Day 3: July 3, 1863 - Plans and
hoped to continue the
attack early on the morning of the 3rd using Longstreet's
Corps. But, Longstreet was not prepared that
morning and Lee was forced to change his plan. Lee
was encouraged by the near-penetrating attack by Anderson's
Division in the Union center the day before.
Lee's plan first called for an artillery
barrage by Confederate artillery along Seminary Ridge and east of
town. It was hoped that the barrage would reduce the Union
Batteries and inflict heavy damage to the surrounding infantry.
After the barrage, nearly 12,000 men, including 3 brigades under
the command of MG George E. Pickett, would attack
the Union center. Once the assault reached the Union line,
reinforcements would arrive to exploit the breakthrough. In
support, Lee ordered General Stuart's
cavalry to head east and strike southward in hopes of reaching the
The artillery barrage began at 13:00 and involved about 170
Confederate artillery pieces. The barrage covered the entire Union
line but concentrated on its center. The Confederate guns were
answered by about 80 Union guns and inflicted large numbers of
casualties on the Confederate infantry. The Confederate guns also
inflicted much damage on the Union batteries, but frequently
tended to aim high and shoot over their targets due to poor
BG Henry J. Hunt,
the Federal artillery commander, wished to conserve ammunition to
counter any Confederate advance and ordered a Union
Confederate barrage continued for nearly two hours and soon became
short of ammunition. But, the time had come for the attack...
Day 3: July 3, 1863 - Pickett's
was reluctant about the
attack that Lee had ordered. It called for nearly
12,000 men (nine brigades) to march over 1,000 yards across open
ground. The Confederate line would stretch for over a mile. Pettigrew's
Division (of A.P. Hill's Corps) would comprise of
the northern portion of the attack while Pickett's
Division (Longstreet's Corps) would be the
The attack began with over one hundred Confederate guns opening
fire along the Union lines. The Confederate shells tended to land
over the Union lines and land amidst the rear (near the wagons and
hospitals). In fact,
Meade was forced to relocate his headquarters
to Power's Hill. Colonel Alexander, commander of
the Confederate I Corps Artillery, noticed that the Union
batteries were momentarily withdrawing from their positions (only
to be replenished and supported with replacement batteries) . If
any time had come, this was the time. In effect, Colonel Alexander
gave his opinion that the charge should proceed.
The attack started from Seminary Ridge with Pickett's
and Trimble's Divisions and slowly marched
eastward. Union batteries from Cemetery Hill to Little Round Top
immediately opened fire on the advancing line, opening temporary
gaps in the units. The Confederates kept coming and after 15
minutes, reformed their lines after crossing Emmitsburg Road. When
the Confederates were within 400 yards, the Union artillery began
firing canister and were also within Union rifle distance. The two
wings of the Confederate advance converged as Pettigrew
moved to the right and Pickett to the left. The
line now compacted to about 1/2 mile long.
BG James L. Kemper's Brigade formed Pickett's
lead right-front brigade. To his left was BG Richard B. Garnett's
Brigade followed by BG Lewis A. Armistead's
Brigade. Pickett ordered his men to turn to the northeast in order
to link with Pettigrew's Division. This exposed
his right flank to the artillery on Little Round Top and the
southern portion of Cemetery Ridge. This allowed the Union
artillery to fire along the Confederate line with little chance of
missing a target.
Col. Robert Mayo's Brigade, Pettigrew's
left brigade, was attacked by artillery of the XI
on Cemetery Hill. The 8th
Regiment (of Carroll's
Brigade), under the command of LtC. Franklin Sawyer,
had been sent out earlier to form a skirmishing line. Instead of
withdrawing (as skirmishers are usually required), Sawyer
faced his men southwest to fire on
Brigade which was passing in front. Though Sawyer's
Regiment was largely outnumbered,
men had sustained enormous losses from the artillery barrage on
Cemetery Hill. Sawyer's
attack was enough to send
men running to the rear. This now exposed the remaining Pettigrew
Brigades to flanking fire.
Pettigrew now linked with Pickett
and both continued steadily eastward up the slope. Hays'
Division (Union) formed behind a stone wall and waited until Col.
Birkett D. Fry's Brigade was within 200 yards.
