Friday, July 5, 2013

July 1, 1863

July 1, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 40

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 35

Battle of Gettysburg

Barlow's Knoll, after the battle.
Day 1:  Discovering that Gen. Heth has found Yankee troops in Gettysburg, Gen. A.P. Hill orders Heth to return to Gettysburg and push the Yankees out, supposing them to be merely militia.  Heth marches down the Cashtown Road, with Pender’s Division right behind him.  At about 5:30 AM, as his vedettes run into skirmishers from Buford’s cavalry, he moves a brigade (Archer’s) into line of battle, taps the Yankee line, and discovers a real force there on Herr Ridge and McPherson Ridge.  Heth shakes out another brigade into line (Joseph Davis, nephew to the President of the CSA), and presses the attack.  Caleff’s battery astride the Cashtown Road, with the cavalry brigades of Devin and Gamble, put up a stiff fight.  
Heth's tentative opening attacks on Buford's cavalry on the ridges west of  Gettysburg

Buford sends back word to Gen. Reynolds to hurry reinforcements.  By 10:00 AM, the Confederates have been repulsed with heavy losses, especially in Archer’s brigade of Tennesseans.  Gen. John Reynolds arrives at this point, and he and Buford discuss the ground and what to do.  Reynolds agrees with Buford that this ground must be held, and he sends word for his infantry---both the I and the XI Corps---to move up quickly to Gettysburg.  As the Confederates again come forward, at about 10:30 AM, they meet the newly-deployed infantry from Wadsworth’s division, Meredith’s brigade: the “black hats” of the Iron Brigade, who throw the attack back with heavy losses.  More I Corps units line up to the right of Meredith.  Gen. Howard and the lead elements of the XI Corps soon arrive, and Howard begins to deploy them on the open ground north of the town.  Back on McPherson Ridge, as Reynolds is directing the movement of the Iron Brigade in repelling Archer’s brigade at McPherson Woods, he is killed by a Rebel sniper.  Command devolves upon Howard, but Howard does not know this for some time.  Gen. Doubleday assumes command of the I Corps, and the fighting escalates.  Heth’s division is played out, and withdraws for a time.

At this point, Gen. Buford sends this worried dispatch to Pleasonton:

July 1, 1863-3. 20 p. m.
     I am satisfied that Longstreet and Hill have made a junction. A tremendous battle has been raging since 9. 30 a. m., with varying success. At the present moment the battle is raging on the road to Cashtown, and within short cannon-range of this town. The enemy's line is a semicircle on the height, from north to west. General Reynolds was killed early this morning. In my option, there seems to be no directing person.

      JNO. BUFORD,
      Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

     General Pleasonton.
     P. S. -We need help now.

Meanwhile, units from Ewell’s II Corps appear on the roads leading into Gettysburg from the north and northeast.  These are troops from Rodes’ and Early’s divisions.  Rodes deploys perpendicular to Oak Ridge, intending to take the I Corps in flank.  Early’s brigades smash into Howard’s XI Corps positions, which turn out to be badly placed and exposed, subject to flanking.  As Howard shores up his right flank, each time a new Confederate unit flanks it.  Barlow’s division, anchored on what becomes known as Barlow’s Knob, holds for a while against great odds---but Barlow is badly wounded and left for dead, and his division breaks and heads for the rear.
Ewell's troops come down from the north and northeast
Rodes attacks is held up by pockets of Federal resistance, but the XI Corps is peeling away and fleeing in disorder through the streets of Gettysburg.  Heth’s division rejoins the Rebel attack on the I Corps with fresh troops from Pender’s division.  Doubleday sees that is flank is exposed, and the simple geometry of battlefield position tells him that his position in untenable.  By 4:00 PM, the Federal lines are broken completely.  The I Corps withdraws in better order than the XI Corps, but the Rebels scoop up large numbers of prisoners disoriented in the streets of Gettysburg.  

The triumphant Confederates push the assault, taking over 3,000 prisoners.  Gen. Schimmelpfennig of the XI Corps takes refuge in a pig sty, where he stays until the battle if over.  The remnants of the Federal divisions flee to Cemetey Hill, which dominates the town below.  Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of the II Corps, has been sent by Meade to take over command from Howard, and he begins directing the fortification of Cemetery Hill and Ridge.
The Federals attempt to re-deploy on Cemetery Hill.
Gen. Lee, having been drawn into battle before he was ready, senses victory within reach, and orders Gen Ewell to attack Cemetery Hill before the Yankees can re-form and entrench.  There is a lull in the battle, and Ewell, who feels that Rodes and Early are too badly played out to make another assault, defers the decision.  His third division, under Johnson, is not yet ready to deploy completely.  The attack does not happen, even though Gen. A.P. Hill arrives with fresh troops on the field.  The sun goes down as Federal reinforcements stream up the Emmitsburg, Taneytown, and Baltimore Roads to reinforce.
Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, CSA

---Stephen Minot Weld, a Union officer serving on Gen. John Reynolds’s staff, writes in his memoir of the events of that day, as Reynolds dashed into Gettysburg:

When we reached the outskirts of Gettysburg, a man told us that the rebels were driving in our cavalry pickets, and immediately General Reynolds went into the town on a fast gallop, through it, and a mile out on the other side, where he found General Buford and the cavalry engaging the enemy, who were advancing in strong force. He immediately sent me to General Meade, 13 or 14 miles off, to say that the enemy were coming on in strong force, and that he was afraid they would get the heights on the other side of the town before he could; that he would fight them all through the town, however, and keep them back as long as possible.

