6th Maine Battery
Come-Come, Your Country Calls,
20 Men can have a place,
Capt. McGilvery, among those brave and gallant
Samuel Thurston, Recruiting Officer
McGilvery’s 6th Maine Battery first saw action at Cedar Mountain and Sulfer Springs in West Virginia and at the battle of Antietam the Battery supported the attack of the XII Corps. The bravery of the Maine ship’s master and his ability to assess and respond in the tumult of battle brought rapid promotion. In reporting his promotion to Major a New York Times field reporter wrote: McGilvery fairly earned promotion by gallantry in the bloody battles at Cedar Mountain, Centreville, Gainesville, Bull Run and Chantilly. At Cedar Mountain he saved our left wing from annihilation by the enemy, and at Bull Run and Chantilly protected alone our retreat. By the Chancellorsville campaign Major McGilvery had been given command of a full Brigade of Mounted Artillery and during the Gettysburg Campaign on June 23, 1863 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. On July 2, 1863 Col. McGilvery’s quick assessment and action in battle caused a wide gap in the Union line to be filled with fieldpieces under his command. Remembered today as McGilvery’s Plum Run Line his guns were instrumental in halting the Confederate’s final advance on the Union center. It has been recorded that Colonel Freeman McGilvery, was probably the most significant in exercising tactical command that day. Far from finished on the next day McGilvery’s guns assisted in the Union repulse of Pickett’s Charge. Promoted to full Colonel in September 1863 McGilvery continued to command his Mounted Artillery Brigade until May 1864 when he was placed in command of the army’s reserve artillery and its all vital ammunition train. He served with distinction in this role during the Siege of Petersburg until on August 9, 1864 he was promoted to Chief of Artillery for the X Corps. Just days later, at the Battle of Deep Bottom, Col. McGilvery was wounded. A wound of the finger that for all intense and purposes must have been seen as of minimal consequence considering all else. The horrifying consequence of the Maine hero’s wound is reveled on our next page.