Saturday, July 27, 2013

150-Years-Ago -- PICKETT'S CHARGE

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 28, 1863
Maj. Gen. George Pickett
(Library of Congress)
How Pickett's division was "Cut all to Pieces"-- its support ran.
--The fate of Pickett's Division is particularly interesting to the people of this State, as it is composed exclusively [of] Virginians. The following paragraph from a letter written by a member of Wright's Brigade to the Augusta Chronicle, shows how so much valuable life came to be lost, and nothing gained, in the assault at Gettysburg:

Now the infantry is brought up for the assault, Pickett's division in advance; then Heth's, (how commanded by Gen Pettigrew, senior Brigadier,) in echelon on the left On the men swept. Our brigade being held in reserve, enabled us to take a position where we had a view of the whole field, and I am sure I have never seen troops start better than this storming party did. Pickett pushed firmly and steadily forward, going over the identical ground our brigade had passed the day before Pettigrew followed in fine order. Our artillery now ceased firing, and upon inquiry I learned they had exhausted their ammunition! And at such a time! There is Pickett and Pettigrew half across the valley: the enemy have ran up new guns and are pouring a deadly fire into their ranks. The enemy's infantry have opened upon them — they fall upon every side — Generals, Colonels, Captains, Lieutenants, privates, as thick as autumn leaves they strew the plain. And our guns, will they not re open? Is there no succor for those brave spirits who are so nobly and steadily bearing their country's flag in that terrible fight? Surely our artillery will help them now — this is the crisis! My God! all is as silent as death along our whole line of artillery; one hundred and twenty pieces of cannon standing mute and dumb while the very flower of the Confederate army is grappling on unequal terms in a struggle of life and death with an enemy strongly posted in a mountain fastness, and admirably protected by well served artillery. I ask myself, "can they stand this fire much longer?" and I see Pickett still vigorously pushing on, dealing a deadly fire at every step. The enemy fall back from his front — they take shelter behind the stone wall — still Pickett advancing. On the left Pettigrew's line wavers — it pauses — all is lost — it falls back — it runs. Some of the officers attempt to rally their men, but a great many are scampering away in front of their men; better skelter, pell-mell, here they come. But one thought seems to actuate them all, and that is to gain a safe place in the rear. Pickett left alone, still rushes forward upon the enemy — he has gained the stone wall — has gone over it — is in the enemy's wake — has silenced their guns. I can see with my glass our battle-flag waving in the enemy's batteries, where but a moment since the Yankee colors floated in the breeze.--Take care, brave Virginians, you are in a trap the support on your right and left has fallen back. Our brigade was caught there yesterday, and there, upon their right, a heavy column of Yankee infantry is deploying around a point of woods to gain their rear — it is done — they are surrounded. They now attempt to cut their way out; but many are killed and wounded, and many more are taken prisoners.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 23, 1863

Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner
(Library of Congress)
An officer who succeeded in passing out from Port Hudson while the surrender was taking place, on the 9th inst., furnishes a highly interesting account of the siege and fall of that post. Its defence was nothing short, in bravery and pertinacity, of that of Vicksburg. The siege may be said to have commenced on the 20th of May, and lasted two months. On the 26th the investment was completed, and on the 27th the first grand assault took place. We extract from the narrative published in the Mobile Advertiser some of the particulars:

On the left, where the main assault was made, the attack was made by a brigade of Negroes, comprising about three regiments, together with the same force of white Yankees, across a bridge which had been built over Sandy creek on the night of the 25th. This force was thrown against the 39th Mississippi regiment, commanded by Col. Shelby. About 500 Negroes in front advanced at double quick within 150 yards of the works, when the artillery on the river bluff and two light pieces on Col. Shelby's left, opened upon them, and at the same time they were received with volleys of musketry from five companies of the 39th. The Negroes fled every way in perfect confusion, without firing a gun, probably carrying with them, in their panic flight, their sable comrades further in the rear, for the enemy themselves report that 600 of them perished. If this be so, they must have been shot down by the Yankees in the rear, for the execution we did upon them did not exceed 250; and, indeed, volleys of musketry were heard in the direction of their flight. Among the slain were found the bodies of two negro Captains, with commissions in their pockets.

The 1st Alabama, Lt. Col. Locke, and the 10th Arkansas, Col. Witt, engaged the enemy outside the works, in the thick woods, and fought most gallantly; but were compelled, by the heavy odds brought against them, to fail back across the creek and within the works. In this action Col. Witt was captured, but was not fated to remain long a prisoner, being one of the daring band who effected their escape from the Maple Leaf while on their way to a Yankee prison.
About 3 o'clock the Yankees, true to their knavish national instinct, raised the white flag, and under it attempted to make a rush with their infantry. This being reported to Gen. Gardner, he sent orders to the different commanders not to recognize any white flag unless sent by the Federal commander himself. At sunset the firing ceased, after a hotly contested engagement of twelve hours during the whole of which our men had behaved with unflinching gallantry, and had completely repulsed the enemy at every point. Every man along the entire line had done his duty nobly. While this assault was going on, all the gun and mortar boats kept up an incessant firing upon the lower batteries, but without inflicting any damage.

On the 28th Gen. Banks sent a flag proposing a cessation of hostilities for the purpose of burying the dead, which was granted. About 3 o'clock P. M. the truce ceased, and the enemy, in heavy force, made a furious attack upon the 1st Alabama, which was gallantly repulsed.
From this time till June 13th, heavy skirmishing was constantly kept up, the men were behind the breast works night and day, and one could scarcely show his head an instant without being made the mark of a sharp shooter. Many were sick from exposure to the sun and other causes. The enemy were, meanwhile, engaged in digging ditches, erecting batteries, and advancing their parallels.--The gun and mortar boats kept up a continual fire by night and day, more, it would seem, for the purpose of exhausting the garrison by wake fullness than from any hope of direct advantage.

Monday, the 13th of June, a communication was received from Gen. Banks, demanding the unconditional surrender of the post. He complimented the garrison and its commander, in high terms. Their courage, he said, amounted almost to heroism, but it was folly for them to attempt to hold the place any longer, as it was at his will, and he demanded the surrender in the name of humanity, to prevent the sacrifice of lives, as it would be impossible for his commanders to save the garrison from being put to the sword when the works should be carried by assault. His artillery, he said, was equal to any in extent and efficiency, and his men outnumbered ours five to one. He knew to what a condition they were reduced, as he had captured Gen. Gardner's courier sent out with dispatches to Gen. Johnston. As these dispatches were in cipher, it is probable that Banks exaggerated the amount of information he had derived from them.
Gen. Gardner replied that his duty required him to defend the post, and be must refuse to entertain any such proposition.

On the morning of the 14th, just before day, the fleet and all the land batteries, which the enemy had succeeded in erecting at 100 to 300 yards from our breastworks, opened fire at the same time. About daylight, under cover of the smoke, the enemy advanced along the whole line, and in many places approached within ten feet of our works. Our brave fellows were wide awake, and, opening upon them with "buck and ball," drove them back in confusion, a great number of them being left dead in the ditches. One entire division and a brigade were ordered to charge the position of the 1st Mississippi and the 49th Alabama, and, by the mere physical pressure of numbers, some of them got within the works; but all those were immediately killed. Every regiment did its duty nobly; but this was the main attack. After a sharp contest of two hours the enemy were everywhere repulsed, and withdrew to their old line; but heavy skirmishing was kept up most of the day.