I delivered the message to General Meade at 11.20, having been an hour and twenty minutes on my way. He seemed quite anxious about the matter, and said, “Good God! if the enemy get Gettysburg, I am lost.”

I started on my way back, and when half-way met an orderly, who told me that General Reynolds was shot. I did not believe him, but of course felt very anxious, and rode on as fast as possible to ascertain the truth of the matter. When near the town I met Captain Mitchell with an ambulance, and General Reynolds’s body. I felt very badly indeed about his death, as he had always treated me very kindly, and because he was the best general we had in our army. Brave, kind-hearted, modest, somewhat rough and wanting polish, he was a type of the true soldier. I cannot realize that he is dead.

---Lt. Col. Fremantle, the British observer, writes in his journal of the beginning of the battle, and the early Confederate successes:

We now began to meet Yankee prisoners coming to the rear in considerable numbers: many of them were wounded, but they seemed already to be on excellent terms with their captors, with whom they had commenced swapping canteens, tobacco, &c. Among them was a Pennsylvanian colonel, a miserable object from a wound in his face. In answer to a question, I heard one of them remark, with a laugh, “We’re pretty nigh whipped already.” We next came to a Confederate soldier carrying a Yankee colour, belonging, I think, to a Pennsylvanian regiment, which he told us he had just captured.

At 4.30 P.m. we came in sight of Gettysburg and joined General Lee and General Hill, who were on the top of one of the ridges which form the peculiar feature of the country round Gettysburg. We could see the enemy retreating up one of the opposite ridges, pursued by the Confederates with loud yells. The position into which the enemy had been driven was evidently a strong one. His right appeared to rest on a cemetery, on the top of a high ridge to the right of Gettysburg, as we looked at it.

General Hill now came up and told me he had been very unwell all day, and in fact he looks very delicate. He said he had had two of his divisions engaged, and had driven the enemy four miles into his present position, capturing a great many prisoners, some cannon, and some colours; he said, however, that the Yankees had fought with a determination unusual to them. He pointed out a railway cutting, in which they had made a good stand; also, a field in the centre of which he had seen a man plant the regimental colour, round which the regiment had fought for some time with much obstinacy, and when at last it was obliged to retreat, the colour-bearer retired last of all, turning round every now and then to shake his fist at the advancing rebels. General Hill said he felt quite sorry when he saw this gallant Yankee meet his doom.

General Ewell had come up at 3.30, on the enemy’s right (with part of his corps), and completed his discomfiture. General Reynolds, one of the best Yankee generals, was reported killed. Whilst we were talking, a message arrived from General Ewell, requesting Hill to press the enemy in the front, whilst he performed the same operation on his right. The pressure was accordingly applied in a mild degree, but the enemy were too strongly posted, and it was too late in the evening for a regular attack. The town of Gettysburg was now occupied by Ewell, and was full of Yankee dead and wounded. . . .

In the fight to-day nearly 6000 prisoners had been taken, and 10 guns. About 20,000 men must have been on the field on the Confederate side. The enemy had two corps d’armée engaged. All the prisoners belong, I think, to the 1st and 11th corps. This day’s work is called a “brisk little scurry,” and all anticipate a “big battle” to-morrow. . . .

At supper this evening, General Longstreet spoke of the enemy’s position as being “very formidable.” He also said that they would doubtless intrench themselves strongly during the night. The Staff officers spoke of the battle as a certainty, and the universal feeling in the army was one of profound contempt for an enemy whom they have beaten so constantly, and under so many disadvantages.

---Capt. Charles Wright Wills, an Illinois cavalry officer in La Grange, Tennessee, hears the news of the invasion of Pennsylvania, and allows himself a bit of crowing at the lack of manhood in the effete Easterners, when compared with the doughtiness that Illinois men clearly possess:

Isn’t it music to hear those Pennsylvania fellers howl? I almost wish that Lee would cut the levee of Lake Ontario, and let the water over that country. Don’t tell father and mother. If Lee don’t wake them up to a sense of their misery, he isn’t the man that Price is. If ever Price reaches Illinois, and he swears he’s going to do it some day, you can reckon on seeing a smoke, sure! Don’t you folks feel a little blue over Lee’s move? Kind o’ as though you wish you hadn’t gone and done it! Never mind, you’ll get used to it. The first raid isn’t a sample. Wait until general Rebel somebody, establishes his headquarters in Canton, and you’ve all taken the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. Imagine yourself going up to the headquarters with your oath in your hand and tears in your eyes to ask the general to please keep the soldiers from tearing the boards off your house (for bunks), or asking for something to eat out of his commissary department, and then blubber right out and tell him that the soldiers broke open your trunks and took your clothes and what little money you had, and you don’t know what in the world you’ll do. Many of these people are in this condition, and I hear a hundred of them tell the story every week. Every man in Illinois ought to die on the border rather than allow an invading force to march into our State.

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