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Before the Antietam Campaign:
He had been a sailor and ship master, and was at Rio Janeiro at the outbreak of War. He returned to Maine and raised a battery of artillery, which saw first action at Cedar Mountain (9 August 1862).
The remainder of the War:
Civil War Union Army Officer. Entered the Civil War in January 1862 as Captain and commander of the 6th Battery, Maine Light Artillery, which he commanded at the Battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
He was promoted from Captain to Major on 5 February 1863, and put in command of the First Brigade of the artillery reserve of the Army of the Potomac.
On 23 June 1863 he was made Lieutenant Colonel, where he assumed command of the 1st Volunteer Artillery Brigade in the Army of the Potomac's Artillery Reserve.
He led his command in the Battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Mine Run. His performance on the 2nd Day of Gettysburg is considered his finest hour, and is what he is mainly remembered for. On that day he posted the cannons of his brigade along the Wheatfield Road to support the III Corps line that extended to the Peach Orchard and Emmitsburg Road. When the Confederates from General James Longstreet's Corps attacked and smashed the III Corps line, his 4 batteries fought hard until they were threatened by the Rebels, and were ordered by Colonel McGilvery to retreat to Cemetery Ridge. When he saw a huge hole in the Union line there, he ordered the 9th Massachusetts Battery to make a heroic, unsupported stand in front of the Trostle House while he scrapped together a defense on the Ridge. Colonel McGilvery then formed a line along the Plum Run (located in front of the present day Pennsylvania Monument) with time bought by the Massachusetts Battery, and he was able to hold off the Confederates until II Corps Infantry reinforcements were rushed to the area. This defense helped save the Union Army, and he was greatly lauded for his performance by his superiors. On the Third Day of the Battle his line of artillery helped destroy the celebrated Pickett's Charge. He continued to command the 1st Volunteer Artillery Brigade up to May 1864, when he was detailed to command the Army of the Potomac' ammunition and artillery train during the Overland Campaign.
On August 9, 1864 he was named Chief of Artillery for the X Corps.
At the Battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia (August 16, 1864) he sustained a slight wound to one of his fingers. He ignored this wound, and continued with his duties until an infection caused the need for the injured finger to be amputated.
He became full Colonel on the 1st of September, 1863. He led his command in the Battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Mine Run. His performance on the 2nd Day of Gettysburg is considered his finest hour. On September 2, 1864 in Petersburg, Virginia, he died suddenly during the surgery from the effects of chloroform. Today in the Gettysburg National Military Park an avenue is named "McGilvery Artillery Avenue" in honor of him and his command.
References, Sources, and other notes:
Source:Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889.
Maine Public Law, Title I, Sect 5, ß141: "The first Saturday of September of each year is designated as Colonel Freeman McGilvery Day. The Governor shall annually issue a proclamation urging the people of the State to observe the day with appropriate celebration and activity."
The picture above is from the National Park Service Gettysburg site, kindly located for us by Christoper McGilvery.
The Original 6th
The original 6th Maine Battery was organized by freeman McGilvery in November and December of 1861. It was mustered into United States service at Augusta Maine on 1 January 1862.
It spent its first few months in Maine before receiving orders to report to Washington D.C. on March 30th. It arrived on 3 April 1862.
The major battles that the 6th Maine was involved in were:Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run Chantilly, Antietam, Gettysburg, Mine Run Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Deep Bottom
The Battery consisted of four light 12 pound brass Napoleons and two 10 pound parrot rifles.