After this repulse Gen. Banks sent no flag of truce to bury his dead, which remained exposed between the lines for three days. At the end of that time Gen. Gardner sent a flag to Banks, requesting that he would remove them. Banks replied that he had no dead there.Gen Gardner then desired Gen. Beale to send a flag to Gen. Auger and request him to bury the dead of his division, which lay in front of the 1st and 49th. Auger replied that he did not think he had any dead there, but he would grant a cessation of hostilities to ascertain. Accordingly parties were detailed to pass the dead bodies over to the Yankees, and two hundred and sixty odd were removed from this portion of the works, and with them one wounded man, who had been lying there three days without water, and was fly blown from head to foot. It was surmised that Banks was unwilling that his men should witness the carnage which had been committed, but if that were the case he only made matters worse by this delay, for much exasperation was manifested at the sight of the wounded man, and a great many were heard to say that if that was the way the wounded were to be treated they wanted to he out of the army. A great many of the dead must have perished during the three days interval. In front of Johnson, Steadman, and elsewhere none were buried, and the bodies of the slain could be seen from the breastworks on the day of the surrender, twenty six days after the fight.

During the rest of the month there was heavy skirmishing daily, with constant firing night and day from the gun and mortar boats, and the works were generally drawn close to our line, which, it may here be remarked, was about three miles in extent, and in the centre some three fourths of a mile from the river. Batteries of Parrott guns had been erected across the river, which were well served by the U. S. regulars, and maintained a continuous and very effective fire upon our river batteries, disabling many of the guns. On the land side a formidable battery of seventeen eight, nine and ten inch Columbiads was established 150 paces from our extreme right, one of seven guns in front of Gen. Beale's centre, one of six guns in front of the 1st Mississippi, on the Jackson road, and seven guns and mortars were planted in front of Colonel Steadman. From these a fire was maintained day and night, doing but little damage to our men, but as the siege continued most of our artillery was disabled, only about fifteen pieces remaining uninjured at the time of the surrender.

During the siege of six weeks, from May 27th to July 7th inclusive the enemy must have fired from fifty to seventy five thousand shot and shell, yet not more than twenty-five men were killed by these projectiles. They had worse dangers than these to contend against, but against them all they fought like heroes and did their duty cheerfully. Several buildings were burned by the enemy's shells, among which was the mill, entailing a loss of two or three thousand bushels of corn.

About the 29th or 30th of June the garrison's supply of meat gave out, when General Gardner ordered the mules to be butchered, after ascertaining that the men were willing to eat them. Far from shrinking from this hardship, the men received their unusual rations cheerfully, and declared that they were proud to be able to say that they had been reduced to this extremity. Many of them, as if in mockery of famine, caught rats and eat them declaring that they were better than squirrels.

At the same time the supply of ammunition was becoming exhausted, and at the time of the surrender there were only twenty rounds of cartridges left, with a small supply for artillery.
The hardships, privations, and dangers of the situation were diversified by many exciting incidents. One day our men were rolling ten inch shells over the rampart to explode against the enemy's works, which were not more than fifteen feet off, when a rush was made at our breastworks by about 200 of the enemy. Two companies were hurried to the spot, and they were driven back. Of some sixteen who had gained the interior of our works every one was killed.

Mining was resorted to by the enemy, and, after the surrender, they said that they had a charge of 3,000 pounds of powder already laid under the lower river battery. This, in fact, consisting of a single pivot gun, was the key to the whole position, as it commanded both the river and the land approaches, and against this the heaviest guns of the enemy and their most vigorous efforts by land and water were directed. Their story, however, is somewhat doubled.
But if the enemy mined, the garrison counter-mine, and succeeded in blowing up the works in front of the 1st Mississippi.

Some time between the 20th and 30th of June a singular circumstance occurred one night about 11 o'clock, after a heavy The water commenced running up stream, and in half an hour rose six feet. In one place about twenty feet of the bluff disappeared, carrying away one of our river batteries. The roar of the water could be heard like distant thunder. If this were an earthquake — and it is difficult to give any other explanation — it must have "rolled unheededly away" so far as the enemy was concerned, for no notice of it has appeared in any of the Yankee papers.
On Tuesday, July 7th, salutes were fired from the enemy's batteries and gunboats, and loud cheering was heard along the entire line, and Yankees who were within conversing distance of our men told them that Vicksburg had fallen. That night about 10 o'clock Gen. Gardner summoned a council of war, consisting of Gen. Beale, Cols. Steadman, Miles, Lyle, and Shelby, and Lieut. Col. Marshal J. Smith, who, without exception, decided that it was impossible to hold out longer, considering that the provisions of the garrison were exhausted, the ammunition almost entirely expended, and a large proportion of the men sick, or from exhaustion unfit for duty. A communication was sent to Gen. Banks stating what had been heard from the men, asking for official information as to the truth of the news, and stating if it were true, that Gen. Gardner was ready to negotiate terms of surrender.--Gen. Banks's reply was received just before day, enclosing a letter from Gen. Grant announcing the fall of Vicksburg. Gen. Banks asked Gen'l Gardner to appoint commissioners to arrange with these on his part for terms of surrender, and Cols. Miles and Steadman and Lieut. Col. Smith were appointed.
Gen. Banks demanded an unconditional surrender, as in first instance, but finally agreed that officers and soldiers should retain their private property, (in which Negroes were not included,) demand for a parole of the garrison was released Gen. Banks said he would grant terms with the greatest pleasure, but the orders of the Secretary of War forbid it.

The surrender was fixed to take place at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 9th. At 6 o'clock the garrison were drawn up in line and two officers of Gen. Gardner's staff were sent to conduct the Federal officers deputed to receive the surrender. This was Gen. Andrews, who entered the lines shortly after 7 o'clock on the Clinton road. Gen. Gardner met him at the right of our line and delivered up his sword, observing that he surrendered his sword and his garrison since his provisions were exhausted. Gen. Andrews replied that he received Gen. Gardner's sword, but returned it to him for having maintained his defence so gallantly.

Meanwhile the enemy's infantry moved down in front of our line, both wings resting on the river, and completely encircling the little garrison, as if to cut off any attempt to escape. About that time our informant succeeded in passing through the lines and evading the enemy's outposts. A great many of the garrison — probably several hundred--had made an attempt to escape the previous night, but the guard of the enemy was so strict that they could not pass out.
The number of the garrison which surrendered was between 5,000 and 6,000, of whom there were not more than 2,000 effective men for duty. During the siege about 200 had been killed and 300 wounded, besides several deaths from sickness.--Among the officers killed were Col. Pixley, of Arkansas, Captain Boone, of Louisiana, and Lieutenant Simonton, of the 1st Mississippi, besides a few others with whose names our informant was not familiar.
The universal feeling in the garrison is that Gen. Gardner did everything in his power to foil the enemy and protract the siege, and only succumbed to the direst necessity. The garrison, too, have made a noble record. Even the enemy's accounts, upon which we have been entirely dependent for nearly two months, bear testimony to heroism unsurpassed during this war; but much yet remains to be told, and not a word of it but will reflect the greatest honor upon these devoted men.

Monday, July 15, 2013

150-years-ago -- THE FALL OF VICKSBURG

The Richmond Daily Dispatch 
July 14, 1863
Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee
(Library of Congress)

Though no official dispatches have
announced it, the fact seems now to
be certain that Vicksburg fell by the
starvation of its garrison. The men
had been without food for three days.
After the surrender, in marching to
stack their arms numbers of them
staggered like drunken men from the
effects of starvation and fatigue.
For two weeks, says an officer who
came from the city, they had been
living on mule meat and bread made
of peas; and yet, he added, if it had
been known that relief would have 
come they would still have held out. 
The privates who have arrived at Jackson,
Miss., speak in the highest terms of Gen.
Pemberton. They say they went into 
the fortifications prejudiced against him, 
but that no man could have done more to defend
the city than he did. It is stated by officers
 that all the officers in the city concurred in 
advising Pemberton to surrender.
About 200 of the paroled prisoners, including 
Brig Gen. Stephen D. Lee, have arrived at 
Jackson. The Yankees were led to believe
 that if they took Vicksburg the war was ended,
and they could all go home, and they would remark to our
troops, "well, boys, we can all go home now.".

