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Monday, 2 July 2018

The Battle Continues: 155 Years to the Day Since Gettysburg

The Battle Continues: 155 Years to the Day Since Gettysburg

After the fighting on July 1, Confederate and Union soldiers continued to arrive. By morning of what would be one of the hottest days of the year, both armies had most of their infantry at Gettysburg.

The fish hook is formed

The Union army’s defensive position had assumed the shape of a fish hook, beginning on Culp’s Hill, curving around Cemetery Hill and proceeding down Cemetery Ridge to the Round Tops. Lee’s plan called for coordinated attacks on both Union flanks, but a series of delays kept the attacks from beginning until after 4 p.m. By this time, Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, dissatisfied with the position of his Third Corps on southern Cemetery Ridge, had decided without specific orders to advance west onto higher ground at the Peach Orchard, extending his thin line to Devil’s Den and along the Emmitsburg Road.

Confederates attack the left flank

When General James Longstreet’s Corps executed Lee’s order to attack the Union left, they met stubborn resistance from Union infantry around the craggy rock formation known as Devil’s Den. In savage combat, control of the Den changed hands three times over the course of the fighting.

Some Confederate troops moved further to the right toward Little Round Top where Union reinforcements had just arrived. The resulting fight is one of the war’s most celebrated engagements, concluding in dramatic fashion when the regiment on the far left of the Union line, the 20th Maine, swept the hillside clear of its exhausted foes with an unexpected bayonet charge.

In the bloodiest fighting at Gettysburg, the combat spread to the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard and as far north as Cemetery Ridge, where the deadly charge of the 1st Minnesota bought time for reinforcements to arrive. Of the 262 men who made that charge, only 47 escaped unscathed. While the Southerners captured Devil’s Den and the Peach Orchard, the Federal line on Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge barely held on.

The Confederates attack the right flank

On the Union right, the Confederates launched full-scale assaults on Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Hill around dusk. Although Culp’s Hill, in particular, had seen many of its original defenders sent to face the attacks elsewhere on the line, the remaining troops constructed a substantial network of earthworks and repulsed these attacks. Here, too, Confederates gained ground but failed to dislodge the Union defenders.

A grim fame emerges

After the battle, photographer Alexander Gardner reached the field before all the dead had been buried and captured more  images of the war’s human toll than on any other battlefield. In fact, more than 25 percent of all known photos showing Civil War dead on the field were recorded at just two second-day places Devil’s Den and the Rose Farm.

What Can Gettysburg’s Rocks Tell Us About the Battle?

Aside from wartime farmhouses and a few scattered trees, there are very few objects on the battlefield that have a direct and tangible connection to the Battle of Gettysburg. But all over the fields of Gettysburg, there are millions of igneous rocks that hold stories of the past and are relatively unchanged by time.

10 Facts: Lee’s Headquarters

Thanks to our members, we unveiled the restored site of Lee’s Headquarters at the Mary Thompson house in 2017. Did you know that the area around Gen. Lee’s Headquarters was an important Confederate artillery position on July 2 and 3? Here are 10 facts to expand your knowledge and appreciation of the site.

7 Gettysburg Myths and Misconceptions

With so much written about the Battle of Gettysburg, it's not surprising that the war's bloodiest battle has become surrounded by delusions and misinformation. Here are seven myths about the Battle of Gettysburg, debunked.

Gettysburg Battle App

Our GPS-enabled tour application allows you to discover all of the great historical sites associated with this landmark Civil War battle with maps, photos, audio accounts, and historian videos. This expanded edition covers the entire battle, from the first day to Pickett’s Charge and everything in between.

Join Us Live

Experience the 155th anniversary of the battle with us through a series of Facebook and YouTube Live events. From July 1 through 3, 2018, we will take you virtually to places many never get to experience. We’ll show you rare photos and artifacts, and answer as many of your questions as we can. Just go to the American Battlefield Trust’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel and start watching.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s defeat of Confederate Gen. John Pemberton at Vicksburg (May 18 to July 4, 1863) stands out as a strategic masterpiece of the Civil War. Vicksburg and its railroad provided a vital link between the two halves of the Confederacy, funneling crucial supplies back and forth from the western Confederacy to the east. See these events come alive with our animated map.

American Battlefield Trust