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Stony Hill
by
John Rincon

Copyright 2003 by John Rincon

{John Rincon notes - I suggest you use the Warren Map or any other adequate map}

After a number of years of research I have put together a kind of self guided tour of the fighting on and around the Stony Hill. I did not want to put this in a narrative format simply due to the fact that the following format allows you to better use the information in conjunction with a good map of the area. I have found that the 1868 Warren Survey of the field is a wonderful tool to use with the information. I hope the next time you are on that part of the field you will be able to better understand the sequence of events on Stony Hill using this information.

One thing I would like to mention from the start is that I consider Stony Hill actually a narrow ridge running almost south to north terminating to the north along Wheatfield Road. The "hill" may be considered the crest of the ridge that is at its southern end. So, please make sure when you visit the area take into consideration not only the highest elevation of the ridge but also the ground running north to Wheatfield Road. Looking at the ridge in its entirety allows for a much better understanding of the ground.

David Bell Birney, 1st Division, 3rd Corps
Brigades: 1st Brigade, Charles Graham; 2nd Brigade Hobart Ward; 3rd Brigade Regis de Trobriand.


1.) After the fight in Pitzer's Woods between the 3rd ME and Berdan's USSS ended around 1 PM, Birney says that "I was ordered by that officer (Sickles) to change my front to meet the attack. I did this by advancing my left 500 yards, and swinging around the right so as to rest on the Emmitsburg Road at the Peach Orchard."
(Taken from his OR report.)

A.) * I interpret "his right" as Graham consolidating his entire brigade in the Peach Orchard. And "his left" the movement of de Trobriand and Ward to south of the Wheatfield Road. ** At 3:30 when Ward and de Trobriand are taking their final positions Sickles is at HQ. Therefore, I believe Birney positioned those brigades himself.

2.) Col. Philippe Regis Denis de Kerenden de Trobriand commanded Birney's 3rd Brigade. Including: 17th ME, 3rd MI, 5th MI, 40th NY, and 110th PA .

A.) de Trobriand was a French aristocrat who came to the US in the 1850's. From his OR report, he says that he ordered the 3rd MI (Pierce) to deploy as skirmishers and try and link to the left flank of Graham in the Peach Orchard.

3.) The 17th ME (Merrill) is first positioned parallel to the Wheatfield Road, on the southern side.

A.) The 17th ME then wheels to the right (west) and is de Trobriand's most northern regiment.

4.) The 40th NY (Egan) is positioned on the 17th's left extending SSW on the summit of Stony Hill.

5.) The 110th PA (Jones) and the 5th MI (Pulford) are first on the upper slope of the hill, facing SSW. The 110th PA is the furthest west with the 5th MI on its left

A.) They only stayed in this position a short time. Both regiments moved to their second position down the slope of the hill in the low ground still facing SSW, very close to Rose Run in the woods.
B.) I believe the 110th PA was closer to Rose Run than their monument indicates. Probably their right flank was very close to the bridge over the current day park road. Their right linking with the 3rd MI skirmish line running to the Peach Orchard.
C.) * From the John Bachelder papers: The 110th PA over looked the "ravine" and fought mostly against the 9th GA of Anderson's Brigade.
D.) The 5th MI was then further to the right as well.

6.) 17th ME is ordered to stone wall in the Wheatfield. ** de Trobriand stated he sent the 17th ME to the rock wall due to hearing, not seeing what was transpiring to the left (Ward .)

A.) The 17th ME is ordered to stonewall in Wheatfield. They are positioned in the SW corner facing due south.
B.) The small tributary of Rose Run marks the spot where the Wheatfield ended and where a wood fence line ran back to the NE along the tree line of Stony Hill.
C.) * The current park road and area around the monuments were all in woods at the time of the battle.
D.) The 17th ME would later refuse their right flank along the wood fence.

7.) de Trobriand says that he was being attacked from the left and right rear (3rd AR on left and 7th and 3rd SC [Kershaw] on right.) From his OR report: "fortunately my position there was a strong one, in a wood commanding a narrow ravine, which the enemy attempted in vain to cross under fire." He was referring to Anderson's 8th and 9th GA . I have always felt this quote from de Trobriand was somewhat confusing. I find it very difficult to think anyone would have found the bottom slope of Stony Hill "commanding." My gut feeling is that de Trobriand like Birney, was to some degree influenced by the elevation of Stony Hill in thinking that the hill was a good defensive position. Birney, I am unable to give any "slack," regarding the Stony Hill position. However, de Trobriand only had minutes to establish a defensive line which Birney ordered. Therefore, I believe that de Trobriand, instigated by Birney, thought the elevation of Stony Hill gave his brigade a "commanding" position. Unfortunately for de Trobriand, I don't believe he realized that Stony Hill was compromised by Rose Ridge and therefore negated to a great degree any advantage Stony Hill's elevation gave to his brigade. Of course this is my interpretation and is pure speculation.

8.) 8th NJ (Burling] Ramsey) arrives to support de Trobriand. They go into line on the left of the 5th MI .

A.) The 115th PA (Burling] Dunne) arrives next and move to the left of the 8th NJ, between them and the 17th ME in the Wheatfield.
B.) The union line is now from right (west) to left (east) 110th PA, 5th MI, 8th NJ, and 17th ME , all facing SSW.
C.) The 40th NY is still on the summit of Stony Hill in reserve facing west. But move off to the south to support Ward before Sweitzer's 5th Corps Brigade arrives on Stony Hill.

