US – 5th NJ Infantry

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5th Regiment NJ Vols. Infantry

The 5th NJ originally mustered in a total of 861 men, 38 officers and 823 enlisted men. On June 30, 1863, the 5th NJ would account for 15 officers and 206 enlisted men, a total of 221 men.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, General Sickles received orders from General Meade to fall back into position on the Pipe Creek line of battle. However, Sickles soon learned the I and XI Corps, which with his own comprised the left wing of the army, were engaged with enemy and he promptly moved his men toward the sound of action. General Sickles had only taken command of the III Corp a few days previous and was naturally anxious to face the enemy. Detaching De Trobriand’s brigade from Burney’s Division and Burling’s Brigade which was composed of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th New Jersey Regiments, 115th Pennsylvania and 2nd New Hampshire from Humphrey’s Division with to remain at Emmitsburg, General Sickles moved forward with Burney’s Division reaching the battlefield and was positioned on the left of the I Corp.

On July 2, 1863, Colonel Sewell of the 5th NJ, reporting to General Humphrey’s, was ordered to relieve the 63 PA on picket duty on the Emmitsburg Road and when arriving were deployed as skirmishers. The right of the regiment rested at the white house, the left extended to the barn on the Emmitsburg Road, with the line covering the entire front of Humphrey’s Division. The 5th became subject to severe artillery fire for a full hour when Barksdale’s Brigade appeared on the left and in the front of the position occupied by the 5th.

Seeing this, Colonel Sewell at once notified General Humphreys of Barksdale’s arrival and after examining the ground was quickly convinced that the only place to check the attack was on the road and the crest of the hill which they held. Barksdale’s infantry pushed the left of the line of battle in such strong force driving in the troops on Sewell’s left. With the flank of the 5th NJ becoming exposed, the left flank fell back and Barksdale’s infantry now occupied the land which was occupied just moments ago by the 5th NJ. Sewell and the 5th held their new position firmly expecting advancing support from his rear. But none came to his aid.

The 5th NJ was now severely compromised. It was exposed to a combined musketry and artillery fire which was impossible to with stand. It was quite apparent that to remain would mean annihilation or capture. Sewell rallied the 5th NJ on the right, withdrawing it from its compromised position, while at the same time covering Seely’s Battery which was now firing while in retreat. As the 5th NJ fell back in good order and amid terrible musket and artillery fire, it was noticed that Humphrey’s line was changing front to his rear and right as to connect with the First Division which was forced to abandon its position.

The 5th NJ fought gallantly and confronted overwhelming numbers. Colonel Sewell was hit by a musket ball, acting Major Victor M. Healy was hit with a shell and Captain E. P. Berry, acting Adjutant, was seriously wounded causing his leg to be amputated, thus causing his death on July 6, 1863. Of the 221 officers and enlisted men who marched onto the battlefield at Gettysburg, only 127 survived.

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