THE FIRST DAY AT GETTYSBURG - History

THE FIRST DAY AT GETTYSBURG - History



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By Henry Hunt Major General USA

The battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville raised the confidence of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to such a height as to cause its subordinate officers and soldiers to believe that, as opposed to the Army of the Potomac, they were equal to any demand that could be made upon them. their belief in the superiority of the Southerner to the Northerner as a fighter was no longer, as at the beginning of the war, a mere provincial conceit, for it was now supported by signal successes in the field. On each of these two occasions the Army of the Potomac had been recently reorganized under a new general, presumably abler than his predecessor and possessing the confidence of the War Department, and the results were crowning victories for the Confederates. Yet at Fredericksburg defeat was not owing to any lack of fighting qualities on the part of the Federal soldiers, but rather to defective leadership.

At Chancellorsville both qualities were called in question. In none of the previous battles between these armies had the disparity of numbers been so great. The federal general had taken the initiative, his plan of operations was excellent, and his troops were eager for battle. The Confederates could at first oppose but a portion of their inferior force to the attack of greatly superior numbers, and the boast of the Federal commander, that "The Army of Northern Virginia was the legitimate property of the Army of the Potomac," seemed in a fair way to be justified, when at first contact the advantages already gained were thrown away by the assumption of a timid, defensive attitude. Lee's bold offensive, which followed immediately on this exhibition of weakness, the consequent rout of a Federal army-corps, and the subsequent retreat of the whole Army, a large portion of which had not been engaged, confirmed the exultant Confederates in their conviction--which now became an article of faith--that both in combat and in generalship the superiority of the southerner was fully established. The Federal soldiers returned from Chancellorsville to their camps on the northern bank of the Rappahannock, mortified and incensed at finding themselves, through no fault of their own, in the condition of having in a offensive campaign lost the battle without fighting, exempt when the enemy forced it upon them.

Yet in this battle the northern soldier fought well. Under the circumstances no men could have withstood such a sudden attack as that made by "Stonewall" Jackson on the flank and rear of the Eleventh Corps; but as soon As Jackson encountered troops in condition for action, his pursuit checked and he was brought to a stand. The panic did not extend beyond the routed corps, nor to all of that, for its artillery and so much of its infantry as could form a proper line did their duty, and the army, far from being "demoralized" by this mishap, simply ridiculed the corps, which from its supposed want of vigilance, had allowed itself to be surprised in a position in which it could not fight. The surprise itself was not the fault of the troops, and in subsequent battles the corps redeemed its reputation. Both armies were composed in the main of Americans, and there was little more difference between their men and than might be found between those of either army at different periods, or under varying circumstances; for although high bounties had already brought into the Federal ranks an inferior element which swelled the muster-rolls and the number of stragglers, "bounty jumping" had not yet become a regular business.

The morale of the Confederate army was, however, much higher at this time than that of its adversary. It was composed of men not less patriotic, many of whom had gone into war with reluctance, but who now felt that they were defending their homes. They were by this time nearly all veterans, led by officers having the confidence of their Government, which took pains to inspire its soldiers with the same feeling. Their successes were extolled and magnified, their reverses palliated or ignored. Exaggerations as to the relative numbers of the troops had been common enough on both sides, but those indulged in at the sought had been echoed, sometimes suggested, in the North by a portion of the press and people, so that friends and enemies united in inspiring the Confederate soldier a belief in himself and a contempt for his enemy. In the army of the Potomac it was different; the proportion of veterans was much smaller; a cessation of recruiting at the very beginning of active operations, when men were easily attainable to supply losses in existing regiments, had been followed, as emergencies arose, by new levies, for short periods of service, and in new organizations of which could not readily be assimilated by older troops. Moreover their were special difficulties. The army of the Potomac was not in favor at the War Department. Rarely, if ever, had it heard a word of official commendation after a success, or of sympathy or encouragement after a defeat. From the very beginning its camps had been filled with imputations and charges against its leaders, who were accused on the streets, by the press, in Congress, and even in the War Department itself, and after victories as well as after defeats, not only of incapacity or misconduct, but sometimes of "disloyalty" to their superiors, civil and military, and even to the cause for which they fought. These accusations were followed or accompanied by frequent changes of commanders of the army, of army-corps, and even of divisions. Under such circumstances, but little confidence could be felt by the troops, either in the wisdom of a war office which seemed to change its favorites with the caprice of a croquette, or in the capacity of new generals who followed each other in such rapid succession. But it is do to that patient and sorely tried army, to say that the spirit of both officers and men was of the best, and their devotion to duty unconquerable. The army itself had originally been so admirably disciplined and tempered, that their always remained to it a firm self-reliance and a stern sense of duty and honor that was proof against its many discouragements. In battle it always aquatinted itself well and displayed the highest soldierly qualities, no matter who commanded it whence it came. Chancellorsville furnishes no exemption to this assertion, nor evidence of inferiority of the Northern to the Southern soldier, but it does furnish striking illustrations of Napoleon's well-known saying, "In war men are nothing, a man is everything."

General Lee, who felt great confidence in his own troops, and overrated the effects of successive reverses on the federal soldiers, now resolved to assume the offensive, for he knew to remain on the defensive would in the end force him back on Richmond. He determined, therefore, in case the Army of the Potomac could not be brought to action under favorable circumstances in Virginia, to transfer, if permitted, the field of operations to Northern soil, where a victory promptly followed up might give him possession of Baltimore or Washington, and perhaps lead to the recognition of the Confederacy by foreign powers. The valley of the Shenandoah offered a safe line of operations; the Federal troops occupying it were rather a bait than an obstacle, and to capture or destroy them seemed quite practical to one who controlled absolutely all Confederate troops within the sphere of his operations. The sharp lesson he had administered the previous year had not been heeded by the Federal War office; an opportunity now offered to repeat it, and he took his measures accordingly. In case his Government would not consent to a bolder offensive, he could at least clear the valley of Virginia of the enemy, --a distinct operation, yet a necessary preliminary to an invasion of the North. This work was assigned to Lieutenant-General Ewell, an able officer, in every way qualified for such an enterprise.

In anticipation of the new campaign, Lee's army was strengthened and reorganized into three army-corps of three divisions each. Each division consisted of four brigades, except Rodes's and Anderson's, which had five each, and Pickett's, which had three at Gettysburg, -- in all, thirty-seven infantry brigades. The cavalry were the select troops of the Confederacy. Officers and men had been accustomed all their lives to the use of horses and arms, "and to the very end the best blood in the land rode after Stuart, Hampton, and the Lees." They were now organized as a division, under Major-General J. E.B. Stuart, consisting of the six brigades of Hampton, Robertson, Fitzhugh Lee, Jenkins, W.E. Jones, and W. H.F. Lee, and six batteries of horse-artillery under Major R. F. Beckman. To these should be added Imboden's command, a strong brigade of over 2000 effective horsemen and a battery of horse-artillery, which had been operating in the mountain county and was now near Staunton, awaiting orders. The artillery had recently received an excellent organization under its commandant-in-chief, General Pendleton. It consisted, besides the horse-artillery, of fifteen so-called "battalions," each of four batteries, with one lieutenant-colonel and a major. To each army-corps were attached five battalions, one for each division and two as a reserve, the whole under a colonel as a chief of artillery. The total number of batteries was 69, of guns 287, of which 30 were with the Cavalry. With few exceptions the batteries were of four guns each. The army was commanded by a full general, each army-corps, except the artillery, by a lieutenant-general, each division by a major-general, each brigade, except two, by brigadier-generals. Nearly all these officers were veterans of proved ability and many had served in the Mexican war.

In the Army of the Potomac the discharge of 58 regiments had reduced its strengths since Chancellorsville by 25,000 effective, partly replaced by 5 brigades numbering less than 12,000 men. At the battle of Gettysburg the 7 army-corps consisted of 19 infantry divisions, 7 of which had 2 brigades, 11 had 3, and 1 had 4; in all 51 brigades. The army and army-corps were commanded by major-generals, the divisions by 3 major-generals and 16 brigadier-generals, the infantry brigades by 22 brigadier-generals and 29 colonels. The average strength of army-corps and divisions was about half that of the Confederates, a fact that should be kept in mind, or terms will be misleading. The cavalry had been raised under disadvantages. Men accustomed to the use of both horses and arms were comparatively few in the North and required training in everything that was necessary to make a trooper. The theater of war was not considered favorable for cavalry, and it was distributed to the various headquarters for escort duty, guards, and orderlies. It was not until 1863 that it was united under General Pleasonton in a corps consisting of three weak divisions, Buford's, D. McM. Gregg's, and Duffie's, afterward consolidated into two, Stahel's cavalry, which joined at Frederick, June 28, becoming the third division. The corps was then organized as follows: First Division, Buford: brigades, Gamble, Devin, Merritt; Second Division, Gregg: brigades, McIntosh, Huey, J. Irving Gregg; Third Division, Kilpatrick: brigades, Farnsworth, Custer. The divisions and three of the brigades were commanded by brigadier-generals, the five brigades by colonels. To the cavalry were attached Robertson's and Tinball's brigades of horse-artillery. Under excellent chiefs and the spirit created by its new organization, the Federal cavalry soon rivaled that of the Confederates.

The field-artillery was in unsatisfactory condition. The high reputation it had gained in Mexico was followed by the active and persistent hostility of the War Department, which almost immediately dismounted three-fourths of its authorized batteries. Congress in 1853 made special provision for remounting them as schools of instruction for the whole arm, a duty which the war Department on shallow pretexts evaded. Again in 1861 Congress amply provided for the proper organization and command of the artillery in the field, but as there was no chief nor special administration for the arm, and no regulations for its government, its organization, control, and direction were left to the fancies of the various army commanders. General officers were practically denied it, and in 1862 the war Department announced in orders that field-officers of artillery were an unnecessary expense and their muster into service forbidden. Promotion necessarily ceased, and such able artillerists as Hays, DeRussy, Getty, Gibbon, Griffon and Ayers could only receive promotion by transfer to the infantry of cavalry. No adequate measures were taken for the supply of recruits, and the batteries were frequently dependent on the troops to which they were attached for men enough to work their guns in battle. For battery-draft they were often glad to get the refuse horses after the ambulance and quartermasters' trains were supplied. Still, many of the batteries attained a high degree of excellence, due mainly to the self-sacrifice, courage, and intelligence of their officers and men.

