Three Days at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership

By Gary W. Gallagher | Go to book overview

"I Do Not Believe
That Pickett's Division Would
Have Reached Our Line"

Henry J. Hunt and the Union
Artillery on July 3, 1863

Gary M. Kross

HENRY JACKSON HUNT COMPILED A RECORD OF GREAT accomplishment as an artillerist in the United States Army. A gifted man widely known among his contemporaries as the leading authority on light artillery, he combined calmness under fire, a splendid eye for terrain, and mastery of the technical side of gunnery to achieve superior results on the battlefield. 1 Yet despite his unquestioned abilities, Hunt frequently found himself embroiled in debates over questions of his command responsibilities and the proper relationship between various branches of the service. Those problems surfaced in dramatic form at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

Hunt's military service honored a well-established tradition within his family. The son and grandson of officers, he graduated from West Point in 1839 and subsequently fought in Mexico as a lieutenant of artillery. In the I850s he was promoted to captain and, toward the end of the decade, served on a three-man board that produced a revised set of light artillery tactics that received wide use during the Civil War. Following the outbreak of war in April 1861 he was promoted to major in May, participated in the Battle of First Bull Run in late July, and then received assignment as chief of artillery in the Washington defenses. His commission as colonel dated from September 28, 1861. 2

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