Fall of Port Hudson.
The following dispatch was received at the War
Department yesterday: Mobile, July13, 1863.
Gen'l Cooper A. and I. G.:
The New Orleans Era. of the 19th announces
the unconditional surrender of Port Hudson
at 7 o'clock on the 9th inst.

Friday, July 12, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 6, 1863
Fighting at Spangler's Spring outside Gettysburg.
The latest: great battle at Gettysburg.
The Yankees Claim not to be Befitted and to have captured Six thousand prisoners.--the Confederates hold the field-yankee General Reynolds and Paul killed — heavy loss of the Federal--the Grand battle expected Friday, &c., &c.
We are indebted to the courtesy of Dr. W. W. McClure. for a Baltimore American of Friday evening last, the 3d inst. It gives the particulars of an important battle fought on Wednesday and Thursday last, between our troops under Generals Longstreet and Hill, and the enemy under Gen. Reynolds, who was killed. We give a summary of the news:
The first day's battle.
The Baltimore American has the following account of the first day's battle:
It appears that at 9 o'clock on Wednesday morning, (the 1st inst.,) the 1st and 11th corps of the Army of the Potomac reached Gettysburg, entering from the East side of the town, and marching directly through to the west side, the cavalry force of the enemy failing back as we advanced. On passing out of the West end of the town, the enemy was observed advancing rapidly from the Chambersburg pike, in line of battle, towards the town, evidently endeavoring to hold an advantageous position commanding the town. The first corps, under Gen. Reynolds, was in the advance, and pushed forward at double quick to secure the advantageous position. The enemy, under Longstreet and Hall, advanced steadily, and in a few minutes a heavy-fire, both of artillery and musketry, was opened along the whole Federal and Rebel lines. The 11th army corps, under Gen. Haward, was also soon in position, and for a time a heavy battle raged. Several charges were made by the enemy to dislodge our forces, all of which were unsuccessful.

At 3 o'clock the enemy massed his entire forces and endeavored to turn our right wing. Gen. Reynolds advanced, to meet them, and a heavy infantry fight ensued, in which both parties suffered severely, volley after of musketry being ponder into the opposing columns with deadly effect. In the charge Maj. Gen, Reynolds fell, mortally wounded, and died soon after being conveyed to Gettysburg. He was as usual, leading his corps, and in the thickest of the fight. Gen. Paul, commanding the 3d brigade of the 1st army corps, was also killed on the field, and Cols. Wistar and Stone severely wounded, and were taken prisoners by the enemy. The field between the contending armies was strewn with the dead and wounded, and it is said that the enemy suffered fully as heavily as we did though it is not known what was their loss in officers.

The offers to flank our right wing entirely failed, and we hold the prominent and commanding position for which the struggle was made at the close of the fight, which for the day about 1 o'clock in the afternoon.--At this time two more corps of Gen. army reached the field, and during the night the main body of our army was in position to meet any demonstrations that the enemy might make in the morning, or to advance on hire, as the Commanding General might decide.--The 1st army corps nobly maintained the position against the effort to flank its right, and fairered for a moment, when its of the enemy. A great and decisive battle was considered imminent, and, not withstanding our severe loss in officers, the advantages of the day were regarded as dividedly with our forces.
The army was in fine condition, full of enthusiasm for the coming battle, and confident of success. General Meads had also, it was thought, concentrated his forces to a greater extent than the enemy, a large portion of whose army was still scattered up through the Cumberland Valley.

Col. Wistar commanded the Pennsylvania "Bucktails," and Col. Stone also commanded a Pennsylvania regiment, and both were in the 2d brigade of the 1st army corps Col. S, at the time of receiving his wound, was acting as Brigadier-General of the brigade. General Newton took command of the 1st army corps on the fall of Gen. Reynolds.

Gen. Paul commanded the 3d brigade of the same corps, and was a most efficient officer.
Some gentlemen connected with the press who arrived here last (Thursday) evening, from Gettysburg, having left before daylight in the morning, represent, the condition of affairs at the close of the fight on Wednesdayevening to have been still more favorable and promising of a successful issue than the previous information we had received. They state that the rebels had held Gettysburg for some time previous to the approach of our army, and had not only occupied but had commenced fortifying the hills west of the town, where they proposed to check our advance towards Chambersburg and the month of the Cumberland Valley.
The movement of Gen. Reynolds and the rapidity with which he advanced after entering the East end of the town took them somewhat by surprise, and he soon obtained the prominent position which the rebels were fortifying. The fighting through the balance of the day was in a futile attempt on their part to regain this important position, from which they were frequently repulsed.

Early in the afternoon both Longstreet and Hill combined their forces for a grand effort to turn our right flank, when Gen. Howard's 11th corps, (the Dutch corps,) which broke and ran at Chancellorsville, dashed in to regard their lost laurels, and most nobly did they repulse these two veteran corps of the rebel army. The repulse was so complete that no further attempt was made by the enemy during the balance of the day, and night closed in with our holding the position chosen by the enemy to give us battle from. The 3d and 12th army corps also came on the field after the last repulse of the enemy, but owing to the fall of Gen. Reynolds, and the lateness of the hour, as well as the exhaustion of the men, and the desire to take care of the wounded, it was determined not to push the enemy for a renewal of the conflict.

When our informant left the field yesterday (Thursday) morning, Gen. Meade had arrived, and the main body of our army was in position, ready to push the enemy so soon as day should dawn.

Gettysburg is just 25 miles east of Chambersburg, over a fine rolling country most of the way, which will doubtless be the scene of the great battle of the rebel invasion.
From one of the officers who came down in charge of prisoners, who arrived last night, who left GettysburgWednesdayafternoon, we have accounts not so favorable as those given by other parties. He describes the fight on that day as rather unfavorable to our arms, and states that the enemy held the field at the close of the day, our forces having fallen back after the fall of Gen. Reynolds; that the attack of the enemy was so sudden and unexpected that both the corps of Hill and Longstreet were for a time engaged with Gen. Reynolds's corps, and that the 11th corps took but little part in the battle.
The Second day's Fighting.
The American learns from parties that left Gettysburg at noonThursday, that up to that time everything was progressing favorably for the Federal arms. It says:
Up to that time they assert that over six thousand prisoners had been captured, and sent to Union Bridge for transportation to Baltimore. At nine o'clock last Light a train with 800 prisoners, the first instalment of those captured, arrived at the Baltimore depot, and shortly after Gen. Schenck announced from his headquarters that those then in Baltimore and at the Relay House, which would soon be in his possession, amounted to 2,360. We learn that nearly 1,000 of these prisoners were captured on Wednesdayevening by the 11th army corps in their gallant charge on Longstreet's corps. They are said to have at first slightly faltered, but their officers cried to them to "remember Chancellorsville," when they into the fight with a fury that was irresistible and the whole line of the enemy gave way before them.

During the early part of Thursday, up to noon, at which hour our informant left, there had been no general battle, though heavy skirmishing had been going on all the morning, resulting in heavy loss to the enemy and the capture of nearly 5,000 prisoners. Is all these skirmishes, which were conducted under the direction of Gen. Meade, our arms were entirely successful; but the enemy studiously avoided a general engagement, and it was thought there would be none before to-day, when it was said to be the intention of Gen. Meade to press the enemy along the whole line.

The prudence and skill displayed by Gen.Meade in the management of his army and the strategy evinced by him in coping with Lee, had already won the confidence of his troops, and his presence along the lines drew forth the strongest demonstrations of attachment. The army evinced a determination to win at all hexardstand and had been strongly impressed by their officers with the dreadful consequences that would ensue to them and the country if a disaster should occur to our arms in the coming conflict.