On taking command of the army, General hooker had transferred the military command of the artillery to his own headquarters, to be resumed by the chief of artillery only under specific orders and for special occasions, which resulted in such mismanagement and confusion at Chancellorsville that he consented to organize the artillery into brigades. This was a decided improvement, which would have been greater if the brigade commanders had held adequate rank. As it was, there was no artillery commandant-in-chief for months before the battle of Gettysburg, and of the 14 brigades 4 were commanded by field-officers, 9 by captains, and 1 by a lieutenant, taken from their batteries for the purpose. The number of field-batteries at Gettysburg was 65, of guns, 370, of which 212 were with the infantry, 50 with the cavalry, 108 in the reserve. The disadvantages under which the artillery labored all through the war, from want of proper regulations, supervision, and command were simply disgraceful to our army administration from the close of the Mexican to that of the Civil war, and caused an unnecessary expenditure of both blood and treasure.

It will be perceived by comparison that the organization of the Army of the Potomac was at this period in every way inferior to that of its adversary. The army-corps and divisions were too numerous and too weak. They required too many commanders and staffs, and this imposed unnecessary burdens on the general-in-chief, who was often compelled to place several army-corps under the commander of one of them, thus reproducing the much abused "grand divisions" of Burnside, under every possible disadvantage. Had the number of infantry corps been reduced to four at mast, and the division to twelve, the army would have been more manageable and better commanded, and the artillery, without any loss, but rather a gain of efficiency, would have been reduced by a dozen of fifteen batteries.

Early in June Lee's army began to move, and by the 8th Longstreet's and Ewell"s corps had joined Stuart's cavalry at Culpeper. A.P. Hill's corps was left in observation at Fredericksburg; and so skillfully were the changes concealed that Hooker, believing that all the enemy's infantry were still near that town, ordered Pleasonton to beat up Stuart's camps at Culpeper, and get information as to the enemy's position and proposed movements. For these purposes he gave Pleasonton two small brigades of infantry, 3000 men under Generals Ames and Russell, which carried his total force of 10,981. They were echeloned along the railroad, which crosses the river at Rappahannock Station, and runs thence ten miles to Culpeper. About midway is Brady Station a few hundred yards north of which is Fleetwood Hill. Dividing his force equally, Pleasonton ordered Buford and Ames to cross at Beverly Ford, and Gregg, Duffie, and Russel at Kelly's Ford. All were to march to Brady Station, Duffie being thrown out to Stevensburg, seven miles east of Culpeper, to watch the Fredericksburg road. Then the whole force was to move on to Culpeper. On the 8th, General Lee, having sent Jenkin's brigade as Ewell's advance into the valley, reviewed the other 5 brigades of Stuart, 10,292 combatants, on the plains near Brady Station. After the review they were distributed in the neighborhood with a view to crossing the Rappahannock on the 9th, Stuart establishing his headquarters at Fleetwood. Accident had thus disposed his forces in the most favorable manner to meet Pleasonton's converging movements.

At daybreak Buford crossed and drove the enemy's pickets from the ford back to the main body, near St. James church. Stuart, on first report of the crossing, sent Robertson's brigade toward Kelly's to watch that ford, and Colonel M. C. Butler's 2d South Carolina to Brady Station. He himself took the command at the church, where he was attacked by Buford. At Brady Station W. H. Lee was wounded, and Colonel Chambliss took command of his brigade. Meantime Gregg had crossed at Kelly's Ford, and Duffie, leading, took a southerly road, by which he missed Robertson's brigade. Learning that Duffie's advance had reached Stevensburg and that Buford was heavily engaged, Gregg pushed direct for Brady Station, sending orders to Duffie to follow his movement. Stuart, notified of his approach, had sent in haste some artillery and two of Jones's regiments to Fleetwood, and Colonel Butler started at once for Stevensburg, followed soon after by Wickham's 4th Virginia. On their approach two squadrons of the 6th Ohio, in occupation of the place, fell back skirmishing. Duffie sent two regiments to their aid, and after a severe action, mainly with the 2d South Carolina, reoccupied the village. In this action Colonel butler lost a leg, and his lieutenant-colonel, Hampton, was killed.

On Gregg's arrival near Brady Station the enemy appeared to be in large force, with artillery, on and about Fleetwood Hill. He promptly ordered an attack; the hill was carried, and the two regiments sent by Stuart were driven back. Buford now attacked vigorously and gained ground steadily, for Stuart had to reinforce his troops at Fleetwood from the church. In the struggles that followed, the hill several times changed masters; but as Duffie did not make his appearance, Greg was finally overmatched and withdrew, leaving three of his guns, two of them disabled, in the enemy's hands, nearly all of their horses being killed and most of their cannoneers hors de combat. There were some demonstrations of pursuit, but the approach of Buford's reserve brigade stopped them. Duffie finally came up and Gregg reported to Pleasonton, informing him of the approach of Confederate infantry from Culpeper. Pleasonton, who had captured some important dispatches and orders, now considered his mission accomplished, and ordered a withdrawal of his whole command. This was effected leisurely and without molestation. Gregg recrossed at Rappahannock Station, Buford at Beverly Ford, and at sunset the river again flowed between opposing forces. Stuart reports his losses at 485, of whom 301 were killed or wounded. Pleasonton reports an aggregate loss(exclusive of Duffies, which would not exceed 25) of 907, of whom 421 were killed or wounded. In nearly all the previous so-called "cavalry" actions, the troops had fought as dismounted dragoons. This was in the main a true cavalry battle, and enabled the Federals to dispute the superiority hitherto claimed by, and conceded to, the Confederate cavalry. In this respect the affair was an important one. It did not however delay Lee's designs on the valley; he had already sent Imboden toward Cumberland to destroy the railroad and canal from that place to Martinsburg.

Milroy's federal division, about 9000 strong, occupied Winchester, with McRenolds's brigade in observation at Berryville. Kelley's division of about 10,000 men was at Harpers Ferry, with a detachment 1200 infantry and a battery under Colonel B. Smith at Martinsburg. On the night of June 11, Milroy received instructions to join kelley, but, reporting that he could hold Winchester, was authorized to remain there. Ewell, leaving Brandy Station June 10th, reached Cedarville via Chester Gap on the evening of the 12th, whence he detached Jenkins and Rodes to capture McRenolds, who, discovering there approach, withdrew to Winchester. They then pushed on to Martinsburg, and on the 14th drove out the garrison. Smith's infantry crossed the Potomac at Shepardstown, and made its way to Maryland heights; his artillery retreated by the Williamsport road, was pursued, and lost five guns.

Meanwhile Ewell, with Early's and Edward Johnson's divisions, marched direct on Winchester. Arriving in the neighborhood on the evening of the 13th, he ordered early on the 14th to leave a brigade in observation on the south of the town, move his main force under cover of the hills to the northwestern side, and seize the outworks which commanded the main fort. He also ordered Johnson to deploy his division on the east of town, so as to divert attention from Early. this was so successfully done that the latter placed, unperceived, twenty guns and an assaulting column in position, and at 6 p. m., by a sudden attack, carried the outworks, driving the garrisons into the body of the place. This capture was a complete surprise, and Milroy called a council of war, which he decided on an immediate retreat, abandoning the artillery and wagons. Ewell had anticipated this, and ordered Johnson to occupy with a brigade a position on the Martinsburg pike, north of Winchester. The retreat commenced at 2 a. m. of the 15th, and after proceeding three or four miles, the advance encountered Johnson's troops, attacked vigorously, and at first successfully, but, the enemy receiving reenforcements, a hard fight ensued in which the Federals lost heavily. The retreat was then continued; the troops separated in the darkness, one portion reaching harper's ferry, another crossing the Potomac at Hancock. On the 15th Ewell crossed the river, occupied Hagerstown and sharpsburg, and sent Jenkin's cavalry to Chambersburg to collect supplies. On the 17th the garrison of Harper's Ferry was removed to Maryland Heights, and the valley of the Shenandoah was cleared of Federal troops. In these brilliant operations general lee claims for Ewell the capture of 4000 prisoners and small-arms, 28 pieces of artillery, 11 colors, 300 loaded wagons, as many horses, and a considerable quantity of stores of all descriptions, the entire Confederate loss, killed, wounded, and missing, being 269.

These operations indicate on the part of General Lee either contempt for his opponent, or a belief that the chronic terror of The War Department for the safety of Washington could be safely relied upon to paralyze his movements, --or both. On no other reasonable hypothesis can we account for his stretching his army from Fredicksburg to Williamsport, with his enemy concentrated on one flank, and on the shortest road to Richmond.

General Hooker's instructions were to keep always in view the safety of Washington and Harper's Ferry, and this necessarily subordinated his operations to those of the enemey. On June 5th he reported that in case Lee moved via Culpeper toward the Potomac with his main body, leaving a corps at Fredericksburg, he should consider it his duty to attack the latter, and asked if that would be within the spirit of his instructions. In reply he was warned against such a course, and its dangers to Washington and Harper's Ferry were pointed out. On June 10th learning that Lee was in motion, and that there were but few troops in Richmond, he proposed an immediate march on that place, from which after capturing it, he could send the disposable part of the force to any threatened point north of the Potomac, and was informed that Lee's army, and not Richmond, was his true objective.

He had taken Richmond, Peck's large force at Suffolk and Keyes's 10,000 men in the Penninsula might have been untilized, and Hooker's whole army set free for operations against Lee.

