the U. S. service at Trenton on April 27, 1861, to serve for
three months, and left the state for
Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned officers and
743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777. On
the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it
was ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a
few days the entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the
12th, it was honored by a visit from the president, who warmly
complimented the appearance of the troops. On the evening of
May 23 it joined the 2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight
took up the line of march in silence for the bridge that
spanned the Potomac. This bridge was crossed at 2 o'clock on
the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted at Roach's spring,
and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the Alexandria
road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a
section of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was
important to hold; one company from the regiment guarded the
Long bridge; still another was on duty at Arlington mills; and
the remainder of the regiment, together with the 2nd, was
ordered to proceed to Alexandria. On July 24, the term of
service having expired, the 4th returned to New Jersey and was
mustered out at Trenton, July 31, 1861. The total strength of
the regiment was 783, and it lost by discharge 6, by promotion
2, by death 2 and by desertion 7, mustered out, 766.
W. Jobes ended his military service at this time. Samuel B. Jobes,
however re-enlisted on August 16, 1862 and was commissioned as a Captain
with Company G, 12th NJ Infantry Regiment, on September 4, 1862.
Twelfth New Jersey Infantry was raised under the second call of
President Lincoln for 300,000 men, Robert C. Johnson, of Salem, formerly
major of the 4th regiment (3 months' men), being
commissioned as colonel early in July, 1862. Woodbury, Gloucester
county, was selected as the rendezvous, and on July 25 the first
detachment of troops, about 950 men, was mustered into the U. S.
service. Many of the officers had already seen service in other
regiments, but comparatively few of the men were familiar with military
duties or requirements, though all entered cheerfully upon the work of
preparing for the duties before them. On Sept. 7 the regiment left the
state for Washington, but at Baltimore was diverted from its course by
Gen. Wool, commanding that district, who ordered it to proceed to
Ellicott City, the county seat of Howard County, Maryland, 15 miles from
Baltimore on the line of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.
Chancellorsville, on May 3, 1863, the regiment received its first taste
of actual warfare. It behaved with great gallantry, though the loss was
severe, amounting to 179 in killed, wounded and missing. Although under
arms during the two succeeding days and nights, it was not again
on the night of the 5th it recrossed the Rappahannock and proceeded to
its old camp, having in its first battle lost over one-tenth of its
men. Captain Jobes was slightly wounded in this battle.
after reaching the field at Gettysburg on July 2, Co. I was sent out on
the skirmish line, but the combat not yet being opened, only two or
three casualties were sustained. In the afternoon a house and barn known
as the Bliss Farm, standing about 200 yards west of the Emmitsburg road
and nearly equidistant from either army having been occupied as a cover
by the Confederate sharpshooters.
1995 the following article by John M. Archer was published in American
Civil War Magazine:
of the many visitors to the Gettysburg battlefield notice the oddly
shaped grassy mound in the gently rolling fields southeast of the town.
The mound obscures the foundations of the once prosperous Bliss homestead,
at one time a no man's land in a savage seesaw encounter that escalated
from a skirmishers' scrap to a pitched battle. Although the conflict was
eclipsed by more famous Gettysburg actions
such as the Angle and Little Round Top, the battle for possession of the
Bliss farm may
well have helped turn the tide against the massive Confederate assault
on July 2, 1863.
the bloody collision of July 1, the Union I and XI Corps had been driven
through Gettysburg by advance elements of the Army of Northern Virginia
and had assumed defensive positions on the high ground south of town.
General Robert E. Lee placed his army in a wide semicircle around the
Union position, anchoring his right flank on the ridge west of town.
