The story

The battle of Gettysburg, 2st July, 3.30 p.m

The battle of Gettysburg, 2st July, 3.30 p.m



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Day two of the battle of Gettysburg, 2st July, 3.30 p.m.

Map showing day two of the battle of Gettysburg, 2st July, 3.30 p.m.

Map taken from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: III: Retreat from Gettysburg, p.299

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, Allen C. Guelzo .An excellent account of the Gettysburg campaign, illustrated by a splendid selection of eyewitness accounts. Focuses on the actions of individual commanders, from Meade and Lee down to regimental commanders, with a focus on the corps commanders and their activities and attitudes. Supported by plenty of accounts from further down the command chain and from civilians caught up in the fighting. [read full review]

Stars in Their Courses: Gettysburg Campaign, Shelby Foote, 304 pages. Well researched and written by one of the best known historians of the Civil War, this work is taken from his longer three volume work on the war, but does not suffer from that.

Return to: Battle of Gettysburg - Gettysburg Map Collection



The Battle of Gettysburg

Immediately after his victory at Chancellorsville, General Lee prepared the Army of Northern Virginia for campaigns soon to come. He reorganized its infantry into three corps of three divisions each and placed them under command of Lieutenant Generals James Longstreet, Richard S. Ewell, and A. Powell Hill. (A Confederate corps numbered about 20,000 infantrymen, 2,000 artillerymen a division 6,000 infantry men, and a brigade 1,500.) His cavalry division remained under the command of Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart, and he allotted supporting artillery battalions to each. The Army of Northern Virginia numbered about 75,000 officers and men, nearly 10,000 of whom were cavalry.

After his defeat at Chancellorsville, General Hooker's Army of the Potomac returned to its positions near Fredericksburg and prepared for a new thrust toward Richmond. Lee retained the initiative gained at Chancellorsville, however, and on June 6 launched an ambitious campaign of his own. Because he could see nothing to be gained from another battle in the Fredericksburg area, he decided on a bold move that would transfer the scene of hostilities north of the Potomac River. If this could be done, it might disrupt Federal campaign plans for the season, remove Federal forces from the Shenandoah Valley, and give him a chance to win a decisive victory for the Confederacy.

"A CAVALRY CHARGE," ILLUSTRATION BY EDWIN FORBES (BL)

Leaving Hill's Corps to guard the Rappahannock River's crossings at Fredericksburg, Lee moved Ewell's and Longstreet's Corps west and north to the Culpeper area where much of Stuart's cavalry had assembled for the march north. There on June 9, in obedience to Hooker's order to "disperse and destroy" the Confederate force in that area, the Cavalry Corpus of the Army of the Potomac surprised and nearly defeated the Confederate horsemen in the battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry battle of the war. The battle was a draw the Federals rode from the field, leaving Stuart to nurse his wounded pride. Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, commander of the Union cavalry, however, had confirmed that the Confederates were in force in the Culpeper area, and the Union horsemen had learned that they could "dispute the superiority hitherto claimed by, and conceded to the Confederate cavalry."

MAJOR GENERAL JOSEPH HOOKER, COMMANDER, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. RELIEVED ON JUNE 28, 1863 (GNMP)

On June 10 Ewell's Corps left Culpeper for the Shenandoah Valley. Four days later it captured the Union garrison at Winchester and a large amount of supplies there and at Martinsburg. Ewell's Corps reached the Potomac near Hagerstown on June 15. As Ewell neared the Potomac, Longstreet's Corps moved northeast of the Blue Ridge to the mountain gaps west of Washington. There it and Stuart's cavalrymen guarded the Confederate right and rear as the remainder of Lee's army moved north. In mid-June also Hill's Corps marched from Fredericksburg toward Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley beyond. Lee's plan to remove the theater of operations from Virginia was well under way.

General Hooker knew that Lee's army was moving north but could not divine Lee's intentions or objectives. When it became apparent that only Hill's Corps remained at Fredericksburg, Hooker suggested that he be allowed to strike it and advance toward Richmond. Although this suggestion had some merit at that time, Lincoln denied it, observing that Lee's army was his "sure objective point." Therefore, Hooker shifted the Army of the Potomac to the area west of Washington and south of the Potomac, whence it could face Lee's main force and cover Washington. Hooker's efforts to learn of Lee's army's locations west of Washington by sending cavalry and infantry probes through the mountain gaps there resulted in lively fights with Stuart's men at Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, but they provided little information and did not seriously disrupt Lee's movements.

Ewell's Corps and Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins's brigade of cavalry crossed the Potomac on June 15 and headed north up the Cumberland Valley to Hagerstown and Chambersburg in a giant raid, sweeping the country for supplies. At Chambersburg, the one-legged Ewell divided his force, sending Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's division east to Gettysburg, York, and the Susquehanna River beyond. In the meantime, Ewell continued north to Carlisle and toward Harrisburg with the divisions of Maj. Gens. Robert E. Rodes and Edward Johnson. On June 29 Early's troops reached the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville, and Rodes's division threatened Harrisburg. By this time the corps of Hill and Longstreet had crossed the Potomac on June 24th and 25th and reached the Chambersburg area on the 27th. They occupied Chambersburg and Cashtown Pass over South Mountain to the east.

On June 25, on learning that Lee's forces had crossed the Potomac, Hooker ordered the Army of the Potomac from Virginia into that part of Maryland between Frederick and the river. In the meantime other Federal commands in the threatened area girded to meet the Confederate menace, and Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania worked to organize the Pennsylvania militia to defend Harrisburg and other important points within the Keystone State.


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LEE INVADES PENNSYLVANIA, JUNE 3-JUNE 30, 1863
On June 3, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia begins moving west to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and gain the Shenandoah Valley. By the time General Hooker discerns Lee's purpose the Confederate army has entered the valley and is moving north to cross the Potomac and invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Union Army of the Potomac withdraws from the line of the Rappahannock River and starts marching north to intercept Lee's army.

After crossing the Potomac, Lee lost contact with Stuart and much of the Confederate cavalry. He had instructed that general to guard the mountain passes with part of his horsemen so long as the enemy was south of the Potomac and to cross that river with the remainder in order to screen Ewell's right. Stuart saw that his troopers guarded the passes, but he attempted to reach Ewell's right, not by a direct route near the mountains, but by leading his three best brigades between the Union army and Washington. Stuart hoped that such a move would create havoc among the enemy and remove the stain of Brandy Station from his reputation. But his gamble failed the Union forces moved and prevented his reaching Ewell's right. Thus, the three errant brigades crossed the Potomac at Rowser's Ford and rode north via Rockville, Westminster, and Hanover to Carlisle, completely out of touch with General Lee and the main army and not providing the intelligence and screening important to its success. Stuart's failure to cover the the right of Lee's army and provide him with information on the enemy was one of the major Confederate blunders of the Gettysburg Campaign.