As yet an invasion of the North had not been definitely fixed upon. On June 8th, the day before the engagement at Brandy Station, Lee, in a confidential letter to Mr. Sedon, Confederate Secreatry of War, stated that he was aware of the hazard of taking the aggressive, yet nothing was to be gained by remaining on the defensive; still, if the department thought it better to so, he would adopt that course. Mr. Seddon replied, June 10th, the date of Hooker's proposal to march on Richmond, concurring in General Lee's views. He considered action indispensable, that "all attendant risks and sacrifices must be incurred," and adds, "I have not hesitated, in cooperating with your plans, to leave this city almost defenseless." General Lee now had full liberty of action, with the assured support of his Government, -an immense advantage over an opponent who had neither.

As soon as Hooker learned from Pleasonton that a large infantry force was at Culpeper, he extended his right up the Rappahannock, and when informed of Ewell's move toward the valley, being forbidden to attack A. P. Hill at Fredericksburg or to spoil Lee's plans by marching to Richmond, he moved his army, on the night of June 13th, toward the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and occupied Thoroughfare Gap in advance of it. On the 15th Longstreet left Culpeper, keeping east of the Blue Ridge and so covering it gaps. Hill left Fredericksburg on the 14th, and reached Shepherdstown via Chester Gap on the 23d. Stuart's cavalry had been thrown out on Longstreet's right to occupy the passes of the Bull Run mountains and watch Hooker's army. On the 17th he encountered, near Aldie, a portion of Pleasonton's command; a fierce fight ensued, which left the Federals in possession of the field. During the four following days there was a succession of cavalry combats; those of the 19th near Middleburg, and of the 21st near Upperville, were especially well contested, and resulted in the retreat of Stuart through Ahsby's Gap. Longstreet had already withdrawn through the gaps and followed Hill to the Potomac. Imboden, his work of destruction completed, had taken post at Hancock. Longstreet and Hill crossed the Potomac on the 24th and 25th and directed their march on Chambersburg and Fayetteville, arriving on the 27th. Stuart had been directed to guard the mountain passes until the Federal army crossed the river, and, according to General Lee's report. "to lose no time in placing his command on the right of our [Confederate] column as soon as he should perceive the enemy moving northward," in order to watch and report his movements. According to Stuart's report, he was authorized to cross between the Federal army and Washington and directed after crossing to proceed with all dispatch to join Early in Pennsylavania.

General Lee so far had been completely successful; his army was exultant, and he lost no time in availing himself of his advantages. On the 21st he ordered Ewell to take possession of Harrisburg; and on the 22d Ewell's whole corps was on the march, Rodes's and Johnson's division via Chambersburg to Carlisle, which they reached on the 27th, and Early via Greenwood and Gettysburg to York, with orders from Ewell to break up the Northern Central Railroad, destroy the bridge across the Susqehanna at Wrightsville, and then rejoin the main body at Carlisle. Early entered York on the 28th, and sent Gordon's brigade, not to destroy but to secure possession of the bridge, which would enable him to operate upon Harrisburg from the rear; but a small militia force under Colonel Frick, retreating from Wrightsville across the bridge, after an unsuccessful attempt to destroy one of its spans, set fire to and entirely destroyed that fine structure, Gordon's troops giving their aid to the citizens to save the town from the flames. On the 29th Ewell received orders from General Lee to rejoin the army at Cashtown; the next evening 30th, his reserve artillery and trains, with Johnson's division as an escort, were near Chambersburg, and Ewell and Early's and Rodes's, near Heidlersburg. Thus suddenly ended Ewell's Harrisburg expedition. One object was to collect supplies, and contributions were accordingly levied. Much damage was done to roads and bridges, but the prompt advance of the Army of the Potomac made this useless to the Confederates.

Before committing his army to an invasion of the North, General Lee reccommended the proper steps to cover and support it. In a letter of June 23d, addressed to President Davis, he states that the season was so far advanced as to stop further operations on the Southern coast, and that Confederate troops in that country and elsewhere were now disposable. He proposed, therefore, that an army should as soon as possible be organized at Culpeper, as "the well-known anxiety of the Northern Government for the safety of its capital would induce it to retain a large force for its defense, and thus relieve the opposition to our advance", and suggested that General Beauregard be placed in command, "as his presence would give magnitude even to a small demonstration." On the 25th he wrote twice to Mr. Davis urging the same views. The proposition embarressed Mr. Davis, who could not see how, with the few troops under his hand, it could be carried out. In fact, although General Lee had pointed out the means, the propostion came too late, as the decisive battle took place much earlier than was expected. This correspondence, however, with that between Lee and Mr. Seddon, shows that Hooker's project to capture Richmond by a coup-de-main was feasible. It was not now a question of "swapping queens." Washington was safe, being well fortified and sufficiently garrisoned, or with available troops within reach, without drawing on Hooker; and to take Richmond and scatter the Confederate Government was the surest way to ruin Lee's army- "his true objective."

On the first appearance of danger of invasion, Pennsylvania's vigilant governor, Curtin, warned the people of the State and called out the militia. General Couch was sent to Harrisburg to organize and command them, but dibelief in the danger-due to previous false alarms-caused delays until the fugitives from Milroy's command, followed by Jenkins's cavalry, roused the country. Defensive works were then thrown up at Harisburg and elsewhere, and local forces were raised and moved toward the enemy.

Early in June Hooker represented in strong terms the necessity of having one commander for all the troops whose operations would have an influence on those of Lee's army, and in reply was informed by Halleck that any movements he might suggest for other commands than his own would be ordered if practicable. Misunderstandings and confusion naturally resulted, and authority was given Hooker from time to time to exercise control over the troops of Heintzelman, commanding the Department of Washington, and of Schenck, commanding the Middle Department, followed, June 24th, by orders specifically placing the troops in Harper's Ferry and its vicinity at his disposal.

Disregarding Ewell's movements, Hooker conformed his own to those of the enemy's main body, and crossed the Potomac at Edwards's Ferry on the 25th and 26th of June. On the 27th three army-corps under Reynolds occupied Middleton and the South Mountain passes. The twelfth Corps was near Harper's Ferry, and the three other corps at or near Frederick. Hooker now ordered the Twelfth Corps to march early on the 28th to Harper's Ferry, there to joined by its garrison from Maryland Heights, in order to cut Lee's communications with Virginia, and in conjunction with Reynolds to operate on his rear. General Halleck, however, objected to the abandonment of the Heights, notwithstanding Hooker's representations that the position was utterly useless for any purpose; whereupon Hooker abandoned his project, and finding now that he was "not allowed to manoevre his own army in the presence of the enemy," asked to be relieved from his command. He had encountered some of the difficulties which had beset a predecessor whom he had himself mercilessly criticised, and promptly succombed to them. His request was complied with, and Major-General George G. Meade was appointed his successor, this being the fifth change of commanders of the army in front of Washington in ten months. Meade was an excellant officer of long service, who had always proved equal to his position, whether as a specialist or a commander of troops. Many welcomed his advent-some regretted Hooker's departure. All thought then time for the change unfortunate, but accepted loyally, as that army ever did, the leader designated by the President, and gave Meade their hearty support. He was succeeded in the command of the Fifth Corps by Major-General George Sykes, a veteran of the Mexican was and a distinguished soldier.

When General Meade assumed command, June 28th, the best information placed Longstreet at Chambersburg, A.P. Hill between that place and Cashtown, and Ewell in occupation of Carlisle, York, and the country between them, threatening Harrisburg, Unacquainted with Hooker's plans and views, he determined at once to move on the main line from Frederick to Harrisburg, extending his wings as far as compatible with a ready concentration, in order to force Lee to battle before he could cross the Susquehanna. With this view he spent the day in ascertaining the position of his army, and brought up his cavalry, Buford to his left, Gregg to his right, and Kilpatrick to the front. Directing French to occupy Frederick with seven thousand men of the garrison of Harper's Ferry, he put his army in motion early on the 29th. Kilpatrick reached Littlestown that night; and on the morning of the 30th the rear of his division, while passing through Hanover, was attacked by a portion of Stuart's cavalry. Stuart, availing himself of the discretion allowed him, had left Robertson's and Jones's brigades to guard the passes of the Blue Ridge, and on the night of the 24th, with those of Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and Chambliss, had started to move round the Army of the Potomac, pass between it and Centreville into Maryland, and so rejoin Lee; but the movements of that army forced him so far east that he was compelled to ford the Potomac near Seneca [20 miles above Washington], on the night of the 27th. Next morning, learning that Hooker had already crossed the river, he marched north by Rockville, where he captured a wagon train. Paroling his prisoners and taking the train with him, he pushed on-through Westminister, where he had a sharp action with a squadron of Delaware horse- to Union Mills, and encamped there on the 29th. During the night, he learned that the Federal army was still between him and Lee on its march north, and his scouts reported its cavalry in strong force at Littlestown, barring his direct road to Gettysburg; wherefore, on the morning of the 30th he moved across country to Hanover, Chambliss in front and Hampton in rear of his long train of two hundred wagons, with Fitzhugh Lee well out on his left flank. About 10 A. M. Chambliss, reaching Hanover, found Kilpatrick passing through the town and attacked him, but was driven out before Hampton or Lee could come to his support. Stuart's men and horses were now nearly worn out; he was encumbered with a large captured train; a junction with some part of Lee's army was a necessity, and he made a night march for York, only to learn that Early had left the day before. Pushing on to Carlisle, he found that Ewell was gone, and the place occupied by a militia force under General W. E. Smith. His demand of surrender was refused; he threw a few shells into the town and burned the Government barracks. That night he learned that Lee's army was concentrating at Gettysburg, and left for that place next day. Thus ended a raid which greatly embarressed Lee, and by which the services of three cavalry brigades were, in the critical period of the campaign, exchanged for a few hundred prisoners and a wagon train.

