Memoirs of Gettysburg
First Sergeant Simon Hubler Company I, 143rd Regiment, was mustered into service September 20, 1862, promoted from Corporal to Sergeant Jan. 2, 1865, to 1st Sergeant Apr 15, 1865, commissioned 2d Lieutenant, June 1, 1865, mustered out with company June 12, 1865.1
SIMON HUBLER AT THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
We were lying at White Oak Church, south of Falmouth, Virginia, when we received orders to march. We did not know where we were going, but our course took us to Bealton Station, thence along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in a northerly direction, and presently we arrived at Berlin's Ford, near Harpers Ferry, where we crossed the Potomac river. We crossed the Potomac about June 27th. After crossing the river we proceeded to Middletown, Maryland. We arrived at this place on Sunday. Guards were thrown out, as was the custom, and it happened that the women and girls who were coming from Sunday School, which was held in one of the churches of the town, were compelled to pass by Charley Wilson, one of the guards. Wilson told them they could not pass. They became very much alarmed and began to cry, whereupon Wilson told them they could pass if they gave him a kiss. This each one did, and were allowed to pass by the guards. At this place two young women came among the soldiers and announced that if any of the soldiers had any letters that they desired to be sent that they should give the letters to them and they would be stamped and mailed. They gathered a large supply of letters, nearly all of which were unstamped, and so far as it is known every letter was mailed to its destination. On the following day (Monday) we began our march again, and arrived at Emmitsburg on June 30, 1863. There we went into camp. During the forenoon of the next day we heard the booming of the cannon in the distance. We did not know what it meant nor where it was. During the morning I left my regiment for a little while and went out foraging. When I returned, the regiment, and in fact, the entire brigade had disappeared. I found my gun and blanket where I had placed them, and immediately picked them up and hurried on in the direction which the brigade had taken. It seems that a courier had come during my absence with "hurry" orders, and the boys were on their way toward Gettysburg. It seems that we had camped at Emmitsburg over night on June 30th, and it was on July 1st when the regiment received its "hurry" orders, and we heard the booming of the cannon.
About noon on July 1st we were coming into Gettysburg on the Emmitsburg Road when suddenly we were directed to strike to the left of the town across the fields. By this time there was a lively fight on over beyond the town near the Theological Seminary between Buford's Calvary and the Confederate forces, the same being composed of Hill's corps. We hurried on in the direction of the fighting and went into position. Before arriving at the place where we went into position we were ordered to unsling our knapsacks. This we did, piling them in a heap, and left a guard to take care of them. We saw nothing further of these knapsacks until after the battle when we discovered that they had been filled with sand by the Rebels and had been used by them as a breastwork. We went into position near MacPherson's Barn, our right resting near the barn and our left extending toward Reynold's Grove. Immediately in front of us were the 149th and 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and we were not allowed to fire for fear of injuring our own troops, although the mini-balls were falling among us with uncomfortable frequency. While we were standing in line near the barn a bullet struck Jacob Yale above the eye, and he dropped at my feet, striking against my leg. This was the first man killed out of Company "I" 143d Pennsylvania Volunteers. When he dropped the orderly directed the line to close up, and this the men did with serious faces. He was the first of many to fall on that fateful day. Presently orders came to move by the right flank, and we were hurried toward the Chambersburg Pike. At a farm house which stood near the barn there was a deep well from which the water was taken by means of a well sweep. The boys were making rather good use of this well, when an officer cut the rope allowing the bucket to fall to the bottom. His purpose was evidently to prevent the men from indulging too freely in the cold water in their overheated condition. It was at this farm house where John Shafer of my Company ran into the cellar and brought out a large crock of sour milk. He took it into the wagon shed near by and he and his fellow soldiers proceeded to dip their hands into the milk and to drink it in that manner. While we were consuming the milk a shell passed through the roof of the shed, whereupon John Shafer remarked that "We had better hurry up because the d--n fools have our range, and might hurt somebody." After leaving the shed and passing through the barn yard a shell struck among the straw and manure, its progress through the muck being apparent for a considerable distance. One of the soldiers seeing it shouted, "See the d--n thing go." After leaving the barnyard we hurried on and joined the balance of the regiment in the Chambersburg Pike, where they had taken position. It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon. Presently we were ordered to fire. We saw no enemy, except men at a very great distance. However, I fired with the rest, according to orders, and proceeded to put the powder from two cartridges into my gun, and rammed a ball down on the double charge. I then raised the sight to 900 yards and fired at some rebels whom I saw away off on the hill, probably a mile distant. After I had fired