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES. E. B. STUART, COMMANDER, CAVALRY DIVISION, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA. (GNMP)

MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE G. MEADE (SEATED, CENTER), COMMANDER, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, & STAFF. (LC)

Early on June 28, when the Army of the Potomac was concentrated near Frederick, Maryland, a messenger from the War Department arrived with an order relieving General Hooker from command of that army and replacing him with Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, commander of the Union Fifth Corps. Hooker had rashly offered his resignation on the 27th, and President Lincoln accepted it with alacrity. Meade was thoroughly surprised at his appointment and was reluctant to accept it. Few if any Americans have had so much responsibility thrust upon them at such a critical time. Yet, Meade, a thoroughly capable professional soldier who had a strong sense of duty, shouldered the burden and took immediate measures to move his army north on a broad front to the relief of Harrisburg while covering Washington and Baltimore.

On the evening of June 28 General Lee, who was at Chambersburg, learned from a spy that the Army of the Potomac, now under General Meade, had crossed the Potomac and was in the Frederick area. He decided immediately to concentrate his army east of the mountains to hold the Union army there and sent riders to General Ewell at Carlisle with orders to return his corps at once to the Gettysburg-Cashtown area. Ewell, who was about to attempt the capture of Harrisburg, called off that operation and ordered General Early at York, Pennsylvania, to return his division to the assembly area without delay. In the meantime, Ewell sent Johnson's division and his wagon train back toward Chambersburg and started with Rodes's division on a direct route toward Gettysburg.


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SITUATION JUNE 30, 1863, THE EVE OF BATTLE
The Army of Northern Virginia is attempting to concentrate near Cashtown to prepare for battle. Only four of the army's nine divisions are on the eastern side of the mountains. The Army of the Potomac is moving north from Frederick along nearly a thirty-mile front. Buford's Union cavalry division occupies Gettysburg during the afternoon, and Reynolds's 1st Army Corps camps five miles south of the town. The remainder of the army is gradually moving in the direction of Gettysburg.

On June 29 Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's division of Hill's Corps crossed South Mountain through Cashtown Pass to the hamlet of Cashtown at the east base of the mountain. On June 30 Heth sent a brigade east eight miles to Gettysburg in search of supplies, shoes especially, that he heard were in the town. When near Gettysburg, the Confederates saw a sizable force of Union cavalry and returned to Cashtown without having a fight. On July 1 General Hill sent Heth's division, followed by that of Maj. Gen. Dorsey Pender, to Gettysburg in a reconnaissance-in-force.

MAJOR GENERAL HENRY HETH (GNMP)

The troops seen near Gettysburg on June 30 were cavalrymen of Maj. Gen. John Buford's division of the Army of the Potomac. As that army had moved north from the Frederick area, Buford's troopers screened its left front, collecting information on Lee's army for General Meade and for Maj. Gen. John E. Reynolds, commander of the Union First Corps. Buford, an excellent cavalry officer, had reached Gettysburg with two of his three brigades. He posted them in an arc west and north of the town covering the roads over which the Confederates might approach.

Gettysburg in 1863 was a town of about 2,400 people. It sat amid gently rolling farmland—a bucolic quilt of orchards, grain fields, pastures, and wood lots. Its landscape undulated between low north-south ridges sometimes connected to lone granite hills, and Rock Creek bordered the town on the east. Gettysburg was the county seat of Adams County, and it could boast having Pennsylvania College and a Lutheran seminary. In addition, it was the hub of a road network with turnpikes leading west to Chambersburg, east to York, and southeast to Baltimore. Eight other roads led to Harrisburg, Carlisle, Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Hagerstown, Hanover, and lesser places nearby. A railroad stretched east to Hanover Junction and to Baltimore beyond. A railroad bed had been constructed near the Chambersburg Pike west of the town, but it had no tracks.

The Army of the Potomac numbered about 95,000 officers and enlisted personnel, all volunteers. It had seven corps of infantry and artillery, a corps of cavalry and artillery, and an artillery reserve of twenty-one batteries. Its corps were significantly smaller than Confederate corps and averaged 14,000 officers and enlisted men each but ranged in size from 9,800 to 17,000. There were twenty-two divisions, two or three per corps, divided into fifty-nine brigades. The infantry brigades were comparable in size to Confederate brigades, having an average strength of about 1,500 officers and men. Union divisions, however, were usually smaller than those of the Army of Northern Virginia.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL AMBROSE P. HILL, COMMANDER, 3RD ARMY CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA (GNMP)

Meade's army had marched north from Frederick on a broad front, searching for the Confederates and covering Baltimore and Washington. On June 30 the left of Meade's army was near Emmitsburg, Maryland, and its right about 25 miles to the east near Manchester. As Lee ordered a concentration near Gettysburg, Meade prepared to set up a defensive position along Pipe Creek just south of the Mason-Dixon line. The events of July 1 were to change each commander's plans.


The Battle of Gettysburg

After Heth's repulse, there was a lull in the fighting as additional forces, blue and gray, arrived upon the field. Maj. Gen. Dorsey Pender's division had followed Heth's to the field, and when Hill formed Heth's division on Herr Ridge for its afternoon assault, he aligned Pender's division behind it. At about 11:30 A.M. Abner Doubleday's division under the temporary command of Brig. Gen. Thomas Rowley arrived. General Doubleday placed its First Brigade, commanded then by Col. Chapman Biddle, on the left of the Iron Brigade to cover the broad gap between Herbst's Woods and the Fairfield Road. He posted Col. Roy Stone's brigade on the ridge between the woods and the pike. Doubleday placed the remaining division of the corps, that of Brig. Gen. John C. Robinson, in reserve at the seminary. The Union Eleventh Corps followed the First Corps to the field over the Taneytown and Emmitsburg Roads. Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, its commander, who had lost an arm a year before, had ridden ahead and was surveying the Gettysburg area from the roof of a building in the center of the town when he learned that Reynolds had been killed and that he was in command of the Union forces on the field. Howard immediately sent off dispatches requesting aid and took measures to continue the fight. He sent the first of his divisions to arrive, that of Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz, north of the town intending that it should take position on Oak Ridge to the right of the First Corps. He sent Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow's division to support Schurz. He placed his rear division, that of Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr, and two batteries of artillery on Cemetery Hill to hold the hill as a rallying point in event the Union troops could not hold their positions beyond the town until help arrived. He hoped that the Union Twelfth Corps could come to his aid in a short time but knew that other forces could not come up until late in the day.