9.) *In front of the 17th ME was a lane which ran through the woods directly in their front that linked Rose's with Weikert's (Timbers) and then ran to the east and north to Wheatfield Road.

10.) Sweitzer's 5th Corps Brigade (2nd Brigade, Barnes' Division) along with Tilton's (1st Brigade, Barnes) start to arrive on the hill as Anderson's GA Brigade is attacking.

A.) Sweitzer arrives first: 32 MA (Prescott,) followed by the 62nd PA (Hull,) followed by the 4th MI (Jeffords.) They arrive in column in a row.
B.) * Vincent (3rd brigade, Barnes ) is sent to LRT.

11.) The 8th NJ thinks that Sweitzer is their relief and move off towards Trostle Woods.

12.) The 32nd MA is first in position at bottom of slope to the west (perhaps next to the wire fence that is now there.)

A.) The 32nd MA then move back up the slope and to the east in their second position on the hill.

13.) The 62nd PA and 4th MI are in place roughly where the 40th NY and 17th ME were initially positioned. With the 62nd south of the 4th MI .

A.) Tilton's Brigade arrives after Sweitzer, with the 118th PA in the lead.

B.) The 118th PA (Gwyn) is the furthest west with some of the regiment out in the open. They are facing WSW.

14.) Following the 118th PA are the 1st MI (Abbott,) and the 22nd MA (Sherwin.) They move into line on the 118th's left. The 1st MI and 22nd MA in that order. They appear to link with Sweitzer's 32nd MA .

15.) The 18th MA (Hayes) is the last of Tilton's regiments to Stony Hill, and are positioned behind the 118th PA , just to the NE up the slope of the hill.

A.) Tilton's line is now complete, extending from the 118th PA on the right going in a NW to SE direction. The 118th and 18th MA facing almost due west, and the 1st MI and 22nd MA facing SW.

16.) Anderson attacks in a NNE direction while the 3rd AR is advancing against both the 20th IN on Houck's and the 17th ME in the Wheatfield. The 3rd AR has their left refused as they advance.

A.) Anderson attacks with (from SE to NW) the 59th (Brown,) 11th (Little,) 8th (Towers,) and 9th GA (Mounger.)
B.) The 59th GA supports the left of the 3rd AR up and over the high ground north of the park road.
C.) The 9th GA is on the brigade's left in Rose Run ravine attacking against the 110th PA .


17.) Kershaw's right wing the 15th (De Sassaure,) 7th (Aiken) and 3rd SC (Moffett,) attack on Anderson's left.

A.) The 15th SC is detatched from Kershaw's main line and attacks with both Anderson and Semmes .
B.) The 7th and 3rd SC advance against Tilton's 118th PA and 18th PA .

18.) Tilton is very concerned about his right flank, and orders his brigade from the slope and hill (without orders from Barnes .)

A.) This is after Kershaw's misunderstood order for his right wing. An order from Kershaw to move by the right flank which was only intended for the 3rd and 7th SC was unfortunately transmitted to his left wing attacking against union batteries along Wheatfield Road. This error had tremendous consequences for his left wing. Just when the South Carolinians were about to come into direct contact with the union guns, they complied with Kershaw's perceived order. The result of the misunderstood order presented the left wings left flank to the union gunners who did great damage to the three SC regiments comprising the wing.
B.) Tilton has artillery support (Bigelow ) on his right along Wheatfield Road.
C.) After Tilton retreats off Stony Hill, Barnes orders Sweitzer to retreat also. Both brigades re-form in Trostle Woods.
D.) * Sweitzer says in his OR report that he was sent an order to retreat and that the 1st Brigade had already retreated. Indicating that Sweitzer was not aware Tilton had retreated.
E.) **de Trobriand says in his OR report that he would have counter-attacked, "But, two brigades from the 5th Corps, sent to my support, having fallen back with out engaging the enemy by what orders I could never ascertain."
F.) *** Tilton, in his OR report drew a map that show's the 118th PA with its right refused and indicates a battery to his right (Bigelow.) Tilton stated, "My colonels wished to advance. Being anxious about my right, however, I reconnoitered in person, and discovered the enemy in large force coming from the direction of Rose's house, with the evident design of out flanking me. I immediately retired and took up a new position."
G.) **** Pvt. Robert Carter (22MA, Tilton) to John Bachelder: said that deTrobriand's men were further to the 22 MA's left. He also said that de Trobriand received Anderson's attack on his left and left front. "We received Kershaw and Semmes ." He alludes to the fact the brigade did not say long in their position.
1.) Semmes was further to the 22 MA's left and did not attack right away. It's probably safe to say they did not take fire from Semmes. * Tilton was attacked initially by only 2 of Kershaw's regiments, the 7th and 3rd SC. Kershaw's left wing 2nd, 3rd Btn., and 8th SC, were looking to strike the Peach Orchard artillery line and not that much concerned with the federal troops (Tilton) on Stony Hill. (From Kershaw's OR report.)

19.) With Sweitzer and Tilton retreating off Stony Hill this uncovered the right flank of the 110th PA and 5th MI (de Trobriand .) Thus forcing them to retreat as well.

20.) The 110th PA and 5th MI make a stand with the 115th PA (Burling) in the Wheatfield. With the 115th entering the Wheatfield first.

A.) This concludes de Trobriand's and the 5th Corps tenure on and around Stony Hill.


Copyright © 2003 by John Rincon

johnandkim22@earthlink.net


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