General Graham, through the acting
assistant adjutant-general (Lieutenant [Charles H.] Graves), to move my regiment out, and place
it in front of Clark's battery. This order was in a few minutes countermanded, and I formed my
regiment in rear of that battery, and, while supporting that battery, the Second New Hampshire
was ordered up to my support. They took position in my rear. Here the fire from the enemy's
artillery was very severe, and we sustained a considerable loss in killed and wounded.
At this time it was observed that the enemy was advancing in strong force from across and down
the Emmitsburg pike. My regiment, together with two others (the Third Michigan [Colonel
Pierce], and Third Maine, Colonel Lakeman), were ordered to the front of the peach orchard, the
battery occupying that position having withdrawn and left the field. We advanced, the Third Maine on my
right and the Third Michigan (Colonel Pierce) on my left. The enemy was advancing in two
columns, one column crossing direction of the position occupied by the Second and Third
Brigades, which were to our left and somewhat to our rear. When they advanced below the stone
barn, they endeavored to extend their lines to the left.
was at this time that my regiment, with the two others spoken of, was ordered forward. We engaged the flank of the enemy, and
prevented him from extending his lines this side of the small creek that runs through the field near the stone barn. At this
time the other column had advanced up to the pike and deployed, and was marching on the point we were occupying. The
battery in position near the road and immediately to the left of the log house withdrew. The Third Maine, after exchanging
a few shots with the enemy at this point, withdrew. Colonel Pierce's regiment (Third Michigan)
withdrew about the same time, or a few minutes before.
I found myself alone, with a small regiment of about 180 men. I continued to hold my position
for a short time, when I withdrew from that position and took a position in rear of the
Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who were engaged with the enemy in front of the barn,
near the brick house. When I took this position the Sixty-eighth withdrew, the balance of the
brigade having previously withdrawn. I was thus left alone on the hill occupied by the brigade
in the afternoon. The enemy, after the falling back of the Sixty-eighth, advanced to the barn.
I engaged them at this point, and held them in check for twenty minutes or upward, but being
overpowered by the large numbers of the enemy, I was compelled to retire, which I reluctantly
did. It was at this point that my regiment suffered so severely; 25 of my men were killed here
and 5 of my officers severely wounded, besides a large number of non-commissioned officers.
Among the severely wounded, and who have since died, were the color-bearers and all of the
...I took 200 men into the fight, with 9 officers. Out of that number I lost 145 men and 6
commissioned officers, the largest proportionate loss in the corps in that fight, and, I think,
in the army, in this or any other battle. I would especially call attention to Sergt. Major
Joseph G. Fell for his good conduct on the field. The part he took in fearlessly exposing
himself during the whole of the fight, and especially during the latter part of it, deserves
to be particularly noticed; also Corporal Berry, who carried the colors. Though wounded three
times, he refused to give up his colors, and did not yield them until helplessly stricken down
the fourth time. Such men deserve particular notice. Of the conduct of my officers and men, I
am happy to say that they are all entitled to great credit. Not one of my men failed me under
the most trying circumstances, and to my officers I am under great obligations for their
coolness and efficiency under the circumstances. I regret to say that Major Spalding received
two severe wounds, one in each leg, and that he was taken prisoner by the enemy. He lost his
left leg; it was amputated below the knee by the enemy."
Colonel Henry J. Madill,
One hundred and Forty-first Pennsylvania
First Brigade, First Division, Third Corps
"WAR OF THE REBELLION
OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES"
Volume XXVII, Page 504-506.