MAJOR GENERAL ABNER DOUBLEDAY (USAMHI)

BRIGADIER GENERAL ROBERT RODES (GNMP)

In the meantime two divisions of Ewell's Corps, which had been in Carlisle and York, approached Gettysburg from the north. Rodes's division marched down the Carlisle Road, but left it to advance down Oak Ridge to arrive on the field to the left of Hill's Corps. Early's division marched toward the town over the Harrisburg Road. Howard and Doubleday learned of their approach from Buford's cavalrymen who guarded the roads north of the town.

Rodes's division and Lt. Col. Thomas H. Carter's battalion of artillery reached Oak Hill before Schurz's men could occupy it. When Doubleday learned of Rodes's approach, he sent Robinson's division from his reserve to confront Rodes from Seminary Ridge at the Mummasburg Road. Schurz's division, not being able to take position on the heights now occupied by Rodes, went into position facing north on the plain north of the town behind the First Corps's right. Ewell, who was with Rodes, interpreted these movements as an attack and a nullification of General Lee's order not to bring on a general engagement. He ordered Rodes to strike the Union forces in his front.

Lee had heard the cannon fire of the morning's battle as he rode east through Cashtown Pass. He hurried to the field and reached Hill's lines in time to witness Ewell's assault. In spite of his wish to assemble his army before becoming involved in a "general engagement," that battle had begun. He gave Hill permission to join Ewell in the attack, still knowing the whereabouts only of that portion of the Army of the Potomac that he could see in his front.

MAJOR GENERAL JUBAL EARLY (USAMHI)

Rodes had formed his division in two lines Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson's brigade was on the hill near the present location of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Col. Edward A. O'Neal's Brigade was on the slope to its left, and Brig. Gen. George Doles's stretched into the plain to the east. Brig. Gens. Junius Daniel's and Stephen Dodson Ramseur's brigades occupied the support line. Rodes ordered them to attack. Iverson and O'Neal directed their advance poorly. O'Neal's men fell back before the fire of the First Corps's right along the Mummasburg Road and of troops of the Eleventh Corps's left. Robinson's men then fronted west toward Iverson's troops moving blindly in the open in their front. They surprised the Confederates with volleys, killed, wounded, or captured 800 of the North Carolinians, and stymied the attack. One eyewitness wrote: Iverson's line was indicated by a ghastley row of dead and wounded men whose blood trailed the course of their line with a crimson stain." Rodes persisted, however, and sent in his support brigades against Robinson's line.

At about 2:30 P.M., as Rodes's division struck from the north, Lee gave Heth permission to renew his attack from the west supported by the fire of artillery on Herr Ridge. This became one of the most deadly fights of the war. Although the Union position on McPherson Ridge and in McPherson's Woods was a good one in many respects, the longer Confederate line was able to work around the Union left as it smashed head-on into the Union position from the front "with rapid strides, yelling like demons." The Iron Brigade in its advanced position in the woods was vulnerable on its left and pressed hard on its front. Its men exchanged fire with the brigade of Brig. Gen. James Johnston Pertigrew "until the lines were pouring vollies into each other at a distance not greater than 20 paces." The Iron Brigade fell back, halting and forming three lines in the woods and halting again in the open fields before taking its final position in front of the seminary. Biddle's brigade on its left resisted stoutly from the open ground on the ridge line until its regiments were outflanked and decimated and could no longer hold this forward line. Stone's brigade of Pennsylvanians, which fronted west and north along the pike, was attacked both by Heth's men from the west and by Rodes's troops, who attacked from the north "with a chorus of terrific yelps."


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JULY 1, 1863, AFTERNOON
The Union 1st Corps has taken up positions to defend the western approach to Gettysburg, while part of the 11th Corps forms north of the town. Howard forms a reserve on Cemetery Hill. Confederate forces are converging upon Gettysburg from the west, north and northeast, From 1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. they will assail the Union defenses in bloody fighting, forcing both Union corps to retreat to Cemetery and Culp's Hills.
Devotion to duty, pride, courage, and discipline held these men to their posts when they could easily have fled the field.

Heth's division, Pettigrew's large brigade in particular, led the attack and absorbed the punishment generously applied by the Union defenders. The casualties of the 26th North Carolina Regiment tell of Confederate determination in this fight: fourteen men were shot while carrying its colors and the colonel and more than half of the 800-man regiment fell. On the Union side, the 24th Michigan Regiment of the Iron Brigade lost 363 of the 496 engaged in the day's fight, the 151st Pennsylvania of Biddle's brigade 337 of 467. Devotion, to duty, pride, courage, and discipline held these men to their posts when they could easily have fled the field. Such behavior was the norm that day.

After Heth's men cleared McPherson's Ridge of Union troops, Pender's division passed over it and pushed the attack against the Federal force which was rallying with its batteries behind breastworks in front of the seminary's buildings. Col. Abner Perrin's brigade of South Carolinians and Brig. Gen. Alfred M. Scales's North Carolinians pushed the attack home against the remnant of the First Corps and about twenty of its guns. It was a bloody affair—Perrin wrote that his troops moved bravely forward against the "most destructive fire of musketry I have ever been exposed to." Scales's men, closer to the pike, received a terrific fire of canister on the left flank and musketry and canister from the front so that after they drove the Federals from the ridge, Scales found that "only a squad here and there marked the place where regiments had rested."

In the meantime Rodes's faulty attack had stalled in front of Robinson's division near the Mummasburg Road, but it was only a momentary pause. Daniel's and Ramseur's brigades renewed the attack from Oak Hill, and Doles's brigade in front of the Eleventh Corps in the plain north of Gettysburg received timely aid by the arrival of Early's division down the Harrisburg Road to its left. As Doles's line had advanced down the axis of the Carlisle Road against Schurz's small division. Barlow's division had formed north of the town near the Harrisburg Road and had threatened to strike Dole's flank. Early's arrival turned the tables. Early aligned three of his brigades to Rodes's left and opposite Barlow's front and flank. His attack, coupled with Rodes's push, devastated the poorly posted Eleventh Corps. Early's men smashed the corps's right near the Harrisburg Road and pressed it back toward the town, not allowing it to reform. At the same time, Rodes struck the First Corps right near the Mummasburg Road and Pender's division attacked the First Corps line at the seminary. General Robinson ordered the 16th Maine Regiment to cover the First Corps's retreat from the Mummasburg Road position by holding its position there at "any cost." It held long enough, but the cost was high𤻀 of its 298 men became casualties. Fearing that their colors would be captured, the Maine men tore the flag into fragments which each would try to carry away.