Located in the broad valley southwest of Gettysburg,
the 60-acre farm of
William and Adelina Bliss lay
between the opposing armies.
the time being, the fighting had rolled past their two-story house and
enormous bank barn without the ruin visited on other parts of town. On
July 1, even while troops of the Union I Corps double-quicked through
the fields past his home, Bliss, like many residents, may well have
chosen to stay on his property as long as possible. However, by the time
the fighting reached the Lutheran Seminary a short mile to the north, it
is likely Bliss had
evacuated his wife and two daughters. When the family finally decided to
leave, they apparently left quickly; according to one description, 'they
left the doors open, the table set, the beds were made, apparently
nothing had been taken out at all.' The next occupants would be more
night the uneasy silence of the Pennsylvania farmlands
was broken by the low rumble of armies on the move. Arriving close to
midnight, Major General George G. Meade spent most of the early morning
hours studying the field, assigning positions to the rapidly converging
Union Army. At daybreak on July 2, more than 11,300 men of Major General
Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps moved up the slopes of the low ridge
below the town cemetery, relieving the tired remnants of the I Corps.
Reinforcing his position with five batteries, Hancock placed the
infantry divisions of Brigadier Generals Alexander Hays, John Gibbon and
John C. Caldwell along the north-south ridge.
to hold Ziegler's Grove, a small wood crowning the northern end of
Cemetery Ridge, were the three brigades of Hays' 3rd Division. One of
Hays' officers noted: 'We are drawn up in a fine position, on elevated
ground overlooking a valley and meadow. The enemy occupying, we suppose,
a somewhat similar position on the other side of said valley.' As his
troops deployed around the grove, Hays sent out skirmishers from the
111th and 125th New York regiments of Colonel George L. Willard's
brigade to test the intentions of that enemy. One of the New Yorkers
recalled, 'As the morning lengthened, in the distance among some brush
behind a fence, men were seen moving into position as skirmishers.'
gray figures advancing into the mist-shrouded fields across the valley
were members of Brig. Gen. Alfred M. Scales' North Carolina infantry
brigade. Seriously weakened in the first day's fighting, the brigade was
led that morning by its only unwounded officer, Colonel William Lowrance.
At dawn, the depleted unit had been sent to occupy the Confederate right
flank on Seminary Ridge. Ordered to hold the position 'at all hazards,'
Lowrance took no chances, sending a strong skirmish line into the fields
in his front.
morning's humid calm was rent by gunfire as the Rebel line put up stiff
opposition to the New Yorkers' arrival. And as the morning wore on,
additional II Corps skirmishers pushed out into the still, tall fields
of grain, encountering the stubborn enemy line. An officer noted: 'We
send a line of skirmishers down into the meadow among the grass and
wheat fields. The enemy push out a rather stronger line from their
position, and crowd our boys back. We put in a few more companies, and
force them to a retrograde movement; and so the line wavers to and fro.'
Shortly after 10 a.m., Hays ordered the 39th New York to reinforce the
skirmishers in his front. Crossing the fence-lined Emmitsburg Road, the
269-man unit fanned out into the fields north of the Bliss buildings.
Known as the 'Garibaldi Guard,' the 39th had been mobilized in 1861
entirely of European immigrants. But the unit would have a checkered
career, and it had been totally reorganized by Hays in the months before Gettysburg.
from Cemetery Ridge, Alexander Hays was well suited to the challenge
that was developing. A West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican
War, Hays had been repeatedly promoted for his bravery, becoming a
brigadier after being seriously wounded at Second Manassas. From his
Cemetery Ridge vantage point, he could see that the skirmish line of the
39th New York was in trouble. Additions to the stubborn Confederate
detachment had moved into the orchard west of the Bliss barn,
and the New York line began to unravel.
aides and the banner bearing the 3rd Division's blue trefoil, the
willful Hays rode out to the faltering skirmish line–about 600 yards
away–shouting instructions and encouragement. 'This novel sight of a
division commander in such a position, and so cooly and indifferently
exposing himself to the fire of the enemy's marksmen, inspired a
wonderful courage,' said an admiring onlooker. The 39th New York would
hold for some four hours in the intense gunfire and midday heat before
being withdrawn, losing 24 men in the interim.