The enemy was rapidly concentrating his troops yesterday from the Cumberland Valley towards Chambersburg, and General Meade's whole army had reached the field of battle.--If Gen. Couch presses on the enemy down the Valley with his troops from Harrisburg, which is confidently expected, we may look for a glorious result.
The Fighting on Wednesday--further particulars.
A correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer. writing under date of Wednesday, July1, 8 o'clock A. M., says:
This morning, early, the First and Eleventh army corns, which had been during the night encamped near Emmetsburg, advanced — the 1st corps marching in the following order: 1st division, under Gen. Wadsworth; 3d division, Gen Doulileday; these followed by five full batteries under Col. Wareswright; bringing up the rear was the really splendid division of Gen. Robinson--this corps having been in the advance during the whole time of our march from Falmouth, were the first force of infantry to Gettysburg, and to come up with and fight the enemy.

During the day this corps had been under the direction of Gen. Doubleday, Gen Reynolds being in command of the right wing, commission the 1st 3d, 11th and 12th corps.
When come three miles from town, and while quietly marching along, the sound of heavy and rapid cannon firing was heard coming from the direction beyond Gettysburg. Almost at the same instant Capt Mitchell, a gallant aid upon Gen. Reynolds staff came dashing down the road with orders to the various division commanders to push forward their divisions as rapidly as possible. The order was given to double quick, which was the obeyed, and kept up until the intervening space where our batteries were engaged was passed over. These batteries, two in number, were a part of the artillery belonging to General Baford's division; and were stationed some half a mile to the South of the Gettysburg Theological Seminary, while the opposing force were stationed and snuggery entrenched upon the East side of Marsh Creek, and about the same distance from the Seminary as were our own forces — The latter was the first to open fire, and were for a time compelling our batteries to retire from their position. This they were quietly doing, and in good order, when the division of Gen. Wadeworth same to their support the two able regiment, the 2d Wisconsin and 24th Michigan, rushing up and driving from in front of them the infantry force who were making desperate efforts to capture the pieces. When these supports arrived the batteries against took up a commanding position, which they were enabled to hold during the day.
In rear of the position so taken up, and to the right, the division of Gen. Wadsworth was drawn up in line of battle, with the division of General Robinson holding the second were by their partial success in driving from position the batteries, attempted another charge, with the object of seizing the pieces, when the brigades of the 2d division, with fixed bayonet, made a charge upon them, and such as were not killed were taken prisoners. Two entire regiments — a Tennessee and Mississippi regiment — were then bagged.

Immediately after the arrival and going into position of the first corps, the eleventh, under the amiable and brave Gen. Howard, who had been in the rear and marching on the same road as the first made their appearance, marched directly through the town and at once formed a line of battle on the right of the Chambersburg road and some half a mile west of the college, which is located at the extreme end of the town. After some three hours of artillery the rebels commenced to retire. There were massed two infantry corps, and in this formation a pursuit of their retreating column was commenced. After driving them back towards the mountain, something over a mile, soon after four o'clock it was discovered that with an extensive force of infantry and cavalry, they were endeavoring to turn our left flank, with a view probably to get between us and our supply trains. Before this being noticed, and it being evident that our reinforcements, the 3d and 12th corps, who had been anxiously inquired after during the entire day, were not yet up, no other alternative was offered us than to retire to the East of the town, end take up a better position upon the top of a hill and along the line of road leading to . This was done, but in admirable order, no unusual haste being apparent, while at the same time all ammunition and supply wagons as were up to the front were sent to the rear.

A little after 4 o'clock the 3d corps, under command of General Sickles, came upon the field, and went into position upon the left of that hold early in the morning by the 1st corps. The Twelfth, under General Slocomb, as well, arrived about the same time, and were stationed upon the right of the 11th corps. After those two corps, as well as those who had borne the heat and burthen of the day, were formed in battle array, they made an advance, and with but little resistance succeeded in driving the rebels from the town, and back into the position they first occupied early in the morning. In this manner, and in these locations, both armies are resting for the night.

The Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps are moving this way, and by morning will be up and ready to do battle with us.

While the later mentioned movement was being made, the enemy kept up a continual ruin of shot and shell upon the town, and when ceasing their cavalry dashed through the town, capturing all stray parties there congregated, together with the wounded, who were occupants of, and the surgeons and who were in attendance in, the many hastily organized hospitals there located.--While the firing was in progress some few buildings were set on fire, but the town not being compactly built only such buildings as were struck by the shells were consumed.
A rebel brigade captured.
They also made an effort to capture a wagon train on the left and rear, and in attempting this movement nearly a whole brigade of rebels were captured, among them Brigadier General Archer, of the Rebel Army, formerly of the United States Army.

So rapidly were the relics reinforced with fresh troops in their attempt to turn the left of the corps, that it obliged the order to be given to fall back a distance of perhaps a mile, fighting the whole time.
Gen. Reynolds killed.
While personally gallantly leading the first bayonet charge made by Gen. Wadsworth's division, the noble, popular and gallant Major General John F. Reynolds received a wound which, in less than hour's time, resulted in death. The missile which robbed us of one of the brightest ornaments of our army, as well as one of us bravest and most useful members, was the sharp- pointed Minnie rifle ball, it having entered the back of the neck, coming out at the temple.

Among other prominent officers killed is found the name of Gen. Paul. Gen. Wadzworth is severely wounded. Gen. Robinson, for the third time, had a horse shot under him. While among the names of officers of less rank who are more or loss wounded, are found these of Col. Bales, of the 12th Massachusetts; Col. Leonard, of the 13th Massachusetts; Col. Faireuild, of the 2d Wisconsin; Col. Root, of the 94th New York; Capt. Rob. Williams, of the 12th Massachusetts; Lt. Thomas, Acting Aid to Gen. Baxter; Capt. Case. Hovey, of the 12th Mass. Aid to Gen. Robinson, and Adj't. Weaver, 9th Penn.

Among those captured are the names of Dr. Nordguist, Medical Director of Robinson's division, and Capt. Fred Gerker, of Philadelphia, of the same division. In the confusion occasioned by the charge of cavalry, and our approach to many hospitals being cut off, it is impossible to obtain a correct list of casualties. Our losses, though, are enormously heavy, especially among field and line officers. Neither are we warranted in guessing how seriously the rebels have suffered.

Of the rebels nothing definite as to their numerical strength is here positively known; at least, if known, is not stated, some placing their entire strength in Pennsylvania at 80,000, others at 125,000.

Our scouts report that to-night Hill is reinforcing the enemy, and that they are miring down the mountain by three different roads.--Their position to-day was one of unusual excellence, and selected with the same eye to natural defence and arrange which has ever characterized them — upon the side of a broad running stream, and with a high mountain back of them; their artillery upon the bill side in a position one above the other, like seats in the parquette of a theatre.
The Federal Gen. Reynolds.
The Federal General, John Fulton Reynolds, who was killed in the battle at Gettysburg, on Wednesday last, was born in Lancaster, Pa., and at the age of 17 entered the Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1841, just, 21 years of age, and received a commission as brevet 2d Lieutenants in the Third Artillery. In the Mexican war he was brevetted Captain and Major for gallant conduct in the battles of Monterey and Linda Vista. Subsequently he was an Aid de-Camp to Gen. Wool In 1855 he was promoted to a full Captaincy in his regiment, and served with some distinction in the severe battles with the Oregon Indians in 1856.