Following the morning battle of July 1st, the Union Iron Brigade withdrew to the shelter and cover of farmer John Herbst's woodlot. They were attacked in the afternoon by the North Carolina brigade of General James J. Pettigrew. Lieutenant William B. Taylor's regiment, the 11th North Carolina, directly confronted the 24th Michigan, with which private Roswell I. Root was serving. The confrontation produced frightful casualties. Taylor's regiment lost 250 men out of 550 engaged, and the 26th North Carolina, which fought beside the 11th, suffered over 500 casualties in the fight. The 24th Michigan would lose 73 percent of its numbers, including 99 killed and mortally wounded, the largest death toll in any Union regiment in the Battle of Gettysburg. In letters written sworn after the battle. both Taylor and Root described the fierce struggle for farmer Herbst's woods:

I received your of the 19th and you may rest assured that it was very gratifying to me. I am well and did not receive any wounds atal. I was hit by a grape shot but it did know damage. O! my sock leg was shot through & my sword scabbard was struck so you can just imagine how thick the balls were. On the last day of June our brigade moved towards Gettesburg and when near the town we heard that enemy were in force in the vicinity so we marched back about four miles and there encamped for the night and the next day our division marched towards town. Gen Davis Miss Brigade in front of us so they opened the fight and our brigade relieved them and you ought to have seen our brigade when it charged we drove the enemy like sheep. it was through an open old field and it was at an awful cost but we paid it to them two fold. the Iron Brigade Yankeys tried to stand but it was know use, we stood within 20 yards of each other for about 15 minutes but they had to give way and when they [did] we just mowed them down. we had 8 killed on the field instantly and 2 wounded that died since the first day out of our company.

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM B. TAYLOR, COMPANY B, 11TH NORTH CAROLINA (GNMP)

July 1st. Memorable Wednesday morning we was ordered to march and on we went till the crack of muskets and the roar of cannon brought us to a halt. But it was not long before on we went on come up to the enemy without our guns being loaded and they volly after volly into our ranks, one of which br'ot out noble color bearer down. Yet on we went and at the same time loading our guns and coming into line. And then charge on them was the order and we charged and captured their whole line of battle, or most of it. I don't know the number of prisoners but they was all marched off to the rear and kept safe.

So far we had won the day but it cost us many lives of whom one was Our Major General Reynolds and others that I have not time to mention.

We now fell back a short distance and lay in the woods [Herbst Woods] about 3 hours but there was skirmishing in the front all the time. And at about 4 p.m. we saw the Rebs coming in force with three lines of battle to our one and we was shamefully ordered to stand them without support either troops or cannon. Thus we stood in line and fired for full 20 minutes while they had three lines firing into ours. After we was all cut up they ordered a retreat of which was done in some confusion and but few got back without a scratch and many not at all.

Very truely your obedient
Grand Son
R. Root

By this time, at about 4 P.M., General Howard realized that the expected reinforcements from the Twelfth Corps would not arrive in time. He ordered the First and Eleventh Corps to fall back through the town to Cemetery Hill, a height that rose 100 feet above the south edge of the town at its base and covered the exits of the Emmitsburg and Taneytown Roads and the Baltimore Pike. The two corps had no other choice. Outnumbered and outflanked, they were driven from their positions north and west of Gettysburg.

Unfortunately, there were few preparations made for the retreat through Gettysburg, but it was not a rout. The Confederates, particularly those of Hill's Corps and Rodes's division, had been badly mauled in their victory and did not press their attack with a vengeance. The Federal artillery moved through the town in good order, some Union regiments, like the 6th Wisconsin, fought rear guard actions. A portion of the 45th New York of the Eleventh Corps, whose retreat had been cut off, resisted in the town until resistance was futile for many, who then became prisoners. And then there were those who fled precipitously or were among the 3,600 Union soldiers captured that day.

Early in the afternoon, Meade sent Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Union Second Corps, to the field to take command of the forces there if Reynolds were incapacitated. Hancock was to advise Meade whether the Army of the Potomac should fight at Gettysburg or fall back to Pipe Creek. Hancock reached Cemetery Hill as Howard and Doubleday were rallying the defeated forces there. Howard, Doubleday, and Hancock quickly posted the remnant of the Union force, perhaps 9,000 men, on Cemetery Hill. Most of the artillery of the two Union corps, about forty guns, was soon ready to defend the hill. But Hill's Corps seemed in no condition to press such an attack. Lee left the decision to Ewell, and Ewell, who could foresee no help from Hill and had only two brigades in hand for the work, wisely decided not to attack the Union force on the hill. The battle of July 1 was over the Confederates had won the day but not a decisive victory. More fighting lay ahead.


Contents

Lee's army won an important battle at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863. [10] Afterwards, he led his army north through the Shenandoah Valley. His plan was to start his second invasion of the North (called the Gettysburg Campaign). [10] Lee had several objectives in mind. [10] He intended to take Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state capital. [10] This, he hoped, would embarrass the Lincoln administration [10] and force Northern politicians to give up the war. At this point, Lee was playing politics. [10] He knew that if he was successful in Pennsylvania it would encourage the Northern peace movement. He hoped it would get foreign recognition for the Confederacy. [10] It could also force the Union to negotiate for peace, allowing the Confederate states to become an independent country. [10] Lee badly needed supplies and intended to get them in Pennsylvania. [b] In addition to being the state capital, Harrisburg was also the site of Camp Curtin, the largest training camp for Union soldiers. [13] It was a major railroad center. [13] More importantly it was a major supply depot and also a prisoner of war camp. [14]

In the North, Lincoln told Major General Joseph Hooker to have the Union army follow Lee's army. [9] But Hooker was very reluctant to go after the Confederates. Finally, Lincoln lost all confidence in him. [9] On June 28, three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln appointed General Meade to replace Hooker. [9] Had the Confederacy won, confederate force would have had access to Philadelphia or Baltimore. [15] Vice President Hannibal Hamlin went to Lincoln to discuss a prisoner of war trade five days before the Battle of Gettysburg. [15]

Neither Lee nor Meade intended a battle take place at Gettysburg and neither were there when the battle started. [16] On June 30, 1863, Confederate General Henry Heth had a division at Cashtown, Pennsylvania, Lee's gathering place before moving on to Harrisburg. Heth sent his division to nearby Gettysburg to look for, as he later wrote in his report, "army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day." [17] This started the myth that the Battle of Gettysburg started over shoes. [c] [17] Heth did this without scouting ahead to see what was at Gettysburg. The job of scouting belonged to the Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart. [17] But they had been gone for over a week. [17] So, blind to what was ahead of them, his soldiers ran directly into a Union cavalry division commanded by General John Buford. [16] This started the fighting even though Heth and other commanders were under orders from Lee not to start a battle. [17] But, as each side brought in more troops, it became a full-scale battle. [16] Lee started moving much of his army there. One of his goals was to fight the Union army and destroy it. Now, he would have to do it at Gettysburg.