the sharpshooting intensified, shelter became a scarce commodity. 'The
space between us and the Rebel skirmish line was open and clear in the
main,' recalled one participant, 'and the least showing of head, hand or
foot was an invitation for a target of the same.' As the only
substantial shelter in the open fields below town, the Bliss buildings
were rapidly becoming the focus of the contest. A veteran of the
fighting there noted, 'Mr. Bliss was
like many other farmers
who give more attention to the architecture and pretentiousness of their
barns than they do to their houses.'
through the large doors facing the Southern lines, Confederate marksmen
soon filled the upper story of the barn, 'whence they picked off our men
with impunity from the loop-holed windows.' To clear out the snipers'
nest, Hays dispatched three companies of the 126th New York shortly
after noon. Led by Captain Charles Wheeler, the sortie was successful,
capturing the barn and some of the Southern sharpshooters. Wheeler's
luck soon ran out, however, and he was killed the next morning while
commanding the 126th on the skirmish line.
these developments from his command post by the Lutheran Seminary,
Robert E. Lee developed a strategy he hoped would finish off Meade's
Army of the Potomac. Lee would also extend his line to the south, but in
preparation for a planned flank march by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's I
Corps. Fresh troops from Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's III Corps under Maj. Gen.
Richard H. Anderson would be sent in to extend the Rebel flank down
Seminary Ridge; marching south behind the ridge, Longstreet's men would
turn and attack the Union line end-on, supported by Hill's men as the
attack rolled north.
on Seminary Ridge about midmorning, Anderson's five brigades of infantry
relieved Lowrance's weary troops, who had held the Rebel flank since
dawn. Formerly a division commander under Longstreet, Anderson was
well-liked and had proved himself in previous campaigns to be 'brave,
prudent, and intelligent.' Perhaps too prudent–for some felt that
Anderson was not aggressive enough, and that only Longstreet could
elicit his full powers. Without Longstreet's firm hand, Anderson
certainly would not shine under A.P. Hill's casual direction that
Hill's artillery, the 12th, 16th, 19th and 48th Mississippi regiments
under Brig. Gen. Carnot Posey now faced the Bliss property. Posey advanced
his skirmishers to a fence line about 250 yards from the farm buildings
as the dispute with Union forces continued.
midafternoon, the temperature had risen to 81 degrees, and the sun bore
down with a sweltering, withering effect. The morning's tentative probes
gave way to large-scale maneuvers. In a grand but unauthorized move,
Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles advanced the III Corps to the high ground on
the Emmitsburg Road a mile south of the Bliss property. In the midst of
their flank march behind Seminary Ridge, Longstreet's two gray divisions
were unknowingly headed for the same high ground. With the combatants
closing on each other, the conflict intensified all along the line. The
light southerly breeze did little to dissipate the clouds of black
powder as the Confederate guns began to duel with the Union line. Under
arcing shot and shell, responsibility for the Bliss property had fallen
largely to about 290 skirmishers from Hays' 2nd Brigade, commanded by
Colonel Thomas Smyth. Relieving Willard's New Yorkers who held the farm,
the 1st Delaware and Company I of the 12th New Jersey advanced through
the Bliss yard
to a worn fence beyond the barn.
by a fence near the house, Captain Henry Chew and Sergeant Henry Bowen
of the 12th New Jersey watched as Confederate batteries under Major W.J.
Pegram hammered the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. When his sergeant
recommended that they move to a more secure spot, Captain Chew stoically
explained, 'We are as safe here as anywhere, you can't run away from
them things.' That said, a piece of solid shot tore through the fence by
their heads, and the pair promptly moved to the barn.
about 4 p.m., Chew realized that Posey was gradually reinforcing his
skirmish line nearby, 'so that our attention would not be attracted
until they had enough men to drive us away from the barn.' Reporting his
observation to Lt. Col. Edward Harris of the 1st Delaware, Chew
suggested they report the buildup and ask for reinforcements. The New
Jersey captain was curtly informed that Harris 'understood [his]
business' and would make his own decisions. Chew returned to his men and
awaited the attack that he was sure would follow. While Posey's
subsequent report of the battle is vague in some respects, it explains
the predicament the hapless Federal skirmishers faced that afternoon. As
Chew witnessed, Posey had
gradually committed the balance of the 19th and 48th
Mississippi–almost 700 men–to his skirmish line around the farm.