Hearing nothing from Stuart, and therefore believing that Hooker was still south of the Potomac, Lee, on the afternoon of the 28th, ordered Longstreet and A. Hill to join Ewell at Harrisburg; but late that night one of Longstreet's scouts came in and reported that the Federal army had crossed the river, that Meade had relieved Hooker and was at Frederick. Lee thereupon changed the rendezvous of his army to Cashtown, which place Heth reached on the 29th. Next day Heth sent Pettigrew's brigade on to Gettysburg, nine miles, to procure a supply of shoes. Nearing this place, Pettigrew discovered the advance of a large Federal force and returned to Cashtown. Hill immediately notified Generals Lee and Ewell, informing the latter that he would advance next morning on Gettysburg. Buford, sending Merritt's brigade to Mechanicstown as guard to his trains, had early on the morning of the 29th crossed into and moved up the Cumberland valley, good roads lead to all important points between the Susquehanna and the Potomac. It is therefore an important strategic position. On the west of the town, distant nearly half a mile, there is a somewhat elevated ridge running north and south, on which stands the "Lutheran Seminary." This ridge is covered with open woods through its whole length, and is terminated nearly a mile and a half north of the seminary by a commanding knoll, bare on its southern side, called Oak Hill. From this ridge the ground slopes gradually to the west, and again rising forms another ridge about 500 yards from the first, upon which, nearly opposite the seminary, stand McPherson's farm buildings. The second ridge is wider, smoother, and lower than the first, and Oak Hill, their intersection, has a clear view of the slopes of both ridges and of the valley between them. West of McPherson's ridge Willoughby Rn flows south into Marsh Creek. South of the farm buildings and directly opposite the seminary, a wood borders the run for about 300 yards, and streches back to the summit of McPherson's ridge. From the town two roads run: one south-west to Hagerstown via Fairfield, the other north-westerly to Chambersburg via Cashtown. The seminary is midway between them, about 300 yards from each. Parallel to and 150 yards north of the Chambersburg pike, is the bed of an unfinished railroad, with deep cuttinings through the two ridges. Directly north of the town the country is comparatively flat and open: on the east of it, Rock Creek flows south. On the south, and overlooking it, is a ridge of bold, high ground, terminated on the west by Cemetary Hill and on the east by Culp's Hill, which, bending to the south, extends half a mile or more and terminates in low grounds near Spangler's Spring. Culp's Hill is steep toward the east, is well wooded, and its eastern base is washed by Rock Creek.

Impressed by the importance of the position, Buford, expecting the early return of the enemy in force, assigned to Devin's brigade the country north, and to Gamble's that west of the town; sent out scouting parties on all the roads to collect information, and reported the condition of affairs to Reynolds. His pickits extended from below the Fairfield road, along hte estern bank of Willoghby Run, to the railroad cut, then easterly some 1500 yards north of the town, to a wooded hillock near Rock Creek.

On the night of June 30th Meade's headquarters and the Artillery Reserve were at Taneytown; the First COrps at Marsh Run, the Eleventh at Emmitsburg, Third at Bridgeport, Twelfth at Littlestown, Second at Uniontown, Fifth at Union Mills, Sixth and Gregg's cavalry at Manchester, Kilpatrick's at Hanover. A glance at the map will show at what disadvantage Meade's army was now placed. Lee's whole army was nearing Gettysburg, while Meade's was scattered over a wide region to the east and south of that town.

Meade was now convinced that all designs on the Susquehanna had been abandoned; but as Lee's corps were reported as occupying the country from Chambersburg to Carlisle, he ordered, for the next day's moves, the First and Eleventh corps to Gettysburg, under Reynolds, the Third to Emmitsburg, the Second to Taneytown, the Fifth to Hanover, and the Twelfth to Two Taverns, directing Slocum to take command of the Fifth in addition to his own. The Sixth Corps was left at Manchester, thirty-four miles from Gettysburg, to await orders. But Meade, while confronting to the current of Lee's movement, was not merely drifting. The same afternoon he directed the chiefs of engineers and artillery to selct a field of battle on which his army might be concentrated, whatever Lee's lines of approach, whether by Harrisburg or Gettysburg, - indicating the general line of Pipe Creek as a suitable locality. Carefully drawn instructions were sent to the corps commanders as to the occupation of this line, should it be ordered; but it was added that developments might cause the offensive to be assumed from present positions. These orders were afterward cited as indicating General Meade's intention not to fight at Gettysburg; but events finally controoled the actions of both leaders.

At 8 A. M., July 1st, Buford's scouts reported Heth's advance on the Cashtown road, when Gamble's brigade formed on McPherson's Ridge, from the Farifield road to the railroad cut; one section of Calef's battery A, 2d United States, near the left of his line, the other two across the Chambersburg or Cashtown pike. Devin fromed his disposable squandrons from Gamble's right toward Oak Hill, from which he had afterward to transfer them to the north of the town to meet Ewell. As Heth advanced, he threw Archer's brigade to the right, Davis's to the left of the Cashtown pike, with Petigrew's and Brockenbrough's brigades in support. The Confederates advance skirmishing heavily with Buford's dismounted troopers. Calef's battery, engaging double the number of its own guns, was served with an efficiency worthy of its fromer reputation as "Duncan's battery" in the Mexican war, and so enabled the cavalry to hold their long line for two hours. When Buford's report of the enemy's advance reached Reynolds, the latter, ordering Doubleday and Howard to follow, hastened toward Gettysburg with Wadsworth's small division (two brigades, Meredith's and Cutler's) and Hall's 2d Maine battery. As he approached he heard the sound of battle, and directing the troops to cross the fields toward the firing, galloped himself to the seminary, met Buford there, and both rode to the front, where the cavalry, dismounted, were gallantly holding their ground against heavy odds. After viewing the field, he sent back to hasten up Howard, and as the enemy's main line was now advancing to the attack, directed Doubleday, who had arrived in advance of his division, to look to the Fairfield road, sent Cutler with three of his five regiments north of the railroad cut, posted the other two under Colonel Fowler, of the 14th New York, south of the pike, and replaced Calef's battery by Hall's, thus relieving the cavalry. Cutler's line was hardly formed when it was struck by Davis's Confederate brigade on its front and right flank, whereupon Wadsworth, to save it, ordered it to fall back to Seminary Ridge. This order not reaching the 147th New York, its gallant major, Harney, held that regiment to its position until, having lost half its numbers, the order to retire was repeated. Hall's battery was now imperiled, and it withdrew by sections, fighting at close canister range and suffering severly. Fowler thereupon changed his front to face Davis's brigade, which held the cut, and with Dawe's 6th Wisconsin- sent by Doubleday to aid the 147th New York- charged and drove Davis from the field. The Confederate brigade suffered severly, losing all its field-officers but two, and a large proportion of its men killed and captured, being disabled for further effective service that day. In the meantime Archer's Confederate brigade had occupied McPherson's wood, and as the regiments of Meredith's "Iron Brigade" came up, they were sent forward by Doubleday, who fully recognized the importance of the position, to dislodge Archer. At the entrance of the wood they found Reynolds in person, and, animated by his presence, rushed to the charge, struck successive heavy blows, outflanked and turned the enemy's right, captured General Archer and a large portion of his brigade, and pursued the remainder across Willoughby Run. Wadsworth's small division had thus won decided successes against superior numbers, but it was at grievous cost to the army and the country, for Reynolds, while directing the operations, was killed in the wood by a sharp-shooter. It was not, however, until by his prompitude and gallantry he had dtermined the decisive field of the war, and had opened brilliantly a battle which required three days of hard fighting to close with a victory. To him may be applied in a wider sense than in its original one, Napier's happy eulogium on Ridge: "No man died on that field with more glory than he, yet many died, and there was much glory."

After the repulse of Davis and Archer, Heth's division was formed in line mostly south of the Cashtown pike, with Pender's in second line, Pegram's and McIntosh's artillery (nine batteries) occupying all the commanding positions west of Willoughby Run. Doubleday reestablished his former lines, Meredith holding McPherson's wood. Soon after, Rowley's and Robinson's divisions (two brigades each) and the four remaining batteries of the corps arrived. Rowley's division was thrown froward. Stone's brigade to the interval between Meredith and Cutler, and Biddle's with Cooper's battery to occupy the ridge between the wood and the Fairfield road. Reynolds's battery replaced Hall's, and Calef's rejoined Gamble's cavalry, now in reserve. Robinson's division was halted near the base of Seminary Ridge. By this time, near noon, General Howard arrived, assumed command, and directed General Shurz, commanding the Eleventh Corps, to prolong Doubleday's line toward Oak Hill with Schimmelfennig's and Barlow's divisions and three batteries, and to post Steinwehr's division and two batteries on Cemetary Hill, as rallying-point. By 1 o'clock, when this corps was arriving, Buford had reported Ewell's approach by the Heidlersburg road, and Howard called on Sickles at Emittsburg and Slocum at Two Taverns for aid, to which both these officers promptly responed. It was now no longer a question of prolonging Doubleday's line, but of protecting it against Ewell whilst engaged in front with Hill. Shurz's two divisions, hardly 6000 effectives, accordingly fromed line on the open plain half a mile north of the town. They were too weak to cover the ground, and a wide interval was left between the two corps, covered only by the fire of Diger's and Wheeler's batteries (ten guns) posted behind it.

