The part borne in this terrible struggle by the troops of Illinois, is thus described by Colonel William Gamble, who commanded the Eighth Cavalry from that state:–
On the afternoon of the 30th of June the first cavalry brigade of Buford’s division, commanded by Col. W. Gamble, of the Eighth Illinois cavalry, arrived at Gettysburg,–the Eighth Illinois cavalry in front. Col. Gamble received orders to pass through the town on the Cashtown road and select the most eligible line of battle beyond the Seminary that could be found, encamp the brigade and send forward one or two squadrons to find the enemy, and remain on picket to watch the movements of the enemy. These orders were promptly carried out. The squadrons for advanced picket duty were taken from the Eighth Illinois cavalry, who advanced three miles further, found the enemy, remained in front until seven o’clock the next morning, when the enemy commenced advancing in three divisions under Gen. A. P. Hill, and with shell and musketry drove in the squadrons mentioned, and the Eighth Illinois cavalry had the honor of being fired on by the enemy and of returning their fire.
The advance of the enemy was immediately reported to General Meade, the infantry advance being eight miles in our rear were ordered up to support the cavalry.
The cavalry of Buford’s Division was ordered to fight the enemy. I dismounted part of the Eighth Illinois, Eighth New York, and Third Indiana cavalry, in all about 900 men, and ordered them to the front to keep back the enemy as long as possible till our infantry came up to our support. Devin’s brigade of New York cavalry was on our right and Merrit’s brigade of regular cavalry was on our left. We had to fight the whole Army Corps of Gen. A. P. Hill, 25,000 strong, for three and a half hours, from 7 till 10 1/2 A. M., to hold the original line of battle selected by me according to previous orders.
Tidball’s horse battery, A, Second U. S. artillery, was attached to my brigade that day.
The cavalry above mentioned fought Hill’s corps for three and a half hours, on the morning of the 1st of July, and held the original line of battle selected beyond the Seminary, until our infantry came up, with a loss of one hundred and eleven officers and men, killed, wounded, and missing, and fifty-six cavalry horses killed, thirteen artillery horses killed, and fifteen artillerymen killed and wounded. Nothing of this is mentioned in the newspapers or dispatches, but the above are absolute facts, under my own observation.
An hour before dark the rebels outflanked our left; this brigade of cavalry was again ordered to the front, dismounted and fought the rebels on Seminary Ridge, and saved a whole division of our infantry from being surrounded and captured. Nothing of this either is mentioned in the newspapers or dispatches, yet these facts occurred, with the loss of some of our best officers and men.
Originally posted 2009-03-25 22:16:28.