On 3 May 1865 it left City point to commence its homeward march. it arrived in Augusta Maine on 7 June 1865. It served for three and one half years
|January 1||Organized at Augusta and mustered in; Duty at Augusta until March and at Portland, ME.|
|April 1-3||Moved to Washington, D.C.; Camp at East Capital Hill and at Forts Buffalo and Ramsey, and at Falls Church, VA.|
|June||Ordered to report to General Banks at Harper's Ferry, W. VA; Attached to 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of Virginia; Duty at Harper's Ferry, Cedar Creek and Little Washington, VA|
|August||Attached to Artillery, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps.|
|August 9||Battle of Cedar Mountain|
|August 16 - September 2||Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia|
|August||Attached to Artillery, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps|
|August 20-26||Fords of the Rappahannock|
|August 29||Battle of Groveton|
|August 30||Battle of Bull Run|
|September||Attached to Artillery, 2nd Division, 12th Corps, Army of Potomac|
|September - October||Maryland Campaign|
|September 14||Crampton's Pass, South Mountain Md.|
|September 16-17||Battle of Anietam|
|September - December||Duty at Sandy Hook, Md. and at Harper's Ferry, W. VA.|
|December 2 - 6||Reconnaissance to Winchester|
|December 27||Action at Dumfries|
|January - May||Duty at Dumfries|
|May 27||At Falmouth|
|June||4th Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army Potomac|
|June - July||Gettysburg Campaign|
|July 1 -3||Battle of Gettysburg. The batter was commanded at Gettysburg by Lieutenant Edwin B. Dow. It brought 103 men to the field serving four 12 - pounded Napoleons, and suffered 13 wounded.|
|July 7 - 14||Pursuit to Williamsport, Md|
|July 13||Frederick, Md|
|July 18 - August 2||March to Warrenton Junction, VA and duty there|
|September||1st Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve|
|September 16||At Culpeper|
|October 12 - 22||Bristoe Campaign|
|October 12 - 13||Culpeper|
|November 7 - 8||Advance to line of Rappahannock|
|November 26 - December 2||Mine Run Campaign|
|November 28 - 30||Mine Run|
|April||Attached to Artillery Brigade, 2nd Army Corps|
|May 3||Campaign from the Rapidan to James River|
|May 5 - 7||Battles of the Wilderness|
|May 8 - 12||Spottsylvania|
|May 12 - 21||Spottsylvania C. H.|
|May 12||"Bloody Angle", Spottsylvania C. H.|
|May 23 - 26||North Anna River|
|May 26 - 28||On line of the Pamunkey|
|May 28 - 31||Totopotomoy|
|June 1 - 12||Cold Harbor|
|June 16 - 19||Before Petersburg|
|June 16||Siege of Petersburg|
|June 22 - 23||Jerusalem Plank Road|
|July 27 - 28||Deep Bottom|
|July 30||Mine Explosion (Reserve)|
|August 14 - 18||Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom|
|October 20||Garrison, Fort Davis|
|October||At Fort McGilvery and Battery 9|
|November||Artillery Reserve, Army Potomac|
|March 15||At Fort Sampson|
|April 2 - 3||Assault on and capture of Petersburg|
|April 3||Ordered to Reserve Artillery at City Point|
|May 3||Ordered to Alexandria|
|June 4||Ordered to Augusta, ME|
|June 7||Mustered out|
Morning report for June 30, 1863: Present for duty – 2 officers, 101 men, 103 total.
Absent – 2 detached service, 13 sick
Present and absent – 2 officers, 116 men
Senior First Lieutenant, Edwin B. Dow,
Portland, commanding the battery.
Junior First Lieutenant, William H. Rogers, Stockton
Marshall N. McKusick, Baring
Jeremiah Gardiner, Portland
Joshua J. Seamons, Cary Plantation Samuel Thurston, Portland
Joseph W. Burke, Lee James A. Pray, Gardiner
Timothy Hegarty, Miramichi, New Brunswick
Wilson W. Sawtelle, Dexter
William S. Leavitt, New Limerick
Andrew J. Brown, St. George Albert A. Fling, Gardiner
Edward R. Lamb, New Portland John G. Deane, Portland
Thomas J. Daggett, Cary Plantation Winslow Hutchings, Alexander
Edward L. Merrithew, Searsport Joseph Winter, Carthage
John Cronan, Houlton
Adams, John Q., Hodgdon
Annis, John, Houlton
Henry H. Crosby, Augusta
Artificers and Blacksmiths
Jonas C. Spooner, Houlton
William H. Charles, Smithfield
Aaron P. Kinney, Houlton
Watson Andrews, Saco