That morning, whilst on the march to Cashtown, Ewell received Hill's notice that his corps was advancing to Gettysburg, upon which he turned the heads of his own columns to that point. Reporting the change by a staff-officer to General Lee, Ewell was instructed that if the Federals were in force at Gettysburg a general battle was not to be brought on until the rest of the army was up. Approaching Gettysburg, Rodes, guided by the sounds of battle, followed the prolongation of Seminary Ridge; Iverson's, Daniel's, and Ramseur's brigades on the western, O'Neal's and Doles on the eastern slope. Ewell, recognizing the importance of Oak Hill, ordered it to be occupied by Carter's artillery battalion, which immediately opened on both the Federal corps, enfilading Doubleday's line. This caused Wadsworth again to withdraw Cutler to Seminary Ridge, and Reynold's battery was posted near McPherson's house, under partial cover. Stone therefore placed two of his three regiments on the Cashtown pike, so as to face Oak Hill. This left an interval between Stone and Cutler, through which Cooper and Reynolds could fire with effect, and gave to these lines a cross-fire on troops entering the angle between them. Robinson now sent his two brigades to strngthen Cutler's right. They took post behing the stone walls of a field, Paul's brigade facing west, Baxter's north. Rodes, regarding this advance, gave orders at 2:30 P. to attack. Iverson, sweeping round to his left, engaged Paul, who prolonged Cutler's line, and O'Neal attacked Baxter. The repulse of O'Neal soon enabled Baxter to turn upon Iverson. Cutler also attacked him in flank, and after losing 500 men killed and wounded, 3 of Iverson's regiments surrendered. General Robinson reports the capture of 1000 prisoners and 3 colors; General Paul was severly wounded, losing both eyes. Meanwhile Daniel's brigade advanced directly on Stone, who maintained his lines against this attack and also Brockenbrough's, of Hill's corps, but was soon severly wounded. Colonel Wister, who succeded him, met the same fate, and Colonel Dana took command of the brigade. Ramseur, who followed Daniel, by a conversation to the left, now faced Robinson and Cutler with his own brigade, the remnant of Iverson's, and one regiment of O'Neal's, his right connecting with Daniel's left, and the fighting became hot. East of the ridge, Dole's brigade had been held in observation, but about 3:30 p. m., on the advance of Early, he sent his skirmishers forward and drove those of Devin- who had gallantly held the enemy's advance in check with his dismounted troopers- from their line and its hillock on rock Creek. Barlow, considering this an eligible position for his own right, advanced his division, supported by Wileson's battery, and seized it. This made it necessary for Schurz to advance a brigade of Shimmelfennig's division to connect with Barlow, thus lengthening his already too extended line.

The arrival of Early's division had by this time brought an overwhelming force on the flank and rear of the Eleventh Corps. On the east of Rock Creek, Jones's artillery battalion, within easy range, enfiladed its whole line and took it in reserve, while the brigades, of Gordon, Hays, and Avery in line, with Smith's in reserve, advanced about 4 p. upon Barlow's position, Doles, of Rodes's division, connecting with Gordon. An obstinate and bloody contest ensued, in which Barlow was desperately wounded, Wilkeson killed, and the whole corps forced back to its original line, on which, with the aid of Coster's brigade and Heckman's battery, drawn from Cemetary Hill, Schurz endeavored to rally it and cover the town. The fighting here was well sustained, but the Confederate force was overpowering in numbers, and the troops retreated to Cemetary Hill, Ewell entering the town about 4:30 p. These retrograde movements had uncovered the flank of the First Corps and made its right untenable.

Meanwhile, that corps had been heavily engaged along its whole line; for, on the approach of Rodes, Hill attacked with both his divisions. There were thus opposed to the single disconnected Federal line south of the Cashtown pike two solid Confederate ones which outfalcked their left a quarter of a mile or more. Biddle's small command, less than a thousand men, after a severe contest, was gradually forced back. In McPherson's wood and beyond, Meredith's and Dana's brigades repeatedly repulsed their assailants, but as Biddle's retirement uncovered their left, they too fell back to successive positions from which they inflicted heavy losses, until finally all three reached the foot of Seminary Ridge, where Colonel Wainwright, commanding the corps artillery, had planted twelve guns south of the Cashtown pike, with Stewart's battery, manned in part by men of the Iron Brigade, north of it. Buford had already thrown half of Gamble's dismounted men south of the Farifield road. Heth's division had suffered so severely that Pender's had passed to its front, thus bringing fresh troops to bear on the exhausted Federal line.

It was about 4 p. when the whole Confederate line advanced to the final attack. On their right Gamble held Lane's brigade for some time in check, Perrin's and Scale's suffered severely, and Scale's was broken up, for Stewart, swinging half his guns, under Lieutenant Davison, upon the Cashtown pike, raked it. The whole corps being now heavily pressed and its right uncovered, Doubleday gave the order to fall back to Cemetary Hill, which was effected in comparatively good order, the rear, covered by the 7th Wisconsin, turning when necessary to check pursuit. Colonel Wainwright, mistaking the order, had clung with his artillery to Seminary Hill, until, seeing the infantry retreating to the town, he moved his batteries down the Cashtown pike until they were compelled to abandon one gun on the road, all its horses being killed. The Eleventh Corps also left a disabled gun on the field. Of the troops who passed through the town, many, pricipally men of the Eleventh Corps, got entangled in the streets, lost their way, and were captured.

On ascending Cemetary Hill, the retreating troops found Steinwehr's division in position covered by stone fences on the slopes, and occupying by their skirmishes the houses in front of their line. As they arrived they were formed, the Eleventh Corps on the right, the First Corps on the left of Steinwehr. As the batteries came up, they were well posted by Colonels Wainwright and Osborn, and soon a formidable array of artillery was ready to cover with its fire all the approaches. Buford assembled his command on the plain west of Cemetary Hill, covering the left flank and presenting a firm front to any attempt at pursuit. The First Corps found a small reenforcement awaiting it, in the 7th Indiana, part of the train escort, which brought up nearly five hundred fresh men. Wadsworth met them and led them to Culp's Hill, where under direction of Captain Pattison of that regiment, a defensive line was marked out. Their brigade (Cutler's) soon joined them; wood and stone were plentiful, and soon the right of the line was solidly established.

Nor was there wanting other assurance to the men who had fought so long that their sacrifices had not been in vain. As they reached the hill they were received by General Hancock, who arrived just as they were coming up from the town, under orders from General Meade to assume the command. His person was well known; his presence inspired confidence, and it implied also the near approach of his army-corps. He ordered Wadsworth at once to Culp's Hill to secure that important position, and aided by Howard, by Warren who had also just arrived from headquarters, and by others, a strong line, well flanked, was soon formed.

General Lee, who from Seminary Hill had witnessed the final attack, sent Colonel Long, of his staff, a competent officer of sound judgment, to examine the position, and directed Ewell to carry it if practicable, renewing, however, his previous warning to avoid bringing on a general engagement until the army was up. Both Ewell, who was making some preparations with a view to attack, and Long found the position a formidable one, strongly occupyied and not accessible to artillery fire. Ewell's men were indeed in no condition for an immediate assault. Of Rodes's eight thousand, nearly three thousand were hors de combat. Early had lost over five hundred, and had but two brigades disposable, the other two having been sent on the report of the advance of Federal troops, probably the Twelfth Corps, then near by, to watch the York road. Hill's two divisions had been very roughly handled, and had lost heavily, and he withdrew them to Seminary Hill as Ewell entered the town, leaving the latter with not more than eight thousand men to secure the town and the prisoners. Ewell's absent divis


1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment

The 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment was the very first group of volunteers the Union received in response to the South's assault of Fort Sumter at the beginning of the United States Civil War. Minnesota's Governor Alexander Ramsey offered 1000 men to Lincoln immediately upon learning of the attack on the fort. He just happened to be in Washington when the news broke. Those men volunteered for a five-year commitment (1861–64) which was much longer than other states. During combat actions, the 1st Minnesota sustained substantial casualties at the battles of First Bull Run (20%) [1] and Antietam (28%) [1] and a staggering 82% [1] at the Battle of Gettysburg, where the regiment's most famous actions occurred on the second day of the battle.

1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment
ActiveApril 29, 1861, to April 28, 1869
Country United States
AllegianceUnion
BranchInfantry
EquipmentM1861 Springfield .58 Rifle-musket
M1842 Springfield .69 Smoothbore
M1842 Springfield .69 Rifle-musket
Sharps .52 Rifle
EngagementsFirst Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Ball's Bluff
Battle of Seven Pines
Battle of Savage's Station
Battle of Glendale
Battle of Malvern Hill
Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Fredericksburg
Second Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Bristoe Station
Mine Run Campaign
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel Willis A. Gorman
Colonel Napoleon J.T. Dana
Colonel Alfred Sully
Colonel George N. Morgan
Colonel William J. Colvill

At a dire moment on the afternoon of July 2, 1863, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of II Corps ordered the 1st Minnesota to charge into a brigade of roughly 1200 men of James Longstreet's corps and Richard H. Anderson's Division, which it did with roughly 250 men. They were outnumbered by at least 5 to 1, but it was Gen. Hancock's only option to buy time for reinforcements to arrive. One survivor stated afterward that he expected the advance to result in "death or wounds to us all". [2] The regiment immediately obeyed the order and Gen. Hancock was amazed at the unit discipline, valor, and the tremendous casualties taken in carrying out his order. This action blunted the Confederate attack and helped preserve the Union's precarious position on Cemetery Ridge at the end of the second day of the battle.

Post war, both General Hancock and U.S. President Calvin Coolidge were unrestrained in their praise for the actions of the 1st Minnesota. Gen. Hancock, who witnessed the action firsthand, placed its heroism highest in the annals of war: [3] "No soldiers on any field, in this or any other country ever displayed grander heroism". Gen. Hancock ascribed unsurpassed gallantry to the famed assault stating: "There is no more gallant deed recorded in history". [4] Emphasizing the critical nature of the circumstances on July 2 at Gettysburg, President Coolidge considered: "Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country". [5]


Abner Doubleday: Early Life

Abner Doubleday was born in Ballston Spa, New York, on June 26, 1819. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812 (1812-15), and later served as a U.S. congressman. Doubleday attended school to study civil engineering and then worked as a surveyor for railroads before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1838. He graduated in 1842, finishing in the middle of his class.

Did you know? General Abner Doubleday was long believed to have invented the game of baseball in 1839, but this has since been proven to be a myth. In reality, Doubleday was a bookish man who was not known to participate in athletics.

After receiving a commission as a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery, Doubleday served in a succession of garrison duties before participating in the Mexican-American War (1846-48). During the conflict he served as an artillery officer and commanded a supply depot in Camargo, Mexico. Doubleday returned to garrison duty after the war and in 1852 married Mary Hewitt, the daughter of a Baltimore lawyer. In 1856 he was transferred to Florida for the Third Seminole War (1855-58).

