Battle of Gettysburg Battlefield Report

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Battle of Gettysburg: Pennsylvania and the Civil War

The Union Army Report for the Battle of Gettysburg
The most casualties for any single battle during the Civil War occurred during July 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Union losses at Gettysburg were 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded and 5,365 missing. The Confederate reports give Lee's losses as being 2,592 killed, 12,709 wounded and 5,150 missing, but the records of prisoners of war in the office of the adjutant-general of the United States army bear the names of 12,277 Confederates who were captured at the battle of Gettysburg.
The Union Army Report (1908) discusses the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg and the Union and Confederate troops and their respective movements on the battlefield. From the forces of the Army of Northern Virginia to the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac, and from the defensive position from the hills and ridges to the offensive attack and charge, The Union Army conveys another insight to the nation's battle that produced the most casualties of the Civil War.

Gettysburg Battle and Campaign Map
Gettysburg Battle Map.jpg
Civil War Gettysburg Campaign Battlefield Map

Battle of Gettysburg Report

Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3, 1863. Army of the Potomac. After the
battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville the opinion became prev-
alent through the South that Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was more
than a match for the Federal Army of the Potomac, and a clamor arose
for an aggressive movement. There were at this time potent reasons why
Lee should assume the offensive. An invasion of Maryland and Pennsyl-
vania would have a tendency to draw troops from Grant at Vicksburg and
Rosecrans in Tennessee to repel the invaders, thus relieving the pressure
on the Confederate forces under Pemberton, Johnston and Bragg. If the
invasion should prove to be successful European nations might be per-
suaded to recognize the Confederacy, loans could be obtained, and probably
aid secured to open the Southern ports, then in a state of blockade. All
these reasons and possibilities were carefully weighed and toward the last
of May Lee decided to make the invasion. Since the battle of Chancellors-
ville he had been lying at Fredericksburg, recruiting and reorganizing his
army, which on June i numbered, according to Confederate reports, 88,754
men. It was divided into three corps, as follows: The 1st, commanded
by Lieut. -Gen. James Longstreet, was composed of the divisions of Mc-
Laws, Pickett and Hood, and the reserve artillery under Col. J. B. Walton.
The 2nd, under the command of Lieut.-Gen. Richard S. Ewell, included the
divisions of Early, Johnson and Rodes, the reserve artillery being in charge
of Col. J. T. Brown. The 3d, commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Ambrose P. Hill,
consisted of the divisions of Anderson, Heth and Pender, and the reserve
artillery uder Col. R. L. Walker. In addition to these three corps was
the cavalry under the command of Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, and consist-
ing of the brigades of Fitzhugh Lee, W. H. F. Lee, Hampton, Jenkins,
W. E. Jones and Imboden, and six batteries of horse artillery under the
command of Maj. R. F. Beckham.

