Item Description: Letter, 12 July 1863, from Lemuel J. Hoyle to his mother, Nancy H. V. Moorman of Gaston County, N.C. Hoyle describes the significant losses sustained by the 11th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, including that General James Johnston Pettigrew was wounded. He also mentions his brief capture by the enemy. A merchant and farmer from Belwood, Cleveland County, N.C., Hoyle survived the war and went on to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly.
[Item transcription available below images.]
Sunday, July 12th 1863
My Dear Mother,
We have at last had to pass through the ordeal of fire and blood. The battle of Gettysburg Pa, the most obstinate and sanguinary perhaps ever fought upon this Continent, was opened by our Division early on the morning of July the 1st. Our Brigade did not become engaged until about 3 P.M., when we were ordered to charge a strong portion of the enemy, which was gallantly and successfully done, though we lost heavily, our Regt. alone loosing 29 men killed and wounded. We succeeded that day in driving the enemy from every position and capture of a number of Prisoners.
The fight was renewed early Thursday morning and kept up all day, with continued success to our arms. Our Div. was not in the fight that day. The fighting was terrific and the loss heavy on both sides. The Bat Friday the 3rd was the day of the great fight. The enemy by that time had been driven back several miles, and had massed his force upon some heights in the rear of Gettysburg, which were of great natural strength, and then the whole had been engirlded by a heavy stone fence and South works, rendering it almost impossible to carry them by assault. At 3 P.M. after most furious cannonading of about two hours, Longstreets Corps, and a portion of A.S. Hills, including our Division, were thrown against the enemy line in some of the most desperate changes ever made. The fighting was perfectly fearful, and the slaughter tremendous. Our men fought with the accustomed valor and determination of Southern soldiers, but in vain, – we had to fall back to our original positions, and all of our men, who were so badly wounded that they could not crawl off or killed, near the enemy works, fell into their hands. The enemy made an attempt to follow. They evidently had enough of it. Their loss is said to be much heavier than ours.
It is not my purpose though Mother to give you an account of the battle. I have neither time nor space to do it. You will hear from the paper more than I could tell you unless it would be as to the part borne by our Brigade.
Our Brigade I suppose suffered as heavily as any portion of the Army engaged. We were cut all to pieces. Of over 500 men carried into the fight by our Regt. on Wednesday, only 110 were left for duty Saturday morning. Fortunately a large number were only slightly wounded and will return to duty in a few days. Some I suppose have already done so. Col. Leventhorpe was wounded in the arm – one bone broken ? was done one the 1st. Maj. Ross was killed. The Adjutant was severely wounded. Gen Pettigrew was wounded. Col. Marshall of the 52nd and Col Burgwyn of the 26th were killed. Nearly all the field officers of the Brigade were either killed or wounded.
Nearly all the Company officers of our Regt were killed or wounded.
God in his wisdom has seen fit to lay his chastening hand heavily upon our Company. In the two days fight our Company lost 70 men killed wounded and missing. We carried into the fight the first day 74 men.
The 16 reported missing are believed to be all killed or so badly wounded that they could not crawl off the field. Through the mercy and goodness of God I escaped with very slight injury although struck three times. I am nearly well and expect to start in a few days to hunt up the Reg. God be praised for His great mercy towards me.
On Saturday the 4th all the wounded who were able to ride or walk were started back here with the waggon train of our army. On Sunday near Greencastle Pa. The Yankee cavalry made a dash and captured a number of our waggons and wounded. They got Col. Leventhorpe. 4 men of our Co. were taken. One has been paroled and got back. They had me too, but I was recaptured by our cavalry in about 10 minutes.
May it please God to continue his blessings to both of us and permit us to meet again on earth in safety and finally in Heaven.
Ever your affect. Son, Lemuel J. Hoyle.