About 5.30 a.m. on the morning of July 1, the battle started. Heth probed ahead cautiously to a point about two miles west of Gettysburg. [20] Buford's cavalry was deliberately slowing his progress. At about 10 a.m. the Union I Corps arrived commanded by General John F. Reynolds. [20] They set themselves up along McPherson's Ridge to oppose Heth's Confederates. During the fighting Reynolds was killed but the Confederates were driven back. Meanwhile, both sides brought up reinforcements. [20] The Union set up defenses of the town with I Corps defending the western approaches with XI Corps to the north. The flanks were covered by Buford's cavalry. One Union division was held in reserve on Cemetery Ridge. In the afternoon, when Lee arrived, the Confederates still did not know the strength of the Union forces they were facing. [20] They also had not scouted the terrain. [20] One division of Ewell's Corps had attacked the Union I Corps just after noon. [20] At about 2 p.m. Heth's division joined Ewell's troops in the attack on I Corps. [20] At about 3 p.m., another of Ewell's Confederate divisions, commanded by General Jubal Early, attacked the flank of the Union XI Corps. [20] By 4 p.m., both of the Union corps retreated through Gettysburg and took up positions on Cemetery Ridge. [20] So far, the Union had lost about 9,000 men including about 3,000 who had been captured. [20] The Confederates had lost about 6,500 men by this point. [20] So the first day of battle was technically a Confederate victory numbers-wise. But Federal troops held the high ground as more reinforcements were still arriving. [20] Based on the first day's fighting, Lee was convinced he could defeat Meade at Gettysburg. [20]

Late in the day, Lee sent the famous order to Confederate General Richard S. Ewell to take cemetery ridge "if practicable.” [d] [10] While he had been awaiting orders from Lee, Ewell had ridden out to take a closer look at Cemetery Ridge. [23] Based on what he saw and the confusing order, he decided it was not practicable to take the hill and set up camp. [22] Instead, he decided to leave the assault for the next day. This was the first major mistake of the battle for the South. The Army of the Potomac would end the day with around 21,900 men strongly positioned on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Ridge. The Army of Northern Virginia would have around 27,000 men from Benner's Hill to Seminary Ridge.

On the second day of battle, most of both armies had arrived. The Union line held the high ground in a defensive formation that looked like a fishhook. On July 2, Lee ordered General James Longstreet, commander of the Confederate I Corps, to attack the Union left flank as early in the day as possible. [24] At the same time General A. P. Hill's corps was to attack the Union center. [24] General Ewell was to make diversionary attacks and "if practicable" attack the Union Army's right flank. [24] Lee felt that if everything went according to his plan and the Union line was destroyed, the battle, and possibly the war, would be won on the second day. [24] Lee's coordinated attack required getting all the infantry into position and moving up artillery to support them. [25] Longstreet had the furthest to go and midway in their march realized the Union lines could see them. They went back and had to take a different route. [25] Longstreet could not get his corps into position until about 4 p.m. when he began his attack. [25] His attack on the Union line lasted for over three hours but could not break the Union line. [25] Hill's Corps failed to be effective in the center. [25] Ewell did not attack Cemetery Ridge as instructed in Lee's confusing order, but made some progress in taking Culp's Hill. [25]

Union Major General Daniel Sickles, a political general commanding III Corps, disobeyed Meade's orders and moved his troops forward to the Peach Orchard. [26] He had been ordered to take up a position on Little Round Top connecting with Union forces on both his right and left. By doing this he left a large hole in the Union line. He marched to a position nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) in front of the Union line with no support on either side. [27] Within an hour, his entire III Corps was nearly wiped out by Longstreet. [27] Sickles was badly wounded by a cannonball and lost a leg. Being wounded was all that saved him from a court-martial. [27] Sickles' blunder nearly lost the entire battle for the Union. [28]

On the night of July 2, Longstreet's largest division commanded by General George Pickett arrived and was placed in the center of the Confederate line. Lee's plan for the next day was to attack on both the Union right and left, just as he had done the day before. [29] Lee was still certain he could break the Union line and win the battle. [29] That day Stuart's cavalry had caught up with Lee's army and Lee ordered Stuart to ride around the East side of Gettysburg and attack the Union rear. [29] Ewell had also been reinforced and was ordered to take Culp's Hill the next morning. [29]

Meade ordered the Union XII Corps to drive Ewell's forces off the captured trenches on Culp's Hill. [29] They were to move at daylight the next morning. [29] He was determined the remainder of the Union Army would hold its position and wait for Lee to attack. [29]

Ewell began fighting on Culp's Hill at first light. [29] Lee rode to Longstreet's headquarters only to find Longstreet had misunderstood his orders. [29] He was planning a turning movement against the Union left. Now, with no hope of a coordinated attack, Lee changed the plan. Longstreet was to attack the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Ewell's forces failed in their counterattacks and were forced to withdraw from Culp's Hill by about 11:00 a.m. [29] Lee pinned all his hopes on Longstreet's attack on the center. [30] Longstreet had the last fresh division in Lee's army. [30] It was made up of three brigades, commanded by generals James L. Kemper, Richard B. Garnett, and Lewis A. Armistead, led by Pickett. [30]

Cannons Edit

First, a bombardment by about 140 Confederate cannons on the Union lines was ordered. [29] The bombardment started about 1 p.m. [31] About 80 Union cannons returned fire. [32] The cannons duel lasted for between one and two hours, depending on the source (most say about an hour). [31] The Confederate artillery chief, General Edward Porter Alexander, had only intended it to last for about 25 minutes. [31] But he then realized it had done little damage to the Union line so he continued. [31] But he also had to worry about running out of ammunition and not have enough to support the charge that was Pickett was about to make. [31] When the Union guns fell silent, Porter thought he had knocked them out. [31] But it was a trick by the Union artillery chief. [31] His guns were waiting for the charge the Union forces knew was coming. Alexander sent word to Pickett he could start his attack.

