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 Battle of Gettysburg: Day 1
Day 1: July 1, 1863 - AP Hill at McPherson's Ridge
 
At about 2:30 PM, General Lee arrived from the northwest in time to see Ewell's assault. He immediately gave A.P. Hill permission to join the attack. A.P. Hill sent BG James Johnston Pettigrew's brigade (over 2,550 men) to attack Meredith's brigade who had positioned along McPherson Ridge. Because of its size, Pettigrew's brigade was able to flank Meredith on the left and despite heavy casualties on both sides, forced Meredith to retreat towards the Seminary. Biddle's brigade defended an exposed section of McPherson Ridge and was attacked by Archer and also unable to hold its position. Stone's position was particularly vulnerable because it was formed to face northwest against Heth's division and northeast along Chambersburg Pike to face Rodes' approaching division. It too found itself in an untenable position;  attacked from two directions, and also retreated toward the Seminary. Heth's division took a heavy beating as it attacked the Union units on McPherson Ridge, but it managed to force a Union retreat from the ridge to the Seminary. Meredith's Iron Brigade suffered an enormous 1,153 casualties (out of 1,829 men) while Heth lost about 1,500 of his 7,000-man division.

Lutheran SeminaryJust as Heth's division ran out of effectiveness, Pender 's fresh troops resumed the attack against the rallying remnants of I Corps at the Seminary. The Union barely had time to begin construction of breastworks at the Seminary when Pender's Division attacked up Seminary Ridge. Lt. James Stewart's artillery battery had been placed on the ridge and managed to hold off the Confederate assault for several minutes. But, the Union found itself overwhelmed by the sheer number of Pender's men and once again was in full retreat. I Corps now lost cohesion and was sent retreating towards Gettysburg and Cemetery Ridge. XI Corps was also retreating through town from the north towards Cemetery Hill. The retreat was carried out in somewhat confusion and several units were slowed because of congestion in the town or were captured when their retreat was cut-off. Despite the near rout situation, the Confederates had taken heavy casualties and lacked the strength to pursue vigorously.

Fortunately, Howard had left Adolph von Steinwehr's division on Cemetery Hill with orders to hold the position at all costs. Von Steinwehr had spent several hours erecting breastworks and created a formidable defensive position. At about 4:30 PM, MG Winfield Hancock arrived at Cemetery Hill and assumed overall command (under orders of Meade, though Howard was senior to Hancock) just as Howard and Doubleday were trying to rally their units. Hancock realized he had an excellent defensive position, but he also knew his forces would be stretched thin to cover the needed area. MG Daniel E. Sickles' III Corps and MG Henry W. Slocum's XII Corps were arriving from the south, but Hancock did not know when. Hancock ordered part of remaining I Corps to occupy Culp's Hill. Doubleday protested, but then sent the remnants of Meredith's Iron Brigade to secure the hill.

Surveying from Seminary Ridge, Lee requested A.P. Hill to continue the assault. But, Hill's Corps had been heavily battered and was nearly out of ammunition. Lee immediately sent word to Ewell to "secure possession of the heights...if practicable". Also, at this time, LG James Longstreet arrived and conferred with Lee. Longstreet wished to take a more defensive posture and place the army between the Union army and Washington. His rationale was to force the Union army into attacking a strong Confederate position. Lee, on the other hand, believed that he must confront the Union army and bring the fight to the Federals.

Ewell had always served under General Stonewall Jackson (who died at Chancellorsville) and this was the first time directly under Lee. Ewell, who had taken heavy casualties and could not count on A.P. Hill's support, hesitated. He was further confused by Lee's "if practicable" order. After waiting over an hour for the attack to begin, Lee personally rode towards Ewell's headquarters to find out why there was a delay. By the time Lee arrived at Ewell 's headquarters, Slocum and Sickles' Corps were deploying along Cemetery Ridge and the opportunity for attack had all but disappeared.
 
Biography of Major General Howard

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