this shot I saw the enemy much nearer at hand. They were coming out of the railroad cut and were charging our position. We fired into their ranks and drove them back. They repeated the charge and we drove them back into the cut a second time. They then charged the third time, and we succeeded in driving them back again. About the time the third charge was made, Josiah Wolf of my company said, "Corporal, I have two charges in my gun and I'm afraid to shoot them out." I said, "All right, give it to me." I took the gun and fired it. The recoil was terrific. I handed the piece to Wolf and told him that if he got more than one charge in again that he would have to fire it himself. I am of the opinion that he had five or six charges in, instead of two. Soon the order came to fall back. This we did in somewhat broken order. As we fell back toward the town of Gettysburg, from the Chambersburg Pike, the Rebels followed. It was in the field between the Chambersburg Pike and Gettysburg where Crippen our color bearer fell, defying the enemy. When the colors went down we were directed to charge back to meet the Rebels, who were charging for the colors. They gave back before our charge and we seized the colors and continued our retreat until we reached the Lutheran Theological Seminary. As we were passing this point the captain of a battery stationed there shouted, "My G-d boys, save my guns." We placed ourselves between and around the guns and directed a fire of musketry into the advancing Confederate line. The artillery men worked heroically. One of the guns grew so hot that one man would hold a piece of leather over the vent while another would ram home the charge. As soon as he would remove his thumb from the vent the charge would be exploded. It was here, although I did not see it, that a Rebel came up to one of the guns of this battery, which I afterwards ascertained to be the Second Maine Battery, laid his hand on a gun and said, "This gun is mine." The artillery man replied, "D--n you, take it then," pulled the lanyard and blew the Rebel into pieces. Between the efforts of the battery and our own efforts, the charge of the Rebels upon the battery was repulsed, and we continued our retreat. Near the entrance to the town of Gettysburg our regiment became pretty well broken up, and I presently found myself alone. I hurried on toward town and passed a number of soldiers sheltered behind a huge heap of oyster shells. The bullets were going into these shells with a zipping sound, and I remarked to the men who were sheltering themselves there that they had better be careful or they would be captured. That was the last time I saw them, so I do not know whether they were captured or not. I struck off to the right and presently found myself on the Baltimore Pike in the midst of the town of Gettysburg. Before reaching the Baltimore Pike, however, I passed through one or two smaller streets, and while passing down one of these streets a party of Rebels came down a side street and saw me and a man belonging to the 6th Wisconsin, and a third boy whom I cannot place, hurrying along together. When we saw [the Rebels] we started to run, whereupon they shouted, "Halt, you Yankee sons of b------." We did not halt and they immediately fired. One of the balls cut through my hair just above my left ear, and struck the man from the 6th Wisconsin, a big, tall, man, in the back of the head. It cracked like a pistol shot. He fell sprawling in the street. I looked down and saw his brains oozing out, and then stepped over him and hurried along. The next instant another ball struck my cartridge box, cut leather of the short cap of the box nearly through lengthwise. I thought to myself, "I have been shot in the hip," but I could still run and proceeded to do so. Let be understood that I was fired upon by the Rebels as we crossed the intersection of the side street with the street on which we were running. A little further down I saw a man come out between two houses with a cup of water. On seeing this I hurried back between the houses to get a drink for myself. When I got behind the house I saw a Rebel standing behind the garden fence taking aim at one of our men. I thought, "If only I had a load in my gun you wouldn't shoot our boys." However, as I glanced a little to the right of the man who was taking aim I saw a second Rebel ramming home a charge in his gun, and looking at me with a most ferocious look. I did not stop for a drink of water, but hurriedly ran out the same way I had come in, into the street. Then I started right up the street, and had only gone a short distance when a charge of canister came crashing along the street. Some of the charge evidently struck some wounded who were in a passing ambulance because I heard them scream. I hurried along the Baltimore Pike fast as I could, and was passing a barn in the outskirts of the town when I heard someone shout, "Oh, Hubler!" The shout came from the interior of the barn. I turned and entered one of the doors and found Sidney Telley, of my company, lying in one of the cow stalls severely wounded in the arm. I took him out of the cow stall and helped him into another part of the barn where I cleaned him up to some extent, then took my large red silk handkerchief and bound up his wounded arm. It seems that the bullet had entered near the left wrist and lodged near the left elbow. When I entered the barn Telley shouted, "I dreamed last night that they shot me in the right arm, and here today the sons of b----s have shot me in the left arm!" I found a comfortable place for him to lie down, gave him one half of the water in my canteen to drink, and left the balance of the water beside him. Then, leaving Telley, I went over to where a new recruit from New York State, belonging to