Having decided to undertake an offensive movement, Lee chose a route
along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge, from which he could at any time
threaten Washington or Baltimore, hoping by this means to detain the
Union army in a position to defend the national capital, or failing in that,
to draw it after him and into a general engagement on a field of his own
selection. He accordingly began the concentration of his army at Culpeper,
leaving Hill at Fredericksburg to keep up a show of force there in order
to keep Hooker from ascertaining what was going on until it was too late
for him to interfere. Through the medium of despatches captured in the
affair at Brandy Station on June 9, Hooker learned that the major part of
Lee's army was at Culpeper. He proposed to cross over the river and
attack Hill, but the movement was forbidden by Gen. Halleck. He then
suggested a movement against Richmond to force Lee to recall his army
in that direction, but this, too, was forbidden, though either might have
been successful. Hooker then sent the 3d and 5th corps to guard the fords
on the Rappahannock, to prevent the Confederates from crossing, and
on the night of the 13th moved his forces northward to Manassas
Junction and Thoroughfare gap. This compelled Lee to change his plans
and select the longer route through the Shenandoah Valley. The Federal
force at Winchester, commanded by Gen. Milroy, was driven out on the
15th, Ewell pursuing across the Potomac and occupying Hagerstown and
Sharpsburg. About the same time the Union troops at Harper's Ferry
and Martinsburg were withdrawn to Maryland heights, thus leaving the
valley open to Lee, who crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and Shep-
hcrdstown on the 24th and 25th, united his columns at Hagerstown, and
pushed on toward Chambersburg, Pa. On the 25th and 26th Hooker
crossed the Potomac at Edwards' ferry and the next day Reynolds, with
three corps, occupied the passes of South mountain, thus forestalling any
attempt of Lee to pass to the eastward. To cut the enemy's communica-
tions with Virginia, Hooker ordered the 12th corps, then near Harper's
Ferry, to march to that place, where it would be joined by the forces under
Gen. Kelley on Maryland heights, and then, in connection with Reynolds,
operate on Lee's rear. Again Halleck interposed an objection, deeming it
inadvisable to abandon Harper's Ferry, and Hooker asked to be relieved
from command of the army. He was succeeded by Maj.-Gen. George
G. Meade on June 28. The Army of the Potomac was then organized as
follows: Maj.-Gen. John F. Reynolds, formerly commanding the 1st
corps, was placed in command of the left wing, Maj.-Gen. Abner Double-
day taking command of the corps, which consisted of three divisions under
Brig.-Gens. James S. Wadsworth, John C. Robinson and Thomas A.
Rowley, and the artillery brigade commanded by Col. Charles S. Wain-
right. The 2nd corps, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, em-
braced the three divisions under Brig.-Gens. John C. Caldwell, John Gibbon
and Alexander Hays, and the artillery brigade of Capt. John G. Hazard.
The 3d corps, Maj.-Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, was made up of the divisions
of Maj.-Gen. David B. Birney and Brig.-Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys, and
the artillery brigade commanded by Capt. George E. Randolph. The 5th
corps, Maj.-Gen. George Sykes, was composed of the three divisions of
Brig.-Gens. James Barnes, Romeyn B. Ayres and Samuel W. Crawford,
and the artillery brigade of Capt. A. P. Martin. The 6th corps, Maj.-Gen.
John Sedgwick, embraced the divisions of Brig.-Gen. Horatio G. Wright,
Brig.-Gen. Albion P. Howe and Maj.-Gen. John Newton, and the artillery
brigade of Col. Charles H. Tompkins. The 11th corps, Maj.-Gen. Oliver
O. Howard, included the divisions of Brig.-Gens. Francis C. Barlow and
Adolph von Steinwehr, Maj.-Gen. Carl Schurz, and the artillery brio:-f
commanded by Maj. Thomas W. Osborn. The 12th corps, Maj.-Gen.
Henry W. Slocum, was composed of the two divisions of Brig.-Gens.
Alpheus S. Williams and John W. Geary, and the artillery brigade under
command of Lieut. E. D. Muhlenberg. The cavalry corps, Maj.-Gen.
Alfred Pleasonton, included the three divisions commanded by Brig.-Gens.
John Buford, David McM. Gregg and Judson Kilpatrick, and the horse
artillery under Capt. James M. Robertson. Altogether the army had 65
batteries numbering 370 guns. Of these 212 were with the infantry. 50
with the cavalry, and an artillery reserve of 108 under the command of
Brig.-Gen. Robert O. Tyler, Brig.-Gen. Henry J. Hunt being the chief of
artillery. Meade took command in the midst of a campaign, and when
the army was preparing to move through a region with which he was but
little acquainted. For the time he decided to follow Hooker's plans, the
only departure therefrom being to recall Slocum's corps from the Confed-
erate rear, with orders to join the main column. Without consulting
Halleck he ordered the troops at Maryland heights, now under the com-
mand of Gen. French, to move up to Frederick, where they were to act as
a reserve when the army moved forward. Such information as he could
obtain regarding the enemy's movements located Longstreet at Chambers-
burg, Ewell at Carlisle and York, where he was preparing to attack Harris-
burg, and Hill in the vicinity of Cashtown. Conjecturing that Harrisburg
was Lee's objective point, Meade determined to move directly toward that
place and if possible strike the enemy before he could cross the Susque-
hanna. Orders to that effect were issued to the various corps commanders
on the evening of the 28th and early the next morning the army was in

Civil War Battle of Gettysburg Map
Gettysburg Battle Map on First Day.jpg
Gettysburg Battle Map on First Day