In August, 1861, he was appointed to the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers, and took command of one of the three brigades of the Pennsylvania Reserves, under Gen. McCall, the other two being under command of Gen. Meade, now in command of the Yankee Army of the Potomac, and Gen. Ord, who recently succeeded Gen. McClernand at Vicksburg. With this division Gen. Reynold took part in nearly all the great battles in Virginia. Having been sent down to the Peninsula and marched to the front around Richmond, he was posted with his brigade on the extreme right of the Federal line, and, with McCall and Meade, sustained the first onslaught on McClellan's army at Mechanicville. He was in all of the seven days fight around this city, except the engagement at Malvern Hill, having the day previous been taken prisoner with General McCall and brought to this city.

After his release he took command of the division of Pennsylvania reserves and led them in Pope's disastrous campaign. Soon after the close of that campaign he was communed by the Governor of Pennsylvania to the command of the militia raised for the defence of that State in September, 1862. When Gen. Lee recrossed the Potomac Reynolds rejoined his command in the Federal army and marched with Fredericksburg, where he was subsequently advanced to the command of the first army corps, having meanwhile been made Major General by Lincoln. He commanded that corps in the fights at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He is represented by the Northern press to have been a thorough, accomplished, and brave soldier.
The Confederate Evacuation of Chambersburg — a portion of the place Sunny.
The Confederates evacuated Carlisle,Pa., on the morning of the 1st inst., leaving on the Baltimore pike. During their stay they on the place for 25,000 the bacon, 100 sacks salt, 1,500 bbls flour, 5,000 lbs. each of and sugar, 25,000 lbs dried fruit, 25 bbls violanses, 300 ounces quinine, 90 lbs.50 lbs. opium, &c., which they "generally took what they wanted." They destroyed the railroad. bridge at the place, and among other outrages, Gen. Jenkins had the Manor Hotel searched, and a cold lucky for his dinner. An "impudent female rebel spy" informed on the cold --had a regular mail communication with it mond while they occupied the town, and two mails were distributed. After they left in the morning, Gen. Smith (Federal) occupied; the place in the evening but a force of the retable returned, and by shelling the place burnt the U. S. barracks and the gas house.

Friday, July 5, 2013

150-years-ago -- GETTYSBURG, THE THIRD DAY

Attack of Johnston's Div., C.S.A. on the breastworks on Culps Hill defended
by Wadsworth's Div., 1st Corps, and a part of the 12th Corps
 [under] General Slocum, half past seven P.M., July 2nd / Edwin Forbes.
(Library of Congress)

[Excerpted from Gettysburg by Frederick Tilberg, National Park Service Handbook]

The Third Day
CANNONADE AT DAWN: CULP'S HILL AND SPANGLER'S SPRING. Night brought an end to the bloody combat at East Cemetery Hill, but this was not the time for rest. What would Meade do? Would the Union Army remain in its established position and hold its lines at all costs? At midnight Meade sought the advice of his Council of War in the east room of his headquarters. The corps commanders—Gibbon, Williams, Sykes, Newton, Howard, Hancock, Sedgwick, and Slocum—without exception advised holding the positions established. Meade, approving, turned to the officer whose division held the Union center, and said, "Gibbon, if Lee attacks me tomorrow it will be in your front."

Despite this prediction, Meade took no unusual measures next day to fortify the center of his line. In fact, by morning he seemed convinced that the Confederate attack would continue against his left. Thus the strong forces there, three corps, were left in place. Hancock's Second Corps, holding the center, did strengthen the stone wall running along its front. And General Hunt, Chief of Artillery, brought up reserve batteries to hold in readiness for replacement of front line guns.

Meanwhile, important movements were occurring elsewhere on the field. Ruger's division and Lockwood's brigade, which had been called from their lines on the south slope of Culp's Hill the previous evening to buttress the weakened Federal forces on Cemetery Ridge, had counter-marched, under cover of darkness, to reoccupy their ground. Geary, who had misunderstood orders and had marched down the Baltimore Pike, had also returned to his works, Ruger's men, upon reaching the Pike, learned from scouts that their entrenchments south of Culp's Hill and at Spangler's Spring had been occupied by the Confederates. Ruger, resolving upon an attack at daybreak, organized his forces along the Pike. Powerful artillery units under Muhlenberg were brought into place along the road; Rigby's Maryland battery was stationed on Power's Hill, a prominent knoll a half mile to the south; and another battery was emplaced on McAllister Hill.

As dawn broke on July 3, Union guns on the Baltimore Pike opened with a heavy cannonade on Johnson's Confederates at Spangler's Spring. The heavily wooded area about the Confederate lines prevented them from bringing guns into position to return the fire. Union skirmishers began streaming across the field toward the Confederate entrenchments. The full force of Ruger's and Geary's divisions was soon committed. Throughout the forenoon the opposing lines exchanged extremely heavy fire.

It was about 10 o'clock that Ruger, believing that a flank attack might break the resistance of Johnson's men, ordered Col. Silas Colgrove to strike the Confederate left flank near the spring. The troops of the 2d Massachusetts and the 27th Indiana regiments started across the swale from the cover of the woods on the little hill south of the spring. A withering fire slowed their pace, but they charged on, only to have their ranks decimated by the Confederates in strong positions back of a stone wall. Colonel Mudge, inspiring leader of the Massachusetts regiment, fell mortally wounded. Forced to fall back, the men soon learned their efforts had not been in vain. On Ruger's and Geary's front the Confederates were now giving way and soon had retired across Rock Creek, out of striking range. By 11 o'clock, the Union troops were again in possession of their earthworks; again they could quench their thirst in the cooling waters of the spring.

LEE PLANS A FINAL THRUST. General Lee must have learned by mid-forenoon, after the long hours of struggle at Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring, that his troops could not hold the Union works which they had occupied with so little effort the previous evening. He had seen, also, that in the tremendous battling during the preceding afternoon no important gains had been made at Little Round Top and its vicinity. Longstreet had gained the advantageous ridge at the Peach Orchard and had brought his batteries forward from Pitzer's Woods to this high ground in preparation for a follow-up attack. Wright's brigade, the last unit to move forward on July 2 in the echelon attack begun by General Law, had charged across the open fields at dusk and pierced the Union center just south of the copse of trees on Cemetery Ridge. Wright's success could not be pressed to decisive advantage as the brigades on his left had nor moved forward to his support, and he was forced to retire. Again, lack of coordination in attack was to count heavily against the Confederates.

The failure to make any pronounced headway on July 2 at Culp's Hill and Little Round Top, and the momentary success of Wright on Cemetery Ridge, doubtless led Lee to believe that Meade's flanks were strong and his center weak. A powerful drive at the center might pierce the enemy's lines and fold them back. The shattered units might then be destroyed or captured at will. Such a charge across open fields and in the face of frontal and flank fire would, Lee well understood, be a gamble seldom undertaken. Longstreet strongly voiced his objection to such a move, insisting that "no 15,000 men ever arrayed for battle can take that position."

Time now was the important element. Whatever could be done must be done quickly. Hood's and McLaws' divisions, who had fought bravely and lost heavily at Round Top and the Wheatfield, were not in condition for another severe test. Early and Johnson on the left had likewise endured long, unrelenting battle with powerful Union forces in positions of advantage. The men of Heth's and Pender's divisions had not been heavily engaged since the first day's encounter west of Gettysburg. These were the men, along with Pickett's division, whom Lee would have to count on to bear the brunt of his final great effort at Gettysburg.

Gen. Pickett receives Gen. Longstreets's
reluctant approval to start his charge on
the third day at Gettysburg.
(Library of Congress)
LEE AND MEADE SET THE STAGE. Late in the forenoon of July 3, General Meade had completed his plan of defense. Another Confederate attack could be expected: "Where?" was still the question. General Hunt, sensing the danger, placed a formidable line of batteries in position on the crest of Cemetery Ridge and alerted others in the rear for emergency use. As a final act of preparation, Meade inspected his front at the stone wall, then rode southward to Little Round Top. There, with General Warren, he could see the long lines of massed Confederate batteries, a sure indication of attack. Meade rode back to his headquarters.