a New York battery, had thrown his knapsack, and proceeded to go through the knapsack. The New Yorker was evidently skulking in another portion of the barn, and did not see what was happening to his knapsack. I found a quantity of writing paper, some tobacco and some other trinkets. I took some of the writing paper and all of the tobacco, leaving the other things in the knapsack, with the exception of an artillery jacket, which I appropriated. I removed the red stripes from the jacket and slipped it on over my blouse. There were a few other soldiers on the lower floor of the barn, so I took the writing paper and tobacco up to the next floor and hid the articles in the windmill. I stayed with Telley in the barn all night and in the morning 12 men belonging to the 55th Ohio entered the barn for the purpose of sharp-shooting. The mini-balls were striking the barn at frequent intervals. The first thing these fellows did was to find and take my writing paper and tobacco, which I had hid, and then they proceeded to open fire on the enemy. During the night twelve pound cannon were frequently sending shells from our lines in the direction of the enemy. Every time a 12 pounder was fired Telley would shout, 'My G-d, that's a big one. Do you think they'll shell the barn?' I assured him they would not. Along about eight or nine o'clock in the morning I looked out of an aperture between the beam of the barn and the wall supporting the barn, and saw two Confederates running along the post and rail fence about 250 yards distant. I took deliberate aim at one of the men who was running, and fired. The man at whom I aimed fell forward on his face, while the other one hurried away as fast as he could run. I do not know whether I killed this man or not, because there were others shooting at the same time. These incidents happened on the morning of July 2, 1863. The Lieutenant in command of the detail of 12 men from the 55th Ohio wanted someone to take a note up to his commanding office, who was located with the regiment behind a stone wall about 350 yards distant from the barn where we were sheltered. The men who were under the Lieutenant hesitated about taking the note, and I volunteered to take it. I took the note and ran in a zig-zag fashion toward the wall where the 55th Ohio regiment was stationed. When I reached the wall I walked along in front of it for some distance, when someone shouted, 'Say you Pennsylvanian, you had better jump over here or you'll get plugged.' During my run the bullets had sung uncomfortably near, so I hastily followed the advice which was given me and jumped over behind the wall. I inquired where the commander of the regiment was, whereupon a major spoke up and said, 'Here I am.' I thereupon handed him the note. Evidently the note contained a request for more men because the major immediately detailed a squad of 12 more men, and inquired of me how they would find their way to the proper place. I told him that I was going to the barn because I had a wounded comrade there. I told the detail to follow me and sprang over the wall, and running in a zig-zag fashion we all safely reached the barn. I told Telley when I returned that he should get ready to go with me as I was going to take him up to our lines and find a surgeon. I took Telley by the arm and led him out to the end of the wall. There I said to him, 'Telley, if you ever run in your life, I want you to run now.' He said he would run. I took him by the hand and we started out in the open. He ran a short distance, but I was compelled to frequently pull him along. He was weak from loss of blood and had but little run in him. We stopped behind a wagon shed and took our breath. I told Telley that if he didn't run better from that place on that I would drop him, and they would shoot him to pieces. He said, 'By G-d, I'll run,' and this time he did run. I took him up to the wall and took him over the wall where the 55th Ohio was stationed. Then I took him on until I found some surgeons operating, and said, 'Here is a man who needs your attention.' I watched them remove the bullet from Telley's arm and after it was taken out I hurried away to join my regiment again. I found my regiment lying behind the cemetery. I removed my artillery jacket and the boys called my attention to the fact that there were three bullet holes in my blouse. A little after noon General Doubleday shouted in his deep, heavy voice, 'Fall in guards, fall in.' We formed into line immediately and started on the double quick toward the left center where the Rebels had captured a battery. With the assistance of some troops that came in from the left we recaptured this battery, and drove the Rebels back across the field. I did not see the hand to hand fight, but was told that some of the Union troops clubbed their muskets over the heads of the Confederates in the fight. After we had recaptured the battery we took position directly in front of it, which position we maintained the rest of the day, the following night and during the third day. I distinctly heard the noise of terrific fighting out toward the center, where the right at the Peach Orchard was taking place. During the night of the 2d I heard someone cry for water out in front of our position. The boys told me I'd get plugged, but I took the risk and proceeded with a canteen of water out in front of the line in the direction of the cry. Presently I came across the object of my search, and found him to be a Confederate soldier mortally wounded. I gave him all the water that I had in my canteen. He asked who I was, and I told him I belonged to the Pennsylvania Bucktail Brigade, whereupon he remarked that even though I was a Yank I had a good heart. The next morning our skirmishers found him dead. During the night there was