Then, as Captain George Price of the 1st Delaware remembered, 'a line of
battle…advanced against us; their skirmish line was absorbed by their
line as they came upon them.'
report for the 1st Delaware states tersely, 'At 4 p.m. the ammunition of
the men being exhausted, Lieutenant Colonel Harris withdrew the right
wing of the regiment.' With the retreat of part of the regiment, the
whole line faced collapse. As Sergeant Bowen recalled, the withdrawal
was hardly ceremonious: 'Looking around I saw the men of the 1st
Delaware running to the rear….I out and took after them, soon catching
up with Lieut. Col. Harris of the 1st Del. who was getting to the rear
as fast as he could, he swung his sword around, called me a hard name,
telling me to go back, this I did not do but made a detour around him
and got across that 3/4 of a mile in record time.' Upon his return to
Cemetery Ridge, the winded Harris was promptly placed under arrest by
Maj. Gen. Hancock for the unauthorized withdrawal.
out the pockets of blue skirmishers remaining at the farm, Posey's men
moved into the buildings and busied themselves with picking off Union
battery men, officers and skirmishers. Headquartered at the Brian house
by Ziegler's Grove, Hays and his staff attracted the attention of the
Mississippi riflemen. At 5 p.m., Hays ordered Colonel Smyth to seize the
Bliss buildings and re-establish the Union skirmish line at the farm.
This time, four companies of the 12th New Jersey Infantry under Captain
Samuel Jobes were chosen to retake the farm.
Raising a cheer, the New Jersey troops shouldered their smoothbore
muskets and moved out at double-quick across the 400 yards to the Bliss buildings.
sharpshooters and Hill's batteries on Seminary Ridge opened fire on the
charging Federal line, 'raking us awfully,' recalled a New Jersey
soldier, 'dropping men to the right and to the left.' Upon reaching the farmyard,
the New Jersey column halted, delivered a volley of 'buck and ball' into
the barn, and surrounded the building, capturing about 50 of the
balance of Posey's line was intact, however, and continued sharpshooting
from the Bliss house,
some 90 yards away. Back on Cemetery Ridge, an indignant Hays ordered
Smyth to 'have the men in the barn take that damned white house and hold
it at all hazards.' Within minutes, one of the New Jersey companies
charged from the barn, capturing 'the damned white house' and bringing
the detachment's catch to 92 of Posey's
men, including seven officers. But with the sounds of the III Corps
struggle rumbling up the valley from the south, it was clear that the
Union tenure at the Bliss
farm was nearly finished.
this time Longstreet's en echelon assault was well
underway and rolling north. The Confederate advance, initiated by more
than 14,000 of Longstreet's veterans, had broken the Union left flank at
Devil's Den, pushed through Sickles' salient at the Peach Orchard, and
unhinged the Yankee line on the Emmitsburg Road. As planned, Anderson's
gray division was to take up the attack, progressing northward.
approximately 6:30 p.m., observing Anderson's advance on their right,
the 1,400 Georgians under Brig. Gen. Ambrose R. Wright were set to begin
their drive across the valley. A few hundred yards away, the four New
Jersey companies holding the Bliss farm
buildings were in a tight spot. Re-establishing the skirmish line at the
farm had already cost the Union detachment 42 of its number. Despite
their initial success in seizing the buildings, a brief look out of any
window would confirm a gradually worsening situation. Just west of the farm,
several hundred of Posey's
men still held the area around the Bliss orchard.
At 6 p.m., a strong line of skirmishers from Maj. Gen. Dorsey Pender's
division had moved into Long Lane, a country road only 250 yards north
of the buildings, flanking the New Jersey companies. Now to the south,
on the other side of the buildings, skirmishers from the 2nd Georgia
were pushing back the Union line, clearing the way for Wright's advance.