The cannonade could be heard as far away as Philadelphia. [33] The noise was so loud the gunner's ears bled. [34] It was probably the loudest noise that had ever been heard on the North American continent up to that time. [33] In the end the Confederate cannons may have killed as many as 200 Union soldiers in the area that would later become known as the "bloody angle". [31] But the Union guns may have killed more Confederate troops. [31]

Pickett's Charge Edit

Calling the Confederate attack on the Union center "Pickett's Charge" is misleading for two reasons. [35] First, Pickett commanded only one of the three units in the assault. [35] Second, it was not a charge, which is a rapid advance towards the enemy, it was an attack which moved forward more slowly and over a longer distance. [35] These Virginia units were joined by several smaller units of Confederates (some from North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama) whose numbers had been reduced by the fighting over the first two days. [30] When the cannons stopped, Pickett went to Longstreet to ask permission to begin the attack. [34] Longstreet, sure the attack would fail, silently nodded his head and gave a wave of his hand. [34] Longstreet had tried to get Lee to call off the attack, but Lee would not listen. [34]

Over 12,000 Confederates stepped out from the trees and formed up for the long march forward. [34] Waiting for them behind a low stone fence on Cemetery Ridge were about 5,000 Union troops, most of whom belonged to General Winfield Scott Hancock's II Corps. [30] Depending on the source, this was between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. [30] As they marched forward across the 1 mile (1.6 km) distance, Union artillery killed large numbers of troops. [36] Rifle fire from the Union line was intense. The Union troops used four lines of soldiers. [35] As the line in front fired, they moved back to reload while the next line moved up to fire. [35] Only a few hundred of the Virginians reached the Union line. Within minutes they were dead or dying. [36] Some were captured. The attack lasted about an hour with over 7,000 Confederate soldiers killed. [36] As the remaining Confederate troops retreated, Lee was seen riding his horse saying "this was all my fault". [37] He then told Pickett to rally his division. Pickett famously replied, "General, I have no division." [37]

At about the same time as the main attack, Stuart's cavalry attacked the Union rear but the attack also failed. [38]

Lee brought an army into Pennsylvania that numbered 75,054 men and lost 22,638 casualties or about 30% of his army. [39] Meade lost so many field grade officers that the Army of the Potomac would not recover for the rest of the war. [39] Both the Union I Corps and III Corps lost so many men they had to be combined with II Corps. [39] The battle took more American lives than any other battle in United States history. Gettysburg is still the largest battle to ever be fought on American soil. The Union victory over the Confederacy ended Lee's invasion of the north. Lee would never try to invade the Union again. The Army of Northern Virginia would never get their strength back. However the supplies taken during their time in Pennsylvania would keep the Confederate army going. [40] The wagon train of supply wagons and ambulances for the wounded was over 17 miles (27 km) long. [40] Lee never had more than 51,000 men the rest of the war. Numbers from the Union forces wore down Lee and his army. This is why Gettysburg is said to be the turning point of the American Civil War. After the battle the confederates figured out that there was a slave spy. [41]

Meade was severely criticized for not counterattacking Lee after the third day of battle. The next day Meade sent out skirmishers, but did not attack. [42] Lee had his army hold its position on Seminary Ridge all day on July 4. The more than 10,000 wounded men would be moved by wagon train 40 miles (64 km) to Williamsport and cross the Potomac to Virginia. The rest of Lee's army followed on the night of July 4–5, screened by Jeb Stuart's cavalry. [42] The next day, on discovering the Confederates had left the battlefield, the Union army cautiously followed. At the Battle of Falling Waters, Lee's army was waiting for the flooded Potomac River to go down so his army could cross. Meade's forces caught up with them there but the battle had no clear victor. The Battle of Falling Waters was the last battle in the Gettysburg Campaign. [43]


16th North Carolina Infantry Regiment

The 16th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was organized for one year’s service at Raleigh as the 6th Infantry Regiment Volunteers under the command of Colonel Stephen Lee, Lieutenant Colonel Robert G.A. Love, and Major Benjamin F. Briggs.

Company A – Jackson County – Captain Andrew W. Coleman
Company B – Madison County – Captain John Peek
Company C – Yancey County – Captain John S. McElroy
Company D – Rutherford County – Captain Herbert D. Lee
Company E – Burke County – “Burke Tigers” – Captain Elijah J. Kirksey
Company F – Buncombe County – Captain Patrick H. Thrash
Company G – Rutherford County – Captain Champion T.N. Davis
Company H – Macon County – Captain Thomas M. Angel
Company I – Henderson County – Captain William M. Shipp
Company K – Polk County – “Carolina Boys” – Captain John C. Camp
Company L – Haywood County – Captain Elisha G. Johnston
Company M – Gaston County – Captain William A. Stowe

Cheat Mountain
Siege of Yorktown

The regiment was reorganized for the duration of the war. Company N (“Rutherford Rifles” – Rutherford County) was added. Captain Champion T.N. Davis of Company G was elected colonel, Captain John S. McElroy of Company C was elected lieutenant colonel, and Captain William Stowe of Company M was elected major.

The new company officers were:
Company A -Captain James R. Love
Company B – Captain Solomon W. Carter
Company C – Captain Creed F. Young
Company D – Captain Adolphus A. McKinney
Company E – Captain Elijah J. Kirksey (reected)
Company F – Captain Henry C. Worley
Company G – Captain Lawson Pinkney Erwin
Company H – Captain James L. Robinson
Company I – Captain William B. Whitaker
Company K – Captain John C. Camp (reelected)
Company L – Captain Alden G. Howell
Company M – Captain Leroy W. Stowe
Company N – James W. Kilpatrick (reelected)

Battle of Seven Pines

Colonel Davis was killed. Lieutenant Colonel McElroy was promoted to colonel and Major Stowe to lieutenant colonel.

Company M was transferred to the 56th North Carolina Infantry Regiment as Company I.

Seven Days Battles

The regiment lost lost 33 men killed and 199 wounded in the week’s fighting.

Beaver Dam Creek
Battle of Gaines’ Mill
Frayser’s Farm

Captain Andrew W. Coleman, of Company A was killed. Lieutenant A.W. Bryson took command until he was wounded, and the company ended the battle under the command of Sergeant John S. Keener.

Battle of Cedar Mountain
Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run)

The regiment lost 8 men killed and 44 wounded.

Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly)

Crossed the Potomac River.

Reached Frederick, Maryland.

Capture of Harpers Ferry
Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam)

The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William A. Stowe.

From the War Department marker for Pender’s Brigade along Harpers Ferry Road at Antietam:

Pender’s Brigade left Harpers Ferry at 7:30 A.M. of September 17, crossed the Potomac by Blackford’s Ford and reached this road about 3 P.M. It was placed in position near this point to guard the approaches to the battlefield from the lower Antietam. It was exposed to the long range Infantry and Artillery fire of the enemy but was not otherwise actively engaged.

Late in the day it was moved to the left, and on the morning of the 18th, took position on the left of Branch’s Brigade, where it remained until it was withdrawn to recross the Potomac.

Shepherdstown Ford
Battle of Fredericksburg

The regiment lost 6 men killed and 48 wounded. Colonel MeElroy was wounded and disabled. Lieutenant Colonel Stowe was promoted to colonel.