Brigade had fled the field, Hays
was able to overlap Pettigrew's left.
ordered his right to overlap Pettigrew's left and
face southwest. On the right flank of the Confederate advance (Kemper's
Brigade), the exact same maneuver was being initiated by BG George
VT, and 16
was able to fire upon Kemper and inflict huge
casualties with impunity. This caused Kemper's
men to crowd to the north away from Stannard's
The Confederates began to bunch near the center and became
"a mingled mass, from fifteen to thirty deep." Opposite
the main assault was the "Angle" - a point in the Union
line where it formed a 90-degree angle. Positioned in the Angle,
behind a stone wall, was the 71st
(250 men). To their left, was the 69th
supported by five guns of
As the Confederates pushed forward, the men and artillery in the
Angle poured devastating fire into the approaching units. Still,
the Confederates came, this time reaching the stone wall of the
Angle. General Armistead led the Confederate
attack with a group of about 200 men and overran most of the 69th
and 71st PA
before reaching Cowan's
Battery. General Webb,
who watched the attack, ordered the 72nd
the Confederate advance and forced many of the enemy to seek cover
behind the western side of the stone wall. Hand-to-hand fighting
raged in the Angle and Webb
ordered a charge by the 72nd.
The Regiment refused the order and Webb
gave up the attempt. By this time, Col. Devereux's
19th MA Regiment
and the 42nd
rushed into the Angle to drive the Confederates out.
The Confederates were now outnumbered and cutoff from any
reinforcements. Soon, anyone left in the Angle was either captured
or killed. The remaining Confederate units near the Angle slowly
retreated and made their way back towards Seminary Ridge after
realizing no reinforcements were to come.
Pickett lost nearly 3,000 men (over half) of
his Division. He lost all 15 regimental commanders, including two
BG's and six Col's. When Pickett returned to Lee,
he was ordered to prepare against a possible Union counterattack. Pickett
then replied, "General Lee, I have no
Despite the Confederate retreat, the Southerners were still a
formidable force. Meade,
having assumed command only 6 days earlier, was in no mood to face
the Confederate guns lining Seminary Ridge. In addition, nightfall
was soon approaching. The following day, July 4th, erupted in
rainfall and saw the retreat of Lee's army.
Day 3 July 3rd, 1863 - Stuart vs.
Stuart, with four brigades (Chambliss,
Hampton, Fitz Lee, and Jenkins),
had arrived to the Gettysburg area on the afternoon of July 2nd.
Lee, charged Stuart with guarding the army's left
and flanking the Union right in the event the infantry captured
The two cavalry forces met three miles east of Gettysburg near
the Rummel farm about noon on July the 3rd. Stuart
deployed his brigades (about 6,300 men) in the woods on Cress
Ridge to the north. Gregg's
Division, along with George Custer's
Brigade (totalling about 4,500 men) was situated along Hanover
road to the south.
The fighting began as skirmishers between the two forces from
both sides exchanged fire. Stuart then sent the 1st
Virginia charging into the Union cavalry. Gregg
then ordered a countercharge by the 7th
that halted the Confederates. Stuart then ordered
most of Hampton's and Fitz Lee's
Brigades into a column to attack Gregg's
position. The Confederate column - extremely vulnerable enroute,
ran headlong into Custer's
The clash of the two forces was spectacular.
The cavalry battle continued with fierce hand-to-hand combat
with neither side gaining the upper hand. Finally, the 3rd
attacked the Confederate column from the east and the forced the
rear portion of the column to retreat from the rest of the body.
Eventually, the Confederates, cutoff and attacked from all sides,
were forced to retreat back to Cress Ridge. The total Confederate
loss numbered about 230 men, while the Union lost about 250.
Neither side lost ground and both would claim victory, but Stuart
was denied access to the Union rear.
Kilpatrick (Farnsworth) vs. Longstreet
During Stuart's battle, BG Judson Kilpatrick
ordered a frontal cavalry assault against Longstreet's heavily
entrenched and fortified right wing near Little Round Top. BG Elon
seeing the futility of such an attack against infantry, protested
strongly against it. Nonetheless, Farnsworth
obeyed his orders and led a disastrous charge against the
Confederate infantry. Farnsworth's
Brigade suffered immensely and he himself was killed, shot five
Copyright © 2007 Brian Williams.
Last Modified: 02/10/2007.