Together, these threats were apparently sufficient reason to clear out,
and the blue-coated companies withdrew to Cemetery Ridge with their
7 p.m. the Federal positions on Cemetery Ridge had changed dramatically.
Well over half of Hancock's corps had been committed to reinforce
Sickles' collapsing line; Caldwell's entire division had been sent into
the carnage at the Wheat Field, while one of Hays' brigades and almost
half of Gibbon's division were parceled out to shore up other sections
of the III Corps position. Only three regiments and two batteries held
the 600-yard gap between Sickles' dangling right flank on the Emmitsburg
Road and the balance of the II Corps atop Cemetery Ridge. Starting their
advance according to plan, Wright's Confederates were headed straight
for that gap.
off Seminary Ridge to the left of Wilcox's and Lang's advancing
infantry, Wright's 3rd, 22nd and 48th Georgia regiments were greeted
with a 'terrific fire of shells into our ranks.' Absorbing the
skirmishers of the 2nd Georgia, the Southern battle line moved rapidly
across the fields, taking advantage of the cover in slight hollows in
the field to pause and re-form. Coming within musket range of the
advanced Union line, Wright later recalled, 'We were in a hot place, and
looking to my left through the smoke, I perceived that neither Posey nor
Mahone had advanced, and that my left was totally unprotected.' Wright
immediately dispatched an aide to Anderson, who replied that 'both Posey and
[William] Mahone had been ordered in and that he would reiterate the
something had gone amiss in Anderson's orders to the left wing of his
division. Anderson's account indicates that each of his brigades was
ordered to advance in turn. Although directed to advance with Wright,
Posey claimed that his orders were to advance 'but two of my regiments,
and deploy them closely as skirmishers.' The gradual deployment of
Posey's troops that afternoon had removed the Yankee threat from the
but the sustained action and resulting casualties had also destroyed the
Mississippians' ability to move as a cohesive fighting unit. As Wright's
line passed the Bliss yard,
48th Mississippi and part of the 19th Mississippi would support the
Georgia brigade's flank.
rapidly from a makeshift breastwork of fence rails just east of the
Emmitsburg Road, the 600 men of Gibbon's 82nd New York and 15th
Massachusetts only partially filled the gap in the Union line north of
the Codori buildings. On a small rise behind the advanced line, the six
Napoleons of Brown's battery, Company B, 1st Rhode Island, showered the
converging gray line with spherical case shot and, as they drew closer,
double canister. Undaunted, Wright's battle line wavered for a moment,
then closed up and continued forward.
their later accounts of the battle, both Gibbon and Wright described the
Confederate charge with the same term–'impetuousity'–suggesting a
brief or furious action. The fight at the Emmitsburg Road was
undoubtedly both. Charging out of the thick smoke billowing over the
field, the long Confederate line flanked one, then both of the Union
regiments. With both colonels and almost half their number down,
Gibbon's men fell back up the slope in disarray.
19th Mississippi advanced to within 60 yards of the Rhode Island guns,
driving the artillerymen from their pieces three different times.
Ordered to limber up in the growing hail of lead, drivers struggled to
pull the guns away even as the battery's horses collapsed in their
traces. Unable to retrieve two of their cannons, the rest of the battery
raced up the slope and re-formed on the ridge. As the left regiments of
Wright's brigade claimed the prized Napoleons, the balance of the II
Corps line atop the ridge raked their column with canister and
small-arms fire. Sweeping past the struggle on their left, the right
wing of the Georgia brigade cleared the Codori buildings with less
resistance, and advanced with their line relatively intact. Charging up
the slope, the Georgia troops swarmed toward Gibbon's thin line behind
the wall atop the ridge–and the wide gap on Gibbon's left.
the stone wall south of a copse of trees, Gibbon later remembered that
the head of the Confederate column 'came quite through a vacancy in our
line to the left of my division.' There the Georgians again found
Brown's hapless battery, and as Major Sylvanus Curtis of the 7th
Michigan reported: 'They succeeded in passing through the guns of the
battery on our left, driving the gunners from their posts. The line on
our left gave way, and our flank was almost turned.' A Confederate
color-bearer planted his banner on one of the abandoned guns, and the
jubilant Rebel line crested Cemetery Ridge.