Battle of Chancellorsville

The regiment lost 105 casualties. Colonel Stowe was wounded.

Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded at Gettysburg by Captain Leroy W. Stowe. It brought 321 men to the field and lost 72 casualties.

From the monument to Scales’ Brigade on the Gettysburg battlefield:

July 1. Crossed Willoughby Run about 3.30 P. M. relieving Heth’s line and advancing with left flank on Chambersburg Pike took part in the struggle until it ended. When the Union forces made their final stand on Seminary Ridge the Brigade charged and aided in dislodging them but suffered heavy losses. Gen. A. M. Scales was wounded and all the field officers but one were killed or wounded.

July 2. In position near here with skirmishers out in front and on flank.

July 3. In Longstreet’s assault the Brigade supported the right wing of Pettigrew’s Division. With few officers to lead them the men advanced in good order through a storm of shot and shell and when the front line neared the Union works they pushed forward to aid it in the final struggle and were among the last to retire.

July 4. After night withdrew and began the march to Hagerstown.


Union General Abner Doubleday Forever Seethed About ‘Unfair Treatment’ At Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg stood supreme in its ability to spark postwar controversies among officers in both the Confederate and Union high commands. Infighting among former generals of the Army of Northern Virginia has garnered the most attention from historians, resulting in a sizable literature that features James Longstreet playing villain to Jubal A. Early and other Lost Cause warriors who sought to absolve Robert E. Lee of all responsibility for defeat. J.E.B. Stuart, Richard S. Ewell, and A.P. Hill held supporting roles in these long-running debates that filled many pages in the Southern Historical Society Papers, personal memoirs, and other publications.

On the United States side, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles’ decision on July 2 to abandon his position on Cemetery Ridge and occupy a line stretching from the Klingel Farm along the Emmitsburg Road to Devil’s Den generated the most acrimony. Congress helped fuel the fires among Union generals because the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War solicited and published testimony from many of the key actors.

Few officers on either side nursed a deeper sense of grievance than Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday. New York-born and a graduate of West Point in 1842, he fought as an artillerist during the war with Mexico. During the secession crisis, he served under Major Robert Anderson as a captain in the 1st U.S. Artillery stationed at Fort Sumter. He commanded the 2nd Division in Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds’ 1st Corps at Fredericksburg and, in the spring of 1863, took charge of the 3rd Division in that corps and led it at Chancellorsville (his troops played insignificant roles in both battles). Still head of the 3rd Division on July 1 at Gettysburg, he assumed corps command after Reynolds’ wounding and led it for the rest of the day.

That evening, based largely on 11th Corps commander Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard’s reporting to Winfield Scott Hancock that “Doubleday’s command gave way” during the chaotic late- afternoon fighting, army commander George G. Meade placed the 1st Corps under John Newton. Seething at what he considered unfair treatment (Newton was junior to him in rank), Doubleday returned to the 3rd Division for the rest of the battle but soon left the Army of the Potomac. He never held another field command during the war, spending much of his time on courts-martial in Washington, D.C.

Howard and Meade had incurred the New Yorker’s enduring wrath, a fact made evident in Doubleday’s Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Written as part of Scribner’s “Campaigns of the Civil War” series and published in 1882, the book bristled with criticism of the pair. Especially upset with Howard’s unfair insinuation that the 1st Corps collapsed prior to the retreat of the 11th Corps on July 1, Doubleday observed: “General Howard hastened to send a special messenger to General Meade with the baleful intelligence that the 1st Corps had fled from the field at the first contact with the enemy….[T]his astounding news created the greatest feeling against the corps, who were loudly cursed for their supposed lack of spirit and patriotism.” Doubleday also averred that Reynolds, rather than Howard, deserved credit for selecting Cemetery Hill as a position of great strength.

Maj. Gen. Abner Doubelday briefly took over the Army of the Potomac’s 1st Corps at Gettysburg after Maj. Gen. John Reynolds was killed on the morning of July 1, 1863, pictured here. (Niday Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo)

As for Meade, Doubleday portrayed him as timid and eager to abandon the field after the second day’s action. “At night a council of war was held,” he wrote with clear malice, “in which it was unanimously voted to stay and fight it out. Meade was displeased with the result, and although he acquiesced in the decision, he said angrily, ‘Have it your own way, gentlemen, but Gettysburg is no place to fight a battle in.’”

The army’s new chief, added Doubleday, had been rattled by the fierce Confederate attacks on July 2 and “thought it better to retreat with what he had, than run the risk of losing all.” Doubleday buttressed his version of events with a long footnote that acknowledged a “public discussion” about Meade’s intentions on the night of the 2nd. “There is no question in my mind,” he reiterated in the note, “that, at the council referred to, General Meade did desire to retreat….” The aftermath of Pickett’s Charge, Doubleday suggested, similarly showed Meade’s indecisiveness. At the critical moment at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington had ordered, “Up, guards, and at them!” In contrast, “General Meade had made no arrangements to give a return thrust.”

Howard surely knew about Doubleday’s vituperative comments but chose not to respond in his own memoirs. Published in two thick volumes in 1907 as Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard, Major General United States Army, they mentioned Doubleday’s actions at Gettysburg in purely descriptive passages. After chronicling hard pressure on both the 1st and 11th Corps after 3:30 p.m. on July 1, Howard stated simply that with firing “growing worse and worse” he determined that the “front lines could not hold out much longer.” “I will not attempt to describe the action further…,” he continued. “The order I sent to Doubleday then was this: ‘If you cannot hold out longer, you must fall back to the cemetery and take position on the left of the Baltimore Pike.’”

Meade reacted with more emotion. Doubleday’s testimony before the Joint Committee, which anticipated criticisms he leveled in Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, spurred Meade to complain to his wife in early March 1864 about “the explosion of the conspiracy to have me relieved…in which the Committee on the Conduct of the War, with Generals Doubleday and Sickles, are the agents.” The two-volume edition of Meade’s letters, published in 1913, included as an appendix a newspaper article by Sickles printed in The New York Times on April 1, 1883, that detailed Meade’s “Proposed Retreat on the Night of the 2nd of July.” Another appendix offered a stinging reply to Doubleday’s version of events, pronouncing General Meade’s actions “utterly inconsistent…with any such intention as that ascribed to him by General Doubleday.”

Impartial observers can find admirable and self-interested behavior and statements from Doubleday, Meade, and Howard regarding Gettysburg. Modern visitors to the battlefield will find statues to all three men that face resolutely toward the enemy.


Scales’ Brigade

The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Brigadier General Alfred Scales, a North Carolina lawyer and politician.

On July 1st it took part in a costly charge against the final Union line on Seminary Ridge. General Scales was badly wounded in the leg and every field officer in the brigade except two were killed or wounded.