In 1859 Doubleday was stationed at Fort Moultrie in Charleston. A staunch abolitionist and supporter of Abraham Lincoln, he soon found himself surrounded by secessionist fervor. In the face of mounting hostilities, in December 1860 Doubleday and Fort Moultrie’s commander, Major Robert Anderson, moved their garrison to Fort Sumter and abandoned the city’s other forts to the South Carolina militia. After a nearly four-month standoff, militia forces fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Doubleday, as second-in-command, is said to have overseen the first shots fired in defense of the fort. After a 36-hour bombardment, Doubleday surrendered Fort Sumter along with Anderson.


Jennie's house tells of tragedy at Gettysburg History: A 20-year-old woman was the only civilian casualty of the 1863 Civil War battle.

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - As the fire from thousands of thundering guns outside turned the sky smoky and gray that warm morning of July 3, 1863, Jennie Wade worked the dough for biscuits for the Union soldiers, pressing and patting it on the dough table in the small kitchen of her sister's home on Baltimore Street.

In the next room, her sister, Georgia McClellan, lay on a walnut bedstead near the cradle where her 5-day-old son slept.

Jennie Wade, her mother and younger brother had come for the occasion of the birth from their home on Breckenridge Street some blocks away in the small southern Pennsylvania farm town of Gettysburg.

It should have been a joyous time, but in the plowed Pennsylvania fields and orchards surrounding Gettysburg, a fierce battle had raged for three days between 75,000 Confederate soldiers and 97,000 Union troops.

Already, thousands of men on both sides had been wounded or killed.

And while it first seemed safer at McClellan's home, an artillery shell had crashed through the roof of the house the previous day and created a cavernous hole in an upstairs wall.

On this morning before 8 a.m., an errant bullet had flown through the window and struck the bedpost where McClellan lay, falling near the woman's head.

In case her sister or the baby should cry out, Wade left the door open between the kitchen and the parlor.

But the next bullet was not meant for her sister. Instead, it blasted through the closed outside door, through the parallel open kitchen door and into Jennie's back as she leaned over the dough table.

Mary Virginia "Jennie" Wade was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. She was 20.

You can see those bullet holes - and nearly 200 others - 134 years after that fateful Civil War battle that turned the tide of the war.

And while a tour of Gettysburg Battlefield is moving and awe-inspiring, it is a visit to this small brick house that personalizes the tragedy of this war.

The tour begins in the kitchen where Jenny fell.

The figure of a Union soldier stands in the corner and, in one of those marvels of animation, tells Jennie's story. The soldier represents one of the men near the house that morning he points out the dough table at which Jennie labored and the bullet holes in the two doors.

In the parlor, a small room with windows on two sides (all the windows on this, the north side of the house, would be shot out before July 3 ended), is the old bedstead with its telltale bullet holes the clock on the mantel was here in Wade's day and on the wall next to it, is her portrait. It's a picture of a pretty young woman with frank, clear eyes and a luxurious coronet of dark hair.

It's a haunting picture. A pile of bricks sits on the floor in front of the hole made by the artillery shell blast through that hole, Union soldiers carried Jennie's body and herded Georgia McClellan, her baby, Wade's mother, brother and a neighbor boy to safety.

This being a double house (the south side was occupied by a Mrs. McClain), the small group made its way through the hole, downstairs on the south side of the house and outside into the cellar. Except for Mrs. Wade, who returned to the kitchen to finish making the biscuits for the infantrymen, the mourners would remain here until July 4, when Jennie Wade's body was lowered into a temporary grave in the garden.

There is a monument to her now at Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg, where she is buried.

Jennie Wade was engaged to Johnston "Jack" Skelly, who was serving with Union forces in Virginia when he was wounded several days before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Skelly sent a message to Wade via a childhood friend, Wesley Culp, who was returning to Gettysburg.

Just days before the Battle of Gettysburg began, Culp told his sister he had a message for Skelly's fiance. His sister offered to deliver it to Wade, but Culp declined. He wanted to deliver it himself.

He never did he was killed on the first day of the battle, his musket found, but his remains were never identified. His message went untold - and unknown, for Skelly himself died nine days after Wade.

Not all is tragic at the Jennie Wade House. Take the legend surrounding the bullet hole in the kitchen door. Poke your ring finger through the hole and, if you're single, you'll be married within a year, the legend says.

Skeptics can take note of the letter posted above the bullet hole. Written by a woman who was passing through with a group of Girl Scouts on their way to Washington, D.C., it tells how she placed her finger through the hole and, within a year, married a long-lost love who suddenly surfaced.

The Jennie Wade House is at 28 Baltimore St.

Tours run continuously from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from May to September, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily the rest of the year.

Admission is $5.25 adults, $4.75 seniors and $3.25 children age 5-11 and includes entrance into Olde Town, a small, adjacent complex of vignettes representing life during the Battle of Gettysburg. There is a carpenter who, instead of making shingles and wooden spoons, now makes coffins children in an old general store, who have walked past the dead and wounded and dodged live shells to get there and a newspaper publisher printing the latest disastrous news, among other scenes.

Other places of interest in Gettysburg

Other attractions in the town of Gettysburg range from antique shops to historic homes. Museums are of special interest:

Eisenhower National Historic Site adjacent to the battlefield offers an intriguing peek into the life of our former president. Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, purchased 189 acres of farmland in 1950. The Eisenhowers built a modified Georgian farmhouse, outfitted the grounds with a putting green and Black Angus cattle and decorated the home's interior with knickknacks and memorabilia (a rug from the shah of Iran, gifts from around the world). Here, they lived during their retirement, from 1961 until Mamie died in 1978 (Ike died in 1969) the house is as it was, down to the pink monogrammed towels in the linen closet. "When you pick up the lid of the candy jar, Mamie's Philip Morris cigarettes are still hidden in the hard candy," says guide Jeff Evans.

bTC Confederate States Armory & Museum with its collection of Civil War weapons.

Hall of Presidents and First Ladies, a wax exhibit of 42 presidents and, in an adjoining gallery, the gowns of numerous first ladies, as well as paintings by Eisenhower.

America Military Museum, a collection of more than 5,000 military miniatures.

Soldier's National Museum, once a general's headquarters and later the Soldier's National Orphanage Homestead for orphans of the Civil War, which now houses dioramas of the war's 10 major battles.

Lincoln Room Museum, the room where Lincoln wrote his Gettysburg Address.

General Lee's Headquarters Museum, a home built in the 1700s that became Robert E. Lee's base of operations during the Battle of Gettysburg. It now features Civil War memorabilia and period furnishings.

One way to get around to many of the sights is the Gettysburg Trolley, which operates daily through Oct. 31.

For more information on Gettysburg, call the Gettysburg Travel Council, 717-334-6274.


Lee's Biggest Mistake at Gettysburg

What do you think was Lee's biggest mistake at Gettysburg?

One could argue it was invading the North in the first place, but I'll say his biggest mistake was (surprise!) Pickett's Charge. Now it seems that Lee wasn't crazy, he had legitimate reasons for believing the attack would succeed (poor artillery support and underestimation of resistance on Cemetery Ridge surely didn't help). However, marching 12,000 troops across a mile of open ground with Union artillery firing on them from all over was just a poor idea in general. His army was exhausted and even if the initial charge had succeeded, there would have been only a few thousand troops on Cemetery Ridge at most. Meade could still send his reserve in to knock them right back off unless AP Hill's own reserve got up there in a hurry, which still may not have worked (goes back to Lee's underestimation of the Union forces and overestimation of his own strength).

As for other mistakes, I would think not ordering Ewell to take the heights on the first day turned out to be a big mistake. Also, choosing his plan for attack on the second day rather than moving his forces around to the south was a bad choice in retrospect. What do you guys think?

Napoleon I

Fiver

Just about everything Lee did at Gettysburg was a mistake, but Pickett's Charge is probably the worst.

Viperlord

Skizzerflake

Emdawg

Interesting how Lee did not take into account his experience from the Battle of Cerro Gordo in 1848.

General Santa Ana had been dug in on one of two hills with a numerically superior infantry force with artillery. The highway to Mexico City ran through them and so they needed to be taken so the Americans could advance.

Scott knew that they could not attack directly, even with their own batteries in support, so he decided to go around one of the hills ( the relatively undefended Atalaya Hill) to take it and mitigate the Mexican advantage on the opposing hill (El Telegrafo)

It was Lee himself who discovered a path going around Atalaya Hill and so he managed to get a battery of artillery on the hill while Scott ordered a diversionary assault on Santa Ana's position on the opposing hill. When the American artillery began to fire, Santa Ana ordered a withdrawal.


Lee could have done something similar at Gettysburg during the first day of fighting, against either of Meade's flanks (Round Tops on the left and Culp's on the right), but nothing was done. On the second day he did assault the hills but they were well defended and instead of bypassing the completely he ordered a futile assault against the flanks and they failed.