Stuart's cavalry had been sent on a raid around the Union army, in
the hope that by threatening its rear he could delay the crossing of the
Potomac until Lee could capture Harrisburg. But he encountered Federal
troops in so many unexpected places that his raid was prolonged to such
an extent he did not arrive at Gettysburg until the battle was almost over.
Being thus deprived of his cavalry, Lee had no way of obtaining informa-
tion of the movements of the Federals, and up to the 28th supposed them
to be still on the south side of the Potomac. On the afternoon of that day
he ordered Hill and Longstreet to join Ewell for an advance on Harris-
burg. Late that night a scout came to Lee's headquarters with the infor-
mation that Hooker had been superseded by Meade, that the Union army
was north of the Potomac and in a position to seriously menace the Con-
federate line of communications. These tidings changed the whole situa-
tion. In his report Lee says: "In the absence of the cavalry, it was im-
possible to ascertain his intentions; but to deter him from advancing
farther west, and intercepting our communication with Virginia, it was
determined to concentrate the army east of the mountains." Instructions
were hurried to Hill and Longstreet to move to Cashtown, 8 miles north-
west of Gettysburg; Ewell was recalled from Carlisle, and Pickett was left
at Chambersburg to guard the rear until relieved by Imboden. Owing to
rainy weather these movements were performed somewhat leisurely, but
Heth's division reached Cashtown on the afternoon of the 29th. That
evening the Union army was in position just south of the state line, with
the right at New Windsor and the left at Emmitsburg. Buford's cavalry
division was on the extreme left, with his advance well toward Gettys-
burg. Buford sent Merritt's brigade to Mechanicstown to guard the trains
and issued orders for Gamble's and Devin's brigades to move early on the
following morning to Gettysburg, where he expected to find some of Kil-
patrick's cavalry. The two brigades entered the town about noon, and
found a detachment of the enemy within half a mile of the place. This
was Pettigrew's brigade of Heth's division, which had been sent from
Cashtown to procure supplies, but finding the town in possession of the
Union forces hurriedly fell back on the main body of the division. Scout-
ing parties were sent out in all directions, bringing in information showing
that the Confederates were unquestionably aiming to concentrate in the
vicinity of Gettysburg, and Buford so notified Meade that evening. Pickets
were thrown out toward Cashtown and Hunterstown, and the ridges west
of the town occupied in anticipation of an attack the next day.
Meade's chief objects had been to force Lee to forego his intention of
crossing the Susquehanna, and to bring on an engagement at the first
opportunity. The field selected for such an engagement was along the
banks of Pipe creek, a little stream 15 miles south of Gettysburg. With
a view to meeting Lee at this point the different commands were so placed
as to be easily concentrated along Pipe creek, while at the same time they
were held in readiness to move elsewhere as the occasion might demand.
On the evening of June 30 the 1st corps was at Marsh creek, about half-
way between Emmitsburg and Gettysburg; the 2nd and 3d were in the
vicinity of Taneytown; the 5th was at Union Mills, southeast of Taney-
town; the 6th was at Manchester, still farther east; the 11th was near
Emmitsburg; Kilpatrick's cavalry was at Hanover, and Gregg's at West-
minster. The information received from Buford caused a change in
Meade's plans. Reynolds was ordered to move the 1st, 3d and 11th corps
to the support of Buford, Sickles relieving the last at Emmitsburg, and the
other corps commanders instructed to move toward Gettysburg.

The town of Gettysburg is located about 7 miles from the Maryland
line, and some 10 miles east of South mountain. It is in a valley, sur-
rounded by broken granite ridges. On one of these, about half a mile
west of the town, stood the Lutheran seminary, the elevation being known
as Seminary ridge. It was covered with an open woods and at the north
end is a knoll called Oak hill. South is a chain of hills beginning about
3 miles from town and running almost due north for a distance of 2 miles,
when it makes a curve to the east. At the south end of this chain is Round
Top; just east of this is a smaller hill called Little Round Top; at the curve
is Cemetery hill, while at the eastern extremity of the range is Gulp's hill.

About 500 yards west of Little Round Top, in the forks of Plum creek
is a hill known as the Devil's Den. It is steep and rocky on the eastern
side, sloping away gradually to the west, and is about 100 feet lower than
Little Round Top. The summits of nearly all the ridges were covered with
huge boulders, forming a natural protection to sharpshooters, etc. Near
the western base of Cemetery hill was Ziegler's grove, and along the base
of the ridge farther south were the VVeikert and Trostle houses. Roads
enter the town from almost every direction. Through the valley between
the Round Tops and Seminary ridge ran the Emmitsburg road ; along
the eastern side of the ridge was the road to Taneytown; running south-
east, between Cemetery and Culp's hills, was the Baltimore pike. These
three roads came together near the cemetery and entered the town from
the south. The Fairfield and Chambcrsburg roads diverged at the west
side of town, the former running southwest and the latter northwest over
Seminary ridge. From the north came the Harrisburg, Carlisle and Mid-
dletown roads, and Black's turnpike, while the Oxford and Bonaughton
roads entered the town from the east. On the east side of town is Rock
creek and west of Seminary ridge is Willoughby run, both flowing south-

