the Battle of Gettysburg Resource Center
Confederate Cannon Spiked by A Union Artillery
last revised 10/05/04
One popular story about the artillery at Gettysburg concerns the duel between Pages Battery on the east slope of Oak Hill and Dilger's Battery near the Carlisle Road. :
On July 1, when ordered to deploy his six Napoleons to support Von Amsburg's troops in the fields north of town between the Tanneytown (Carlisle) Road and the Baltimore (Mummasburg) Road, Capt. Hugert Dilger, Battery 1, 1st Ohio Light Artillery (XI Corp. Artillery Brigade), first deployed only the two guns of Lt. Scripture's section and held the remaining four guns in reserve. Scripture located his guns "on some high ground midway between the Hagy orchard and the Carlisle Pike" and upon his deployment soon became engaged in an artillery duel with Page's battery of four Napoleons located on the eastern slope of Oak Hill. Page's battery was quickly reinforced with four 3-inch rifles from Reese's Battery. The disparity in guns (8 Confederate vs 2 Federal) persuaded Dilger to bring his remaining four guns to Scripture's aid and to support the 157th NY which was in line near the battery. The first shot from Dilger's battery went high and missed the Confederate (Page's) Battery completely and was followed by shouts and waves of derision from the Confederate gunners. Dilger sighted and fired the next gun himself which dismounted a rebel gun by hitting the wheel and killed some of the battery's horses. Captain Dilger then sighted and fired a second gun but no effect was visible to the naked eye. Colonel Brown of the 157th who was nearby asked "What effect, Captain Dilger?" After careful examination through his glass, Dilger replied, "I have spiked a gun for them plugging it at the muzzle."
After the battle a wounded soldier from the 17th Connecticut who was taken prisoner saw this cannon with its muzzle plugged by an artillery shot and later wrote about it. A account of the incident in Clark's History of North Carolina Regiments, says that the muzzle was "split".
According to historian and author Harry W. Pfanz, however, "This story is nonsense. Dilger did not claim such a lucky hit in his report, and a skeptic could wonder if Dilger could have seen the damage said to have been done to the muzzle through the smokey air even with a "glass". Further, the Confederates reported no such damage. Colonel Carter reported that Dilger had delivered "destructive oblique fire" on Page's battery, but the corps ordinance report mentions no damage to materiel."
Pfanz does however relate an incident involving one of the guns of Garber's battery which deployed on Gordon's left as his brigade advanced toward barlows Brigade north of the Harrisburg Road. As Jones guns began firing on the Union infantry in their front, Federal Batteries, probably Wilkeson's and Wheeler's, opened on them. One of the first Union shots of this duel struck the face of the muzzle of one of garber's Napoleons and put it out of commission.
click here for a photo of the view from Page's Battery toward the location of Dilger's Battery. Imagine trying to discern a plugged muzzle on a gun at that distance using only a 4 power "glass".
Source: p 261 - 262 "Gettysburg July 1" by David G. Martin, Combined Books, 1996; p220-221 and p 229 "Gettysburg - The first Day" by Harry W. Pfanz, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001