Battle of Gettysburg Timeline: Day 1

  • 5 am &ndash Confederate Major General Henry Heth&rsquos Division sets out for Gettysburg from Cashtown. To the west of town Union Brig. General John Buford&rsquos Cavalry Division sits just west of town with 2,700 troops. Advanced skirmishers have been deployed to meet the Confederate advance.
  • 7:30 am &ndash Lieutenant Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry fires the first shot at the Battle of Gettysburg at advancing Confederates. Skirmishing ensued as the Union lines held out stubbornly though seriously outnumbered.
  • 9:30 am &ndash Heth finally gets his men into position to attack as his men form battle lines to advance on Buford&rsquos dismounted cavalry.
  • 10:15 am &ndash Union General John Reynolds&rsquo I Corps arrived on the scene to reinforce Buford&rsquos Division against increasing pressure from the roughly 13,500 advancing Confederates.
  • 10:30 am &ndash While deploying the Iron Brigade near McPherson&rsquos Ridge, General Reynolds is struck by a bullet to the head and is killed instantly. Some believe it was a sharpshooter&rsquos bullet, but since none were operating in the area, it is more likely to have come from the 7th or 14th Tennessee infantry.
  • 1:30 pm &ndash Confederate Major General Robert Rodes deploys his Second Corps divisions just north of town as they begin attacks from Oak Hill.
  • 2:45 pm &ndash The Confederates renew their attacks on McPherson&rsquos Ridge west of town as the Iron Brigade is sent forward to repulse their attack.
  • 3:30 pm &ndash Union forces begin to retreat from the area as the Confederates troops massed there begin to push them back.
  • 4:00 pm &ndash Union troops reform a defensive line at Seminary Ridge and await the Confederate advance. To the north of town on Oak Ridge , the Union troops are pushed back.
  • 4:15 pm &ndash Outnumbered, disorganized and tired, the Union forces crumble and retreat back through Gettysburg.
  • 4:20 pm &ndash Colonel Charles Coster&rsquos First Brigade is ordered down Cemetery Hill and into town to slow down the Confederate advance, and protect the Union retreat.
  • 4:35 pm &ndash Outnumbered almost 3 to 1, they held their ground. The 134th New York anchoring the Union was overlapped and was forced to withdraw but the other 3 regiments stood tall.
  • 4:40 pm &ndash Coster&rsquos brigade is overwhelmed and of the 922 men deployed, only 359 made it back safely to Cemetery Hill.
  • Late Evening-Overnight: As Union reinforcements arrive they are positioned along Cemetery Hill into defensive positions. The retreating Union troops are reformed as well. The days fighting ends as Confederate Lt. General Richard Ewell makes the decision not to attack the Union positions on Cemetery Hill.

History & Culture

People The men in uniform who served at the Battle of Gettysburg and the civilians whose lives were changed forever by this terrible event.

Collections A look at some of the items in our collection related to the Battle of Gettysburg.

Research The offices at Gettysburg National Military Park where historical records are maintained.

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG

Fought over the first three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War. The fate of the nation literally hung in the balance that summer of 1863 when General Robert E. Lee, commanding the "Army of Northern Virginia", led his army north into Maryland and Pennsylvania, bringing the war directly into northern territory. The Union "Army of the Potomac", commanded by Major General George Gordon Meade, met the Confederate invasion near the Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg,and what began as a chance encounter quickly turned into a desperate, ferocious battle. Despite initial Confederate successes, the battle turned against Lee on July 3rd, and with few options remaining, he ordered his army to return to Virginia. The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, sometimes referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion" resulted not only in Lee's retreat to Virginia, but an end to the hopes of the Confederate States of America for independence.

Surgery at Camp Letterman.

The battle brought devastation to the residents of Gettysburg. Every farm field or garden was a graveyard. Churches, public buildings and even private homes were hospitals, filled with wounded soldiers. The Union medical staff that remained were strained to treat so many wounded scattered about the county. To meet the demand, Camp Letterman General Hospital was established east of Gettysburg where all of the wounded were eventually taken to before transport to permanent hospitals in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. Union surgeons worked with members of the U.S Sanitary Commission and Christian Commission to treat and care for the over 20,000 injured Union and Confederate soldiers that passed through the hospital's wards, housed under large tents. By January 1864, the last patients were gone as were the surgeons, guards, nurses, tents and cookhouses. Only a temporary cemetery on the hillside remained as a testament to the courageous battle to save lives that took place at Camp Letterman.

The Soldiers' Monument in the center of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

Prominent Gettysburg residents became concerned with the poor condition of soldiers' graves scattered over the battlefield and at hospital sites, and pleaded with Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin for state support to purchase a portion of the battlefield to be set aside as a final resting place for the defenders of the Union cause. Gettysburg lawyer David Wills was appointed the state agent to coordinate the establishment of the new "Soldiers' National Cemetery", which was designed by noted landscape architect William Saunders. Removal of the Union dead to the cemetery began in the fall of 1863, but would not be completed until long after the cemetery grounds were dedicated on November 19, 1863. The dedication ceremony featured orator Edward Everett and included solemn prayers, songs, dirges to honor the men who died at Gettysburg. Yet, it was President Abraham Lincoln who provided the most notable words in his two-minute long address, eulogizing the Union soldiers buried at Gettysburg and reminding those in attendance of their sacrifice for the Union cause, that they should renew their devotion "to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.."

The entrance to the park in 1900.

In 1864, a group of concerned citizens established the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association whose purpose was to preserve portions of the battlefield as a memorial to the Union Army that fought here. The GBMA transferred their land holdings to the Federal government in 1895, which designated Gettysburg as a National Military Park. A Federally-appointed commission of Civil War veterans oversaw the park's development as a memorial to both armies by identifying and marking the lines of battle. Administration of the park was transferred to the Department of the Interior, National Park Service in 1933, which continues in its mission to protect, preserve and interpret the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address to park visitors.

A CIVIL WAR TIMELINE - Major events of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Finding Your Civil War Ancestor - Our suggestions on how to research the background of an ancestor who may have served during the Civil War.

JOURNEY THROUGH HALLOWED GROUND - Explore vibrant landscapes and historic sites in the historic corridor from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Monticello, Virginia!


10 Facts: Gettysburg

It is the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and one of the most visited places in the United States, but Gettysburg is still plagued by misinformation. Set the record straight with these ten key facts.

Fact 1#: The battle was fought at Gettysburg because of the area road system—it had nothing to do with shoes.

The Town of Gettysburg, population 2,000, was a town on the rise. It boasted three newspapers, two institutes of higher learning, several churches and banks, but no shoe factory or warehouse. The ten roads that led into town are what brought the armies to Gettysburg. The shoe myth can be traced to a late-1870s statement by Confederate general Henry Heth.

Fact #2: The First Day’s battle was a much larger engagement than is generally portrayed.

The first day’s fighting (at McPherson’s Ridge, Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge, Barlow’s Knoll and in and around the town) involved some 50,000 soldiers of which roughly 15,500 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. The first day in itself ranks as the 12th bloodiest battle of the Civil War—with more casualties than the battles of Bull Run and Franklin combined.

Fact #3: The Second Day’s Battle was the largest and costliest of the three days.

The second day’s fighting (at Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, Trostle’s Farm, Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill) involved at least 100,000 soldiers of which roughly 20,000 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. The second day in itself ranks as the 10th bloodiest battle of the Civil War—with far more casualties than the much larger Battle of Fredericksburg.

View of The Wheatfield on the Gettysburg Battlefield Violet Clark

Fact #4: Of 120 generals present at Gettysburg, nine were killed or mortally wounded during the battle.

On the Confederate side, generals Semmes, Barksdale, Armistead, Garnett, and Pender (plus Pettigrew during the retreat). On the Union side, generals Reynolds, Zook, Weed, and Farnsworth (and Vincent, promoted posthumously). No other battle claimed as many general officers.

Fact #5: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill were far more important than Little Round Top.

While Little Round Top is far more popular today, its importance to the Union army is at least debatable. The same cannot be said for Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. The two latter hills formed the center and right of the Union’s main position and also protected the Union army’s only real lifeline on July 2 and 3—the Baltimore Pike. Had Confederates captured and controlled either of these two hills, the Union army would have had to leave the Gettysburg area. It is as simple as that. Even with its sweeping views and commanding height, the same cannot be said for Little Round Top.

Fact #6: Pickett’s Charge was large and grand but by no means the largest charge of the Civil War. Not even close.

Pickett’s Charge involved some 12,000 Confederate soldiers, but the Confederate charge at Franklin had roughly 20,000. Even that pales in comparison to the grand Confederate charge at Gaines’ Mill which involved more than 50,000 Confederate troops. Even the well-known 260-gun bombardment that preceded Pickett’s Charge was not the largest of the war. There was at least one bombardment at Petersburg with more than 400 cannons involved.

Fact #7: The Battle of Gettysburg is by far the costliest battle of the Civil War but not necessarily the largest.

While each of the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg rank in the top 15 bloodiest battles of the Civil War—the 160,000 troops present at Gettysburg are eclipsed by the more than 185,000 at Fredericksburg.

Fact #8: 64 Medals of Honor awarded to Union soldiers for their actions at Gettysburg

The deeds spanned the battlefield and were awarded from wartime into the 21st century. Eight were awarded for actions on July 1, 28 for actions on July 2, and 29 for actions on July 3. The most recent Medal of Honor given for heroism at Gettysburg was awarded to Alonzo Cushing by President Barack Obama in 2014.

Fact #9: The Gettysburg Address essentially said the same thing as the famous orator Edward Everett’s speech but in 1/60th the time.

When Lincoln uttered these two sentences, “We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this,” he was essentially repeating an idea that had already been stated—only more succinctly. Everett used more than 5,500 words (the entire speech can be found here) to make the same point. Most every part of the corresponding speeches can be examined this way and leaves no doubt as to why Everett wrote to Lincoln: "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

Fact #10: While the Gettysburg Battlefield is well-preserved, there are still numerous parcels to be saved.

The Civil War Trust and the National Park Service have identified several unpreserved parcels which are important to the story of America’s greatest battle. The battlefield itself is among the best resources for historians and others to learn about the battle. The unique terrain, when used in conjunction with the words of those who fought here, images created on the ground, and monuments placed by the veterans, provides an unparalleled learning opportunity. We must continue to work to preserved this hallowed ground.


The Battle of Gettysburg - the first day

Like many of the great battles in the past two centuries of history, Gettysburg was a several day affair, spanning from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863. The events of the first day are seldom given the attention received by the fighting on the second day, or the infamous 'Pickett's Charge' on the third.

I just finished reading a new title about the battle's first day, from the Emerging Civil War series - good stuff. The first day was fought on a smaller scale, as both armies funneled their men into position - roughly a third of the Army of Northern Virginia faced roughly a quarter of the Army of the Potomac. The fighting seesawed throughout the day, though it concluded with a marginal Confederate victory after the Union Eleventh Corps was routed (for the second time in as many months, ironically).