were now complete masters of the field,' Wright glowingly recalled,
'having gained the key…of the enemy's whole line.' But Wright's
isolated spearhead was still without support on either flank. Requesting
support, Wilcox's and Lang's brigades had been stalled at the foot of
the slope to the south and were forced to withdraw. Back at the Bliss farm,
a perplexed Carnot Posey held back his last regiment, waiting in the
fading light for support from William Mahone's brigade. Inexplicably,
despite entreaties from Posey and
orders from Anderson himself, Mahone insisted he was ordered only to
support Pegram's artillery, and his brigade never budged from Seminary
Northern forces were quick to take advantage of Wright's exposed
position on the ridge. As Gibbon's men around the copse poured volley
after volley into the surging enemy line, columns of the 13th Vermont
and 106th Pennsylvania charged around Wright's unprotected flanks.
Unsupported, their onslaught blunted, the Southerners halted, wavered
and then fell back into the gathering dusk. Re-forming in the fields to
the west, Wright was pained to find only about half of his brigade had
returned from the foray onto Cemetery Ridge. Across the valley, Hancock
had no sooner re-formed the II Corps line along the ridge when the
uproar of a new assault came from the Union right. Hancock quickly
dispatched Hays' reserve brigade under Colonel Samuel S. Carroll,
followed by the exhausted 71st and 106th Pennsylvania from Gibbon's
line. The timely arrival of Carroll's men on East Cemetery Hill would
help break the Rebel foothold there and secure the Union line.
time for a concerted Southern effort was now long past. As their
scattered force streamed back to the Bliss farm after
Wright's repulse, Posey and Colonel W.H. Taylor of the 12th Mississippi
did their best to re-form the brigade in the dark. Ordered back to
Seminary Ridge, Posey left
Taylor with his Mississippians to picket the Bliss property,
and again formed his brigade behind Seminary Ridge.
next morning broke clear and cloudless. As the day brightened, the 'zip'
of Rebel lead among the Union batteries on the ridge made it clear that
the Bliss farm
was again held by Confederate marksmen. At 7:30 a.m., Smyth ordered the
snipers' nest cleaned out again. Led by Captain Richard Thompson, the
remaining five companies of the 12th New Jersey filed down the Brian farm lane
to the Emmitsburg Road. Deploying this time in column by company, the
detachment shouldered their muskets and headed out at the double-quick.
As the company crested the small rise midway to the buildings, the
concentrated Rebel fire killed three and wounded several others in the
front of the detachment.
the buildings, the New Jersey troops charged into the barn and found all
but three of the Southern tenants gone. Learning from their losses the
previous day, the Mississippians had escaped down the bank in the rear
of the barn and resumed firing from the orchard beyond. As the New
Jersey men rushed up to the second floor, the Southern riflemen shot
Company F's Abel Shute through both knees, mortally wounding him in
front of the large doorway. In their brief raid on the Bliss farm,
five of the New Jersey detachment were already dead or dying, and at
least 25 had been wounded.
the face of the mounting pressure from front and flank, supplemented by
the crack of Pegram's artillery fire overhead, the New Jersey companies
withdrew from the buildings, gathering their casualties as they fell
back. Undaunted, Hays ordered yet another sortie. This detail would
include four companies–about 60 men–of the now depleted 14th
Connecticut, who were directed to occupy the buildings 'to stay.' The
regiment's chaplain, Henry S. Stevens, later wondered 'why a force only
one half as large as either of the parties previously sent for the same
purpose was sent this time.'
on both sides of the valley watched as another blue column filed down
the slope. Led by Captain Samuel Moore of Company F, the detachment
began to move out in formation, when from the ridge behind them Hays
bellowed for them to'scatter and run.' Crossing the Emmitsburg Road, the
Connecticut companies fanned out as they sprinted across the fields.