The brigade was left in reserve on July 2nd, but on the 3rd it was included in the attack that came to be known as Pickett’s Charge. Colonel William L.J. Lowrance of the 34th North Carolina Infantry led the brigade in the charge. He had also had been wounded on the 1st, but not as severely as Scales.

Lanes’ and Scales’ brigades together could field no more than 800 men for the assault. Many were wounded to some extent. Nevertheless Scales’ North Carolinians made one of the furthest advances of the charge, leading to a controversy with Pickett’s Virginians over who went the farthest at Gettysburg which goes on to this day.

Text from the monument

July 1. Crossed Willoughby Run about 3.30 P. M. relieving Heth’s line and advancing with left flank on Chambersburg Pike took part in the struggle until it ended. When the Union forces made their final stand on Seminary Ridge the Brigade charged and aided in dislodging them but suffered heavy losses. Gen. A. M. Scales was wounded and all the field officers but one were killed or wounded.

July 2. In position near here with skirmishers out in front and on flank.

July 3. In Longstreet’s assault the Brigade supported the right wing of Pettigrew’s Division. With few officers to lead them the men advanced in good order through a storm of shot and shell and when the front line neared the Union works they pushed forward to aid it in the final struggle and were among the last to retire.

July 4. After night withdrew and began the march to Hagerstown.


The Battle of Gettysburg ended JULY 3, 1863

American Minute with Bill Federer

Washington, D.C., was in a panic!

72,000 Confederate troops were just sixty miles away near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

What led up to this Battle?

After the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee was under a time deadline.

Mounting casualties of the war were causing Lincoln’s popularity to fall, so if Lee could get a quick victory at Gettysburg, he could pressure Lincoln to a truce.

But this window of opportunity was fast closing, as Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was about to capture Vicksburg on the Mississippi, which would divide the Confederacy and free up thousands of Union troops to fight Lee in the east.

Unfortunately for Lee, his tremendously successful General, “Stonewall” Jackson, had died two months earlier, having been mistakenly shot by his own men.

On the Union side, Lincoln replaced Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker with Maj. Gen. George Meade to command the 94,000 men of the Union Army of the Potomac.

The Battle of Gettysburg began July 1, 1863.

After two days of intense combat, with ammunition running low, General Robert E. Lee ordered a direct attack.

Confederate General James Longstreet disagreed with Lee’s plan resulting in his delayed advance till after all the Confederate artillery had been spent, leaving no cover fire.

Historians speculate that if General Longstreet had made a timely attack, the Confederates may have won the day.

As it happened, 12,500 Confederate soldiers marched across a mile of open field without artillery cover to make “Pickett’s Charge” directly into the Union position at Cemetery Ridge.

An hour of murderous fire and bloody hand-to-hand combat ensued, followed by the Confederates being pushed back.

The Battle of Gettysburg ended JULY 3, 1863, with over 50,000 casualties.

The next day, Vicksburg surrendered to General Grant, giving the Union Army control of the Mississippi River.

When news reached London, all hopes of Europe recognizing the Confederacy were lost.

For the next two years, the South was on the defensive.

On July 5, 1863, President Lincoln and his son visited General Daniel E. Sickles, who had his leg blown off at Gettysburg.

General James F. Rusling recorded that when General Sickles asked Lincoln if he was anxious before the Battle, Lincoln answered:

“No, I was not some of my Cabinet and many others in Washington were, but I had no fears …”

“In the pinch of your campaign up there, when everybody seemed panic-stricken, and nobody could tell what was going to happen, oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day,

and I locked the door, and got down on my knees before Almighty God, and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.

I told Him that this was His war, and our cause His cause, but we couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville.

And I then and there made a solemn vow to Almighty God, that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him …”

“And He did stand by you boys, and I will stand by Him.

And after that (I don’t know how it was, and I can’t explain it), soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into his own hands and that things would go all right at Gettysburg.”

Twelve days after the Battle of Gettysburg, July 15, 1863, Lincoln proclaimed a Day of Prayer:

“It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows …

I invite the people of the United States to … render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation’s behalf and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion.”

In his Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln ended:

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —

and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Years later at the Gettysburg Battlefield, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated May 30, 1934:

“On these hills of Gettysburg two brave armies of Americans once met in contest …

Since those days, two subsequent wars, both with foreign Nations, have measurably … softened the ancient passions.

It has been left to us of this generation to see the healing made permanent.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, September 17, 1937:

“I came into the world 17 years after the close of the war between the States … Today … there are still many among us who can remember it …

It serves us little to discuss again the rights and the wrongs of the long 4-years’ war … We can but wish that the war had never been. We can and we do revere the memory of the brave men who fought on both sides …

But we know today that it was best … for the generations of Americans who have come after them, that the conflict did not end in a division of our land into two nations.

I like to think that it was the will of God that we remain one people.”

At the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery, President Coolidge said, May 25, 1924:

“It was Lincoln who pointed out that both sides prayed to the same God. When that is the case, it is only a matter of time when each will seek a common end.

We can now see clearly what that end is. It is the maintenance of our American ideals, beneath a common flag, under the blessings of Almighty God.”

In his 3rd Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, January 20, 1941:

“The spirit of America … is the product of centuries … born in the multitudes of those who came from many lands …

The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history …

Its vitality was written into our own Mayflower Compact, into the Declaration of Independence, into the Constitution of the United States, into the Gettysburg Address …

If the spirit of America were killed, even though the Nation’s body … lived on, the America we know would have perished.”

Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


Battle of Gettysburg Ends: On This Day, July 3

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, ended with a victory for Union General George Meade and the Army of the Potomac.

The three-day battle was the bloodiest in the war, with approximately 51,000 casualties. Even with such heavy losses, it proved to be a significant victory for the Union. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, had invaded Union territory and was moving through southern Pennsylvania with an eye to Harrisburg, the state capital. General Lee hoped that defeating the Union army in a large battle on Northern territory would deliver a great, perhaps final blow to the war-weary United States. But the Union victory effectively ended the Confederate invasion of the North and provided a much-needed boost of morale for US soldiers and civilians alike.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought not only on the field, but on the streets of Gettysburg as well. On July 1, Confederate soldiers chased retreating Union soldiers through the town, then looted homes and cellars for valuables, clothing, and food. Despite this initial Union retreat, the battle ended on July 3 with Pickett’s Charge, in which a force of 15,000 Confederate soldiers charged through open fields at Union lines but failed to break through them.

In this video, take a virtual tour of the battlefield with historian Matthew Pinsker, Associate Professor of History and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History, Dickinson College, as he provides a guide to the battle’s most important locations.


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