At daybreak on July 1, Buford held the roads and ridges to the west
of Gettysburg with Devin's and Gamble's brigades, his vedettes being
thrown out far enough to give timely warning of the enemy's approach.
About 8 a. m. the scouts reported the enemy advancing in force from the
direction of Cashtown. This was Heth's entire division, which had been
sent forward to occupy Gettysburg. Gamble's brigade was formed on the
left from the Fairfield road to the railroad cut, with one section of Calef's
battery near the left and the rest of it on the Chambersburg pike. Devin
formed on the right, extending the line to Oak hill, a portion of the men
being dismounted and thrown forward as skirmishers. Heth advanced
on the Chambersburg road, with Archer's brigade to the right and Davis'
to the left of the pike, and the brigades of Pettigrew and Brockenbrough
in support. About 9 o'clock Buford had three cannon shots fired as a
signal for his skirmishers to open fire on the advancing Confederates, and
the battle of Gettysburg was begun. Buford had been notified that Rey-
nolds was coming to his support and determined to hold his ground until
the reinforcements arrived. When the sound of the firing reached Rey-
nolds his advance, Wadsworth's division, was within a mile of the town.
This command was hurried forward across the fields, Reynolds riding
ahead to Seminary ridge, where he met Buford and learned the positions
of the contending forces. As soon as Wadsworth arrived three regiments
of Cutler's brigade were formed north of the railroad cut and the other
two south of the pike, Hall's battery relieving Calef's, which had almost
exhausted its supply of ammunition. Meredith's "Iron Brigade" was sent
against Archer on the left, and Devin's brigade of cavalry was faced north
to meet Ewell, who was known to be coming up from Heidlersburg. Cut-
ler's line had barely been formed when it was struck on the front and right
by Davis. Col. Fowler, who was in command of the two regiments south
of the road, changed front, drove Davis from the field, and took posses-
sion of the railroad cut, capturing the two regiments which occupied it.
Reynolds sent word to Howard to hurry forward the 11th corps, and then
rode over to where Meredith and Archer were contending for a piece of
timber, known as McPherson's woods, on the east side of Willoughby run.
While directing the movements of this brigade Reynolds was killed by a
shot from a Confederate sharpshooter, and Meredith was wounded by the
explosion of a shell in front of his horse. Col. Morrow, of the 24th Mich.,
then took command, charged into the woods, captured Archer and about
800 of his men, and forced the rest to retire across the creek. By this time
all of the 1st corps was on the field. Stone's brigade of Rowley's division
was sent to the left of the pike, where it drove out the enemy's skirmishers
and took position behind a ridge, being partly sheltered by a stone fence.
Riddle's brigade was posted on the left of McPherson's wood, with
Cooper's battery on the right, while Robinson's division was stationed in
reserve on Seminary ridge. Reynolds' battery relieved Hall's and Calef s
again joined Gamble's cavalry, which was also in reserve.

The Gettysburg Battlefield
Dead Union soldiers on Gettysburg battlefield.jpg
Dead Union soldiers on Gettysburg battlefield. Photo taken between July 4th & 7th. Alexander Gardner

The enemy had also received heavy reinforcements, Pender's division
coming up from Cashtown and Ewell's corps from Carlisle. Heth re-
formed his division south of the Chambersburg road, with Pender in sup-
port, and nine batteries stationed on commanding points west of Wil-
loughby run. Lee had notified Ewell not to bring on a general engagement
until the entire army was brought up, but on arriving on the field and
finding Hill's corps already engaged he ordered Rodes' division to take
position on Seminary ridge and Carter's battalion of artillery to occupy
Oak hill. It was now nearly 2 p. m., when the batteries on Oak hill
opened upon the Union lines an enfilading fire that forced Wadsworth to
retire Cutler to Seminary ridge, where he was joined by Robinson's whole
division to resist the advance of Rodes, who was following along the ridge
with O'Neal's and Doles' brigades on the eastern slope and Iverson's,
Daniel's and Ramseur's on the western. At 2:30 Rodes gave the order to
attack. Iverson was confronted by Paul's brigade and O'Neal by Baxter's.
O'Neal was soon repulsed and Baxter went to the assistance of Paul. At
the same time Cutler swung his line around so as to attack Iverson on the
right flank. Baxter's men from the shelter of a stone fence fired a volley
at short range into the Confederate ranks, leaving 500 of Iverson's com-
mand dead and wounded on the field, and the rest surrendered. About
1,000 prisoners and 3 regimental colors were taken in this part of the en-
gagement. Howard had arrived with the 11th corps about noon and
assumed command. Shurz took command of the corps and Brig.-Gen.
Alexander Schimmelfennig of the 3d division. This division and Barlow's
were thrown forward on the right to check Ewell's advance, leaving
Steinwehr's, with two batteries, as a reserve and rallying point on Cem-
etery hill.

Upon hearing of the death of Reynolds Meade ordered Hancock to
proceed from Taneytown to Gettysburg and assume command of the left
wing. Hancock arrived about 3 p. m. and found the Union troops retiring
before the vastly superior numbers of the enemy. Early's division had
secured a position on the flank and rear of the 11th corps, the artillery on
the hills east of Rock creek enfilading its entire line. Up to this time the
assaults of the enemy had been made without concert at various points
along the line, giving the Federals an opportunity to repulse one before
the next was commenced. But about 4 o'clock the whole Confederate line
advanced — 50,000 against probably 15,000. The odds were too great and
orders were issued to fall back to Cemetery hill. The men retired in good
order, fighting as they went, the only confusion being that which resulted
by crowding the narrow streets of the town. Wadsworth's division was
sent to occupy Gulp's hill and skirmishers were thrown forward to the
west side of the town to hold the Confederates in check until the new line
of battle could be formed. About 5 o'clock Williams' division of the 12th
corps came up and was stationed on the right and rear of Wadsworth.
Geary's division arrived soon afterward and was sent to occupy Little
Round Top and the ridge running toward Cemetery hill, in a position com-
manding the Emmitsburg and Taneytown roads. Stannard's brigade of
Rowley's division also came up and joined the command, but too late to
participate in the fight. These reinforcements greatly encouraged those
who had borne the brunt of the battle all day, and the trains were sent to
the rear out of the way to prepare for the action which was to come on the
morrow. As the day drew to a close and it became evident that the enemy
did not intend to renew the attack, Hancock turned over the command to
Slocum and set out for Meade's headquarters at Taneytown. Orders were
given for all the different commands to march at once to Gettysburg,
Meade set out for the scene of action, and about 1 a. m. on the 2nd reached
the field.