Lee, on his part, had spent the forenoon organizing his attack formations on Seminary Ridge. Having reached his decision to strike the Union center, he had ordered the movement of batteries from the rear to points of advantage. By noon, about 140 guns were in line from the Peach Orchard northward to the Seminary buildings, many of them only 800 yards from the Union center. To Colonel Alexander fell the lot of directing the artillery fire and informing the infantry of the best opportunity to advance.

Massed to the west of Emmitsburg Road, on low ground which screened their position from the Union lines, lay Gen. George Pickett's three brigades commanded by Kemper, Armistead, and Garnett. Pickett's men had arrived the previous evening from Chambersburg, where they had guarded Lee's wagons on July 1 and 2. As a division these units had seen little fighting. Soon they would gain immortality. On Pickett's left, the attacking front was fast being organized. Joseph Pettigrew, a brigadier, was preparing to lead the division of the wounded Major General Heth, and Maj. Gen. Isaac Trimble took the command of Pender. Nearly 10,000 troops of these two divisions—including such units as the 26th North Carolina whose losses on the first day were so heavy that the dead marked their advance "with the accuracy of a line at a dress parade"—now awaited the order to attack. Many hours earlier, the Bliss farm buildings, which lay in their front, had been burned. Their objective on the ridge was in clear view. The brigades of Wilcox and Lang were to move forward on the right of Pickett in order to protect his flank as he neared the enemy position.

General Stuart, in the meantime, had been out of touch with Lee. Moving northward on the right flank of the Union Army, he became involved in a sharp engagement at Hanover, Pa., on June 30. Seeking to regain contact with Lee, he arrived at Carlisle on the evening of July 1. As he began shelling the barracks, orders arrived from Lee and he at once marched for Gettysburg, arriving north of the town the next day.

Early on July 3 he was ordered to take position on the Confederate left. This movement usually has been interpreted as an integral part of Lee's assault plan. But battle reports leave Stuart's role vague, except for covering the Confederate left. Doubtless he would have exploited any significant success achieved by the infantry assault.

Except for the intermittent sniping of sharpshooters, an ominous silence prevailed over the fields. The orders had now been given; the objective had been pointed our. Men talked of casual things. Some munched on hard bread, others looked fearfully to the eastward, where, with the same mixed feelings, lay their adversary.

Far to the south, on another crucial front, General Pemberton was penning a letter to General Grant asking terms for the surrender of Vicksburg. In Richmond, the sick and anxious Jefferson Davis looked hopefully for heartening word from his great field commander at Gettysburg. The outcome of this bold venture would count heavily in the balance for the cause of the Confederacy.

ARTILLERY DUEL AT ONE O'CLOCK. At 1 p.m. two guns of Miller's Battery, posted near the Peach Orchard, opened fire in rapid succession. It was the signal for the entire line to let loose their terrific blast. Gunners rushed to their cannon, and in a few moments the massed batteries shook the countryside. Firing in volleys and in succession, the air was soon filled with smoke and heavy dust, which darkened the sky. Union gunners on Cemetery Ridge waited a few minutes until the positions of the Confederate batteries were located; then 80 guns, placed in close order, opened fire. For nearly 2 hours the duel continued, then the Union fire slackened. Hunt had ordered a partial cessation in order to cool the guns and conserve ammunition.

Colonel Alexander, in position on the Emmitsburg Road near the Peach Orchard, could observe the effectiveness of his fire on the Union lines and also keep the Confederate troops in view. To him, it appeared that Union artillery fire was weakening. His own supply of ammunition was running low. Believing this was the time to attack, Alexander sent a message to Pickett who in turn rode over to Longstreet. General Longstreet, who had persistently opposed Lee's plan of sending 15,000 men across the open ground, was now faced with a final decision. Longstreet merely nodded approval and Pickett saluted, saying, "I am going to move forward, sir." He rode back to his men and ordered the advance. With Kemper on the right, Garnett on the left, and Armistead a few yards to the rear, the division marched out in brigade front, first northeastward into the open fields, then eastward toward the Union lines. As Pickett's men came into view near the woods, Pettigrew and Trimble gave the order to advance. Sons of Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, comprising the brigades of Mayo, Davis, Marshall, and Fry in front, followed closely by Lane and Lowrance, now moved out to attack. A gap between Pickett's left and Pettigrew's right would be closed as the advance progressed. The units were to converge as they approached the Union lines so that the final stage of the charge would present a solid front.

CLIMAX AT GETTYSBURG. Billows of smoke lay ahead of the Union men at the stone wall, momentarily obscuring the enemy. But trained observers on Little Round Top, far to the south, could see in the rear of this curtain of smoke the waves of Confederates starting forward. Pickett finding his brigades drifting southeastward, ordered them to bear to the left, and the men turned toward the copse of trees. Kemper was now approaching on the south of the Codori buildings; Garnett and Armistead were on the north. Halted momentarily at the Emmitsburg Road to remove fence rails, Pickett's troops, with Pettigrew on the left, renewed the advance. Pickett had anticipated frontal fire of artillery and infantry from the strong Union positions at the stone walls on the ridge, but now an unforeseen attack developed. Union guns as far south as Little Round Top, along with batteries on Cemetery Hill, relieved from Confederate fire at the Seminary buildings, opened on the right and left flanks. As Pickett's men drove toward the Union works at The Angle, Stannard's Vermont troops, executing a right turn movement from their position south of the copse, fired into the flank of the charging Confederates. The advancing lines crumbled, re-formed, and again pressed ahead under terrific fire from the Union batteries.

But valor was not enough. As the attackers neared the stone wall they lost cohesion in the fury that engulfed them. All along the wall the Union infantry opened with volley after volley into the depleted ranks of Garnett and Fry. Armistead closed in, and with Lane and Lowrance joining him, made a last concerted drive. At this close range, double canister and concentrated infantry fire cut wide gaps in the attacking front. Garnett was mortally wounded; Kemper was down, his lines falling away on the right and left. Armistead reached the low stone fence. In a final surge, he crossed the wall with 150 men and, with his cap on his sword, shouted "Follow me!" At the peak of the charge, he fell mortally wounded. From the ridge, Union troops rushed forward and Hall's Michigan regiments let loose a blast of musketry. The gray column was surrounded. The ride of the Confederacy had "swept to its crest, paused, and receded."

Two of the divisions in the charge were reduced to mere fragments. In front of the Union line, 20 fallen battle flags lay in a space of 100 yards square. Singly and in little clumps, the remnants of the gray columns that had made the magnificent charge of a few minutes earlier now sullenly retreated across the fields toward the Confederate lines. Lee, who had watched anxiously from Spangler's Woods, now rode out to meet his men. "All this has been my fault," he said to General Wilcox who had brought off his command after heavy losses. "It is I that have lost this fight, and you must help me out of it in the best way you can." And again that night, in a moment of contemplation, he remarked to a comrade, "Too bad! too bad! Oh! too bad!"

CAVALRY ACTION. As the strength of Lee's mighty effort at The Angle was ebbing and the scattered remnants of the charge were seeking shelter, action of a different kind was taking place on another field not far distant. Early in the afternoon, Stuart's cavalry was making its way down the valley of Cress Run, 3 miles east of Gettysburg. The brigades of Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee, at the rear of the line of march, momentarily lost the trail and came out into open ground at the north end of Rummel's Woods, Stuart, soon learning of the mistake, attempted to bring them into line and to proceed southward. But at this point, Gen. D. M. Gregg's Union cavalry, in position along the Hanover Road a mile southeast, saw the Confederates. Gregg prepared at once to attack, and Stuart had no choice but to fight on this ground. As the two forces moved closer, dismounted men opened a brisk fire, supported by the accurate shelling of artillerists.

