Gettysburg -- The First Day

By Harry W. Pfanz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 24
Cemetery Hill

At 4:30, after riding slowly through Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday approached Cemetery Hill and General Howard. Howard asked him to place his corps to the west of the Baltimore Pike on the left of the Eleventh Corps. The hill provided an excellent position. Not only did it dominate the fields east and west of the town, but it had a gentle forward slope that could be swept by artillery and fences and stone walls that made good shelter for infantry. Orland Smith’s brigade of von Steinwehr’s division had three regiments posted along the Taneytown Road facing in the direction of Hill’s potential attack, and some of Coster’s troops were occupying the houses south of the town at the foot of the hill. Later, when Dawes’s 6th Wisconsin Regiment arrived, its men fell exhausted among the cemetery’s graves. As they did so, Dawes saw defeated Union soldiers spread over the hill in “much disorder” and a stream of stragglers and wounded men passing over it. Pvt. Avery Harris observed that “there will always be a few that don’t seem to know where or when to stop, if the movement is to the rear.” As Pvt. Jacob Smith reached the hill in his Eleventh Corps ambulance, he passed through a line of soldiers and realized for the first time that the retreating troops were to rally there. He thought that many of the soldiers assumed that they had been defeated and were trying to get as far from the enemy as possible. If they did not know that they were to make a stand, they soon learned differently from units of cavalry and infantry posted behind the hill to prevent able-bodied men from going farther to the rear.1

Howard and Doubleday and their subordinates worked to bring order to the arriving mass. Howard and an aide met a German regiment ascending the hill, its colonel growling something that Howard could not under

-331-

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Gettysburg -- The First Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Introduction - Fredericksburg to the Potomac 1
  • Chapter 1 - Ewell’s Raid 10
  • Chapter 2 - Lee’s Army Concentrates 21
  • Chapter 3 - Meade’s Pursuit 30
  • Chapter 4 - Meade and Reynolds 43
  • Chapter 5 - Reconnaissance in Force 51
  • Chapter 6 - Reynolds’s Final and Finest Hour 69
  • Chapter 7 - Cutler’s Cock Fight 80
  • Chapter 8 - McPherson Woods 91
  • Chapter 9 - The Railroad Cut 102
  • Chapter 10 - Noon Lull 115
  • Chapter 11 - Howard and the Eleventh Corps 131
  • Chapter 12 - Ewell and Rodes Reach the Field 145
  • Chapter 13 - Oak Ridge 157
  • Chapter 14 - Daniel’s and Ramseur’s Brigades Attack 179
  • Chapter 15 - Daniel Strikes Stone 194
  • Chapter 16 - Schurz Prepares for Battle 214
  • Chapter 17 - Early’s Division Attacks 227
  • Chapter 18 - Gordon and Doles Sweep the Field 239
  • Chapter 19 - The Brickyard Fight 258
  • Chapter 20 - Heth Attacks 269
  • Chapter 21 - Retreat from McPherson Ridge 294
  • Chapter 22 - Seminary Ridge 305
  • Chapter 23 - Retreat through the Town 321
  • Chapter 24 - Cemetery Hill 331
  • Chapter 25 - Epilogue 350
  • Appendix A - John Burns 357
  • Appendix B - The Color Episode of the 149Th P.V.I 360
  • Appendix C - Children of the Battlefield 367
  • Appendix D - Order of Battle 370
  • Notes 381
  • Bibliography 437
  • Index 459
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