Notwithstanding Lee's order on the evening of the 1st to "attack the
enemy in the morning as early as practicable," the greater part of the day
was spent in maneuvering for position. Longstreet did not want to attack
until the arrival of Pickett's division. As a matter of fact Pickett did not
come up in time to take any part in the second days' battle, and Law's
brigade of Hood's division did not arrive on the field until noon on the 2nd.
Considerable delay was incurred in moving the artillery so as to keep out
of sight of the Union signal station on Little Round Top, so that it was
the middle of the afternoon before the Confederates were in position to
begin the general assault on Meade's flanks according to Lee's plans. This
delay cost them dear in the end, as Meade's different commands were
hurrying to the front, and when the attack did come there was an oppo-
sition too strong to be overcome. As soon as possible after his arrival
Meade looked over the ground and at dawn he commenced the formation
of his lines for an attack on the Confederate left. The 12th corps was sent
to the right of Wadsworth on Culp's hill, but Slocum and Gen. G. K.
Warren, who had served as chief engineer under Hooker, and now held
that position on Meade's staff, advised against such a movement. Meade,
however, was determined to fight aggressively and began to arrange his
troops for an assault on the enemy's left. Some time was necessarily spent
in the preparations and before they were completed Lee attacked both
ends of the Union line, thus forcing Meade to assume the defensive, which
finally proved to be to his advantage. The Union line was formed as fol-
lows: Slocum on the extreme right; Wadsworth's division on Cemetery
hill, with the other two divisions of the 1st corps at the base; Hancock's
corps, which had come up during the night, next on the left; then Sickles;
Sykes on the extreme left, while Sedgwick, who had made a march of 35
miles, arriving just before the attack commenced, was stationed in reserve
on the Taneytown road behind the Round Tops, where he could rest his
men until called on to strengthen some part of the line.

Civil War Gettysburg Battle Map
Civil War Gettysburg Battle Map.jpg
Map of 2nd Day at the Battle of Gettysburg

The Confederate line was in the form of a concave. Longstreet on the
left was opposite the Round Tops; Hill in the center occupied Seminary
ridge; Ewell on the right held the town and the ridges east of Rock creek.
Along the north side of Little Round Top ran a road which crossed the
Emmitsburg road almost at right angles near the center of the open
country lying between the two lines. On the south side of this road and
east of the Emmitsburg road was a large peach orchard, to the east of
which was a wheatfield. Sickles moved his corps to the cross roads, form-
ing Humphrey's division along the Emmitsburg road and Birney's in the
peach orchard and on a ridge south of the cross-road. Ward's brigade being
thrown forward to the Devil's Den. As this position was some distance
in advance of the main line, and subsequently proved to be untenable, there
has been some controversy as to whether Sickles occupied it by order of
the commanding general or selected it himself. It is not the province of
this work, however, to settle responsibilities, but to tell what happened.
Birney's skirmishers were engaged almost from the time his line was
formed until the main attack of the Confederates about 4 p. m. When that
attack was opened Longstreet directed a severe artillery fire against the
two sides of the angle formed by Sickles' line, and this was followed by a
fierce assault on Ward, who was overlapped by the enemy's line and com-
pelled to retire. The attack was then extended toward the peach orchard
and some of the enemy's batteries secured positions from which an enfilad-
ing fire was poured into the two Hues forming the angle. Humphreys sent
a brigade and later a regiment to the assistance of Birney, but soon after-
ward his own line was vigorously assailed by Barksdale's brigade on the
north and Kershaw's on the west, making it impossible to render any
further aid to Birney, who was now hard pressed. Graham's brigade was
driven from the orchard, Sickles had lost a leg and Graham was wounded
and a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. The Federal batteries, com-
manded by Maj. McGilvery, and which was stationed on the cross-road
below the orchard, met the Confederate advance by an effective fire, but
in vain. One of the batteries was captured by Kershaw's men, but the 141st
Pa. made a gallant charge and recaptured the guns, bringing them ofif by
hand. Still the Confederates pressed on, and as a last resort McGilvery
ordered Biglow to sacrifice his battery to save the rest. With the courage
born of desperation he obeyed the order, fighting until the enemy ap-
proached within a few feet, when he managed to withdraw, but with severe
loss. This put the orchard in the hands of the enemy, which brought
them on Humphreys' flank and Birney's right. Reinforcements were called
for and Hancock sent in Caldwell's division, but it was compelled to fall
back after losing heavily in killed and wounded, two brigade commanders,
Cross and Zook, being among the killed. Ayres' division next went in,
and, although he struck the enemy on the flank, doubled up their line and
forced them back, he was in the end compelled to make a hurried retreat
to save his command from annihilation.