intermittent firing, but the real music did not begin until early in the morning when a roar from the extreme right told us of the fight the 12th Corps were making to regain their trenches on Culp's Hill, which had been occupied by the Confederates in their absence the evening previous. We occupied a part of the morning in raising a slight protection of sand, earth and rails against the bullets of the enemy. There was very little fighting, and comparatively little excitement until about one o'clock in the afternoon. We heard the firing of the skirmishers from time to time, but little if any cannonading. The following part was dictated October 17, 1912. Suddenly a cannon roared over on our left and then another boom sounded from the right. Immediately all the Confederate batteries in our front opened fire and the famous cannonade of the third days fight had begun. Our batteries answered the fire of the Rebels and the noise was terrific. After the cannonade had continued for some time I happened to look toward the left, over back of Round Top, where I saw some troops coming. I remarked, "Boys, here come reinforcements." Someone said, 'They are coming too fast for reinforcements.' Presently they got a little nearer and we discovered that it was our reserve artillery coming to take position. Just at our rear there was a 12 pound brass battery which had been silenced by the fire of the Confederates. One gun had been knocked down and two caissons had been blown up. The reserve artillery came on and a ten pound steel battery swung into the position which the silenced battery had occupied. They immediately opened fire on the Rebel battery which had taken position within 1500 yards of our lines. This battery was probably the nearest of the enemy's batteries, and up to this time had been doing effective work for them. In less than 20 minutes after the steel battery had taken position and opened fire, the opposing Confederate battery had been silenced. The artillery fire from our batteries slackened until only here and there a gun boomed defiance to the enemy. I was looking toward the lines of the enemy when I suddenly saw a line of Confederates advance over a rise in the ground. I said, 'Hello, boys, here comes a charge.' The Confederates came on as though on dress parade, directly toward our position. Our artillery had opened fire, and men were dropping fast out of the Confederate lines. When they came within about 600 yards we directed two or three volleys of musketry into them and almost at the same time they filed obliquely toward the left and soon struck our lines to the right of our position. The din was awful. We could see the fighting only indistinctly because of obstructions in the way, and because of obstructions in the way, and because of the powder smoke. We soon saw small bodies of Confederates retreating, and then larger masses which hurried back, broken and disorganized. During the bombardment, preceding the charge, a man crawled up and stated that a shell had struck a man in Company D of our Regiment, taking off his head just above the ears, and scattering his brain over seven other soldiers. A man by the name of Stair in my Company looked up and asked if it killed him. The boys roared with laughter and called him a d----d fool for asking such a foolish question. Picket's charge was over about four o'clock in the afternoon and during the remaining hours of daylight the firing was desultory. We maintained the position we had occupied during the day, during the night of July 3 sleeping on our arms. We remained where we were until the following afternoon when orders came to fall in. We started toward South Mountain after Lee who was retreating toward Virginia. We did not catch Lee, however, and he escaped across the Potomac and back into Virginia, where we were destined to fight with him again in the Wilderness, at Weldon Railroad and at Petersburg and other places.
First Sergeant Simon Hubler Company I, 143rd Regiment, was mustered into service September 20, 1862, promoted from Corporal to Sergeant Jan. 2, 1865, to 1st Sergeant Apr 15, 1865, commissioned 2d Lieutenant, June 1, 1865, mustered out with company June 12, 1865.(1) This manuscript was written Aug. 5, 1912, when Simon Hubler, M.D. was 68 years old. At that time Dr. Hubler lived in Dunmore, [Scranton] Pa. and his only child Harry was a lawyer in the same town. Marcia Wilson, ggrandaughter of Simon Hubler, granddaughter of Harry Hubler, found this typed manuscript in a photograph album belonging to the late Louise Gibson Heffernan, a foster daughter [actually a niece] of Harry Hubler who had worked as secretary in his Scranton Pa law office in the 1940's and 50's). This narrative was originally published in the New York Times on June 29, 1913, in a column by Robert L. Brake. My great grandfather, Dr. Simon Hubler, had died two months previously in Scranton on April 24, 1913. He was 69 years old. He was survived by his wife, Julia Bird Hubler, his only child, Attorney Harry Clark Hubler, his two grandchildren, Katharine Margaret Hubler(2) and Richard Gibson Hubler.(3) I used to have two pocket watches belonging to my great grandfather Simon Hubler, one gold and one silver. My mother asked me to give them to her, saying she was afraid I would sell them. Shortly before she died, my mother sold the pocket watches, along with Simon Hubler's Civil War Hat and fix bayonet, to an antique dealer. I used (4) to have a post war reunion medal that belonged to my great grandfather. The medal was round, copper and attached to striped ribbons hanging from a copper bar. One side of the medal showed a Civil War soldier holding a flag and shaking his fist. The other side said, "Stood like a band of iron amidst the surging masses of the enemy. Doubleday."