Then came the initial cavalry charge and countercharge. The Confederate Jenkins was forced to withdraw when his small supply of ammunition became exhausted. Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and Chambliss charged again and again, only to be met with the equally spirited counterattack of McIntosh. Custer's Michigan regiments assailed the front of the charging Confederate troopers, and Miller's squadron of the 3d Pennsylvania, disobeying orders to hold its position, struck opportunely on the Confederate left. The thrusts of the Union horsemen, so well coordinated, stopped the onslaught of Stuart's troopers. After 3 hours of turbulent action, the Confederates left the field and retired to the north of Gettysburg. The Union horsemen, holding their ground, had successfully cut off any prospect of Confederate cavalry aid in the rear of the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge.

Monday, July 1, 2013


[Excerpted from Gettysburg by Frederick Tilberg, National Park Service]

The First Day
THE BATTLE OF OAK RIDGE. While the initial test of strength was being determined west of Gettysburg by advance units, the main bulk of the two armies was pounding over the roads from the north and south, converging upon the ground chosen by Buford. Rodes' Confederates, hurrying southward from Carlisle to meet Lee at Cashtown, received orders at Biglerville to march to Gettysburg. Early, returning from York with Cashtown as his objective, learned at Heidlersburg of the action at Gettysburg and was ordered to approach by way of the Harrisburg Road.

          Employing the wooded ridge as a screen from Union cavalry north of Gettysburg, Rodes brought his guns into position on Oak Ridge about 1 o'clock and opened fire on the flank of Gen. Abner Doubleday, Reynolds' successor, on McPherson Ridge. The Union commander shifted his lines northeastward to Oak Ridge and the Mummasburg Road to meet the new attack. Rodes' Confederates struck the Union positions at the stone wall on the ridge, but the attack was not well coordinated and resulted in failure. Iverson's brigade was nearly annihilated as it made a left wheel to strike from the west. In the meantime, more Union troops had arrived on the field by way of the Taneytown Road. Two divisions of Howard's Eleventh corps were now taking position in the plain north of the town, intending to make contact with Doubleday's troops on Oak Ridge.
          The greater part of the citizenry of Gettysburg, despite the prospect of battle in their own yards, chose to remain in their homes. Both army commanders respected noncombatant rights to a marked degree. Thus, in contrast with the fields of carnage all about the village, life and property of the civilian population remained unharmed, while the doors of churches, schools, and homes were opened for the care of the wounded.
           General Meade, at Taneytown, had learned early in the afternoon of July 1 that a battle was developing and that Reynolds had been killed, A large part of his army was within 5 miles of Gettysburg. Meade then sent General Hancock to study and report on the situation. Hancock reached the field just as the Union troops were falling back to Cemetery Hill. He helped to rally the troops and left at 6 o'clock to report to Meade that in his opinion the battle should be fought at Gettysburg. Meade acted on this recommendation and immediately ordered the concentration of the Union forces at that place. Meade himself arrived near midnight on July 1.
          Doles' Confederate brigade charged across the plain and was able to force Howard's troops back temporarily, but it was the opportune approach of Early's division from the northeast on the Harrisburg Road which rendered the Union position north of Gettysburg indefensible. Arriving in the early afternoon as the Union men were establishing their position. Early struck with tremendous force, first with his artillery and then with his infantry, against General Barlow. Soon he had shattered the entire Union force. The remnants broke and turned southward through Gettysburg in the direction of Cemetery Hill. In this headlong and disorganized flight General Schimmelfenning was lost from his command, and, finding refuge in a shed, he lay 2 days concealed within the Confederate lines. In the path of Early's onslaught lay the youthful Brigadier Barlow severely wounded, and the gallant Lieut. Bayard Wilkeson, whose battery had long stood against overwhelming odds, mortally wounded.
          The Union men on Oak Ridge, faced with the danger that Doles would cut off their line of retreat, gave way and retired through Gettysburg to Cemetery Hill. The withdrawal of the Union troops from the north and northwest left the Union position on Mcpherson Ridge untenable. Early in the afternoon, when Rodes opened fire from Oak Hill, Heth had renewed his thrust along the Chambersburg Pike. His troops were soon relieved and Pender's division, striking north and south of the road, broke the Union line. The Union troops first withdrew to Seminary Ridge, then across the fields to Cemetery Hill. Here was advantageous ground which had been selected as a rallying point if the men were forced to relinquish the ground west and north of the town. Thus, by 5 o'clock, the remnants of the Union forces (some 6,000 out of the 18,000 engaged in the first day's struggle) were on the hills south of Gettysburg.
          Ewell was now in possession of the town, and he extended his line from the streets eastward to Rock Creek. Studiously observing the hills in his front, he came within range of a Union sharpshooter, for suddenly he heard the thud of a minie ball. Calmly riding on, he remarked to General Gordon at his side, "You see how much better fixed for a fight I am than you are. It don't hurt at all to be shot in a wooden leg."
           A momentous decision now had to be made. Lee had reached the field at 3 p. m., and had witnessed the retreat of the disorganized Union troops through the streets of Gettysburg. Through his glasses he had watched their attempt to reestablish their lines on Cemetery Hill. Sensing his advantage and a great opportunity, he sent orders to Ewell by a staff officer to "press those people" and secure the hill (Cemetery Hill) if possible. However, two of Ewell's divisions, those of Rodes and Early, had been heavily engaged throughout the afternoon and were not well in hand. Johnson's division could not reach the field until late in the evening, and the reconnaissance service of Stuart's cavalry was not yet available. General Ewell, uninformed of the Union strength in the rear of the hills south of Gettysburg, decided to await the arrival of Johnson's division. Cemetery Hill was not attacked, and Johnson, coming up late in the evening, stopped at the base of Culp's Hill. Thus passed Lee's opportunity of July 1.
           When the Union troops retreated from the battleground north and west of the town on the evening of July 1, they hastily occupied defense positions on Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, and a part of Cemetery Ridge. Upon the arrival of Slocum by the Baltimore Pike and Sickles by way of the Emmitsburg Road, the Union right flank at Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring and the important position at Little Round Top on the left were consolidated. Thus was developed a strong defensive battle line in the shape of a fish hook, about 3 miles long, with the advantage of high ground and of interior lines. Opposite, in a semi-circle about 6 miles long, extending down Seminary Ridge and into the streets of Gettysburg, stood the Confederates who, during the night, had closed in from the north and west.
          The greater part of the citizenry of Gettysburg, despite the prospect of battle in their own yards, chose to remain in their homes. Both army commanders respected noncombatant rights to a marked degree. Thus, in contrast with the fields of carnage all about the village, life and property of the civilian population remained unharmed, while the doors of churches, schools, and homes were opened for the care of the wounded.
          General Meade, at Taneytown, had learned early in the afternoon of July 1 that a battle was developing and that Reynolds had been killed, A large part of his army was within 5 miles of Gettysburg. Meade then sent General Hancock to study and report on the situation. Hancock reached the field just as the Union troops were falling back to Cemetery Hill. He helped to rally the troops and left at 6 o'clock to report to Meade that in his opinion the battle should be fought at Gettysburg. Meade acted on this recommendation and immediately ordered the concentration of the Union forces at that place. Meade himself arrived near midnight on July 1.