The first day's fighting took place predominately to the north and west of Gettysburg town. Union cavalry under John Buford kept the arriving Southerners busy along McPherson's Ridge, one of the bravest delaying actions of the entire War (and memorably played by Sam Elliot in Gettysburg). After the arrival of the Union First Corps, its commander John Reynolds was killed leading his men in a fight around the Herbst Woods nearby - he was the highest-ranking officer to die in the Gettysburg Campaign. The South also lost a general on the first of July, with Maryland-born James Archer becoming the first general under the command of R.E. Lee to become a POW during the War.

Other men and regiments won immortality on the first - Lt. Col. Rufus Dawes, commanding the 6th Wisconsin, took hundreds of Confederate prisoners around the unfinished railroad cut to the northwest of the town, while the Union's famous Iron Brigade took heavy casualties that afternoon. One of these casualties, Robert Beecham, was captured, and later wrote a cynical account of the Battle's first day in his memoirs.

Considering the amount of attention paid to following events, I think the Battle's first day is underrated. What do you think?

M9Powell

Salah

Edratman

Sam Eliot has a great voice gravelly, commanding, deep bass. His voice, combined with his size and posture enable him to be a presence in every one of his films.

The first day at Gettysburg is not covered as much probably due to the smaller scale fewer combatants and less casualties. But like every endeavor, step one is the most crucial and initial errors are often very difficult to overcome.

Day 1 has many more "if" scenarios than the other two days of the battle.

DIVUS IVLIVS

By far the best piece of writing about the Battle of Gettysburg that I've consumed recently was Robert Bateman's "Reenactment" series of articles written for Esquire back in 2013.

Here's the full list of links. Absolutely recommended reading for anyone who's got the time:

DIVUS IVLIVS

Tercios Espanoles

Semperpietas

By far the best piece of writing about the Battle of Gettysburg that I've consumed recently was Robert Bateman's "Reenactment" series of articles written for Esquire back in 2013.

Here's the full list of links. Absolutely recommended reading for anyone who's got the time:

I must disagree. At least on point 11. The "Custer saved the day at Gettysburg" thesis is a very flimsy one. For starters, Stuart's cavalry was on duty to protect the flank of Ewell's corps, and not to strike the rear of the Army of the Potomac. Secondly, while Custer performed very well fighting Stuart, he was not the commander on the scene. Brigadier General David Gregg was. And third, it supposes that Gettysburg would have destroyed the country had somehow Stuart been under orders to strike the Union rear in conjunction with the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble assault and that had somehow caused the battle to be a Confederate victory.

Noted cavalry historian Eric J. Wittenburg has a book on this subject called Protecting the Flank. I will go looking for it for quotations, but in the meanwhile here a blog post by Mr. Wittenburg on the subject.

Semperpietas

Like many of the great battles in the past two centuries of history, Gettysburg was a several day affair, spanning from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863. The events of the first day are seldom given the attention received by the fighting on the second day, or the infamous 'Pickett's Charge' on the third.

I just finished reading a new title about the battle's first day, from the Emerging Civil War series - good stuff. The first day was fought on a smaller scale, as both armies funneled their men into position - roughly a third of the Army of Northern Virginia faced roughly a quarter of the Army of the Potomac. The fighting seesawed throughout the day, though it concluded with a marginal Confederate victory after the Union Eleventh Corps was routed (for the second time in as many months, ironically).

The first day's fighting took place predominately to the north and west of Gettysburg town. Union cavalry under John Buford kept the arriving Southerners busy along McPherson's Ridge, one of the bravest delaying actions of the entire War (and memorably played by Sam Elliot in Gettysburg). After the arrival of the Union First Corps, its commander John Reynolds was killed leading his men in a fight around the Herbst Woods nearby - he was the highest-ranking officer to die in the Gettysburg Campaign. The South also lost a general on the first of July, with Maryland-born James Archer becoming the first general under the command of R.E. Lee to become a POW during the War.

Other men and regiments won immortality on the first - Lt. Col. Rufus Dawes, commanding the 6th Wisconsin, took hundreds of Confederate prisoners around the unfinished railroad cut to the northwest of the town, while the Union's famous Iron Brigade took heavy casualties that afternoon. One of these casualties, Robert Beecham, was captured, and later wrote a cynical account of the Battle's first day in his memoirs.

Considering the amount of attention paid to following events, I think the Battle's first day is underrated. What do you think?

The point of leadership casualties is an interesting point and the casualties that the both sides suffered would have a latter impact.

Reynolds's death left First Corps in the hands of the Doubleday. However, Meade did not like Doubleday (extending back from the time both were division commanders in the First Corps and something that Dr. Guelzo in his recent study Last Invasion attributes to Meade being a conservative Democrat and Doubleday a radical abolitionist). When Early's attack unraveled the Union line north of town, Howard blamed Doubleday and the First Corps and stated that they collapsed first. This little fib was all Meade needed to supplant Doubleday with the cautious John Newton as head of First Corps. This slight would later lead to Doubleday's resignation.

Likewise, Harry Heth was wounded on the First Day. Heth's division went to Pettigrew as the remaining senior brigadier. Former Filibuster and fireater Colonel Birkett Fry assumed command of Archer's brigade while Pettigrew's brigade went to Colonel James Marshall. Fry was wounded at Pickett's Charge and latter captured and Marshall was killed Likewise casualties reduced Pettigrew's brigade from more than 2,600 men to around 1,400 men. Heth's division was badly reduced as a whole (excepting Brockenbrough's brigade) and despite this was still slotted to take part in the July 3 assault.


THE FIRST DAY AT GETTYSBURG - History

Battle of Gettysburg : Seminary Ridge

Seminary Ridge and Battle of Gettysburg

Seminary Ridge

Seminary Ridge : The Confederate batteries

Confederate batteries on Seminary Ridge

Battle of Seminary Ridge

Action at Seminary Ridge

First Day, Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863

Seminary Ridge, Battle of Gettysburg

Seminary Ridge and Gettysburg

Second Day, Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863

Third Day, Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863

Commander of a Division for One Charge


(Generals in Gray)

North Carolina's Sacrifice at Gettysburg

NC Monument at Gettysburg

North Carolina Monument

Dedicated on July 3, 1929, the North Carolina Monument is the work of world re-known sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) whose most famous work is the four presidents on Mount Rushmore. The monument represents a group of North Carolina soldiers in " Pickett's Charge ". Fifteen North Carolina infantry regiments, all of which had suffered heavily during the first day's battle, participated in the attack. The monument is accompanied by dogwoods, which is the state tree, and a stone monolith that lists the North Carolina commands present at Gettysburg.

The state's sacrifice at the Battle of Gettysburg was humbling one in every four Confederate soldiers who fell here was from the " Old North State ".

Cemetery Ridge was unoccupied for much of the first day until the Union army retreated from its positions north of town, when the divisions of Brig. Gen. John C. Robinson and Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday from the I Corps were placed on the northern end of the ridge, protecting the left flank of the XI Corps on Cemetery Hill. After the XII Corps arrived, Maj. Gen. John W. Geary's Second Division was sent to the southern end of the ridge near Little Round Top Brig. Gen. John Buford's cavalry division formed a skirmish line in the fields between Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge. The III Corps arrived about 8 p.m. and replaced Geary's division (which was sent to Culp's Hill) the II Corps arrived about 10:30 p.m. and camped immediately behind the III Corps.

During the morning of the battle's 2nd day (July 2), Army of the Potomac commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade shifted units to receive an expected Confederate attack on his positions. The II Corps was placed in the center of Cemetery Ridge, with Brig. Gen. Alexander Hays's division on the corps' right, John Gibbon's division in the center around the Angle, and John C. Caldwell's division on the left, adjacent to the III Corps Robinson's division of the I Corps was placed in reserve behind the XI Corps. The V Corps was formed in reserve behind the II Corps. In the late afternoon, the end of the Confederate Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws's assault drove portions of Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles's III Corps line back to the southern end of Cemetery Ridge, and Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright's Confederate brigade temporarily captured the southern end of the Angle before being driven back to Seminary Ridge by the Philadelphia Brigade.

The Confederate artillery bombardment preceding Pickett's Charge on July 3 battered Cemetery Ridge, and Union artillery on the ridge counterfired to Seminary Ridge. Thirty-four Union cannons were disabled, but the three Confederate divisions of the subsequent infantry assault (Pickett's of the First Corps and Pettigrew's and Trimble's of the Third Corps), attacked the Union II Corps at the "stone fence" at the Angle. Heavy rifle and artillery fire prevented all but about 250 Confederates led by Lewis Armistead from penetrating the Union line to the high water mark of the Confederacy. Armistead was mortally wounded. Two brigades of Anderson's Division, assigned to protect Pickett's right flank during the charge, reached a more southern portion of the Union line at Cemetery Ridge soon after the repulse of Pickett's Division, but were driven back with 40% casualties by the 2nd Vermont Brigade.

Lee then led his battered army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia, where he would remain for the duration of the war. While as many as 51,000 soldiers from both armies were killed, wounded, captured or missing in the three-day battle, its strategy and tactics are still being studied from casual students to elite schools such as West Point.

Recommended Reading : Gettysburg --The First Day , by Harry W. Pfanz (Civil War America ) (Hardcover). Description: Though a great deal has been written about the battle of Gettysburg , much of it has focused on the events of the second and third days. With this book, the first day's fighting finally receives its due. Harry Pfanz, a former historian at Gettysburg National Military Park and author of two previous books on the battle, presents a deeply researched, definitive account of the events of July 1, 1863. Continued below…

After sketching the background of the Gettysburg campaign and recounting the events immediately preceding the battle, Pfanz offers a detailed tactical description of the first day's fighting. He describes the engagements in McPherson Woods, at the Railroad Cuts, on Oak Ridge , on Seminary Ridge, and at Blocher's Knoll, as well as the retreat of Union forces through Gettysburg and the Federal rally on Cemetery Hill. Throughout, he draws on deep research in published and archival sources to challenge some of the common assumptions about the battle--for example, that Richard Ewell's failure to press an attack against Union troops at Cemetery Hill late on the first day ultimately cost the Confederacy the battle.


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