Despite the dispersed target, the Confederate marksmen soon found the
range, and several of the New Englanders fell dead.
the barn, the winded Yanks found that the Southerners had again
disappeared into thefarmhouse
and orchard, where they resumed firing at close quarters. The problem
the New Jersey detachments had faced in defending the barn now became
painfully clear to the Connecticut contingent. While the side of the
barn facing Cemetery Ridge contained numerous doors and windows, much of
the structure facing the Southern lines was taken up by the wide doorway
in the second story, with the large earthen bank leading up to it.
pinned in the barn by gunfire from three sides and unable to return any
effective fire, the Connecticut detail was in a dire situation. Ordered
to break the deadlock and again seize the 'damned white house,' Major
Theodore Ellis led the remaining four companies of the 14th Connecticut
across the Emmitsburg Road. As Ellis' men headed farther north to reach
they were met by harrowing flank fire from Pender's men in Long Lane.
on the farmhouse,
the New Englanders traded parting shots with the Rebels, who headed to
the orchard beyond. Entering by the two front doors, the Connecticut men
found the building a poor shelter. With 'bullets piercing the thin
siding and windows,' some of Ellis' men took their chances outside, or
ran the gantlet to the barn. From Seminary Ridge, only 500 yards away,
Pegram's artillery pounded the Bliss buildings
with a relentless fire. One of the rounds of case shot hit squarely on
the roof of the barn, killing one and wounding another of the
Connecticut men on the floor below.
was barely midmorning, and the Bliss buildings
had been captured three times with little result except the ensnarement
of the attackers. Unbeknown to the beleaguered New Englanders, Smyth had
modified the regiment's strict orders. As the last companies left
Cemetery Ridge, Company I's Lieutenant Frederick Seymour asked Smyth,
'If…the Rebs make it so hot we can't hold [the house and barn], shall
we fire them?' Smyth replied, 'We don't know the word can't!' Thinking
better of his bravado, the colonel added, 'If they make it too hot for
you, burn the buildings and return to the line.' Unfortunately, the
lieutenant was shot in the leg as the company crossed the fields, and
lay helpless as the detachment sped on.
the desperate situation, Hays sent Sergeant Charles Hitchcock of the
111th New York with new orders to torch the buildings. Armed with
cartridge papers and matches, the volunteer made his way across the
fields to the barn and relayed his message to Ellis. The New Englanders
needed no more urging. Upon hearing the order, 'wisps of hay and straw
were soon on fire and…applied at different places in the barn, and in
the house a straw bed was emptied on the floor and the match applied.'
Despite the heavy shelling and rifle fire, the Connecticut men took time
to bring their dead and wounded comrades back through the gantlet they
had entered but a short time before.
in the relative safety of the Emmitsburg Road, the members of the 14th
Connecticut looked back with relief on the Bliss farm,
where flames were now bursting fiercely out of both house and barn.
Their relief must have been short-lived as they realized that the attack
had cost the regiment 20 of its already diminished number, including
three dead or mortally wounded.
just over 24 hours, the seesaw struggle for the no man's land around the
Bliss buildings had involved more than 10 regiments, Union and
Confederate, and produced hundreds of casualties for both sides. Looking
back on the episode, Chaplain Stevens might have spoken for all those
involved when he wrote: 'We believe [the fight for the Bliss buildings]
to have been the most notable episode connected with the doings of any individual
regiment occurring during the great battle of Gettysburg.
Had the buildings been destroyed the first time captured by our troops,
many lives uselessly sacrificed would have been spared and much needless
suffering avoided. It was one of the 'fool things' of war. Yet it was a
grand lesson to our boys, and it furnished one of the brightest points
in their most glowing record. In that sortie some precious lives went
out, some cripples were made, and every man that escaped hurt came back
panting and wearied and feeling that 'out of the jaws of death' he had
official record concerning the Confederate troops holding the Bliss Farm
reads as follows:
the command of Captain Jobes, Companies B, H, E and G were sent out to
dislodge them, which they did, capturing 6 commissioned officers and 80
men, but with considerable loss, Captain Horsfall of Company E, a brave
officer, being killed, and Lieutenant Eastwick wounded.