This fight on the left was a struggle for the possession of Little Round
Top. About the time that Ward was outflanked Warren rode over to the
signal station there to obtain a better view of what was going on. Seeing
the importance of the position, which was then undefended, he assumed the
responsibility of ordering Vincent's brigade of Barnes' division to occupy
the crest, at the same time notifying Meade of what he had done and ask-
ing for a force sufficient to hold it. As Ward retired the Confederates
made a rush for the hill, but were met on the top by Vincent's men, who
repulsed the first assault with the bayonet. The 140th N. Y., belonging to
Weed's brigade of Barnes' division, and Hazlett's battery were then sent
to the aid of Vincent. Having failed in the first attempt to carry the
position, the enemy next made an effort to turn the left, but were met by
the 20th Me., under Col. Chamberlain. At first the Unionists were forced
back by the main strength of superior numbers, but Sykes hurried a brigade
to the relief of Chamberlain, and a brigade of the Pennsylvania reserves
arriving about the same time, the Confederates were driven from the hill
with a loss of 500 captured and 1,000 stands of arms taken, besides a large
number in killed and wounded. After the 3d corps had been driven from
the peach orchard the enemy began to form in front of the wheatfield for
another assault on Little Round Top. McCandless' brigade of Crawford's
division, led by Crawford himself, charged and drove them to the farther
side of the wheatfield, where they found shelter behind a stone fence. In
the meantime two brigades — Eustis' and Nevin's — of Sedgwick's corps had
come forward and during the time of Crawford's charge took a position
in front of the ridge. The sight of these fresh troops had a discouraging
effect on the Confederates and they withdrew from the contest.

Through some miscalculation Ewell did not begin his attack on the
Federal right until after Longstreet's repulse. The plan of attack here
was for Johnson to move against Gulp's hill, and as soon as he was fairlv
engaged Early and Rodes were to assault the works on Cemetery hill
When the fight commenced on the left Ewell opened with his artillery and
kept up the fire for about an hour before making any further movement
against the Union lines. In this time Meade, under the impression that
the demonstration on his right was merely a feint, withdrew from that
portion of his line all of the 12th corps except Greene's brigade, and sent
it to the support of Sykes. About 5 p. m. Johnson crossed Rock creek
and advanced against Greene and Wadsworth. Greene held out until he
was reinforced, when the enemy was driven from his front, though Johnson
occupied the intrenchments that had been abandoned by the 12th corps,
giving him a strong position on the right flank of the Union army. While
this was taking place Early sent the brigades of Hays and Hoke, the latter
commanded by Col. Avery, up the valley between Gulp's and Cemetery
hills to assault the Federal position on the latter. The advance was some-
what impetuous, driving back Von Gilsa's and Ames' brigades, which were
stationed at the foot of the hill. In the rear of this infantry line were
Wiedrich's and Ricketts' batteries, which were next attacked, the former
being captured and 2 guns of the latter spiked. Farther up the hill were
the batteries of Stevens, Reynolds and Stewart, the officers of which had
orders from Col. Wainright to "fight the guns to the last." As the enemy
advanced in the face of these guns they were met by a storm of canister,
Stevens' battery especially doing efifective work. Hancock voluntarily sent
Carroll's brigade to the support of the batteries, which were also rein-
forced by the 106th Pa. and a detachment from Schurz' command. The
arrival of these troops carried dismay into the enemy's lines, which had
not been properly supported, although Gordon's brigade had been assigned
to that duty, and a retreat was ordered. As they fell back they were fol-
lowed by a shower of canister from the batteries, which killed and wounded
a large number and threw the line into some confusion. It is said that the
Confederate organization known as the "Louisiana Tigers,'' went into this
fight with 1,750 men, of whom only 150 returned unscathed. Rodes was
delayed in making his attack, having to move out of Gettysburg by the
flank, then change front and march some distance. By the time he was in
position to cooperate with Early the latter had met defeat. The day closed
with the Union forces still in possession of the ridge, though the enemy
had gained some advantage on the right, as Johnson still held the intrench-
ments of the 12th corps, which threatened the safety of Meade's army by
cutting off the line of retreat if such a movement became necessary. This
victory, meager as it was, offered Lee sufficient incentive to continue the
contest the next morning. That night a council of war was held, at which
it was unanimously decided to "stay and fight it out." It is said that
Meade was somewhat displeased at the decision, because he wanted to
retire to the ground previously selected at Pipe creek. However this may
have been he acquiesced in the judgment of his corps commanders, and
preparations were immediately commenced looking to the coming engage-

Map of Gettysburg Battle on Final Day
Map of Gettysburg Battle on Final Day.jpg
Map of Day Three at Battle of Gettysburg