150-years-ago -- GETTSUBURG, DAY TWO

[Excerpted from Gettysburg by Frederick Tilberg, National Park Service Handbook]

The Second Day

PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS AND PLANS. The small college town of Gettysburg, with 2,400 residents at the time of the battle, lay in the heart of a fertile country, surrounded by broad acres of crops and pastures. Substantial houses of industrious Pennsylvania farmers dotted the countryside. South of the town and hardly more than a musket shot from the houses on its outer edge, Cemetery Hill rose somewhat abruptly from the lower ground. Extending southward from the hill for nearly 2 miles was a long roll of land called Cemetery Ridge. At its southern extremity a sharp incline terminated in the wooded crest of Little Round Top and a half mile beyond was the sugar-loaf peak of Big Round Top, the highest point in the vicinity of Gettysburg. Paralleling Cemetery Ridge, at an average distance of two-thirds of a mile to the west, lay Seminary Ridge, which derived its name from the Lutheran Seminary that stood upon its crest a half mile west of Gettysburg. In 1863, 10 roads radiated from Gettysburg, the one leading to Emmitsburg extending diagonally across the valley between Seminary and Cemetery Ridges.

          By noon of July 2, the powerful forces of Meade and Lee were at hand, and battle on a tremendous scale was imminent. That part of the Union line extending from Cemetery Hill to Little Round Top was strongly held. Late in the forenoon, Sickles, commanding the Third Corps which lay north of Little Round Top, sent Berdan's sharpshooters and some of the men of the 3rd Maine Regiment forward from the Emmitsburg Road to Pitzer's Woods, a half mile to the west. As they reached the woods, a strong Confederate force fired upon them, and they hurriedly retired to inform their commander. To Sickles, the extension of the Confederate line southward meant that his left flank was endangered. He at once began moving forward to the advantageous high ground at the Peach Orchard, and by 3:30 p. m. his battle front extended from Devil's Den northwestward to the Orchard and northward on the Emmitsburg Road. In this forward movement, the strong position on the crest of Little Round Top was left unoccupied. This was the situation when Meade finally turned his attention from his right flank at Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring—the cause of his great concern throughout the forenoon—to review Sickles' line.

          Lee planned to attack, despite the advice of Longstreet who continually urged defensive battle. On July 2, Longstreet recommended that Lee swing around the Union left at Little Round Top, select a good position, and await attack. Lee observed that while the Union position was strong if held in sufficient numbers to utilize the advantage of interior lines, it presented grave difficulties to a weak defending force. A secure lodgment on the shank of the hook might render it possible to sever the Union Army and to deal with each unit separately. Not all of Meade's force had reached the field, and Lee thought he had the opportunity of destroying his adversary in the process of concentration. He resolved to send Longstreet against the Federal left flank which he believed was then on lower Cemetery Ridge, while Ewell was to storm Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill.

          LONGSTREET ATTACKS ON THE RIGHT. In the execution of this plan, Longstreet was ordered to take position across the Emmitsburg Road and to attack what was thought to be the left flank of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. From his encampment on the Chambersburg Road, 3 miles west of Gettysburg, he started toward his objective, using Herr Ridge to conceal the movement from Union signalmen on Little Round Top. After marching to Black Horse Tavern on the Fairfield Road, he realized that his troops were in sight of the signal unit and at once began retracing his course. Employing the trees on Seminary Ridge as a screen, he marched southward again in Willoughby Run Valley, arriving in position on the Emmitsburg Road about 3:30 p.m. Immediately in front, and only 700 yards away, Longstreet saw Sickles' batteries lined up in the Peach Orchard and on the Emmitsburg Road. Col. E. P. Alexander, commanding Longstreet's artillery battalions, opened with full force against the Union guns. A moment later, Law's Alabama brigade stepped off, with Robertson's Texans on the left. They advanced east, then swung toward the north, with Devil's Den and the Round Tops in their path.

          WARREN SAVES LITTLE ROUND TOP. Gen. G. K. Warren, Meade's Chief of Engineers, after reviewing Sickles' line with Meade, rode to the crest of Little Round Top and found the hill, "the key to the Union position," unoccupied except by a signal station. Warren was informed by the signalmen that they believed Confederate troops lay concealed on the wooded ridge a mile to the west. Smith's New York battery, emplaced at Devil's Den, immediately was ordered to fire a shot into these woods. The missile, crashing through the trees, caused a sudden stir of the Confederates "which by the gleam of the reflected sunlight on their bayonets, revealed their long lines outflanking the position." Warren realized Longstreet would strike first at Little Round Top and he observed, too, the difficulty of shifting Sickles' position from Devil's Den to the hill.

          At this very moment, Sykes' Fifth Corps, marching from its reserve position, began streaming across Cemetery Ridge toward the front. Warren sought aid from this corps. In answer to his plea for troops, the brigades of Vincent and Weed sprinted to Little Round Top. Law's Alabama troops were starting to scale the south slope of the hill when Vincent's men rushed to the attack. Weed's brigade, following closely, drove over the crest and engaged Robertson's Texans on the west slope. The arrival of Hazlett's battery on the summit of the hill is thus described by an eyewitness: "The passage of the six guns through the roadless woods and amongst the rocks was marvelous. Under ordinary circumstances it would have been considered an impossible fear, but the eagerness of the men . . . brought them without delay to the very summit where they went immediately into battle." A desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensued. Weed and Hazlett were killed, and Vincent was mortally wounded—all young soldiers of great promise.

          While Law and Robertson fought on Little Round Top, their comrades struggled in the fields below. The Confederate drive was taken up in turn by the brigades of Benning, Anderson, Kershaw, Semmes, Barksdale, Wofford, Wilcox, Perry, and Wright against the divisions of three Federal corps in the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, and along the Emmitsburg Road. Four hours of desperate fighting broke the Peach Orchard salient, an angle in the Union line which was struck from the south and the west. It left the Wheatfield strewn with dead and wounded, and the base of Little Round Top a shambles. Sickles' men had been driven back, and Longstreet was now in possession of the west slope of Big Round Top, of Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. Little Round Top, that commanding landmark which, in Confederate hands would have unhinged the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, still remained in Union possession.

Pvt. John Wesley Culp, 2nd Va. Inf. He was
killed in action on Culp's Hill on the second
day's action on the farm of his uncle.
(Gettysburg, NMP)
          CULP'S HILL. In the Confederate plan, Ewell on the left was directed to attack Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill in conjunction with Longstreet's drive. At the appointed time, the guns of Latimer's battalion on Benner's Hill, east of Gettysburg, opened a well-directed fire against the Union positions on East Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, but the return fire soon shattered many of Latimer's batteries and forced the remnants to retire out of range. In the final moments of this action the youthful Major Latimer was mortally wounded.

          About dusk, long after the artillery fire had ceased, Johnson's division charged the Union works on Culp's Hill. Although his right failed to make headway because of the steep incline and the strength of the Union positions, Steuart's brigade on the left had better luck. Here, on the southern slope of the hill, the Union works were thinly manned. An hour earlier, the divisions of Geary and Ruger had been called from these works to reinforce the Union center. Johnson, finding the works weakly defended, took possession of them but did nor press the attack further. Only a few hundred yards away on the Baltimore Pike lay the Union supply trains. Failure of Confederate reconnaissance here again was critically important. Thus passed another opportunity to strike a hard blow at the Union Army.

          Closely timed with Johnson's assault, Early's infantry started a charge toward East Cemetery Hill. Seldom if ever surpassed in its dash and desperation, Early's assault reached the crest of the hill where the defenders, as a last resort in the hand-to-hand encounter, used clubbed muskets, stones, and rammers. Long after dark, Early's Louisiana and North Carolina troops fought to hold the crest of the hill and their captured guns. But the failure of Rodes to move out of the streets of Gettysburg and attack the hill from the west enabled Hancock to shift some of his men to aid in repelling Early's attack. Faced by these Union reserves, Early's men finally gave way about 10 o'clock and sullenly retired to their lines. The Union troops stood firm.