1888 Samuel Toombs wrote the following account of the battle, published
in his work "New
Jersey troops in the Gettysburg campaign from June 5 to July 31, 1863":
the fighting on Sickles' front the enemy's skirmishers kept up an annoying fire upon the Second Corps' line. Their reserves occupied an old building, known as the Bliss barn, which also commanded the line, and about five o'clock in the afternoon General Hayes directed Colonel Smyth, commanding the
Second Brigade, to dislodge them. Colonel Smyth called upon the Twelfth New Jersey Regiment, whereupon the whole regiment arose to volunteer, when he
indicated that a detachment of four companies would be sufficient for the work in hand. The barn mentioned was of brick, was five hundred and eighty-seven yards from the line, and it and the line of the Twelfth's advance were so completely covered by the fire of the enemy's skirmishers and artillery, that it was known that serious loss must result from the attack. Major John T. Hill detached for this service
companies B, H, E and G, under command of Captain Samuel B. Jobes, the ranking officer.
The column moved out by the flank to the right of the Bryan barn ; then, formed by company into line. As the rear cleared the wall the movement came under the eyes of the whole brigade and of part of Gibbons' division, and of Robinson's division of the First Corps upon the right, and now in close formation the Twelfth begins its march. The artillery of Hill's Corps opened upon the line at once, the enemy's skirmishers poured in an
annoying fire, his reserve from shelter of the barn thinned its ranks,
Jobes was wounded, Captain Horsfalls, of Company E, was killed, and 40 men out of the 200 were stricken down ; but there was no wavering in that brave column of Jerseymen.
Bringing their arms to the right shoulder, and taking the double quick,
with ringing cheers they burst through the enemy's skirmish line with the might of a giant, and in one bold mass closed down upon, surrounded and captured the Bliss barn, with
the enemy's picket reserve of ninety-two men and seven officers, and bringing their prisoners with them, regained our lines.
No bolder attack was made upon that well-contested field, and it deservedly gave the regiment a
reputation for gallantry which it never lost.
excellent series of videos concerning the fighting at Bliss Farm can
be seen here.
the fearful infantry contest of the following day the regiment was
actively engaged, but only lost 5 or 6 men killed and 1 officer and 30
men wounded. On Oct. 14, when near Auburn mills, some 2 miles east of
Warrenton, the Confederate cavalry made an attack upon the corps of
which the regiment was a part, evidently hoping to capture its train,
but they were repulsed with loss and the corps continued its retreat
toward Centerville, the point which Lee was straining every nerve to
reach in advance of the Union troops. In October of 1863 at the
engagement at Bristoe Station, which lasted for 3 or 4 hours, several
men of the 12th were wounded, Lieutenant Lowe, of Company G, being among
the number. In the skirmishes at Mine
Run, which concluded the Army of the Potomac's fighting for 1863,
the regiment did not sustain any casualties, although under fire on
Jobes resigned his commission on January 24, 1864, possibly due to the
wound received at Bliss Farm, an illness or a non-combat related injury. He returned to his wife and
family in Camden, New Jersey.
1880 Census shows Samuel Jobes, his wife, and family residing at 418
Washington Street in South Camden. The family included Samuel Jobes
Jr.'s wife Deborah and grandchildren Elmer and Gertie.
Jobes died on March 17, 1881. His brother, George
W. Jobes, who also lived in Camden, remained in the city for many
years. Nephew William Jobes,
the son of George W. Jobes, a member of the Camden Fire Department, and
was one of three Camden fire fighters killed in the line of duty on March
when he, along with brother fire fighters George Shields
and William Hillman of Ladder
Company 2, died while fighting a fire
at the former Sixth Regiment Armory at 4th
Streets. Samuel Jobes' widow, Rebecca Jobes, joined her
husband in 1908.