Lee's general plan of battle for the 3d was similar to that of the pre-
ceding day. Ewell was to open the fight by pressing the advantage already
gained on the extreme right, and after his attack was well under way the
main assault v/as to be made on the center. Johnson was reinforced by
three brigades and instructed to begin his attack at daybreak. But a dis-
agreeable surprise was in store for him. Geary returned to Gulp's hill
about midnight and learned that his intrenchments were in the hands of
the enemy. He took a position with Greene and began making arrange-
ments to recover his works at the earliest opportunity the next morning.
Batteries were brought up during the remaining hours of darkness and
stationed at all the points bearing on Johnson, and as soon as it was light
enough to distinguish objects the guns opened fire. Johnson was without
artillery, so he determined to risk all on a charge. The charge was gal-
lantly made, but it was bravely met by Kane's brigade of Geary's division,
and a severe contest was waged for several hours. Williams' division, now
commanded by Col. Thomas H. Ruger. came up and gained a position
where it could strike Johnson on the flank, and about the same time
Shaler's brigade of Newton's division joined Kane, when Johnson, finding
the conflict an unequal one, withdrew to Rock creek, leaving Geary and
Ruger in possession of their old line. This part of the third day's battle
was ended long before Lee's troops were in position to assault Cemetery
hill, and again that concert of action, so essential to Confederate success,
was lost.

Pickett's division, which had not yet been engaged, was selected to lead
the charge against the Union center. Longstreet, in his report, thus de-
scribes the arrangement of troops and plan of the assault: ''Orders were
given to Maj.-Gen. Pickett to form his line under the best cover that he
could get from the enemy's batteries, and so that the center of the assault-
ing column would arrive at the salient of the enemy's position. Gen.
Pickett's line to be the guide and to attack the enemy's defenses, and Gen.
Pcttigrew, in command of Heth's division, moving on the same line as
Gen. Pickett, was to assault the salient at the same moment. Pickett's
division was arranged, two brigades in the front line, supported by his third
brigade, and Wilcox's brigade was ordered to move in rear of his right
flank, to protect it from any force that the enemy might attempt to move
against it. Heth's division, under command of Brig.-Gen. Pettigrew, was
arranged in two lines, and these supported by part of Maj.-Gen. Pender's
division, under Maj.-Gen. Trimble. All of the batteries of the 1st and 3d
corps, and some of those of the 2nd, were put into the best positions for
effective fire upon the point of attack and the hill occupied by the enemy's
left. Col. Walton, chief of artillery of the 1st corps, and Col. Alexander
had posted our batteries and agreed with the artillery officers of the other
corps upon a signal for the batteries to open."

At 1 p. m. two cannon shots were heard in quick succession. This was
the signal for the Confederate batteries to open fire, and immediately 150
guns commenced their deadly work. The object was to silence the Union
guns, and when this was accomplished Pickett was to move forward to the
grand assault which was to decide the fate of the battle. Owing to the
convex form of the Federal position only 80 guns could find room on the
ridge to respond to the enemy's fire. That number was already in position
and for two hours was waged an artillery duel seldom if ever equaled in
the annals of wars. The enemy's fire was very effective, although many of
the shells went high and exploded in the open ground to the rear of the
ridge, forcing the artillery reserve to move to a better protected position.
Meade was compelled to change the location of his headquarters, a number
of guns were disabled, though they were quickly replaced by others brought
up from the reserve, about a dozen caissons were blown up and after each
of these explosions the exultant yells of the Confederates could be heard
along their entire line. During this time Pickett's men were in the wood
on Seminary ridge, waiting for the command to move forward across the
1,400 yards of open ground in their endeavor to pierce the Union center.
The Union generals knew that this fierce artillery fire was but the prelude
to a charge and placed their commands in position to receive the shock.
About 3 o'clock Hunt ordered the guns to cease firing, partly to replenish
his supply of ammunition, and partly to see what the enemy would do.
Thinking that the batteries were silenced, Pickett emerged from the woods
and began his advance, his men marching with such even step that for a
little while the whole Union line stood in silent admiration of this display
of heroism on the part of men who were marching to certain death. But
when about half of the open space had been crossed the Federal batteries
again opened with telling effect. Great gaps were torn in Pickett's line
by the shot and shell, but they were quickly closed up as the line pressed
forward. When the Confederates crossed the Emmitsburg road canister
came into use, and at the same time McGilvery's guns on Little Round
Top opened a destructive, enfilading fire on the advancing lines. Still on
they came. Hancock's skirmishers near the Emmitsburg road were driven
back like chaff before the wind. The enemy had now come within musket
range and Hays' division poured volley after volley into the left, causing
it to waver so that it fell behind the main column. Before Pickett's first
line reached the stone wall, behind which the main line of Meade's army
was posted, Stannard found an opportunity to make a flank attack with
his Vermont brigade. Quickly changing front with two of his three regi-
ments, he brought them perpendicular to the enemy's line and sent in a
volley that forced Kemper's brigade staggering back on the center. This
was closely followed up by Col. Gates, of the 20th N. Y. militia, throwing
Pickett's left into confusion and causing many to surrender, while others
threw away their arms and took to their heels.