An article in the History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers by Samuel P. Bates5 describes the role of the 143rd Regiment in the Battle of Gettysburg:
A month later the corps started on the Gettysburg campaign, and was the first to reach the field of action. It had bivouacked on the night of the 30th at a point on Marsh Creek, about four miles from the town of Gettysburg. On the morning of the 1st of July it moved forward and soon the sound of artillery was heard, the cavalry under Buford engaging the enemy's advance. At a little before noon the brigade went into position upon a ridge beyond that on which the Theological Seminary stands, under a heavy fire, the One Hundred and Forty-third forming on the line of railroad. Early in the action General Reynolds was killed, and Colonels Stone and Wister were wounded. The command of the brigade then devolved on Colonel Dana, that of the regiment on Lieutenant Colonel Musser. A terrific fire of infantry and artillery was brought to bear on the position, but it was manfully held, though the dead and wounded on every hand told at what a fearful cost. Repeated charges were made with ever fresh troops, but each was repulsed with fearful slaughter. Finally the enemy succeeded in flanking the position, and the line was pressed back a short distance, but made a stand in a field a little back from the first railroad cut. Later in the afternoon the brigade was forced to retire to a position near the Seminary. When this movement became necessary-- the Union force being vastly outnumbered, and the command for it had been given-- the color bearer of the regiment and many of the men could with difficulty be made to face to the rear, seeming determined to die rather than yield the ground. In executing this movement the color bearer, Benjamin H. Crippen, Sergeant company E, was among the last to move and was killed in the act, still clinging to his standard. This incident is thus recorded by an English officer, who was at the time with the enemy, in an article in Blackwood's Magazine .6 "General Hill," he says, " soon came up...Said he had two of his divisions engaged, and had driven the enemy four miles into his present position, capturing a great many prisoners, some cannon, and some colors. He said, however, that the Yankees had fought with a determination unusual to them. He pointed out a railway cutting in which they had made a good stand; also a field in the centre of which he had seen a man plant the regimental colors, round which the enemy had fought for some time with much obstinacy, and when at last it was obliged to retreat, the color bearer retired last of all, turning round every now and then to shake his fist at the advancing rebels. General Hill said he felt quite sorry when he had seen this gallant Yankee meet his doom." The flag was rescued and brought safely off. When all hope of longer holding the position was gone, the brigade fell back through the town and took position on Cemetery Hill, where the shattered ranks of the two corps which had been engaged were re-formed. On the morning of the 2nd, artillery and picket firing opened early, but was light on the immediate front occupied by the brigade. In the afternoon a heavy attack was made upon the left of the line where Sickles' Corps stood, and the brigade was ordered over to its support. The movement was executed under a heavy fire of shells, from which some loss was sustained, and a position taken on the left centre in open ground, where it rested for the night and threw up works, the ground being lowest of any part of the whole line. At four o'clock on the morning of the 3rd, a heavy artillery fire was opened which extended along the right of the line, and at one P.M., the enemy opened with all his guns enveloping the whole Union front, the shells and solid shot ploughing the fields in every direction. Later in the afternoon the enemy made his last grand infantry charge upon the left centre, the strength of which fell a little to right of the position where the regiment lay. This charge, though made in great force, and pressed with singular obstinacy, was completely repulsed, and the enemy fell back not again to renew the battle. The regiment entered this engagement with 465 men, rank and file. Of these, the killed and missing in action, supposed to be killed, was 47, and the wounded and prisoners were 205, an aggregate loss of 252, more than half of its entire strength. Lieutenants Charles W. Betzenberger, and Lee D. Groover, were among the killed, and Lyman R. Nicholson mortally wounded.
İMarcia Sandmeyer Wilson 1994 259 Leonia Ave.,Leonia, N.J. 07605 email@example.com
1 History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers by Samuel P. Bates (p. 513.) 2 Katharine Hubler, my mother, was born 1907 in Dunmore, Pa., and died of cancer at age 83. 3 Richard Hubler, my uncle, was born August 20, 1912 in Dunmore, and died of Parkinson's disease October 21, 1981 in Ojai, California. 4 It was stolen, I strongly suspect, from my New York City apartment about 1970 by a cleaning lady. 5 Page 488. 6 Blackwood's Magazine. September, 1863, Am. Ed., p. 377.