Historical Gettysburg Battle Map
Historical Battle of Gettysburg Map.jpg
Historical Battle of Gettysburg Map

Although the two ends of the line were badly disorganized by these
flank attacks, the center kept bravely on to the stone wall. Gen. Armistead,
whose brigade was in this portion of the line, was one of the first to gain
the wall. Placing his hat on the point of his sword he waved it above his
head and shouted: "Give 'em the cold steel, boys!" His example was
speedily followed and with fixed bayonets the Confederates came pouring
over the wall. One of the batteries was captured, the enemy's flag floated
for a few brief moments over the Federal works, while the "rebel yell"
resounded on all sides. But their triumph was of short duration. The
place where the Union line was broken was directly in front of Webb's
brigade of Gibbon's division. Webb rallied the 72nd Pa. and led it against
the enemy; part of the 71st Pa. gained a position behind a stone wall on
the right, from which they poured a murderous fire into Armistead's flank;
the remainder of this regiment and the 69th Pa. found shelter in a clump
of trees and sent a storm of leaden hail into the ranks of the assailants.
Col. Hall, commanding Gibbon's 3d brigade, made a dashing charge with
two regiments of his own command, the 15th Mass., the 1st Minn., and the
19th Me. of the 1st brigade, that drove the enemy from the works and
turned defeat into victory. Back across the open space, over which they
had marched with heroic determination but a short time before, the Con-
federates now fled in the wildest disorder. Of Pickett's three brigade com-
manders Armistead and Garnett were killed and Kemper severely wounded.
Nearly three-fourths of his command were either killed, wounded or cap-
tured. As the enemy retreated, Stannard, who had held his position during
the action, repeated his flank movement and captured a large part of Wil-
cox's brigade, which was coming up to Pickett's support. Lee's grand coup
de main had failed.

While the main battle was in progress in the center there were sharp
cavalry engagements on both flanks. On the left part of Kilpatrick's
division made a charge through the woods near Devil's Den, the
infantry and artillery stationed there. In this action Kilpatrick lost a num-
ber in killed and wounded, among the former being Gen. Farnsworth. The
affair on the right was of greater magnitude. Four of Stuart's brigades
were ordered to cover Ewell's left, and to make a demonstration to divert
attention from the main attack. Then, if Pickett's charge proved success-
ful, he was to fall on the rear of the Federals of harass their retreat.
Stuart planted several batteries on the hills commanding the Baltimore pike
and made other preparations to attack the minute he heard that Pickett had
carried the works on Cemetery hill. Custer's brigade of Kilpatrick's di-
vision became engaged, although he was under orders to join his command
on the left, and continued the fight until he was relieved by Mcintosh's
brigade of Gregg's division. One of Stuart's batteries was posted near the
buildings of the Rummel farm and Mcintosh undertook to drive it away.
He soon encountered a strong body of skirmishers and sent back for re-
inforcements. Randol's and Pennington's batteries were moved to the
front and soon silenced the enemy's batteries, when Mcintosh moved up
and occupied the position. W. H. Lee's brigade now came up to the sup-
port of the skirmish line and succeeded in repulsing the 1st N. J., whose
ammunition was exhausted. The 7th Mich, was also driven back and it
began to look dark for Mcintosh, when the 5th Mich, made a charge on
Lee and soon had him on the retreat. Just then Hampton's brigade, which
had been kept in reserve by Stuart, came up and again turned the tide in
favor of the Confederates. Although Custer had been relieved he had not
yet left the field. Seeing the Union troops about to be overpowered he
placed himself at the head of the 1st Michigan and shouting "Come on, you
Wolverines!" charged with such impetuosity that Hampton's line was
temporarily thrown into confusion. Custer's timely action put new courage
into those already engaged, and for a few minutes every saber was busy,
officers and privates fighting side by side. Capt. Hart next brought up a
squadron of the 1st N. J. and the Confederates gave way.
Beaten at every point the Confederates fell back to a strong position
on Seminary ridge, where the army lay all day on the 4th anxiously-
expecting and dreading an attack from Meade, who was content to hold
his position on Cemetery ridge. Some skirmishing occurred during the
day and that night Lee's army, broken and dispirited, began its retreat into
Virginia. The decisive battle of the Civil war had been fought and won
by the Federals, and the days of the Confederacy were numbered.

The Retreat from Gettysburg Map
Retreat from Gettysburg Map.jpg
Map of Gettysburg Campaign Retreat

The Union losses at Gettysburg were 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded and
5,365 missing. The Confederate reports give Lee's losses as being 2,592
killed, 12,709 wounded and 5,150 missing, but the records of prisoners of
war in the office of the adjutant-general of the United States army bear
the names of 12,277 Confederates who were captured at the battle of

Return to Battle of Gettysburg

Source: The Union Army, vol. 5.


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